MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON [HUNTER BEAR   3/21/05]

Ned A. Hatathli of Navajo Nation:  Visionary, Trail-Blazer, Mentor of Mine

AND, IT IS A TOUGH BUT NECESSARY CALL --  "LAST THINGS" ON LIFE'S TRAIL  [HUNTER BEAR, 3/23/05]

VIGILANTES AND LYNCH MENTALITY [HUNTER BEAR, 4/02/05]

REMEMBERING RAYMOND NAKAI  [HUNTER BEAR, 8/16/05]

Note by Hunter Bear:

This is going only to the BWB and RBB lists, where relevant interest is
strong. I wrote this recently to the son of Ned Hatathli.  Beba, who [like all
members of our family] knows very well the setting -- the land and
its people -- commented:  "Very moving, very nicely stated.  No
coincidences here."

Among the many signal contributions of Ned was the founding of Navajo
Community College [now Dine' College] -- the very first of the tribally-
controlled colleges of which there are now about three dozen.

I have, on a couple of occasions, posted my piece, From Swastika
to Jim Crow, on a PBS film discussing Jewish refugee academics
who were given safe and mutually productive bastions in the
private Black colleges of the Deep South a half century or so ago.
Much mentioned in the film was the late Dr Ernst Borinski
of Tougaloo College [Mississippi] with whom I was privileged to
teach.  In my post, I also mentioned those refugees from this
country who, beset by the political witch-hunts of the last
mid century, sometimes wound up in the tribally-controlled
Indian colleges.  And I discussed my friend, Phil Reno, of
Navajo Community College [now Dine' College] where I myself
taught for several years. Phil's fine book is: Mother Earth,
Father Sky, and Economic Development: Navajo Resources
and Their Use [Albuquerque:  University of New Mexico Press,
1981]. The book is dedicated to "Ned Hatathli: Scholar,
Gentleman, Naat' aanii."  And Phil, presenting me with an
inscribed copy of the book, provided this kind inscription:
"For John Salter: Warrior & Companero en la lucha."

Phil died a few days later at Farmington, N.M.

A Naat' aanii is someone considered extremely wise, to whom the people
listen.

H.


________________________________________________________________

It is very good to hear from you.  Interestingly, just yesterday afternoon I
took down one of my large scrapbook/notebooks, opened it, and saw the front
page and several other pages from the Navajo Times which, with a large photo
of your father on the front page, announced his tragic passing.

Like all really great people, your father did not aspire to "greatness" --
but he was very much a truly great person.  Thus he was, and I say this in a
positive and complimentary way, a very complex person.  I knew some of these
dimensions, as did my father. Of course we did not know them all. If I can
add to your knowledge and that of your sister, then our website and the
whole computer thing [which to me is still very mysterious] will have served
a highly important purpose.

Ned is mentioned a number of times in my writings on our large Lair of
Hunterbear website.  If you need a guide in that vast array of articles,
etc., please call on me -- although, frankly, I have been known to get lost
down in there. [If, in addition to this letter, I can be of any further
help, do not hesitate to contact me.]

My father was the first Native person to be hired as a professor at Arizona
State College, Flagstaff. [And for many, many years he was the only Indian
faculty member there.] His field was fine art.  He had several
college/university degrees although he had never had a day of high school.
He was a fine father and a great artist and a wonderful teacher -- none of
which seemed affected by his slowly increasing drinking.  He was not well
treated by the ASC administration [and Flagstaff itself was hardly a
pervasively friendly town to Indians] and, as the years passed, Dad's basic
circle of close friends included mainly the growing number of Indian
students at ASC and their families.  He helped the students organize a very
active Indian students' association. [In addition to your father, there was
[and these are just a few names], Rebecca Dotson [Navajo] who was later
Rebecca Martgan and is now, I believe, Rebecca Lynch; Calvin Chavez
[Laguna]; Lester Oliver [White Mountain Apache.]

