Hubbell Trading Post
Administrative History
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Employee Housing

When Charles Wyatt arrived at Ganado to assume the superintendency of Hubbell Trading Post NHS he was "surprised" by the poor quality of the employee housing. [1] Like Charlie Wyatt, Doug McChristian didn't have to live in one of the mobile homes---he and his wife occupied the small "modular" home that has been the residence of the site's superintendent--yet he found living at the historic site was "one step above camping out;" he could see daylight at some of the corners of the house. He admits that if he had known about the wretched site housing, he wouldn't have taken the assignment. McChristian thought that the housing situation was so poor that it had a detrimental affect on morale; that new housing would not only boost the morale of the people already at the park but it would also be something of an inducement to getting more good people to come to the remote historic site. [2]

Bill Gentless worked on maintenance at Hubbell Trading Post between 1983 and 1985. He remembers the mobile homes as a handyman's nightmare, castoffs from other parks which no longer wanted them. Everything was wearing out, the electrical systems, the plumbing ("Nothing seemed to fit anymore"). [3]

Kent Bush thought the mobile homes were a morale problem, especially for families with children: "I recall my trailer being nearly twenty years old. It had been moved a number of times which made it less than sound. Wind and dust swept right through it, and during the winter it was very hard to keep warm." [4]

The employee housing site is close to the park's entrance gate and is visible from it, the mobile homes huddled closely together and surrounded by chain link fencing. It would seem that trailer parks are almost impossible to make attractive and this one is no exception to the rule. Except for the Chief Ranger, who is historically ensconced in HB-4, everybody lives at the employee housing site; and, except for the superintendent in the small modular home, everybody is housed in mobile homes.

employee housing

Figure 48. Employee housing at Hubbell Trading Post NHS. NPS photo by E. Bauer. HUTR Neg. R73#24.

Until the modular home arrived at the site, the superintendent used to have his or her personal quarters in HB-4. The modular home appeared in the late 1970s and was authorized, as Juin Crosse remembers, because it was considered moveable. That is, it came in modular sections, and apparently Congress had placed no restrictions on such structures. [5] Still, even the modular house has its limitations, as Charlie Wyatt discovered: "Coming from my own...home in South Carolina, a large three-bedroom house, to a smaller modular house here was quite a shock."

The employees at this site have survived for twenty-five years in what many of them consider to be substandard housing. The problem was partly one of timing; Hubbell Trading Post NHS just missed the Mission 66 Program which helped, among other things, to get adequate federal housing into many parks. Money has been a problem at Hubbell ever since, and now and then necessary funds have had to be squeezed from other parks in the area in order to cover necessities at Hubbell Trading post. [6] Until recently, money for housing at the site was just not available, and no amount of crabbing by past superintendents could break loose any cash from Congress for that purpose. A review of the interviews with past superintendents will reveal that virtually all of them were concerned about the housing situation at Hubbell, but all they could do about it was outline what needed to be done and work on the configuration of the housing. [7] Doug McChristian was so upset about the housing at the site that he considers it to be the issue to which he gave the highest priority. [8]

When John Cook arrived at Hubbell Trading Post in 1966 with his family he moved into what is now called the Manager's Residence, HB-4. The Cooks painted the interior and moved in. Historian Wescoat Wolfe was the next NPS employee to move onto the site, and he and his family lived in a mobile home that was parked at the southwest corner of the compound near HB-5. Since then, everybody has lived in the employee mobile home park.

Plans have been worked up for site housing, bids are out, and ground will be broken soon in the open field just above the superintendent's modular home. Three or four three-bedroom single family houses will go in during the first year (three or four houses, depending on the bid price), and then it is hoped that five or six more houses can be built the next year. As soon as the first houses are occupied, some mobile homes will be moved out, and houses planned for the second phase could go in where the mobile homes had been. [9] The beginning of Hubbell Trading Post's second twenty-five years as a historic site seems like a fitting time to start the ambitious project. And, some will add, it's about time.

Security for the Museum Collection and the Trading Post

The present security system at Hubbell Trading Post NHS was installed in 1990; and it works. [10] Security of the museum collection has always been a primary concern at the site: what should be included in the collection, where it should be stored, what level of protection it requires, what might be discarded. And when one thinks of security there, one first thinks of night security, burglars slinking in; but as far as is known there has been only one night time attempt at an intrusion, and that occurred when Tom Vaughan was superintendent and residing in the Manager's Residence, HB-4. The year was of course the mid-1970s, the alarm system still rudimentary and full of bugs.

