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Dennis Chavez and J. C. Morgan

Senator Dennis Chavez and J. C. Morgan

The moment he clasped the firm handshake and locked eyes with the intense and confident gaze of the stocky, bowlegged Navajo in the three-piece suit, Senator Dennis Chavez sensed that this man was the connection he had been looking for.  It was a wintry day in the spring of 1936, and the second-year Mexican-American Senator was back in New Mexico visiting his constituency.  He was taking time out to cultivate a relationship with the experienced Navajo councilman with whom he had recently begun corresponding. Jacob C. Morgan was there to brief the forty-seven –year-old Senator on recent developments in and around the Navajo Reservation, and specifically, actions of agency superintendent Fryer and his boss Commissioner of Indian Affairs John Collier.   As a member of the key Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Chavez was intent on monitoring Collier and his administration of the Indian New Deal.

For the next two and a half years, Chavez and Morgan would coordinate an extensive effort to sabotage Collier’s attempts to apply the Indian New Deal to the Navajo.  They orchestrated a coordinated effort to stall and eventually derail the Navajo Boundary Extension Bill, to resist the application of the Wheeler-Howard Act (also known as the Indian Reorganization Act) to the Navajo, to resist the implementation of the livestock reduction campaign, and to push for the investigation and removal of Collier from his position as Bureau Commissioner.[1]

In many ways, the slightly balding, spectacled Morgan was an uncanny ally in Chavez’s challenge to Collier and in his broader efforts to navigate and influence the portals of power in Washington, D.C. for the benefit of ordinary New Mexicans.  Although ten years his senior, Morgan’s boyhood, education, exposure to and understanding of Eastern racial and political realities complemented his own.   They also had apparently honed an eerily similar hard-boiled professional persona with which to represent their respective people in battle with the larger, unforgiving Anglo world. Both practiced impeccable manners, dressed to the tee in tailored suits, and exuded an aggressive, no-nonsense fearlessness in the way they went about their professional business. Thoroughly familiar with the common stereotypes of the “greasy Mexican” and the “savage Indian,” they both strove to project an aura of gentlemanly style, utter competence, and unsentimental toughness.[2]

Jacob Casimera Morgan and Dionisio Chavez both came from humble but traditionally rich backgrounds.  Jacob Morgan was one of nine children born to Casimera and Bah Yazza Morgan on the eastern edge of the Navajo Reservation some fifteen miles from present Crownpoint, New Mexico.  Casimera and Bah had both survived the Navajo internment at Hweeldi when they were in their teens, and married in the late 1860s after their families had re-established themselves in Dinetah.   By 1878 when their third child Jacob was born, Casimera was known as a leader in his small community and when the US Army at the nearby newly established Fort Wingate recruited Navajo scouts for its campaign against Geronimo and the Chiricahua Apache in the mid-1860s, Casimera was among them. The first eight years of Jacob’s life were very traditional: with his siblings and extended family he herded sheep, spent long hours with his grandmother, and listened intently to his grandfather’s winter stories.[3]

Dennis Chavez was also embedded within a rather isolated, culturally rich community in his early childhood.  Dionisio was born in 1888 in a small community south of Albuquerque to David and Paz Sanchez Chavez.  He was the oldest of eight children, but like Morgan, he emerged from within a rich extended kinship group.  A number of David’s relatives were leaders in the Republican patron political system, but he himself struggled in his family’s early years to keep financially afloat. Young Dionisio lived the full life of a rural New Mexican in the 1890’s, mingling with his siblings and cousins, herding sheep, planting and harvesting fields, and doing his part in the upkeep of the communal acequias. Neither he nor Morgan would forget their rich boyhood roots among the humblest of their people.

For their day in New Mexico history, both Jacob Morgan and Dennis Chavez were remarkably well educated and effectively literate bilingually. Jacob Morgan was one of the first generation of Navajo boarding school pupils.  After his return from military duty in Arizona, Casimera Morgan enrolled his eight-year-old son at the reservation boarding school at Fort Defiance as a favor to a US Government official at Fort Wingate. Through a recruitment mix-up, the young Morgan, now officially named Jacob by school officials, was transferred to the off reservation boarding school at Grand Junction, Colorado.  Staffed mainly by New Englanders, the western Colorado school was Jacob’s home and training ground for the next nine years. Bright and energetic, Jacob quickly took to the military-style regimentation of the daily routine, perhaps trying to emulate his US Army veteran father. While at Grand Junction Jacob embraced Christianity, became proficient in the English language, and developed musical skills so advanced among his peers that the staff gave him a special gift of his own coronet upon graduation.   With their support, he was enrolled in 1898 in the Indian program at the Hampton Agricultural and Technical Institute in Hampton, Virginia. 

