Contributed by Northern Arizona University Cline Library
Day Family Records
The Day Family were Anglo traders, on the Navajo Reservation in eastern Arizona. The collection includes the personal and business papers of Sam Day, Sr. (1845-1925) surveyor, Indian trader, legislator and United States Indian Commissioner; Anna Day, Sam Sr.'s wife (1872-1932); and of their children, Charles L. Day (1879-1918), Samuel Day, Jr. (1889-1944), United States deputy Marshall. The collection contains archaeological reports, Navajo land boundary maps and notes, business records, as well as several documents pertaining to Navajo culture, including a copy of the treaty between the U.S. Government and the Navajo nation. The Day Family Records are particularly rich in chronicling early Anglo and Navajo relations.
Sam Day, Sr. (1845-1925) arrived in Arizona in 1883 to survey extensions to eastern and southern boundaries of the Navajo reservation for the federal government. At the time his wife, Anna, and their three boys Sam, Jr. (1882-1963), Charles Day (1879-1918) and William remained in Colorado. The family joined Sam, Sr. in northeast Arizona, where they staked out a homestead at Cienaga (Sinagee). He was elected to the Arizona Territorial Legislature in 1906 and served two terms in the Arizona House. From 1920 until his death in 1925 he held the post of United States Indian Commissioner. Sam, Sr., moved from Sinagee in 1901. His Sinagee ranch became part of the St. Michaels Mission. He joined son Charlie at Bill Meadows trading post, but eventually moved to the mouth of Canyon de Chelly and with his sons, Sam, Jr. and William, established what was to become the famous Thunderbird Trading Post.
Sam's sons also entered into the Indian trade. Charlie operated the Meadows Trading Post, until his untimely death in an automobile accident in 1918. Charles was known for his keen interest in documenting Navajo culture. He took photographs as well as created field recordings. He served as Edward S. Curtis' interpreter during the photographer’s trip to the reservation. In 1903 Charlie was appointed custodian of Canyon De Chelly and Canyon del Muerto.
Sam Day Jr., the second son of Samuel Sr., was the trading post proprietor and served as United States deputy marshal. Sam Day Jr. married Kate Roanhorse, daughter of chief Manuelito, in 1912. He, like his brother Charles, became submersed in Navajo culture. He participated in a University of Arizona archaeological dig in 1926 and helped facilitate other archaeological research expeditions.
The Cline Library’s Day Family Records complement and supplement the Museum of Northern Arizona’s Day Family Collection, also included in the Arizona Memory Project .