Rest In Power to our fellow Warrior Klee Benally

Klee Benally 1975-2023

I will forever be grateful for the time I got to work with Klee. He was a family friend from Black Mesa, Arizona – over the hill from our sheep camp. As a youngster my sisters and I were deeply impacted by Blackfire. I was in middle school and then into high school. We were little misfits, always getting into trouble. We loved heavy metal and punk music. When we got the chance to mosh at one of Blackfire’s shows, best believe we were there. Blackfire’s message made us feel heard and alive as youth. They gave us the chance to turn our young anger toward fighting for our people. One day the universe sent them our way. While in school at Monument Valley High School, my sisters and I started a walk out and protest outside our high school due to the mismanagement of school funds. Blackfire just happened to show up that day and we spent the rest of the afternoon making zines at the school cultural center. Our zine was called “unheard voices”. They taught us to write down our grievances and share with the school and community. Blackfire impacted so many Indigenous youth!

I’m thankful for what Klee has taught us – our group Az to Rally Against Native Mascots and our #NotYourMascot movement. Klee worked tirelessly to provide the graphics, shirts, banners, posters, website, and technical assistance, but most of all, he influenced and guided our philosophy and politics knowingly and unknowingly throughout the years. As someone who was trying to find her footing and politics in the movement, Klee provided guidance and critiques. When people say he was uncompromising, this was true when he shared his critiques even if they were difficult to hear. We listened, we agreed or we disagreed but we took that with thought and/or action. His thought was uncompromising but that is what guided many of us. He was a great mind, one of the greats of our time.

Recently my sister Davona and I were talking about how we felt at ease when Klee and Princess showed up at our action or event. It was as if our big brother was there and we felt protected. We could take a deep breath knowing he was there. He has contributed so much to our movement and many other movements. Without his help we wouldn’t have had the success in our fight against Native mascots and Native appropriation. Klee will be missed but he will live on as we share his legacy, read his latest book and zines, play the anti-colonial board game he made. He will live on as we keep him in thought when we march, protest, and advocate for our people. Ahéhéé to Princess for your work as well. Your strength in standing with Klee allowed him to do this work. Ahéhée to his family and extended family. My family and group appreciate you.

With love, Amanda Blackhorse

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