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  • Navajos remember this????......

    A beautiful summer day

    By Marley Shebala
    Navajo Times
    WINDOW ROCK, July 16, 2009
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    (Times photo - Althea John)
    This was the front page of the Navajo Times on July 27, 1989, one week after the riot at the financial building in Window Rock that left two supporters of former chairman Peter MacDonald Sr. dead.


    In the Diné way, there is always something positive that comes from something that is negative.
    And that is so true of the July 20, 1989, riot at the Navajo Nation's financial building.
    I and former Gallup Independent reporter Richard Sitts were the only news people present when the violent confrontation between a handful of Navajo Nation Police and hundreds of supporters of then Chairman Peter MacDonald Sr. erupted.
    I was working for the Farmington Daily Times as a reporter at the time after losing my position as KTNN radio station's first news director due to suspicious budget cuts.
    Richard and I had heard that the MacDonald supporters had planned another demonstration following several others so we drove to the executive offices but no protestors were in sight.
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    I remember that it was a beautiful summer day. The deep blue sky overhead was filled with huge billowy white clouds.
    When we found no protestors, we immediately declared it a work-free day and began making plans to have some fun.
    But our plans were suddenly cut short when a Navajo police sedan zoomed past us. It was headed to the executive offices. Without hesitation, Richard turned his little pickup truck around in pursuit of the police car.
    We caught up to it in front of the front doors. The officer was standing outside his car and talking on the radio. We heard him say "financial building' as he jumped back in his car and roared away with us right behind him.
    But Richard's little truck was no match for the police car and we were left in its dust. We decided to park along the highway that was east of the building because it gave a good view of the building and the police department, which was south of it.
    We got out of the truck and saw a large crowd of people quickly walking towards a police officer, who had parked his car in front of the building on the east side, which is where the main entrance was.
    Most of the people carried baseball bats and wooden clubs. Many of them had the bats and clubs raised over their heads.
    As the demonstrators closed in on the lone officer, who was later identified as Lt. Daniel Hawkins, the officer began backing up towards his car.
    His left arm was raised chest high and straight out. The palm of his hand was toward the people. It was a stance for the people to stop.
    His right hand was on his revolver at his side.
    When Hawkins had backed up between the building's doors and his car, the people began hitting him with their bats and clubs. He fell behind his car and out of view. All I could see was the bats and clubs raising and dropping.
    Some of the demonstrators pointed at a police van that came swerving around the north side of the building at a high rate of speed, which was an open field of sand and bushes.
    The demonstrators yelled and ran towards the van, which had gotten stuck in the sand at the far north end of the field. A lone officer jumped out of the police van and ran down a nearby ditch with the mob in close pursuit.
    I watched as one of the protestors jumped into the van and emerge with a rifle that he raised over his head as the demonstrators cheered.
    More police arrived and smoke bombs began exploding as people began yelling and screaming.
    Richard and I were running down the hill off the highway towards the chaos.
    And then I heard gunshots.
    I broke through a cloud of people and saw an older man lying motionless, face up on the ground. He was wearing a nice western shirt, blue jeans and boots.
    He was quiet and staring straight up into the deep blue sky where the while billowy clouds moved ever so slowly and gently across the sky.
    His dark brown eyes were glazing into grey. I had never seen anyone die but I knew he was dying.
    A soft breeze moved the grey smoke around him.
    I learned later that his name was Jimmie Dixon. He was 58 years old when he died a few hours later.
    I looked around and saw another man laying face up on the ground.
    An emergency vehicle seemed to appear out of nowhere. Navajo emergency technicians immediately began first aid on the dying elderly man.
    Their efforts were hampered by the demonstrators, males and females, who had surrounded them and were screaming and hollering at them for some unknown reason.
    I can still see their faces. They were overflowing with pure hate. They reminded me of a mob of wild vicious dogs that were enraging themselves for a deadly attack.
    I feared for their safety.
    And then two or three police officers walked up and placed themselves between the frenzied pack and the EMTs.
    One of the EMTs was a young female and she was visibly terrified. Each time someone from the rabble lounged at the police officers, she would look up and her hands would freeze.
    As soon as the EMTs and police officers got the elderly Navajo man into the ambulance, the ambulance raced away.
    I looked up the hill towards the highway and saw a large crowd of people. They were angry and yelling at the MacDonald supporters to go home.
    The MacDonald supporters yelled back and asked them to join them, which made the crowd on the hill angrier and more critical.
    A woman in her mid-30s walked by sobbing and shaking her head. She was headed toward crowd on the hill.
    I asked her if she was OK. She could barely talk because she was crying so hard. She wailed that "they" didn't tell her that bats and clubs would be part of the protest.
    As I watched her walk away, I saw several people, including an elderly Navajo woman and a young Navajo woman, carrying armloads of bats and clubs.
    The two ladies laughed as they threw their load into an open car truck. The elderly woman was dressed in a blouse and long skirt. The young lady was dressed in a pink aerobics outfit.
    A young Navajo man who was videoing the protestors in the east parking lot of the financial building was suddenly chased, shoved to the ground and beaten by about three or four young MacDonald supporters. A couple of them wore their long dark hair tied in the traditional Navajo bun.
    But as the MacDonald supporters pounded the video man, another group of young Navajo men raced down the hill and slammed their bodies into the attackers. A short but intense fistfight broke out.
    The video man jumped up, grabbed his camera and ran off smiling towards the crowd on the hill who were cheering for him and throwing insults at his attackers.
    I walked to the front of the financial building. The large glass doors were broken. A small crowd of MacDonald supporters lingered about. I recognized Kee Ike Yazzie, who headed the tax office as a political appointee of MacDonald.
    I asked him what the protestors were doing. He said that they were waiting for MacDonald.
    As I interviewed Yazzie, I noticed that it was late afternoon. The sun had cast a long shadow of the building across the east parking lot. Suddenly, my head was yanked back and I almost fell backwards.
    Two young Navajo females ran past me laughing. One of them had grabbed a large beaded barrette that I had clipped in my hair at the back of my head.
    The unprovoked attacked made me look close around me and I suddenly realized that the large crowd of protestors had dwindled to a few people.
    I looked towards the hill and people were walking slowly down the hill.
    It was estimated that about 300 MacDonald supporters were involved in the deadly two-hour uprising that also took the life of a second demonstrator, Arnold Begay, 27, of Red Mesa, Ariz.
    Two other demonstrators survived gunshot wounds as well as two tribal police officers.
    Between 10 and 12 individuals were treated for bruises and cuts. Most of the individuals were police officers.
    An eight-minute police car video that was taken of the riot was too blurry to identify individual rioters but it did show that police officers, who were far outnumbered by the mob, battled the protestors with their police batons and not their guns.
    But gunshots were exchanged between the police and demonstrators over a 10-second period.
    July 20, 1989, was not a single incident in the political dispute between the council and MacDonald and it should not be remembered like that.
    There were events that lead up to July 20, 1998 - far too many to write in this reporter's notebook.
    But out of the political turmoil, deaths and post-traumatic stress disorder, came the birth of a three-branch government and the end of a dictatorship that most of the Navajo people never knew existed.
    The Navajo government, like any other government, is not perfect.
    But I believe that it could be close to perfection if the Navajo government truly reflected the Navajo way of life, which I was taught is cradled in respect for all of life living between the Four Sacred Mountains.
    In that respect, all of life is treated equal.
    That may sound simple but it was very complicated because it would require the Navajo Nation Council, President Joe Shirley Jr. and Vice President Ben Shelley, and Chief Justice Herb Yazzie to operate their branches under a magnifying glass to ensure that all of life is treated equal.
    I look up at the blue sky and billowy white clouds today and prayed that we, the Diné, learned from July 20, 1989, that we must always remember that the Holy Ones told us that everything we need is within the Four Sacred Mountains.
    We do not need to look to the outside for our answers, especially our healing.