Raymond Nakai, a good friend, was active in the Flagstaff setting at that
point.  I don't believe any of us -- certainly not me -- had ever heard of
Peter MacDonald.

Your father was a highly creative and excellent artist.   He and my father
naturally gravitated toward each other and Dad spent much time with Ned.  At
the same time, your father became an important friend of our family.  We
lived in pretty hostile Sunnyside -- now called East Flagstaff -- but moved
to the far north end of Flagstaff itself.  Many of the Native students and
very much Ned spent a good deal of time there.  My mother, an Anglo, was
working on her Master's degree at ASC, with a focus on multi-cultural
education and very much on what the regional state colleges and universities
should be doing on behalf of Indian education. Her thesis, which broke new
ground, reflected that and our considerable travels in Navajoland. [I can
remember the road to Chinle as a rough road with ours one of the very few
motor vehicles on it.]

Your father was always a good friend of mine.  Even though I was ten or
eleven years younger than he -- I was just starting my Teen years -- he took
me seriously, listened to what I had to say.  At the same time, I -- not
always especially noted for listening carefully -- listened carefully to
him.  My father bought me an old used 44/40 Winchester [Model 1892 lever
action] at Babbitt's hardware.  It had been formerly owned by a sheep herder
and was my prized possession.  He planned to take me deer hunting, but
something interfered on that first day of the Arizona deer season.  I was
quietly devastated. Learning of this, Ned came immediately to our home and
took me himself -- out into the Cinder Hills east and northeast of
Flagstaff.  Although on that one -- we hunted several times together
thereafter -- we got no game, we had a great time.  As we went along that
morning, we encountered and skirted many of the numerous Anasazi ruins, and
he told me what he knew about those old-time people.  As the next few years
passed, he gave me some important insights into Dine' culture which I have
always remembered with much appreciation.

In May, 1951, your father got his degree from ASC and so did my mother.
 I -- and a friend who sometimes lived with us in Flagstaff, Lee Taylor
Benally from the Shiprock area -- both escaped from Flagstaff High School
via our own graduation.  There was a celebration of all of this at our home.
When Lee was killed on 666 in 1955, while home on leave from the Navy, it
was Ned and also Raymond Nakai who called our home and reported this very
sad news.

I remember very clearly your father and Rebecca [then Dotson], and others
sitting in our family living room and sharing some very visionary dreams.
Your father talked often of the need for a genuinely Navajo-controlled
college and Rebecca talked of the need for Navajo-controlled elementary and
high school education.  From your father's vision, of course, came NCC and
from Rebecca's, Rough Rock.

I went on to various things, but always remembered your father with an
especial warmth and great appreciation.  Occasionally, we exchanged letters
and I believe the last time I heard from him was in October, 1970.

My father and Ned kept in very close touch all the way through, and Dad kept
me posted on your father's mounting accomplishments:  work with Navajo
resources and then with Navajo Arts and Crafts [your father asked mine
several times to serve as one of the art judges and Dad was always highly
pleased and honored to do so] -- and then, the highly significant emergence
of Navajo Community College:  materialization of Ned's Great Vision.

When my father called in October 1972 to me [we then lived at Chicago] and
told me of your father's passing, I felt, of course, a tremendous sadness.
A Great Mountain had lifted, high into the sky.  I have always missed your
father very much indeed.

In the spring of 1979,  during a College crisis, a good friend, Peter
Deswood, Jr., then Councilman for Tsaile/Wheatfields, asked me to speak at
length at the Lukachukai Chapter House on my recollections of your father.
His father was Councilman at Round Rock and his sister, Virginia Ami, taught
with me.  Attendance at that Lukachukai meeting was extremely heavy.  I
spoke for well over an hour on the great contributions of your father.

Across from me on the wall was the portrait of Raymond Nakai.

I am now 71 years of age.  In my own life, there have been -- in addition to
my own father -- only two or three adults who played highly significant
roles in my development as a [hopefully] committed and productive human
being.

And one of those was Ned.

