Navajo Timeline

Year Navajo History World History
  • After the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese on Sunday, December 7, 1941, Philip Johnson, a white man and Civil Engineer in Los Angeles, who spoke Navajo, tells of his idea of using the Navajo language as a military code against the Japanese, to an officer at Camp Elliott, near San Diego, California. Philip Johnson, was the son of Protestant missionaries on the Navajo Reservation, and grew up among the Navajos, speaking their Diné language. By age 9, he had gained such a proficiency in the Navajo language that he acted as interpreter between two Navajo leaders and President Theodore Roosevelt when they met in 1901. In 1941, the Navajo language was completely unknown to the world, and less than 40 non-Navajos knew the Navajo language, and none were Japanese.
  • Dec. 7, 1941 - Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, U.S. entered World War II. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor that morning, the FBI swooped down on a Los Angeles baseball field, to apprehend members of a team called the L.A. Nippons. Within two months, 2,191 "suspects" (of Japanese ancestry) had been jailed. Throughout WWII, there was no evidence of a single case of Japanese-American espionage.
  • Dec. 29, 1941 - Lieut. General John L. DeWitt ordered all Japanese in the eight states in his Western Defense Command to surrender their shortwave radios and cameras. Said DeWitt, "A Jap is a Jap".
  • All American Indian men were required to register for the draft, although in many states they could not vote. A total of 24,521 American Indian men served in the U.S. armed services during World War II. Many southwestern American Indians served in a National Guard unit sent to the Philippines (the 200th Coastal Artillery Regiment), which was captured by the Japanese and sent on the infamous Bataan death march. Others refused to register on the basis of religious or political grounds, a few Pagagos, some Utes, six Hopies from Hotevilla, some Iroquois, and a number of Seminoles. The Seminoles refused to register on the grounds that they were still at war with the U.S., the Iroquois objected because they did not consider themselves citizens of the U.S., the Papagos because they followed a religious leader who prohibited killing. The conservative Pueblos resisted to send their young men to the draft. In all, however, more than 70,000 American Indian men and women left the reservations to enter military service or work in defense industries.
  • Even though the Navajos weren't allowed to vote, more than 3,600 Navajos served in the military, and over 10,000 Navajos went to work in the weapon's factories. Proportionately, this data represents one of the highest percentages of total population in the armed service of any ethnic group in the United States.
  • Many military training bases were located in Arizona, Nevada, and southern California, close to west coast bases and staging areas for the war in the Pacific. More than 40 billion federal dollars were spent in the West. The West colonial status changed forever. As great demands were put on expanding western infrastructure for water and power, it set up a new round of legal actions to obtain Indian water rights, lands, and mineral resources.
  • Comanches were used as code talkers in Europe speaking their own language as the code. Seventeen Comanches were assigned to the Comanche Signal Corps of the Army and, like the Choctaws of World War I, passed messages among themselves that could not be understood by the Germans. Little did the Germans listening-in realize that the words "Posah-Tai-Vo" meant "Crazy White Man", and were used to identify none other than Adolph Hitler.
  • Starting in February, the recruitment of the first wave of Navajo Code Talkers began from an Indian Boarding School in Fort Defiance, Arizona. Starting with 29, more than 420 Navajos were recruited for a special code unit, "Navajo Code Talkers". They developed a double code for use in the Pacific which the Japanese crytographers could not break. Before this, the Japanese had cracked every code that the Army and Navy came up with, but not the Navajo code. The code used real Navajo words for the English alphabet and military references. The Navajo word for "chicken hawk" meant a dive bomber; "two stars" meant a Major General; "whale" meant a battleship. "A" meant "Wol-la-che" (Ant), "B" meant "Shash" (Bear), "C" meant "Mu-se" (Cat), and so on. The Navajo code was developed by the Navajo recruits. The Navajos memorized their developed code and became radio operators for units in the Pacific islands. They were in direct combat, participated in assaults on island beachheads, and in several instances were threatened by other Marines because they looked like Japanese. By the end of the war, they had developed a code that for the first time, had never been broken by the enemy. The Japanese were never able to break the code because the Navajo language was then unwritten. Here is a sample of the word to be encoded, followed by its English translation and the Navajo pronunciation:
    minesweeper: beaver - cha
    destroyer: shark - ch-lo
    transport: man carrier - Dineh-nay-ye-hi
    amphibious: frog - chal
    anti-aircraft: bird shooter - chy-ta-gahi-be-wol-doni
  • April - Joe Kieyoomia, a Navajo soldier who was not trained as a Code Talker, was captured and survived the Bataan Death March, only to be tortured by the Japanese into trying to decode intercepted Marine communications spoken in Navajo. Left standing naked in the snow, feet frozen to the parade ground, he couldn't confess to what he didn't understand. The secret code made no sense, even to another Navajo.
