WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye extends his condolences to the family and friends of Ervin Keeswood, a former delegate representing the Tse Daa Kan (Hogback) Chapter on the Navajo Nation Council, who died Saturday night.

Keeswood was a respected lawmaker who worked tirelessly on housing, natural resources and gaming. Most notably, Keeswood in 2006, initiated legislation that established the Historical Trust Asset Mismanagement Litigation Trust Fund, which allowed the Navajo Nation to file a lawsuit against the United States in December of that year.

The suit claimed the federal government had mismanaged funds and natural resources on the Navajo Nation since 1946..

In 2014, eight years after the lawsuit was filed, the Navajo Nation approved a historical settlement that required the federal government to pay $554 million. The settlement marks the largest ever with a single Native American tribe.

As a member of the 22nd Navajo Nation Council, Begaye served on the Naabik’iyátí’ Committee Trust Mismanagement Litigation Task Force, which was created in September 2013 to assist in negotiations with the federal government. The Council established the Síhasin Fund to accept the settlement dollars.

 Keeswood also was instrumental in bringing gaming to the Navajo Nation. In 2010, he helped celebrate the grand opening of Flowing Water Navajo Casino in Hogback — the first of two gaming facilities to operate in the Northern Agency.

 Upon learning of Keeswood’s passing, Begaye expressed sympathy to all who knew him.

 “Delegate Keeswood was a leader with vision for the future and he will be missed,” Begaye said. “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.”

Information by the Office of the President and Vice President

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