50 Years Ago: Nakai works on border town relationship

Navajo Tribal Chairman Raymond Nakai loves Gallup and it appears that Gallup loves Nakai in return.

So what brought on this feeling of mutual love?

The people in Gallup have decided to hold a banquet to congratulate Nakai on winning re-election and to urge that the Navajo Tribe and the City of Gallup continue to work together to serve the Navajo people.

Remember in just a couple of years, a group called Indians Against Exploitation will be formed to protest the treatment of American Indians by businesses in Gallup, claiming that the only thing people in Gallup care about is taking advantage of Navajos who come there to shop.

But this is the quiet before the storm as the city’s major, Ed Munoz, put out the welcome mat for Nakai and other top officials, pointing out that Nakai held several campaign fundraisers in Gallup and the Navajos in the community showed their support by not only coming to the fund-raisers but donating a lot of money as well.

In a statement before the banquet, Nakai said he appreciated what Gallup has tried to do to help the Navajo people.

“For a period of time far greater than that compressed by man’s memory, there has been a close inter-woven relationship of mutual interest between the citizens of Gallup and those of the Navajo Reservation,” Nakai said.

“This relationship encompasses some extremely complex matters of economic and social importance, which have received the attention through the years of the civic leaders of Gallup and those of the Navajo Tribe. We know as others will, we are well-acquainted with the inter-independence which we have for each other,” he added.

In other news, Gallup law enforcement officials reported the biggest breakout of prisoners at one time in the city’s history.

Ten prisoners at the city jail, all Navajo, managed to escape from the city’s jail.

Jailer Arthur Gutierrez said the escapes took place between 6 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. on Feb. 10, while he was in the bathroom. They got out by cutting through the trustee tank in the jail.
All ten had given 90 days in jail for being drunk on the streets of Gallup. Under the city laws at the time, persons arrested for being drunk in public either had to pay a fine of $300 or spend 90 days in jail.

It would be eight years before the city’s drunk laws would be thrown out and the city would be required to establish a program where people picked up for being drunk would be put in a detox center and not face criminal liability.

In the jail break, city police officials said over the next few days it appeared that most had gone back to their communities on the reservation and were keeping low.

Police Chief Manuel Gonzales said eventually all of them would show up again on the street of Gallup and would face another 90 days in jail for escaping.

And as for what is going on within the Navajo Times, the paper is being praised by educators on the Navajo Reservation for a series of articles that are being printed weekly giving a history of the tribe.

Written by J. Lee Correll. a historian and employees of the tribe hired to help the tribe in its fight against the Hopis on the land dispute, Correll takes an event in Navajo history and explains why it is important to members of the tribe today.

The series is very popular with the readers, many of whom write letters in saying they never were told much of their history when they were in school and this is the first time that they have heard many of these stories about their history.

Schools on the reservation have picked up on the series as well and the Times has been offering classroom copies of the paper for five cents each so that they can be given out to the students so they can clip out the history series and keep in in a scrapbook.

By February of 1967, the paper had printed 15 of the articles with no end in sight.

There was also some discussion about putting all of the series together into a small booklet that could be made available to students at a reasonable price but if this happened, no copies of the booklets are now available.

The paper was also getting a lot of praise from readers for printing articles that would definitely not be liked by Nakai. One reader said that if Nakai had an enemy list he posted on his toilet, the Navajo Time would probably be at the top of that list, so the reader felt the paper was probably doing a good job printing both sides of an issue.


 To read the full article, pick up your copy of the Navajo Times at your nearest newsstand Thursday mornings!

  Find newsstand locations at this link.



Categories: 50 Years Ago