Tom says that when he first drifts off to sleep his senses plunge quickly to an almost unfathomable depth. On the night in question he had just gotten to sleep when his wife, Jan tried to stir him awake to tell him that something was going on outside. Jan told him the next morning that he slipped out of bed, stalked to the door and opened it and looked out, apparently saw nothing, came back to inform her that nothing was wrong out there, and climbed back into bed. And the next morning it was discovered that, well, yes, somebody had tried to break in. A window had to be replaced. And Tom had sensed nothing the night before; he couldn't even recall getting out of bed and peering out into the night. The burglar alarm had not gone off. Luckily, nothing was missing (had Tom's unconscious sortie frightened off the burglar?). [11]

Although the burglar alarm didn't work when somebody was trying to break in, it did work often enough when nobody was trying to get in. It was thought that in the late afternoons, sunlight reflecting from the windshield of an approaching car could strike the electric eye of a sensor and set off the alarm. A heater coming on, stirring the air and causing items hanging from a ceiling to swing back and forth, might set off the alarm. Squirrels frolicking about inside the buildings triggered the alarm. Whatever the cause, site personnel had to respond. During the years when the road to the bootlegger's den was still in use, and there was a lot of night activity on the site---and a lot of worry for NPS personnel---local police and site employees would have to search through the buildings with flashlights whenever the alarm sounded. All of the alarms were false, and there were a lot of them. [12]

One way Tom Vaughan responded to the threat was to be involved in what was called the Northeast Arizona-Northwest New Mexico Crime Clinic, an informal group of law enforcement officers from several agencies who met periodically but at least quarterly to share ideas and experiences in reference to local crime. It was a way to keep track of trends in jewelry thefts and trading post robberies. [13]

Daytime losses have been the main security problem, and most of those losses have occurred at the trading post, a though Ned Danson feels that "some things" have been lost from the home. He specifically mentioned a silver necklace that was lifted from a wall. [14]

Shoplifters have been in action at the trading post. Besides the rug that probably disappeared out the window of the rug room, another one, a 6 X 10 rug valued at $4500, may have walked out the door inside a cradle board. [15] Although the couple with the cradle board aroused some suspicion, none of the clerks bothered to jot down the license number of their car. The weaver of the rug was asked to sketch the design, but the rug was never recovered. Rugs are now photographed with an instant camera as soon as they are purchased.

interior of trading post

Figure 49. Interior of the trading post. This old diagram includes the location of the gasoline pump. The office is also the jewelry room.

When one superintendent became concerned about daytime security at the historic site, he hired two detective sergeants from the Albuquerque Police Department to see if they could "rip off" the historic site. The police detectives were a man and a woman, the woman wearing a mohair poncho. While the clerks in the trading post stood around chatting with each other, the woman detective walked out with a sand painting. (The superintendent was the only employee at the historic site who knew the detectives would be there.) Later, however, when the detectives went on a tour of the house, they were unable to steal anything. Each time the woman detective ducked back into a room, the tour guide would also drop back far enough so that she could keep her eyes on the main group and the detective. The superintendent, Tom Vaughan, felt quite proud of the guide when, during a conference he had with the detectives in the rug room in reference to the security problems at the site, he was told how alert she had been on the tour.

During that conference in the rug room, the woman detective sat on a pile of rugs. Tom was sitting right next to her. And, while she talked to Tom she also managed to roll up a $900 rug and hide it under her poncho without Tom being aware of the maneuver; Tom was not so proud of his own powers of observation. [16] The lesson seems to be that determined shoplifters are difficult to guard against and site employees, both NPS and SPMA employees, have to be just as alert and imaginative as the shoplifters are.

If anything, the historic site's museum collection will get larger. It has been dispersed to a certain extent, partly for study, partly for protection. At one time, when the burned laundromat was the best storage area, and soot settled on the piled up museum collection, and sand and snow drifted in on it, there was ample reason to move some of it out to safer areas. Much of that material will be returning to the historic site, and certainly when a climate-controlled building is in place. (It should be noted that the historic structures may suffer if an attempt is made to give them a controlled atmosphere.)

