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Binder of news clippings and correspondence regarding the controversy over a Hoover Dam plaque honoring the dog mascot of damsite workers (contains racist materials)

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1979
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From the Roosevelt Fitzgerald Professional Papers (MS-01082) -- Personal and professional papers file.

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man000967
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man000967. Roosevelt Fitzgerald Professional Papers, 1890-1996. MS-01082. Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada. http://n2t.net/ark:/62930/d11n8228b

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Hendenon He™ Newt e„d b.uI<(„

E ^he Wifl Controversy

 

 

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Tourist Considers it 'Racist7

Plaque Commemorating Dog's Grave is Taken Down

by Bill Harbour

Nig, the canine mascot of the builders of Hoover Dam, was returned to obscurity this week as officials at the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Regional Office reluctahtly ordered a plaque above the dog’s grave removed.

The action followed a barrage of letters from an irate Wisconsin man who visited the dam last summer. U.S.B.R. officials said Clarence Kailin of Madison, Wisconsin, viewed the grave of the dog located just below the Snack- ateria in the turnout for vehicles in need of air and water.

In one corner of the area there is a small concrete slab with the word “NIG” drawn in the concrete. Beneath the slab rest the ramains of the faithful mascot of the workers.

For years, thousands saw the slab and were perhaps puzzled. There was no other identifying information to explain why it was there. A story

of the dog is pn display in the Exhibit Building nearby and perhaps some read the story and made the connection.

A few years ago, employees at the dam came up with the idea of commemorating the grave with a suitable plaque. Following through, the plaque was designed, constructed and mounted on the rugged rock face of the adjburning cliff. It was a simple plaque ... leading off with the dog’s name, “Nig” ... and giving his birth date, date of death and the briefest of descriptions of who the dog was.

Many were proud of the new plaque. Kailin was not. He complained during the tour that the plaque was offensive and “racist” in nature. When > he returned home, he wrote j the Wisconsin Senator § Gaylord Nelson, The Senator’s office wrote J U.S.B.R. officials here, A full I packet of explanatory mater- k

See Plaque P. 2 j

s

I

j Plaque cont from P. 1

pal was mailed back to the s Senator’s office. No further ? letters were received.

H More letters followed from Kailin as well as copies of let- \ ters the irate tourist had sent d to 15 members of Congress 5 and various Civil Rights i groups.

\ The letters continued. Offi- cials here finally gave in and 8 orered. the small plaque re- 3 moved. It will be replaced by i an informational sign with | “revised language”... which is J a polite way of saying the dog’s J name will not appear

| Officials assured the NEWS that the concrete slab and its inscription will. not be touched.

For the record,Gatlin is white. ____

 

THE DOG THAT ADOPTED A DAM — Nig, a black, multi-breed dog who became the mascot of the men who built Hoover Dam, returned to obscurity last week when a plaque above his concrete grave was removed by Bureau of Reclamation officials. A Madison, Wis., man complained, that the plaque was racist, because the dog’s name was short for "nigger.”

 

CONTROVERSIAL COMMEMORATIVE — This plaque was removed from the Hoover Dam area last, week.by Bureau of Reclamation employees after a Wisconsin man complained to the federal government that it contained racial overtones. The plaque was paid for by and dedicated to the canine mascot a year ago by Hoover Dam tour guides who felt Nig’s gravesite needed an explanation.

 

i oover uam mascot oses grave marker

By James Kastelic R-J Staff Writer

BOULDER CITY -— Of all the lives that were lost during the construction of Hoover Dam, one was particularly hard felt.

And that was Nig’s—Nig the dog.

j By all definitions. Nig was the first — and some say ithe only— canine mascot for every rigger, high scaler, miner and electrician that ever helped put the giant water barrier together in the mid-1980s.

Nig gained fame as the dog who adopted a dam, because he appeared to take care of it as if it were a newborn pup.

When he was accidentally killed in 1936 by a worker backing up a truck, Nig was buried on the Nevada side of the dam in a turnoff used by tourists to fill their vehicles with air and water.

But it was only a year ago that a plaque was installed in the breccia cliff above the dog’s grave by tour guides who wanted to describe the site for visitors since no other identification was available. The plaque read:

“NIG”

The dog that adopted a dam Born about March, 1932 Died about June, 1936.

Last week, officials of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in Boulder City ordered the plaque be removed after an irate Wisconsin man complained that it was offensive and “racist” in nature.

“It bothers me to think that government officials have allowed such a thing to be put up on federal property when it (the plaque) obviously has racist overtones,” Clarance Kailan of Madison, Wis., said i-ecently during a telephone interview.

The reference was made to the name of the black dog, which is considered a condensed version of the ethnic slur “nigger.”

Kailen, who is black, visited Hoover Dam earlier this year, took offense at the plaque and, on his return home, fired off a barrage of letters to state legislators and civil rights groups, protesting the wording of the plaque and demanding its removal.

He said he wrote 30 agencies, including the Madison office of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the director of the U.S. Forest Service, the African-American Newspaper in Baltimore, the state board of education and Affirmative Action.

He also contacted the Civil Rights Commission in Phoenix and the Nevada Equal Rights Commssion.