  • Feb. 1942 - Franklin Delano Roosevelt, signed Executive Order 9066 and 9102, causing Lieut. General DeWitt, of the Western Defense Command, to round up residents of Japanese decent.
  • March 1942 - Just before the fall of Bataan in April, Douglas MacArthur is ordered to leave his forces. He escaped in the middle of the night in a PT boat, evading Japanese patrol boats, to Australia, and is made Commander of Forces in the Far East.
  • May 1942 - A poster is placed in "Little Tokyo" (in downtown Los Angeles), and surrounding communities ordering all persons of Japanese ancestry to report for "evacuation" to "Assembly Centers" and transportation to "War Relocation Camps". The "evacuees" were limited to bringing only "that which can be carried by the individual or family group". Over 110,000 persons of Japanese ancestry, over 70,000 Americans of Japanese decent and 42,000 Japanese resident aliens, were imprisoned at bleak internment (concentration) camps across the western United States. This was the largest single forced imprisonment in United States history. Their young men would later enlist in the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and the Military Intelligence Service (MIS). The U.S. Army's 100th Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team would later become the most decorated units in American military history. They served in 7 major campaigns, received over 7 Presidential Unit Citations, and 18,413 individual awards including over 9,000 Purple Hearts. In addition to the men of the 100th and 442nd, there were 6,000 Nisei and Kibei (born in the U.S. and educated in Japan) who also served in the MIS. According to Major General Charles A. Wilougby, G-2 Intelligence, Chief of Intelligence under MacArthur's Command, "These 6,000 men saved over 1 million American lives by shortening the war by two years. They collected information on the battlefield; they shared death in battle; and when one of them was captured, his fate was a terrible one. In all, they handled between 2 and 3 million documents. The information received through their special skills proved invaluable to our battle forces".
  • Feb 23 - The word "S" "U" "R" "I" "B" "A" "C" "H" "I":
    DIBEH = Sheep = S,
    SHI-DA = Uncle = U,
    DAH-NES-TSA = Ram = R,
    TKIN = Ice = I,
    SHUSH = Bear = B,
    WOL-LA-CHEE = Ant = A,
    MOASI = Cat =C,
    LIN = Horse = H,
    YEH-HES = Itch = I,
    was sent and translated by Navajo Code Talkers in the Pacific arena. The code meant that the Japanese island of Iwo Jima had been captured. Before this, for the past 5,000 years, no foreign army had ever landed in Japan, until the United States of America landed on Iwo Jima.
  • On Aug. 6, a Navajo Code Talker is the first to hear that the Atomic Bomb is successfully exploded over the city of Hiroshima, Japan. On August 14, the Japanese Emperor, Hirohito, surrenders Japan to U.S. forces. Without ceremony or recognition, Navajo Code Talkers are released, with a stern warning not to reveal their secret.
  • July 16 - The first nuclear bomb was exploded in a test near Los Alamos, New Mexico, at the Alamogordo test site.
  • May 7 - Germany signed an Unconditional Surrender near Reims, France. Hitler kills his steady girlfriend, Eva Braun, and then commits suicide. His body was never found.
