Peter MacDonald Tribal Chairman & Code Talker

Peter MacDonald  – Living History

This documentary film was researched, photographed, edited and produced by students of Winona State University (Winona, Minnesota) and Diné College (Tsaile, Arizona, Navajo Nation) during summer 2013. It contains stories Peter MacDonald, of Tuba City, Arizona, told the students during several hours of interviews about his life.

This documentary film is archived at the Navajo Nation MuseumNavajo Nation LibraryWinona State University Library, and Diné College Library, and will be archived at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian.

The film is part of the Navajo Oral History project, a multi-year collaboration between the Winona State University Mass Communication Department and Diné College – The official Tribal College of the Navajo Nation

Peter MacDonald PortraitPhoto by Tom Grier/Navajo Oral History Project.

Peter MacDonald was born in Arizona, U.S.A in may of 1928.
His clan is Hashk’aa ( Yucca Fruit) born to Bitahníí (They are within themselves).

He grew up in the Teec Nos Pos, Four corners area. He went to boarding school in Shiprock,NM and dropped out in the 6th grade because all the teachers were mean to the Navajos.
Raised among traditional sheepherders and trained as a medicine man for 1 year.

Peter MacDonald Code Talker

Photo by Tom Grier/Navajo Oral History Project.

MacDonald entered the Marine Corps as a Navajo language code talker during World War II.
After the war, MacDonald earned an electrical engineering degree at the University of Oklahoma. Upon graduation, his acumen secured a job with Howard Huges at the Hughes Aircraft Company,

He was first elected Navajo Tribal Chairman in 1970. MacDonald served as Navajo Nation Tribal Chairman for four terms between the years 1970 to 1986.

Peter MacDonald Tribal Chairman

Photo by Tom Grier/Navajo Oral History Project.

MacDonald is credited with starting the Navajo Nation Shopping Centers Enterprise, Navajo Engineering and Construction Authority, and many other Navajo-owned enterprises.


  1. Cynthia Fioramonti says

    Mr. MacDonald, I just saw you on TV, and I want to thank you for encouraging people to come together! You are right: when we come together, we are invincible! I pray that everyone gets your message and takes it to heart. I have the deepest respect for you, your culture, and your service to our country. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  2. Jane Antrobus says

    To Whomever This May Concern,

    I am an eighth grade student in California, and I am writing to request information for my National History Day project. Each year the project follows a different theme, and this year’s theme is “Triumph and Tragedy in History.” The topic I have selected for my project is the triumph and tragedy of the Navajo Code Talkers.
    Our class began researching about three months ago. For my project I am required to get an interview and after all of my research I still have a few questions so I was wondering if I could get in touch with Peter MacDonald ti interview him.
    I know that he must extremely busy and I am sorry for any inconvenience. Please feel free to email me at

  3. Thank you Mr. McDonald for your service to our country. It is unmistakably clear that if it weren’t for the Navajo people World War II would not have had the same outcome. Thank you and the Navajo nation.

  4. I was wondering if I could get an interview with Peter, it is a project and as a navajo person as well I would love to speak to him, I have always love my religion and culture so I will love it to speak to him.If he can can you email me at or thank you very much

    Raneah Venegas

  5. Lula Babbitt says

    I truly admire Honorable Peter McDonald, great leader the Navajo Nation.

  6. Hello everyone.
    I was hoping if anyone has any information of Peter MacDonald that can be deeper and more informative than the websites and books that I have read about him. The reasoning of this is because i am doing a school project on him and I would like to get even more information than I do now. Also, if anyone has any contact information for Mr. MacDonald or a person or place that may hold information about him. Thank you and who ever reads this and has anything that may be useful please email me back on the following email:
    Thank you again.

  7. HEY….would anyone please contact me by email if there is any way I can get in contact with Peter Macdonald. The reason I would like to contact him because I’m am doing a school project and I’m using him as my topic so I would like to interview him so I can get some information about him. Thank you and please email me at The date today is September 4, 2015.

  8. Jerry Lineweaver says

    Proud to count Mr. MacDonald as a friend.

  9. shirley boquist says

    this is to peter macdonald… you remember a dorothy christie? she was my mother and she spoke of you. born 1925, she came to ft. defiance, and worked as a nurse on the reservation. said something about a tb unit there. anyway…perhaps you remember her.

    shirley boquist


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