One such letter reached the desk of Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson who forwarded the complaint to the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Interior officials, in turn, relayed the protest to Manuel Lopez Jr., director of the Bureau of Reclamation’s Lower Colorado Region in Boulder City, who had the plaque removed last week.

vr Lopez also received a letter from James Reynolds, director of the Civil Rights Commission in Colorado, who claimed that the plaque was “racist, as were the men who named the dog in the first place.”

“The fact that men of that period should leave a per

manent marker of their racist attitudes for posterity is to be deplored,” Reynolds stated.

He said the government was “shameless” for allowing the plaque to remain and that there was a bond between the people who mounted it and those who defended it.

Kailan added that racism still exists to a great extent in this country, because more people didn’t protest the wording of the plaque.

Rep. Robert W. Kastempeier of Wisconsin said he didn’t think a “persuasive case” could be made on Kailin’s behalf, because he was only one of approximately 19 million Hoover Dam visitors to complain about the plaque.

“That’s because black people usually don’t come to Hoover Dam or, for that matter to the West, because they can’t afford to economically,” the sometime black history instructor and former photography instructor for the University of Wisconsin extension service said.

According to Lopez, the plaque will be replaced by a commemorative marker with “revised language” to explain who the dog was.

The grave itself, a three-by-four-foot concrete slab at ground level near the Snacketeria concession stand will not be disturbed, Lopez said. The slab, which contains the last remains of the faithful mascot, has the word “NIG” drawn on it.

But the removal of the plaque has made several Boulder City residents angry.

“It’s ridiculous to think that this guy (Kailin) would actually go ahead With trying to get the plaque removed,” said Leroy Bert, one of Boulder City’s original “31ers” who helped build Hodver Dam.

“People aren’t stopping to think what the dog meant to us folks that worked on the dam,” Bert said.

Bert remembers that Nig, who was born under one of the married housing barracks in Boulder City, used to ride to and from the dam site with construction workers in the back of a double-decker transport bus back when the dam was first being built.

Every day, Nig would ride the skips and elevators with the men and could run on catwalks without fear of falling, Bert said. Nig always barked at the level he wanted to get off the elevator.

Nig also chased ring-tailed cats from the work area but never was late to sit down with the rest of the men at noontime with his lunch sack in his mouth, waiting for one of them to open it up for him.

Nig even had his own bank account containing money that workers contributed to pay for his food,.dog license and blankets.

According to one story, a man was nearly beaten to death by laborers after he was seen kicking the dog.

Each laborer consideredNig “part of the crew,’’even though the dog was the vassal of hone. And no one is exactly sure who named him.

Bert said many other Boulder City residents became upset when the news of the plaque’s removal appeared in the local newspaper..

“A lot of people in Boulder City — especially the ’31ers — think the whole thing about taking it down is stupid,” Bert said.

 

/jKvut A/e-cd

Thursday, Mgrch 29, 19?9

Nobody's

Going M

Kick ViM

N tsS Around

You would t'ffave thought someonW^ad been caught at th^Hest of the dam with a Bomb all ready to blow it up as last week’s NEWS hit the street. „?

Some of our pioneefs never got fartheVMan the front page where the Story appeared that the plaaue that had bden placed on the canyon wall at Hoover a small big message ..,/'NNrg' The dog that adopted a dam. He was born about March 1932 and he died about June, 193k.'

THAT LITTLE PLAQUE REPRESENTED ' 'A

HEAP OF LOVE^

Well, the phones.^n Boulder City began^to ring. A pioneer phoned Washington D.C.J pther dam workers were interviewed by the big city reporter. Curses intermixed with indignation. Boulder City was" ftot going to let “Nig0'get kicked off that cWbn wall. Too many tourists had inquired about The simple slab with the name “Nig” scratched into it. The funeral WWn the “Boulder Dam Mas cot” died and was buried on the crest of the ijtzm was almost too rnuCh To Hear, and the story Has been told and retold of how Nig was seen ‘ill over the project and there was no ladd'<rMo steep to climb, threat walk was dog’s piity_to him! He was kirig o^the dam and the legfe’Hds about him will!''Me forever more.

No one was to MjNit better than, Bob Parker, for his sense of los.^ whs

expressed at the MMf the death. Bob Packerjg a genuine 31’er ha.Ving'a family who remembered “Nig” as though it were yesterday.

The Parker’s “et af” lived in McKeeversvt$e and the pictures in. the family album are among the best we have seMHf the simple shantiesM’t housed the kind of Ma who made life a riekhg- venture for “Nig"DHf mascot. No betterTMe could be seleeted‘,Tb bring back the ghost Mt will not die. God Bills you Nig, you were loved and no man loveF^ybb more than Bob Parker'’.

If we had our way ’M following poem wouH be placed on the plaM that is supposed place the one that was taken down. And while’at it, why not a picture.,‘Of Nig behind glass?";fhe NEWS will furnish A. Ryth Hardy had th rieM- tive in her collection arid “Nig” wags his stump of a tail to thank her! Jackie Hardy kept his name alive!

 

LETTER TO THE EDITOR “OLD NIG"

It is ubelievable ... the petty and selfish attitude of some people!

Many were shocked and dismayed by the article, (Henderson News, 3-22-79), regarding the removal Of the plaque in memory of a devoted friend of man, Nig!