  • First Atomic Bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, Aug. 6. The second Atomic Bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan (Aug. 9). An estimated 110,000 to 150,000 Japanese were instantly killed and another 200,000 died from radiation sickness within five years. Hirohito, the Japanese Emperor, surrendered on Aug. 14.
  • End of World War II. More than 55 million lives were lost, 20 million of them Russian civilians, and 6 million of them Jewish civilians. One-third of the world's Jewish population is murdered by the German Nazis.
  • A San Francisco Conference was held to write the United Nations Charter. The Potsdam Conference rearranged boundary lines of Europe. Nazism was outlawed in Germany. Soviets were given control of East Germany. A new Japanese constitution, written by Douglas MacArthur, Commanded of Forces in the Far East, was promulgated. French troops entered Hanoi, the capital of French Indochina, and expelled the Japanese. Japan was prohibited from retaining any of its possessions in China or Southeast Asia. The nationalist All-India Congress calls on Great Britain to "quit India".
  • Setting up of the law firm of Wilkinson, Clagun and Barker, which would handle more tribal claims than any other law firm in the country. Ernest Wilkinson, a Mormon attorney from Utah working for the Interior Department, had drafted the legislation setting up the Indian Claims Commission (In the Interior Department the Claims Commission reports are called the "Wilkinson file".). Soon after passage of the law, Wilkinson left government to set up his own Washington law firm, Wilkinson, Clagun and Barker. Wilkinson wrote the Claims Commission law in such a way that the tribes could receive no land, only financial compensation, based on the price per acre at the time the land was taken. Wilkinson had also provided for legal fees of 7 to 10 percent of the total award to be paid by the Interior Department. In Salt Lake City, Wilkinson set up a partnership with John Boyden, another Mormon Attorney, to handle Indian claims cases. Wilkinson's firm signed up the Ute, the Shonshoni, the Goshiute, the Paiute, the Klamath, and the Hopi, among others. The Indian Claims Law made both Wilkinson and John Boyden multimillionaires. Wilkinson ran for the Senate, lost, and became president of Brigham Young University. His law firm also represented the Mormon Church in Washington, D.C. Boyden became the Hopi Tribal Lawyer for 30 years.
  • Mining companies petitioned the Secretary of the Interior to clarify title to the mineral estate on Black Mesa, Arizona, underlying Hopi and Navajo reservation lands. The 4,000 square mile area was known to hold the largest coal deposit in the U.S., over 20 billion tons of coal. Government documents showed that the lands were considered to be owned by both the Hopi and Navajo. Although the Navajo lived on the lands and had been granted grazing licenses, an executive order of 1882 under President Chester Arthur had designated the lands "for the Moquii (Spanish name for the Hopi) and other such Indians as the secretary should decide to settle thereon". Consequently, the energy companied could not get valid leases because title to the lands was not clear. Felix Cohen, Solicitor General of the Department of the Interior, was asked to prepare an opinion for the secretary.
  • In China, a truce between the nationalist forces of Chiang Kai-shek in the south and Mao Tse-tung's Red Army in the north.
  • Philippines independence recognized by the U.S. Congress.
  • Atomic bombs were exploded over the Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands, contaminating islands as far as 200 miles downwind. The U.S. Atomic Energy commisssion was formed to regulate the development of civilian and military nuclear power.
  • While the United States helped to rebuild Europe, a report of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) stated that 50% of Navajo children had starved to death, and that 50% of new born Navajo children died before the age of 5.
  • An informal Indian placement program began with the help of Elder Spencer W. Kimball, Golden Buchanan of the Sevier Mormon Stake Presidency and Miles Jensen. In Richfield, Utah, Helen John, a 16 year old daughter of Navajo beet-field workers, requested permission to stay in Richfield to attend high school. Starting from this, 3 Indian secondary school students are allowed to stay with Mormon families to complete their schooling with their foster parents providing the expense for food, clothing, and shelter. The program grew from 3 students in 1947 to 68 students in 1954, with students being housed in 4 western states. In 1952, the Mormon Church inaugurated the Indian Student Placement Program, which boarded American Indian students in Mormon foster homes. Most of the students chosen happen to be Navajo.