Not only will the future storage building at Hubbell Trading Post NHS have to deal with artifacts that came from the site but have been dispersed to other storage facilities, it will also have to handle new acquisitions. The Scope of Collections states that the historic site will be documenting and interpreting material from the entire Hubbell trading empire. For example, at the Hubbell's old store in Winslow there are at least seven file cabinets filled with documents relating to their business, as well as a room filled with three dimensional artifacts. It is hoped that all of this material will find a home at Hubbell Trading Post; and it seems likely that material will come from other areas. The need for quality museum storage and adequate protection is apparent and will, if anything, increase.

Each improvement to the security system through the years has tended to make the system more "high tech" and, with each improvement, to bring within the circle of electronic protection yet more areas or another building. However, for as long as the historic site buildings were inadequately protected, this lack of security was as much a matter of deep concern to SPMA as it was to the NPS. As recently as 1979, the director of SPMA regarded the burglar alarm system as a "joke." He was concerned about the possibility of SPMA employees violating the law should they become involved in trying to apprehend intruders when it was clear to him that NPS policy stated that only NPS employees with special training have authority within the parks to apprehend law breakers. Rather than have SPMA employees risking life and limb while protecting government buildings where they happen to work during the day, he pleaded with the then superintendent of the historic site to push "even more vigorously" for the NPS to develop a security system that works. [17]

Hubbell Trading Post NHS now has the added security problems of traveling exhibits. Some of the collection is at last going on the road. The Arizona Commission of the Arts is funding a two-year traveling exhibit which will include thirty baskets, ten photographs, and several illustrations. The extraordinary Hubbell collection will at last come to the attention of people who might never be able to travel to Ganado.

The NPS and SPMA at the Historic Site

Ned Danson feels that the trading post is "probably in absolutely perfect hands." [18] Indeed, if the federal government had not purchased the property, Hubbell Trading Post might not exist today as anything at all. But with the NPS to protect the site and SPMA to operate the business, the trading post remains a dynamic institution. But was this partnership of the NPS and SPMA made in heaven? Not quite. Any partnership will have its rough spots.

The understanding and dedication of the directors of SPMA have been vital to the success of the historic site, and the almost priceless contribution of its expert traders has maintained the site as a living institution. The leadership on the SPMA side of the partnership has had more expert continuity than that on the NPS side. The unfortunate reputation of Hubbell Trading Post NHS as a boot camp for superintendents has already been discussed (Charlie Wyatt: "My observation when I got here was that it suffered terribly from this. Both superintendent and staff have not really had to even live with their mistakes or to be able to bask in the glory of their accomplishments because they're here and gone."). [19]

The trader and his staff, on the other hand, are there to stay. The present director of SPMA has been at his post for over ten years; his interest in the success of both the NPS and SPMA at Hubbell Trading Post NHS is evident in the correspondence and memorandums reviewed for this administrative history: "I would agree that we should always strive for improved communication and dialogue . . . But we should keep in mind that our Hubbell operation is an atypical one for the SPMA and probably for any cooperating association. We think that because of the nature of Navajo trading and a variety of other factors, our relationship with the NPS [at Hubbell Trading Post NHS] will always be somewhat unique. Most of the time this uniqueness is wonderful, but I will admit to an occasionally frustrating moment when dealing with the way things work on the reservation." [20]

Charlie Wyatt feels that the working relationship between the two entities is at the present very good. At the moment, then, he sees no reason to interfere with it. He's in charge of the historic site, and the trader is running his operation, but if there are any complaints about what is going on over at the trading post, the superintendent must direct questions and suggestions to SPMA's director. Charlie Wyatt, who came to the historic site with ample experience and, therefore, confidence, has no problem with this arrangement. Charlie Wyatt defers to Bill Malone in reference to the trading business, Bill defers to Charlie as far as the operation of the historic site is concerned; and matters work out to their mutual advantage. [21]

There have been differences of opinion in the past between the NPS and SPMA about activities at the trading post. For example, the NPS had to insist the SPMA employees not store personal belongings in the wareroom, that they not play a radio when they are on duty in the Visitor Center, that they park their personal vehicles in the employees' assigned area only. These are minor-although certainly potentially irritating-matters that can be worked out easily. The present director of SPMA and the present trader are affable gentlemen who are disposed to talking turkey when the success of Hubbell Trading Post NHS is at stake.

