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  • Navajo NM: An Administrative History

    Navajo Administrative History

    Navajo National Monument: A Place and Its People

    Hal K. Rothman


    An Administrative History

    National Park Service Division of History

    Southwest Cultural Resources Center Santa Fe, New Mexico

    Professional Papers No. 40


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  • Navajo NM: An Administrative History (Table of Contents)

    Navajo Administrative History


    List of Figures


    Executive Summary

    Chapter I: From Prehistory to the Twentieth Century

    Chapter II: Founding Navajo National Monument

    Chapter III: The Life of A Remote National Monument 1912-1938

    Chapter IV: "Land-Bound": 1938-1962

    Chapter V: The Modern Era

    Chapter VI: "Partners in the Park": Relations With the Navajo People

    Chapter VII: Archeology at Navajo

    Chapter VIII: Threats To The Park

    Bibliographic Essay

    Appendix 1: Important Dates for Navajo National Monument

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  • Navajo NM: An Administrative History (Table of Contents)

    Appendix 2: Superintendents and Their Tenure

    Appendix 3: Visitation Totals

    Appendix 4: Pertinent Legislation A. Monument proclamation 1909 B. Boundary adjustment 1912 C. Memorandum of Agreement 1962 D. Maps

    Index (omitted from on-line edition)


    Figure 1. The controversial inscription at Inscription House ruin, circa 1915 Figure 2. This photo from 1909 shows how Betatakin appeared to the first parties that arrived in the canyon Figure 3. The old entrance road could be difficult to traverse Figure 4. The new custodian's residence built in 1939 was the first permanent housing at Navajo Figure 5. There were so few buildings at Navajo that the custodian had to have his office in the living room Figure 6. Superintendent John Aubucon looks over the first museum display in the original ranger cabin Figure 7. Inscription House as Jimmie Brewer saw it in 1941 Figure 8. The congested parking are in this 1949 photo reflects the dramatic increase in visitation in the post-World War era Figure 9. The grader was an essential part of keeping the dirt road to the monument open Figure 10. This photo of the new Visitor Center and its surroundings suggests the degree of change that resulted from its construction Figure 11. Navajo Medicine Men prepare to bless the New Visitor Center. From left to right are: Hubert Laughter, Ben Gilmore, Floyd Laughter, and Mailboy Begay Figure 12. Before the Visitor Center, this converted storage shed served as the contact station for visitors at Navajo National Monument Figure 13. Visitors load their horses for a trip to Keet Seel Figure 14. Food or corn grinding place in Betatakin Ruins. Photo by Luke E. Smith, 1921 Figure 15. Betatakin Ruins (hillside house), near Kayenta, Arizona Figure 16. Betatakin Ruins, May 1921. Photos by Luke E. Smith Figure 17. Keet Seel in 1914, after Richard Wetherill's visits, but before stabilization work had been

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  • Navajo NM: An Administrative History (Table of Contents)

    performed Figure 18. CWA workers helped to stabilize Keet Seel in the 1930s Figure 19. Erosion in front of Keet Seel, 1934 Figure 20. Arroyo below Keet Seel, 1976

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  • Navajo NM: An Administrative History (Acknowledgments)

    Navajo Administrative History


    Any work of history about a specific place requires the cooperation and understanding of the people of that place. First and foremost, I would like to thank Superintendent Clarence N. Gorman and his staff at Navajo National Monument. My contact person there, Bruce Mellberg, provided untold assistance. He dug up maps, called my attention to obscure pieces of information, closely read the manuscript, and generally served as an extra set of eyes and ears. Such dedication makes the task of the historian much easier. Others at the monument, including Noberto Ortega, John Laughter, Delbert Smallcanyon, Flora Ortega, and Rose James also provided much appreciated assistance. Superintendent Gorman kindly translated interviews for me, and conducted a number of additional ones in my absence. Former park personnel including Bob Black, Hubert Laughter, Floyd Laughter, Seth Bigman, Eddie Clitso, Eddie Watson, and John Loliet all graciously allowed themselves to be interviewed. Former superintendents and rangers Frank Hastings, Bill Binnewies, Robert Holden, P. J. Ryan, and Bud Martin offered their views by letter, phone, or in person. Special thanks are due to John Cook, Art White, and Charlie Voll, all of whom put up with interviews that went on far too long. Jeffrey Dean of the Laboratory of Tree Ring Research also granted an interview, providing much enlightening information about Anasazi life at the monument. Scott Travis allowed me to make use of a draft verison of his work. Southwest Regional Historian Neil Mangum helped at every opportunity, providing information, attending to administrative details, and generally allowing me to be a historian. Many thanks to all of these people.

    My partner, Richard B. McCaslin, also deserves credit for his work. He did the bulk of the documentary research on this project, traveling to Texas, Colorado, and Arizona in zealous pursuit of the details of this story. Rick is a true professional whose commitment to history is unsurpassed. Kami Patterson read and copyedited a draft of this manuscript. Joe Lennihan and Cathy Hoover drove me 200 miles over ice- covered roads in a snowstorm to assure that I would make it to the monument to meet my interviewees. I did, and as time passes, the drive seems less harrowing. Many thanks to all of you as well.

    Finally, one person has had more influence on me than any other. My wife, Lauralee, has put up with an absent and distracted husband asking strange questions of her for the better part of two years. I appreciate her patience, which I have surely taxed, her curiosity, and her willingness to listen. Late in this project, our daughter, Talia, was born. Someday I hope to reward the two of them by taking them on

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  • Navajo NM: An Administrative History (Acknowledgments)

    a trip to Keet Seel.


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  • Navajo NM: An Administrative History (Executive Summary)

    Navajo Administrative History


    Located in northeastern Arizona, Navajo National Monument is anomalous among national park areas. The monument contains three distinct and non-contiguous sections, administered from one headquarters. The three sections of the monument, Betatakin, Keet Seel, and Inscription House, are surrounded by the Navajo reservation. Dating from the 13th century C. E., they contain the primary representation of the Kayenta Anasazi within the national park system. Yet because of their location and the distance between the three areas, Navajo National Monument is an inholding on the Navajo reservation.

    This condition has created a level of interdependence unequaled elsewhere in the national park system. The monument and its neighbors depend on each other for mutual sustenance. The park provides a range of services not otherwise available as well as significant employment opportunities to the people of the Shonto region. Through a complex series of formal agreements and customs, local Navajos support the park and participate in its activities.

    Like many other smaller southwestern national monuments, Navajo developed slowly. At its inception, the Park Service had few resources, most of which were used to improve national parks. Navajo National Monument had only a volunteer custodian from its establishment in 1909 until 1938. New Deal development bypassed the monument, and despite the construction of basic facilities, at the end of the 1950s Navajo remained a remote place, inaccessible to most of the traveling public.

    The initiation of the MISSION 66 program in the 1950s and an extensive road construction program by the Navajo Nation ended the historic isolation of the monument. MISSION 66 planned an extensive development for Navajo, but the plans were held in abeyance until an adequate area of land on which to build a visitor center could be acquired. A complicated series of attempts to arrange a transfer of land followed, resulting in the Memorandum of Agreement of May 1962. This allowed the Park Service to add 240 acres for development of facilities.

    The addition of the land transformed the monument. Beginning in 1962, a comprehensive capital development program ensued. The physical plant of the monument was constructed, and Navajo National Monument became a modern park area. Its ability to offer services increased dramatically, and

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  • Navajo NM: An Administrative History (Executive Summary)

    with the completion of paved roads to the Visitor Center in 1965, the number of visitors increase

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