May 28, 2022

Article: “Fifty Years Ago, A Navajo Group Recorded Oral Histories From 450 Elders on 1,700 Reel-To-Reel Tapes. Now, the Collection Is Being Preserved For Future Generations”

From theThe Salt Lake Tribune/Gallup Independent:

About five decades have passed since Etsitty Bedonie talked about the “Beginning of the Enemies.” His account about the enemies of the Navajo, as he heard it from his grandfather, was recorded with a reel-to-reel magnetic tape recorder, most likely, at Bedonie’s home in the Crownpoint area around 1969.

The interviewer was Tom Ration, a member of the Navajo Cultural Center — a group of Navajos who in the 1960-70s traveled around all five regions of the Navajo Nation and interviewed about 450 Navajo men and women and preserved their oral history on audio tape.


Bedonie’s oral teachings, and those of other 450 elders, are preserved in more than 1,700 tapes currently stored in a special collection room inside the library at the Navajo Nation Museum in Window Rock.


Several years ago, the library had an agreement with Dine College and “they made copies of the entire tape collection, but they lost the collection, there was a big fire in the Shiprock campus. I understand they lost the entire collection.” This made [Irving] Nelson [Office of Navajo Nation Library] more aware about the importance of protecting the tapes.

>One way was to transferring the data to digital format. In 2015, Nelson and his staff approached the Navajo Nation Board of Education to start looking at ways to secure funding to preserve the tapes for future generations. A couple years later and several resolutions through the different committees of the Navajo Nation Council, Nelson finally got the approval.

he Navajo Nation Council approved funding in the amount of $190,649 for the preservation of the tapes during the 2018 spring session.

>Read the Complete Article (approx. 1400 words)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.