fbpx
facebook app symbol  twitter  linkedin  instagram 1
 

Diné activist and musician Klee Benally walked on on the morning of December 31, 2023. He was 48 years old. 

Benally died at a Phoenix hospital on Saturday. His cause of death has not been disclosed. 

Benally was a long-time passionate advocate for a number of issues affecting Native peoples. He spoke out against police violence and, in 2014, joined other activists outside of metro Phoenix’s NFL stadium to denounce the offensive team name previously used by the franchise from Washington, D.C.

Benally advocated for the cleanup of abandoned mines, where uranium ore was extracted from the Navajo Nation over decades to support U.S. nuclear activities during the Cold War. He protested an ordinance that banned camping on public property in Flagstaff aimed at the area’s homeless population.

Never miss Indian Country’s biggest stories and breaking news. Sign up to get our reporting sent straight to your inbox every weekday morning. 

“There is no compassionate way to enforce the anti-camping ordinance,” Benally said in 2018 when officials declined to alter the 2005 ordinance. “Life is already hard enough for our unsheltered relatives on the streets.”

According to a report from the Navajo Times, Benally was from Dziłyíjiin, Arizona. He was from the Tódích’íi’nii and Wandering People clans.

Benally grew up being taught traditional Navajo culture by his father, Jones Benally, a well-known, hataałii (medicine man). 

On November 18, Benally published his book, “No Spiritual Surrender: Indigenous Anarchy in Defense of the Sacred,” described as a searing anti-colonial analysis rooted in his experience fighting for sacred places and why he does it to protect nahasdzáán (Mother Earth).

Benally’s family posted on the Facebook page Indigenous Action announcing his death: “We are profoundly sad to announce the departure of Klee Benally, Indigenous land defender, agitator, warrior, artist and child of Mother Earth.” 

A formal announcement with details of a celebration in honor of Benally’s life is expected in the coming days. 

More Stories Like This

Zuni Youth Enrichment Project Will Offer Multiple National Park Trips for Youth in 2024
Federal Government Shutdown Averted by Short-term Extension
House Passes Bipartisan Legislation to Boost Support for Indigenous Entrepreneurs
Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby named OKCityan of Year
Native Farm Bill Coalition Leaders Critical of USDA Equity Commission Final Report

Native Perspective.  Native Voices.  Native News. 

We launched Native News Online because the mainstream media often overlooks news that is important is Native people. We believe that everyone in Indian Country deserves equal access to news and commentary pertaining to them, their relatives and their communities. That's why the story you’ve just finished was free — and we want to keep it that way, for all readers.  We hope you'll consider making a donation to support our efforts so that we can continue publishing more stories that make a difference to Native people, whether they live on or off the reservation. Your donation will help us keep producing quality journalism and elevating Indigenous voices. Any contribution of any amount — big or small — gives us a better, stronger future and allows us to remain a force for change. Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous-centered journalism. Thank you.

 
About The Author
Author: Elyse WildEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Elyse Wild is senior editor for Native News Online and Tribal Business News.