I grew up in Farmington - on the northeast corner of the Navajo Nation, thirty miles east of Shiprock - in the 1950's and had never heard of a Navajo taco. I first encountered one (in the 1960's) at a truck stop in Tuba City and thoroughly enjoyed it. Since then, I have eaten them at numerous places and learned a little about them. The dish was invented (created) by a white motel operator in Window Rock in the early 1960's. Apparently, he was hungry one night and went to the motel restaurant kitchen to see what he could find. He took a piece of fry bread, topped it with chili, lettuce, chopped tomatoes, beans, grated cheese, and whatever else was laying around. He enjoyed his creation so much that he added it to the motel menu. It was well received by his customers and the dish began appearing on other menus around the Navajo Nation.
The last time I visited the Four Corners, there were vendors in each quadrant selling jewelry, trinkets, fry bread, Navajo tacos, etc. Navajo vendors in New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah and Mountain Ute vendors in Colorado. On the Hopi reservation, the dish is simply called an Indian Taco - the same is true on the Mountain Ute reservation. The exact recipe will vary much as potato salad, cole slaw, bbq sauce and such vary from one establishment to another.
For a short time, in the late 1980's, Navajo tacos were available here in Marietta, Georgia. A local dentist (a Mormon from Utah) financed a local restaurant and various western dishes, including Navajo tacos, on the menu. Unfortunately, the concept didn't make it. The building has been a well respected barbecue restaurant for the last fifteen years.
post edited by Milt - 2009/01/31 17:56:26