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    sigpic

    ...And shephards we shall be. For thee my lord, for thee. Power hath descended forth from thy hand. That our feet may swiftly carry out thy command. So we shall flow a river forth to thee. And teeming with souls shall it ever be. E Nomini Patri, E Fili, E Spiritu Sancti.

  • #2
    huh?.... i dont remember this, heck i was only 9 yrs and moving from one state to another... ill have to ask my mom. LaL!!

    thats what u get 4 breaking my heart...

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    • #3
      Little did I know that some of the events leading up to this was centered right in Leupp, AZ! I walked into a building by the side of the road heading out east of the store and thought this was the greatest thing to be part of a potentially large engineering company. Blindly, I gave it all my best efforts for four (4) years never backing down or being distracted from the original goals. As it turned out, things went south and I ended up with nothing to show for it except for the new skills I picked up. I used those skills to move forward and it has lead me on my own journey which has been very fruitful for me.

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      • #4
        i was still a pretty young dude and new to the navajo rez. i didnt get it then and still dont. life then was about basketball, running and jus hangin with frens.

        for what its worth my next door neighbor was bigg supporter and part of the staff in WR. i remember him being quick tempered and when he was being nice to us kiddos it was a fake nice lol he started in some kind of manufacturing thing in Ft Def and milked that for whatever it was worth. im not sure but i think the biz was connected to McDonald.

        i asked my mother about McDonald and the first thing she says was He could speak! i just remember that comment cause it kinda defined what he was to me.

