MEREDITH GUILLET AND THE NAVAJOS, 1945-1950
The end of the war brought many changes. Some were sudden, such as the increase in visitation. In July 1945 only 68 visitors came to the monument, but in August the total reached 248, the greatest number since 1942.  By October Guillet had to contend finally with a problem that had troubled his predecessors: that of unauthorized entry into the canyon.  He was to remain at the monument throughout the decadethe longest tenure of any custodianand would have ample opportunity to experience the problems caused by tourist visitation. But he would also contribute greatly to the development that became possible once the wartime restrictions were gone. McSparron revived his concessioner operations, although he could not get tires for his canyon car and thus fully resume his earlier activities until the spring of 1946. 
Stabilization and conservation work had slowed during the latter years of the war. Inspection in September 1945 revealed that while White House was still well protected from runoff, plantings at Antelope House had suffered flood damage that summer.  New work was begun the following spring with construction of another revetment at Antelope House.  The job was completed early in July, in time to offer needed protection from summer floods.  In the fall another planting project was begun by Soil Conservationist Balch with Chauncey Neboyia as lead laborer over a crew of nine men.  By Christmas they had set out 10,000 willows and "luka" reeds (Phragmites communis) and had raised the height of the revetment at Antelope House.  Minor repairs were made at White House; the willows there were growing so well that they had to be cut back from the ruin to prevent root damage to the structure. Road repairs were also undertaken. 
An old problem was faced again in June 1946. Metro-Goldwin-Mayer arrived to film Sea of Grass. A Secretarial order had drastically changed the policies established during the war, and Guillet found himself required to enforce all Park Service regulations in the matter. Protesting, he explained at length the problems he had encountered:
He collected the required $150 from the company, however, because the Navajos, anticipating employment, wanted the filming done there. These jobs did not materialize, however, and the Navajos then asked him to cancel the permit.
The Secretarial order, which has not been located, but as quoted by Guillet, granted the Park Service "full custodial and administrative control of Canyon de Chelly."  Thus, while Washington had made one decision at the departmental level, the field man found it necessary to take actions and institute policy that completely reversed the effect of that decision in matters in which the Navajos felt a strong interest.
That summer saw also a large number of rodeos and so many Enemyway ceremonies (most probably held for returning servicemen) that there was a labor shortage.  For the Navajos the purification of the returning warriors was a matter of great concern. At Chinle there had been plenty of jobs for those who needed them to raise money to help their families with the costs of the ceremony.
The monument also acquired a full-time ranger that year with the hiring of John S. Benson in December. He was housed temporarily at the Bureau of Indian Affairs club, but the following month a trailer was brought in and his family joined him. 
The new year had a slow start with limited visitation and development work restricted to road maintenance and minor repairs,  but the increased resources led finally to a busy year. The trailer, a well-used structure that had been utilized previously as an office, required thorough remodeling and reconditioning. With a permanent ranger on hand Guillet had time to investigate reports of an "undiscovered" ruin near Three Turkey House and of a Navajo shrine used in the rain ceremony. A measles epidemic also struck that winter, and Guillet helped transport sick children to the hospital and bury one child in February. The Navajos had no natural resistance to the disease nor any effective techniques of dealing with it.  An epidemic of flu, which often developed into pneumonia, followed, and Guillet continued his improvised ambulance and undertaking services through March, burying one more child and transporting a total of 30 children to the hospital during the 2 months.  Two more emergency trips were made into the canyons in May  and four in June, one of which involved carrying a sick child over a hand and toehold trail. 
During the spring considerable road work was accomplished; within the canyons vehicle access to Mummy Cave was created to facilitate trail building and minor stabilization in that area. 
Despite a 2-week absence from the area to attend a forest fire training conference in May, Guillet found time to initiate a site survey with volunteer assistance from Dr. and Mrs. Thomas B. Noble.
The fire training and extra personnel were needed, because five fires occurred during the summer. The first, on June 2, was a 4-acre fire near the head of Monument Canyon, which started from a poorly extinguished campfire left by a party searching for a lost child. The Bureau of Indian Affairs sent a fire truck with three men, and Guillet with a ranger and two Bureau school employees came from Chinle. They did not get back to headquarters until midnight and a little additional work was even required the next day. The fire was entirely within the monument boundaries, so the Bureau wanted the Park Service to pay the entire cost of its suppression. Guillet agreed to pay the wages of the men he brought and "did not argue too much [about the rest] as I thought that this might give us a wedge into the position of perhaps getting some control over timber cutting permits." 