Yours, Hunter Gray [John R Salter, Jr]  Pocatello, Idaho

Explanatory Notes:  Arizona State at Flagstaff eventually became Northern
Arizona University. Raymond Nakai was Chairman of Navajo Nation for two
terms involving 1963 - 1970  and was followed by Peter MacDonald.  I listened to
the two debate outdoors in 1978 at the edge of Window Rock.  The name Benally is
pronounced Benaali.

And this added note:

I have, on a couple of occasions, posted my piece, From Swastika
to Jim Crow, on a PBS film discussing Jewish refugee academics
who were given safe and mutually productive bastions in the
private Black colleges of the Deep South a half century or so ago.
Much mentioned in the film  was the late Dr Ernst Borinski
of Tougaloo College [Mississippi] with whom I was privileged to
teach.  In my post, I also mentioned those refugees from this
country who, beset by the political witch-hunts of the last
mid century, sometimes wound up in the tribally-controlled
Indian colleges.  And I discussed my friend, Phil Reno, of
Navajo Community College [now Dine' College] where I myself
taught for several years. Phil's fine book is,  Mother Earth,
Father Sky, and Economic Development: Navajo Resources
and Their Use [Albuquerque:  University of New Mexico Press,
1981]. The book is dedicated to "Ned Hatathli: Scholar,
Gentleman, Naat' aanii."   And Phil, presenting me with an
inscribed copy of the book, provided this kind inscription:
"For John Salter: Warrior & Companero en la lucha."

Phil died a few days later at Farmington, New Mexico.

A Naat' aanii is someone considered extremely wise, to whom the people listen.

H.


HUNTER GRAY  [HUNTER BEAR]   Micmac /St. Francis Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
www.hunterbear.org
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
and Ohkwari'

In our Gray Hole, the ghosts often dance in the junipers and sage, on the
game trails, in the tributary canyons with the thick red maples, and on the
high windy ridges -- and they dance from within the very essence of our own
inner being. They do this especially when the bright night moon shines down
on the clean white snow that covers the valley and its surroundings.  Then
it is as bright as day -- but in an always soft and mysterious and
remembering way. [Hunter Bear]

As I often say, It's critical to always keep fighting -- and to
always remember that, if one lives with grace, he/she should be prepared to
die with grace.

IT IS A TOUGH BUT NECESSARY CALL --  "LAST THINGS" ON LIFE'S TRAIL

[HUNTER BEAR  3/23/05]

Note by Hunter Bear:

The Schiavo experience with government should alarm all sensible human
beings -- and it certainly appears to be doing just that.  People of a wide
variety of political perspectives are registering their strong opposition to
Federal and state involvement in personal end-of-life matters.

The following is an introductory excerpt.  I made this initially, addressed
to my oldest son, John [Beba], on the RBB list.  Following this I have a
little more that I wish to add.

{This current thing about the poor lady in Florida is sounding in a national
sense increasingly like the frantic and desperate maneuverings that used to
go on in the Magnolia State during the Ross Barnett administration
[1960-64.] Then, the Leg -- controlled almost totally by the [White]
Citizens Councils --could seriously take up the possibility of secession and
affiliation with the Union of South Africa while the Gov was "interposing"
himself between the US government [including the USSC] and his Great State
of M. All of this, of course, involved the perception of Hideous Danger via
racial desegregation [i.e., the Jim Meredith entrance into Ole Miss -- and
produced a massive, bloody riot carried out by inflamed Whites.]

As you know, it fell to me to make, after much consultation, the decision to
withdraw life supports from my father -- following his two massive strokes,
comatose status, and no hope for any recovery. It was, again as you know, a
decision that took me a month to formulate.

[My father, of course, was John/Beba's grandfather.]

Within a few hours after I entered the hospital here for the first of three
times -- this being early September '03, Eldri and I were given the Living
Will forms. I was not expected to make it much longer. We filled those out
right away, indicating we wished only moderate efforts on our behalf.

