A Closer Look at the Navajo VP Running Mates

“… Dineh Benally carries the mantle as a vice-presidential candidate on the Joe Shirley Jr. ticket. While going to NMSU, Benally began getting involved in Native American issues, becoming president of the Native American organization as well as the American Indian Science and Engineering Society… The presidential hopeful, Chris Deschene, tapped Fannie Atcitty to be his running mate in part because of her background in education and her work providing guidance as chairwoman for the board of regents for Diné College.” Bill Donovan, NT

Discussion Questions for this post

Dineh Benally. (Times photo - Donovan Quintero)

Dineh Benally. (Times photo – Donovan Quintero)

Dineh Benally

Excerpt: Benally returns to rez to fulfill dream of helping the people -Bill Donovan, Navajo  Times

“Dineh Benally said his life course was not set by his father but by a man who he believes was named Tsosie who came to his ninth grade class and talked about the work done by engineers. The man was there representing BHP and Benally remembers soaking in the information about the role engineers played in making life better for people by developing roads, water and sewer lines and other types of infrastructure that he realized were sorely needed on the reservation. So after graduating from Shiprock High School and then attending New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell, N.M., for two years, he had no problem selecting civil engineering when he went to New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. After he graduated from NMSU, he started using the skills he learned, first at the Navajo Generating Station in Page, Ariz., and then with Intel, a Fortune 500 company.But after four years there, he said he became tired of listening to speeches and writing reports all day and decided he wanted to get back to that dream he had as a high school student — using his engineering skills to help improve the quality of life for his people back home.

The opportunity to use more of what he learned in college in a job that had him often commuting between New Mexico and Oregon.So he signed up with the BIA and began a nine-year career working on building roads, schools and various kinds of infrastructure on the reservation.”

Fannie Atcitty. (Times photo - Donovan Quintero)

Fannie Atcitty. (Times photo – Donovan Quintero)

Excerpt: With a career in education, Atcitty looks to improve life on rez -By Bill Donovan, Navajo Times

“Fannie Atcitty has spent her entire life educating Navajo youth so education will be one of her priorities if she is elected vice president of the Navajo Nation in November.

She was the youngest of 12 children born to Betty and John Lowe who lived in Table Mesa, a small Navajo community about 15 miles from Shiprock. Her early education took place at the San Juan Boarding School where in the 1950s students were punished for speaking the Navajo language.

But despite this, she remembers adapting to the school environment, staying there until she transferred in the eighth grade to the Shiprock public school system, graduating from Shiprock High School.

After high school she married Eugene Atcitty after he returned from the Vietnam War. It was a happy union, she said, lasting until her husband died in May 2000 from the effects of Agent Orange.

The two went to Eastern New Mexico University in Portales where she took elementary education and her husband took courses in business administration and accounting.

When she graduated, she went back to Shiprock where she applied for a job at the Central Consolidated School District and within a month found herself assigned to Newcomb as a reading instructor.

She finally retired as a public educator and an assistant principal after 26 years of service. Because of her experience in elementary education, she was called upon by the state of New Mexico to help in assessing their early childhood education programs in math and science and did work for New Mexico Highlands University and the Shiprock branch of Diné College. When tapped by Deschene to be his running mate, Atcitty said she looked at the challenge as another opportunity to educate people about making the changes needed to improve life on the Navajo Reservation.”

“One word sums up probably the responsibility of any vice-president and that one word is to be “prepared.” ~Dan Quayle~

Discussion Questions for this post

  1. Who is Donald Benally?
  2. What organization did Dineh Benally become  president of while attending NMSU?
  3. What did Dineh Benally  do after he graduated from NMSU?
  4. Fannie Atcitty retired as a public educator and an assistant principal after howmany years of service?
  5. Why did the  state of New Mexico ask Fannie Atcitty to help in assessing their early childhood education programs?


Category: Culture