Hampton was the leading national institution of higher learning for minorities in the late 1800s.  It is where Booker T. Washington was trained before he went on the found Tuskegee Institute and its Indian Program is where Richard Pratt worked before he founded the Carlisle Indian School.  Jacob Morgan attended Hampton for a total of five years around the turn of the century.  At the time, the curriculum was moving away from preparing blacks and Indians as school teachers destined to go back to their communities to promote literacy and education.  Because of racial pressures to squelch black political participation and increasing competition between blacks and European immigrants over industrial jobs, new emphasis was put on the development of industrial skills.  Jacob acquired the equivalent of a mid-school education and was one of only a handful of Indians to actually graduate from Hampton with a degree.  By this time he fully internalized Victorian values and standards of dress and behavior.  He also was convinced that the only avenue for the “elevation of his race” in the face of the industrial environment was through participation in the capitalist system.  

Morgan’s formal education, which ended in 1903, was later augmented by informal study with Protestant missionary Rev. H. Brink when working as a translating assistant at Shiprock, New Mexico in the 1920s and 1930s. Brink, a Dutch-American seminary graduate and theologian, was adept at languages and had learned to speak the Navajo language fluently.   Working as Brink’s trusted partner in mission work and the translation of portions of the Bible and standard Christian hymns into Navajo, Morgan became increasingly proficient in linguistics and theology.[4]

Just as Jacob Morgan had reached rare levels of education for a Navajo Indian of his time, Dennis Chavez combined both formal and informal education to reach great heights for a Mexican-American in the early twentieth-century. After David and Paz moved their family to the Barelas neighborhood of the bustling city of Albuquerque in 1895, young Dennis first learned English in the neighborhood public school.  His insatiable thirst for knowledge led him to spend long hours in the Albuquerque Public Library, a habit he continued after the eighth grade when the family financial situation forced him to quit school and go to work.  When working as a delivery boy for a prominent grocery store and later in the Albuquerque City Engineering Department, he went to night school and studied land surveying.  He also improved his career by studying engineering with a co-worker who had a degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  His years of self-study were so successful, that when he moved to Washington, D.C in 1917 as a clerk for US Senator Andreius A. Jones, he passed the entrance exam for Georgetown Law School.  He earned his Bachelor of Law degree in 1920 at age thirty-two.[5]

Not only did Morgan and Chavez have traditional boyhoods and accomplish unusual levels of education for their time, they also developed similar professional goals in their effort to make a difference in government policy within a larger hostile Anglo environment of the early twentieth-century.  Jacob Morgan enjoyed the military style uniforms he had to wear as part of the routine of boarding school life.  Later, when he worked for the Indian Service in various boarding schools as an adult, it was initially in the capacity of “disciplinarian” who put young students through the paces of military discipline.  As a student and later an Indian Service employee, he also donned band uniforms as he proudly performed in front of various audiences, from civic crowds, to competition judges, to the throngs that attended the two Worlds Fairs.  He enjoyed the surprise of many Anglos at these events who had never seen a brown-skinned Indian showcased in such “civilized” attire.  In order to convey his status as an educated man, Jacob Morgan rarely appeared in public without his trademark three piece suit, gold watch chain, and highly polished shoes.  This was true if he were appearing before Congress at the Capital building or if he were out on his rounds on the back roads of the reservation doing missionary work.  Morgan was determined to show by his appearance that he was competent, legitimate, and formidable.  Always prepared, always determined, always serious, his demeanor announced everywhere that this Indian took a backseat to no one.[6]