Given the Fantasy Atmosphere, I could, if it weren't for the fact that our
little family would be bereft at my departure, seriously consider the Far
Side of the Hills -- or a silence-practicing Trappist monastery.]
___________________

After many years of one quart of 100 proof Old Crow per day [this did not
affect his very positive qualities as a husband and father or his fine art
ability or his higher ed teaching], my father [for whatever reason] stopped
his blood pressure medicine.  And then he had his two massive strokes.

At the same time, my mother suddenly went legally blind.

It fell to me as the oldest offspring to handle all of these things.  With
Beba, and then from Chicago on with my[Wisconsin] brother, Richard, I
traveled from Rochester, NY to the Phoenix area.  Dad was unable to move and
could only communicate by blinking his eyes. I arranged for Catholic last
rites [Viaticum]. We stayed for several days, he was fading into basic
unconsciousness, we helped mother work out initial arrangements regarding
her logistical problems. We then agreed that we'd return to our homes, and
that I would take periodic soundings.  I did this for a month, learning with
each call that matters were worsening. Dad's primary care physician was a
young neurologist, a Catholic, who had recently attended a retreat dealing
with end-of-life matters.  We related well to each other.

To him, I said "I don't want my father hovering between this world and the
next."

During that month, I spoke with several Catholic clergy, good friends [I was
Diocesan director of social justice activities], and with Native elders.  I
spoke at much length with the Diocesan Canon Lawyer, an especially good
friend and supporter  -- very well trained in Rome.

From all perspectives, I determined there were no substantive objections to
withdrawing life supports when a person has hit the end of his or her
earthly Sunset Trail.

At the end of the month, my father was comatose with no hope for any degree
of recovery.  In fact, there was a strong probability of a very slow,
prolonged death via starvation since his body could only absorb a limited
number of calories.

I returned to the Phoenix setting, consulted with the neurologist, and then
the family, and made the decision to withdraw all life supports.  Mother
wrote a fine and sensitive statement indicating her approval.  We were both
with my father when he slipped away. And so, too, was my brother, Mike.

It fell to me, again, to make the funeral arrangements.  As those were being
"done," the funeral director, beaming, told me, "This is the first Indian
that we've ever done."

Yours, Hunter Bear

 

Thank you Hunter.  I made a similar decision on behalf of my  deceased
husband.  It is never undertaken lightly.  But there was no one else to
consult.  It would have been wrong to ask my son or my brother to share this
decision.  I would not ask either of them to carry any feelings of guilt or
sense of questioning.  Old childhood lessons told me what I chose was wrong.
But my husband saved me from the guilt.  Five minutes after they withdrew
life support, he began breathing on his own.  He lingered for about 12 hours
and then died peacefully in his sleep.  I still believe to this day that he
came back to save me from the burden of the unreasonable guilt I felt for
telling them to remove the life support.

Norla [Antinoro]

 
Hunter - I wanted to send you a note and tell you how much I enjoy your
contributions, particularly this one. It was so kind of you to share that
event with us. I hope that you are well and I do send a prayer to the gods
for you. Recently, I was finally able to round up a copy of your book and
enjoyed it thoroughly. You certainly picked the right times to live through
and made lasting contributions.

peace,
Susan Klopfer

 

At 02:38 PM 3/23/05 -0700, Hunter Gray wrote:

>The Schiavo experience with government should alarm all sensible human
>beings -- and it certainly appears to be doing just that.  People of a wide
>variety of political perspectives are registering their strong opposition to
>Federal and state involvement in personal end-of-life matters.

Indeed. On yesterday's BBC news they reported that more than 2/3rd in a
nation-wide poll opposed Congress/Bush/religious-right interference in this
case. (I no longer watch any US "news" programs.)

