View to Entry of Chambers
The Council Chamber is the meeting space of the Navajo Nation Council. It seats the 88 member governing body.
It was completed in 1936 and was designed by the New York firm of Mayer, Murray, & Phillip. The construction was financed under the Federal government using Navajo Labor.
The building is basically octagon shaped, reminiscent of a hogan. The interior span is 72 feet. Its main material palette is stone and wood. All material was harvested nearby. The sandstone was individually cut and dressed. The method of construction consists of heavy masonry walls, piers supporting a logged vaulted roof which rises 1 ½ stories. The interior is equally distinct because of the frescoed murals of Navajo History. The Navajo artist Gerald Nailor did this in 1942.
The initial impression of the Council Chamber is of a pueblo revival or even characterized to the prehistoric Anasazi culture. In the 1930's, the Indian Reorganization Act attempted to redeem many Native American societies by assisting with infrastructure development. The gesture was generous and significant however these attractive inventions created a problem, and one that collaboration with the Navajo would avoid: Traditional hogans did not have these conspicuous features, and reservation residents do not consider the council house to be suitably indigenous in feeling.
The interior of the Council Chamber has original fresco artwork. The theme of the artwork is the Navajo lifestyle: cattle, horses, sheep, people, cornfields, etc.Other scenes include Coming of the Spanish, Aggression of the Anglos, Incarceration at Ft. Sumner, and etc.
Whether Navajo in style or not, the Council Chamber represents the heart of democracy for the Navajo Nation.
Reference: Contempory Native American Architecture, Carol H. Krinsky