Council mourns loss of Navajo family

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — Navajo Nation Council members are mourning the loss of five Navajo family members after the FBI reported Jan. 11 that they had located a missing family in a rural area on Santa Ana Pueblo land in New Mexico.

The family members who were found were Vanessa George and her two children Zoe and Chloe, and Leticia George and her daughter Haleigh. The five deceased family members are originally from the community of Red Valley, Arizona located on the Navajo Nation.

Speaker of the 23rd Navajo Nation Council Speaker LoRenzo Bates (Nenahnezad, Newcomb, San Juan, Tiis Tsoh Sikaad, Tse’Daa’Kaan, Upper Fruitland) said he was saddened to learn of the outcome of the missing family and said the council sends their heartfelt condolences to Marietta George, the mother of two women, and grandmother to the three children.

“On behalf of the Navajo Nation Council, our hearts and prayers go out to the George family, Bates said. “We are in mourning as a Nation as we have lost two Navajo mothers and three beautiful children. I cannot begin to imagine the heartbreak of their mother and grandmother, but we want Marietta to know that the Navajo Nation and its leaders send their love, support, and sympathies to her and her family during this difficult time.”

Council Delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty (Beclabito, Cove, Gadi’i’áhi/To’Koi, Red Valley, Tooh Haltsooi, Toadlena/Two Grey Hills, Tsé ałnáoz’t’I’í) said the tragic and sudden loss of the Navajo family have left the Navajo Nation speechless, confused and angry.

“We prayed for their safe return, but were devastated upon learning the news,” she said. “My prayers are with the family and the community during this heart-wrenching time. This is an emotional case for our first responders and they should be praised for their investigation. As a Nation, we need to support the family and refrain from inappropriate comments or questions.”

Crotty commended members of the FBI and Navajo Nation criminal investigators for keeping Navajo leaders updated and involved regarding the incident, and thanked all law enforcement and public safety agencies who responded quickly in the investigation.

Council Delegate Edmund Yazzie (Churchrock, Iyanbito, Mariano Lake, Pinedale, Smith Lake, Thoreau), chair for the Law and Order Committee, thanked federal, state and tribal law enforcement agencies for their hard work and called for a thorough investigation.

“On behalf of the committee, I would like to send condolences to the family for their tragic loss,” Yazzie said. “My prayers are with the family and hope they find strength through this tough time. I encourage the FBI and other agencies involved to conduct a thorough investigation and take the extra effort to carry out due diligence to find out what really happened.”

He added that individuals who may be affected by the incident should talk to someone, whether it is a counselor or a leader in their respective faith.

More information regarding counseling services is available by contacting the Navajo Regional Behavioral Health Center at (505) 368-1433, and for the crisis line at (928) 551-0508.

Information regarding donations to the George family will be provided to the public once it has been made available.

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