Navajo Agency Investigates The Paranormal
By James Donahue
During the time my wife and I lived with a Navajo medicine man and his wife on the
Navajo Reservation in Northeast Arizona, we experienced many paranormal encounters that made us keenly aware that a world
of witches, skinwalkers, shapeshifters, strange apparitions and things that go bump in the night really exists.
Thus it was no surprise to us that an agency known as the Navajo Nation Rangers,
a reservation police force that also manages national parks, archaeological sites and works as a fish and wildlife service,
also investigates paranormal activity.
A recent CBS News report said this agency records and investigates claims of ghosts,
witchcraft, UFO sightings and even bigfoot.
Retired Lt. John Dover, a veteran with 31 years on the force, said in the CBS interview
that the Rangers have been investigating the unexplained reports for the past
Dover said he was personally involved in researching haunted locations, object appearing
in the air or flying across rooms, ceramic vessels exploding and UFO sightings.
He told of a report from a mother and daughter who described a mass of lights floating
over reservation land. “As they watched, the lights blinked out after a few seconds, followed by a sonic boom, a black
domed craft and the entire town of Chinle losing power.”
It was during the winter of 1998 that my wife Doris was working at a government hospital
in Chinle. I was working on a newspaper in Show Low, several hours away, and drove to Chinle on weekends. We may have been
there when the UFO incident occurred. We were sharing a Sunday afternoon meal before I began the long trip back to Show Low
when we heard a loud boom and all the lights went out. We thought the noise came from the kitchen and that there was some
kind of electrical short in the building. But investigation soon revealed that the entire town of Chinle had gone dark.
There were several strange events but one that I distinctly remember involved a pair
of tennis shoes. The woman we lived with wore them everywhere. But one weekend the couple left for the Grand Canyon to
sell Navajo jewelry and kachina dolls. I noticed that she left her shoes on the bathroom floor. One night, when the doors
were dead bolted from the inside and the house sealed tight, the shoes disappeared. When she arrived home a day or two later,
she was wearing them.
We had an encounter with a shape shifter in that house. One windy day when the sands
of the high desert were turning the sky yellow and we were alone at the house, the dogs in the yard began barking. Doris looked
out and announced that there was a wolf in the yard. We ran out to look and found that the dogs and the wolf had all disappeared
behind an old Hogan once used as a family home before the government built the conventional house we were in. We found large
paw prints of the wolf, but they turned into human foot prints when the creature was out of sight of the house. Also the foot
prints went to the side of the Hogan and stopped. It was as if the shape shifter walked through the wall to hide in the old
Hogan. This building was locked so we could not explore further.
We saw strange objects in the desert that should not have been there and were impossible
to explain. One night the barking dogs woke me and I looked out of the door to sense something very frightening looming in
the driveway and roadway nearby. I sensed its presence because it was a massive void of blackness. The dogs continued to bark,
but they were cowering near the house. There was moon and starlight giving enough light to see the desert landscape. But where
this thing stood, nothing could be seen. There were no stars. I could not see the road. I was so alarmed that I turned my
rifle on it and fired at least three shots into it. It did not move. The next morning it was gone.
We were given the rare opportunity by our hosts to attend a Ye’ii Bi’cheii
dance of healing. The dance was held in an obscure place. Large bonfires lighted the area since the dance began at midnight
and continued until dawn. Rows of dancers wearing strange clay heads and dressed in outfits that reminded me of Scottish kilts
danced in unison, each man shaking a large wooden rattle that made an eerie concussion sound. The dancing continued through
the night. The object of the dance was to heal a young man who was going deaf. I asked if the dance really healed. A Navajo
man near me laughed and asked: “Did you ever see anybody on the reservation wearing hearing aids?”
We found the Navajo to be very superstitious. They believed that the coyote brought
very bad luck when it crossed their path on a road, and when one was seen, they turned around and drove for miles out of their
way to get to where they wanted to go.
The people also believed the spirits of the dead hung around. They went to great
lengths to never let a person die in the house, going so far as to carry the bed into the yard. If a person died in a house,
the building was abandoned.
Indeed, we are not surprised that the Navajo Nation Rangers keep a file on the
paranormal. If there is any place on earth where paranormal activity thrives, it is among the unusual culture of the