  • The U.S. government survey of mineral resources was completed. The principal mineral rich reservations were the following:
    Blackfoot - coal, oil, gas
    Crow - coal, oil, gas
    Fort Berthoid (Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara) - coal, oil, gas
    Fort Peck (Assiniboine and Sious) - coal, oil, gas
    Hopi - coal, oil, gas
    Jicarilla Apache - coal, oil, gas
    Laguna Pueblo (Keresan) - uranium, coal
    Navajo - uranium, coal, oil, gas
    Northern Cheyenne - coal, oil
    Osage - oil, gas
    Southern Ute - coal, oil, gas
    Spokane - uranium
    Uintah and Ouray (Ute) - coal, oil, gas, uranium
    Wind River (Arapaho and Shoshoni) - coal, oil, gas, uranium.
  • Felix Cohen, Solicitor General of the Interior Department, ruled on the matter of the mineral estate of the Hopi and Navajo Reservations, saying that both tribes had equal rights in regard to minerals. "The rights of the Navajo within the area are coextensive with those of the Hopies with respect fo the natural resources of the reservation". The energy companies immmediately appealed to the Secretary of the Interior for a review of the opinion, stating the need for a single tribal ownership so they could commence mineral development.
  • Independence of India. Britain divided the country in two, with Pakistan as the Moslem country and Indian the Hindu country.
  • Partition of Palestine into Israel and an Arab state. The UN General Assembly voted for the partition of the country into Jewish and Arab states, Jerusalem to be under UN trusteeship. War broke out immediately between the Jew and the Arabs.
  • The state of Arizona grants Navajos the right to vote. It won't be until 1953 that New Mexico, and 1957 until Utah, grant Navajos the right to vote.
  • Congress passed the Navajo Hopi Rehabiliation Act, making the Navajo and Hopi Reservations test cases for the ideas of the Hoover Commission on urbanization and termination. The Rehabiliation Act provided money to build roads and infrastructure on the reservations and to lure families away from the reservation into employment in the cities. Navajo and Hopi men found jobs in the border towns of Arizona, working for the railroads or doing agricultural work. But they behaved differently than government policy makers had expected. Although they took jobs in the city and brough their families, many returned to the reservation, which remained "home". From 1950 to 1968, more than 200,000 Indians from all tribes moved to cities, but many kept ties to their reservations. Urban America made American Indians more aware of what reservation life had that greater American society did not - land, community,roots, a shared sense of community. Urban Indians would become the Indian militants of the 1960s and 1970s.
  • The Intermountain Intertribal Boarding School opens in Brigham City, Utah, yet the students were all Navajos.
  • World population reached 2.5 billion.
  • Hydrogen bomb developed. The U.S. Atomic Energy Comission was ordered by President Truman to conduct hydrogen bomb test.
  • 1950-1953 Korean War. North Korean troops crossed the 38th parallel. UN forces under U.S. General Douglas MacArthur intervened to support South Korea. The first of a series of wars in "client countries" of the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. in which the noncommunist West was pitted against the communist East.
  • Uranium discovered on the Navajo Reservation in New Mexico and Arizona. Navajo miners were put to work without protective clothing, without information about the nature of the material they were mining, or the possible effects on their families. They worked in unventilated mines and drank radioactive water. Many became violently ill. As soon as they got sick they were dismissed. Any questions about the nature of Uranium were considered unpatriotic because of the defense related nature of the nuclear industry and Cold Ware attitudes. The sole purchaser of Uranium was the U.S. government.