Here was a devoted and faithful mascot who brought much joy and love to great men who sacrificed to build that great monument to man’s ingenuity, Hoover Dam!

How petty ... how senseless ... how ridiculous ... how sad! Surely Mr. Clarence Kailin of Madison, Wisconsin, has more serious and meaningful things to fuss and. fret about! And the many senators, burdened with the many problens of our great na. tion, gave many valuable

hours to such a needless and petty request!

Mr. Kailin, why not harass our over worked congressmen about more serious problems? How about the gas shortage? How about the price of ground beef? How about the inflation that is sending millions to the poor farm? How about our hungry citizens? How about the unemployment among the minorities? Hqw about the liquor merchants who send millions to an early grave? Yes, and destroy millions of families and homes?

Come on, let’s set up another committee! How about a committee to find ways of taxing our free air?

Yours For Freedom, Love ’Ya!

Lou Sorabella

Rev. Lou Sorabella

 

Letter to the Editor:

To the Editor:

Taking issue on the “mascot” to the dam employees in last weeks news, Editor Bill done a masterful job writing such a very explosive issue. I call it damn inhumanity towards man’s oldest and best friend, be he black, brown, yellow, red or latly white. For all these years this dog sleeps peacefully in his grave. Now, this!

Of all the thousands yes millions who regardless of race, creed, or color, viewing this dog’s dedicatory plaque, over the years, this has to be the first instance; disturbing his sleep. Among those viewers must have included many greats of racial colors from all over the globe and never one insulting squawk from anyone, and also must even included such local

greats vis - a - vis Redd Foxx, sammy Davis Jr., Bill Cosby etc. to name a few.

Racial incision again by this many or what else his reason? I really ponder, especial in such an explosive era we live in today.

For quite a few years, almost since the beginning of the Archie Bunker, “All in the Family Show” through humor has done a remarkable job in breaking racial barriers with his off racial remarks of all minorities to wit: Chink, Honkies, Hefeets Ikeys etc. People everywhere were seemingly adopting the inevitable, inter - racial break throughs, but this man and type has done more to revive his explosive feelings by using this faithful mascot, had to be for ulterior motives alone. We like many who

love their pets, can only hurt, reverse feelings back many years.

So as an old news - paper philosophy goes: “When a dog bites man, I this is not news, but j when a man bites dog,’ this is news, and this Wis-i consin citizen? has bitten our mascot.”

Hence for our “GIN”, I would like like to re-i verse this dog philosophy in helping J him bite the man if ever j he returns.

I For my sympathetic, contribution I suggest a statuary memorial with the first $5.00 for perhaps, to mend, build greater interrelations, through another dog.

Finally, a tribute to ' another black dog who changed “world history” one “FALLA”. Pres. Franklin Roosevelts pet. i Lets make “Gin” a No. two, historic symbol. Singed Mahlon Hill

 

“Nig” ... The dog that a dam. A plaque mounted in his memory above his gravesite at Hoover Dam so aroused a Wisconsin resident that he initiated a campaign to have it removed.

Last week, his efforts proved successful. The plaque was quietly removed following a decision by Dam officials and those at U.S.B.R. Regional Headquarters here in Boulder City.

It wasn’t to be quite that simple. Following the release of the story in last week’s NEWS, many of the Boulder City and area residents, especially those who remember the construction mascot, rose in protest. Many letters were written to the NEWS and to government representatives. An unofficial petition is being circulated protesting the action and requesting the plaque be returned to its location.

The Wisconsin resident who started the furor is Clarence Kailin of Madison, Wisconsin. The NEWS received correspondence from Kailin this week. His letter reads:

 

Dear Editor:

On a recent trip to Hoover Dam (Nevada) I was shocked to see a bronze plaque erected to a dog that had become a mascot to the men who built the dam. I was concerned, not with the plaque itself, but with the name of the dog: “NIG” (see enclosed photo). The dog had been described as “black, rough coated.”

I requested of Mr. J.S. Sweeney, Chief of Hoover Dam Visitor Services, that the plaque be removed because the name “Nig” was clearly racist. I was told : “No way.”

I then wrote to Senator Nelson (Wis.), who in turn wrote to Mr. Manuel Lopez, Jr.., of the Bueau of Reclamation. He in turn responded to Mr. Nelson (See Lopez’s enclosed letter) by saying that: “Hoover Dam has recently welcomed its 19 millionth visitor, and this is the first charge of racism which has been associated with the dog, the dam, or the visitor services program. I hope this information will satisfy Mr. Kailin’s concerns.”

Well, this did NOT satisfy Mr. Kailin’s concerns.

I asked a number of people what they thought of the plaque. Their responses are enclosed. Perhaps you can do a story on thi§.

Sincerely,

(s) Clarence Kailin

 

Following Kailin’s original written complaint and an inquiry from Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson, Manuel Lopez, Regional Director here for U.S.B.R., wrote the following response:

Dear Senator Nelson:

In response to your inquiry on behalf of Mr Clarence Kailin who had raised questions about “Nig,” the Hoover Dam construction crew’s mascot, I am providing the following information.

As Mr. Kailin indicated, “Nig” was a black, rough - coated dog which was found as a pup, named, and raised by the Six Companies construction crews who built Hoover Dam in the early 1930'8. The enclosed articles indicate that this animal became almost a legendary local figure on the construction project.

