On Dec. 29, Percy Deal was honored by his own chapter community members and was supported by his large, close family from the Big Mountain and Hardrock area along with many of his longtime friends and supporters.
They all joined in a day of celebration with a meal that featured both roast mutton and frybread along with a roasted turkey dinner.
The Hardrock Chapter house was filled to capacity with officials from Navajo County, local state agencies and chapter officials from Window Rock who had come to honor Deal with speeches, gifts and big hugs of congratulatory good wishes.
It was a day of honoring someone who was raised and lived in a very traditional old time Navajo setting. One of herding sheep, hauling water daily for household, cattle and sheep use and living with no electricity or telephone. Deal lived with two very traditional Navajo speaking parents - his father was a medicine man. Deal lived with a houseful of sisters as the lone son. The family lived full time at the base of one of the Navajo people's most sacred mountains, Big Mountain near Hardrock and Black Mesa.
Deal, age 62, from the Chiishi clan, was reared in a remote area without modern conveniences. After boarding school, he left home, went to high school and on to college off-reservation. He then came back to work at Navajo County in Holbrook, as the first Native American supervisor for his county for more than 20 years. Deal went on to work at his home chapter, not just as a chapter organizer, but as a Navajo Nation council delegate for the Hardrock and Big Mountain area. He eventually went on to become Chapter President for his home community.
Deal, who retired from the Navajo County Board of Supervisors in 2008, has worked with countless numbers of both non-Native and cross-tribal entities for more than 35 years.
Deal spoke about serving Navajo county as the first Native American to hold such an elected position at the county level.
"When I was elected to the Board of Supervisors in 1978, I kept assuring my own people that I would make sure I built a bridge of communication between non-Natives and our own tribal community since we all live on the same land," Deal said. "Today I am so proud to see that my earlier vision has come partially true, that there is a better partnership with Navajo county's seat of government and our remote area of Navajo and even a better partnership with our neighbors the Hopi people, sharing resources and helping one another with life's hardships."
Some of the officials in attendance were Navajo Council delegate Dwight Witherspoon, former Navajo Hopi Land Commissioner Roman Bitsui and Navajo Nation council delegate Leonard Pete. Mae Tso, Andrea Bahe and Louise Sheppard gave thanks to Deal. Germaine Simonson gave a presentation and the Rocky Ridge School Princess and the dance group from the Rocky Ridge School gave a "Chiishi" (Apache clan) dance in honor of Deal's maternal clan, which is "Chiishi Dine."
Navajo County Supervisor Jesse Thompson, who worked with Deal for more than 20 years at the county level and is still in office currently, gave one of the most emotional speeches of the event.
"You must all be reminded of who Percy Deal is and what he represents," Thompson said. "Percy was always out there, representing us and you could always tell where his true loyalty was, it was to the people he was representing, tribal people. I always appreciated that about him. Percy was also so highly respected by not just Navajos, but by non-Natives we worked with at the county and state level. He always wanted and got the best he could for all of us, because he felt we deserved the very best and he demanded that respect for us and our tribal needs at the state and national level. Percy is one of our true, first time ever leaders, since he was the first Native American sworn into office at Navajo County as a supervisor. He has helped pave a path for the rest of us. This is what makes Percy so unique. He has a wealth of knowledge and he knows how to use that knowledge but does it with kindness, care and respect for the other people he works with. This is a very special quality."
Organizers read a note of appreciation from Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly along with the good wishes from Navajo Codetalker Peter MacDonald. Pinon Chapter President Bessie Allen also thanked Deal for his service.