Pages of the Times reflect future impacts
By Tom Arviso Jr.
WINDOW ROCK, Dec. 30, 2010
The first issue of the Navajo Times as a tabloid newspaper was published on Thursday, Aug. 4, 1960. That first issue - Volume 1, Issue 1 - had the sub-heading, "Voice of Scenic Navajoland," and it cost 10 cents.
The big headline of that issue was "Power Plant Plans Go Forward" and it featured a story about then Navajo Tribal Chairman Paul Jones reporting to the Navajo people that the Navajo Tribal Council had approved a proposal that was to be submitted to the U.S. Interior Department for the construction of a multi-million dollar steam-electric power plant on the Navajo Reservation.
That power plant was to be built on a 1,250-acre site located near Fruitland, N.M., by the Utah Mining and Construction Company. It would be called the Four Corners Power Plant and operated by the Arizona Public Service Company.
The feature story on that first front page, "Beauties In Contest" was about the 1960 Navajo Tribal Fair Beauty Contest. Two black and white photos of beauty contestants, Miss Joy Jean Sells and Miss Esther Curley, accompanied that story.
In this particular contest, there would be two winners - a modern day queen and a traditional queen - and the winners would be awarded cash prizes plus turquoise and silver jewelry provided by the Navajo Arts and Crafts Guild. Mr. Maurice McCabe, executive secretary for the Navajo Tribe, was to present the awards.
Yet another interesting article that ran on the bottom right corner of that issue's front page was headlined, "Spending Allotted By Tribal Council." This article was about the Navajo Tribal Council's approval of the Fiscal Year 1961 budget for government programs.
The total Fiscal Year 1961 budget was $24,453,034. The legislative branch was appropriated $1,180,282; the executive offices got $871,719; and the judicial branch received $135,694.
Also in this particular story, the Council approved a resolution that established fee and per diem allowances for members of the Council. Council members were to receive, effective July 1, 1960, a fee of $24 per day for official duty, plus an allowance of $16 per diem per day while performing services on the Navajo Reservation, or $20 per diem per day while away from the Reservation and peripheral towns.
The Council also passed a resolution that appropriated $100,000 to be used to establish a Tribal Utility Authority Enterprise. The funds were to be used to adopt a plan of operation under which this enterprise was to function from.
That was a summary of some of the highlights of that inaugural front page of the Navajo Times newspaper published on Aug. 4, 1960.
It is amazing that 50 years later, the actions of the Navajo Tribal Council in 1960 still have a direct effect on our lives today, in 2010. They actually helped to set up what is now known today as the Four Corners Power Plant and the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority.
That particular Council also started the process of paying themselves established fees and per diems while they were in official session, and, well, we all know how that decision has progressed to today's Navajo Nation Council.
The Navajo Tribal Fair Beauty Contest also helped to establish what is now the Office of Miss Navajo Nation.
Just like 50 years ago, there is always plenty of news to discuss and talk about when it comes to the Navajo Nation and all of its people and surroundings. And with 2011 on the horizon, you can bet that the Navajo Times will still be telling the stories the best way we know how.
The year 2011 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Navajo Times. The anniversary actually started back in August but due to the elections and all of the controversy that our government was generating, we decided to hold back on any type of celebration.
Now, as we approach the beginning of a new year, it seems appropriate and just that we begin honoring the legacy of the Navajo Times and its 50-year history. We've got eight months to celebrate in 2011 and that's what we intend to do.
Back in 1960, the Navajo tribal government was moving forward aggressively, making decisions and taking actions to help promote and improve the lives of their people. 50 years later, we are reaping the rewards of those decisions made by our tribal leaders.
Let us hope and pray that in 2011, our tribal leaders continue to hear the voice and will of their people - the Diné. Let us put the leadership and governmental controversies of 2010 behind us and use that experience to help us become stronger and wiser as a Nation.
Just like in 1960, the Navajo people and their leaders need to move forward in 2011 in a positive direction, helping and supporting one another along the way. It is the beginning of a new decade and a fresh era in our history.
It is my wish that 50 years from now, our children and grandchildren will look back at our time in history and as they read the old back issues of the Navajo Times, they too, will be able to smile and reap the rewards from our decisions and actions.
On behalf of the Navajo Times staff, "Happy New Year's everybody!" May you have a blessed, prosperous and wonderful year in 2011.