The Buddy Whitethorne Foundation is a non-profit entity established with the purpose of recognizing the significant contribution of Bahe Whitethorne, Jr, known to his family and friends as Buddy. Buddy was an artist who inspired others through the creation of his art and the personal energy that he radiated. Two primary components of an artist’s career development are Artistic Technique and Business Fluency. The Foundation will assist young Native American artists in the development of their careers with scholarships and other financial support, and mentoring. The Buddy Foundation Mentors are some of the premiere Native American artists of the Southwest. All of them knew, loved, and respected our friend Buddy.


The Foundation honors the life and legacy of Navajo artist Buddy Whitethorne (1977-2018) through encouragement and support for young Native American careers in the arts. In addition to financial support, all recipients will receive mentoring from noted artists and organizations with significant profile in the Native American Arts. Mentoring will include artistic applications as well as business fundamentals.

Board of Directors

Baje Whitetorne SR.

It is with deep sadness that we advise Baje passed away November 17 at his home.  In the words of Johnson Yazzie

Father taught us that we are each, like our language, a reflection of the culture that sustains us from the day of our birth until the end of our days.  The way water feeds a flower, the culture nurtures and preserves you for what seems to be too short of a lifetime.

Baje, through his art, returned the favors given to us in our culture by further nurturing and preserving it through art pieces of beauty. 

Art was Baje Whitethorne’s gift to us all.

Baje had been a Working Artist for over 40 years. During that span he has served as a Cultural & Art Consultant and has significant accomplishments in assisting and mentoring in the Native American community in art and in small business development. He has exhibited at schools, in communities, at prestigious museums across the USA and in Art Centers around the world. He has worked with the Navajo Nation Office of Tourism and Arizona State Office of Tourism developing tribal tourism and promoting the understanding of tourism for economic development on tribal lands.

Baje is the author of two children’s books and illustrator of 9 children’s picture books. He was the recipient of the Western Heritage Wrangler Award for Best Juvenile Book from the Cowboy Hall of Fame Museum in Oklahoma City.

He has worked with the Art in Schools program, literature, Navajo culture, language and numerous mural projects with students in the Four Corners region of the western United States.

He served as Vice President and President for the American Indian & Cowboy Artists Association. As their President, he initiated the beginnings of the Masters of America West Exhibition at the Autry Museum in Los Angeles, California.

He directed the creation and installation of 10 culturally significant wall murals for the Navajo Nation at the Twin Arrows Hotel & Casino.

Baje served as President & Chairperson of the Shonto Economic Development Corporation for 5 years where he guided the construction contracting, finance, and Community Development for the Shonto Marketplace.

He is the 2018 recipient of the prestigious American Indian Excellence in Leadership Award from the Phoenix Indian Center. This recognition celebrates individuals and organizations in Arizona who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and commitment to the advancement, promotion, and development of the cultural, educational, social, economic, or political welfare of the American Indian community or have provided significant contribution to the American Indian economy.

He was most recently honored by the Heard Museum as the recipient of the 2019 Spirit of the Heard Award for his work as founder of Art of the People, an affiliation of premiere Native American artists who encourage a new generation of artists to a renewal of the tradition of excellence, activating, preserving and invigorating our Native American culture.

Patti Whitethorne

Priscilla “Patti” Whitethorne has a notable and prestigious career as a healthcare administrator that spans several decades. She graduated with her bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from Northern Arizona University in May of 1983, and later her master’s degree in Education in December of 1989. In December of 1993, Patti received her second master’s degree in Health Services Administration from Central Michigan University.

Since then, Patti has worked all over the state of Arizona, serving first as a health center director, then as a chief operating officer, acting area director, and chief executive officer. She presently works as a health care administrator for the Kayenta Health Center. Patti has received many awards for her work in the healthcare industry including the Tucson Area Director’s Award for Excellence in 2006, Health Services CEO of the Year Award in February 2009, the Direct Services Tribes CEO Award in August 2011 and most recently, the 2015 Tucson Area Director’s Award for Excellence.

Patti is also an accomplished bead worker and was one of 23 artists interviewed for the book Navajo Beadwork: Architectures of Light by Ellen K. Moore. She is known for her beaded hatbands and belts. She is the mother of the late Bahe Whitethorne Jr. and co-founder of the Buddy Whitethorne Foundation.

Taina Whitethorne

Taina L. Whitethorne is Buddy’s older sister. She received her Bachelor’s of Arts in Business Management at Northern Arizona University in 1999. Her academic emphasis was Accounting and Management. She is a Flagstaff native and  resides in Flagstaff with her children. Currently she is employed at Safeway as a Merchandiser Department Manager. She has been a Safeway employee for 15 years. Taina enjoys art work herself. She hand makes native design ornaments for the holidays and enjoys sewing native ribbon skirts. 

