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‘Warrior’ draws attention at tribal fairs


Courtesy photo

Sheldon Begay, from Rock Point, Ariz., is Diné College’s “Warrior” and has appeared in parades at the tribal fairs this year promoting the school.

Sheldon Begay is a Navajo warrior and he is creating what could be best described as mass hysteria wherever he appears on the Navajo Reservation. Begay is the Warrior mascot first created almost 50 years ago by officials at then Navajo Community College.

Up until this year, however, the Warrior existed only in press releases and emblems that appeared on the college’s sports programming. But as Diné College approached its 50th anniversary this summer, college officials began considering the possibility of bringing this symbol alive to promote the college.

The mascot, in the form of Begay dressed as a Navajo warrior and riding a horse, made his first public appearance at the Central Navajo Fair in Chinle this past summer and made a big splash, even bigger than college officials thought would happen.

“Everyone wanted to meet him,” said George Joe, director of marketing and communications for the college.

People wanted to touch him, get selfies and he was asked by countless spectators why he was dressed up the way he was. “We got a lot of attention for the college,” said Joe, adding that whenever Begay made an appearance, traffic on the college’s webpage increased substantially.

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About The Author

Bill Donovan

Bill Donovan has been writing about the Navajo Nation government since 1971 and for the Navajo Times since 1976. He is currently semi-retired and is living in Torrance, California, and continues to report for the Navajo Times.