Are we really alone on this earth? Do the Police Departments or the Park Rangers have cases of the paranormal? How does this affect the people involved? These are the questions that go through most people’s minds when they are told stories about the Navajo Reservation. Navajo Rangers are well-trained law enforcement agents, but no preparation can help them prepare the creepiest reports of abnormal paranormal suspects, such as ghosts, bigfoot, and UFOs, as well as the sightings of the Navajo folklore, such as Skinwalkers, who are claimed to be witches, who have learned to shapeshift into animals. In this paper, we will be going over the history of the Navajo Park Rangers as well as the effects these sorts of cases has on the reservation.
In the old days, park rangers were generalists and did everything: this included, acting as historians, environmental researchers, public educators, doing maintenance on facilities, enforcing park rules/laws and acting in emergencies such as fire, search & rescue, and medical emergencies. Many State and local Park Services still have generalist rangers that are expected to do all of these as part of their job, but the National Park Service has since divided up its “Rangers” or employees into 5 broad divisions. There are still some small National Park Units (e.g. Montezuma Castle and Tuzigoot National Monuments) or remote areas inside larger parks (e.g. Dog Canyon in Guadalupe Mountain National Park) where an NPS ranger is expected to do all of these things but they are very rare.
These people are the office workers that work behind the scenes. They include accountants, lawyers, IT professionals, Administrative Assistants (secretaries), Human Resource people, and everyone else that all large companies and agencies have that members of the public rarely see. In large parks, some of these people are found at the headquarters area in the park (e.g. Mammoth, in Yellowstone). Other places they are found in can be an office building in the nearest city by the park and still others are found in the Regional (Atlanta, Anchorage, Denver, Omaha, Philadelphia, Washington DC) or National offices (Denver or Washington DC). These are permanent positions and work would be like any other white-collar job. They may or may not have to wear the uniform on a daily basis if they are not in the public eye. In general, these workers are not offered government housing (unless they work in a large remote park without services nearby) and live in the local commuting area in a self-provided house.
For the most part, these workers are the public face of the National Park Service. There are both permanent and seasonal positions and they are responsible for operating the entrance stations, campgrounds, visitor centers, creating and providing educational programs to all ages, and guiding visitors on hikes. They are also responsible for creating educational signs and exhibits around the park. These Rangers usually work a normal shift and then go home at the end of the day. As usual seasonal rangers get park housing (except in urban parks) and permanent rangers live off the park (except in very remote areas of large parks). Experience in Natural resources, history, education, presenting to large and small groups, and the ability to speak foreign languages are sought after in these jobs. Some parks have “Environmental Education” positions that generally do the same educational type of thing geared towards school children and do outreach to schools.
These Rangers are commonly called “Law Enforcement” or “Protection” Rangers. They are the rangers that carry guns and handcuffs like a police officer and are responsible for enforcing the law. The extent of the laws that they enforce gets complicated and changes depending on the park and the type of jurisdiction it has. In general, these rangers are park police officers at a minimum. After that, they may or may not be responsible for other things. In inner-city parks, they usually only enforce park rules. In remote parks, they may also be required to enforce state laws and may be responsible for Emergency Medical Care, Structural Firefighting, and Search and Rescues.
Protection Rangers can be classified as front-country or back-country. Backcountry rangers are the most like traditional rangers and may hike, canoe, or ride a horse into the backcountry and be stationed out there for weeks to months at a time depending on the schedule set by the management. Front-country rangers are much more like park police they work shifts and are home every day at the end of the shift. In urban parks that’s the end of the story – go to work do your shift and you’re done. You then get to go to your own home and forget about work until tomorrow.
In rural/wilderness parks Protection rangers, both seasonal and permanent, are usually required to live in the park. This is so they can respond to call-outs that can occur at all times of the day and night regardless of if they are “on-duty” or not. In this way, the park service keeps rangers always available without them actually having to be paid to be “on-call” like a professional firefighter sitting in a station would be. Law enforcement rangers at a minimum need to have taken and passed, within 3 years, and NPS Seasonal ranger academy but may also be required to have many other Emergency Medical and Search and Rescue certifications depending on the job. All permanent Firefighting and Law Enforcement officers (wildland fire and LE rangers) in the federal government have 6C retirement which means a mandatory retirement at 57 and you have to be originally hired into a permanent 6c covered position before your 37th birthday unless you get a voucher for completing military service. That is the basics. But as stated earlier the job can vary a great deal from park to park. In some parks, Law Enforcement is the only staff that does all emergency services. In other parks Search and Rescue, EMS, and Fire Fighting may be partly or mostly staffed with Interpretation Rangers, Scientist, or Maintenance staff. In some parks the divisions get along great in others they never talk to each other out of inter-departmental spite. Job Security Legally seasonal positions can only last a maximum of 6 months. In reality, the positions usually only last for 4 months. This means Seasonal workers are constantly looking ahead, planning, and applying for jobs. There are a lot of seasonal park ranger jobs in the summer but few in the winter so that leads to a lot of unemployed or alternatively employed park rangers in the winter season.
