Sehili (Tsaile) Trading and Military Out Post, The Catalyst of Capitalism: Finding the Site  


A Navajo Nation Cultural Resource Investigation Permit was obtained (Class C Permit No. C0621) to conduct anthropological (archaeology) research on the Navajo Reservation. This permit application process was time consuming and involved. Presentations were given at Tsaile/Wheatfields Community Chapter meetings for review by the local community.

Next, documentary research was conducted to help locate historic references on the licensing of Sehili Trading Post to Stephen Aldrich, Elias Clark and Archibald Sweetland in the 1880s. Archival data were located and reviewed to document the activities leading to the trading post being established to its abandonment.

The research project’s main objective was the archaeological surface survey using geophysical exploration – remote sensing with a Fluxgate gradiometer (magnetometer) and an electrical resistivity meter to find the Sehili Trading Post site. No data was identified at this time of any archaeological survey on the site. No prior archaeological survey on the site had been conducted. Fort Lewis College Anthropology Department agreed to provide the equipment and technical assistance for the geophysical remote sensing survey. The survey findings were recorded and data collected were written up in the result section of this project report.

Finally, Navajo oral history was used to pin point the site location and give details to the historic documentation. This component gave voice to the history from the Navajo People’s perspective. This was an important component.



            Literature search established the following timeline for ownership of the Sehili Trading Post:


1878-1885     Washington Pass Summer Tent Trading Posts
1885   Aldrich and E. Clark build Sehili Trading Post  
1886   A. Sweetland buy out of E. Clark’s Interest  
1889    A. Sweetland Becomes sole owner  
1890   November 4, Abandonment of the Sehili T.P.  The trading post is burnt to the ground.  

Archaeological geoscan remote sensing ground survey using the Fluxgate gradiometer (magnetometer) and the electrical resistivity meter were selected because of its non-destructive and non-intrusive technique. Remote sensing is ideal for creating maps of the subsurface features and their location and identification. The FM36 Fluxgate gradiometer and the RM15 Resistance meter are the two equipment remote sensing that have been approved and used from Fort Lewis College for this project.

Equipment and technical support provided by the Anthropology Department at Fort Lewis College, in Durango Colorado through Professor Mona Charles. Five archaeology student volunteers were selected to assist in the remote sensing survey. Data collected was analyzed and interpretation given at the Fort Lewis anthropological lab using Geoplot 3.0 mapping software, Surfer 7 mapping software and maps were produced.

Three grids were targeted after consultant that included Mr. Joe Lee (a local resident to the target site to the surveyed). Survey parameters were established for data collection with the remote sensing instruments:

  • Three girds were laid out,

  • Data were collected in a Zig-Zag traverse mode,

  • Tracked south to north,

  • Sample intervals set to 0.5 meter, and 

  • Traverse intervals set to 0.5 meter.


The in-the-field remote sensing experience proved very interesting. First, using the aerial photo map to target the area to do the remote sensing was dismissed. On site surface survey transect and an on site consultation with Mr. Joe Lee help relocate the target area for the remote sensing survey. The original site was in the middle of a cleared field. The actual site surveyed was in rough terrain with young pinon and juniper trees growing. The being in-the-field and being in the classroom planning are different. These differences caused changes to be made as new information was added.

Research Schedule

September 2006                -Navajo Nation research permit application,

September 2006                -Preparation for Literature Research,

October 2006                   -Preparation for field survey,

November 2006                -Field survey,

November 2006                -Consultation with Navajo Nation Historical Preservation, and

December 2006                -Data Analysis, Final Report Write-up and Presentation.


            The research schedule was important for this project. It proved essential when trying to work with other organizations like the Navajo Nation Historical Preservation Office, Fort Lewis College, anthropology students and Tsaile/Wheatfields Chapter. The Navajo Nation Class C permit application was a time consuming process.


Ř     The geophysical remote sensing task to locate the historic Sehili Trading Post site was done by a combining a literature research and using oral history of Tsaile community members. This step allowed the project to better target the site to survey. This was followed up by using a surface survey and then remote sensing. This target archaeological survey area was mapped and remote sensing data collected.

Ř     The processed remote sensing data and images are to be used only to help locate the site. The remote sensing was not a mode to confirm the trading post’s location. Only excavation will confirm if the site is Sehili Trading Post.

Ř     These remote sensing project findings will be available and can be used as an archaeological reference for future archaeology investigation, if needed.

Ř     This project allowed the student researchers to exercise archaeological field school skills and theoretical anthropological concepts.

Ř     Locating the site of Sehili (Tsaile) Trading Post and military outpost enriches the Navajo Nation’s history.

Ř     A copy of this poster was given to the Navajo Nation Historic Preservation Office to document this archaeological research project.  



Tsaile/Wheatfields Farm Board

Regular Meeting

Wheatfields, Arizona


Date:            November 12, 2006

Time:   10:00 a.m.

