1) Window Rock School, 2) Fort Defiance-Fall Day Homecoming, 1959
The Navajo name for Fort Defiance is Tsehootsooi meaning Meadow in Between the Rocks. The name accurately describes the area.
Fort Defiance was established by Colonel Edwin V. Sumner in the fall of 1851 and served as the first military outpost to patrol Navajoland. A sod and log fort was built on the land that had the greatest value and the surrounding area were used by the U.S. Army to graze their horses.
Site of Old Fort, built by US Army
Bridge Over Blue Canyon Wash
Blue Canyon Wash St. Dominique's Church
St. Dominique's Church, Fort Defiance, Arizona
The tiny town, with a population of about 1500 in 1957,was established in multi-colored sand, lush grassy meadows, and green marshes.
St. Dominique's Church 2009
Old Fire Station. Fort Defiance
Site of the Old US Post Office, Fort Defiance
Site of Dunn Mercantile, Fort Defiance
Site of Ashcroft's Trading Post, Fort Defiance
View of Fort Defiance looking west, 2009
Fort Defiance, 2009
Fort Defiance, 2009
Good Sheppard Mission, Fort Defiance
Fort Defiance was also the location of the first Navajo Medical Center for the entire Navajo Nation
Public Heath Hospital, Fort Defiance
Fort Defiance Indian Hospital (FDIH), which closed on August 1, 2002, was a 36 bed facility. The picturesque structure built in 1938 out of red sandstone, was nestled in the heart of downtown Fort Defiance. FDIH was staffed by physicians who were Board Certified or eligible in OB-GYN, Pediatrics, Internal medicine, Psychiatry and Family Medicine, Nurse Midwives, Nurse Practitioners, Physician Assistants, Dentists. A new, larger facility located near the new Window Rock High School, opened on August 1st.
Nearby Canyon Bonita provides breathtaking and magnificent ever-changing hues. Smoldering piņon filters through the wandering arroyos and jagged rocks.
The first school in the area opened in 1870 in the abandoned adobes left by the U. S. Cavalry. Other opportunities became available to children as day and/or boarding students at St. Michael's Mission, Good Shepherd Mission, and a Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) facility. Most children on the vast Navajo Reservation, particularly in more remote areas, were forced to attend boarding facilities at BIA sites far from home and remain there for months and sometimes even years. It was not until the 1950's that efforts were made to provide public schooling at the community level.
Window Rock School District #8, Circa 1957
The mission of Window Rock School District #8 was to allow children to remain at home with their families and receive a quality education. Being one of the first public schools on the Navajo Reservation, it became a reality with the first buildings constructed in l954 to accommodate first through sixth grades. The exact site of the school was a compromise by the two communities: the school would bear the name of Window Rock but the mailing address would be Fort Defiance. The Mascot chosen was the Mighty Scouts and the colors were blue and gray.
The Famous Window Rock at Window Rock, Arizona
By the fall of l957 enrollment reached 740 with 96 of those in grades 9-11. The school facility was able to accommodate grades 1-3, 6-11 with additional classroom space at the nearby Good Shepherd Mission. The future graduating class of l965 spent their 5th grade year being transported daily from the school to the Mission, a round-trip back for lunch, and a return ride at the close of the school day.
In 1958, twelve students completed the high school curriculum and were the first to graduate from Window Rock High School. The following year, twenty-six seniors became the Class of 1959 and are noted for the first yearbook, appropriately named Tse Ho Tso. The l960 yearbook staff dedicated their production to Superintendent Marvin Cowan for his responsible leadership in providing curriculum programs and timely accommodations for the explosive growth in enrollment from 518 in l955 to 1250 students in l959.
Ongoing construction at Window Rock School
During those four years the additions included: football stadium, track field, two wings of classrooms, warehouse for storage, motor pool, maintenance garage, additional faculty apartments, and buildings for an elementary school at Window Rock and a Fort Defiance junior high school.
Administration Building constructed in 1960
William Martin served as High School Principal. Guiding the oversight of the school planning and budgeting were Board Members Maurice McCabe and A. C. Rudeau. Cowan, Martin, McCabe, and Rudeau shared a commonality: they each had a child in the class of l965.
Field House Home of the Mighty Scouts!
A field house was constructed in l961 and proudly bore the came " Home of the Scouts"; the community enjoyed watching the boys' and girls' teams compete with other schools and in inter-mural games. By l965 high school enrollment had reached 425 which qualified Window Rock for Arizona Class A level in competitive sports, and fans demonstrated pride in the teams with each season of play.
Snowy days at Window Rock School
Many challenges existed for teachers and students. Buses transported students within a fifteen-mile radius. Most of the roads were not hard-surfaced, some students had to walk long distances to the bus stop, and heavy snow was a frequent occurrence. Frozen ruts made it difficult for buses to maneuver the remote, rugged areas. Despite all odds, the drivers were careful and skillful in picking up and delivering students to all locations. On one occasion the temperature reached 40 below zero. Vehicles would not start, bathroom water pips burst, and students got a brief unexpected vacation.
