KEAMS CANYON, Ariz. — The third annual walk/run against domestic violence will be held May 12 at 6 a.m., starting at the Choyou residence in Keams Canyon.
Three of the leaders of the event spoke to the Hopi High radio class May 3.
Meranda Lomayaktewa, a friend of Monica Choyou, who was murdered in a domestic violence incident, is one of many speaking out against domestic violence. She said domestic violence can occur between any two people, not just a man against a woman.
Florence Choyou, mother of the late Monica Choyou, will be hosting the event starting at her home in Keams Canyon. Choyou said those attending will get a light breakfast of biscuits and gravy.
Everything is free, although donations will be accepted for the groups opposing domestic violence. The Native Women’s Empowerment group is supporting this event. There will be several booths including one by the Hopi Tewa Women’s Coalition.
Monica Choyou recalls how her daughter boyfriend killed her and buried her just days before Mother’s Day three years ago.
“It’s hard, but this needs to be told,” she said.
Choyou said domestic violence is rampant. She said women are being killed because nothing is being done.
“This is not justice. When we went to court, a woman got 15 years for drugs, but her murderer had just three years in prison or jail,” she said.
Choyou raised her grandchildren after her daughter’s death. She remembers how Monica had purchased the food and was getting the decorations ready for her son’s, Zack George, graduation.
“But she didn’t get to attend,” she said. “It hurts when you lose a mother or a brother.”
Monica’s other child, Sky George, was 10 years old at the time of her mother’s murder.
“She grew up without a mom,” Choyou said. “Domestic violence can be stopped, so if you see something talk to a friend or a counselor.”
“If you see neighbors fighting tell somebody. Don’t be afraid,” she said.
Lomayaktewa told the students that if they see domestic violence or bullying they should either tell their teachers or bus drivers.
“It can escalate into something tragic,” she said.
Choyou said her daughter’s murderer is not Hopi. He is Laguna/Zuni and he has been banned from the Hopi Reservation. She said the tribe lacks a registry of domestic violence offenders and the registry is needed to keep violent offenders off the reservation.
There is a memorial site near Keams Canyon Wash for Choyou’s daughter. People are welcome to bring flowers or wreaths to place on the memorial. Those attending are encouraged to wear either purple, orange or pink. Purple because that is the color when people are hit. Orange because that is the color it turns to when victims start to heal and finally pink is the last color for healing. Those colors will be painted on nearby rocks.
Lomayaktewa was one of the Monica Choyou’s best friends. Along with their friend Melissa, who now lives in Albuquerque, they were known as the ‘three m’s.’
Lomayaktewa recalls one story when they were all about three years old, the parents discovered they were missing. It turns out they had broken into the then Keams Canyon dorm to play with the toys.
Lomayaktewa, who went through her own problems with domestic violence, said most cases of domestic violence involve alcohol and substance abuse. She is aware of this because she used to work for corrections and booking in Gallup. She said too often victims won’t speak out because of fear of retaliation from that person.
The Unite to End Violence can be contacted on Facebook.
Zack George, Monica’s son, praised his grandmother Florence for being active against domestic violence and pushing for the registry that will make people aware of violent offenders.
“This man had tried to kill his girlfriend before,” she said.
Zack said after his mother was murdered he would bring his baggage to school because he wouldn’t talk about it. He urged people to talk about problems with their friends, saying it’s not healthy to keep it in.
Lomayaktewa said Monica’s father Ralph Choyou touched her heart when, after his daughter died, he told the other two Ms ‘you are now my daughters.’ Lomayaktewa then made a promise to Ralph to continue to fight against domestic violence. Ralph has since passed on, but she is committed to continuing the war against domestic violence.
“We need to start hope, faith and healing,” she said.
More like this story
- Domestic violence victims remembered at Keams Canyon
- Navajo Nation 1st Lady gains support of AZ Gov. on Violence Against Women Act
- Tackling domestic violence within Native communities
- Violence burdens ‘bone and skin’: Indigenous women run in prayer to outpace pain
- Navajo first lady walks to end domestic violence