|But how do they fit into Montclaire House?|
|Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian|
Well, they are not a “retired” elder-statesman couple but otherwise a good fit for the house. From experience, I know that keeping a museum running smoothly (and surviving the process) certainly requires the same elder-statesman-like abilities that running governments require. Some of Louisa’s family were statesmen, and they did live in this house, and the furnishings in the “public” rooms have “always” been there (and have scars to show). Joe’s family have been elder statesmen also—helping to maintain the well-being of the Navajo “res” internally and versus US bureaucracy when necessary, and keeping the Navajo culture alive.
Louisa Patricia Montclaire and Joseph Henry Leaphorn: Biographical Information ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Montclaire House has been in the Montclaire family since it was built by Benjamin Montclaire
when he became Woodrow Wilson’s (1912-1920) Under Secretary of State. It eventually passed on to Louisa’s father Gilbert. Gilbert, his wife Evangeline,
and their daughter Louisa are prominent Wyoming natives who became Washington-based when Gilbert was elected US Senator and then later when he became Secretary of the Interior. They have always considered Wyoming “home” though.
|Old Faithful Geyser, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, state of many awesome landscapes.|
Joe’s parents are Anna
He was raised on the reservation where his parents still live. His early education was “modern”, taught in English by Navajo and non-Navajo. Since his parents speak both Navajo and English, he does too. He thinks of himself as a realist like his father the “legendary lieutenant” of the Navajo Tribal Police (his father rolls his eyes when he hears that phrase, but the family just laughs). He has learned the culture (mostly from his mother), respects it, and works to preserve it, but he also lives in, what he says is the “real world”: a combination of Navajo and non-Navajo ideologies.
|The Navajo Nation|
Joe’s extended family, capably “directed” by his grandmother Emma Chee
had access to oral and written histories; and his parents could offer insights into the “past vs. present “ conundrum. This was quite a find for Louisa who then decided to concentrate on the Navajo. And as these things sometimes go, before long Joe and Louisa found time to concentrate on each other. He fell into her big, blue eyes and was knocked over by her enthusiasm for her project; she thought he had the most wonderful smile and easy laughter and was knocked over by his enthusiasm for his project!
When Louisa’s parents retired, they gave Montclaire House to her. This thrilled Louisa since by then she and Joe were married, and both were working for the Smithsonian--dividing their time between Washington and the Four Corners area. Louisa’s parents moved back to their Wyoming ranch.
Joe’s parents are retired also and still live on the reservation,
and although they visit Washington, they really do enjoy visiting Wyoming!