The Latest: Navajo leaders mourn death of state senator

The Latest: Navajo leaders mourn death of state senator

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SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on the death of Navajo Code Talker and state Sen. John Pinto (all times local):

3:40 p.m.

Navajo Nation officials are expressing their sadness and condolences over the death of New Mexico state Sen. John Pinto at age 94.

Navajo National President Jonathan Nez said Friday that Pinto was both a warrior and a dedicated politician who changed many lives for the better.

In a statement, Nez said people will miss Pinto and his sense of love and compassion.

Navajo Nation Chief Justice JoAnn Jayne says Pinto recently helped secure state funding for a local justice center and that the Navajo people have lost a legendary man.

National Council Speaker Seth Damon says that Pinto's life and work will have an impact that lasts for generations.


2:40 p.m.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is paying tribute to deceased Navajo Code Talker and state Sen. John Pinto as a wise and gracious lawmaker who fought to preserve American freedoms in World War II.

Pinto was New Mexico's longest serving state senator upon his death Friday at age 94.

Lujan Grisham calls Pinto a state icon and an American hero, describing his 42-year career in the Legislature and wartime service as a Marine.

She says she will miss Pinto's good humor in the state Capitol.


2:20 p.m.

The death of Navajo Code Talker and New Mexico state Sen. John Pinto has touched off an outpouring of tributes and remembrances.

Friend and Senate protege Michael Padilla of Albuquerque on Friday called Pinto a "hero and institution" who helped better inform the state Legislature on issues related to poverty, education and access to vital government services.

Relatives of the state's longest-serving state senator highlighted Pinto's work on behalf of the Navajo people. In a statement, they thanked Pinto's political constituents for the happiness that Pinto enjoyed as a senator.

New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver urged people to reflect on Pinto's life and accomplishments over the Memorial Day weekend.

Pinto died Friday in Gallup at age 94.


12:40 p.m.

John Pinto, a New Mexico lawmaker and one of the nation's longest serving Native American elected official, has died. He was 94.

State Senate colleague Michael Padilla on Friday confirmed Pinto's death in Gallup.

Pinto was a World War II-era Marine who trained as a Navajo Code Talker and served in the New Mexico State Senate for more than four decades as a Democrat. He represented an impoverished district in the Four Corners area.

Born in Lupton, Arizona, on the Navajo Nation to a family of sheep herders, Pinto didn't start formal schooling until age 12. He was placed in Native American board school where he ran away several times.

Pinto earned a master's degree in elementary education and was elected to the New Mexico Senate in 1976.

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