Like Morgan, Dennis Chavez was consciously aware of the role that he played in representing Mexican-Americans in public life. He is famously remembered for saying, “If they [Mexican-Americans] go to war, they’re Americans; if they run for office, they are Spanish Americans; but if they are looking for a job, they’re damned Mexicans.” Chavez had dressed professionally since working at the grocery store and the city engineering office; but when he first laid eyes on members of the US Senate, he was determined to adopt the look, manners, and decorum of the most refined among them.   Every day he showed up for work in the House of Representatives and later the Senate, the “most exclusive club in the world,” he dressed the part. His “tea-colored” face was usually set off with a starched white collar and elegant suit.  Determined not to be overlooked in any way, Chavez demanded the respect his status earned him, regardless of the observers’ notion of race.  Hard-boiled and calculating, the ambitious Senator from New Mexico rarely slowed down and never backed off.  If there were ever any two more fearless individuals in Washington in the mid-1930s than Chavez and Morgan, the record has not produced them.[7]

Dennis Chavez reached out to Jacob Morgan in early 1936 to help him as he was involved in a political tussle with the Interior Department and the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Chavez would continue his sparring with the Secretary of the Interior into his later days as a US Congressman when President Roosevelt rewarded him for is loyal support of New Deal legislation by asking him to run of the US Senate opposite Bronson Cutting.  Cutting was a committed progressive but he registered as a Republican to take on Chavez in the general election.  Harold Ickes, the Secretary of the Interior, was a close friend of Cutting and was bewildered and resentful of Roosevelt’s endorsement of Chavez. Chavez ended a bitter and tight race with Cutting by threatening to sue to stop the certification of the election results.  Chavez claimed the results had been tainted. In a dramatic turn, Cutting was killed in an airplane accident on a trip to New Mexico to fight the charges of the suit and Governor Tingley of New Mexico ironically appointed Chavez to be Cutting’s replacement.  Ickes was beside himself and supported a walkout staged by a half dozen progressive senators during Chavez’ Senate swearing-in ceremony in May of 1935.[8]

Harold Ickes was a strong supporter of the radical change in Federal Government policies towards Native Americans proposed by Roosevelt’s Commissioner of Indian Affairs, John Collier.  Riding on the emotional tide of cooperation of Roosevelt’s Hundred Days and attempting to take advantage of the vast array of stimulus monies created by the early New Deal, John Collier passed through Congress various legislative initiatives that together earned the name “the Indian New Deal.” Both Ickes and Collier, never himself a player in partisan party politics, were idealists.  Intent on hiring the “best and the brightest” employees with progressive credentials, they refused to work within New Mexico Governor Tingley and Senator Chavez’s system of patronage.  As other branches of the Roosevelt executive Government apparatus fed dollars and made appointments in New Mexico by the advice and consent of Tingley/Chavez, Collier and the Indian Bureau, with Ickes support, remained somewhat independent in their hiring.  Chavez’ updated system of patron politics could not tolerate this.[9]

The relationship between Chavez and Morgan was based on shared information and shared strategy.  It was Morgan’s job to let Chavez know about the activities of Fryer and Collier on the reservation and organize opposition to Fryer and Collier. Morgan encouraged the writing of petitions, letters, and other communication from various Navajo and groups of Navajo to Senator Chavez’s office as a demonstration of grass-roots sentiment.  In his presentations to individuals on Capitol Hill and in his announcements before the Senate Indian Affairs committee, Chavez used Morgan as a reputable source among the Navajo leadership.  He could also use the petitions, letters, and telegrams from individual Navajos to demonstrate general tribal support for his positions.  Chavez in turn would bring forth specific complaints formulated by Morgan to appropriate government officials and use the Senate Indians Affairs Committee to pass legislation and to criticize and block Collier’s actions.

When Jacob Morgan and Dennis Chavez began their correspondence in the April of 1936, Morgan was moving into his second stage of all out war against Collier’s authority over the Navajo and the long standing government attempt to manipulate the various leadership organizations set up under the name of a tribal council.[10]  Jacob Morgan had been a delegate to all of these councils since the Six-district delegation of 1923 when Navajo Agent Hagerman asked for tribal power of attorney over all oil and gas lease matters.  From the beginning, Morgan had proposed tribal control of oil and gas revenues and for the money to be used for education, healthcare, and economic development.  He had complained about the Indian Bureau’s administration of Navajo monies that served as an alternate source of routine tribal funding from the federal government’s Indian Affairs budget.   He forcefully opposed the suggested uses of the monies for: the building of Lee’s Ferry Bridge in 1925; the Bloomfield Bridge in 1926; and for the purchase of grazing land in New Mexico to expand the reservation in 1923, 1926, and1927. The public resistance within the council led by Jacob Morgan so embarrassed and frustrated senior delegate Chee Dodge that he suggested disbanding the tribal council in 1927 and again in 1935.[11]

