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---- Wednesday - September 20, 2017 - 7:21:09 PM - Navajo Nation Time ----

Shiprock
(Original Name: Naat'anii Nz - Tall Chief)
(Recent Name: Thn- People of the Water, or Shiprockian)

Shiprock was originally named Naat'anii Nz (Tall Chief) after Superintendent William T. Shelton, who founded Shiprock as a government settlement for the San Juan School and Agency in 1903. Recently, the native people of Shiprock have been calling themselves, Thn, meaning "People of the Water", to represent the native Shiprockian, born and raised by the San Juan River. Shiprock is located at the intersection of U.S. highway 666 and U.S. highway 64, about 25 miles west of Farmington, New Mexico on U.S. highway 64, and 10 miles northeast of Shiprock Peak (Ts Bit'A').

On September 11, 1903, Mr. Shelton opened Shiprock Indian Boarding School and administrative agency for the northern Navajos with a staff of three Anglo-Americans and three Navajo employees. The settlement was originally laid out on land belonging to a Navajo named Tsheya Begay.

According to one of Shelton's reports in the early 1900s, Indians had been irrigating here for many years, and there were 275 Navajo farms under some 25 ditches drawing water between Shiprock and Farmington. Shelton immediately pushed for an agricultural program, improved and extended the irrigation system, developed a fine dairy herd, initiated the Shiprock Fair (the first and largest Navajo Fair on the Navajo Nation), built a sawmill near Sanostee, and opened a coal mine in the Shiprock Hogback area. Stern disciplinarian and ruthless in his prosecution of moral lapses, he was respected throughout the region for his staunch championship of the Navajos and for his efforts in adding the Utah-Colorado Navajo Reservation extension to the main Navajo Reservation.

The first buildings in Shiprock were constructed of log and adobe. Brick largely replaced these after the disastrous flood of 1912. Shiprock Indian Boarding School would remain until the boarding system was phased out in the early 1980s. A new system of schools would then be build, these being Nizhoni Elementary School, Ts Bit'A' Middle School, Shiprock High School, Shiprock Northwest High School, and Shiprock Alternative Schools Inc. (SASI). In the early 1900s, a bridge was built to replace Jimmy the Boatman's ferry across the San Juan River. In 1938, a concrete and steel bridge would serve Shiprock until the 1980s when another bridge would be built, which made a two parallel highways system in Shiprock that continues to Farmington. The 1938 concrete and steel bridge still exist today beside the new one.

Uranium was mined on a 230 acre site in Shiprock and leased to various companies from 1954 to 1968 from the Navajo Tribe. Full control of the site was reverted back to the Navajo Nation when Foote Mineral Company's lease expired in 1973. The site was originally mined for U.S. nuclear weapons development. Now current programs are to remediate surface and groundwater contamination caused by residual tailings remaining after uranium was extracted during milling operations. Currently, surface remediation has been completed and responsibility for the long-term surveillance and monitoring was transferred to the Grand Junction Office. Groundwater contamination is below maximum contaminant and background levels. The NRC licensed disposal cell will require long-term surveillance and maintenance.

Shiprock has a new Shiprock Hospital (I.H.S. Shiprock Northern Medical Center), and a Shiprock campus of Din College (formerly Navajo Community College). Having started in 1983, Shiprock has had an annual Shiprock Marathon, Relays & Walk. Currently, this event is held in about the first week of May. In 1997, about 150 marathoners (about 100 men, 50 women), 200 walkers, and 75 teams would take part in this event.

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Creator(s): Harrison Lapahie Jr.
Dated Created: 06/15/1997
Version: 1.2
Updated: 10/15/2006
Curator(s): Harrison Lapahie Jr.
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