Lifetime Service Award - 2005

Danny Charlie
Danny Charlie

The Public Lands Foundation is proud and honored to present its Outstanding Lifetime Service Award in the year 2005 to Danny Charlie, Navajo Interpreter and Range Technician for the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Farmington, New Mexico District Office.

Danny’s longtime dedicated Public Service began with his 10-year stint with the Air Force followed by 8 years with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) in Crownpoint, New Mexico and 22 years with the BLM in Farmington New Mexico. Danny “officially” retired in 1996.

Danny’s legacy of 40 years of Public Service is truly unique in that Danny grew up during the hard times of World War II on the Navajo Reservation, and was educated in BIA Boarding Schools on and off the Reservation. During his High School years, in order to support himself, he found himself working on the railroad in many western states before landing a job with BIA. It is here that Danny came to appreciate the historical problems encountered by the Navajo in regard to land use issues and the total lack of any means in which these issues could be settled. Danny’s knowledge of the land and his considerable skills as a negotiator eventually brought him to BLM where he began in earnest to apply himself to the many issues affecting individual Navajos in regard to grazing and homesite occupancies.

During the ensuing 22 yrs with BLM Danny was the driving force in resolving thousands of grazing and land disputes for the Navajo people, positively impacting the lives of over 50,000 Tribal members. He has taken it upon himself to identify and resolve Navajo homesite occupancies on the Public Land that originated as a result of historical incident when the Navajos resettled back to their homeland after the infamous “Long Walk” in 1868 on the Eastern Navajo. Through Danny’s dogged determination a Land Exchange of 64,000 acres of Public Land was transferred to the Navajo Tribe and 80,000 acres of Tribal Land were acquired by BLM leading to the establishment of the El Malpais National Conservation Area and El Malpais National Monument. In the 1980’s, and again through Danny’s efforts, a Tri-Party Agreement between BLM-BIA and the Navajo Tribe led to the approval of the Navajo Land Exchange involving 135,000 acres, which ultimately resolved the Navajo Occupancy and Land Consolidation issues in Northwestern New Mexico. This remarkable achievement “finally” resolved a 130-year-old land issue!

Danny’s numerous awards, over the years e.g., Air Force, BIA, and BLM led subsequently to the Department of Interior’s Meritorious Service Award in 1996. These awards are overshadowed by Danny’s commitment to his People the “ Dine”. He, to this day, continues to serve his People by serving as a “Mentor” to young Navajos through his activities with “Big Brothers/Big Sisters” and his activities at the “Chapter” level on and off the Reservation.

Although the above represents only a “snapshot” of a very uniquely dedicated and visionary man, it does offer a glimpse into a man who embodies a sense of duty so rarely seen today. The Public Land Foundation is therefore honored to present this award for Outstanding Lifetime Service to the Nation’s Public Land and more importantly his service and legacy he leaves to his People, The Navajo.

The award was presented to Danny Charlie at the Foundation’s Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona in September, 2005.