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Sally Noe collection of Gallup oral histories and Southwest Native American music

Identifier: MSS-837-BC

Scope and Content

The Sally Noe collection provides a fascinating view of history and life in Gallup and the surrounding area over the last century. The collection is divided into two series: Gallup area interviews and Native American music. The quality of the oral history recordings is generally good. Some recordings with volume and background noise issues have been reengineered to enhance their quality. In these cases, both the original and reengineered CDs have been retained in the collection (reengineered CDs are labeled CD-B). Others remain diminished by sound problems. Transcripts were made for nine of the interviews and content notes written for others, when audible. CD 37 contains the files for the interviews transcripts and notes.

From 1980-1996, Sally Noe interviewed and recorded individuals who lived in Gallup and surrounding areas including Metmore, Chinle, Gamerco, Ganado, Fort Defiance, Sawmill, Atarque, Fort Wingate, Ramah, Zuni and other locales. Interviewees were in their 70s and 80s at the time and their recollections stretch back to the early 1900s. A variety of people were interviewed: Yugoslavian and Italian immigrants, miners, ranchers, loggers, Indian agents and traders, waitresses, teachers, store owners, workers, and politicians.

Interviewees discussed where their parents came from, why they had come to New Mexico, family life, education, leisure activities, and marriages. They also discussed where they had lived, their jobs, hardships and joys, friends and acquaintances, including Anglos, Navajos, Zunis, Hispanics, etc. Topics discussed include life on the Navajo reservation, housing, education, weaving, trading posts, sheep ranches, buying pickups, alcoholism, and Anglo-American relations with the Navajos and Zuni. There are stories relating to working for the railroad, coal mining, logging camps, cooking shacks, living in mining company towns and taking part in unions and strikes, Prohibition, the Depression, World War II, bad roads, hard winters, and Route 66. One of the interviews is with a Japanese American from Gallup who served in the Korean War and won the Medal of Honor. Noe also recorded a talk on Indian basketry and a discussion of Indian craft entries at an Intertribal Ceremonial art exhibit committee meeting.

The collection also contains good quality rare Audiodisc field recordings of Native American music, dating to ca. 1920s-1930s, recorded by an unknown individual. There are also 45 rpm LPs, produced in 1966 by Edward Lee Natay and Arizona Recording Productions, Phoenix. The son of a Navajo leader and medicine man, Natay devoted his life to learning, singing and preserving the music of his people and other tribes. In addition, there are Navajo Yei-be-chai songs sung by the Navajo Centennial Dance Group in 1970 and other Navajo pieces by Joe Lee and the Mesa Verde Group Singers in 1971, both recordings by Canyon Records. Examples of the Audiodisc spindle hole patterns and notes about some of the songs are included in Box 1.

Forms part of the John Donald Robb Archive of Southwestern Music.


  • circa 1920-2011
  • Majority of material found within (, 1979-1990)


Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication of CSWR material is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for compliance with all copyright, privacy, and libel laws. Permission is required for publication or distribution.

Biography / History

Sally Noe was born in Kansas City, grew up in Gallup and became a teacher, author, local historian and civic leader. Her father was Clark Thomas Noe and her mother, Katherine Noe. Sally Noe received her BA in Social Studies (1969) and MA in Multicultural Teacher Education (1985) from UNM. She was a Social Studies and Geography instructor and Dept. Chair at Gallup High School, and also taught at the UNM Gallup Branch. Over the decades she completed a variety of study fellowships and institute programs. She was very active as a participant, consultant and coordinator in local community and state activities. She has given her time and talents in a number of educational and historical endeavors, including this Gallup Oral History Project, the Fort Wingate Preservation Task Force, Gallup New Deal Art Exhibition, Gallup Route 66 Project, Gallup Historical Mural Project, Gallup DVD Project, the Gallup and National Park Service Pyramid Rock Trail Program and the Japanese American in World War II Documentary Project. Noe was a member and frequent presenter at the Gallup Historical Society meetings, and at the Historical Society of New Mexico and New Mexico Archaeological Society conferences. She has been honored by many organizations for her distinguished service in education and history. She is retired and lives in Gallup. Her husband, Robert Noe, worked for the City of Gallup.


2 boxes (.5 cu. ft. containing 49 CDs, transcriptions, and notes)


This collection contains oral history interviews, conducted in the 1980s-1990s with non-Native American people who describe their lives in the Gallup area. Their recollections date back to the early and mid-1900s. Interviewees include Indian trading post owners, rug traders, miners, railroad workers, loggers, ranchers, teachers, business operators, politicians, a Medal of Honor winner and a movie star stand-in. There are also several recordings of Navajo, Pueblo and Comanche music from ca. 1920-1970.

Related Archival Material

Sally Noe Fort Wingate History Collection, Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico. Indian Music of the Southwest and Mexico Collection, Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico. Inter-Tribal Ceremonial Association Sound Recordings of the 44th Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial, Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico. Donald L. Roberts Collection of Music of the Southwest and Mexico, Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico. Odd S. Halseth Collection of Native American Social Songs and Interviews, Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico. John Donald Robb Field Recordings, Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico.

Separated Material

Original reels, vinyl records, and audiodiscs are stored in B3.

Processing Information

Inquire with reference staff for access to unprocessed addition located at B3-11A. 4 boxes contain research files of various topics related to Native America and Navajo life. Added August 2016.
Finding Aid of the Sally Noe collection of Gallup oral histories and Southwest Native American music, circa 1920-2011
Edited Full Draft
Andrew Saletta, Cory Lee and Nancy Brown Martinez
© 2011
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131