  • John Boyden was appointed Hopi Tribal Lawyer. The Hopi progressives, which included the Mormon and Christianized Hopi, agreed to hire attorney John Boyden as Hopi "claims counsel". Although the purpose was to file a Hopi claim before the Indian Claims Commission, the Hopi tribal council entered in to a 30 year relationship with Boyden. Many called the post Boyden Hopi tribal government "Boyden's puppet council". Boyden traveled the Hopi mesas with a BIA official who confirmed that it was the will of the Hopi to reconstitute the tribal council. The Hopi tribal council had gone out of business in 1939 after the Hopi traditionalist refused to vote, attend meetings, or send representatives to any council meetings. The council never had a quorum. Boyden implied that by filing a land claim the Hopi could reclaim lost land. Even the progressive Hopi tribal council members were shocked when they received a check for 5 million dollars in lieu of land. They agreed to not cash it (The money continues to sit in a bank in Utah, gathering interest.) Boyden received a million dollar fee. He went on to work with the Hopi Tribal Council to open Black Mesa to stripmining, even though mining was clearly contrary to Hopi traditional religious beliefs.
  • Annie Dodge Wauneka, daughter of Henry Chee Dodge, was the first woman elected to the Navajo Tribal Council. She held the post until 1973.
  • Mohammed Mossadegh, an Iranian nationalist, was elected Premier of Iran. He nationalized the Iranian oil industry. Britain and the U.S. contested the abrogation of their oil leases.
  • First electricity produced from atomic power in the U.S. Beginning of the government sponsored "atoms for peace" campaign, a program advocating the peaceful uses of atomic energy.
  • The Mormon Church officially inaugurated the Indian Student Placement Program, which boarded American Indian Students in Mormon foster homes. Almost all of the American Indians were Navajos. Its purpose was to enhance the educational opportunities of the American Indians which was not available at the boarding schools on the reservation. It was also to enhance their LDS spiritual, cultural, and social experiences by being placed in Mormon communities. It was also used as a proselyting tool to encourage Navajo youths to be baptized into the Mormon church in order to placed in the placement program. In 1978, Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act, which gave tribal courts sole jurisdiction of placement of Indian children whose home was a reservation. In 1989, George P. Lee, a Navajo and General Authority of the First Quorum of the Seventy who had participated in the Indian Placement Program for 7 years with the Harker family until his graduation from Orem High School, was excommunicated after he read to the Mormon President, Ezra Taft Benson, and his Quorum of 12 Apostles, a 23-page hand-written letter critical of the program being phased out, and how the American Indian programs of the Church were being phased out or completely eliminated. Under Benson's administration, the program was drastically curtailed and came to an official end in 1996 after his death.
  • The state of New Mexico grants Navajos the right to vote. It won't be until 1957 that the state of Utah grants Navajos voting rights.
  • Under Sam Ahkeah's administration and his last year in office, the Navajo Tribal Scholarship Fund began with an amount of $30,000 dollars obtained from the oil well royalties on the reservation. Thirty-five young Navajo students received grants for colleges and universities that year.
  • John Boyden, Attorney for the Hopi Tribe, petitioned the Secretary of the Interior for a review of Felix Cohen's opinion regarding owndership of the mineral estate of Black Mesa.
  • Arthur Watkins, Senator from Utah, passed legislation making "Termination", the official new American Indian policy. He argued that while the U.S. was spending billions fighting Communism, it was promoting Socialism on Indian Reservations. He set out to dismantle the reservation system, the programs and services that supported it, and the federal bureaucracy that administered it. He called for an end to tribal governments and to federal treaty obligations. Calling his new program the "Indian Freedom Program", he translated it into legislation that provided for the general termination of "tribes, bands, and colonies of Indians in the state of Utah" as well as a dozen tribes in other states. Watkins was also a fervent promoter of Reclamation. One of the first tribes to be terminated was the Klamath or Oregon, who lived in the way of a great dam and reservoir project favored by Watkins.
  • Coup d'état in Iran. Mossadegh was overthrown by Iranian royalists with the help of British and American intelligence services. Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi returned to the throne. Agreement was reached with American and British oil companies for resumption of their oil leases in Iran.