Seasonal workers do not get the benefits (health insurance, retirement, etc) that a permanent worker gets. Additionally, for all employees despite the fact that as a Park Service employee you can’t officially comment about the politicians in D.C. they have an enormous impact on your life both on and off the park. The stupidity includes Government shutdowns (you might get laid-off or may have to work through them and when it’s over you may or may not get paid regardless if you worked or not).
The Navajo Rangers have been modestly performing their duties on the reservation for more than fifty years now. The Rangers started in 1957 and were actually modeled from the National Park Service to protect the scenic areas. The Navajo Nation covers 27,000 square miles, 17 million acres, which is the size of the state of West Virginia. The reservation is the largest one in the world. It starts from Utah and goes through Arizona and New Mexico which is about a 4-hour drive across. The Jobs a Navajo Park Ranger usually sees in a daily basis are “Archaeological, Cultural Resources, Forestry, Parks and Scenic areas, Game and Fish, Oil and Minerals, Water Resources, Agriculture, Back Country Patrol, Search and Rescue, Technical Rescue, Boat Operations, All Terrain Vehicle Patrol, Mud Flood Snow Emergencies, Strategic National Stockpile Transport, Wildland Fire Investigation and Response” (Navajo Nation Rangers, 2016). However, there are special cases of Navajo Park rangers dealing with more, unexplainable cases. Aliens?
There is much so much controversy about the belief in the paranormal world. The actual word, “Paranormal,” is derived from the Latin language. The prefix, para, means “outside or beyond” which is considered normal. The Paranormal consists of anything such as ghosts (Spirits) or demons. It’s pretty much anything that is beyond the scope of scientific understanding. Paranormal observations don’t usually fit in our conception of reality so the Paranormal becomes very controversial. The idea of Paranormal Activity frightens many people because it cannot be explained. There are also many types of subjects that can be considered paranormal. A lot of people associate the term paranormal as only dealing with hauntings, ghosts, or demons. However, the paranormal also includes UFOs, ESP, cryptozoology, clairvoyance, telepathy, faith healing, and many other subjects.
The Navajo Park Rangers have had a history of dealing with cases that consist of the paranormal. Fellow agents from the Special Projects Unit, John Dover and Stan Milford have dealt with these types of cases for more than 15 years now. This special unit not only handles the typical day to days law enforcement investigations such as wildfires or missing person cases but also the investigations and cases that are deemed “paranormal.” They have investigated some very interesting cases, and in a few cases found physical evidence to back up the paranormal claims.
One of their most famous cases is known by, “The Ol’man Case.” this involves an elderly Navajo man, who only spoke the Navajo native tongue, who had reported seeing a UFO and entities. In this case, there were Special Unit Investigators, John Dover and Stan Milford, along with the people from Bigelow Aerospace, and a translator from the Federal Magistrate Court for the old Navajo man. From the report records say, the old man states his wife, kids, and his grandkids were all down visiting one of his kids at Arizona State University. So, he, the old man, was home alone. From what the man says, he was getting ready to go to bed around 11 or 12 PM. All of a sudden, he witnessed lights outside. From how his house is positioned, the old man thought there was somebody driving up to his home. The old man’s house is situated in a secluded, remote area surrounded by decimated trees and grass. However, the man has a sister a mile or half a mile away. From the criminal report, the man says he witnessed a flying object that is at least 25 ft in diameter and bright like the sun. The object came and went around his house beaming different colored lights. At first, the flying object settled about less than a mile from the old man’s house for a moment, then proceeded to move closer. This is when the 4 alleged entities of the flying object come out.
At first, the man thought they were little children. The old man has a small, young pup and a momma rottweiler. On that evening, the young pup ran out to where these entities resided at. A few moments later, he hears the pup yelp in pain and runoff in fear. For the other dog, the man says the dog would never come out of its dog house nor would she even bark. This was completely out of the ordinary for the dog since she is usually aggressive and always was barking at things. From that, the old man began having this strange feeling, so he went back into his home and locked the door. Looking through his curtains, the man then goes on to see the entities messing with his ground, solar lamps that he has positioned by the front of his home. The entities would gather around one of these solar lamps to see what would happen. When the light of the solar lamp goes off, they would look, back off, and then approach it once more. The entities kept this up until they got bored of it and continued their search.
