Too late for Miss Bessie

Woman dies waiting for NHA home

(Reporting from Chinle, for Cedar Ridge/Bodaway/Gap area)

A plant grows through the wall of the late Bessie Slim’s house in Bodaway/Gap Chapter.

Bessie Bitsuie Slim of Cedar Ridge, Arizona, died last Wednesday at 99 of complications from pneumonia.

It’s a ripe old age to be sure, but her mother lived to be 110, and her daughter-in-law, Guadalupe Zapata-Slim of Louisiana, believes “Miss Bessie” could have had several more years with her family if the Navajo Housing Authority had just worked a little more quickly to replace her house.

“As far as I’m concerned, the NHA and President (Russell) Begaye are murderers,” said Zapata-Slim, who drove from Louisiana with her husband David Slim, Bessie’s son, hoping to have some last moments with Bessie last week.

They arrived too late, although mother and son got a nice final phone call in en route. Zapata-Slim is convinced Bessie’s demise was due to the condition of her home, which Bessie and her husband Jack built about 47 years ago six miles from the Gap Trading Post on what would become part of the Bennett Freeze.

According to Zapata-Slim, cracks in the walls let in cold air and dust, and the house is rife with mold because there is no ventilation in the attic.

The door jam is not level with the floor and creates a tripping hazard, especially since Bessie used a walker.

A May 19 letter from the Tuba City Regional Health Care Corp., which Zapata-Slim says was sent to the NHA in an effort to expedite the case, states Bessie had congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease and atrial fibrillation, and concludes

“This patient requires improved housing/running water because of their status.”

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Categories: News

About Author

Cindy Yurth

Cindy Yurth is the Tséyi' Bureau reporter, covering the Central Agency of the Navajo Nation. Her other beats include agriculture and Arizona state politics. She holds a bachelor’s degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University with a cognate in geology. She has been in the news business since 1980 and with the Navajo Times since 2005, and is the author of “Exploring the Navajo Nation Chapter by Chapter.” She can be reached at