And the success of Hubbell Trading Post NHS is the raison d'etre of the partnership of the two entities there. A conflict could arise in reference to the interpretive sales items displayed by SPMA at the historic site. But all interpretive and educational sales items must be approved for both content and price, and only the superintendent or the chief of interpretation and resource management may approve or disapprove of any sales items. Craft and trade items are excluded from the approval process; other sales items must be submitted for approval prior to the ordering or display of such items. The business manager must consult with the chief of interpretation before deciding not to carry approved items. SPMA is obliged to keep on file for three years all reviews of items approved or disapproved, after which period they may be destroyed. [22] The present director of SPMA encourages the superintendent of Hubbell Trading Post to consult with him if there is any question about the appropriateness of any item offered for sale at the trading post. [23]

But when an NPS employee is trying to second guess the trader on what is, or what is not an appropriate sales item, he or she is treading on shaky ground. It must be kept in mind that the trading post is an evolving business, that what the Navajo were buying last year may not be of any interest to them this year. Generally speaking, the tourists do most of their buying in the rug room and the jewelry room, and the Navajo make most of their purchases in the bullpen. National Park Service employees should be on guard against the encroachment of too many tourist related items in the bullpen, but they should not be overly precipitate about condemning sales items there.

As was noted in Chapter VI, SPMA has done very well, financially speaking, at Hubbell Trading Post NHS. Why, then, if they perceived the burglar alarm system to be a joke, why didn't they replace it with a system they considered adequate? After all, most of the contents of the trading post belonged to them. Well, it is not the responsibility of SPMA to maintain the buildings at the historic site; their legislation would not allow them to spend money on maintenance there. SPMA's function is to help the NPS interpret the site.

But SPMA's financial success at the trading post may be about to pay off for the historic site as well. Although SPMA has been contributing a $500 discretionary fund to each site, park, or monument where it does business, it was decided by their Board of Directors in 1990 that each NPS location should in fact receive a percentage of the SPMA income from the sales of books at the individual locations. A controversy arose, as far as Hubbell Trading Post NHS was concerned, when the subject of the profits from the rest of the sales at the trading post was brought up. That is, the sales of literature at Hubbell Trading Post are, to say the least, a minor part of SPMA's business there. And so it was decided in October of 1991, at a meeting of SPMA's Board of Directors, a meeting which took place in Ganado, that henceforth Hubbell Trading Post will receive a percentage of all of SPMA's sales at the site. This could of course amount to some thousands of dollars. [24] And so at last there should be sufficient "discretionary funds" available to help the historic site come alive.

The Friends of Hubbell Trading Post [25]

An agreement between Hubbell Trading Post NHS and the Friends of Hubbell Trading Post was entered into on the 19th of December, 1990. Basically, the Friends of Hubbell Trading Post might provide funds for small projects for which there is at present no money available via the NPS, nor, because their legislation would not allow them to fund such projects, from SPMA.

Irrigation and Erosion

The dam at Ganado Lake had been partially drained by the time Juin Crosse arrived at Hubbell Trading Post NHS in 1978. Apparently the floodgates had been damaged, some years before, and since then nothing had been done to repair the dam. Juin was concerned that the historic site would lose its irrigation rights, so she set about seeing what she could do to get the dam repaired. The lake did not belong to the historic site; Juin had to work through the tribe. But since virtually all of the decisions on community affairs are made by total consensus of the people involved, it proved impossible for any hard decisions to be made. Juin: "While we never ran into a total roadblock, people weren't totally wild about [repairing the dam]." [26] Juin even arranged to have divers come out to the lake to go down to see if the floodgates could be repaired. [27] The water was so murky they couldn't see anything. The divers had no success that first time. It then proved impossible to get the Navajo to allow the divers to try again. As it turned out, their reluctance to get the dam repaired may have had little to do with the dam itself.

When the water receded at Ganado Lake, some very lush grass grew up where the water had been. Because that grass was a lovely place to graze sheep, the people who owned the sheep were not as interested in seeing the dam repaired as were those people downstream. And, thought Juin, it may have been that the people responsible for the dam were related to the owners of the sheep. (Juin: "Interrelationships run just every which way.") [28] Whatever the case, Juin had the feeling that there was some foot dragging going on.

