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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


April 20, 2002 - Issue 59


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Navajo Police Officer was Good-will Ambassador

by Jim Snyder Farmington Daily News
Salt Lake City logoSHIPROCK - Life's returning to normal for veteran Shiprock Police Sgt. Frank Bradley III, who spent the entire month of February on patrol at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

Bradley ended up being a good-will ambassador to flocks of tourists at the Navajo Nation's 'Discover Navajo' pavilion who had questions about the Navajo people. At the same time he kept an eye out for any potential terrorist threats.

His SWAT gear sat nearby in his police unit just in case it was needed.

Bradley, an officer since 1985, spent Friday deskbound at the Shiprock station. He spoke about being in Salt Lake City, with fellow officers Vera Nelson and Kyle Atcitty.

There were six other Navajo police officers and six Navajo Nation Rangers also on duty at the pavilion. The pavilion itself was guarded by the officers and rangers on foot patrol 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Inside the pavilion was a Navajo star constellation, a full-sized hogan and sweat lodge, as well as other displays and information.

"We were under the tactical control of the public safety command if a major event had occurred," Bradley said.

All nine of the police officers are trained Strategic Reaction Team members, who have the motto "Do what has to be done." Four of the Rangers were also trained.

The team does everything a SWAT does, utilizing camouflage techniques and an array of weaponry. They didn't attend any of the events.

Bradley said despite the terrorist threat due to Sept. 11, he felt safe.

"I'm a police officer and have the ability to defend myself and have the equipment, it maybe a better question for a civilian to answer," he said.

Aside from handling a few intoxicated visitors, there were no incidents - except for one, he added. A man of Middle Eastern descent told parking lot attendants across the street from Gateway Mall near the pavilion to "radio your supervisors, Bin Ladin is here ... you stupid Americans, I'm not joking."

He then drove away.

All Bradley could do was report what had happened.

"I took the information and called the intelligence team. Anything related to terrorism, that's as close as we got to that."

About getting to provide security for the Navajo Nation at the Olympics, Bradley said he was pretty excited.

"It was a privilege to represent the Navajo Nation and to put our best foot forward. It was the very first time the Navajo Nation advertised (using a pavilion) ... on who the Navajo are, where we are and what we are," he said.

Bradley said he would like to see the pavilion on display now within the Navajo Nation.

During the Olympics, a lot of questions were from tourists from back east who didn't even know in some cases there was a Navajo tribe, Bradley said.

"They think back east Indians live in teepees, riding horses across the plains. You get that, due to John Wayne movies and 'Dances with Wolves.'"

Those things are not Navajo, Bradley told them, although Navajos often participate in Pow Wows that emphasize the culture of the Plains Indians, with elaborate head bonnets.

He explained the differences between the tribes in terms they could relate to.

"The Germans are different from the French, the French are different from the Italians. We (also) have our own language and culture."

Being able to work at the Olympics and the Navajo pavilion "was a once in a lifetime experience," he said. "It put us on the map - the Navajo Nation obviously, but also the Navajo Police. Hopefully they'll take the pavilion to the 2004 summer games in Athens. Maybe we'll get to go there."

He added that after seeing the pavilion "a lot of people want to see the real Navajo. They want to visit the Navajo Nation."

For more information about the Navajo pavilion and the Navajo Police there go to

Shiprock, NM Map
Maps by Travel

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