WWII Code Talker and longtime NM lawmaker dies at 94
The Associated Press
By: Morgan Lee and Mary Hudetz
May 26, 2019
An unassuming appearance and manner belied Pinto's political determination that carried him through 42 years in the Legislature. Laurie Canepa, the senior librarian for the Legislative Council Service, said that made him the longest serving senator in state history.
In this Feb. 2, 2018, file photo Democratic New Mexico state Sen. John Pinto talks about his career as a lawmaker on American Indian Day in the Legislature on in Santa Fe, N.M. (Morgan Lee/AP)
SANTA FE, N.M. — John Pinto, a Navajo Code Talker in World War II who became one of the nation’s longest serving Native American elected officials as a New Mexico state senator, has died. He was 94.
Senate colleague Michael Padilla confirmed Pinto's death in Gallup on Friday after years of suffering from various illnesses that rarely kept him from his duties.
After serving as a Marine, Pinto was elected to the Senate in 1976 and represented a district that includes the Navajo Nation for more than four decades. The region is one of the poorest in the country.
"Words cannot express the sadness we feel for the loss of a great Diné warrior," said Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, using the indigenous word for Navajo. "He dedicated his life to helping others."
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