Longtime Navajo Nation leader, Edward T. Begay, dead at 87

Navajo Nation lost a giant in its community over the weekend, shoes that will be impossible to fill.

According to Indian Country Today, Edward T. Begay, the former vice-chairman of the Navajo Nation and speaker for the Navajo Nation Council, died at the age of 87. His passing was announced on Sunday.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez released a statement on Begay’s death, honoring the longtime leader for his service.

“On behalf of the Navajo Nation, we offer our condolences and prayers to Honorable Begay’s family. We also thank his loved ones for sharing his life with us and for all of their family’s contributions to our Navajo people. He was a very loving and caring person who always put the people first. We pray that his family takes comfort in knowing that he is with God and watching over them now,” Nez said.

During a special session of the Navajo Nation Council on Monday evening, members of its leadership began the meeting with a special tribute to Begay.

“Yesterday, we did lose one of our greatest post-modern leaders,” said Navajo Nation Council Seth Damon.

He added: “We just want to send our condolences out to the family. At this time, we ask to recognize not only what he’s done in his past but what he laid the framework for. The Zah-Begay administration, in the early 80s, creating the permanent trust fund, creating Title 26, and having the forbearance to lay the groundwork for better education across the Navajo Nation.”

Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) released a statement on Begay’s tragic passing, writing, “Edward T. Begay, a son of New Mexico and former Vice Chairman of the Navajo nation, left us yesterday surrounded by his family. Ed T. was a beloved member of the community, a friend and mentor, and a fierce champion for the Navajo Nation. He will be sorely missed.”