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TEMPE, Ariz. — A young 23-year-old Diné woman, who was close to finishing a dental hygienist program, was tragically stabbed to death on April 18 in Tempe, Ariz.

Tammy Begay and her boyfriend, Mason Nez, 23, were socializing with another couple in the clubhouse of their apartment complex when Nez took out a pocket knife and began stabbing Begay for an unknown reason, according to eyewitnesses.

Nez has been charged with first-degree murder.

Mason Nez has been charged with first-degree murder

“Basically, she was just the sweetest person you could ever meet,” her sister Stephanie Begay said. “She knew she could go after the things she wanted in life and she was on the right path to doing that.”

The Missing & Murdered Diné Relatives task force released a statement saying they were saddened to learn of the tragic passing of Tammy Begay. The statement said she was “a wonderful spirit and relative to all who knew her.”

“We stand in solidarity with the family of Tammy Begay and call on all relatives to bring awareness to gender-based violence happening to our Native women. The violence against our Diné and Native women is unacceptable and needs to stop! If you would like to do your part in supporting efforts to combat violence against Native women, consider supporting tribal coalitions and community groups working to protect our communities. We must work together to end violence against our women and most vulnerable populations!” the statement continued.

Stephanie Begay told the AZ Central newspaper her sister “Tammy and Nez had been dating on and off for a year and described their relationship as tumultuous.”

Court documents show the Tempe police had previous contacts with the couple in March and July 2020 where there were allegations Nez assaulted Begay.

Court records further show that during an interview with detectives, Nez said he could not remember how much alcohol he drank the night of the incident and he claimed he had no memory of what happened in the clubhouse.

If you are a victim of assault, here is a list of resources available to you:

Southwest Indigenous Women's Coalition

Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women

Restoring Ancestral Winds

Sexual Assault Services of Northwest New Mexico

National Indigenous Women's Resource Center

Stronghearts Native Helpline

Strengthening Nations

Sovereign Bodies Institute

Native Women Running

 

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Levi Rickert
Author: Levi RickertEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Levi Rickert (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation) is the founder, publisher and editor of Native News Online. Rickert was awarded Best Column 2021 Native Media Award for the print/online category by the Native American Journalists Association. He serves on the advisory board of the Multicultural Media Correspondents Association. He can be reached at [email protected]