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Former lawmaker Hale dies

Albert Hale

Former Navajo Nation president Albert Hale, who also served as a state representative and senator, died Tuesday after battling with Covid, the Navajo Nation Council announced on its Facebook page this afternoon. 

Hale, 71, served as his tribe’s assistant attorney general before he was elected president, serving from 1995 to 1998. A Democrat, he represented his district, a massive swath of northern and eastern Arizona in the state Senate from 2004 to 2011 and in the House from 2011 to 2017.

“The Navajo Nation prays for the family and relatives of our leader, Hon. Albert Hale,” Council Speaker Seth Damon said in a statement.” 

As a former president of the Navajo Nation, he is remembered for his service and dedication to the Navajo People, which continued beyond the borders of the Nation when he was called to represent our district in the Arizona Legislature. We recognize his positive contributions to the development of numerous initiatives that have advanced the causes of Navajo People both at home and abroad.”

Gov. Doug Ducey ordered flags at state buildings to be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset Wednesday.

“Arizona is saddened by the loss of respected Navajo leader and former state legislator Albert Hale,” Ducey said. “Hale proudly represented the Navajo Nation and state of Arizona for many years, and we are grateful for his dedication to serving others and contributions to our state. My prayers and deepest condolences go to Hale’s family, loved ones and community, and I’ve ordered flags be lowered to half-staff in honor of his life and service.”

Former Rep. Arlando Teller, D-Chinle, who represented Legislative District 7 until resigning on Sunday to take a job with the Biden administration, announced on the House floor last week that Hale had Covid.

Hale was married to Dr. Paula Hale and leaves behind children and grandchildren, according to the tribe’s press release. He was born in Ganado and raised in Klagetoh on the Navajo Nation; his mother belonged to the Áshiihí clan, his father was Tódích’íi’nii, while his maternal grandparents were Hónágháahnii and his paternal grandparents were Kinya’áanii.

Hale graduated from Fort Wingate High School, a Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school east of Gallup, N.M., in 1969, going on to get his bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University and then studying law at the University of New Mexico. He practiced law for decades, both government work for the Navajo Nation and private clients, served as president of the Navajo Nation Bar Association, and represented several Indian nations in a lawsuit against the major tobacco companies in 1999 related to the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement. In the late 1970s, he was part of a lawsuit against the federal government and uranium mining companies on behalf of former miners or their surviving families that resulted in the enactment of the Uranium Miners Compensation Act. He also served as a judge pro tempore for the Laguna Tribal Courts.

Hale also headed the Navajo Nation Water Rights Commission at the time of the negotiation of the San Juan River Basin Water Right Settlement Agreement, which was signed in 2005.

Hale was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence in 2014, although he wasn’t formally charged after a blood test showed no alcohol in his system. An open container charge stemming from the incident was eventually dropped on condition he didn’t break the law for six months.

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