In the Navajo creation story, it is said that upon travelling across the land, Naayéé’ neizghaání (Monster Slayer) returned to tell his mother, Asdzᾴᾴ nádleehé (Changing Woman), what he had discovered. “I have been everywhere, and everywhere I find it is the same. I have been to the edge of the waters. I have been to the boundaries of the sky. I have been among the highest peaks. I have been deep into the lowest crags and canyons. And wherever I went I found no one who was not my friend.”
Dallas Peterman passed to the Spirit World on March 1st while doing what he loved best: travelling across the land and making new friends. Born in Kayenta, in the northwest of Navajoland, he was a student at Diné College. After graduating from high school, he initially took a job in a grocery store in order to provide for his daughter, Blue Sky Peterman. Eventually, following the advice of a relative, he enrolled at Diné College where he took courses in drama and speech. New opportunities arose and he became increasingly active on campus, working in the land grant office during the summers and attending SAIGE and AIHEC conferences throughout the academic year.
Always a free spirit, Peterman regularly hitchhiked from Diné College’s main campus in Tsaile back home to Kayenta. One day while walking down U.S. Route 160 he noticed all the trash along the road. That was the impetus for his legendary 95-mile trek, cleaning up the highways of the Navajo Nation—an odyssey that Tribal College Journal featured in its fall 2016 issue on volunteerism. You can read about it here.
It is said that every star is a setting sun. Like us humans, they pass through the stages of birth, life, and death. And those that shine the brightest have the shortest lives. To Dallas Peterman, ahéheeʼ, for shining so bright and inspiring us all.
Watch Dallas Peterman tell his story here.
Davis, G.R. (2012, June 28). Student Begins 95-Mile Roadside Cleanup. Navajo Times. Retrieved from http://www.navajotimes.com/entertainment/2012/0612/062812pet.php
Peterman, D. (2014, February 13). Interview by Bradley Shreve [Video Recording]. Retrieved from http://tribalcollegejournal.org/from-tsaile-to-kayenta/
Zolbrod, P.G. (1984). Diné Bahane’: The Navajo Creation Story. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press