The second fire, near Black Rock, was reported on June 27. Guillet and Benson had to drive around the canyons to get to the peninsula area, and by the time they arrived the one man sent by the Bureau had already extinguished the blaze. An area of only "5 paces by 15 paces" had burned. The Park Service crew again included two Bureau employees, and Guillet did not know where to get funds to compensate them. He felt that because the Park Service did not control timber cutting and wood hauling, it should not be required to stand the total cost of all fires within the monument, but he could get no clear cut agreement from local Indian Service people. As the matter then stood, in Guillet's view,
On July 8 Guillet visited Window Rock and discussed the problems with Chief Forester Carl Rawie of the Bureau, but no firm agreement on the funding of fire fighting was reported. 
Lightning struck and started a fire near Monument Canyon on July 28. Guillet and Benson left Chinle shortly after 5:00 P.M. to join six Bureau fire fighters in putting it out. They did not get home until 2:00 A.M. The next afternoon another fire was reported near Black Rock Canyon. Guillet went on this call with his seasonal ranger, Richard K. Thomas. Guillet's report illustrates vividly the difficulties encountered in the remote portions of the monument at that time.
He concluded by predicting more fires if the dry weather should continue.  On August 5 lightning caused another fire near Black Rock, but Bureau personnel were able to handle it themselves.  August brought the needed rains, however, and fire problems were no longer serious. 
Travel continued to increase steadily. In addition to the routine orientation and information talks given at headquarters and guided trips to White House and Spider Rock, a new program of campfire talks in the campground was begun in July.  Increased protection of the ruins was attempted by placing signs supplied by the tribe informing visitors of the Antiquities Act at trading posts and other "strategic areas."  The rains increased as the summer wore on and eventually washed the roads so badly that traffic diminished somewhat. Travel in the canyons became impossible and the approach road from Chinle was flooded and a detour required.  Full repairs could not be completed until November.  In the same month more stream control work and planting of willows began at Antelope House and White House.  This work was finished early in December. 
A special visitor of considerable interest was Earl Morris. He told Guillet stories of his early experiences in the canyons and assisted in the salvage of a mummified turkey discovered by Seasonal Ranger Thomas near the mouth of Canyon del Muerto. 
In December Guillet recommended that ruins in White Powder Canyon and Slender Canyon, including Three Turkey Ruin and Little White House, be added to the monument, stipulating that any additions should be of the ruins only. 
In the fall of 1947 the decrease in Navajo income resulting from the return of servicemen and war workers was being felt throughout the tribe. Lacking resources to expand their traditional economy and being ineligible for state welfare programs, many of the more disadvantaged families were in desperate circumstances.  In October Guillet reported that the local Navajos were "better off economically than normal,"  and in December he wrote that they were "better off than they have been for some years."  The effect of the crisis was apparently minimal at the monument, the primary result being the arrival of journalists doing news stories on the situation. 
Cold wet weather that winter kept visitation at a minimum, necessitated increased maintenance work on the roads, and at times allowed canyon patrol only by horseback. 
An infestation of cottonwood leaf beetle (Chryromel scripta) was so severe in the spring that spraying was needed to save trees in the area.  Also in the spring a situation occurred that would affect the park's policy making and its relations with the Navajos more than any other happening for some time. As initially reported by Guillet,
Among the traders concerned was Cozy McSparron, who went personally to Santa Fe to see the regional director, M. R. Tillotson. Cozy admitted that his trading post operation, even though within the monument boundaries, would come under the tribal regulation, but felt that his tourist business, licensed by the Park Service, should not be affected. Tillotson felt that the Park Service right "to provide facilities of any nature whatsoever required for the care and accomodation of visitors" at Canyon de Chelly was in conflict with the council resolution and wrote Washington for a legal opinion.  Initially a reply was drafted that asserted that while the Thunderbird Trading Post would be subject to the new regulations, the tourist services would not; this was never sent, however.  Information was received from the Bureau to the effect that several legal problems had been raised by the resolution and a solicitor's opinion was being prepared to cover all of them.  The solicitor's opinion held that while the tribe did not have the power to regulate traders, this being an exclusive power of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, it did have the power to attach whatever conditions it wanted to leases of tribal lands for business purposes.  The council resolution was to be disapproved by the Commissioner, but the issue had become so important that the Bureau planned to review and revise trading regulations for the Navajo Reservation. It was recommended that General Superintendent Stewart of the Navajo Agency be consulted so that any new regulations might take into account the dual nature of the Thunderbird operation.  This seemed to settle the matter for the time, but the concession problem and Navajo resentment of white ownership of the concession were to become increasingly significant factors in the management of the area.
