The Navajo Nation

Office of the President

     The Navajo Nation

Office of the President

President Nygren hears of passing of Navajo Nation President Peterson Zah

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — Tonight, Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren received the sad news of the passing of Navajo Nation President Peterson Zah.

President Zah, who was the first Navajo president and the last chairman of the Navajo Tribal Council, passed away at the Fort Defiance Hospital this evening with his family by his side. He was 85.

President Zah was born on Dec. 2, 1937, at Low Mountain, Ariz., He served as chairman of the Navajo Tribal Council from 1983 to 1987 and as president of the Navajo Nation from Jan. 16, 1991, to Jan. 10, 1995.

“When it comes to Peterson Zah, he was a legendary figure who really cared about our children, our children’s future and the Navajo Nation’s future,” President Nygren said. “My first remembrance of him is meeting him when I was going to ASU and his smile, his demeanor, about that I could actually get a construction management degree, and then from there learning a lot about what he’s done as a chairman, as a president with spearheading the Permanent Trust Fund and just always being a champion of education and having that voice that’s just so…it’s not fast, it’s not slow but it’s the right pace when he speaks and it’s very strong and to the point and it touches your heart.

“And I just want to say thank you to the Zah family, his kids, his grandkids, his wife and all his relatives out at Low Mountain for sharing with the Navajo Nation such an inspirational leader that will continue to guide us in the right direction as we move forward.”

Navajo Police Chief Daryl Noon said an Honor Guard of about 10 police and fire department vehicles escorted the body of President Zah tonight. It slowly drove around the Navajo Nation Council Chamber and the Office of the President and Vice President.

Representing President Nygren in the Honor Guard was Executive Branch Chief of Staff Patrick J. Sandoval. The president will deliver his first Congressional testimony in Washington tomorrow.

More information will be released on Wednesday.