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Big Mountain Resister, Leonard Benally, Passes On

October 12, 2013 by  
Filed under Latest Posts


Photo by Brenda Norrell



Yesterday, on October 11th, lifelong Big Mountain resident and relocation resister, Leonard Benally, Dineh, passed on to the spirit world.  According to his family, he passed on quickly and easily and was surrounded by his family.  His family asked that a statement go out to the BMIS support network.

They are remembering him as a strong, free, independent, elder role model who fought until the end.  They note how much he influenced them to carry on in the struggle, to fight for what is right, and to not take life for granted.  They see him as a warrior who will be watching over them in their continued struggle.  They mention that he was a man of few words who taught so much.  Now, he is free, they say, in the spirit world among the creators—free of the strife of struggles with tribes, courts, laws, and danger.   As much as they and we were not ready for Leonard to pass, the family believes that once he was surrounded by his loved ones—his children, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews—he was ready. His family, who are heartbroken but holding strong together, asked for your thoughts, prayers, cards, phone calls of love and support.

Anything will help.  You can send emails to and we will pass them along, or you can leave voicemails with Leonard’s niece at: 928-206-0311.  The family is also requesting donations for the funeral costs and for support during the process of sending Leonard on.

The family repeatedly mentioned that Leonard gained strength from the support network’s work, prayers, phone calls, and relationship.  Let’s continue to pass on collectively.  They will hold a meeting at Leonard’s Big Mountain residence tomorrow, October 13th, at 3:30pm and would like help serving food, setting up and cleaning.  Leonard’s memorial service will be held next Saturday, October 19th, at the Desert Memorial Funeral Home in Tuba City—all are welcome.  You can send funeral donations directly to the funeral home, or to BMIS.  BMIS will pass the money directly on to the family.  If you donate through BMIS, please note that your donation is for the Benally family in a note or memo line.

Some quotes from Leonard on his life of hope and dignity and struggle against Relocation:

“We have been living in silence and we have been dying in silence. We want to share with others our struggle. If we walk alone, we are useless, we are nothing.  The old people have told us, take your struggle out to other struggles. Then you can stand together with one freedom. They isolate us, dislocate us and relocate us. Relocation is nothing new to Indigenous people, it has been going on for 500 years.”

“We are victims of terrorism. It takes everything out of us. It breaks us. It tears us down emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. But we have hope out here. Hope lives in the heart. We have a profession, it is the profession of hope.”

“They are trying to erase the history of our people. They tell us we have no history or no tomorrow. But we are still resisting and quite heroically.”

“All we are fighting for is a dignified life. We will never surrender.”

Rest in Power, Leonard


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