Following “Nig’s” accidental death, the exact date of which is uncertain, construction workers used air hammers to chisel out his present tomb at the Nevada side of the dam.

You will note from the articles that “Nig” was both an unusual dog and an endeared mascot. Although his story does not appear in any official Bureau publications, journalists have frequently done feature stories on this animal. School tours visiting the dam find both the grave and the accompanying story a memborable part of their visit.

In response to Mr. Kailin’s concern about proper recognition being given to those workers killed during the dam construction, I am enclosing photographs showing two memorial plaques. A photo of “Nig’s” grave and marker is also enclosed.

The larger of the two memorial plaques is located at the Arizona end of the dam. The smaller memorial, made by the American Federation of Labor, is currently being cleaned and prepared for remounting at the . memorial plaza on the Nevada side.

While trying to explain this account of “Nig” to Mr. Kailin, Mr. J.S. Sweeney, Chief of Hoover Dam Visitor Services, acknowledges that he told Mr. Kailin that there was little likelihood of the marker being removed for the reason requested. Hoover Dam has recently welcomed its 19 millionth visitor, and this is the first charge of racism which has been associated with the dog, the dam, or the visitor services prograip.

I hope this information will satisfy Mr. Kailin’s concerns.

Sincerely,

(s) Manuel Lopez, Jr.

Regional Director

 

Letters sent to Lopez and the Bureau included correspondence from the following: The Madly son Branch of the N.A.A.C.P. ... who wrote that the name “Nig” is “offensive, racially motivated and demeaning in nature. This ‘endeared’ mascot I note was a black dog who in all probability was brought up and cared for by white racist workers who were not brave enough to memoralize the dog as ‘Nigger.’”

Their letter continues: ; “It is predictable that nothing will be done to | alter this situation. Our hope would be that the plaque would remain, but the name would be removed and - or changed. If no action is frothwith from these usual forms of communications, perhaps unusual methods will have to be tried.”

This letter is signed by Bolling Smith Sr., President.

Wisconsin Women in the Arts (WWIA)... wrote that they are a nonprofit organization concerned with changing sterotypL cal images and language oppresiye to women and minorities.. “The name of the mascot and the placement of the plaque at a national landmark (with the name on it) appears to be a reinforcement ... a condoning by the federal government ... of racism In America.” The letter is signed by

Ann Biernieier.

The Madison Metropolitan School ’District Board of Education wrote two letters, One of them refers to the stories of Nig as “interesting and warm” and “reflecting the capacity for men involved in extremely difficult work to be touched by the pre sence of a dog.”

The writer notes: “It is a classic portrayal of an extension of man’s humanity to pets. Tragically, it is also a reflection of the 30’s where ther was, in retrospect, a large amount of man’s inhumanity to man.

“The question, as I see it, is not so much one of right or wrong... racist or non - racist, but a much larger one of how do we want to remember this relationship between the men and the dog? Do we want to remember the beauty of the relationship or do we want to continue to be reminded of the “ugliness” that permeated that era?’’

The above quotes were written by Marlene Cummings, Human Relations Consultant for the District.

From a member of the Wisconsin Legislature... “I was shocked to learn of a bronze plaque erected for ‘Nig’ being described as a dog ‘black, rough - coated,’ erected at Hoover Dam. The writer Marcia Coggs, goes on to state this is an example of perpetua ting racism.

From the Congress of the United States, Wisconsin Congressman Robert Kastenmeier replied to Kailen: “Indeed, if the name of the dog was considered by visitors to be a racist insult, it should certainly be removed.” He then refers to the statement by Lopez that Kailin’s complaint was the first to be received. “In view of what Mr. Lopez has indicated, I do not See how a persuasive case can be made for the removal of the plaque at this time...”

U.S.B.R. officials have spoken of replacing the plaque with an “informational sign” with revised wording. They stress that no change or alteration will be made to the small concrete slab with the letters NIG carved in it. The slab serves as a grave cover.

 

I am going to call or see our Congressman and Senator and find out why one man “Kailin” and his collaborators can do such a thing as have the U.S.B.R. officials do what they had to do regarding NIG’s plaque.

Since no letters • ever received in answer to “full packet of explanatory material” sent by the- U.S. B.R. - then maybe someone will answer our view points.

Look up the word NIG in the dictionary and it has nothing to do with racism.

Hoover Dam Workers loved this dog, had him buried and given a plaque in memory of him. How in the world can this be racism. It seems to me Kailin is the racist. -

I wonder how “Kailin would feel if this was done to his pet, if he ever had one, or destroy any Wisconsin , history! In this world today, with sb much misery going on, how'can one man disrupt the feelings of men who worked hard building Hoover Dam and try to destroy their loving memory of their pet, and the history of their story.

Anyone wishing to sign my petition, please call me and I will be there 293-3315.

Betty Rovacchi We want the plaque put back or a good reason IN WRITING for ALL CITIZENS in Nevada to see!

 

“OLD NIG”

Although I was too small to remember “Nig” personally, I’ll always remember the stories told about him by my father LeRoy Burt and other workers on the Dam.