Devina Whitethorne

Davina is Buddy’s younger sister. She graduated from the University of Phoenix with a Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice in 2012, and recently in 2018 from the University of Oklahoma with a Master’s in Legal Studies in Indigenous People’s Law. She brings over 15 years of administrative experience to the foundation as Secretary. She currently works for a non-profit that provides legal services to low-income individuals and tribes. The foundation will allow her to preserve her brother’s legacy through art and giving back to the communities he loved.

Candace Marie Hamana

Candace is the owner of Badger PR, a boutique public relations firm servicing clients located in the Phoenix metropolitan area and tribal communities throughout Indian Country. Badger PR offers media relations, content creation, community outreach planning and development, and grant project management. She serves as vice-president for the Hopi Education Endowment Fund and is the Tribal committee vice-chair for the Arizona Association for Economic Development. Candace has fond memories of her cousin Buddy growing up as a child and later watching him develop into a talented graphic designer, illustrator, teacher, and artist. She hopes her work through the Buddy Whitethorne Foundation will continue his legacy of giving back to the community, mentoring future artists and encouraging the love of art around the world.

Mike Finney

Mike served as President and principal owner of AZ Communications Group providing marketing and media relations services to Native and non-Native businesses, communities, and organizations throughout the state of Arizona. Mike and a partner built and operated the Grand Hotel and Canyon Star restaurant in Tusayan, the gateway community to the Grand Canyon South Rim. Mike directed marketing for tourism promotion for the Navajo Nation, he created the concept and implemented the Hopi Arts Trail, and serves as an advisor to the Moenkopi Developers Corporation. He previously served as interim CEO to the Moenkopi Developers Corporation where he developed the business plan, and directed all marketing for the Moenkopi Legacy Inn – the largest economic development ever on Hopi tribal land that has created employment and opportunity for tribal members. He served as Vice President on the Executive Board of the Hopi Education Endowment Fund – HEEF. Mike has had the opportunity to work with Baje on several projects including development of the Buddy Foundation. Mike knew and respected Buddy and is honored to serve on the Buddy Foundation Board.

Ben Hufford

Ben Hufford has been an attorney for over 50 years. He came to the Southwest in 1971 to represent Navajo, Hopi and other Native American clients as an attorney for DNA Legal Services. In approximately 1974 together with fellow Legal Services attorneys, Martha Blue and Roy Ward, he founded a law firm in Flagstaff, Arizona. The original firm evolved into Mr. Hufford’s current firm of Hufford, Horstman, Mongini, Parnell & Tucker P.C. The firm has offices in Flagstaff and Tucson, Arizona. The law firm emphasizes Native American and education law . Mr. Hufford is pleased to be a member of the Board of Directors and associated with the Buddy Whitethorn Foundation.


Stephanie Smith

Stephanie joined Northern Arizona Healthcare in 2018 as an Office Coordinator, specializing in referral management and insurance authorizations.  She graduated from Northern Arizona University in 2009 with her Bachelor’s of Science in Health Sciences with an emphasis in Community Health Promotions and minored in English: Creative Writing.  

She has over 12 years of experience working in the healthcare and academic settings.  Having grown up in Many Farms, Arizona, Stephanie has a passion for improving access to healthcare for the Navajo Nation.

She is the late cousin to Buddy and is honored to serve as a board member for the foundation.


Elaine came to Flagstaff to begin a new adventure and it has been quite an adventure. She met her husband Randall J Wilson on August 18, 2003 one month to the date of arriving and the rest, as some say, is history.  Randall is an artist who joined the association of Native American artists called Art of the People in 2010 and developed a close relationship with both Baje Senior and Buddy.  Elaine joined Randall, Baje Sr, and Buddy working with Art of the People doing event planning and developing various fund-raising activities including the popular Coin Toss at Art of the People events.

Elaine brings with her 36 years of experience as a Health Care Medical Provider.  She is a Physician Assistant and currently practices in North Country Healthcare clinics where she has many Native American patients from both the Navajo and Hopi tribes.  She serves as a Radiation Exposure Screening Education Program (RESEP) Clinician administering Downwinder exams at this Community Health Center.  She has a passion for bringing medical care to these underserved communities.

Elaine also has a passion for helping to promote Native American artists and encouraging young emerging artists to follow their dreams and help mentor them alongside other accomplished Native artists. She has a very close connection with the Whitethorne family and treasures her time that she did get to spend with Buddy when he was among us. 

