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50 Years Ago: Controversy in the NAC

By Bill Donovan
Special to the Times

By 1968, the Native American Church claimed to have a membership of more than 30,000 on the Navajo Reservation and more than 110,000 throughout Indian Country, so the front-page article in the Navajo Times in mid-November attracted a lot of attention.

At the time, the NAC’s president was Frank Takes Gun, who lived in Albuquerque and had come under criticism from NAC members on the reservation for the way he was running the organization.

On Nov. 16, at a meeting in Gallup, officers were re-elected. After the meeting, Takes Gun went home and announced that he was re-elected president of the NAC. But on the Navajo Reservation, NAC members were telling a different story. Robert Shorty Jr., secretary of the NAC on the Navajo Reservation, said no such election took place because not enough members showed up to make a quorum.

He also said the organization’s bylaws were violated when Takes Gun refused to step down as presiding officer when the vote was taken.

Shorty said the vote itself was suspicious because when Takes Gun asked the people to say “aye” if they wanted to re-elect him, it seemed that only about half said aye. But that apparently was good enough for Takes Gun because he declared himself the winner without asking for the “nays.”

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About The 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.