It is with great sadness to share that we recently lost a classmate. Chastity Bedonie passed away over the weekend. Many have already shared some wonderful memories of Chastity and our time together at Bryn Mawr over on Facebook. In addition, we received the following from one of her colleagues at the Department of the Interior who asked that her name be withheld:
“I am deeply saddened to report that Chastity Bedonie, one of our colleagues in the Office of the Secretary, passed away over the weekend at the age of 39.
A native of Farmington, New Mexico, Chastity was a proud member of the Navajo Nation. She received a law degree from UCLA and pursued a career dedicated to improving the lives of Native Americans. She served on the staffs of Rep. Brad Carson, the National Indian Gaming Commission, and the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and as an attorney with Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld representing tribal governments.
I came to know Chastity when, as an attorney-advisor for the Office of Congressional Legislative Affairs, she advised me on tribal affairs during my confirmation hearing and later when I testified before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. I saw in her a passion for ensuring the Interior Department meets its trust and treaty responsibilities to tribal nations and accomplishes our mission of helping to build stronger, more prosperous Native American communities.
She played an important role in the settlement of the historic Cobell case, resolution of water rights cases involving tribal nations, and the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, in which she focused on the protection of Native American women.
Most importantly, many of you knew Chastity as a compassionate friend with an infectious smile and a passion for life. As we grieve and honor her memory, I know that she will continue to live on in our hearts and minds.
On behalf of the entire Interior Department, I extend my deepest condolences to Chastity’s family and friends.”
Chastity will certainly be missed by us all. May her memory be a blessing to her family and friends.