The Navajo Nation

Office of the President

     The Navajo Nation

Office of the President

President Buu Nygren attends annual NAC gathering

HEBBRONVILLE, TX. — Not long after attending his first azee bee nahagha, also known as Native American Church, Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren said he met his wife, First Lady Jasmine Blackwater-Nygren. 

Nygren shared his story at the 28th annual Spiritual Pilgrimage in Hebbronville, Texas, where he was invited to speak.

The president and the First Lady arrived on Saturday to speak about the “uniqueness of being Diné.” 

Nygren said the practice of azee bee nahagha gave him purpose, which he has been practicing for eight years. He added it was also how he met his wife First Lady Jasmine Blackwater-Nygren. 

“When I had my first medicine, within months I met my wife,” said President Nygren. “I’m very thankful for the fireplace and the medicine. I was a lost young man.”

Nygren attributes being a NAC believer for his successes. The president said he wanted to publicly give his support. In addition, he said he is the first Navajo president to attend the annual pilgrimage in the last ten years. 

The annual religious journey is in conjunction with the collection of the plant, the peyote, which is a small, spineless cactus.

The peyote has been used by Indigenous people in northern Mexico and the southwestern U.S. as a part of their religious practices. 

While peyote is widely recognized as a medicine that’s used by Indigenous peoples, the cultivation of it is illegal in some states, even if it is intended to be used for religious ceremonies permitted in other states. 

President Nygren said he was planning to make a proclamation supporting the practice of NAC on the Nation. 

“I’m very thankful to be here with you all today. It’s been over ten years now,” said President Nygren.

During his speech, Nygren made the announcement that Steven Benally, an Azee Bee Nahagha member, a founding member of the Board of Directors for the Indigenous Peyote Conservation Initiative, and a practitioner, would now be advising him. 

“If you want to get a hold of the President in regards to Azee Bee Nahagha, Steven Benally will be my advisor and representative,” said President Nygren. “Thank you, Steven, for taking on that challenge.”

Nygren said Benally’s knowledge, being a longtime practitioner, understanding the history of the herb and the medicine and how it is used are why he chose Benally to speak on his behalf when it comes to Azee Bee Nahagha. He also appreciate his guidance and welcomes his advice, the President added. 

Benally has been advocating for NAC and has been focusing his attention on promoting the practice to the youth and future generations. 

Benally shared the commitment they have to make offerings and to be grateful for practicing NAC.

 Nygren made the once-a-year journey to remember and rekindle and continue building upon his beliefs. 

The president and First Lady were presented blankets at the end of his talk. 

The annual pilgrimage discussed the decriminalization of peyote, the creation of a youth committee and NAC ceremonies.