Harry Goulding—"Tall Sheep" to the Navajos—ran a trading post in Monument Valley from 1925 to 1963. In this book the Gouldings, and those who knew them, tell the story of the trader and his wife among the Navajos and among the increasing number of Anglos, who came to Monument Valley as visitors and whom Harry introduced to the land and its people. Samuel Moon's commentary sets their words in the context of larger events.
The Goulding years coincide with the period when the conservative, traditional people of the remote northwestern corner of the reservation first came to grips with the twentieth century. During those years the Navajos coped with the trauma of forced stock reduction, the transition from a barter-and-pawn to a cash economy, the broadening experiences of World War II, the secret mining of uranium before Hiroshima, the struggle to improve education and medical facilities, the emergence of democratic tribal governments, construction of arterial roads through the reservation, and development of the first Navajo Tribal Park in Monument Valley. And in the midst of this tumultuous change, John Ford, headquartered at Goulding's, filmed his westerns.
Tall Sheep is a book about people. In this oral history, Moon captures the living voice of each speaker and, through those voices, entire ranges of personality and character: Harry himself, his wife Mike, many Navajos, and various Anglos—workers, visitors, and wanderers—drawn to remote and beautiful Monument Valley. Samuel Moon's portrait of a pioneering trader in Navajo country brings to life the events of an era distant from our own, as they play out in the recounted experiences of these colorful people.