With all the many hardships surrounding the building of the Dam and the growth of the town of Boulder City, “Nig” was a bright spot in the hearts of the men. He ,was born under one of the Six

Company buildings, was fed and cared for by the men and adopted as their mascot. He would ride the 3 level buses with the men to and from work. With the ungodly heat and misery he always had a panting smile and a wagging tail for everyone.® When he died, there were | no dry eyes among the hard core construction! men and with money hard | to come by, they dug into their pockets to contribute for a plaque in memory of “Nig.”

There were no racial implications regarding the dog’s name. As far as anyone knows he was not a member of any particular race. Just a loveable black dog. The name was meant as merely a description of his color-coal black. I suppose he could have been celled “Blackie” which I’m sure could have been misconstrued as well by Mr. Kailin. But “Nig” was short and to the point. In Websters dictionary- “negro” denotes the Spanish word for “black” as does the Latin word “niger.” Cedrtainly if prejudice had been involved in the name, the name “Nig” wouldn’t have been given to an animal that was so dearly loved.

I would like to ask Mr. Kailin “who is the racist here^TO.‘who; is- the bigot?” To cafise a Federal case out of a plaque in

memory of a much loved and devoted friend. We the people of Boulder City resent your accusation of prejudice where there was none intended. Our men risked their lives to build Hoover (Boulder) Dam, and they earned, the right to erect a small monument to a “friend.” NIG earned t the right to be sb honored. • What have you done Mr.

Kailin, except to make prejudicial accusations where there was none.

Donna Mae Friedmann

 

Dear Editor:

On hearing about and reading about the con-- troversy concerning. “Nig”. Although a lot has been said, I feel that I, too, ought to add my say.

So many people really care what happens in our state & This really seems to be hurting many, many people in our area. I am far too young to have known “Nig”, and since I live in Henderson, I don’t know the “old timers” who worked on the dam. But I did live in Boulder City and loved it. Also, I hated it when our family had to move to Henderson. I still Love Boulder City and all that is concerned with it.

The dam is history. It is a part of Boulder City and part of the entire Las Vegas Valley.

In seeing ajl the letters that have been written, there is one thing that

always bothers me.

WHY should ONE .. MAN, not even from our region, have the power (or gall), to remove a piece of OUR wonderful history?

Tm sure that, for MOST PEOPLE, when visitors come to the dam, and see this particular plaque, all that they see is a memorial to a beloved dog and friend. Not a slander to ANY race.

Name withheld by request

 

Dear Editor:

We are all aware that there is a paper shortage, a gasoline shortage and perhaps a few more. But there is a definite brain shortage when it comes to the subject of this dog plaque situation. Talk about wasted effort. Isn’t there more urgent matters in which these do - gooders can utilize their energies? Of all the nerve, this man (out of state), comes to OUR Dam in which our forefathers had a hand at construction and set out to take down a plaque (which, incidently, was not that obvious) and do away with it. Something which may have been quite an important part of the constructors of the dam’s lives may become unknown because of an asinine gesture towards keeping the subject of racism out of tourist’s eyes. How the name “Nig” is associated with racism I’ll never know. By the way, would we have had the same upheaval if the dog’s name was “Whitey” or “Blac- kie” or “Chico”?

Don’t you people have • anything better to do with your time than tear up history?

Also,, you might have a grand ol’ time in the cemeteries (They sometimes carry nicknames that might be considered racist). How many Congressmen could you convince to tear out those headstones?

Name withheld by request

 

A Tribute to "Nig" Boulder Dam Mascot

BY BOB PARKER

It can be said he had a master none For he was a friend of everyone Though he couldn't talk He seemed to know.

That he was a part of the big show Maybe he didn't mix any concrete Nor know the construction secret. Still he was on the job every morn Be it cold or be it warm.

The work to him was just as important Just as thrilling and just as absorbent.

As to the workers one and all Be they big, little... short or tall Like those memories that live on and on So will "Nig" even though he is gone.

 

p.SB

r———---------------------------

(Letters from our readers

Dog’s 'plaque should be replaced’

To the editor:

So a poor mewling bit of insecurity has decided the name of a dog is “offensive” and has “racist overtones.”

The dog’s name was “Nig.” Not “Nigger.” He was no one’s dog, but ev- ■ eryone’s friend. He recognized no color or racial barriers.

In the years after the big transports stopped the dam run, he’d hitch rides with those he knew, make his inspec- , tions, then nap in a warm sunny spot. He was killed in such a spot as he slept in June, 1940, not in 1936. The woman on the switchboard in Boulder City , wept as she spread the news.

The nameplate on his collar read “Nig — Boulder Dam Mascot.” He loved candy. At times a notice would ; appear in the local news sheet. “Dear friends, please don’t give me candy. It makes me sick. Your friend, Nig.”

This person who can’t see beyond this blackness is hard put to find dis

crimination if he must come halfway across the nation to find it in an obscure corner bypassed by most tourists for almost 40 years — Nig’s grave.

His statement, “Black people don’t usually come to Hoover Dam or, for that matter, to the West” is absurd. Black people work at the dam. They work, live and play in all the surrounding areas of Clark County.

The biggest racists are those who try to pump new life into hate words such as “racism.”

Every individual involved in this affair should feel shame. It was unworthy.

