(WALTERS FILM NAVAJO or MONUMENT VALLEY ADVENTURE)
In the remote northern reaches of the Navajo Indian nation, great rock figures stand guard over the Navajos herding their sheep in Monument Valley.
The Navajo Reservation, tucked away in the eastern corner of Arizona, and bulging across state sboundaries into Utah and New Mexico, is as large as four eastern states.
Monument Valley, straddling the Arizona-Utah line, has for a time long been one of its most isolated sections.
The rock towers saw the Navajos come into this region in the early days, led by Hoskanini, to escape capture by Kit Carson.
The tribe multipled rapidly. Sheep herds of the Navajos increased, forage becoming scarcer and scarcer.
Diseases of the White Man struck the Indians. Poverty and starvation came close to the doors of their mud hogans.
The nearest government hospital was more than 100 miles away, over roads which were often impassible.
The 3000 or more Navajos in this most remote section of the reservation needed medical and physical help.
Marvin and Gwen Walters were sent by the Seventh Day Adventists to bring that help. As they jolted into Monument Valley in an open jeep, only a few stray cattle observed their entry.
Gwen and Marvin had mixed feelings as they surveyed the piece of rocky land that Trader Goulding of Monument Valley had generously donated for their clinic and home.
The weathered rocks above their trailer home seemed to whisper: “Two newcomers, inexperienced in this isolation. How long will they last? What can they do to help?”
“Assignment Navajo had an insignificant beginning. Buster Whitehorse, partly blind Indian, was the only person whom Marvin Walter had to help him mix the mortar and cut the native stone, except his two young sons, to construct the first tiny clinic building.
When a permanent house was built, Marvin at once turned the front room into a school. The Walter’s two sons and a daughter Lore now with them. The three Walters children, and as many Indians youngsters as could be rounded up, constituted the first class. Page 2
and as many Indian youngsters as co id be rounded up.
Contects with the Navajo youngeters helped to build good relations with the elders. Ralph and Sally Gray had grandchildren attending school. They became Monumont Valley’s first informal P.T.A.
The older son, Danny had finished grade school, so studied high school subjects by corresponeence.
Before the doorway passed the life of the valley and in this way Gwen had her first acquaintance with this strange world, so old and yet so new.
Nearly every day, flocks of sheep were driven down to water at the well on the valley floor. The narrow canyon trail took them close in front of the clinic and the Walter’s home. Their bleating filled the canyon, echoing against its walls, until the whole scene seemed like a scene from Bible times.
The Walters, like the Indians, had to conserve water. Sometines Gwen use her dishwater to nurse along a tiny flower and vegetable garden near her home, witch was her particular hobby.
Haircuts were necessary, but this method was much simpler that journeying 300 miles roundtrip to the nearest barber shop.
Twice a week the younger son, Forrest, took the mail over to the Goulding Trading Post, where surely some traveler would be able to carry it out to the nearest post office, 20 miles away.
After delivering the mail, often he stopped to play at his private arch, out behind their house.
Marvin short wave radio
Older boy goes to look for people coming in.
Buster Whitehorse and his family were among the first Navajos that the Walters were able to help. They had found the family destitute, living only on jack rabbits that the party blind Buster could shoot with bow and arrow. Now they hired him to work about the place, and began building up the health of the family.
Buster had helped Marvin in building the clinic. So “turn about was fair play” Marvin aided by Buster in the repair of his hogan roof.
The earthen homes of the Navajos were mud, packed firmly over a framework of juniper logs. Water, poured over the surrounding earth, soon congealed into good adobe.
While waiting, there was the Whitehorse baby to admire. Navajo families are large. Children are greatly loved. Almost every hogan has a baby.
The rainy season was approaching. Buster’s family was leaving for their summer shelter 15 miles away, where there was sufficient water for raising corn. Family belongings would be stored in the hogan; there must be no risk of damage with water from a leaky roof.
Roof repaired, the Whitehorse family started for their summer home. It was fifteen miles away, across hot sands.
For mother and babe there was a horse to ride.
For father and son, it meant a hike, long and hot, but an accepted part of their lives.
Wednesday soon became established as traditional clinic day in Monument Valley. On this day, it was not long before Navajos came regularly by horseback, by buckboard, by truck, from as far as 60 miles around.
Death rate among the Navajos, the Walters discovered, was five and ten times that of the national average. The situation was desperate, yet challenging. Respecting the traditions of the Indians, the Walters worked closely even with their medicine men.
As the parents received checkups within the clinic, a small girl acted as baby sitter outside.
Gwen was not only. a registered nurse. In the energencies constantly arising, he acted as a surgeon or a dentist. She pulled teeth. She did whatever was required in the crises which constantly developed.
“Grandma” was a favorite with Gwen and with all who knew her. The elderly woman had a name, but no one ever used it. To those who knew and loved her, she was “Grandma”, and now she had come to have Gwen change the bandage on her injured hand.
She was well over 80. Every night of her life she had slept on sheepskins on a dirt floor. She had been subjected to the hest of summer and the cold of winter. Her wrinkled face was like a picture map of the deeply carved canyon terrain which was her home.
It was a face which showed character. This woman had had none of the luxuries, and few of the necesities, of life. But she had raised a good family. She had sons, grandsons, great grandsons. She had felt deeply the beauties of the land surrounding her. Her life had been a good one, and her character showed in the lines of her face.
When days grew cold, Gwen gave out clothing to those it need. The youngsters were proud of their new apparel. The women wore the clothing too, but they put it on beneath their colorful Navajo attire, using it for extra warmth in the winter.
Thus a typical Wednesday clinic day cae to an end in Monument Valley.
