Senator John McCain and Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye
Published August 26, 2018
WINDOW ROCK — Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye extends his condolences to the family of U.S. Sen. John McCain, the Republican lawmaker from Arizona who died Saturday at age 81.
McCain served Arizona—and much of the Navajo Nation—in the Senate for six terms (since 1987), including two stints as chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. He also served Arizona’s 1st congressional district as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for one term, from 1983 to 1987.
“Sen. McCain sometimes had a rocky relationship with the Navajo Nation, but he was always willing to listen,” President Begaye said. “We didn’t always see eye to eye, but we maintained a good relationship. We had each other’s cell phone numbers and he called me to talk about budgeting, education and the Office of Navajo and Hopi Relocation. As a veteran himself, he was always willing to do something for other veterans.”
McCain was known as a naval fighter in Vietnam who was held as a prisoner of war for five years. He twice ran for U.S. President, winning the Republican nomination in 2008.
McCain was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor in July 2017. In a statement released Friday, McCain’s family announced that he would end radiation and chemotherapy treatments. He died at 4:28 p.m. Saturday at his home in Arizona.
“He will be missed,” President Begaye said. “This is a critical time for the Navajo Nation and for Indian Country, and we need someone to fill this position who is willing to work with the Navajo Nation and all tribes.”
U.S. Sen. John McCain, left, and U.S. Sen. John Barrasso meet with President Russell Begaye for a roundtable discussion in St. Michaels, Ariona., in September 2016.
President Russell Begaye and U.S. Sen. John McCain meet in McCain’s office in February 2017.