The plaque should be replaced. It should read: NIG 1932-1940

No one’s dog. Everyone’s friend. He adopted a dam

Mrs. Ray C. Poyser

 

 

IfU-old Scandmaifia, it, was thought’ that rown. tree branches' placed o»er, the door ■;would keep the h atm safs from witches.

1HIU I nt tun UH I

Boulder City Editor,

Yeah Team! I’m on your side. And its all because of theMascot Day called Nig. I love dogs and Boulder City. Proud to see the stand many citizens of this area took

to protect'd marker, very important not to allow important historical • landmarks to be erased because of unreasonable judgement.

Sincerely a new resident

7 The protests to the removal of the plaque at Hoover Dam commemorating the grave of the workers’ beloved canine mascot “Nig” are swelling in numbers and intensity.

Betty Rovacchi of Boulder City reports receiving support and'signatures for her petition to restore the plaque from all over Nevada ... hs well as from other states including Wyoming and Arizona.

The tide of protest is

swelling at the alleged injustice to Nevada history accomplished by an upset from Wisconsin who declared the name “Nig” was “racist” and a slur to the black race.

Signatures on the petitions now number in the hundreds... and offers of help have come from many sources.;

Mrs. Rovacchi is continuing her efforts to obtain still more signatures. She may be contacted at 293-3315.

Letter to the editor:

I am no longer a resident of Boulder City but I still consider it my home away from home. I feel I must have mv sav about the article in the B.C. paper on March 22 concerning the removal of the plaque for the mascot dog “Nig.”

Wow! That is really something. Some jerk comes out here and protests. Big Deal! That dog ' was probably a better friend to the men who built the dam than that man would ever be to anyone. I’m a little tired of hearing about protests, racism arid what have you. If you have something to protests about, fine, but it seems tome that a lot of people ■■■protest justbecause they have nothing better to

do. What a shame! Makes me fed more fean ever-the more I see of people the better I like dogs and cats.

That plaque should remain where it is, a. memory to man’s best friend. I hope you are ! flooded with letters from , others who feel the same as I do.

Sincerely, |

Melpha Molsbeny Meadview, Arizona

Dear Editor,

In reference to your article about the big deal made over the plaque for a dog named NIG.

May I suggest that the , dogs name be changed from NIG to GIN that way the locals can smile slyly and say the dogs name was GIN, and what difference will it make to the tourists?

Sincerely,

 

. j/r/79 /0. //

I AN ODE TO NIG I I I

Many hearts your love remember,

And memories of your devotion; * | Made ardous hours dismember, |

| Your faithfulness set love in motion. |

| The mighty, stately Hoover Dam, I

| A monument to faith and grit; |

* A shelter, protector of the ram, j

 

And cities comfortably lit. .!

| Your devotion without measure, |

* Much love and joy did bring 4

 

untold peace and pleasure

| forever men’s hearts will sing I

I I

I So, Nig, rest in, peace, i

Your duty now well done, | . Tensions you did release, I

| And a victory you have won. |

1 |

The plaque for you is no more,

| A dog’s enemy did gripe; - I

| But in our hearts we store, |

| Your memory nurtured ripe. i

I -Loy Soraftella |

I I

+

 

Dog plaque’s critic defends I his actions ■

BOULDER CITY — The man who felt a plaque dedicated to Hoover Dam’s canine mascot Nig was racist in nature said he had no objection to an- , other plaque being installed “dedicated to the dog that was a devoted mascot to the men who built the dam.”

Clarence Kailin, Madison, Wise., said recently that the plaque was re-' moved in the first place because gov- I eminent and civil rights agencies i around the country agreed the name “Nig” was racist.

Offended by the connotation of the ! dog’s name while visiting the dam, | Kailin, who is white, wrote various | agencies to complain about the pla-, I que. When instructed by the Interior 1 Department to act on the complaint, I Bureau of Reclamation employees re- I moved the bronze marker last month11 from above Nig’s concrete grave on. 1 the Nevada side of the dam.

i “Because too many people did not S see the racism that was involved, they ? reacted emotionally (to the plaque’s z removal),” Kailin said, who has re- j ceivfed several phone calls from I Boulder City residents on the matter. 3 “What so many failed to see was i that to keep the plaque would only I help to perpetuate racism — quite un- I consciously,— in a subtle manner, “ I Kailin said, and added he “would cer- i tainly have no objection to a plaque | (with, different wording) dedicated to . i the dog who was a devoted mascot to ■I the men whp built the dam.”

‘ In a letter, Karlin said that the atti- : tudes of racism, while not innate, re- i main “like a plaque to harm us” from t he days of chattel slavery.

Kailin added, “the barriers which ■ separate us from each other are un- ’ natural and unnecessary'

He also quoted black writer Charles Adams who said, “The sooner we

come to grips with our oneness and t mutuality and commonality, the

 

quicker we may all unite to correct so- ; ciety according to the truth rather

than attempt to falsify truth according to society’s injustice and inequi-

 

i tv-''

Meanwhile, more than 100 people

have signed a petition protesting the ; plaque’s removal which is being for- J warded to Rep. Jim Santini and Sen.

 

Howard Cannon by Boulder City resident Betty Rovacchi.

