Elle Ganado wife of Tom Ganado

Tom’s Ganado mother and some of his white friends succeeded in persuading him that eight wives were seven too many. Out of the eight Tom chose Elle, who, strange to say, is the only wife who has borne him no children.

Elle Ganado

Elle Ganado

Tom and  are wealthy, as Navajos count wealth, owning several flocks of sheep and goats (which are cared for by Tom’s army of grandchildren) much turquoise, wampum and an abundance of the typical Navajo hand-wrought silver jewelry.
Tourists who have come to know the old couple wonder if they do not long for the life and people of their home country. They do, occasionally, and visit the reservation, but always return before they had intended. Thoroughly Americanized in their mode of living and sanitary habits, Tom and Elle soon tire of the filth and superstition of their tribe.
To their white friends Tom and Elle exemplify everything Navajo, but to their relatives at home they are sorely contaminated by American cleanliness and are earnestly besought by the medicine men to give up their dangerous habits of bathing and changing clothes occasionally.

Most photographers posed Elle with Navajo children. usually girls. Although usually identified as her children, she had none, and these were likely those of other craft demonstrators or Tom’s grandchildren from an earlier marriage.

Tom Ganado or, “Mail Carrier” – Navajo Man

Tom Ganado  apparently interacted with tourists. Tom Ganado was fluent in Navajo, Hopi, Spanish, and English, which greatly enhanced his value as a freighter for Hubbell (who spoke the same four languages) and the Harvey Company.

Tom Ganado - Navajo Man

Tom Ganado – Navajo Man

Tom Ganado home is in the southern part of the reservation and he can generally be found near the settlement known as Ganado, Arizona. During the past two years Tom and his family have spent the greater part of the time in Albuquerque, where they have been engaged in one of the large stores. These and other Indians who work at this place are well cared for; they live in hogans built by themselves and have frame buildings with stoves that can be used when desired.
Extreme cold has no terrors for the Navaho Indian, as it is an old enemy; they are however, unaccustomed to steam heat. The sudden changes from superheated rooms to the outer cold and dampness are the cause of much sickness, and Tom, though strong and wiry, became a victim of new conditions. He caught a heavy cold and, soon after, pneumonia developed. A consultation was held and he was finally removed to the hospital. The doctors soon had the disease under control, but, owing to his weak condition, he was obliged to remain in the hospital several weeks.

In 1904 the Albuquerque Morning Journal describes Tom and his work:
Tom has been with the Harvey system here for nearly two years, and in that time has become one of the most useful men about the big establishment. He is not merely a picturesque ornament. He works, knows the details of the business thoroughly and but for his frankness in dealing with customers, would make an excellent salesman. Tom, however, sticks rigidly to the truth and has no hesitancy in speaking his convictions accordingly when a prospective customer comes to the curio department. Tom’s opinion of the individual is quietly formed and as quickly announced.
Tom’s interactions with tourists, if accurate, did not reflect the Harvey Company’s view of the ideal American Indian demonstrator, though his industriousness and hard work were valued and remembered in his home community of Ganado.
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