Most notable people of 2012 make difference in lives of Diné

By Marley Shebala
Navajo Times

WINDOW ROCK, December 27, 2012

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T he Navajo Times' 2012 most notable people are Navajo people who made a difference in the lives of Navajo women, men and children with very little or no financial assistance from the Navajo Nation government.

The following list consists of recommendations that were submitted by the editorial staff of the Navajo Times. They are in alphabetical order.

Chucki Begay and Richard Anaderson Jr.

Begay and Anderson Jr. are most known for their musical talents in the band, "Chucki Begay and the Mother Earth Band." Begay is the band's vocals and Anderson is lead guitarist.

But in 2012, Begay and Anderson got serious about their "Music is Medicine" project and incorporated it as a non-profit under the umbrella of the Navajo-Hopi Honor Riders Inc.

Music is Medicine is a free one-day music camp that is held across the Navajo Reservation to teach youth of all ages how to play instruments, to appreciate music and to connect music with healthy communities.

Instructors share personal stories about how music impacted and, in some cases, saved their lives.

Klee Benally

For the past 14 years, Benally has spearheaded an international movement to stop the production of artificial snow with treated sewage effluent on Dook'o'ooslííd (Shining on Top) or the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff. In 2012, Benally was among a small group of protestors, who chained themselves to heavy equipment to block the clear cutting of about 74 acres of forest for the pipes to carry the reclaimed wastewater to a ski area on the peaks.

After a protest at the U.S. Forest Service office in Flagstaff in September, federal charges were filed against Benally and three other individuals for allegedly disrupting the work of the forest service. He was arrested, released and now faces about half a year in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000 if convicted.

Wenona Benally Baldenegro

Baldenegro, who has a Harvard law degree and a Harvard Master of Public Policy degree, took the leap and it was a colossal one in 2012. If she had won against Ann Kirkpatrick for Congress, she would have been the first Native American woman elected to Congress.

According to Native News Network, less than ten Native Americans have ever been elected to Congress.

Baldenegro's campaign included labor rights, workplace safety, sustainable job creation, small business development and a "commitment to fight for working families."


The co-founders of Café Cultura, which is based in Denver, include two Navajos, Hannabah Blue and Derek Brown; Eden Nicole, who is Navajo/Mexikah/Lakota/San Felipe Pueblo, and Arz Cruz, who is Mexica/Tewa.

In 2012, Café Cultura held a Creative Expression Rez Tour, which they funded out of their own pockets. At the end of their tour, they donated the $187 from admission tickets to eight-month-old Peyton Sarah Dickey of Kirtland, N.M., who was diagnosed with Davidson's Disease, a rare intestinal disorder that severely dehydrates infants and stunts their growth.

The focus of Café Cultura is to promote unity and healing among Indigenous peoples through creative expression while empowering youth to find their voice, to realign oral and written traditions and to become community leaders.

Glenda Davis

Davis, who is the director of the Navajo Nation Veterinary and Livestock Program in Window Rock, works beyond her normal working hours to raise awareness of and prevent diseases that infect livestock and humans.

In 2012, it was through the diligent work of Davis that the Navajo Nation Council funded "Target the Tick," a Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever prevention campaign across the Navajo Reservation, which resulted in zero human fatalities. But other Native American reservations in Arizona, where tribal veterinary clinics are non-existent, were not so fortunate.

RMSF is transmitted thought ticks found on dogs and the initial symptoms are similar to a severe flu, which makes it difficult for doctors to diagnose from other diseases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that Arizona areas most affected by RMSF were reservation because there are fewer resources to eradicate ticks and control free-roaming animals.

Larry Emerson

Emerson is one of those people who prefers to work quietly behind the scenes. But in 2012, his traditional Navajo counseling work at the Healing Circle Drop-In Center in Shiprock, N.M., which treats young men who were abused, was recognized by the 19th annual Navajo Studies Conference, which awarded him its "Community Service Award."

Shirley Montoya, who is the center's project manager, said that she and other counselors at the center also go to Emerson, who has a master's degree in counseling from San Diego State University, for guidance.

Also in 2012, Emerson, who also earned a doctorate in educational philosophy from SDSU and the Claremont Graduate University Join Doctorate Program, was a teacher with the Aboriginal Community Counseling Masters of Education Programs at the University of Victoria, British Columbia. He also conducts seminars with the Native American Studies and Collaborative Program at SDSU.

Orlondo "Chuck" Haven

Haven, who created his own record label, "Kandy Records" to promote local talent, also originated the "Metal Heads Against MS" website to raise awareness about multiple sclerosis, an incurable disease that his younger brother, Henry Haven, was diagnosed with in March 2012.

"Just because we have long hair or tattoos and listen to music that is not normally listened to, doesn't mean we don't care about the issue out here," Chuck Haven said in an August interview. "You don't see much advocacy for MS; I figured I'd do my part by raising awareness. It's one way to help my bother."

Golden Moore

Because of the relentless effort by Moore, as the president of the Fuzzy Mountain View Resident Organization of Navajo, N.M., some very needy families were able to stay warm in their newly constructed Navajo Housing Authority homes, which were built for the balmy weather of Phoenix, not northern Arizona, where temperatures drop to below zero during the winter.

NHA had reneged on its promise to install wood stoves during the construction phase of the homes in Navajo, N.M., and because of Moore's efforts to organize the NHA tenants, the families received the promised wood stoves.

Dallas Peterman

Peterman, 18, of Monument Valley, showed what one person could accomplish.

During the summer of 2012, he filled about 500 bags of trash that he picked up between a 95-mile stretch of highway between Tsaile and Kayenta, Ariz. There were times when his fiancé, Sierra Yazzie, helped him but most of the trash collecting was done by him.

And when the Kayenta Fourth of July committee picked him to be their parade grand marshal, he accepted but asked to be at the end of the parade so he could pick up trash.

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