'■ According to Rovacchi, residents from Kingman, Ariz., Warland, Wyo., , Overland, Nev., Las Vegas, Hender-

son and North Las Vegas have desig

 

< nated her to sign their names to the petition.

Santini has already received one pe-? tition from Robacchi containing 100 signatures which has been forwarded

. to the Bureau of Reclamation.

“It certainly seems to me that this

is a typical case of government overreaction, especially since the objec-

 

■ tion was raised from only one of the

 

millions and millions of people who

. have visited the dam,” Santini said.

 

Dog plaque’s critic defends his actions

BOULDER CITY — The man who felt a plaque dedicated to Hoover Dam’s canine mascot Nig was racist in 1 nature said he had no objection to another plaque being installed “dedicat- jj ed to the dog that was a devoted mascot to the men who built the dam."

Clarence Kailin, Madison, Wise., said recently that the plaque was re-1 moved in the first place because gov-, ! eminent and civil rights agencies around the country agreed the name “Nig” was racist.

Offended by the connotation of the dog’s name while visiting the dam, Kailin, who is white, wrote various agencies to complain about the plaque.- When instructed by the Interior ! Department to act on the complaint, Bureau of Reclamation employees re- ! moved the bronze marker last month1 ! from above Nig’s concrete grave on j the Nevada side of the dam.

“Because too many people did not see the racism that was involved, they reacted emotionally (to the plaque’s removal),” Kailin said, who has received several phone calls from Boulder City residents on the matter.

“What so many failed to see was that to keep the plaque would only help to perpetuate racism — quite unconsciously — in a subtle manner, “ Kailin said, and added he “would certainly have no objection to a plaque (with different wording) dedicated to the dog who was a devoted mascot to I the men who built the dam.”

In a letter, Kailin said that the attitudes of racism, while not innate, remain “like a plaque to harm us” from the days of chattel slavery.

Kailin added, “the barriers which separate us from each other are unnatural and unnecessary.”

He also quoted black writer Charles Adams who said, “The sooner we come to grips with our oneness and mutuality and commonality, the quicker we may all unite to correct society according to the truth rather than attempt to falsify truth according to society’s injustice and inequity.”

Meanwhile, more than 100 people have signed a petition protesting the plaque’s removal which is being forwarded to Rep. Jim Santini and Sen. Howard Cannon by Boulder City resi- 'W dent Betty Rovacchi.

According to Rovacchi, residents I from Kingman, Ariz., Warland, Wyo., j Overland, Nev., Las Vegas, Henderson and North Las Vegas have designated her to sign their names to the petition.

Santini has already received one petition from Robacchi containing 100 signatures which has been forwarded to the Bureau of Reclamation.

“It certainly seems to me that this is a typical case of government overreaction, especially since the objection was raised from only one of the millions and millions of people who have visited the dam/’ Santini said.

 

’Lest we forget’

If the plaque is ever put up again, I

While visiting Hoover Dam, look at the rock walls that ran along the canyon’s rim. Black people did their share of that outstanding work.

I worked in the Hoover power plant and dam area for 32 years. I think it was an excellent place to work. I do not think anyone who worked there resented having the plaque on the wall.

Taking the plaque down will not change Nig’s name.

“Lest we forget—Lest we forget.”

Robert H. Denning

To the editor:

Bhck »» also worked „„ the dem project during construction of Hoover " - - P '

Dam and power plant. Black men patted a dog on his head, broke off hunks from goodies in their lunch, held out the snack to the dog while saying,

Nig old boy, have a bite.” It may have been a black man who first called the dog Nig.

. question if taking down the plaque is racism. I have known too many black people and Mexicans, to call it racism. Taking down the plaque must embarrass many of them and they are too noble to get involved in the ruckus.

 

'The list would be endless9

To the editor:

(Re: Article on the mascot of Ho-

' over Dam)

- . R is truly sad that Claranee Kailan is so insecure in the pride of his own racial heritage, that he would take exception to a name given to one small dog that meant so much to so many;

, not to mention that this dog lived and „ died over 40 years ago.

Since Kailan managed, with 30 let- ...ters, to have the commemorative pla- .

que at Hoover Dam removed, perhaps he could go On to bigger areas. Surely, he would like to see “Black Beauty” retitled, also the song “That Old Black Magic.”

Our legislators could pass laws prohibiting people from naming their dogs Blackie, Chico, Poncho — the list would be endless.

Michele Adair

 

’Both sides could be satisfied’

To the editor:

I strongly disagree with Betty Ro- ' vacchi’s petition for keeping the name ; “Nig” on the plaque at Hoover Dam.

Since it is on government property, it shouldn’t reflect prejudice in Nevada. This is 1979, not 1931.

Let’s not let the government support the bigots who named the dog.

’■ I wonder how many black people signed her petition?

Although Mrs. Rovacchi may not think the name “Nig” has any mean- " ink, she fails to see that it has a strong

meaning of prejudice to our American black citizens.

Names mean a lot when they have years of ridicule behind them.

Anyway, the name “Nig" doesn’t even need to be on the plaque. Why not make a plaque that says: “Here lies a dog adopted to a dam. Born 1932, died 1936.”

That way both sides could be satisfied and I’m sure the dog wouldn’t mind.