In the meantime the most important archaeological undertaking in the canyons since the days of Earl Morris was being planned. David L. De Harport, a graduate student at Harvard University, proposed an intensive survey of the archaeology of the main canyon under the supervision of Dr. J. O. Brew, curator of the Peabody Museum of Archeology and Ethnology. Nusbaum advised Brew that the only permit required would be the usual Antiquities Act permit from the Federal Government and that the concurrence of the tribal council would not be needed.  The permit was issued on June 18 with the following special conditions:
The date of De Harport's arrival at de Chelly is not recorded, but he "continued" his survey in August, recording 124 sites by August 25.  He completed his first season's work on September 6,  having mapped 145 sites in the lower 11 miles of the canyon. 
Another event that would be significant much later to the interpretive program was the arrival on June 6 of a young anthropology student from the University of New Mexico, Zorro A. Bradley, as seasonal ranger. 
Other temporary employees included a crew of four to five men, probably all Navajos, hired in the spring to repair roads, trails, and buildings. Special projects, such as reconditioning White House Trail, renovating the ranger trailer, repairing the revetment at Antelope House, adding more plantings at Antelope House and White House, and spraying to protect plantings from the cottonwood leaf beetle, kept this crew busy throughout the spring.  A decrease in reported maintenance work during the summer suggests that the crew was laid off toward the end of June or perhaps early in July. 
Guillet twice was called on to transport sick Navajos to the hospital, one a child and the other a young woman. Both patients died shortly after arrival. Only one Enemyway is mentioned in the monthly reports, but this was held in the main canyon near White House and thus was a happening of special interest. 
Windsor Pictures Inc. spent a week filming in the canyon for When a Man's a Man. Guillet issued a permit, required a bond, and kept close watch on their work;  thus it appears that previous requirements for movie making were still in force.
It is not certain just when Benson left, but in October he was replaced in the permanent ranger position by Robert L. Morris. Two Navajos also were hired in temporary laborer positions to reroof the old storage hogan and help with preparations for winter.  They continued on the payroll into November. Late in the month two loads of peach leaf willows were received and five Navajos hired to help plant them at Antelope House and White House.  In December the chief architect for the storage hogan, Tuly Bia, a singer (medicine man), and an occasional employee of the Park Service over many years, died of a heart attack while working at Sawmill. 
The spring session of the Navajo Tribal Council discussed trading posts and considered a resolution that included a provision to tax traders. Guillet reported widespread opposition to the proposal at Chinle, the traders having influenced the Navajos in this regard. He had a long talk with Zhealy Tso, tribal vice-chairman, explaining to him the obligations and rights of the Park Service in regard to the regulation of concessioners, and reported events as they then stood to the regional director.  Despite Guillet's meeting with Tso, the resolution passed by the tribal council was thought to impinge on Park Service rights and a legal opinion was sought.  It was learned that the Bureau also questioned "several legal aspects" of the resolution, and so action was deferred until the departmental solicitor could consider these objections. 
McSparron had had an operation early in the year,  and the problem of regulations affecting his business had caused considerable worry.
In December Cozy decided again to sell out.  Guillet's report on the situation revealed increasing problems as a result of the dual regulation of Thunderbird:
Cozy was a businessman and may well have been playing the Government agencies off against each other and perhaps even bluffing a little as well, but he did succeed to a degree in obtaining a modification of his concession permit. Regional Director Tillotson's reasoning in the matter differed somewhat from McSparron's contentions, however:
Tillotson appears to have been unaware of the earlier agreement between the Park Service and the Bureau of Indian Affairs defining a boundary, but if, as Cozy intimated, the Navajo Agency was to question the validity of that agreement, grave issues would arise. In any case, the Washington office accepted Tillotson's ideas and approved the issuing of a new permit covering only transportation service up the canyons.  A new concessioner contract was drawn up before January 25.  The Washington office was still considering a proposed text for a new permit 6 months later, howevera permit covering only "transportation service up Canyons del Muerto and de Chelly . . . by means of automobile, saddle horses, or otherwise, during 1949."  It should be noted that although the rental of horses was mentioned in permits and rate schedules regularly, Guillet had reported that the Navajos "retained all rights to the rental of horses, etc. and Cozy merely acts as a go-between, and realizes no direct profit from rental of horses or guide service"a right reserved to the Navajos when the monument was established. 