From late 1934 until the end of 1935, Commissioner of Indian Affairs John Collier, with the solid backing of the Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, had held seven tribal council meetings with the Six-Agency tribal council to gain official approval of his plans for reorganization, erosion control, stock reduction, and educational reform. Because of the political fallout over the Merriam Report of 1928, which investigated failed US Indian policy; tribal support for government programs was mandatory.  Collier and his group of  government experts showed back door maneuvering by alternately bribing the council with promises of New Deal jobs and the expansion of the reservation into joint-use New Mexico territory and by threatening them with economic disaster if they would not comply.[12] Throughout his period, Jacob Morgan brought to bear a very public and confrontational debate style to the council that was in opposition to tradition. Navajo tradition and culture attempted to avoid any public show of emotion or discord of any kind and this tradition was practiced by council leader Chee Dodge. Morgan organized a political group called the Returned Student Organization and matched the Indian Services propaganda.  Morgan’s efforts to sway the Navajo people against Collier was most dramatically demonstrated in his successful efforts to have the general population vote down Navajo participation in his pivotal Indian Reorganization Act. 

Splitting the council and pressuring members for votes, Collier was able to use the appointive power of the Indian Service to do some reorganization on the Navajo reservation.  Over Morgan’s strong opposition, Collier collapsed the six Navajo tribal Agencies into one in 1935, established the site of Window Rock, Arizona as the Navajo political capital, and created eighteen soil conservation districts.   Most dynamically, Collier rammed through the first stages of the disastrous livestock reduction program which was instituted to reduce erosion and restore the grazing range.[13]  Morgan understood the chaos that livestock reduction would bring to his people having spent many days per week out on the reservation talking to “camp Navajos” and witnessing their distress.  Morgan was the most vocal and consistent critic of livestock reduction during Navajo tribal council meetings and like other councilmen, he knew that Secretary Ickes was the kingpin behind the program. All they were asked for was their cooperation but it wasn’t so much the need to adjust livestock use on the reservation range; it was the paternalistic attitudes, the cultural insensitivity, and disrespectful methods used by Collier that angered Morgan the most.

Dennis Chavez was also offended by the attitudes of some government officials but it was probably the nature of two other issues that drove the New Mexico Senator to participate in a joint strategy with Morgan.  As Senator of the state of New Mexico, Chavez had other constituents besides just the Navajo that he had to look after. Like any politician, to remain in power, Chavez had to abide by the credo “do no harm,” to avoid losing the support of any one group.  In New Mexico, there had always been a delicate balancing act between the interests of nomadic tribes like the Apache, Comanche, and Navajo and the interests of Hispanos, Pueblo Indians, and so-called Anglos.  As a Hispanic Senator, Chavez had to be very careful with his Anglo and Native constituents in order to avoid the impression that he was playing favorites with his “own people.”  Harold Ickes and John Collier felt that they had no obligation to political or other members of the states of Arizona and New Mexico and did not really consider them in their policy-making decisions.  The fact that Ickes, Collier, and others were critical of the way in which Chavez reacted to his close election with Bronson Cutting and his subsequent appointment to the Senate seat poisoned Chavez to Collier’s programs, especially when the Commissioner began championing Cutting’s Boundary Bill. Chavez also detected a structural racial bias that interfered with his handling of the Work Projects Administration (WPA) and the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC). But to stay in power, Chavez had to appear neutral, deliver for everyone, and still control who had access to government jobs and the molding of government policy.  To Chavez, Collier was a loose cannon, whose ethics were in conflict with the horse-trading realities of politics on the ground in New Mexico.[14]

Chavez had two goals in mind: first, deflect the New Mexico Boundary Bill (relating to Navajo Indian Reservation boundaries) any way he could until its window of opportunity had passed.   Secondly, he wanted to gather damning information on Collier from around the nation.  He needed Jacob Morgan as a legitimate source of counter-information from the Indian Affairs about Native support for Collier’s programs. Most of all he wanted Collier’s policies blocked before them became certified. Correspondence between Senator Chavez and Jacob Morgan reveal a strategy in which Morgan and other anti-Collier Navajo would be present at Senator Thomas’ Senate Sub-Committee on Indian Affairs meetings on the reservation in August of 1936. Chavez and Morgan had already hoped to use information from the hearings to launch a formal investigation into Commissioner Collier’s handling of Navajo monies and violation of policies and procedures: “The Navajos are all waiting anxiously for the coming investigation, and Mr. Collier knows that.  I hope that you can influence the committee to come on as planned.”[15] Apparently, however, Commissioner Collier was able to orchestrate the visit of the Senators and derail the plans of Chavez and Morgan.[16]

