Guest Column: Two added to NHHR Board of directors
By Navajo Hopi Honor Riders
Board of Directors
Motorcycle riders from all over the world ride with Navajo Hopi Honor Riders to support armed forces, past and present.
Incorporated as 501(c) nonprofit in 2011, NHHR is dedicated to honor, support and serve military families through motorcycle escort services, community volunteer projects and building awareness regarding issues and challenges affecting Native American military veterans or their surviving families.
The annual honor run first took place in 2003 to honor Spec. Lori Piestewa, the first female Native American to be killed in combat.
Since then the annual run in May has added at least 15 more Navajo Gold Star families that have lost a loved one in military conflicts.
At the end of 2017, the Navajo Hopi Honor Riders gained two new board members, both from the Western Agency of the Navajo Nation.
Lynette Goldtooth, raised in Tuba City and born in Shiprock, is B??h Bitoodnii (Deer Springs Clan), born for Táb??há (Edge Water People); her maternal grandfather is T?’ááshch’’’ ((Red Bottom People) and paternal grandfather is Kinyaa’áanii (Towering House Clan).
She comes from a family with eight siblings and is fluent in the Navajo language.
Goldtooth graduated from Tuba City High School and attended Mohave Community College and received her associate degree in nursing. She then received her bachelor’s degree in nursing at Grand Canyon University in 2010. She currently works at the Tuba City Regional Health Care Corporation as a registered nurse.
She is a well versed in her culture, self-driven, and very active in her community. When not working she likes to hike, run, camp, fish, weave, read, enjoys cake and floral decoration and watch rodeos.
Her passion is riding her motorcycle on Diné Bikéyah, giving her peace and tranquility.
Asked about her new position as a board member for NHHR, Goldtooth replied, “It is unique to be a part of an organization that honors veterans and that is why I ride. My father was a veteran and I have family members in the service now. Each ride is different.”
She was selected to be on the board in September 2017.
Riding makes her think of her cheii (maternal grandfather) and she prays for safety in every journey. In a funeral escort, she will bring mountain smoke and share it with other riders.
Goldtooth wants to improve assistance for Veterans by making connection with VA hospitals. She can assist with VA paperwork and the process of getting their benefits.
“Ms. Goldtooth will be a great asset to the organization,” said Chris West, vice president of Navajo Hopi Honor Riders. “She has many years working with veterans in the medical field and her knowledge will help give NHHR more insight to the medical needs and resources available to our veterans and their families,”
At the end of October 2017, Geri Hongeva, 42, was also selected to be a part of the NHHR Board of Directors.
She is a mother of two, married and is currently a casino host at Twin Arrows Casino Resort.
Geri previously worked as media representative for Navajo Parks and Recreation with a background in marketing. She earned her bachelor’s degree in visual communication at Northern Arizona University in 2001 and began working at NAU anthropology as a media specialist and creative director for eight years.
Hongeva is Yei Dine Tachiinii (Red Running Into The Water Clan), born for Tsenjijinkini (Cliff Dwelling Clan). Her maternal grandfather is Kinlichii’nii (Red House People) and her paternal grandfather is B??h Bitoodnii (Deer Springs Clan).
She is originally from Black Mesa and went to school in Flagstaff and graduated from Coconino High School in 1992. Her parents’ are Patrick and Sara McCabe and she has two younger brothers.
In June 2012, she was selected as the voice of C-3PO for “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope,” which was dubbed into Navajo. It was the first major film to be dubbed into a Native American language, it made international news and brought language preservation to a new level for the Navajo Nation.
Although she grew up in Flagstaff, she maintained being fluent in the Navajo language.
Hongeva also serves as a board member for the Arizona American Indian Tourism Association since 2008. She is actively involved in promoting tourism for Arizona tribes and helps with coordinating the Arizona Indian Festival.
“I enjoy riding, my first ride with NHHR was back in May 2009 and have been riding since,” she said. “My passion is public relations and working with our people to make a better community. Being a part of NHHR and the helping our veterans tugs at my heart.
“My father was a Vietnam veteran,” she said. “In December 1999, I lost my dad to Agent Orange, he was only 49 years old.”
Remembering fallen warriors and doing what we can to show our appreciation is what fuels the Navajo Hopi Honor Riders, added Hongeva.
Bobby Martin, president of Navajo Hopi Honor Riders said, “As a road guard you tend to see all characteristics of riders and who they are, you get to know them in their communities and I have seen riders who stand out, those who show leadership. I am proud to have two of our lady riders join our board as they both have exemplified all those qualities.”
Geri brings a high standard and work ethic as well as a wide network of resources and skills. Lynette has a strong knowledge in veteran issues and first-hand experience within the community.
Both of them are avid riders and have earned respect among the riding family and both have deep connection to veterans, Martin said.
The 16th Annual Navajo Hopi Honor Run will be May 17 to 20, 2018. The tentative route starts in Window Rock, to Hopi, Leupp and finishing day one in Flagstaff. Day two will continue into Tuba City, Page, Kayenta and Monument Valley. Day three will continue to Four Corners, Shiprock, end at Farmington. Day four will be from Farmington to Newcomb and conclude at Window Rock Veterans Memorial Park with a Round Up Reception.
Editor’s note: Bobby Martin is production manager for the Navajo Times.