The winter of 1948-49 was a severe one and bad roads limited tourist travel to a mere 12 people in January and none at all in February. At higher altitudes the snow was exceptionally deep and the Bureau undertook an emergency program to deliver supplies in snowbound areas. Bad weather kept Guillet and Morris in the office more than usual and work on a historical fact file was begun. Dr. Noble returned and spent a month recording Navajo chants and prayers. As the weather improved, the Navajos and the Park Service both began making repairs and preparing for possible floods in the canyon caused by rapid melting of the heavy snows. Guillet hired one Navajo to assist with this work.  With further moderation of the weather, Guillet undertook patrols, not only of the canyons but also of Three Turkey and other ruins outside the monument to check on possible violations of the Antiquities Act. For the first time a canyon resident, Joe M. Carroll, was nominated for the position of delegate to the Navajo Tribal Council and Guillet felt that Carroll would be favorably inclined toward Park Service interests if elected,  which he was. By this time the area had a regular "trail crew," who kept busy maintaining and repairing roads and White House Trail and doing channel diversion work at White House in anticipation of floods. For the latter job large cottonwood trees cut from Joe Carroll's cornfield were utilized.  High water in the canyons and muddy roads made travel difficult and into May patrols had to be made on horseback. More plantings, this time of 1,000 small trees at the mouth of the canyon, were made. Morris enjoyed good relations with the Navajos under Guillet's tutelage and during the superintendent's absence was called upon to assist with the burial of an elderly Navajo woman.  In June protective work for the ruins continued, probably at White House, with the completion of a revetment and the planting of 7,000 willow cuttings. Insect infestations, both of the cottonwood leaf beetle on the trees and of grasshoppers on Navajo crops, posed a serious threat.  Wet weather continued into July and four heavy runoffs through the canyons were recorded. A particularly heavy flow down del Muerto on July 4 damaged plantings and erosion control spiders at Antelope House. 
David De Harport returned to the canyons on the day of the big flood to continue his survey.  He spent a major part of this field season making a more detailed photographic record of the sites recorded the previous year, but also extended his survey another 2 miles up the canyon, adding 55 sites to his total.  During his first season's work he had discovered a site, thought to be rather small, that was being badly eroded. Guillet requested emergency funding to do work at the site, and as a result Charlie R. Steen was sent to conduct, excavations there.  He began work on July 18 with three Navajo laborers.  After 2 weeks of digging he realized that there was far more beneath the surface than had been anticipated. His project not only lasted throughout the summer and into the fall until October 10, but was resumed the following year.  By August he was able to get a tent and brought out his family.  Dr. Noble took transparency photographs at the site for interpretive use. 
Scientific work in the area was not restricted to archaeology that year. In August Dr. Edwin H. Colbert of the American Museum of Natural History, with Richard Van Frank assisting, carried out paleontological investigations in the region and included Canyon de Chelly in his explorations. 
As the season for visitation and research drew to an end, work on improvements and maintenance was increased. A 1,000-gallon water storage tank was brought from Bandelier National Monument and installed in October.  In November and December more living willow post cuttings were set out at White House and Antelope House.  A local Navajo, David Gorman, was hired to fill a permanent maintenance man position. 
The first winter of the 1950s was a dry one and there was concern about moisture needed for summer range and crops. The mild weather permitted more maintenance of roads and grounds, however. A blacksmith shop was set up and a small storage shed built with pine slabs purchased from the tribal sawmill. Other winter work included further corrections to the multiplex exhibit and preparation of two audiovisual programs using the slides donated by Dr. Noble and the tape recorder he had loaned for use with them. 
Guillet's long tenure in charge of the monument was drawing to an end. In February he made a trip to regional headquarters in Santa Fe "to discuss his status with the National Park Service" and began to put things in order so that a new superintendent might take over with ease. 
As spring arrived, road maintenance, especially on the south rim, was accelerated and Gorman was placed in charge of a small crew of Navajo laborers for this work. Some tree planting was also begun. Guillet continued to keep himself informed of tribal affairs and reported that the spring session of the tribal council had passed a resolution authorizing tribal suits "to recover or get rental fees from Government Agencies occupying Tribal lands," which he thought might affect the National Park Service's status at the monument. 
