Geneva Navarro Collection

Languages Represented: The collection materials are in Comanche and English.

Extent: 28 items

Collection Date Range: 1992 - 2004

Creators: Geneva Navarro

Collection Identifier: GNA 

Abstract: The Geneva Navarro Collection consists of rare books and more than 41 hours of original video footage useful to learning the Comanche language.

Acquisition Information: These records came to the Sam Noble Museum from Geneva Navarro over the course of ten years. The initial deposit was made in 2004, with two subsequent deposits occurring in 2011 and 2014. 

Access Restrictions: The materials are open for research. Contact the NALC at 405-325-3332 or language.samnoblemuseum@ou.edu.

Cite As: [title], [catalog number], Geneva Navarro Collection, Sam Noble Museum Department of Native American Languages. 

Collection Scope and Contents: Geneva Woomavoyah Navarro is a full-blood Comanche. She was born in 1926 in the town of Apache, Oklahoma to Esther Tooahimpah Tate and Max Woomavoyah and was raised by her grandparents, Frank and Mookemah. Neither of them spoke English and Geneva therefore grew up speaking Numunu (Comanche) as her first language.

Geneva studied nursing at Haskell Institute (now known as Haskell Indian Nations University) in Lawrence, Kansas, before attending classes at St. Anthony’s Nursing School in Oklahoma. From there, in the 1940s, she was sent to Kearns Canyon, Arizona to work with members of the Hopi and Navajo tribes. She recalls this as a time when the area had no paved roads and travel was made by wagons.

After working in Arizona, then California, she moved back to Oklahoma to work in Indian and public hospitals in the towns of Anadarko and Lawton before residing in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she served as director of nurses at the Santa Fe Indian Hospital until she retired in 1986.

No longer working and with free time on her hands, she decided to volunteer as a docent at a museum in Santa Fe. It was at this time that she became increasingly aware of the declining number of fluent Comanche speakers, noting that the majority of speakers were elders who were passing away faster than new speakers were being born. She became a devout activist of the language by collaborating with the Indigenous Language Institute in Santa Fe and also taught classes locally and in Albuquerque to people in the areas that wanted to learn Comanche. By 1998 she helped form a language fair in both Santa Fe and in Norman at the University of Oklahoma, an event that would later ignite the flames for the first annual Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair at the Sam Noble Museum in 2003 - an event that continues to this day every April.

In 2003, at the age of 77, Geneva stood before the U.S. Senate and the Committee on Indian Affairs in what was a successful effort to amend the Native American Languages Act and obtain support for languages and schools. From there she co-created a Comanche dictionary and served as an adjunct instructor at the Comanche Nation Tribal College alongside her youngest daughter. The classes were videotaped and held by Geneva along with other collectibles pertaining to the Comanche language. In 2004, she partnered with the Native American Languages Collection at the Sam Noble Museum and established the Geneva Navarro Collection, with two subsequent deposits occurring in 2011 and 2014. 

The collection consists of rare books and more than 41 hours of original video footage useful to learning the Comanche language, including Comanche I and II classes and storytelling sessions from the 1990s and early 2000s, in addition to travel footage, interviews and television broadcasts featuring Comanche elders Carney Saupity, Melody Lightfeather, George “Woogie” Watchetaker, Eva Tooahimpah Watchetaker and Geneva Navarro herself.

Catalog #Title
GNA-001Taa Numu Tekwapu / Comanche Language 1
GNA-002Taa Numu Tekwapu?ha Tuboopu / Our Comanche Dictionary
GNA-003Comanche Class, February 18, 1997
GNA-004Comanche Class/Storytelling, Geneva Navarro, April 22, 1997; Brooke & Brian – Kakoo Demonstration of Immersion Program, July 3, 1997
GNA-005Comanche Class, December 9, 1997 – February 2, 1998
GNA-006 Comanche I (tape 4): Comanche Nation College, Summer 2004
GNA-007Comanche I (tape 5): Comanche Nation College, Summer 2004
GNA-008Comanche I (tape 6): Comanche Nation College, Summer 2004
GNA-009Comanche II (tape 7): Comanche Nation College, Summer 2004
GNA-010Comanche II (tape 8): Comanche Nation College, Summer 2004
GNA-011Comanche II (tape 9): Comanche Nation College, Summer 2004
GNA-012Comanche II Class: June 1 – 2, 2004
GNA-013Christmas 1990 Family Tape; First Comanche Nation Fair, September 24 - 26, 1992
GNA-014Geneva Navarro: Family Pictures
GNA-015Carney Saupity: Comanche Stories and Words, April 12, 1998, Apache, OK, Part 1
GNA-016Carney Saupity: Comanche Stories and Words, April 12, 1998, Apache, OK, Part 2
GNA-017Geneva Woomavoyah Navarro Interview, February 21, 1994
GNA-018Geneva Woomavoyah Navarro Interview, February 26 and 29, 1996, Rio Rancho, New Mexico
GNA-019Geneva Navarro Interview, March 1, 1996
GNA-020KVII-TV One Broadcast Center, Amarillo, TX 79101 - Comanche Visit Adobe Walls and Borger, TX.
GNA-021Talking Circle: January 11, 2000 - Tribal Nations Linkup, Albuquerque, NM
GNA-022Talking Circle: May 9, 2000 – Featuring Melody Lightfeather
GNA-023Talking Circle: 09/12/2000 - Featuring Geneva Woomavoyah Navarro (Comanche); 09/19/2002 – Featuring Esther Yazzie Lewis (Navajo)
GNA-024Woogie and Eva, December 29, 1988
GNA-025 National Folklife Festival, Washington, D.C., 1976; OU A.S.I.A. pow-wow, Norman, OK
GNA-026Idaho Shoshone, June 17, 2000
GNA-027Numunu Tureta ECDC Field Trip/Presentation at the Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair, April 7 , 2003
GNA-028eneva Navarro: Comanche Dance Presentation; Ava Doty: Comanche History, March 13, 2004