The rest of the week consisted of emergency days. From 11 miles away in the valley, an Indian boy came running to report a Navajo baby in distress.
Gwen Jumped into her jeep to meet the emergency’
The roads were bad. With spring sandstorms, winter snows, and sumser cloudbursts, their condition changed constantly. Fortunately, with a 4.-wheel-drive Jeep it was not necessary to stick to the roads. Often the Indians, who traveled so much by buckboard and horseback, lived far from roads or trails. So Gwen headed out over open country toward her destination.
The family was a beautiful one to behold. Mother and babe were like traditional Madonna and child.
The yougster was laced firmly in the traditional cradle-board, which many Navajo babies occupy from birth until they walk.
To got one out of an apparatus like that is like unlacing an old shoe.
The baby had diarrhea, a great killer of Navajo children in the area. This meant an emergency trip to the Government hospital at Tuba Gity, 108 miles south, over bad roads.
Even with bad roads, the Walters sometimes made half a dozen round trips of 2O6 miles to that hospital in a single week when emergencies developed.
In wind and dust the Walters made trips of mercy and aid during the week. On their days off, they traveled the same roads or back trails for exploration and enjoyment.
These trips gave them an opportunity to become acquainted with the Indians in their natural surroundings, on a basis of pure friendship.
Little Jimmie, herding all these sheep, had been one of the first emergency cases at the clinic. An explosion of gun powder had blown the fingers from one of his hands. Now the Walters could visit him and his sister non-professionally, as friend to friend.
It was well to make these casual calls. On a later visit they discovered him deathly sick with tuberculosis, and had him flown out of the valley for treatment.
Favorite spot of the family for a picnic was a high mesa overlooking the Navajo world.
Travel is never dull in Navajo land.
Rocky roads lead at last to vistas of splendor. Picnicing here is worth every hazard of travel.
Some weeks went by without days of relaxation. But every trip of exploration which it was possible to take, afforded a new and different spot for picnic or camp.
What a spot to raise boys!
Exploration here was real. Scores of ruins, former habitations of a pre-historic race, were, accoring to the Navajos, still undiscovered by white men.
Sometimes such runs were the reward for a day of hiking.
With authentic ruins as the reward each trip of exploration became not only a day of relaxation, but an exciting adventure.
Strange pictographs, ancient handprints, were occasional finds.
One day the Walters, accompanied by some visiting friends, climbed high in back country, scaled a precipitous wall, and found, in a ruined cliff dwelling, the bones of one of the prehistoric Indians
Every two years the portable X-ray truck of the Indian service travele through reservation, testing for tubbeculosis.
X-ray day was a huge occasion.
Some Indians, living close by, came in by buckboard or horse back
But to Marvin Walter fell the task- of notifying and bringing in the Navajo families from remote areas.
Almost always, when approaching a hogan, one sees no signs of life,
except possibly for some sheep
and a burro or so.
But presently the man of the house was located.
Marvin spoke simple Navajo, but words like X-ray are not part of their language. But sign-language came to the rescue.
A difficulty developed. The wife and youngsters were three miles across country, herding sheep.
So Marvin Walter sought them out.
More difficulties arose. Sheep cannot be left alone. Mother and father and the rest of the family could go for their X-rays, but one boy must stay behind as herdsman.
Sheep and goats NEED herding. They can run fast and far, and become lost, if the shepherd is not in attendance.
Navajos, unlike some Indians of other tribes, take to mechanical coavenance. Cars and airplanes intrigue them.
Likewise, they were not frightened by the intricacies of the X-ray. Hopi Indians fight hard against new ways of
life. Not so the Navajos. They welcomed medical inovations which the Walters introduced.
A soon as one family was process they were hauled home and another brought in.
There was no time for formal meals. A sandwich enroute must suffice for lunch.
The desert roads were sandy and bad. Some of the genuine switchback roads up the mountains were perilous and unique.
Gwen, with her jeep, was pressed into service, so that just as many as possible could be X-rayed.
On one trip she came upon an Indian family, their truck mired in the deep sand.
This was one of the few times she was without a tow chain. But a passing rider offered the use of his leather lariat.
The proper hitch was made, both drivers stepped on the gas. But the lariat broke.
So the leather lariat was doubled. There was more shoveling.
Perhaps the help was just psychological, but this time the grandmother put her shoulder to the wheel. And the truck came out of the sand.
Moments like these helped the Walters greatly to grain the good will of the Indians.
All day Marvin Walter had been thinking about Buster Whitehorse and his family, now out at their summer shelter 16 miles away, living near the hogan of his moher-in-law. They needed the X ray tests badly.
At last there was an opportunity to go for them. But another problem developed. In the old tradition, no Navajo woman can ever set eyes on her son-in -law. Evil, so they believe, will result.
So Buster took the front seat; the mother-in-law rode in the open back, without ever casting a glance at each other. Indian protocal was upheld.
Down past the windmill. Past Uranium mine No. One. The giant landmark of Agathlan appeared ahead, then receded
behind. Gwen after bumped through Kayenta at 30 miles an hour and kept up that pace on occasional stretches of the road
beyond, slowing almost to a stop only at those places which she knew from almost daily trips to be nearly impassable.
The Tonalea Trading Post was only a mile ahead, Tuba City and the hospital were less than 30 miles away. Mrs Clee
screamed and Gwen Walter pulled the jeep up with a jerk right in the shadow of tie giant Elephant’s Feet fornations beside
Ten minutes later the blessed event was over. Mrs. Chee will never forget that ride. The baby,thank you, due to Mrs
Walters skilful manipulations, is doing just fine. what to mame it? Obviously theirs was only one proper choice. His name
is Jeep—- Jeep Chee.