About 40 volunteers motivated by memories of the civil rights movement of the '60s and a passion for democracy fanned out across the Navajo Reservation Tuesday to shuttle Indians to the polls in San Juan County.
They came from all directions, from as far east as Oklahoma, from New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, from Escalante area and Salt Lake City, and the West Coast. Their ranks included educators, environmentalists, a tour guide, archaeologist, construction workers, attorneys and other professionals.Their common interest: enfranchising and empowering the Indians.
"Whether you're talking about people here or a group of inner city folks in Los Angeles, every oppressed minority in the nation and around the world is looking at this (election), because you need to vote for democracy, you need to play fair," said Celia Aralio, who was manning the phones at the home of Linda and Gary Sosa on Tuesday.
"It just seems right, it seems fair, it seems decent," said Salt Laker Bob Mayhew, 43, who arrived Sunday with his wife, Julie to volunteer as drivers.
The fleet of vehicles shuttling voters numbered about a dozen by midmorning Tuesday.
Among the drivers was Steve Suttle, a 41-year-old attorney who drove 850 miles to Utah from Oklahoma after hearing about the Indian effort on a radio broadcast Saturday.
Suttle said he was camping and hadn't the slightest idea where San Juan County was, but he was electrified by the idea of Indian Democrats in a political match with white Republicans.
"I thought, `Wow, this is my kind of fight. I need to be there.' I went home, packed, got one night's sleep and hit the road Sunday," Suttle said.