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Former Navajo Nation President Albert Hale Dies From COVID-19 Complications

AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File

Former Navajo Nation President Albert Hale has died at the age of 70. He served as the tribe’s second president in the 1990s and later several terms in the Arizona Legislature. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

According to Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez’s office, Hale died Tuesday from complications of COVID-19. Officials learned of his condition last Friday.

Hale was elected president in 1994 and was a fierce proponent of tribal sovereignty. But he was alleged to have misspent tribal funds and faced possible criminal charges. He avoided prosecution by resigning in 1998.

Hale was appointed by former Gov. Janet Napolitano to finish a term in the Arizona State Senate to which he was later elected, along with a seat in the State House until 2017.

Hale served as chair of the Navajo Nation Water Rights Commission, which negotiated a major San Juan River settlement for the tribe. He had also served as the Navajo assistant attorney general.

Hale was born in Ganado on the Navajo Nation.

Ryan Heinsius was named interim news director and managing editor in January 2024. He joined KNAU's newsroom as an executive producer in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.
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