  • Termination became the official American Indian Policy. Thirteen tribes were terminated, the largest being the Menominees in Wisconsin and the Klamaths in Oregon, and over a hundred bands, communities, and rancherias (California Mission Indians). These tribes lost many federal protections and services. In practice, "Termination" meant that the tribes lost "Trust Status", to provide for their own, without federal tax protection, education, health services, and agricultural assistance. Individual American Indians and tribes started to sell their land to meet financial obligations. In 1961, the National Congress of American Indians declared "Termination" to be "the greatest threat to Indian survival since the military campaigns of the 1800s". It was official outlawed in 1962 by the Kennedy administration.
  • Senator Barry Goldwater, freshman senator from Arizona, introduced S.231, a bill to set up a special 3 judge court to decide the status of the mineral estate on Black Mesa and the so-called boundary dispute between the Hopi and Navajo. Written by John Boyden, after he received no response from the Secretary of the Interior, the purpose of the bill was to allow the Hopi to sue the Navajo in a "friendly" suit to clear title to the mineral estate of Black Mesa so leasing could proceed. The bill was opposed by the U.S. Attorney General, many Hopi and Navajo, and was defeated in 1956 and 1957. It passed in 1958.
  • The first airborne H-bomb was exploded.
  • The state of Utah grants Navajos the right to vote. It would be the last state on the Navajo Nation to give voting rights to the Navajos. Arizona was the first in 1948, followed by New Mexico in 1953.
  • The space age began with Sputnik 1. The launching of the first satellite in history was made by the Soviet Union.
  • President Eisenhower sent federal troops to Little Rock, Arkansas, to enforce a federal court desegregation order. Civil Rights Act passed to protect black peoples' voting rights in the U.S.
  • The Navajo Reservation was again expanded into Arizona.
  • The Great Leap Forward in China
  • In November 1959, the Navajo Times (formerly the Navajo Times Today) was copyrighted and published by the Navajo Tribe in Window Rock, Arizona. Its first Editor was Dillon Platero. At one time, the Navajo Times was the only daily Indian newspaper in the United States. It is currently a weekly newspaper. It originally started out as a government newsletter in 1957.
  • Alaska natives made land claims for more than 300 million acres. Although the federal government granted the state of Alaska the right to select 102 million acres from the public domain, Alaska native villages made their own land claims which conflicted with those of the state.
  • Alaska admitted as a state, the largest in the U.S.A., with more than 580,000 square miles. The major groups of indigenous peoples were Eskimos, Aleuts, the Athabascans, and the Tlingits.
  • Pope John XXIII ordered the French worker-priest movement to cease operation and to stop all involvement in political causes. The worker priests had a powerful influence in the "liberation theology" movement that developed in Central and South America as well as the anti-Vietnam movement in the U.S.
  • A Navajo Tribal Museum was established in a small building on the Tribal Fairgrounds in Window Rock, Arizona. In 1982, it moves to the back room of an arts and crafts store. In 1997, a $7 million dollar permanent home is finally built to store the Navajo artifacts.
  • Yuri Gagarin, Russian astronaut, and 1st man in space, orbits the earth in Vostok I.
  • The Bay of Pigs, a CIA sponsored invasion of Cuba became an international embarrassment for the U.S.
  • Berlin Wall erected through the middle of Berlin by East German troops to stop the flow of refugees to the West.
  • A special federal 3 judge court ruled in Healing v. Jones, the suit of the Hopi against the Navajo. The court ruled that the Hopi Tribe had exclusive title to an area known as District Six (a land unit measured by the BIA as a grazing district), that both tribes had "joint, equal, and undivided rights" to 1.8 million acres of the 1882 executive-order reservation outside District Six, and that both tribes had equal interest in subsurface minerals. The court renamed the disputed area the Hopi-Navajo Joint Use Area and charged the two Tribal Councils with negotiating a land management plan. The negotiation broke down when Abbott Sekaquaptewa, Chairman of the Hopi negotiating committee, at the direction of John Boyden, refused to meet with the Navajo committee. Legal analysts believe that Boyden did not want to give away in negotiation what he had already won in court.