What followed in the later part of 1936 and early 1937 was Collier’s bold attempt to change tribal structure and create a council that would support his grand plans.  Back in the summer of 1935 when Morgan and other opposition leaders defeated his Indian Reorganization Act for the Navajo, Collier had responded with a condescending open letter to the tribe stating that they had made a huge mistake, and that the results would be a loss of promised jobs and revenue and continuation of livestock reduction, erosion control, and reorganization as the Indian Service and the Interior Department saw fit. Just as Morgan had proclaimed, the vote on the IRA was not enabling legislation at all but a legitimizing ploy for what the Indian Service was prepared to carry out regardless of Navajo public opinion.

 Through Navajo Agent Fryer, Collier organized a meeting of prominent members of the old council that had not met in over eighteen months.  Council delegates who had publicly challenged Collier in the last few meetings, Morgan chief among them, were not notified.  Fryer and Collier passed an initiative with those present that would have Agent Fryer, Father Haile of St. Michaels, and two former chairmen of the appointed tribal councils to canvas the entire reservation choosing specific headmen as delegates to a new council.  This council of Navajo headmen would them draw up a constitution to guide their activities in the future. Chee Dodge, Henry Taliman and Deshna Clah Chischilliage, Morgan’s political enemies, were among those chosen.  When the group arrived at Shiprock, they were met by 200 angry Navajo. Robert Martin bluntly stated that Father Haile, a steadfast aid to their political rivals, was not welcomed in Protestant New Mexico. The group quickly left and a few days later were back in Window Rock narrowing their list of 250 headmen down to 70 delegates.  Despite Morgan’s vocal opposition, the measures passed.   Morgan then denounced the results of this meeting and made a move that a vast majority of the traditional headmen in the meeting could understand—he and a sizable group of followers stood up and unceremoniously walked out.  Henry Taliman, chairman of the convention, moved to designate Morgan as chair of the committee to create the constitution.[17]

Over the next few months, Morgan pilloried Collier, Fryer, and Taliman for their “illegal” and undemocratic attempt to buy themselves a compliant tribal council.  He accurately described how there had never been a representative pan-Navajo government with coercive authority.  He indicted the headman delegates, not for lack of leadership ability or honor among their people, but for their traditional headman behaviors of voting to cooperate with government officials in a public forum out of traditional deference.  The important strides made by the Six-Agency council to become more comfortable with public debate had been lost. His pejorative term “hand-picked” to describe the new provisional council was a deep embarrassment to the government officials.  Morgan was not against a constitution as long as it came from the Navajo people, not an Indian Service bureaucrat. Over and over again, Morgan laid out these arguments to Chavez who would repeat some of them in the Senate Committee of Indian Affairs which he had belonged to since his first day in the Senate.[18]

In a letter to Chavez on the second of January, 1937, Jacob Morgan railed against Indian Service bureaucrats speaking for Navajo people.  But, he didn’t stop there: He described administrative misuse and misappropriation of funds, the neglect of health problems, and the favoritism towards political enemies of the Shiprock, New Mexico Navajo. Morgan added an indictment of “crimes” committed by Collier against the Navajo people, including the first waves of stock reduction.  Chavez responded that “the affair is developing that we may hope and expect some definite action in the not too distant future.”[19]

Sometimes their communications were about specific tactics.  In a letter dated February 25, 1937, Chavez noted that Collier “has been able to get all of the publicity and naturally he doctors it before it is given to the newspapers.  He is trying to make it appear that the objections to the Wheeler-Howard Act come from the white people of the state, when, as a matter of fact, I have not had one single suggestion whatsoever in respect to the matter from white citizens.”  He went on to encourage Morgan to write to the local newspapers and tell them how most Navajo really felt about Collier’s programs.[20] Morgan put the idea into action immediately and reported to Chavez that “Collier is – we are told—at the Window Rock meeting with a few Indian he calls leaders.  We do not know what he is up to.”[21]

