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St. Michaels Chapter office closes without notice

St. Michaels Chapter office closes without notice


Community members needing services were greeted with a locked door and a handwritten sign Friday. 

The written sign listed Pat Begay, senior program and projects specialist, and her email and two phone numbers. 

The chapter will reopen Feb. 6.

Navajo Times | Holly James
A handwritten sign posted on the front door of St. Michaels Chapter House indicates office closure until Feb. 6.

Staff, including Chapter President Marybeth Sage and Secretary-Treasurer Clara Bia, were unaware of the closure until they arrived this morning. The handwritten sign also informed both.  

“It was a shock to all of us,” Bia said in an interview with the Navajo Times.  

Bia arrived to work with a few elders sitting in their cars in the parking lot, needing coal and firewood.  

Bia had no access to the building and needed keys to open it to access the firewood and coal. She took their information and planned to load up what supplies were needed and make deliveries to individuals as soon as the building could be accessed.

They made a few calls to inform the staff and reached out to upper management; however, no requests were returned.  

Bia explained several issues had come about in the last few days, one that involved authorities being dispatched to the chapter house.  

Navajo Times | Holly James
Kirk Keeto, a maintenance staff member, helps load firewood and coal into a truck for delivery to a community member Feb. 3, when the St. Michaels Chapter closed.

“We felt we needed to go higher up,” Bia said. 

Bia explains she left a notice with an executive staff assistant at the president’s office. President Buu Nygren is currently on travel. 

“We are still going to help our community,” Sage explained. “Recent severe weather has been happening throughout the communities and more coming. The chapter house needs to be open to provide help.”

Sage, on Friday morning, made phone calls as she sat in her car bundled in a jacket and gloves and kept warm from her car heater. 

A woman needing address verification for her daughter was relieved that even though the office was closed, someone was doing what they could to help.

“I am glad she was here,” resident Sherry Nez said.

Ultimately, the chapter officials and staff were still in the dark about the reasons for the closure, and no explanation of communication to the staff and officials.  

The Navajo Times reached out to Pat Begay and received a response that a statement would be shared publicly. 

About The Author

Holly James

Holly James is Kinyaa'áanii (the Towering House Clan) and born for Tódích’íi’nii (Bitter Water Clan). Her maternal grandfather is Kinłichíi’nii (Red House Clan), and her paternal grandfather is Honágháahnii (One-walks-around Clan). Ms. James was born in Tséhootsooí (Fort Defiance), Ariz., and grew up in Phoenix. She began her tenure with the Navajo Times as a freelancer, and a year ago, she moved from Nevada to Diné Bikéyah and became a full-time reporter. Her passion is sharing the light of her Diné People, the tenacity, pride, ingenuity, and resilience they show daily. She intends to enrich the hopes and aspirations of the Diné through the stories of contributions and hardships, survival, and culture revitalization.


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