Clay Benally, a Navajo Native American and environmental advocate, has died.
PHOENIX — Clay Benally, a Navajo man who worked on behalf of indigenous peoples and environmental causes, has died, his sister said. He was 48 years old.
Benally died Saturday at a Phoenix hospital, Jeneda Benally said. His cause of death has not been disclosed.
Clay Benally was one of the most vocal opponents of snowmaking at Flagstaff’s Arizona Snowbowl ski resort. At least 13 tribes consider the mountain, which is on public land, sacred.
He was also one of the activists who gathered outside an NFL stadium in Metropolitan Phoenix in 2014 to protest police brutality and racial profiling and denounce the offensive team name previously used by the Washington, D.C., franchise. .
Benally advocated for the cleanup of abandoned mines where uranium ore was extracted from the Navajo Nation for decades to support U.S. nuclear activities during the Cold War.
He also spoke out against an ordinance banning camping on public property in Flagstaff to address homelessness.
“There is no compassionate way to enforce a no-camping ordinance,” Benally said in 2018, when officials refused to change the 2005 ordinance. “Life is already difficult enough for our relatives on the streets and without shelter.”
Benally was also a guitarist and played with his sister and brother in the Native American punk rock band Blackfire.