Cooperation with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Navajos was the general rule, however. In April Guillet spent a week on a joint survey with Navajo Agency personnel planning conservation work.  The following month the Bureau began receiving applications from Navajo farmers in the canyons for jetties to protect their fields.  The Park Service was also doing erosion control work and planted 4,000 willow seedlings and cuttings at Tse Ta'a in April.  Navajos living below the first overlook complained that tourists were throwing "objects" over the cliff, and a sign was promptly erected in an effort to prevent further occurrences.  Sometime during the year Guillet also found it necessary to prevent visiting Boy Scouts from carrying off old saddles marking graves in the cemetery near headquarters. 
Cozy continued his efforts to sell Thunderbird Ranch and there were reports that the tribe itself might take it over. Guillet reported that at a recent meeting in Chinle "some objection was raised as to our right to issue a permit for Canyon trips." He felt that it would not be possible for a concessioner to operate successfully if he had to conform to both tribal and Park Service regulations and stated that one or the other should have full authority in the matter. He lacked faith in the ability of the tribe to manage the concession itself without Park Service regulation, and suggested that if the tribe should acquire the property it would be best to exclude it from the monument. 
In any case, it was felt that the question of the division of authority between the Park Service, the Bureau, and the tribe with regard to regulation of the business should be resolved. The agreement and Secretarial approval of the western boundary of 1942 had come to light in the regional office, causing Tillotson to reconsider his earlier recommendations concerning the concessioner permit. Upon receipt of Guillet's report he wrote the Director explaining the sequence of events as he understood them, concluding his memo with the following paragraph:
The regional director had raised a serious question and nearly a month passed before a decision was made, one that brought Cozy's operations back under more complete Park Service regulation but that did little to ease Tillotson's doubts. Associate Director Demaray wrote:
In a postscript Demaray instructed that Cozy's last two permits be canceled and that a new permit covering the full range of tourist services at Thunderbird Ranch be issued effective retroactively from January 1, 1949. 
Tillotson felt that it would be futile to try to make McSparron apply for a retroactive permit for 1949, so he asked the director to authorize requiring a new permit for the current year only.  Even this raised questions that Guillet did not feel qualified to answer when instructed to contact Cozy, so he asked that a representative of the regional office come to Chinle to explain the matter to Cozy directly. 
Legal requirements could not be waived beyond a certain point, however, and in due time Guillet received instructions to inform McSparron that he must also have a retroactive permit for 1949, being excused only from having to submit a rate schedule and monthly reports for that year, although he would have to present an annual financial report. The 1950 permit would require monthly reports both for the period it covered retroactively and for the remainder of the year.  On the same date a second memo was sent in reply to Guillet's plea for help in explaining. the complications to McSparron. The acting regional director, John M. Davis, would not be able to visit before June 15, but in the meantime he thought it best that Cozy have a copy of the new permit so that he would be prepared to raise any objections he might have. 
As instructed, Guillet delivered the new concession contract draft to Cozy, but found him far from receptive. Cozy stated he would operate under the regulation of only one agency or not at all and threatened to close down his tourist services completely, keeping only his trading post open.  Davis did not visit the monument until after Guillet had left, and it was then up to Guillet's successor to carry on the effort. 
The research field season was inaugurated by a United States Geological Survey project studying the de Chelly formation.  Guillet would not be around to welcome De Harport and Steen back, however. The incoming superintendent, Everett W. Bright, spent 4 days at the monument early in June to learn about "the background and other information on administration, maintenance, public relations with the Navajo, etc." from Guillet. Morris would serve as acting superintendent until Bright was moved to his new post. Guillet left on June 15, but drafted the June monthly report before leaving, blank spaces remaining where Morris could insert statistics that could not be tallied until later. Guillet closed with the following:
The relaxation of wartime restrictions had allowed Guillet during his first incumbency to make many minor improvements in facilities, but a small budget had not permitted the kind of development that increasing visitation would soon demand. He had been able to initiate some useful research efforts and to upgrade interpretation, while two especially significant research projects, those by De Harport and Steen, had benefited from his presence. His chief legacy, however, was the enhancement of relations with the Navajos, especially at the local level, where he was not to be forgotten.
Last Updated: 08-Mar-2004