Navajo president's daughter apologizes for criminal charges

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times
Karis Begaye

FARMINGTON – The daughter of Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye has issued an apology after reports surfaced that she was charged with driving under the influence last month in Arizona.

Karis Begaye, 41, made her remarks in a statement released today by the Navajo Nation Office of the President and Vice President.

"I apologize for being involved in an incident that has brought embarrassment to this administration and to my family and friends," Begaye said.

She also serves as legal counsel for the administration.

Mihio Manus, spokesman for the president's office, said today Begaye remains employed by the administration and is not on administrative leave.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety charged Begaye with extreme DUI, endangerment and criminal damage after causing an accident at about 9 p.m. on April 22, according to an April 23 story by Yavapai Broadcasting in Cottonwood, Arizona.

Yavapai Broadcasting reported Begaye was driving an SUV in a northbound lane when she collided with a semi-truck near Kachina Village.

Kachina Village is an area located along Interstate 17 and south of Flagstaff, Arizona.

Begaye suffered minor injuries and the semi-truck driver was not hurt, the news story states.

She was booked into the Coconino County Detention Facility in Flagstaff on April 23 and released later that day.

Begaye had her initial appearance on April 23. No further action has been taken on the case, according to the Flagstaff Justice Court.

In a separate statement provided by the president's office, Begaye did inform the office she was arrested "for causing damage to a highway guardrail after colliding with a semitrailer."

She also informed the office that "officers reported that alcohol might have been involved," according to the president's office statement.

Her apology today was addressed to the Navajo people in addition to her father, Vice President Jonathan Nez and the Navajo Nation Council.

"This has been an eye-opening experience for me and I am deeply remorseful and I am learning from this event," she said.

Begaye said she will be "aggressively spearheading" a campaign to address and "declare war" on alcohol abuse.

No details were provided about the campaign her statement.

"I am committed to strengthen our great Navajo Nation and this will be my initiative as the first daughter of the Navajo Nation," Begaye said.

Court records in New Mexico listed Begaye as having drunken driving convictions in 2003 and 2005 in Albuquerque Metropolitan Court.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at