Kayenta Mourns the Loss of Town Manager Keith Betsuie

KAYENTA, AZ –  The Kayenta Township Commission and staff would like to inform the public of its loss on Wednesday evening, June 2, 2010, Kayenta Town Manager, Keith Betsuie.  He was 47 years old.

Early Thursday morning, over 40 community people comprised of Kayenta Township staff, local leaders, Police Officers, and dignitaries gathered at the Town Hall to pay their condolences.  Shonto Chapter President and Kayenta Rodeo Task Force member Lorenzo Isaac spoke about his friendship through High School with Mr. Betsuie, “He was always a very good guy.  Keith returned to his community because he was ready to do the work that was necessary for the Township and the community,” he said.  “Also, when he was a young kid, we all used to call him ‘Francis’,” he said.    
Keith was a native of the Kayenta community, and had recently returned from the city of Maricopa where he worked as a Tribal Liaison, to take on his work as the Town Manager for the Kayenta Township.  He was just about to complete his first three months as Town Manager.

Madame Chair Helen Bonnaha and three Commissioners went into Executive Session to delegate Community Development Director, Gabriel Yazzie as the Interim Town Manager.  “In the short time that Mr. Betsuie worked at the Township, we’ve taken some very important steps.  We just need to continue the momentum that he has set,” she said. 

Keith Betsuie is Kinlichii’nii, the Red House clan born for To Aheedliinii, Water Flows Together.  His maternal grandparents are Kinyaa’aanii, Towering House.  His paternal grandfather is Ashiihii, the Salt clan.  He was born in Gouldings, Utah and raised in Kayenta, Arizona.  He is a graduate of Arizona State University.   

Mr. Betsuie’s previous experience includes working in Washington D.C. as a Legislative Associate.  While there, he worked on many issues such as Public Safety, Judicial Courts, BIA Trust Reform, the Tribal Sovereignty Protection Initiative, Homeland Security, Navajo-Hopi relocation and monitored U.S. Supreme Court cases important to the Navajo Nation.

As an active citizen, Keith served as a member of the Navajo Green Economies Commission, which was hand-picked by the Navajo Nation Intergovernmental Relations Committee.  This Commission was founded based on legislation that was passed by the Navajo Nation Council called the Navajo Green Economy Fund of 2009.  For several years, he also served as Vice-President on the Kayenta Chapter Community Land Use Planning Committee.  Keith is also a member of the Nahata Dziil Leasing Corporation, the Arizona County City Managers Association, and an Executive Member of the Construction in Indian Country.

As more information will be forthcoming throughout the day, funeral arrangements and family meetings will be announced at a later time.  Or, for more information, you can also call the Kayenta Township at (928) 697-8451.

Join the Conversation


  1. Keith and family,
    A lost like this would bring on a day of re-treat and recoconition, but not the way my friend saw it. His passion of communitte involement surpassed common coriosity.
    Thank You Keith for allowing me apart of your life.

  2. Keith was my co-worker and friend during his time at the Navajo Nation Washington office. You never met a more dedicated worker or more consistent friend. Keith was a beacon for his culture and a devoted husband and father. He was articulate and smart and a pleasure to work with and be around. I am so very sad to hear of his passing. My condolences to his family. Keith, I will always remember you and I will offer prayers in your honor. Rest well, you were a great man.

  3. I have had the privilege to have known Mr. Betsuie for the past 6 years. He was an excellent human being. We in the building safety community will miss him greatly. Rest in Peace my brother.

  4. It is such sad news that such a kind and gentle man has left our presence but his passion and commitment to his community will live on in his spirit and through his children. We at AAED and economic developers around the state will miss him. He will be remembered in our hearts as a great arbitrator and peace maker. Our lives were blessed to have known such a great man.

  5. Thank you, Keith, for the opportunity to know a truely genuine human being. The great skills you exhibited in all facets of your time here at the City of Maricopa were an inspiration to all of us that had the pleasure of working with you. Your family will always be in our prayers for the best of the future wherever they go in life. Having had your great example of integrity, love of family, love of heritage, and hardwork will stand us all in good stead for our future activities in life.

  6. Having known Keith or as his multitude of personal friends called him “Francis”, all his life, there have been so many facets to this much loved and great person that I don’t know where to start. He had so much history for such a young life as was expressed at his family memorial gathering and yet we barely scratched the surface. I will share at least one acknowledgment of his multi talented interests and life activities – from the Arizona National Guard: “On behalf of Major General Hugo Salazar, Adjutant General of Arizona please
    extend our heartfelt condolences to Mr. Betsuie’s Family and thank them for
    his HONORABLE service to Arizona and the United States of America.

    Jeff Thomason
    Administrative Assistant
    Records Holding
    Joint Forces Headquarters – Arizona

  7. I am honored to have known Keith. We attended ASU together and I have known him to be a very kind and considerate person. He had tremendous goals and ambition to serve his community. I am very sad that he is no longer here as our leader. He always desired to help advance the opportunties of the Navajo people. He was a visionary and a very wise person. He loved his wife and chldren-they ment the most to him. May his family take confort in knowing that he was respected by many. I wish him well on his final journey home. This world needs leaders like him, honest, true and dedicated. I will miss you my friend.

  8. I had the privelage of working with Keith at the City of Maricopa. His heart was in Kayenta, and he talked about it often and fondly. He was much more than a Building inspector and Tribal Liaison, he was a true, genuine, caring human being. I, for one, mourn his passing as few like him are ever to grace our presence again.

  9. Keith was my brother. He’s been gone now for 8 years and I carry so much of what he taught me with me. I think he was able to go far because he stuck to his beliefs. I am so lucky to be his little sister. I miss him everyday. I’m so thankful I had such a wonderful brother to show me what is possible for a little Navajo girl. Thanks for that Fran.

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