August 27, 2022- In the middle of the 1990s, a gentleman took the helm of Native American Baha’i Institute, which heretofore had been a project of local Dineh and White residents, and persuaded a good number of us to adopt a series of best practices. The focus was to remain on serving the needs of the local community, but with a wider vision-improving the educational programs, both spiritual and academic, which were beginning to be offered by the Institute. The gentleman and his wife administered the Institute for 3 years or so, then were called to do other work in the Phoenix area. Their philosophy and programs, while being put in the background by their immediate successors, never went away and have found new life, in the present administration.
Joel Orona, MBA, PhD, worked tirelessly on a variety of programs during his long career, which ended a year ago today. His soul’s work was to uplift both the view that the First Nations peoples of North America have of themselves and the view that mainstream America has of its Indigenous inhabitants. Academic standards held by Dr. Orona were very high, and so was his commitment to presenting the culture of his ancestral Apache people. He did both, and with his wife, sons and grandchildren, was a familiar face at various cultural institutions associated with Native American art, music and dance.
This morning, several people from around the planet celebrated the life of Joel Orona, his radiant spirit and long list of accomplishments, in a special First Year remembrance. He accomplished much, to the betterment of the Dineh (Navajo), the Akimel O’odham (Pima) and his own Apache (Inde) people, over four decades. None of those achievements, however, eclipsed his role as husband, father and Tata (grandfather). This was underscored by the remembrances each of his family members had of him.
Radiance remains, long after a person of substance is gone.