Navajo Nation mourns loss of revered educator

Leaders of the Navajo Nation are mourning the loss of Robert A. Roessel Jr., a non-Indian who died last Thursday after spending more than 50 years on the reservation as an educator. Roessel was 79.

Roessel moved to the reservation in 1950, founded the Rough Rock Demonstration School in 1966 and served as the first president of the Navajo Community College, now known as Dine College, starting in 1968. He authored several books on Navajo culture and education, and was revered as an elder.

"Dr. Roessel came to our land as a young man and embraced our culture with his whole heart," Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr. said in a statement. "Then he taught us, one after another, to love who we are as individuals, as a people and as a culture."

Harry Walters, director of the Dine College Museum, said Roessel was a strong advocate of self-determination. "He really believed that Navajos should determine their own education in Navajo society," Walters told The Farmington Daily Times.

Get the Story:
Respected educator dies at the age of 79 (The Farmington Daily Times 2/21)
Navajos mourn loss of “towering” educator (The Native American Times 2/21)
Longtime educator on Navajo Nation dies at 79 (AP 2/19)

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