Place:            Tsaile/Wheatfield’s Chapter

I.                 Order of Business

a.     Roll Call / Invocation

The meeting was officially called to order at 10:45 a.m. at Wheatfield’s chapter house and the following members were present. Also attached is the sign in sheet of attendance.

Present:       Mrs. Lorena Eldridge, Farm Board Member

Mr. Emerson Goldtooth, Farm Board Member

Mrs. Perphelia Fowler, Farm Board Member

The invocation was conducted by Mr. Henry Fowler

b.     Approval of agenda

Mr. Emerson Goldtooth made the motion to accept and approve the agenda and Mrs. Perphelia Fowler seconded the motion.

Votes: 3 approved / 0 opposed / 0 abstained

c.     Approval of last meeting minutes

Mr. Emerson Goldtooth made the motion to accept and approve the last meeting minutes and Mrs. Perphelia Fowler seconded the motion.

Votes: 3 approved / 0 opposed / 0 abstained

d.     Announcements

Mrs. Lorena Eldridge stated that we as the farm board members may be attending a training in Las Vegas, but have limited funds. Mrs. Lorena Eldridge stated that she requested Paula to look into some available funds for the training on December 4-8, 2006.

Mrs. Lorena Eldridge stated that she received some price quotes, but it does not state enough information, so we are requesting for clearer quotes.

II.               Reports

a.     Farm Board

Mrs. Lorena Eldridge stated that funds were being allocated at the tribal office and Mr. Leonard Teller request for the Farm Board committee to submit a proposal, but the council did not act on all requests. Mrs. Lorena Eldridge stated that the chapter also received other funds and we will be requesting for more funds for the farm board through the chapter.

Mrs. Lorena Eldridge stated that the Supplemental Fund has been approve and sign by Mr. Joe Shirley on November 2, 2006 and that the Tsaile/Wheatfield’s Farm Board will work on developing proposals requesting for funds in December and January. Mrs. Lorena Eldridge reviewed that Land of Acquisition.

b.     Dine Water User’s Association

Mrs. Elizabeth Becenti stated that there has not been a meeting yet lately with the Water User’s Association. Mrs. Lorena Eldridge informed the committee and farmers that there are some office equipment(s) in the office and that we need feedback from Mark Curley.

c.     SWCD

Mrs. Lorena Eldridge stated that there is a meeting schedule on the 14th of November at Chinle at 1:00 p.m. Mr. Anslem Joe is the chairperson of the SWCD committee. Mrs. Lorena Eldridge stated that on November 1, 2006 application funds has expired and the NRCS has recommended a cancellation on all projects that were cancelled and the applicants will be notified by mail.

d.     NRSC

No attendance from the NRCS office at this time.

III.             Old Business

a.     Fencing – Deer/Elk

Mrs. Perphelia Fowler briefly reported on the Fish and Wildlife fencing procedure protocol. A memo will be submitted with the approval from all farmers from the Lower, Upper Wheatfield’s and Tsaile areas.

The following farmers approve and supports higher fence from deer/elk:

·       Mr. Kee D. Chee, farmer for Lower Wheatfield’s briefly reported on the deer/elk and strongly recommends improvement on fencing for all farm plots and stated to add his number and name to the list for approval of fencing. Plot # 11-3-487, 17.54 acres.

·       Mr. Emersosn Goldooth, Tsaile farmer also stated that he is okay with the fencing for the farm plots.

·       Sam D. Chee, farmer of Lower Wheatfield’s agrees with fencing.

·       Ned T. Yazzie, Lower Wheatfields’s agrees with fencing.

·       John Begay, Upper Wheatfield’s agrees with fencing outside the farm plots.


John C. Begy – Farmer of Upper Wheatfield’s stated and is wondering why is the fencing built around his home at the Lower Wheatfield’s area? He stated that this is not a rumor and is concerned. 

Mrs. Lorena Eldridge thanked everyone for attending the farm board meeting and thanked everyone for their comments and concerned. And as children we were raised with discipline and nowadays we are changing. Mrs. Lorena Eldridge briefly reported on the crops that are being planted and are the livestock being adhered to. Mrs. Lorena Eldridge stated and reviewed the Farm Board’s priorities for the upcoming years. We are not getting the full information on all changes on the farm plots. Grazing is in charge of the outside fencing and farm board is in charge of all farming plot. 

Mr. Emerson Goldtooth stated and reviewed the farm board’s procedures and again reviewed the process and procedures with the committee and farmers in attendance. 

Mrs. Carrol with the Lower Wheatfield’s stated a question on fencing with Lower and Upper Wheatfield and Tsaile area. What is the process and how long will the fencing take?

Mrs. Perphelia Fowler responded in to the question in a professional manner and briefly reported on the protocols on the process and encouraged to the farmers to work together with the committee in developing documents that will support the process.

