Pictured: Chris Honahnie with other Indigenous youth knowledge holders at UNFCCC COP 26 in Glasgow Scotland, November 2021; Chris delivering wheatberries to Diné families in New Mexico during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
We are deeply saddened to share the news that Isawhoya (Christopher “Chris” Honahnie), Hopi and Diné, passed away in a car accident in Payson, Arizona along with Tayla Tracy, Diné Nation, described by her family as Chris’ “best friend”.
Chris was due to speak in a panel on defending Indigenous food sovereignty and territories at ORFC 2023 as part of his work with the International Indian Treaty Council.
At the time of his passing Chris was IITC’s Food Sovereignty Program Co-coordinator. His work included bringing together traditional Indigenous food producers to share their seeds, methods and knowledge with one another, and attending international gatherings to defend the resilience of Indigenous knowledge and practices in the face of climate change. Working with his family to take care of the soil and seeds in his own homeland was his greatest commitment, and the foundation of his life’s work and purpose. Everywhere he spoke, he always credited his mother and his grandmother for the teachings he was able to share and pass on.
Chris was a resolute practitioner of his Hopi ceremonial way of life and spoke his language. He was a strong advocate for the importance of Indigenous young peoples continuing to learn and speak their languages as a foundation of Indigenous food sovereignty and resilience in the face of climate change and spoke to this issue in a presentation to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York in 2022.
Chris is remembered for his smile, kindness, intelligence, calm and steady presence, wisdom, humility, cheerful good humor, clarity of purpose, and commitment to defend Indigenous rights, seeds, spirituality and ways of life. Many also recalled his generosity and unhesitating willingness to offer help and support, with a good heart, to anyone who needed it.
Chris was laid to rest in Moenkopi (Mùnqapi) adjacent to Tuba City Arizona, in a traditional Hopi burial ceremony on December 30th 2022. In his Hopi tradition, Chris will journey to the home of his ancestors, where he will be welcomed with great honor and open arms.