--bruce
[hartford]  3/23/05

VIGILANTES AND LYNCH MENTALITY [HUNTER BEAR  4/02/05]

Note by Hunter Bear     4/02/05

Last night, I watched a national television segment on the so-called "Minute
Men" -- a conclave of several hundred, some say maybe even a thousand --
so-called volunteers, often armed, and ostensibly  committed to traveling
the Border and defending Arizona and the Nation against the so-termed
"Brownskinned Hordes of Illegal Immigrants."  The "project", hastily
recruited in a great many instances via the Internet -- and thus without
even a pretense of prior interviewing -- appears to be operating out of
Tombstone.  That is a historic gunfighting town of yore, one of whose major
industries for a myriad of past decades, has been that of capitalizing on
the Gunfight at OK Corral -- where Wyatt Earp and his brothers and "Doc"
Holliday shot it out in 1881 with their personal adversaries. As the
Twentieth Century wended its way, eventually into our present period,
Tombstone has lived increasingly in Fantasy.

This Tourist Trap town is not, however, the basic problem -- which is just
plain Anglo  racism -- prevalent and pervasive throughout the Southwest,
often centering on Mexicans, Mexican-Americans, and Native Americans who are
broadly found in the vast region. [Of course, "others" are targets as well:
Blacks, Asians, Middle Easterners.]  And not-big Tombstone is not the prime
recruiting source: plenty of these self-appointed come from the now very big
cities of Phoenix and Tucson and smaller urban settings in the region.  [Let
me hasten to say that these foregoing urban areas include many very fine and
nice folks -- quite a few of whom are old friends of mine.]

While some Minutemen, I am sure, are probably [sadly] Real Rural Arizonians,
most strike me as Drug Store Cowboy types.

Where I and others come from -- Northern Arizona and other sparsely
populated areas [as well, for example, here in Idaho where I now live]  --
we view these ostentatious gun-toters as a joke.  Problem is, this conclave
of Border vigilantes is but one remove away from the Ku Klux Klan and that
metamorphism could occur for some with tragic speed.

Based on the television footage I saw last night, many of them are not in
"fit condition" by any standards -- and the rough country and severe heat
will probably quickly "cool" their ardor damn fast.
April in the desert country -- "the land of little water" -- is hot summer
in many other places. There are lots of sharp and spiny cacti -- and rough
rocks.  And then, of course, there are always the friendly rattlers.

All of this has been properly denounced by Mexican and United States
authorities
[though only tepidly by the Bushies] and by some state and local officials.

I was quite young when two Anglo Californian men were apprehended by our
county sheriff and a well organized and thoughtfully recruited posse.  [Our
county, Coconino, is the geographically largest in Arizona and the second of
such in the whole country.]  These two had broken into a ranch house in an
outlying area, held the elderly occupants at gunpoint, tortured them with
red-hot wires in an effort to locate their [non-existent] fortune, and
killed one of them.  Once apprehended, these genuine villains were held in a
branch jail which was quickly surrounded by local people, many carrying
ropes.  To his credit, the sheriff and his deputies nonviolently held off
these justifiably enraged ranch people and eventually got the killers into a
jail in another county.  At the time, my circle of inter-ethnic friends and
I, though not physically present, supported the people-with-ropes.  After I
had grown a bit older, I knew better -- I recommend Walter Van Tilburg
Clark's fine anti-lynching novel, The Ox-Bow Incident [many editions, one
has a foreword by Wallace Stegner] and the excellent 1943 film of the same
name.]  Still young, I directly saw and experienced and heard about enough
violence in Mississippi and other Deep South settings, to know individual
and collective madness only too well.

The  victims in the South were usually innocent. The targets on the Border
are peaceful people from Mexico and sometimes further south.

In the final analysis, this particular Minuteman "crusade" will thin and
fall away -- among other things, in the face of the physical/geographical
vicissitudes, at least some Federal hostility and that of responsible local
lawmen, mounting community disapproval and fears of "public image" as some
of the zealots turn to open violence, intra-group factionalism.

But a lot of folks could get hurt and some killed before this organized
sickness hits the skids.  And then, in time, given the tragic persistence of
racism, new vigilante groups will arise.

This has been going on, down on the Border, for a long, long time.  Here,
immediately following, is a post I made three years ago.

Someday we will all know better.

