50 Years Ago

Last 'treaty' signed by white man, Indians

By Bill Donovan
Special to the Times

WINDOW ROCK, Aug. 21, 2014

Text size: A A A



It may not be well-known but 50 years ago this month the last treaty between the "white man and the Indians" was signed in Albuquerque.

Or at least that is what the Navajo Times reported.

The headline of the article said "Indians, White Man Sign Treaty for Indian Village."

It turned out to be a lot less than the headline suggested.

The "treaty" was signed between representatives of the tribe and officials for the New Mexico State Fair spelling out what rights the "Indian people" had in connection with an Indian Village being built at the state fairgrounds.

It was really nothing more than a memorandum of understanding provided by Finlay MacGillivray, manager of the fair, providing representatives of the Navajo and various pueblos the right to monitor activities within the Indian Village to make sure that nothing occurred there that would show disrespect to the tribal governments or their cultures.

MacGillivray portrayed it as a treaty signing and the representatives of the various tribes wore traditional clothing. He also wanted to have a passing of the peace pipe but was persuaded by the tribal representatives that this would be inappropriate since no one had been at war.

Still, the event, probably because its being billed as a treaty signing, got a lot of attention in the off-reservation press.

Speaking of the press, Navajo Tribal Chairman Raymond Nakai decided to name Ed Natay as the official radio announcer for the Navajo Tribe. KYVA was named the official radio station for the tribe.

This was part of Nakai's plan to increase his presence on radio stations surrounding the Navajo Reservation (there were none on the reservation at the time). Natay and KYVA were chosen to be conduit between the chairman's office and the off-reservation radio stations.

Under the plan, Natay would have access to all tribal press releases and news reports. A special box was set up in Nakai's office and any chapter announcement or memo that was judged to be newsworthy was put in the box and Natay would routinely pick up the material or someone headed to Gallup would deliver it to him.

Nakai, because of his radio background, knew that area radio stations would jump at the chance to promote the news because it brought in Navajo listeners so it was a win-win situation for everyone.


The following week, the station announced that it would have an official broadcast from the tribe every Sunday from 8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.

"This station will carry reports direct from the administration, committee results and some highlights of Navajo Tribal Council sessions," the station reported in the Navajo Times.

One of the first announcements was a statement from Nakai in which he reported that oil and gas revenue to the tribe had more than doubled in 1964 from 1963.

Nakai reported that the revenue in Fiscal Year 64 was $33.2 million as opposed to $14.6 million in the previous year.

Much of that increase was due to the tribe opening up the number of tracts for oil and gas development. That year the tribe bid out 146 tracts for more than 318,000 acres.

On the average, said the Navajo Times, the bid for acre was $8.58. The highest bid was $112.89 for Track No. 147 from Atlantic Refinery. The highest track bonus was $263,432 on Track No. 77 from Kerr-McGee Oil.

That issue of the paper also announced the death of William Steven Bizardi, a young Navajo who lived near Fleming Begay's store, which is where he worked as a cashier.

"He was an up and coming young man in the community," the paper reported.

Bizardi was awakened in the early morning hours of July 30 and was asked to take some of his neighbors back into Chinle that night.

"In the darkness, young Bizardi was unaware that the ridge had been washed out and drove off the end to his death," the paper reported.

In a story that was more editorial than an actual news story, the Times praised Vernon Bowman, who represented the Navajo Tribe at a Moral Re-armament conference held the previous week in Mackinac Island in Michigan.

"Bowman has received a tremendous amount of compliments about the way he conducted himself and how he narrated a program," the paper reported.

"This is an indication that some of our young Navajos are making good use of the leadership abilities they learned while attending college and universities throughout the country," the paper said.

This is the kind of story that would never have been printed under Chet Macrorie, the former editor, but under Marshall Tome more stories of this nature would be printed. One of Tome's core values was the need for Navajo young people to go to college and if there was ever a way to promote this in the paper, he took it.

How to get The Times:

Back to top ^