Advisory Board

Manley Begay

Manley A. Begay, Jr. is a tenured Professor in the Department of Applied Indigenous Studies (AIS) and Department of Politics and International Affairs at the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff (NAU).  Professor Begay is also an affiliate faculty member of the W. A. Franke College of Business at NAU.  He is also, director of the Tribal Leadership Initiative in the Office of Native American Initiative at NAU.

Professor Begay earned his: 1) A.A. from Navajo Community College in 1975; 2) B.A. in Education from The University of Arizona in 1977; 3) M.Ed. in 1984 and Ed. Spec. in 1985 in Educational Administration from Brigham Young University; 4) M.Ed. in 1989 from Harvard Graduate School of Education, Harvard University; and 5) doctorate at Harvard Graduate School of Education, Harvard University in 1997.

Maternal Clan: Ma’ii Deesgiizhinii (Coyote Pass – Jemez Clan) Paternal Clan: Taachii’nii (Red Running into the Water People).  Maternal Grandfather’s Clan: Lok’aa dine’e (Reed People) Paternal Grandfather’s Clan: Todichi’ii’nii (Bitter Water)

Martha Blue

Martha Blue’s careers as a lawyer, writer and artist reflect her decades of living, schooling (Prescott High School and University of Arizona graduate), and working in Arizona and its Indian country. She put herself through college and law school.  In 1967, she and her late former husband, Roy Ward, became early lawyers in the fledging DNA Peoples Legal Services Inc. (Dinebeiina Be Agaditahe, Inc.) for Navajo, Hopis, and Paiutes in Western Navajo. There she instituted an Indian welfare law reform unit. Then she spent a year lawyering in the new Micronesian Legal Aid Service on Ponape in the Eastern Caroline Islands. 

In 1973, she started a private practice in Tuba City and in the border town of Flagstaff, Arizona, specializing in Indian law. She was general counsel for the Havasupai, the People of the Blue-Green Waters, for nearly two decades. In addition, as a writer herself, she represented writers, authors, and small presses.

She has served as Chair of the Arizona State Bar’s Art Law Committee; Regional Director of Books for Kids and in 1990 distributed 100,000 books for children in Reservation schools to take home (she received the Parnassus Award for this volunteer work); founder and officer of the Friends of Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site; and a board member of the Museum of Northern Arizona, Friends of the Flagstaff Public Library, NACA (Native Americans for Community Action) as well as other public service organizations.

 In 2000, she was chosen as one of 100 women and minority lawyers who contributed to Arizona’s legal history. When the Center for the Colorado Plateau Studies NAU existed, she was a research associate.  Her book publications include a NARF, Native American Rights Fund, text on Indian welfare (co-author). She contributed to a law review article on the same subject; McGraw Hill and Northland Publishing published her self help lay person books, MAKING IT LEGAL and BY THE BOOK; the Museum of Northern Arizona’s Plateau journal on trading posts included her piece “A View from the Bullpen: A Navajo Ken of Traders and Trading Posts“; Dine College Press published twice a paper she gave at a Navajo Studies Conference, i.e. THE WITCHPURGE OF 1878; in 2000  Kiva Publishing released THE LIFE AND TIMES OF J. L. HUBBELL, an ethnobiography of an Indian Trader which book received several awards; and Salina Bookshelf published an illustrated bilingual story of a young Navajo girl who wanted to learn to weave, i.e. LITTLE PRANKSTER GIRL. Plus, she’s authored dozens of articles in periodicals ranging from as New Mexico Magazine to Southwest Art. In writing an article for Southwest Art on Baje Whitethorne, Sr. in the 1980s, she met Baje Jr., Buddy, when he was a youngster,  when he helped his dad teach an art class she took from Baje Sr., and then often when Buddy was at Salina Bookshelf during the publishing process of LITTLE PRANKSTER GIRL.

While working in Indian country, she was introduced to weaving, as well as carding and wool dying. This morphed into painting and monoprinting. She’s been in several group art shows in Northern Arizona and has won awards for her weaving and art. 

Her numerous teaching and presentations, both regionally and nationally, includes the subjects of Indian Welfare for OEO, the BIA, and Welfare Rights Conferences; Publishing, Art law, and Indian Trader history at the annual spring Tucson Book Festival,  Heard Museum, Desert Caballeros Museum, Wheelwright Museum, Museum of Northern Arizona,  Arizona Authors Association, National Romance Writers Association, Rocky Mountain Publishers Conference, Dine and Cochise Community College, and Northern Arizona University. She team taught with Irene Silentman, linguist, a Navajo culture and history class at NAU spring 1990, plus an evening class on Art and Writing Law for several years at NAU. 

Martha lives in a passive solar home in Flagstaff that her late husband, Oliver W. Johnson—a  NAU biologist, designed and built himself with NAU students assistance. She has one daughter, Zoe Lonetti, who lives in Flagstaff as well.