One of the details the old man could remember were the objects they were holding. The man described them as one inch in diameter flashlights with a different laser beam on each one. Colors of them varied like red, yellow, blue, and green. After a bit of searching the old man’s property, the entities then disappeared. When John Dover and Stan Milford and their team searched the property, they discovered a lot of different markings in and around the residence. These markings did not fit any of the objects found on the premises. These markings were perfect circles in the snow. This was around the area where the old man saw the alleged flying object.
Sidelight about the case, the Navajo Park Rangers were later contacted by a TV show. The TV show wanted to fly out and interview the old man. They even offered a hefty amount of money. The rangers, Stanley and Jonathan, ask the old man if he would want to do the interview. The old man rejected saying, “No I don’t want to talk to them. I don’t want any publicity.” So, the rangers told the producer the answer. The producer then goes on to say that a website, (which was unknown since the website was taken down a day later) had posted all of the details as well as the old man’s address. The producer then goes on to threaten to state that he will go down to the residency regardless of the answer. The only thing about this was the Park Rangers who filed the report did not actually put down the real address for the man. Instead, it was an address 100 miles away from the home. When asked for their reasons, John Dover and Stan Milford’s response was, “For the privacy of the old man and his family.” They go on to say, “It’s extremely important to us in these kinds of cases. When people don’t want their name or they don’t want it publicized, we must respect that, and we will respect that. For these people to come forward to us and trusting us to relate the stories, that’s very critical” (McMenaminsVIDEOS, 2017). This case not only brought the attention of the media and a potential tv show offer but also drew in more non-native tourists to the reservation to experience the phenomenon which has brought more money to the towns.
Although, aliens are not the only paranormal entities they have come across. The two, John Dover and Stan Milford, have also dealt with cases consisting of Skinwalkers as well as Big Foot.
The Skinwalker is a shapeshifter. No one really knows how the individuals can do this. In Hollywood, they are described as werewolves or even demons of the night. However, Navajo lore, the Skinwalker is completely evil. They’re not there to help anybody. They’re only there for themselves. In the Navajo tradition though, if an individual knows the name and face of a Skinwalker, they may go up to the Skinwalkers home and inform them that they know they’re a Skinwalker. If the person does it correctly, the Skinwalker should be dead within 3 days.
One case the Navajo Rangers have dealt with consisted of a family that lived on the border between Arizona and New Mexico. The family was experiencing, what they thought was a coyote, trying to get into their sheep corral at night. On the evening of the case file, the husband and wife were coming back home and noticed another “coyote” trying to get to their sheep. In the report done by the Navajo Park rangers, the husband says, “I came home with my wife and thought the thing was a coyote.” So, he then goes on to tell the police how he got his 22-revolver rifle and shot the coyote in the flank. The thing started to crawl into a bush on the residency. What was odd about the coyote was the fact that only the front legs would work. Whereas the back ones were positioned straight up in the air. To the husband’s shock, he went over to where the animal was and grabbed it. While witnessing the incident, the wife states that her husband starts pulling on the animal’s hind legs out in order to kill it. As he’s dragging the “coyote,” the hind legs start to turn into human legs. Realizing who the Skinwalker is, the husband drops the legs. Upon further examination of the Skinwalker, the husband noticed the individual’s skin was covered in white, blotchy paint. He then goes on to ask his wife, “What do we do?” which the wife’s response was to, “Shoot it. Shoot it again!” Although, they can’t since it’s a human now. So, the couple decided to call the police. After hearing the whole story, the police decide they want nothing to do with the case and call up the paramedics.
After a while, the ambulance along with freaked out crew arrive onto the scene and take the man away in a gurney. At the hospital, the man was treated accordingly. Although, the first 2 Navajo doctors who were assigned to the man’s case refused to treat him. When asked why, all they replied with was something along the lines of the Navajo folklore about Skinwalkers (McMenaminsVIDEOS, 2017). Upon further research, there was no information on how this case ended nor how it affected the reservation or even the family.
The Paranormal is all around us. Whether you are sitting at home or out on a reservation, the paranormal will surround you. Working over 27,000 acres, the Navajo Park Rangers have been experiencing these odd cases as well as regular ones for 50 years. The Rangers started in 1957 and were actually modeled from the National Park Service to protect the scenic areas. Some cases give negative feedback from the reservation whereas others benefit the reservation. All in all, if a person is looking to become a Navajo Park Ranger, they need to make sure they are comfortable working with things that go bump in the night since you never know what you will be getting when you clock into your shift.
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