Foot dragging? Or simply the failure of the Navajo to be able to agree on what might be the best course for them to take as far as the dam is concerned. Whatever the case, the issue has never been resolved. And this issue has been a concern of every superintendent for at least the past twenty years.

Irrigation, the dam, and erosion along the Pueblo Colorado Wash are interconnected issues. Because the dam is broken, there is no water in the lake. Because there is no water in the lake, there is no water for the irrigation ditch. Also, because the dam is broken, water will run unchecked down the Pueblo Colorado Wash. The Pueblo Colorado Wash is trying to meander to the south, thereby causing erosion, another big concern for the NPS for many years as part of Wide Reed Ruin slumped into the roiling waters. Unable to convince anybody to repair the dam, the NPS has resorted to heroic efforts along the Pueblo Colorado Wash within the boundaries of the historic site. The NPS has installed gabions.

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, [29] gabion is a French word derived from the Italian word gabbione. A gabbione is "a cylindrical wicker basket filled with earth and stones, formerly used in building fortifications." [30] The word gabbione is a refinement of the Italian word gabbia, which in English is the word "cage." A gabion, then, is a big cage, and in the case of the gabions in the Pueblo Colorado Wash close to Wide Reed Ruin, the gabions are big cages fashioned of wire and filled with rocks. The gabions now visible in the wash are the second attempt at halting the erosion with the (according to some observers) unsightly intrusion.

Interestingly--assuming one is interested in precise definitions--the mass of wired rocks along the Pueblo Colorado Wash may in fact be a gabionade, a gabionade being "a fortification or defensive embankment or wall built with gabions." [31] Well, whatever it's called, the massive collection of rocks in the wash was the idea of an engineer who was with the Navajo Lands Group when Kevin McKibbin was superintendent at Hubbell Trading Post NHS (1971-1974). [32]

Kevin remembers the truckloads of rocks that were hauled in to fill the wire cages the Navajo crew were making down in the arroyo. Many tons of rocks went into gabions just upstream from Wide Reed Ruin and following the bank down just past the ruin, an impressive construction job, an enormous amount of work. Kevin McKibbin: "The only problem was that after two or three big flash floods, why, it was essentially gone. It just sank out of sight. It's there but I doubt now if it's at all evident anymore." [33] Having witnessed the obvious force of an arroyo out of control with floodwater, and taking into consideration the apparently inevitable disappearance of Wide Reed Ruin, the NPS decided, before it was too late, to excavate and map parts of the ruin.

Erosion along the Pueblo Colorado Wash continued to be one of the "biggest" issues [34] facing the superintendents. Unfortunately, during the past twenty years it has proved impossible to convince everybody with interest in the dam that erosion at the historic site might be a concern for all, not just the NPS. The present gabions, which don't seem to be sinking out of sight, were installed when Doug McChristian was superintendent (1986-1987). Doug: "That took what seemed like an extremely long time to accomplish. It was very slow going work." [35] Although the new gabions seem to be doing the job, their time, too, may be limited. The best solution to the erosion problem along the Pueblo Colorado Wash remains the repairing of the dam at Ganado Lake.

The idea has been put forward that possibly the erosion issue and the irrigation issue can be separated for the time being, as far as the repairing of the dam is concerned. That is, the problem of erosion below the dam is an issue of interest to people other than the NPS, while the irrigation issue is perceived to be mainly a problem for the National Park Service. If the irrigation concerns can be left out of the discussion for the present, the expensive repairs necessary on the ditch outside of the historic site would not be an immediate concern for the people contemplating that repair work once the dam is working again. However, once the dam is repaired---ostensibly just to halt erosion downstream---the matter of water for irrigation, as well as the ditch repair problem, can resurface. [36]

In the meantime, any superintendent at Hubbell Trading Post NHS will be facing the same old erosion and irrigation problems that have been among the issues faced by every superintendent there for the past twenty years.

An Island in the Middle of the Vast Navajo Reservation

How did the Navajo react to the NPS taking over at Hubbell Trading Post?

