50 Years Ago: Many Farms High used to house NCC students

The new Navajo Community College is scheduled to open next January and a decision has been made as to where the students will be housed until dormitories are built.

Construction of the dorms is expected to be complete in 1970.

Bob Roessel, president of the college, announced this week that an agreement has been reached with the BIA to house 300 students at the Many Farms High School, which has just been built.

The plans had been to start using the school for high school students this year but that has been postponed that so NCC could go forward with its plans. Roessel assured BIA officials that the college would hand the facility back to the BIA in June 1970. A site for the college has not been made although Roessel said that decision should be made within the next couple of months. The site that seems to have the best chance is in Tsaile.

He said he expects the total student population for the first classes at Many Farms to be more than 300 since the college will also be open to day students attend as well. In other news, members of the tribe are getting ready for a free meal. It seems that U.S. Vice President Hubert Humphrey will be sponsoring a free meal at the Window Rock Civic Center to show appreciation for all the tribe has done to further his efforts to become the next U.S. president. Humphrey doesn’t plan on attending but he will have his representatives there to help serve.

This whole thing was the brainchild of Navajo Tribal Chairman Raymond Nakai who is a big fan of the vice president. Nakai this week also formally endorsed the candidate, which came as no surprise since Nakai has been saying for months that he and Humphrey are “good friends.”

Exactly what this means has been a matter of speculation since Nakai is known for having only a few friends, all from the Lukachukai area. He is not known to spend time with non-Navajos except when he meets them for business reasons. It is a well-known fact in the reservation that he and the president, Lyndon Baines Johnson, met periodically and the rumor is that Johnson has taken a liking, for some reason, to the stoic tribal leader.

Nakai has played up his relationship with Johnson at every opportunity and has, at times, indicated that his advice has been sought when the federal government has an Indian problem it needs solved. Humphrey had been in Window Rock in 1967 during the tribal fair and had even been in the parade. He said afterwards that he had a great time and appreciated the welcome he received from tribal officials while he was there.

Unfortunately, the meal did not turn out as well as expected. The El Rancho Hotel catered the event and laid out food for some 500 guests but only 185 showed up.

Nakai blamed the low attendance on the fact that everything was put together in just a couple of days and there was no time to publicize it. Guy Billiman, who was from Scottsdale and was in charge of Humphrey’s Arizona campaign, spoke at the event and said Humphrey received a real understanding of the Navajo culture when he came to visit the year before. He quoted Humphrey as saying one of the problems he sees is that BIA officials who work in Indian reservations have no understanding of culture and this is why so many BIA programs are doomed for failure.

Speaking of the upcoming election for U.S. president, Nakai is putting forth a lot of effort to get as many Navajos to the polls in November as possible and get them to vote for Democratic candidates who are running for various positions. This doesn’t set well with Barry Goldwater, himself a former candidate for president and probably the most well-know conservative Republican in the country. Goldwater has prided himself on the amount of support he has received in the past by the Navajo electorate. So when he heard that the tribe was working with a Democrat to get out the Navajo vote, he sent a letter to Nakai protesting the whole situation. If the Navajos now want a free meal, he said, there no is reason to bring the Democrats when there are Republicans who would be willing to step up and provide whatever funds are needed to pay for the dinner.

In his last election, Goldwater’s support on the Navajo Reservation was down considerably and he said that he thought the Democrats were buying Navajo votes. While there was no proof that this was so, Arizona officials had conducted an investigation and found there was no proof that any votes had been bought off. What they did find out, though, was the Navajos, who traditionally voted Republican, were slowly being turned into loyal Democrats because of promises from Democratic candidates that they would bring more jobs to the reservation.

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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.