Office of the Chief Justice - Judicial Branch of the Navajo Nation
President Jonathan Nez, Vice President Myron Lizer, Speaker Seth Damon and Chief Justice JoAnn Jayne were on hand at a press conference on May 29, 2019, to speak on the importance of the donation of one of the original copies of the Treaty of 1868.
The copy donated is known as the Tappan Copy because it was in the possession of Samuel F. Tappan, who was the Indian Peace Commissioner during the negotiations and signing of the Treaty of 1868. It is one of three originals. One is kept by the U.S National Archives and Records Administration. It is unknown what happened to the other copy.
Tappan's great-grandniece Clare "Kitty" Weaver had Tappan's documents in her possession and decided to donate the copy of the Treaty to the Navajo Nation Museum. The Tappan Copy even has the original ribbon that tied the pages together. The ribbon was once red but has now faded to pink.
Weaver was also in attendance at the press conference and is expected to speak at the public opening of the exhibit at the Navajo Nation Museum on June 1, 2019.
Weaver said she had the document but only recently recognized its significance.
Last year the Navajo Nation commemorated the 150th anniversary of the Treaty and brought the National Archives Treaty to the Navajo Nation Museum for a month-long exhibit. Approximately 35,000 to 50,000 visitors saw the National Archives Treaty at the museum, said Manuelito Wheeler, the museum’s director.
During her remarks, Chief Justice JoAnn Jayne noted that the Navajo people had their own way of life with prayers and songs that predate the internment of Diné at Bosque Redondo and the signing of the Treaty of 1868. Those prayers and songs were used there by the people, she said.
She said that the people surely fought for their songs and prayers and used them when returning to Navajo land.
The Tappan Copy of the Treaty that was donated by Weaver is a tangible document that the people can now claim as their own, Jayne said.
She said that one of the results of the Treaty, or Naaltsoos Saní, is that the approximately 230 employees of the Judicial Branch, or Hashkééjí Nahat’á, work tirelessly to uphold the Diné laws for individuals coming to the court system.
“That is why we at the Judicial Branch, we are very, very thankful for what we do. We are bestowed, we are blessed with the responsibility to make sure that what they signed for is going to be carried on,” Jayne said. She added that the Executive and Legislative Branches also have the same responsibility.
Jayne said that the people probably do not think about the Naaltsoos Saní on a daily basis but they are living it.
“This is a living document,” she said.
Jayne concluded by thanking Weaver and all the people who had a hand in bringing the Treaty to the Navajo Nation.
The Navajo Nation Council's Naabik'íyáti' Committee approved the donation of the Tappan Copy of the Treaty on May 28, 2019.