NASA was preparing for the Apollo Project, it took the astronauts to a
Navajo reservation in Arizona for training. One day, a Navajo elder and
his son came across the space crew walking among the rocks.
The elder, who spoke only Navajo, asked a question. His son translated
for the NASA people: "What are these guys in the big suits doing?"
One of the astronauts said that they were practicing
for a trip to the moon. When his son relayed this comment the Navajo
elder got all excited and asked if it would be possible to give to the
astronauts a message to deliver to the moon. Recognizing a
promotional opportunity when he saw one, a NASA official accompanying
the astronauts said, "Why certainly!" and told an underling to get a
The Navajo elder's comments into the microphone
were brief. The NASA official asked the son if he would translate what
his father had said.
The son listened to the recording and
laughed uproariously. But he refused to translate. So the NASA people
took the tape to a nearby Navajo village and played it for other members
of the tribe. They too laughed long and loudly but also refused to
translate the elder's message to the moon.
Finally, an official government translator was summoned. After he finally stopped laughing the translator relayed the message:
"Watch out for these assholes. They have come to steal your land."