Family, tribal leaders remember former council delegate

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times
Navajo Nation

FARMINGTON — A former Navajo Nation Council delegate who died on Saturday is being remembered for his devotion to family and his willingness to share his political knowledge.

Ervin Keeswood Sr., 61, died on Saturday at the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque, according to his sister, Esther Keeswood.

He represented Tsé Daa K'aan chapter for four terms – from 1995 to 2011 – as a member of the former 88-member tribal council.

Esther Keeswood said in a telephone interview Monday that her brother ran for the council at the urging of community members in Hogback, where he lived.

"He was outspoken," she said about her brother's disposition then added his advice was still sought by community members and council delegates after leaving the council.

Keeswood remained busy with family, including his wife, Della, and their four children and six grandchildren, and with a consulting business he started, his sister said.

Keeswood was instrumental in sponsoring a bill in 2006 that established the Historical Trust Asset Mismanagement Litigation Trust Fund, according to a press release from the Navajo Nation Office of the President and Vice President.

The bill also authorized the tribe to file a lawsuit against the United States for the mismanagement of trust funds and for not providing an accurate account of revenue derived from the tribe's natural resources and lands.

In September 2014, then U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell authorized payment of $554 million in settlement of the tribe's claims during a signing ceremony with Navajo officials in Window Rock, Arizona.

Speaker LoRenzo Bates served with Keeswood on the council and started representing Tsé Daa K'aan Chapter after the council membership reduced from 88 to 24 members in 2011.

Bates described Keeswood as a "very bright and caring family man" who was open to sharing his knowledge and experience in a statement on Monday.

"His presence in the council chamber, his sense of humor and generosity and, most of all, his stories will be greatly missed. On behalf of the Navajo Nation Council, we offer our condolences to his family and loved ones. His spirit will always remain in our hearts and minds," Bates said.

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye sent his condolences to the Keeswood family in a press release on Monday.

"Delegate Keeswood was a leader with vision for the future and he will be missed. He was dedicated to his community and to the Navajo Nation. He got behind projects that promised economic security in the communities he served and the Navajo Nation as a whole. He knew how to move things forward," Begaye said in the release.

Keeswood's parents were Raymond Sr. and Lucy Keeswood. He was Ta'neeszahnii (Tangle Clan), born for Táchii'nii (Red Running into the Water People Clan), according to Esther Keeswood.

Funeral arrangements were pending as of Monday.

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