Proposal could name Chieftain Pit floor

Noel Lyn Smith
Shiprock High School student Bryson Reed shoots baskets Tuesday during a weight lifting class at the Chieftain Pit in Shiprock.

FARMINGTON — The Central Consolidated School District board will hear a proposal Thursday to name the gymnasium floor of Shiprock High School's Chieftain Pit after a beloved coach.

A group of former players and students are proposing to name the floor after Dave Bowman, who coached basketball, cross-country and football and taught at the high school from the late 1960s into the 1980s.

Willard Billey graduated from the high school in 1969 and was coached by Bowman. He said the group is proposing the idea as a way to continue Bowman's legacy, especially since the gymnasium named in his honor inside Nataani Nez Elementary School was demolished last year.

Billey said Bowman's legacy includes helping launch the athletics program at the high school and successfully guiding many students through the basketball, cross-country and football programs.

Shiprock student AJ Jim goes for a layup, Tuesday during a weight lifting class at the Chieftain Pit in Shiprock.

Bowman was “instrumental” in setting the tone of Shiprock Chieftain athletics, including establishing the school mascot and name, Billey added.

“We didn’t want Dave’s memory and legacy forgotten,” he said.

Billey added the proposal would only name the gymnasium floor and the Chieftain Pit would retain its name.

"We're not renaming the building or the facility, just the playing floor," he said.

In addition to sharing information with the school board, the group will also seek support from the community through a chapter resolution.

Shiprock Chapter President Duane "Chili" Yazzie confirmed that a proposed resolution in favor of naming the gymnasium after Bowman will be presented during a chapter meeting on Sunday.

From left, AJ Jim, Bryson Reed, Anthony Davila and Precious Harrison play basketball, Tuesday at the Chieftain Pit in Shiprock.

Also on the school board's work session agenda is a report about a dual credit program between the district and the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe.

The Institute of American Indian Arts, which is also known as IAIA, was established in 1962 and offers a number of certificate and degree programs.

It is one of 37 tribal colleges in the United States and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, according to the IAIA website.

The dual credit program offered by IAIA would provide high school students the opportunity to take college courses and earn both high school and college credit, the website states.

As part of the eligibility, the student must be a high school junior or senior and maintain a 2.0 cumulative grade point average. In addition, they must have approval for the dual credit program from a high school administrator or counselor and from a parent or guardian.

IAIA has dual credit agreements with Bernalillo High School, Native American Community Academy, Santa Fe Indian School, Walatowa Charter School, Academy for Technology and the Classics, New Mexico School for the Arts and Española Public School District.

The board will meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the Shiprock Board Room in Shiprock. Prior to the work session, the district will hold a public hearing at 5:30 p.m. in the board room for the proposed fiscal year budget for 2016-17.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.