The vibrant voice of resistance, Navajo artist and activist Klee Benally, is silenced after a lifetime dedicated to protecting the sacred.
Klee Benally, has passed away at the age of 48. His death, announced on Sunday by family and the group Indigenous Action, leaves a void in the fight for environmental justice and cultural preservation.
A member of the Navajo Nation, Benally dedicated his life to protecting sacred lands like the San Francisco Peaks. He tirelessly opposed the use of reclaimed wastewater for snow-making at Arizona Snowbowl and uranium mining near the Grand Canyon. His recent book, “No Spiritual Surrender,” documented his activism, while his board game, “Burn the Fort,” offered a playful yet powerful critique of colonialism.
Benally wasn’t just a voice for Indigenous communities, he was also a talented artist and musician. As a co-founder of the rock band Blackfire with his siblings, he channeled his passion for justice into powerful songs that resonated with generations. His creativity extended beyond music, as evidenced by his vibrant artwork and graphic design work for Indigenous organizations.
Benally’s legacy extends far beyond his individual achievements. He inspired countless others to stand up for their rights and defend the environment. His unwavering commitment to justice and his infectious spirit will continue to guide future generations of activists and artists.
The family prepares to celebrate his life, Saturday, January 6, 2 p.m. at the Orpheum theater in Flagstaff, Arizona.
(Photo: Klee Benally gathers with other opponents of snow-making on Dec. 11, 2012 outside a federal courthouse in Flagstaff, Ariz. Benally, a Navajo man who advocated on behalf of Indigenous people and environmental causes, has died Saturday, Dec. 30, 2023,, his sister said. AP Photo/Felicia Fonseca)