Chapter backs effort to protect Ashlynne's name
LOWER FRUITLAND – Members of the San Juan Chapter threw their support behind a resolution to recommend a halt to fundraising activities that do not have the consent of Ashlynne Mike’s father, Gary Mike.
Shawn Mike, who is Gary’s nephew, said that while the family appreciates the support they continue to receive, they are also concerned about unauthorized fundraising activities that are using the name of the 11-year-old girl who was kidnapped and murdered last week. Ashlynne was the daughter of Gary Mike and Pamela Foster.
“It’s sad that through this time of tragedy there’s people out there that want to make money off of this. That’s what we are finding out,” Shawn Mike said.
The decision to support the resolution was made in a special meeting Tuesday at the San Juan Chapter house.
Among the examples Shawn Mike said include a now-defunct Wells Fargo account that was set up in Glendale, Ariz. and fraudulent gofundme accounts that were created last week. He also said he is looking into a fundraising effort that is taking place in Gallup.
“This is damaging to Pamela and Gary and they don’t need to hear this about what’s going on. People are trying to get rich, trying to make a dime off of them and off of this and it is wrong. It needs to stop,” Shawn Mike said.
Also, the gofundme account that was created by K’e Diné with a photo of Ashlynne Mike is no longer active.
The Mike family has set up an email account where the public can contact them about conducting fundraising efforts and share details about fundraisers.
The email address is email@example.com.
The family is now requesting donations be submitted to the Wells Fargo Bank account under “Ashlynn Mike Memorial Benefit Fund.”
In brief comments, Gary Mike said he appreciates the individuals who have contacted him about fundraising.
He shared text messages from the Albuquerque Police Department about a fundraiser held Tuesday that collected approximately $1,400.
Gary Mike said another text message explained the donation was deposited into the Wells Fargo account.
“That is something that should be communicated with anyone that’s working with raising funds or benefits for Ashlynne Mike,” Gary Mike said.
Darrell Foster-Joe, who spoke on behalf of her sister, Pamela Foster, said the family wants the activities to be legitimate.
Chapter members also supported a resolution that recommends Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye and Vice President Jonathan Nez hold off on scheduling any traditional Navajo or church ceremonies without the knowledge or consent of Gary Mike.
San Juan Chapter President Rick Nez said the family was informed the president’s office was planning such an activity for Wednesday in Window Rock, Ariz.
In a statement released late Monday evening, the president’s office said it was not planning a ceremony in the near future.
Tsé Daa K’aan Chapter resident Harry Peshlakai Sr. was among those who shared his thoughts about such activity.
Peshlakai said in Navajo that, traditionally, individuals wait four days after a loved one is buried before planning ceremonies.
“They see these things as sacred decisions that have timelines,” he said.
Annie BlueEyes, also from Tsé Daa K’aan Chapter, said traditional ceremonies should only involve the family.
“It’s not for us, it’s a private ceremony,” BlueEyes said.
In other developments, President Begaye announced the creation of a taskforce to develop and implement an alert system to notify the Navajo people of abductions and other emergencies.
He assigned Jesse Delmar, director of the Division of Public Safety, and M. Theresa Hopkins, director of the tribe’s Telecommunications Regulatory Commission, to take the lead in developing the taskforce.
The taskforce has a time frame of 60 days to have an alert system in place, according to the press release.
Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.