CHINLE, ARIZONA — Steamboat, Arizona lost one of its commissioners and an important member of the community in a car crash Friday, Commission Manager Flora Nez confirmed Monday.
Deborah Cayedito, 59, was the president of the Navajo Nation Government Development Commission and a member of the Diné Community Advocates Alliance as well as a commissioner for Steamboat community.
Funeral services will be Thursday at 9 a.m. in the Steamboat LDS Church with Peter Yazzie officiating.
Cayedito and another person died in a one-car rollover near Bitahochee, Ariz., Friday. A third occupant was taken to an area hospital and is in critical condition. The names of the other two victims could not be confirmed by press time.
According to Yazzie, who was related to Cayedito by marriage, the car was not Cayedito’s and it is not yet clear who was driving as all three occupants were ejected. The car rolled repeatedly for about 50 feet, Yazzie said.
Cayedito was an outspoken proponent of the recently passed Healthy Diné Nation Act, which will levy a tax on junk food to be put toward diabetes prevention.
Nez described Cayedito as “happy.”
Cayedito was born and raised in California, according to Yazzie, and came back to the reservation as an adult.
“She was involved in all kinds of community activities,” Yazzie said. “One thing she did was a music festival, Steamboat Rocks. She would get donations and feed the whole crowd for free.
“The loss to our community is unfathomable,” he added.
The day before her demise, Cayedito had posted on Facebook a thank-you to Council Delegate Jonathan Nez for supporting the Healthy Diné Nation Act and a quote from Ferdinand Foch, the supreme commander of the Allied Forces during World War I: “The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.”
“Yup, my soul is on fire,” she had written above it.
Cayedito is survived by a brother, Ralph Cayedito of Michigan.
Editor’s Note: This article was first published by the Navajo TImes. Used with permission. All rights reserved.