Window Rock High School, completed 1961
Window Rock High School became truly comprehensive in its curriculum. The school received North Central Accreditation in l959-60 for high marks in curriculum and instruction with a focus on teacher preparation and performance, student management, monitoring student performance, use of facilities, and options in education programs. Students were offered college prep courses of study.
Flexible scheduling strengthened the student-centered approach. Library facilities were enlarged, a foreign language lab was installed, audiovisual equipment was made available and sports for both boys and girls were offered. Music, art, speech, drama, and clubs provided social growth and intellectual enhancement. An extended Trades & Industry program presented choices of vocational-technical education in woodworking, metal shop, industrial arts, and auto mechanics. Guidance and counseling helped students select options for future careers. Faculty members were recruited from various parts of the country, representing diverse teacher college preparation programs. This was a unique mixture of talent benefiting the students and strengthening the professionalism of instructors. Student achievement soared, championships won, awards increased. Enrollment grew. By l965 the graduating class numbered 101.
Window Rock High School
The campus was alive with activity. Visitors roaming the campus were a common sight. It was not unusual to see a group of educators from the East Coast, professors from universities, researchers in Native American history, parents of students, ceremonial dancers, Tribal leaders, U.S. and state congressmen, or WR alumni returning from active military service to share their experiences with faculty and students. Classroom doors were open, demonstrations were viewed, conferences were available and interviews were common. The school welcomed all visitors.
The community of Window Rock, famous for its beautiful archeological formations, provided students the opportunity to see government in action: the Navajo Tribal Council chambers, Law and Order headquarters, and BIA operations. The Tribal Government contributed to the educational program of the young and adult community members.
Navajo Tribal Fair, 1959
John Hale, Uncle of Gloria Showalter Hale, Class of 68
Jack Kyselka, Father of Eileen Kyselka Scales, Class of 65
Originally named the Navajo Tribal Band, is now the Navajo Nation Band.
An annual fair brought together Native Americans from around the world. The Civic Center presented cultural events. Students enjoyed appearances of Liberace, Mahalia Jackson, Guy Lombardo Orchestra, Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians, Errol Garner, Ella Fitzgerald, and Spanish Flamingo Dancers. Window Rock students were ushers for the performances.
Miss Navajo Contest at the Navajo Tribal Fair in Window Rock, AZ - 1960
Navajo Tribal Council Chambers
Post World War II
Navajo Tribal Council Chambers
Window Rock, Arizona
Annie Wauneka sitting in first row of Navajo Council Chamber, Window Rock, AZ
Photo by Navajo Nation Council 1960
School personnel joined together as a team to make the school a community-based operation. Many components formed a united effort for student progress. Drivers had concern for bus students and served as a vital link to parents living in remote areas and often needing language translation to connect school and community. The custodians were a integral part.
Mr. Bill Cadman
Mrs. Vollie Hogle
Mr. Robert Brownlee
Any hour of the school day would find these friendly women in the halls and rest rooms interacting with students while cleaning and polishing the beautiful buildings.
Custodians L to R: Mrs. Naswood, Mrs. Long, Mrs. Yazza, Mrs. Nez
After hours came the general cleaning by the maintenance crew. Groundskeepers continually attended to the external appearance of the campus.
Cafeteria Staff, Back Row L to R: Mrs. Begay, Mrs. Atcitty, Mrs. Hogle,
Front Row L to R: Mrs. Roanhorse, Mrs. Morgan, Mrs. Damon, Mrs. Yazzie, Mrs. Notah
Other daily encounters were with friendly cafeteria workers who prepared hot, nutritious meals for the hundreds of hungry students.
All school personnel became part of the overall picture with whom students could relate, trust, and interact.
The building of the campus facilities was complete in l960. The size of faculty continued to meet the demands of the student
population and curriculum offerings. Even with adequate classroom space, a perpetual problem of the district was in providing
housing for teachers who came from outside the area. One solution was the hiring of husband and wife, both being teachers.
A number of apartments were available on campus; none in the nearby communities; and as many as ten commuted from Gallup, N.M.
Had there been any doubt that public education would be accepted and successful as an alternative to boarding school education,
the record speaks for itself. Enrollment has continued to climb. Faculty find the setting and student population inspiring.
Hopefully, the future will continue leadership qualities and scholastic achievement for people in the Fort Defiance and Window Rock area.
The alumni of Window Rock High School wish future generations well!
Tse Ho Tso Princesses
Georgia A. Ashley & Lydia Hubbard
The Years That Followed
There will be stars over the place forever, though the school we loved is lost... paraphrased from Sarah Truesdale
Window Rock High School Destroyed
April 5, 1981
View from parking lot of the remains.
Good Sheppard Mission, Spring 1985
Blue Canyon, Spring 1985