By March of 1937, Chavez was checking with Morgan about when he would like to bring a delegation to speak for the Navajo people in front of the Senate Indian-Affairs Committee.  Because he did not have any access to tribal funds, Morgan and his associates had been passing the hat at political rallies and meetings to gather enough money for the trip.  The next several months were filled with planning back and forth, setting up the logistics, and dealing with Collier and Fryer’s attempts to discredit the Morgan delegation as not being representative of the Navajo people generally.  This subterfuge by Collier and Fryer infuriated Morgan who was convinced that he spoke for most of the Navajo people regarding their opinions on Collier.[22]  Fryer and Collier respond by putting together their own delegation, funded by tribal oil and gas revenue, to follow the Morgan delegation by a week.  Yet without the resources that a sitting member of the Senate Committee could provide as Chavez did, the Fryer group seemed to be at a disadvantage. Still, Morgan gave Chavez several reasons why the Fryer/Collier group was “illegal” and illegitimate and was put together without the knowledge of most of the tribal members.[23]

Chavez continued to plan for the delegation and announced that moods in the Senate were swinging away from Collier.  He noted how Senators Wheeler and Frazier had introduced a bill to repeal the Wheeler–Howard Act (Indian Reorganization Act).  Chavez said that: “The originator of the act evidently thinks it is not workable and therefore thinks it should be repealed.   The Navajo people are right when they do not want the bill.”[24] In a meeting of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee Chavez said that it was “open season on the Commissioner” as they scheduled a hearing to deal with charges brought by the Indian Defense Association against Collier.  Chavez anticipated a hard fall from grace for Collier but he underestimated Collier’s support with the Interior Department.[25]

Meanwhile, Jacob Morgan was busy gathering petitions from individuals who had complaints about Collier.  It is doubtful that these petitions were unsolicited by Morgan but he was convinced that they represented the majority of Navajo opinion. He also reported high-handed tactics by the opposition to have him quieted.  At one point the Fryer faction brought two Navajo policemen with handcuffs and side arms to a peaceful demonstration looking for Morgan.  He happened to be elsewhere.[26] In June, the two delegations made their trips to Washington without much drama though the deep factionalism of the Navajos was apparent.

Sometime in the midst of the fury of activity, Collier shifted tactics.  He announced an end to his constitutional efforts and called for an election of a new council along the lines that had been suggested by Morgan for years.  In the summer of 1938, the election was held and Morgan was elected chairman by a resounding majority of the voters.

With the capitulation of Collier and Fryer on democratic elections, the first truly representative tribal council was set up.  Morgan believed that the tribal council legitimately spoke for the Navajo people.  The individual sovereignty that the Dawes Act and state and federal citizenship delivered was not coupled with actual tribal sovereignty, at least in these first bold steps.  His own sweeping election was a vindication of his sense of the Navajo people’s convictions all along.  It was time to pull away from petitioning for the removal of Fryer and Collier and to end his campaigns with Senator Chavez.

 From Chavez’ perspective, the New Mexico Boundary Bill was essentially dead.  He and Morgan had created enough political cover through large amounts of individual petitions for him to no longer worry about the Indian Service creating problems for him over New Mexico lands.  Campaigns for bills to first excuse the Navajos from the Wheeler-Howard practices and then to fully repeal the Indian Reorganization Act failed.  But the publicity generated from these campaigns had forced Collier and Fryer to back off.  Collier was still in office but with no New Deal funds and a scrutinized BIA agenda, Dennis Chavez felt he had been successful in stopping Collier from completely having his way with the Navajo. His relationship with Morgan was one of mutual respect and success in the face of Anglo political control.


[1] This paper takes advantage of the Dennis Chavez Papers Collection at the Center for Southwest Research, Zimmerman Library, University of New Mexico, especially Boxes 80-82 labeled “Indian Affairs.”

[2] The best comprehensive biographical account of Dennis Chaves is Rose Diaz, “El Senador, Dennis Chavez: New Mexican Native Son, American Senior Statesman, 1888-1962” (PhD diss., University of Arizona, 2006); a smaller biographical profile by Maria Montoyo is entitled “Dennis Chavez and the Making of Modern New Mexico” in New Mexican Lives, edited by Richard W. Etulain (Albuquerque: University of  New Mexico Press, 2002). For a view of Dennis Chavez as a US Representative, see Edward Lahart, “The Career of Dennis Chavez as a Member of Congress, 1930-1934” (Master’s Thesis, University of New Mexico, 1958) and for a description of Chavez’ role as US Senator in the New Deal Era, see Roy Luhan, “Dennis Chavez and the Roosevelt Era, 1933-1945 (PhD diss., University of New Mexico, 1987).

