Sports heroes honored on Council’s first day

Navajo Times | Donovan Quintero
Mixed Martial Arts champion Nicco Montaño from Luckachukai, Arizona, smiles after LoRenzo Bates presents her with a necklace on Monday.


Nicco Montaño was mobbed by adoring fans wanting to get a photograph with her outside the Navajo Nation Council Chamber Monday.

Navajo Times | Donovan Quintero
Members of the St. Michael Lady Cardinals volleyball team are recognized and honored by their delegate, Johnathan Hale, on Monday in WIndow Rock. The Lady Cardinals won the Arizona 1A state volleyball title.

As is the custom during Council sessions, delegates recognize accomplishments of outstanding individuals. During Monday’s first day of the 23rd Navajo Nation Council’s winter session, Montaño; the St. Michael’s volleyball team; two-time American Youth Bull Riding Champion Jacob David from Grand Falls, Arizona; the family of the late Verner V. Duus; and David and Darlene Peshlakai were honored.

After receiving a silver and turquoise necklace, Montaño, a native of Lukachukai, Arizona, went outside and graciously gave half an hour of her time to take photos with people who came to Window Rock to get a glimpse of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s flyweight women’s champion – the first Navajo to ever earn such a title from the UFC.

“I love the necklace,” she said. “It’s beautiful and I know it’s a way for people to show how thankful and appreciative (they are) of what I do.” Although she was happy to take pictures with everyone, she said it was her first time ever attending a Council session and she was trying to get back inside so she could observe the delegates at work.

Navajo Times | Donovan Quintero
Two-time America Youth Bull Riding champion Jacob David, 12, from Grand Falls, Arizona, acknowledges his recognition Monday in Window Rock.

Montaño was accompanied by her mother, Connette Blair. “This is fantastic!” said Blair. “You can really understand the meaning of honor.”

Blair admitted she was apprehensive at first when her daughter wanted to be a professional fighter. The only way she could even understand her daughter’s need to pursue a risky path and actually accept it and support her is by knowing it’s in Montaño’s blood. Her great-grandfather, King Paul Mike, was a Navajo Code Talker and her father, Frank Montano, was a boxer. “This is something (she) is born with,” said Blair.

“This is how she was born … this is how I understand it. Her grandfather was a boxer, her dad was a boxer, and it’s in her blood.”

Navajo Times | Donovan Quintero
UFC champion Nicco Montano, middle, gives an autograph to Dilkon Veterans Organization members Monday in Window Rock.

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Categories: Politics

About Author

Arlyssa Becenti

Arlyssa Becenti reports on Navajo Nation Council, Business, Fort Defiance Agency, New Mexico State politics and Art/fashion. Her clans are Nát'oh dine'é Táchii'nii, Bit'ahnii, Kin łichii'nii, Kiyaa'áanii. She’s originally from Fort Defiance and has a degree in English Literature from Arizona State University. Before working for the Navajo Times she was a reporter for the Gallup Independent. She can be reached at