  • Linus Pauling won the Nobel Peace Prize for opposing nuclear warfare. He also had won the Noble Prize in Chemistry in 1954 for his theory of chemical bonding.
  • Annie Dodge Wauneka, daughter of Chee Dodge, was presented the Presidental Medal of Freedom at White House ceremonies by U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson, December 3, 1963. U.S. President John F. Kennedy nominated her for the award, but was unable to present her the award, because of being assassinated less than two week before by ex-Marine Lee Harvey Oswald. Annie Wauneka, was the first woman elected to the Navajo Tribal Council, and helped to improve health programs, and the way of life, for the Navajo people. She would later be known as Dr. Annie Dodge Wauneka.
  • A Navajo Tribal Zoo opened in Window Rock, Arizona, featuring reservation animals such as bear, coyotes, snake, elk, and the golden eagle. Navajo traditionalist have recently objected to the animals' captivity and have asked that the animals be released to the wild.
  • South Vietnam premier, Ngo Dinh Diem, assassinated in Saigon, November 1.
  • U.S. President Kennedy assassinated in Dallas, Texas, November 22, by ex-Marine Lee Harvey Oswald.
  • The U.S. Civil Rights Act, Title VII, was passed. The act prohibits discrimination for reasons of race, religion, or national origin, in all institution receiving federal funds.
  • Beginning of large scale U.S. military intervention in Vietnam.
  • The U.S. Voting Rights Act was passed. The act ensures equal voting rights for all U.S. citizens.
  • Navajo Economic Opportunity (ONEO) is established. It developed new programs in the 1960s and 1970s to help Navajos improve their lives. One program helped them form small businessess, while another aided Navajos in search of better housing. It's first Executive Director is Peter MacDonald.
  • The Hopi and Navajo Tribal Councils signed coal mining leases with the Peabody Coal Company and its parent, Kennecott Copper, for stripmining on the newly declared Hopi-Navajo Joint Use Area. The leases also included the sale of the first Indian water rights in the country. In both tribes, the leases were signed quietly, without any public referendum. Hopi tribal attorney John Boyden, whose law offices were in the Kennecott Building in Salt Lake City, also listed Peabody Coal Company as one of its law firms' clients. The BIA, which had to approve the leases, saw no conflict of interest. A later investigation by the Indian Law Resource Center showed that the tribes agreed to a royalty of 15 cents a ton, no rights of renegotiation, and no environmental assessments. The royalty rate was less than a third of what the government charged for mineral extraction on public domain lands. BIA experts had told them that nuclear power was soon going to make their coal worthless and they should sign while they could. The Indians did not know that 3 massive coal powered plants had already been planned for construction on the Colorado Plateau by a consortium of 23 utility plants of the western states. Interior Secretary Udall of Arizona hailed the leases.
  • The Navajo Community College (NCC) was established. It was the first community college on an Indian Reservation. Its first President was Ned Hatathli. Navajos, preferring to be called Diné, Navajo Community College is now known as Diné College.
  • Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., leader of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement was assasinated by James Earl Ray in Memphis, Tennessee. Rioting erupted in major American cities.
  • Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated by Palestinian Sirhan Sirhan at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California, after winning the Democratic California Primary for President of the United States.
  • Czechoslovakia democratic reforms was crushed by invasion of Soviet troops.
  • The Navajo language was declassified as a top secret military code by the U.S. government. The world finds out that the Navajo language is the only military code since recorded time that has never been broken by an enemy government. The Navajos who were chosen for this would be known as the "Navajo Code Talkers".
  • The Navajo Tribal Council resolved that the Navajos should officially call themselves the "Navajo Nation" not "Navajo Tribe". The Spanish style "Navajo" is officially preferred to the English style "Navaho".

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Updated: 05/02/2010
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