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---- Thursday - November 27, 2014 - 2:35:25 PM - Navajo Nation Time ----

Window Rock
(Previous Name: Nee Alneegn)
(Ceremonial Name: Ni’ 'Alníi’gi - Earth’s Center)
(Current Name: Tségháhoodzání - Perforated Rock)

Window Rock is the administrative Capitol and administrative center of the Navajo Nation, getting its name from the hole in the 200 foot high sandstone hill (Window Rock) located there. Located about 27 miles northwest of Gallup, N.M., and about 6 miles southeast of Fort Defiance, Arizona, it is just across the New Mexico-Arizona state line, on the Arizona side, in Apache County. Window Rock is located at Latitude: 35o, 40', 50" N, and Longitude: 109o, 3', 7" W, and has a 1980 census of 2230 residents. Window Rock contains the Navajo Nation Council House, the Navajo Nation Museum, and Navajo Tribal Zoo (until its closure in 1999), and Window Rock Fairgrounds where the Navajo Nation Fair (Widow Rock Fair) is annually held.

Until 1936, the Window Rock area was simply one of the scenic wonders of Navajoland, until the Commissioners of Indian Affairs at that time, John Collier, selected the site for the planned Navajo Center Agency. In 1936, the administrative buildings the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Navajo Tribe, and Public Health Service were constructed of russet-colored sandstone, quarried from the local sandstone, were completed. These were laid out on curved lanes and well spaced. Later, a Navajo Tribal Council House would be built in Window Rock.

In 1961, a Navajo Tribal Museum was established in a small building on the Window Rock Tribal Fairgrounds. In 1982, it moved to the back room of an arts and crafts store. In 1997, a $7 million dollar permanent home was finally built to store the Navajo artifacts.

In 1963, a Navajo Tribal Zoo opened in Window Rock, featuring reservation animals such as bear, coyotes, snake, elk, and the golden eagle. Navajo traditionalist have objected to the animals' captivity and had asked that the animals be released to the wild, yet the now Navajo Nation Zoo is still going strong to this day.

In 1989, the Navajo Tribal Council placed Peter MacDonald, a Navajo Code Talker during World War II, and later, 15 years as Chairman of the Navajo Tribe, on paid leave from his Navajo Chairmanship position. The reason would be because of bribery and corruption charges relating to the Big Boquillas Ranch deal in 1986 which added 491,000 acres to the Navajo Nation. Two realtors gave the Navajo Chairman $25,000 to pay down on his $70,000 bank loan, and a 1 year old BMW 735I automobile, for the profit they made on the land deal. Peter MacDonald's removal led to five months of internecine war on the Navajo Nation. Within these 5 months, Peter MacDonald drew battle plans, and on July 20, 1989, the "Peter's Patrol" (about 200 MacDonald supporters), tried to overthrow the Navajo Nation government and incited a fatal riot in Window Rock. Peter's Patrol stormed the tribal administrative building and when the Navajo Tribal Police tried to stop them, Peter's Patrol battled the police with sticks. From this, the Navajo Police had fired on and killed two MacDonald supporters.

In February 1993, Peter MacDonald, was sentenced to 14 years in prison at Bradford, Pennsylvania for trying to over throw the tribal government and inciting a fatal riot in Window Rock, Arizona, which caused the deaths of two MacDonald supporters, and for fraud, racketeering and conspiracy convictions. Ten other MacDonald supporters were also sentence for various federal charges stemming from the riot occuring on July 20, 1989.

Peter MacDonald suffered through bad health while in prison. He suffered a heart attack in March 1996, and after complaining of chest pains in March 1998, he was transferred to the Federal Medical Center, Fort Worth, TX. He then went through quadruple bypass surgery on July 16, 1998. On January 20, 2001, the day of the inauguration of the 43rd U.S. President, George Walker Bush, outgoing U.S. President William Jefferson Clinton pardoned Peter MacDonald; he was released from the Federal Medical Center the same day.

Tségháhoodzání (The Performated Rock), which is adjacent and north of the Navajo Service administration buildings, is important in the Water Way Ceremony (Tóhee). It was one of the 4 places where Navajo medicine men go with their woven water bottles to get water for the ceremony that is held for abundant rain.

Of the many interesting and historical places in the immediate vicinity of Window Rock are the Haystacks, which Navajos call, Tséta’cheéch’ih (Wind Going Through the Rocks). These are rounded sandstone monoliths that resemble haystacks and 1 mile south of the Navajo capitol.

Tséyaató (Spring Under the Rock) is located in the rock formation just south of the Haystacks and beside the New Mexico State Highway 264 between Gallup, New Mexico and Window Rock, Arizona. This spring, which seeps from under the rock was the first stopping place out of Fort Defiance when some 4,000 Navajos in the area started their "Long Walk" to Fort Sumner in 1864.

By Harrison Lapahie Jr.
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