John Cook: "There were probably several sets and levels of reactions. The ones affected the most [Dorothy Hubbell's regular customers], very little to no reaction. Primarily because of the fact that Mrs. Hubbell reassured them that, one, their lines of credit would be maintained, that things bad would not happen to them. Secondly, bringing Bill Young along...he was no stranger to many of the individuals. Then you had the reaction of some of the tribal leadership, some of whom, as we were in the era of civil rights and the beginning of resurgence of American Indian rights, you got some people really kind of objecting to traders at all. And the National Park Service, the federal government, getting involved in this onerous thing [trading posts] that rips off the American Indian. So you had some negative feelings there. And then you had the Navajo Tribe itself… Raymond Nakaai, and later Peter MacDonald...who felt that another national park area on or near the Reservation would create jobs and bring in money. The chapter people, the Ganado Chapter, they were concerned because they weren't sure what kind of neighbors we were going to be." [37]

But no one actively tried to stop the NPS from taking over at Hubbell Trading Post and operating it. John Cook feels that the change of administration at the trading post, from Dorothy Hubbell to the NPS, was made easier for the Navajo because he, Cook, was well known on the Reservation and also well known in the circles of Navajo leadership." [38] Cook hopes that the NPS screening process, when selecting site administrators, will help find those people who will be most compatible with the environment. He understands that one has to subjugate one's own culture to the dominant local culture, not necessarily to embrace that way of life, but at least to try to understand it. The administrators of the historic site must be tolerant, value cultural diversity, realize that the Navajo culture has a right to exist with the Anglo and Hispanic cultures that surround the Navajo Nation. And one must learn patience. [39]

Art White was superintendent of the Navajo Lands Group when Kevin McKibbin was superintendent at Hubbell, and Hubbell Trading Post was at that time part of the Navajo Lands Group. Kevin McKibbin: "Art was very involved with the Tribe. In fact that was one of the reasons he was superintendent of the Navajo Lands Group.... He knew how to get along with them. They knew him and liked him. He was very good at dealing with the Tribe and common problems between the Tribe and the National Park Service. He spent a lot of time with them." [40]

McKibbin: "A new superintendent has to know what the Navajo Tribe is. And he has to know that he's right in the middle of them. Although he's on a National Park Service enclave, he's got to build a deal with them almost on a daily basis. And he's got to know...who the local chapter officers are. And from there he should know the chain of command right up through the Tribal Council. Know who...the chairman is. And he needs to know some of the people in the tribal government...the natural and cultural resource people, the law enforcement people, the utility people...the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority. He should...know how they fit into the organizational scheme of things." [41]

McKibbin: "You're still in a community but it's different. So you've got to understand that. A new superintendent, a lot of them, myself included, first superintendency, you come in pretty bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and you're ready to take on the world...make your mark right now. [But] you've got to be very careful, especially in that environment. You're going to fall right flat on your face...." [42]

Tom Vaughan recalls that Art White took him around to meet the Navajo officials. Tom made every effort to be involved with the Tribe, attending meetings at the local chapter house, becoming secretary of the Ganado Volunteer Fire Department, going out annually with the Navajo Police to qualify with firearms. [43]

Tom feels that the superintendent must look for opportunities to be involved with the Navajo. For example, when a local alcoholics group received some federal money for a project but needed lumber, Tom remembered that the NPS had been wanting to tear down the north bridge at the historic site. He sat down with the group and they agreed to take out the bridge just for the material it contained, at no extra cost to the government. And so that is how--and when--the north bridge was dismantled and removed. As Tom suggested, there just is not any organizational preparation available for such a place as Hubbell Trading Post. In his opinion, the person who is going to be effective in the superintendency of Hubbell Trading Post will be somebody who enjoys working in an area of cultural diversity. [44]

Dorothy Hubbell: "Sometimes if you get somebody in who is not familiar with the area at all.... well, he never gets the feeling of the place." [45]

However, as Tom Vaughan suggests, a person may not be sensitive to another culture just because he or she is familiar with the area. [46] Juin Crosse echoes that sentiment: "Even though I was there as a child, I certainly felt like no authority on the culture. I did try to get some material in advance." She wanted to find out what some of the "dos and don'ts" were as far as the Navajo culture is concerned, but she found it difficult to find any good information. "You were just very lucky if you didn't shoot yourself in the foot by doing something really insulting to somebody." She discovered when she was working on some problems that it wasn't so much a matter of getting all of the Navajo to agree on an issue, it was mainly a matter of hoping that nobody would object. "They [the Navajo] almost never override opposition. It's against their way. Total consensus is their way...." [47]

