Introduction and History of the Navajo Nation Band

The Navajo Nation Band’s saga and history began in 1925 when a small group of young Navajo talented men recently graduated from the Federal Boarding Schools. Together they kept the efforts of their musical knowledge, instrument playing skills, and practicing. In the 1930’s, a dozen employees of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) formed a small group to provide music at the Ceremonial while being under the Leadership of Shorty Rivera, a Spanish-American.

By 1938, the group formed as the “Navajo Band”, providing music at the Navajo Tribal Fairs under the Leadership of Mr. Dan Howard. Many Band members such as Guy Martin, Cato Sells, Tom Morgan, Howard Gorman, and Charles Addington were professional caliber performers.

During World War II, about fourteen Navajo Musicians kept the Band alive, practiced on their own and turned out to welcome Navajo Veterans home from combat. Mr. Charles Addington developed a reputation as one of the best Indian Bands in America, retiring in the early 1960’s.

After the retirement of Mr. Charles Addington, Mr. Birley Gardener directed the Navajo Band for almost a decade. Mr. Gardener had high credentials, having performed under John Phillip Sousa and the United States Navy Band.

He devoted much of his time recruiting additional members from High Schools and Colleges. Developing musical talent in the Navajo Tribe, he promoted the colorful Navajo style uniform and well rounded repertoire of marches and concert music.

The Navajo Tribal Band became a widely-traveled band appearing in many public events coast to coast and has been awarded numerous awards, honors and prizes. These tribal musical Ambassadors have marched in three United States Presidential Inaugural Parades, Arizona/New Mexico State Fairs Parades and the Fiesta Bowl Parade.

In 1965, New York World’s Fair, the Tribal musicians serenaded the then- Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, who invited the band to visit Russia. One of the most significant appearances of the Navajo Nation Band was being the 3rd Official Band in the 1975 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California.

The entire contingent was composed of the Chairman, Vice-Chairman, 1974-1975 Miss Navajo, the Navajo Code Talkers and the 106 member Navajo Tribal Band. The Navajo Tribal Band was the ONLY recognized Bicentennial Band in the Parade of Roses.

The Navajo Nation Band continues to attract admirers throughout the country and the world, continues to participate in the Navajo Nation Fairs and other celebrations throughout the Southwest. Today, the Navajo Nation Band Office is located in the Capitol of the Navajo Nation, Window Rock, Arizona.

The Navajo Nation Band is operated under the Navajo Division of Human Resources of the Navajo Nation. To contact the Navajo Nation Band Director call the Division of Human Resources Office at 928.871.6375 or fax at 928.871.6377 or mailing address to PO Box 9000 Window Rock, Arizona 86515 and attention to Division of Human Resources c/o Navajo Nation Band Director.