Community pillar at Diné College, Martha Jackson passes away at 86

Martha Jackson passed away Jan. 16 at Flagstaff Medical Center. Jackson was from the Siba Delkai, Ariz., area and taught Navajo language and culture at the college. She was one of the first students, graduates and teachers at Diné College. (Photo/Dine College)

Martha Jackson passed away Jan. 16 at Flagstaff Medical Center. Jackson was from the Siba Delkai, Ariz., area and taught Navajo language and culture at the college. She was one of the first students, graduates and teachers at Diné College. (Photo/Dine College)

TSAILE, Ariz. — Diné College lost a pillar of the community when long-time educator and silversmith Martha Jackson died Jan. 16 at the age of 86.

Dr. Lawrence Isaac Jr., the dean of the School of Diné Studies and Education at Diné College, revealed the death to the college community. Isaac, Jr., who was Jackson’s immediate supervisor, said she will be bestowed the faculty rank of emeritus.

“We are all saddened by the death of Martha Jackson,” Isaac, Jr., said. “She was one of the first students and instructors at Diné College. I knew her for more than 50 years.”

Jackson, a fluent Navajo speaker who grew up in the Seba Delkai area of Arizona, taught Navajo language, Navajo linguistics, Navajo descriptive and narrative writing, among other Navajo language-based courses at the college.

She graduated with an associate of arts degree in Navajo-Bilingual Bicultural Education from Diné College back when the school was called Navajo Community College. The name change took place in 1997.

Jackson went on to graduate from the University of Arizona with undergraduate and graduate degrees and obtained a second master’s degree from Goddard College in Vermont.

The early days

Jackson started working at Diné College in 1970 and was an accomplished silversmith. She was also instrumental in curriculum development at the college — particularly courses dealing with the Navajo language.

Vernon Jackson, one of Martha Jackson’s five children, said his mother passed away peacefully at Flagstaff Medical Center with loved ones by her side.

A Washington, D.C. resident and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency employee, Vernon Jackson added “The family is very grateful for the outpouring of support at this difficult time. My mother impacted a lot of lives at Diné College, imparting knowledge, wisdom and encouragement. We are very thankful to the students and administrators at Diné College.”

Information provided by Diné College

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