She said that she is living proof individuals can learn to speak their native tongue even as an adult. Now, at the age of 76, she is working on learning how to write Navajo as well.
Bradley also spoke about her travels and who in her life had impacted her success. She mentioned Wilbert Willie and how she originally applied to become a Navajo Nation Judge.
She said that when she got to the final interview for Navajo judgeship that they were surprised at her age, and she said, “Don’t let the gray hairs on my head and the wrinkles on my face fool you.
“If you hire me, I will make you an outstanding judge. I am just as aware now as I was in my early years and have learned a few things about human nature along the way that will serve me well in this post if you choose to give it to me.”
Bradley also spoke about some of the places that she had traveled to, including going to New York in the ’50s and seeing the Atlantic Ocean for the first time. She said she was so overwhelmed by the power of the ocean that she just broke down and cried.
She said she has done many wonderful things in her lifetime including getting the chance to meet President Bill Clinton. She said she even got her photo taken with him and she was thinking of Monica Lewinsky the entire time so she couldn’t help but smile.
Bradley said she also got to see Charles Barkley play for the 76’s in Philadelphia and was so in awe of his strength and command of his game on the court. She said she knew that Barkley must have traveled a long way to get to his goal of playing for the NBA and couldn’t help but admire him.
Bradley also told the crowd that she has had other interests outside of her own reservation and one of those loves is Italian opera. She said she had the opportunity to see Luciano Pavorotti in person in concert and felt that everyone in the audience should experience an interest that they truly enjoy—that it’s one of life’s pleasures and something that shouldn’t be just dreamed about.
Bradley encouraged each of the students in the audience to focus. She said that they can make it up the career ladder just like her, that they must never give up and must keep going even if after setbacks or discouragement.
“Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it,” she said. “You can; I am living proof.”
Bradley also spoke about the need for spirituality and that it doesn’t matter whether it’s Christian or native traditional faith. She said what’s important is to believe in something larger that just everyday lives and that it’s equally important to give something back in exchange for career success.
Bradley got a standing ovation after her delivery with Coconino County Sheriff Joe Richards commenting to the crowd, “We could learn so much in my Bilagaana culture about how much natives revere and treasure their elderly people.”
“Today is visible proof of that respect. I am honored and thrilled to be here today and to accept your kind acknowledgement of my small contribution to make your community a better place. It has been a pleasure and honor to work and know your people,” Richards said.
Dr. Hector Tahu, superintendent of Tuba City Unified School District #15, along with Sheriff Richards was also among those acknowledged for leadership in the community.
Tahu’s leadership was specifically targeted to his educational vision that has allowed countless numbers of students from the Navajo/Hopi/Gap area to become successful new leaders in their own right after attending one of the TC District schools.
Tahu who is not a native from this area and is, in fact, a full-blooded Maori from New Zealand, gave his opening statement in the Navajo language. This brought much audible appreciation for his cross language efforts from the elderly who were at the dinner.
“I am deeply honored by this special leadership award and by your appreciation for my small contribution that is expressed by someone everyday during my visits to your communities,” said Dr. Tahu. “I, in turn, would like to acknowledge Mr. Farron Morgan who organized this event for his commitment to his Gap Bodaway community and its elderly residents.”
Tahu’s engraved award plaque states that he has “contributed to the respect, advancement of native students in the areas of language, culture and family values through education and community commitment.”
Other members of the Coconino community honored that day were Coconino County Supervisor Louise Yellowman, Coppermine Chapter Vice President Harry Roy Begay, Lt. Bennie Shirley-Capt. Navajo Department of Public Safety, Greg Adair, Greg Secatero and Rodney Slim, all criminal investigators in Coconino County; NDPS Officer Monica Butler, Bittersprings Boy Scouts Troop; Chapter President of Bodaway/Gap Billy Arizona and Speaker of the Navajo Nation Tribal Council Lawrence Morgan.
(Rosanda Suetopka Thayer is Public Relations Director for Tuba City Unified School District.)