TWO GREY HILLS, N.M. — Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren can now say he’s skateboarded with his childhood hero.
Not only that, but the President also helped his hero, legendary professional skateboarder Tony Hawk, dedicate a skateboard park, the Diné Skate Garden Project, on Monday in Two Grey Hills, New Mexico, a small remote community that’s nestled against the Chuska Mountains.
President Nygren was in the midst of talking about skateboarding and what it did for him when Hawk casually strolled in. The two shook hands and quickly turned their conversation to skateboarding.
Hawk asked President Nygren he heard he “could do an Ollie.” An Ollie is a basic skateboarding trick that involves popping the tail of the skateboard down while sliding the front foot up towards the nose of the board, causing the board to jump into the air. The trick enables skateboarders to get over obstacles, such as curbs and stairs, and is the foundation for many other more advanced tricks.
The President smiled and gestured with his hands to indicate he was familiar with it.
Before President Nygren and Hawk were about to show off their board skills, fellow skateboarder and artist Di’Orr Greenwood, whose skateboard design, a turquoise-inlaid skateboard that features eagle feathers and colors of the rising or setting sun, is showcased in a new U.S. Postal stamp collection called The Art of the Skateboard, presented them each with a skateboard.
Hawk was given a board that features an eagle and President Nygren was given a board covered with intricate Native designs with feathers on each end.
Soon after the three and about 200 young children, opened the festivities for the skate park, which Hawk’s foundation helped fund the construction of the park.
The Diné Skate Garden Project was organized by 4KINSHIP, according to founder Amy Denet Deal, who began working with the Toadlena/Two Grey Hills Chapter in 2019, eventually started fundraising in 2021.
After breaking in the park, President Nygren took the time to thank Hawk.
“I just want to say, ‘Thank you so much,’ to Tony Hawk, your foundation, the people that donated every single dollar and the leadership that went into this to make this park possible,” President Nygren said. “This park will bring them together, this park will bring them so much opportunity to learn from the art of skateboarding. There is so much teaching — there’s creativity, there’s problem solving, there’s networking, there’s building up your mindset, building your ability to be a person.”
Hawk thanked the President for his passion for skateboarding.
“I’m just honored we at the Skate Park Project are hugely honored to take part in this. I hope that this inspires other leaders,” Hawk said.
He added that he hoped other Navajo Nation communities will create spaces for skate parks for Navajo youth.
Hawk’s foundation, according to its website, has given funding to 661 skateparks across the country.