This article was originally published by Four Points Press on December 1, 2021.
Our dearest Joanne Bedonie Old Crow, 62, crossed the veil into the spirit world on December 1, 2021.
Joanne was born on September 16, 1959 in Tuba City, Arizona to Joe and Elma Lou Bedonie.
Joanne was a Navajo woman who was of the Tł’ízí Łání / Manygoat Clan and born for the Ta’neeszahnii / Tangle Clan. Her maternal grandfathers were of the Bįįh Bitoodnii / Deer Water Clan and her paternal grandfathers were of the Táchii’nii / Red Running Into the Waters Clan.
Joanne came from a very large extended family, which included her own children, grandchildren, her siblings, aunts and uncles, cousins, and friends within her community. She was not one to just walk by anyone she knew. She greeted everyone as her relative acknowledging them through her Navajo kinship. This is a Navajo cultural practice she learned from her mother and grandmother. Joanne knew lots of people between Montana and Arizona.
As a child, she grew up and went to school in Tuba City. She began her school years at the Tuba City Boarding school and attended the boarding school until second grade. She attended the Indian boarding school in Tuba City for two years as a young student. There after she transferred to the Tuba City Primary School until the fifth grade. Joanne graduated from eighth grade at the Tuba City Junior High School in 1974. She graduated from high school in 1978 from Tuba City High School. In high school her best friend introduced her to her love of powwow dancing and music.
Upon graduation, she set off to attend the LDS Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho, now known as Brigham Young University-Idaho. She attended from 1978 to 1981 and received her Associate’s Degree in psychology. While attending Ricks College she met Newton Old Crow Jr. and began dating. As a result of this courtship, they eventually married. They began their civil marriage at the Tuba City court house in Tuba City on December 27, 1979. They later married in the LDS Idaho Falls Temple in 1983 where their children Vanessa and Brennon were sealed to them. In 1980s they moved between Montana, Idaho and Arizona.
Together they had four children. Their first daughter Vanessa was born in Crow Agency, Montana in 1980. Their son Brennon was born in Rexburg in 1981. Their third child Deona, was born in Tuba City in 1986 and their youngest daughter Sariah was born in Phoenix, Arizona in 1991.
Joanne was ambitious as a young person as she learned basic Navajo rug weaving from her mother. As a young married woman, she made small Navajo rugs that she sold to help her family financially while attending Ricks College. Joanne enjoyed Northern style beading. She learned this style of beading from her sister-in-law the late Ursula Badhorse. With this skill she made powwow regalia for multiple people. She was well-known for her northern style beadwork and people admired her work. She also liked to make powwow shawls for northern traditional woman dancers. She learned to crochet from her eldest sister the late Rena Bedonie Molina. With this skill she made baby blankets, booties and doilies.
For many years, Joanne worked for the Tuba City Boarding school as a teacher, substitute teacher and student mentor. she enjoyed these jobs because she loved teaching her Navajo students. She was involved in many extracurricular activities with her students, like the Tuba City Boarding School Indian club, American Indian Science Engineering Society, and she tutored students in all subjects.
In 2003, Joanne also taught preschool at the Tsinaabaas Habitiin (Gap) Elementary School. In Tuba City Joanne and her family became involved in the Navajo Song and Dance community. Her father Joe Bedonie was a well-known traditional Navajo song and dance singer who influenced their involvement into these events. These events became very competitive to the point that they would regularly win money, trophies and prizes. Joanne and Newton Jr. lived in Tuba City the longest and in 1999 they divorced.
Joanne attended Dine College in Tuba City and Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, AZ to continue her studies in Elementary Education. In 2001, through a mutual friend, Joanne met Emery Zeena, a Hopi and Tewa man. Emery took her to the seasonal Hopi ceremonial dance on the Hopi reservation, because he participated in them. They dated for years and were engaged to be married prior to his death in 2004.
She is survived by her children Vanessa Jo Old Crow, Brennon (Lorita) Old Crow and Sariah Old Crow; her grandchildren, Cedar Darling Chase, Lucile Mae Goes Ahead, Lamani Goes Ahead-Old Crow, Katelyn, Casey, Kailani, Bailey and Tirzah Old Crow, and Marv, Destiney and Abigal Old Horn; her siblings, Robert Bedonie Sr., of Tuba City, Irene Bedonie of Farmington, New Mexico, Lorraine Red Day of Flagstaff, Arizona, Margaret Jefferson of Wyola, Montana, Clara and Chris Bedonie of Salt Lake City, Utah; numerous nieces and nephews; and many close friends and relatives in Montana and in Arizona.
Joanne was preceded in death by her daughter Deona Autumn Old Crow; her eldest sister, Rena Bedonie Molina; her parents, Joe and Elma Lou Bedonie; her maternal grandparents, Zoe Polly and Herbert Zohnnie Sr.; her maternal aunts, Sadie Yazzie, Julia Hadley, and Jennifer June; her maternal uncles, Wilson, Norman, and Herbert Jr. Zohnnie; her paternal grandparents, Esitty Yazzie Bedonie and Hastiin Tso Bitsi’; her paternal uncles, Ray, Frank, and Chee Sr. Bedonie; her cousins, Chee Jr., Michael, Norman, Timothy, Paul, Benjamin and Norman Bedonie; and her nephews, Anthony Bedonie and Dakota Red Day.
Our beloved mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, and friend Joanne Bedonie Old Crow lived a fulfilling life until the age of 62. We will always remember her love, humor, and dedication to family and friends. Our Heavenly Father was extremely generous in sending such a beautiful and compassionate spirit. We were truly blessed! We love you, Joanne.
Funeral services were held on December 7, 2021 at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Hardin, Montana. Burial followed at the Lodge Grass Cemetery. Bullis Mortuary was entrusted with the arrangements.