Funeral, reception honors former Navajo president

Funeral, reception honors former Navajo president

LOW MOUNTAIN, Ariz. (AP) – Former Navajo Nation President Peterson Jah was honored Saturday with a funeral procession that stretched 100 miles (160 kilometers) from western New Mexico to eastern Arizona.

People lined the streets on the reservation to say their final goodbyes to a memorial leader who made education, family, culture and the Navajo language the hallmarks of his life. He fought tirelessly to right the injustices against Native Americans. “He led with grace and a crystal-clear vision of what was right for people first,” said Robert Joe, who served as master of ceremonies at a public reception Saturday afternoon. was right and in the public interest.”

Jah died late Tuesday in Fort Defiance, Arizona, surrounded by his family and after a long illness. He was 85.

Jah was buried in a private service at his family cemetery in Low Mountain, Arizona, where he was born.

The procession passed through several Navajo communities, with people holding their hands over their hearts and displaying signs announcing that Jah would be missed. Navajo Tribal Utility Authority hoists flags from utility trucks along the route.

There was Zah First elected president In the Navajo Nation – the largest tribal reservation in the United States – centralization of power in the office of the chairman was prevented after the government was reorganized into three branches in 1990. At the time, the tribe was reeling from a deadly riot instigated a year earlier by Jah’s political rival, former chairman Peter McDonald.

Jah, who also served a term as tribal chairman, promised to rebuild the Navajo Nation. Under his leadership, the tribe established what is now a multi-billion-dollar permanent fund after winning a court battle that the tribe had control over tax companies that extract minerals from the vast reservation.

“President Jah has never lost sight of his purpose: to stand up for the dignity and honor of the Navajo people,” President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden wrote in a letter to Jah’s family on Saturday.

Sometimes referred to as the Native American Robert Kennedy, Jah was known for his charisma, ideas and ability to get things done, including lobbying federal officials to ensure that Native Americans could use peyote as a religious ritual.

Jah also worked to ensure that Native Americans were reflected in federal environmental laws such as the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act.

He was known for his low-key but stern leadership style, driving a battered, white 1950s International pickup that was on display outside the public reception Saturday.

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