Former Navajo president honored at funeral procession, reception

Former Navajo Nation President Peterson Zar, known as an inspirational and humble leader with a passion for education and devotion to his people, held a 100-mile funeral procession Saturday from western New Mexico to eastern Arizona. was honored by

People lined the roads of the reservation to say a final goodbye to a monumental leader whose life featured education, family, culture, and the Navajo language. He fought tirelessly to rectify wrongdoings against Native Americans.

“He led with compassion and a clear vision of what was right for the people,” said Robert Joe, Zah’s nephew, who hosted the public reception on Saturday afternoon. He always did what was right and put people first for their good.”

Zaha’s granddaughter, Kristalyn Curley, who is now chairman of the Navajo Nation Council, said Zaha “has spread hope across the Navajo Nation.”

Zaha died late Tuesday at Fort Defiance, Arizona, surrounded by family after a long illness. he was 85 years old.

Zah was buried in a private funeral at his family cemetery in Low Mountain, Arizona, where he was born.

The procession passed through several Navajo communities, with people putting their hands on their chests and showing signs declaring that Zaha would be missed. I put it up.

This photo provided by the President and Vice President of the Navajo Nation Office of Peterson Zaha at his public memorial service in Fort Defiance, Arizona on March 11, 2023.

Gila River Indian Community Governor Stephen Lewis said, “Today, all Indian Country mourns with you. We mourn the loss of his brilliant intelligence, character and wisdom…I We really mourn that time has passed.”

Zaha was the first president elected in 1990 in the Navajo Nation, the largest tribal reservation in the United States, after the government was reorganized into three branches to prevent a concentration of power in the presidential office. At the time, the tribe was reeling from a deadly riot instigated by Tsar’s political rival, ex-Chairman Peter His MacDonald, a year earlier.

Tsar, who also served his term as tribal chief, vowed to rebuild the Navajo Nation. Under his leadership, the tribe established a now multi-billion dollar Permanent Fund after winning a legal battle that the tribe had the power to tax companies that extract minerals from their vast reservations.

In a letter to Zar’s family on Saturday, President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden said, “President Zar never lost sight of his purpose to stand up for the dignity and respect of the Navajo people.

Senator Mark Kelly (D-Arizona) said in a statement that The Zar “transformed the Navajo, and with it, our state.”

Known for his charisma, ideas, and ability to get things done, Za, sometimes referred to as the Native American Robert Kennedy, lobbied federal authorities to allow Native Americans to use peyote as a religious sacrament. rice field.

Zah also worked to ensure Native Americans were represented in federal environmental laws such as the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act.

He was noted for his reserved but strict style of leadership, driving a battered white 1950s international pickup truck that was on display outside Saturday’s public reception.

Several speakers said Zah contributed to their determination to attend and graduate from Arizona State University or another institution of higher learning.

“To say Peterson Zar was an advocate for education is like saying there are many stars in the sky. Charles Monty Rossell, current president of Diné, said. College in Arizona.

“He saw it in his life, so he understood the transformative power of education,” Rossell said.

Navajo Nation President Buu Van Nygren said Zaha recently met with tribal leaders to stress the importance of continuing to prioritize children’s educational opportunities.

“He made sure that education was at the forefront of everything,” Niglen said. “He inspired generations of young Navajo leaders like me.” Former Navajo president honored at funeral procession, reception

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