Juin Crosse discovered that it was difficult to have traditional Navajo supervising one another. Juin: "It is absolutely against their culture to criticize." And, she noted, the "supreme insult" among the Navajo is to ignore a person if he or she doesn't approve of that person. Which, Juin found out, can slow down progress a bit. She learned to be firm. If you cave in on an issue, the people will not respect you. [There seems to be a fine line here between standing up for one's rights and what could possibly be perceived as Anglo arrogance.] Juin thought that if one retreated on too many issues, the Navajo would not respect one at all. And she does not think that it is in anybody's best interest for a white person at a chapter meeting to just sit there and take abuse. Such abuse may occur, but if the Anglo simply accepts it, this may be, as far as the Navajo are concerned, a clue to that person's character. [48]

One way Juin hoped to get the dam fixed was to try to get the Navajo themselves interested in farming Hubbell Trading Post NHS. If they were interested in farming the land, she reasoned, they would have to become interested in repairing the dam and the irrigation ditch. Juin: "We put out some special use permits to the get them over to do some farming. I was eager to try and get them interested because I thought that might also stir some community interest towards getting that irrigation ditch going again." [49]

Ed Gastellum tried to pick up where Juin had left off with the irrigation/dam/farming issue. He worked with local people associated with the tribal government. The Navajo would do the farming, maintain the ditches, and the proceeds from the sale of the hay would be split between the Tribe and the NPS. Ed didn't get to the point of actually formulating an agreement. He was working on it, but the council delegates were involved in an election. Unfortunately, the council leadership changed, and a lot of the local interest in the project died. Ed: "The emphasis really died." Working with the Navajo, understanding their culture, adapting to the local environment, becoming a part of the community, was a tremendous challenge, Ed thought, but also a very positive experience. [50]

Ed remembers that when he first got to Ganado a council delegate came over to introduce himself right away, to welcome Ed to Ganado, to tell him that as superintendent of the historic site he was considered a vital part of the community. The council delegate invited Ed and his family to the chapter meeting, to be held that next Sunday, so that they could be introduced to the community. (John Cook: "If they invite you to a meeting, you're the meeting.") [51]

Ed and his family arrived at the appointed time, 12:00 noon. People from the community trickled in, and Ed and his family got to meet everybody, but it wasn't until four o'clock that there were sufficient people present to start the meeting. It was evident to Ed that the Navajo perception of time, and time over at the historic site, might be two different things. The fact that nothing seems to start "on time" can be a challenging concept for some Anglos. [52]

Terry Nichols thought that it would be a good idea for a new administrator to know something about the Navajo ceremonial life, the mythology." [53]

Well, however one goes about getting to know the Navajo, the majority of the people who have gone through the experience agree that there always seems to be a "two-year getting acquainted courtship." [54]

Dorothy Hubbell, when it was suggested to her that it takes a couple of years to become a part of the community: "It does, it does. That's right. Because we're different. We're all different. The Navajo are very careful about that. They may answer you, or they may not. They may just stand. But they are interesting people. When you can know them as individuals, they're interesting people." [55]

Charlie Wyatt doesn't think that most past superintendents were at the historic site long enough to get truly acquainted with the local community. Charlie: "And they are very gentle and very kind people." [56]

It took Charlie Wyatt two and a half years at the historic site before he didn't have to invite himself places. After two and a half years, the local people started to invite Charlie; they came to understand that he had the good of the local community at heart. Charlie: "I'd say it would take two and a half years to start being effective and after that then you've got to play the cards as you see them. At least two and a half years before you would really be a contributing voice in the community." [57]

Tom Vaughan feels that the person who is superintendent at Hubbell Trading Post NHS should be one who enjoys a multi-cultural milieu. Tom does, and he came to appreciate the uniqueness of the remote historic site. Tom: "You really have a sense of being in another world when you step outside your door in August and hear drums or, even more, in December when you're standing at the front of the trading post seeing masked dancers coming down the entrance road. That's when you realize you're in someone else's land." [58]

scenic view

Figure 50. Sitsiji hozhoodoo shikeedee' hozhoodoo. (Before me peace, behind me peace.) Excerpt from Navajo prayer. A Manchester photo.

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Last Updated: 28-Aug-2006