50 Years Ago: A visit to the fair by U.S. vice president

The White House confirmed this week that U.S. Vice President Hubert Humphrey would indeed be attending the Navajo Tribal Fair on Friday, Sept. 9.

Navajo Tribal Chairman Raymond Nakai had been hoping to get the president, Lyndon Baines Johnson, because of his efforts to get out the vote in Johnson’s favor in the 1964 election.

But Johnson claimed to have made other plans for that week so Humphrey will be coming in his stead.

Nakai said that was fine, adding that he has met Humphrey on many occasions when he was in Washington and had even gone to a dinner in his honor the year before.

The plans are that Humphrey will arrive that morning by plane at the Window Rock Airport and have lunch at Nakai’s home with various tribal officials. He would then speak at the fair in the afternoon and then return to the fairgrounds that night to watch the evening show.

He then planned to spend the night at Nakai’s home and head back to Washington, D.C., on Saturday.

The Navajo Times didn’t make a big deal of this in part because the paper was still trying to cope without an official editor and had only one part-time reporter.

The chairman’s office, which was still apparently running the paper, said the weekly would provide complete coverage of Humphey’s visit the following week.

The chairman’s office was also made aware that there would be stringent security while Humphrey was in Window Rock. More than 100 tribal police officers were already assigned to provide security at the fair but that number, according to the chairman’s office, may double during the day Humphrey was there.

The tribe said arrangements would be made for the press corps covering Humphrey, including having access to phones and other equipment they needed to write their stories.

In honor of his visit, the tribe has scheduled for him to watch a revival of a long-abandoned war dance, which is only performed by Navajo women. The tribe is also planning to hold a horse race in which warriors will attempt to remove long poles buried in the ground.

One reason for Humphrey’s visit is because of his efforts to secure funds the year before to bring electricity to the small Navajo community of Alamo.

A special “lights-on” ceremony was scheduled on Aug. 28 but Humphrey said he couldn’t make that because of previous engagements. Humphrey announced that he would make a phone call to the community during the “turn-on” event.

Alamo currently has a population of 155 Navajo families scattered over 52,157 acres. The New Mexico Electrification Cooperative Association issued a press release stating it had received federal funds to bring power to 100 recently constructed houses on the reservation, as well as to seven non-Indian families.

Most of the Navajo families who will benefit have been raising sheep and cattle for generations. Seven non-Indian ranches will also receive power for the first time.

There was good news this week a half century ago for parents of children in the Rock Point, Arizona, area.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs awarded a $2 million contract for a school at Rock Point. The funds will be used to construct an eight-classroom complex with a multipurpose and administration building connected by walkways.

The BIA was also planning to build a dormitory to hold 128 students and remodel the existing academic building and kitchen. More teacherages were also being planned.

When all of this was finished, the school would expand its student population from 201 to 440, according to BIA officials, who added that with the $2 million recently allocated, the total cost of expansion has risen to more than $9 million.
And finally, the BIA is investigating the beating death of a Navajo medicineman, Frank Chiquito, 78, who was kicked and beaten to death in Gallup.

Two Navajo men were arrested within a week of Chiquito’s death. Witnesses said the two men were upset because they claimed that Chiquito was practicing witchcraft on one of the suspect’s children. FBI agents were told that two Navajo youth had a fight with Chiquito that morning.

His daughter, talking through an interpreter, said she saw a man standing over her father’s body.

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Categories: 50 Years Ago

About Author

Bill Donovan

Bill Donovan has been writing about the Navajo Nation government since 1971 and for the Navajo Times since 1976. He is currently semi-retired and is living in Torrance, California, and continues to report for the Navajo Times.