Mr. Kee Chee reported and stated that it is not an overnight job and encouraged all farmers to be in attendance of the meeting. Mr. Kee Chee reported on the responsibilities of a farmer. Reviewed the past and compared it with today’s society with the farmers and committee in attendance. Mr. Kee  Chee reported on the different kinds of meeting that are conducted with the chapter and they are chapter meetings, Farm Board meeting, Water User’s Association meeting and planning meeting. Mr. Kee Chee again encouraged everyone to attend these meetings for their benefit.

Mrs. Lorena Eldridge questioned the farmers and committee on how many inches of the fencing should we request for?


Mr. John C. Begay questioned and is still concerned on the fencing around his home at Lower Wheatfield’s.

Mrs. Perphelia Fowler briefly explained the meeting standards and stated that the issue would need to be on the agenda, so the committee can act on it. Mrs. Perphelia Fowler stated that from the beginning of the meeting, everyone was ask if they wanted to be on the agenda and there were no

 response at the time, so the meeting went on with an approved agenda.

Mrs. Lorena Eldridge asked Mr. John C. Begay if they would like to be on the agenda and that the committee may decide on the amendment of the agenda. Mr. John Begay and his wife, Lena Begay stated, No.

Mrs. Carroll stated that she is fine with the fencing and would like the farm board to include all sites, not just the Lower Wheatfield’s.

Mr. Emerson Goldtooth made the motion to table the fencing of deer/elk until more farmers are in attendance of the meeting and Mrs. Perphelia Fowler seconded the motion.

Votes: 3 approved/ 0 opposed/ 0 abstained

Mrs. Spencer stated, “How do you inform your farmers of the meetings?”

Mrs. Perphelia Fowler responded that the farmers are informed by mail, the KTNN radio announcement of the scheduled meetings and by people whom attend the farm board meetings who release meeting date and time to other people they see within the community. Mrs. Perphelia Fowler briefly reviewed the mail system and would need to release notices way in advance of the meeting.

b.     Home Establishment

Mrs. Lorena Eldridge thanked Mr. Charles Curley for being in attendance of the meeting. Mrs. Lorena Eldridge briefly reported on Mark Curley’s report from back in September of 2006 and stated that an issue was brought to the farm board committee’s attention on the structure of the mobile home. Mrs. Lorena Eldridge open the floor to Mr. Charles Curley Jr. at this time.

Mr. Charles Curley stated that he talked with four different lawyers and stated that when you have the land use permit there is no rule. Mr. Charles Curley stated that he got the approval from his lawyers and with Washington D.C. he got the go ahead and if they have a trust land, you as farm board members can’t do anything about it. Mr. Charles Curley stated that, “I am not going to move it and can take it to the Federal and also stated that he need it in black and white, and again, its not going to happen”.

IV.            New Business

a.     Sam Chee Jr. Requests for resurvey

Mr. Sam Chee Jr. briefly reported on his request of re-surveying farm plot # 11-3-468 with 21.82 acres at Lower Wheatfields. Mr. Sam Chee Jr. indicated that all his siblings are aware of a re-survey of the farm plot.

Mr. Sam Chee Jr. reviewed the members of the farm plot with the committee and farmers in attendance of the meeting. The following members are listed on the farm plot permit with the deletion of the deceased sibling, Priscilla Chee. Please view the attached map submitted by Mr. Sam Chee Jr.

Stanley Chee C#502,322

Teresa Becenti C#500,710

Matilda Chee C#504,367

Marlene Chee C#505,760

Sam D. Chee C#507,201

Mrs. Perphelia Fowler made the motion to accept and approve the re-survey of farm plot #11-3468 and Mr. Emerson Goldtooth seconded the motion.

Votes: 3 approved/ 0 opposed/ 0 abstained

b.     Fort Lewis College – Willie Tsosie / Rocinda

Mrs. Lorena Eldridge briefly read and reviewed the thesis project by a college student and stated that the individual needs the approval from the committee to have a research be conducted by the student to enhance the understanding and knowledge of a research with the assistance of the Tsaile/Wheatfield Farm Board.

Mrs. Perphelia Fowler made the motion to accept and approve the research and Mr. Emerson Goldtooth seconded the motion.

Votes: 3 approved/ 0 opposed/ 0 abstained

V.              Conclusion

a.     Next Meeting

Regular Farm Board Meeting

Friday, November 17, 2006 at 10:00 a.m.

Tsaile/Wheatfield’s Chapter House

b.     Adjournment

Mrs. Perphelia Fowler made the motion to adjourn the meeting at 12:30 p.m. and Mr. Emerson Goldtooth seconded the motion.

Votes: 3 approved /0 opposed/ 0 abstained

_________________________________                              ____________________

Mrs. Lorena Eldridge for Perphelia Fowler                                        Date

Tsaile/Wheatfield Farm Board Member