Treasures of the Family History Library - The Native American Obituary Project

The obituary photo of the distinguished gentleman in suit and tie brings to mind the mayor, a pastor, or community business leader. The newspaper account records humble beginnings.

In his lifetime, Atcitty Begay witnessed 101 years of historical events. As a young boy in the year 1912, he witnessed his native homeland transition from territorial status to statehood when New Mexico and Arizona became the 47th and 48th states in the Union. He was of the generation to bridge the traditions of two cultures.

A Native American of the Salt and Descheenie Clan, Atcitty was born July 15, 1897 at Rock Point, Apache County, Arizona. He was one of nine children. His father was a silversmith and his mother wove rugs and raised sheep. He was married to Nellie Begay for approximately 85 years. The parents of five children, they were members of the Shiprock Christian Reformed Church. He worked for the Navajo tribe and retired from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Branch of Roads after 30 years. He leaves an extensive posterity to honor his name. (The Daily Times, “Obituary, Atcitty Begay”, Farmington, New Mexico: November 1998)

The threads of his life have been woven into a rich and intricate pattern to be found in the collection of the Family History Library.

If your ancestral research includes Native American heritage from Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, or Utah, the Native American Obituary Project will be of interest. The published volume, which has also been microfilmed and digitized, is titled, Native American Obituaries. It is one of countless treasures of the Family History Library, accessible on site, online, or through a local Family History Center. The Family History Library Catalog provides a full description.

This compilation of over 500 pages features newspaper obituary clippings for unique surnames: Blackhorse, Blueeyes, Coyote, Mailman, Manygoats, Slowtalker, and Tallbrother. More traditional names indexed include: Benally, Charley, George, Johnson, Lee, Smith, and Thomas.

The project originated with volunteers at the Farmington, New Mexico Family History Center. The obituaries range in date from 1977 to 2001. They come from the following newspapers:

  • The Daily Times (Farmington, New Mexico)
  • The Winslow Mail (Winslow, Arizona)
  • Montezuma Valley Sun (Montezuma, Colorado)
  • Cortez Journal (Cortez, Colorado)
  • Navajo Times (Window Rock, Navajo Nation, Arizona)
  • Lake Powell Chronicle (Page, Arizona)

The descendants of Atcitty Begay residing anywhere in the world can now read his complete obituary in a digital format to learn more about the life of their grandfather and the relationships in his family.

Links and Websites:
Native American Obituaries: A Project of the Farmington, New Mexico Family History Center
The new Family History Library Catalog provides book and film call numbers.

Native American Obituaries
The FHL Classic Catalog provides a link to the digital version.

BYU Family History Archives, Digital Collections
Or go to, select “Books” and “Visit the BYU Archive”, enter title or author

Farmington, New Mexico Family History Center
Find directions and hours or search for a local FHC

Family History Library
Click “FamilySearch Centers” on the homepage, arrow down and click on “Family History Library”

Find A Grave
Begay Memorial #21432013

Official Site of the Navajo Nation

Comments (5)

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  1. I am very interested in my Native American Heritage. My great great grandmother Mary Waters was on the Trail of Tears as a child. I hope to find more info about her family.

    Guiola 02 October 2011
    7:12 pm
  2. I am fully blooded Native American from the Navajo Tribe and I always thought that there was definitely not a way that I could ever research my ancestors because I was under the impression that their probably wasnt as detailed of records. Im so excited to get started.

    Lottie O. 10 July 2011
    11:59 pm
  3. This is in reference to my Mothers side of the family. She and her brothers and sisters have mentioned that our family had Indian blood that goes back aways. My grandfather Charles L. Flowers resembles Indian and my grandmother (Mamie) has features of Indian. She was 15 when married to my Grandfather. It was much older that my grandmother. How can I research to see if this is true.

    Shirley Clark 29 June 2011
    2:52 pm
  4. This is wonderful I dont have Native Americans in my family line so far as I can see but this is great to know about. I spend as much time as I can at our family history center and am always encouraging my friends to discover their ancestors. Thank you to all the wonderful people who compiled this information . Many will benefit from their hard work and dedication ... Kim

    Kim Ryan 16 June 2011
    6:34 am
  5. Thanks for the story on Mr. Begay. My daughter-in-law's Aunt is related by marriage to Mr. Begay. I will have to let her know about this article. Thanks again and I will pass it along to the family that such a nice article has been posted on this site.

    J. Bristow 13 June 2011
    1:51 pm

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