Erich Rogers of Round Rock, Arizona, and Derrick Begay of Seba Delkai, Arizona, were both honored by Navajo president Ben Shelly last week at a Navajo Appreciation Dinner at Tuscany Suites & Casino in Las Vegas before they entered the 2011 National Finals Rodeo.
"We're always proud to see Navajo athletes succeed at the highest levels of competition," Shelly said in a statement he made from Washington D.C., where he was attending a meeting with federal officials. "We want them to know they have our support, as they represent the Navajo Nation during the National Finals Rodeo."
The Finals kicked off last Thursday, December 1st, and continue until this Saturday, December 10th. Begay came into the finals ranked number one in the country in team roping, header, with earnings of $134,043, while Rogers was ranked number three. In action last night, Begay and Cesar de la Cruz placed third in team roping, with a time of 4.1 seconds, earning $10,673.
The Office the President and Vice President, with other Navajo Nation divisions and departments, have partnered with Navajo Enterprises, KTNN and Navajo ARts and Crafts Enterprise to form Team Navajo, in an effort tot show appreciation to the young athletes for their sacrifice and hard work in the sport of rodeo.
Navajo Nation Council Delegate Roscoe Smith said that seeing the two cowboys makes the entire nation proud. Navajo Nation Museum director Manuelito Wheeler said that he's hoping Team Navajo turns into an organization that supports all Navajo athletes.
"Derrick and Erich have planted a seed, a seed which is Team Navajo. Team Navajo will grow into something larger. One day, it may be in place to recognize and support Navajo People who are accomplishing big things, Wheeler said at the reception.
For more information on the National Finals Rodeo, click here.