Racist stuff in Cochise County, some labor history, and the eternally good
words of George W.P. Hunt  [Hunter Gray   2/20/02]

http://www.hunterbear.org/western_issues_2.htm

Note by Hunter Bear:

I am very glad to quote herewith the time-honoured words of the "Old
Governor" of Arizona -- George W.P. Hunt: words which apply with the force
of an old-time single-jack metal miner's hammer to the current mess in which
our country swims today -- and to the people responsible for it.

This posted article deals with very current Klan-type, anti-Mexican
Anglo-racism centering in Cochise County, Arizona.  Nothing new about these
vile goings on in this general region -- except that the nature and conduct
of the current US administration et al. and the generally poisonous national
mood have provided, in the minds of these thugs, carte blanche.
Fortunately, there have always been many decent and courageous people of all
ethnicities in the Border Country and well beyond in all directions. But the
history of this region has been dramatic and sanguinary.

Cochise County [Arizona], was the scene on July 12, 1917, of the
Phelps-Dodge Copper organized "Loyalty League" roundup and deportation of
1200 striking copper workers at Bisbee [not counting three that were
killed.]  This was in the context of the great IWW-led copper strike that
stretched from Butte, Anaconda, and Great Falls down to the Mexican border.
The 1200 were taken without food or water by box cars and dumped at
Columbus, New Mexico.  They were Chicano, Anglo, Oriental, and Native --
either members of the IWW or members of Mine-Mill [or both, a practice that
actually lingered through the 1950s in the Western copper situation.]  The
Bisbee Deportation followed the July 10  deportation of about 100 IWW and
Mine-Mill members -- at Jerome, Arizona, just south of Flagstaff -- by a
"Loyalty League" organized by the United Verde Copper Company.  These
workers were dumped in California and then driven back into Arizona by a
California sheriff's posse -- and finally imprisoned at Prescott, Arizona.
In the early morning hours of August 1, 1917, Frank H. Little,  Cherokee
Indian and Chairman of the IWW General Executive Board, was taken from his
Butte boardinghouse by gunmen employed by the Anaconda Copper Company.  With
a rope around his neck, he was dragged by automobile through the outlying
streets of Butte for two miles before being hanged from a railroad bridge
trestle. Frank Little, crippled from a car wreck at Jerome, was on crutches
and was in Butte to assist the strike in Montana where he had just delivered
a stirring anti-War speech.  His funeral was the largest ever held in the
State of Montana.

No one was ever punished for any of these atrocities.  But, soon after these
horrific events, the "liberal" Wilson administration moved through the
Justice Department to round up 150 top IWW leaders on charges of violating
the "Espionage Act" -- hastily passed legislation outlawing anything
construed as "interfering" with the War effort [including, of course,
strikes  fundamentally motivated  by static wages and rampant inflation.]
In three massive Federal trials in 1918 -- Chicago, Wichita, Sacramento --
the defendants were all convicted and sentenced to heavy prison terms.
Eventually, as earlier with also victimized Gene Debs, they were released by
President Warren Harding.


Arizona [with New Mexico] had only become a state in 1912 and its fiery
Governor George W.P. Hunt -- who had come into the Territory on a mule and
who was essentially a socialist -- later denounced the brutal vigilante
actions against copper workers in an extraordinary address before the
Arizona Legislature:

"At this juncture I am sorely troubled for lack of a word, a phrase, an
expression with which to give poignant utterance to that which is in my
heart; to adequately describe a certain sort of thing in human shape that
wears the outward semblance of a man, but yet is a craven cur; whose heart
is as malignant as a cesspool; whose mind is a sink of infamy. . . .Such a
thing is the "profiteering patrioteer," the detestable hypocrite who, with
sanctimonious demeanor, goes through the mummery of patriotic service,
though striving all the while to profit by his country's dire distress; to
vent a personal prejudice under the guise of patriotism, or to gain for
himself a pecuniary advantage under the starry folds of his country's flag
with which he drapes his sorry soulless figure.  There is no word in all the
range of human tongue from Sanskrit to Anglo-Saxon with which to describe
this creature, so I abandon the effort in despair."

