By Stacy Thacker, Universtiy of Montana
National Geographic has decided to air six episodes of Navajo Cops, a hour long TV show that follows Navajo officers as they fight crime on the Navajo reservation. The March 12 premiere had me excited and home sick at the same time.
Cameras followed about five to seven cops as they covered six different areas of the reservation. The show starts as a cop is in hot pursuit of a suspect that fired shots at a woman while she was herding sheep. The debacle was said to be over land rights, which is continuously growing issue in Indian Country. Many people are still fighting for land use and rights. However, the lifestyle of sheep herding shouldn’t come with the risks of bullets. Whatever the problem was there was a sense of success as the cop makes an arrest in a hogan.
When I first heard about the show I had my doubts but after watching it I found myself cheering on the cops and realizing that the cops do more than just pull over tribal vehicles and bust high school kids at make-out spots.
I could have done without the eagle sound that transitioned one of the scenes and all the talk about skinwalkers that the commentator decided to compare to a werewolf. What?! Yes, a werewolf. While that is a close description and simple it still threw me for a loop. However it also gave me a good laugh.
While the show was full of drama it still gave me a sense of home. Seeing the landscape and hearing the Native accents gave me a much needed taste of home. It’s strange to say that about a cop show but I’ll take what I can get.
The hunt for the “Howler,” of Crownpoint, N.M. gave viewers the chance to see the wild things that can happen on a reservation that is vast with areas of no mostly dirt, sage brush and a potential home to creatures not of this world. While the cops came up empty handed…except for the stray dog they spotted, it still warmed my heart to know that crazy stuff like that still exists and that the cops were going out there to make people feel safe, even if they knew they wouldn’t catch anything.
At one point an officer is shown in his home blessing himself before he goes out for duty, this was a good example of tradition and how it plays into the modern role of society. He claimed to have felt safer knowing that he blessed himself before going out.
While many who tuned in aren’t aware of most of the issues that plague Indian Country they got a good taste of it last night. I must say I did too. With the drama there was still light heartedness that made me feel forgiven for laughing at the reason why a guy carried knives, the reason being to fight off skinwalkers…or in simple terms werewolves. At the end of the show the cops were seen talking and laughing after chasing a suspect through the sagebrush, while they weren’t laughing about the pursuit they still had a sense of humor at the end of the day. It is something that is never apparent to me when I see a Navajo Nation cop in person.
While officers weren’t able to catch the skinwalker or the “Howler,” they did catch multiple bad guys and for that I applaud them. I am ready to tune into the next five episodes to get a taste of home and see more reservation action with crime fighting cops.
Stacy Thacker (Navajo) is from Navajo, N.M.