        During a visit to our community he gave a speech and us kids sat outside this revival tent listening to him. holay there was alot of people there. but it wasnt my thing and i really didnt pay to much attention.

        business and talking was his thing. haha like wayy opposite mee lol
        thanks dad for showing me the way, teaching me the language, and not leaving my mother...*L*

        *RoUg3 MoD sTaTuS*

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        • #5


          Navajo Nation Police Officer Calvin Begay is attacked by individuals with clubs in front of Administration Building No. 1 in Window Rock during the1989 riot.

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          • #6
            I remember asking about this when it happened.....I was still pretty young myself.....it was a pretty crazy time in itself.....sometimes though, doesn't a dismantling of government seem to be the best choice????.....destroy and rebuild....
            sigpic

            ...And shephards we shall be. For thee my lord, for thee. Power hath descended forth from thy hand. That our feet may swiftly carry out thy command. So we shall flow a river forth to thee. And teeming with souls shall it ever be. E Nomini Patri, E Fili, E Spiritu Sancti.

            Comment


            • #7
              What about this?

              Leupp Chapter on Saturday overwhelmingly approved the sale of liquor at the proposed Twin Arrows casino resort, over the protests of a family who has not signed off on the land withdrawal.

              Comment


              • #8
                I remember this happening because I grew up in Ft. Def and W/R. So our family knew a lot of the people involved, Including the MacDonalds. But I was not here at the time. I remember talking to my mom over the phone and she telling me how horrible and scary it was to be around W/R.

                It's weird now to read about it, because some of the details that are getting release now, people didn't know then. I guess the media was not forthcoming with all the details.

                But this is how I see it. Peter MacDonald was a great leader who brought the Navajo Nation into a more modern and advanced governement. He really accomplish many thing over the years he was in office. BUT he should have left instead of run for the last term. He should have move up into the Arizona state or federal governments. He was popular enough during his peak to have made it farther.

                MacDonald did have A LOT of power and control. So in the end, it all worked out for the best. Ending and restructuring our government. Which will be happening again soon. This time in a more peaceful way.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Ta'neeszahnii Techno View Post
                  What about this?

                  Leupp Chapter on Saturday overwhelmingly approved the sale of liquor at the proposed Twin Arrows casino resort, over the protests of a family who has not signed off on the land withdrawal.
                  in the paper.. *haha* the family didnt sound interested until money came up then they sent mixed messages on their stance. i aint sayin anymore

                  on the desert rock issue they more or less by passed the familes who owned the land.
                  thanks dad for showing me the way, teaching me the language, and not leaving my mother...*L*

                  *RoUg3 MoD sTaTuS*

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    destroy and rebuild... bigger and better... and if that dont suit you... oops, the building fell down. LaL!! or just wave a stack of Benjamins in someones face and the building is completed

                    same thing goes for politics...

                    thats what u get 4 breaking my heart...

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      There are lotsof ideas here!!!!!!!!!
                      but people seem to be very casual with this site!!!!!!!!!!!!!
                      Any body interested in a joint venture ?
                      I got some stuff to share
                      william

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                      • #12
                        I think in time all tribal governments will have to restructure to what fits their needs..right now...its based on population vote and that (my opinion) has never worked and then the disconnection once council people get elected..they forget their platforms or whatever...we were either told to or forced to accept these type of governments...I have always wanted to keep what those parts of the government would satisfy the federal government money wise but yet keep integrating more traditional type of government..because we had these types of governance wayyy before these governments...I mean ask yourself this..how many people have actaully seen the tribal constitutions and by laws and understand what tribal government is? Yet, how many people actually vote...in election time and those same people represent the whole nation? I really believe that popular vote is a sham? because you can as an individual say and make promises of all these great things but when you get elected>guess what those others won't let you carry out those ideas, platforms if anything...so then people begin to abuse their power that the people gave them..by thinking that they are individuals whom can do whatever they want whenever they want...the integrity was lost somewhere along the way...what happened to the thinking that one's decisions always affects people somewhere somehow so make good decisions..but yet time and time again you hear politicians make their own bias personal remarks...so no I think that we do have a long ways to go..and as sad as it is...when "the" government doesn't work then people will become angry...and do something...about it...especially when those top elected officials refuse to listen to their problems...it happens over and over again..but we don't seem to learn from our problems..thats just my opinion...
                        "I don't know why you never tried to tell me I was the one for you, I'm telling you my love is true and you're the only one for me -NC

                        I'm not crazy I'm jus a little impaired I know right now you don't care but soon enough you're gonna think of me and how I used to be I'm not crazy jus a little unwell...-matchbox 20

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