>From Vernon H. Jensen, Heritage of Conflict: Labor Relations in the
Nonferrous Metals Industry up to 1930 [Ithaca:  Cornell University Press,
1950], pp. 426-427.

Hunter Gray [Hunter Bear]


HUNTER GRAY  [HUNTER BEAR]   Micmac /St. Francis Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
www.hunterbear.org
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
and Ohkwari'
 

HUNTER GRAY  [HUNTER BEAR]   Micmac /St. Francis Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
www.hunterbear.org
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
and Ohkwari'

In our Gray Hole, the ghosts often dance in the junipers and sage, on the
game trails, in the tributary canyons with the thick red maples, and on the
high windy ridges -- and they dance from within the very essence of our own
inner being. They do this especially when the bright night moon shines down
on the clean white snow that covers the valley and its surroundings.  Then
it is as bright as day -- but in an always soft and mysterious and
remembering way. [Hunter Bear]

As I often say, It's critical to always keep fighting -- and to
always remember that, if one lives with grace, he/she should be prepared to
die with grace.

REMEMBERING RAYMOND NAKAI  [HUNTER BEAR, 8/16/05]

Note by Hunter Bear:

I learned yesterday of the passing of Raymond Nakai, one of the great
leaders of the Navajo Nation.  The leaves fall but it is never easy.

[Please see a reasonably good attached news story from the Farmington, NM
paper.]

Raymond Nakai was a fine friend of our family and especially of my father.
One of the many things I recall was his precedent-setting Navajo language
radio program in the Flagstaff regional setting -- starting 'way back in the
tough 1950s.

My Navajo brother was Lee Taylor Benally [Benaali] from the Shiprock area,
near Four Corners.  He lived very extensively over considerable time in our
family at Flag.  We graduated from high school together and then each of us
went into the military service:  Lee to the Navy, I to the Army.  Home on
leave at one point, Lee was killed in a vehicle accident on the
ultra-treacherous western New Mexico highway, then called 666.  Raymond
Nakai conveyed that very sad news to my folks -- as did Ned Hatathli, old
and close family friend, and later founder of Navajo Community College [now
Dine' College] at Tsaile [Say-Lee.]

In the Fall of 1978, I listened to Raymond Nakai debate the then Navajo
chairman, Peter MacDonald, in an outdoor setting on the edges of the Navajo
capitol, Window Rock, attended by a huge throng.  Many people had come on
horseback, others via pickups. Raymond Nakai had lost none of his fire.

At that time, I was teaching at Navajo Community College.  Ned was several
years dead and there were continuing administrative problems at the College.
Peter Deswood, Jr., our Tribal Councilman [his sister, Virginia Ami, taught
with me], asked me to be the principal speaker at the Lukachukai Chapter
House on the key role of Ned Hatathli and his dream which had led to the
founding of NCC in 1968-69.  Raymond Nakai had been the very supportive
Tribal Chairman during that critical period which had seen the emergence of
this first of the tribally-controlled colleges.

At that packed meeting, attended by people from several Dine' chapters, I
spoke for a very long time.  As I recounted  my memories and  discussed the
meaning of Ned Hatathli, a large portrait of Raymond Nakai looked solemnly
at me from the opposite wall of the Chapter House.  Our Cause was
successful.

Raymond Nakai was Tribal Chairman when the critical [and currently up for
renewal and strengthening]  Voting Rights Act of 1965 began the speedy
enfranchisement of tens of thousands of Navajo people -- heretofore denied
the right to vote through literacy tests and other devices.   This
profoundly changed the political geography in Arizona and New Mexico -- as
it did via vast  numbers of other newly enfranchised people "of the fewest
alternatives" in many other parts of the United States.

In early 1981, I and another faculty person [Ursula Wilson] accompanied the
NCC Board of Regents and our President, Dean Jackson, to Washington, DC, to
lobby for the College.  We were extremely well received -- cordially so --
by the Southwestern Congressional delegations of both major parties.