[3] The most comprehensive biographical treatment of Jacob C. Morgan is Bruce Gjeltema, “Jacob Casimera Morgan and the Development of Navajo Nationalism” (Ph.D. diss., University of New Mexico, 2004).  A brief biographical sketch is Donald Parman, “J.C. Morgan: Navajo Apostle of Assimilation.” Prologue: Journal of the National Archives 4 (summer, 1972)

[4] Morgan’s boyhood and education are covered in Gjeltema, “Jacob Casimera Morgan,” chapters 1-3.

[5] Chavez’ early experiences and educational opportunities are charted in Diaz, “El Senador, Dennis Chaves,” chapters 1-2.

[6] Morgan’s demeanor and political style are described in Peter Iverson, Dine: A History of the Navajo People (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2002), 137-138.

[7] Diaz describes Chavez’ driven character in “Senador Dennis Chavez, “47-49; Maria Montoya describes Chavez’ “reshaping of his ethnic identity” to meet the codes of Congress in “Dennis Chavez and the Making of Modern New Mexico,” 242, 243.

[8]  For background on Cutting, see Richard Lowitt, Bronson Cutting, Progressive Politician (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1992)

[9] Roy Lujan recognizes Rose Diaz’ distinction between the old Republican patron system of his relatives which preyed on the poverty and ignorance of average New Mexicans and the enlightened version run by Chavez which tried to serve the public good.  However, they were both distorted political machines, Lujan suggests, no matter the differences in ends to the means. See Lujan, “Dennis Chaves and the Roosevelt Era, 1933-1945,” chapters 6-8.See also Diaz, “El Senador Dennis Chavez,” 59-61.

[10] Morgan to Chavez  4/19/1937,  Chavez Papers, CSWR, UNM

[11] Minutes of the Navajo Tribal Council are found in Navajo Council Proceedings, NA, RC 15 BIA National Archives; Interpretation of the political development of the early council can be found in Donald  Parman,  Navajos and the New Deal (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1976), 25-45; Richard White, Roots of Dependency: Subsistence, Environment, and Social Change Among the Choctaws, Pawnees, and Navajos (Lincoln: University ( Nebraska Press, 1983), 256-262; and Peter Iverson, Dine: A History for the Navajo People (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2000), 144-151.  For specific description of Jacob Morgan’s actions, see Gjeltema, “Jacob Casimera Morgan,” 134-139; 151-159; 168-173.

[12] White, Roots of Dependency, 256-275.

[13] The story of livestock reduction and its moral effects on the Navajos is on par with the story of the Holocaust for Jewish people, its ignorance and cruelty in a similar vein with Japanese internment in WWII. For Dine perspectives from oral histories on the program see Ruth Roessel and Broderick Johnson in Navajo Livestock Reduction: A National Disgrace (Chinle, AZ.: Navajo Community College Press, 1974.) A study also sympathetic to Navajo perspectives is Marsha Weisiger, Dreaming of Sheep in Navajo Country (Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 2009). See also Parman, Navajos and the New Deal; White, Roots of Dependency, chapters 12 and 13; David Aberle, The Peyote Religion among the Navajos (Norman: University of Oklahoma press, 1991), 58-59, 75. 

[14] Maria Montoya demonstrates these racial political realities in Chavez’ New Mexico in “Dennis Chavez and the Making,” 247-250.

[15] Morgan to Chavez, 8/07/1936; Chavez to Morgan, 8/10/1936

[16] Morgan to Chavez, 4/19/1937

[17] Morgan to Chavez, 4/19/1937

[18] Morgan to Chavez, 2/12/1937

[19] Morgan to Chavez, 2/20/1937; Chavez to Morgan, 02/20/1937

[20] Chavez to Morgan, 02/25/1937

[21] Morgan to Chavez, 02/27/ 1937

[22] Chavez to Morgan 03/08/1937; Morgan to Chavez, 03/13/1937.

[23] Morgan to Chavez, 4/02/1937

[24] Chavez to Morgan, 4/4/1937

[25] Chavez to Morgan, 4/05/1937; Chavez to Morgan, 4/23/1937

[26] Morgan to Chavez, 5/06/1937