First Navajo woman judge passes away

The Honorable Marie Roanhorse Neswood. Submitted photo

The Honorable Marie Roanhorse Neswood. Submitted photo

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — The Honorable Marie Roanhorse Neswood, retired judge of the Navajo Nation, and first woman confirmed as a Navajo Nation judge, passed away Dec. 24, 2017. She was 85.

Judge Neswood served as a judge from 1976 to 1989. She was appointed acting chief justice of the Court of Appeals for a period during her tenure.

After retiring from the judicial branch, Neswood was elected to serve as a Navajo Nation Council Delegate for St. Michaels Chapter from 1991 to 1995. She also worked for the Office of the Prosecutor and the Navajo Nation Police Department before becoming a judge.

Neswood was born May 24, 1932. She was from Crystal, New Mexico and she graduated from St. Michael Indian School. She married Nelson Neswood, from Lower Greasewood, Arizona. They had eight children together and lived in a home her husband built for her in St. Michaels, Arizona.  

Navajo Nation Council Speaker LoRenzo Bates offered condolences on behalf of the 23rd Navajo Nation Council.

“Honorable Marie Neswood represented her community and the entire Navajo Nation with great dignity and pride throughout her lifetime,” Bates said. “Her honorable service will always be remembered and cherished. To her family, we offer our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”

Council Delegate Jonathan Hale, who currently represents the community of St. Michaels, described her as a dedicated public servant who worked hard to better the lives of her neighbors and communities.

“We will forever be grateful for Honorable Neswood’s service to our Nation and our communities,” Hale said. “As the first Navajo woman to serve as a district judge, she was a great role model for our Navajo youth and all of our people.”

Neswood was a devout Catholic and a Rosary took place, Dec. 28 at St. Michael Catholic Church and a funeral mass Dec. 29 at St. Michael Indian School Chapel.

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