Raymond Nakai, like Ned Hatathli, and many many others will be long and well
remembered.  I have a 1956 photo of him and my father and other Native
leaders from the Northern Arizona setting on our website in my Narrative
page at
      http://www.hunterbear.org/narrative.htm

      From Farmington Daily Times [Northwestern New Mexico]

      Headlines
      Nakai, former Navajo leader, dies at 86
      By Ryan Hall/The Daily Times
      Aug 16, 2005, 11:52 pm



      FARMINGTON - Raymond Nakai, 86, former Chairman of the Navajo Tribe,
died Sunday following a lengthy illness, according to a press release from
the office of the Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr.

      A proclamation was issued by Shirley to honor and recognize the former
leader by ordering flags to be flown at half staff Aug. 15-21.

      Monday Shirley said via phone that Nakai was a part of Navajo history
that will not be forgotten.

      "Even though he is no longer with us, he's made contributions that
will long be remembered," Shirley stated. "I think the history will always
be there - for a long time, I don't think we'll ever forget."

      Shirley also offered his condolences to the family noted they felt the
loss as well as the Navajo community as a whole.

      In a letter released to the media, Speaker of the Navajo Nation
Council Lawrence Morgan also offered his condolences to the family and
praised Nakai for his leadership.

      Morgan made several references to a 1964 Nakai speech that asked the
nation to get together, keep together and work together.

      "Mr. Nakai finished his speech by saying, 'When we may have occasion
years from now to look back, may we be able to say, I have done my part, and
may the very life and spirit of our Indian people stand as a testimony of
our accomplishments,'" Morgan wrote.

      "Mr. Nakai was one who could certainly have said he had done his
 part."

      Among his many accomplishments, Nakai helped establish the first
tribally controlled college in the country, oversaw the centennial of the
Navajo Treaty of 1868, was Chairman when the Navajo Tribe changed its name
to the Navajo Nation and pushed for the use of peyote in religious
ceremonies by Native American Church members without fear of persecution.

      Locally, Nakai will be remembered for his pursuit of sovereignty for
what is now the Navajo Nation.

      "He is the man that brought us from yesterday into tomorrow," said
Duane "Chili" Yazzie, president of Shiprock Chapter. "He left a strong
legacy of leadership and one that certainly dictated that we are a sovereign
nation."

      Nakai served as the eighth chairman of the Navajo Nation from
1964-1970, according to the release.

      LoRenzo Bates, Navajo Nation Council delegate from Upper Fruitland,
said Nakai's leadership set the tone for the current state of the Nation.

      Wallace Charley, Navajo Nation Council delegate from Shiprock, agreed,
noting Nakai also fought for elders' rights.

      "He was always there with elders' issues. It was really sad to hear
something like this had to happen to what I consider a great leader,"
Charley stated.

      Charley added Nakai's death was a "great loss for the Navajo Nation,"
to which Bates agreed.

      "Anytime a leader of that sort passes on, it's a loss to the Nation,"
he said.

      Services for Nakai will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday at St. Isabel
catholic Church in Lukachukai, Ariz. Burial will be at the Lukachukai
Community Cemetery.



      Ryan Hall: rhall@daily-times.com







HUNTER GRAY  [HUNTER BEAR/JOHN R SALTER JR]   Mi'kmaq /St. Francis
 Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
 www.hunterbear.org
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
 and Ohkwari'

Check out Surprise Tribute:
http://www.hunterbear.org/special_tribute_page_for_hunter.htm

In our Gray Hole, the ghosts often dance in the junipers and sage, on the
game trails, in the tributary canyons with the thick red maples, and on the
high windy ridges -- and they dance from within the very essence of our own
inner being. They do this especially when the bright night moon shines down
on the clean white snow that covers the valley and its surroundings.  Then
it is as bright as day -- but in an always soft and mysterious and
remembering way. [Hunter Bear]

 

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