Guest column: Merv Lynch: "Lynch's were made to be of service and have faithfully served"
Łeeyi’ tó is the Navajo word for the place known as Klagetoh and means ‘Water-in-the-Ground.’ This place is located thirty-nine miles north of Interstate-40 on U.S. Highway 191 in Arizona. Just north of the Klagetoh Express convenience store, you will find a water well located on my ancestral lands.
Recently, I returned to Klagetoh and memories from my youth flooded my mind, and the recollection of the family history passed down to me. My late father Merwin told me that his mother was born in a hooghan nimasi or hogan close by this water well. She and the line of mothers before her were of the Tsé ńjíkiní — Honeycomb-Rock-House-People — a clan that traces its roots back in this region of the country for more than one hundred generations.
My grandmother’s relatives built a rock house near to where she was born. Generations of Honeycomb-Rock-House-People lived in this house, and it stands to this day. The memories that I have of this place and the surrounding area are fond, but also, they are painful for they hold the fading images of loved ones long since passed.
Until recently, the funerals of my closest and dearest of relatives made me return. At the beginning of 2010, I carried out one of my father’s last wishes that his ashes be dumped on the hill overlooking my grandmother’s home on Tanner Springs Road in Wide Ruins, Arizona. This homestead once belonged to my dad’s paternal grandmother — Mary Lynch née Yellowhorse.
My dad was the first in the family to be cremated. On one occasion, he told me why he chose to have his body cremated as opposed to being buried. He did not want people to cry on his corpse and embrace it for there was no way for him to respond in kind. He instructed me and my siblings, “dump it on the hill overlooking grandma’s.”
The embracing of loved ones was ingrained into us, but more importantly, the teaching to have love for your relatives and for others. My father’s love for his family and fellow human beings could have filled oceans. He loved me so much that he understood the importance of burying my umbilical cord at my grandma’s place.
He buried it where the sheep corral once stood. In the Navajo way, this act forever tied me to this place. Our homeland is everything to us. He wanted me to build a hogan on a specific spot up the way from my grandma’s. Truly, this place is home to me, and now, my heart answers a call to return and be of service to my people. The Lynches were made to be of service and have faithfully served through the ages.
May the memory of our honorable dead be blessed. May their prayers be heard that the land and the people be healed and made whole. Elect Merv J. Lynch to delegate of the Navajo Nation Council representing Houck, Klagetoh, Nataha Dziil, Tse Si Ani and Wide Ruins Chapters.
Merv J. Lynch