' JeffTawler

4/S’/?? p. 5/2

 

?We Italians have feelings too’

To the editor:

(Re: Recent removal of the plaque honoring “Nig — the mascot” from his burial site at Hoover Dam)

I won’t go into detail why this plaque was removed, but this thinking prompted me to write you concerning the following.

I feel that the word “Whopper” used by Burger King restaurants to advertise their large-size hamburger, henceforth, should be stricken from their bill of fare. After all, we Italians have feelings too.

Steve Pagano

 

FcT- rf/?? p> sb

Letters from our readers

What’s in a name?

To the editor:

(Re: Hoover Dam mascot)

What’s in a name? “Nig,” “Blackie” or “Whitey,” is not important, it is ordy the name by which you are called. What is important in a name is how it is represented and remem- berea.

“Nig,” a black, multibreed dog that became the mascot of the men who built Hoover Dam — whether they were black, white, yellow or brown_

was a faithful cainine friend to all mankind. He was loved and admired and 40 years after he was killed accidentally, he was immortalized by a plaque on his grave explaining his part in Southern Nevada history.

Then, along comes a sometimes black history instructor — one of millions of visitors to our dam site—who

when he returned to his home in Madison, Wis., fired off a barrage of letters to state legislators and civil rights groups, protesting the word Nig on the plaque and demanded its removal because it was offensive and “racist” in nature to him.

Clarance Kailan has accomplished his intent and purpose, but there is something which goes much deeper than his accomplishment which dis- turbs me.

It appears to me that we have a dangerous situation at hand, as Kailan could fire off another barrage of letters, demanding that as an instructor of history, that the history of our United States be changed because of racist overtones.”

C.D.G.

 

 

I

(X. D s L

 

2F—Las Vegas Review-Journals—Tuesday, April 17, 1979

What’s in a name? - Raymond J. Johnson

By Paul Henniger The Los Angeles Times

•i > HOLLYWOOD—What’s in a name? If it happens to be Raymond J. Johnson, it’s a name that’s become known in every tavern this side of St. Louis.

"/But if you were to be introduced to Billy Saluga at your friendly neighborhood hangout, his name wouldn’t ring a bell—until Saluga went into his act.

' ‘^He’ll start out: “you can call me Ray, or you can call me

; J...” So he’s the one in those beer commercials you’ve been laughing at all these months, the little guy with the broadbrimmed hat, Groucho Marx mustache and cigar who turns on when Norm. Crosby cautions a patron, “Don’t ask

; him his name.” . . ■ •

I'; ’ That one commercial which caught the public’s fancy has opened up whole new careers for a couple of comedi-

' ans.

It was the business of names in our highly competitive ^commercial society—particularly the brand names of beer-: that brought about this fortunate turn for Norm Crosby And Billy Saluga.

X The Anheuser-Busch people, caught up in the lesscalo-' Tie craze that’s sweeping the beer business, as it has the: soft-drink industry, wanted to get a product-identity, as -the admen say, separate and distinct from their competi-

Millions of dollars are at stake when customers simply/ L Order a “light” without specifying a brand of beer.

So the A-B hucksters, after no doubt quaffing a tankard of their favorite brew, decided what was needed was a' catchy name of some kind to set them apart from the other: •six-packs. Is there something unique about their formula' * That they can exploit? After all, their beer contains only' ^natural ingreee...ah! That’s it! Call it “natural.”

; * Next, a spokesman was needed to mount a campaign of ‘J fTV plugs to inform the beer-drinking public about A-B’s ' -“natural.” One member of the gray flannel brigade puts » -down his mug, glances up at the others and asks, “Who’s

that guy that’s always getting names and things mix up?” After a dramatic pause his name comes to them. In unison they shout, “Norm Crosby, that’s who.”

Now Crosby, the master of malapropisms, could easily go into one of his “great rebates” about the qualities of beer. He could do a “twenty-minute dysentery” on the subject because he has a “great rapaport” with the beer crowd. But the gimmick would be to have Crosby play it straight, to show his sincerity in advising patrons to order up “natural.” Gad, the sales will go skyward.

For a punch line, you know, the necessary laugh at the end of the pitch, like all the TV advertisers do now, how about getting that comic who was on with Redd Foxx a while ago, the fella who drives you up the wall repeating his name? After he agrees with Crosby we’ll have him do his thing. Enter Billy Saluga.

And that’s how beer commercials are brewed by ad agencies.

Crosby and Saluga have just completed filming their second “natural” commercial in an outdoor setting. The main prop is a swimming pool in the back yard of a Brentwood (Calif.) home. The sun was bright but there was a nip in the air’ conditions not necessarily conducive to downing a pint of anything but hot coffee.

“I’m really excited about all this,” says a smiling Norm Crosby, settling on a poolside bar stool. “It’s really enhanced my career in a million ways. It’s given me a tremendous audience identity. I feel it when I walk on a stage

After Navy service aboard a sub chaser dropping depth charges in World War II, Crosby began dropping jokes in sjnall nightclubs during the late ’40s: He served his comic apprenticeship, picking up his word-scrambling shtick along the way fros the owner of a club outside Boston, who wasn’t aware of his tangle-tongue dialogue. Crosby was a favorite of Ed Sullivan doing the Toast of the Town show many times. But thanks to the “natural” plugs, he’s a born-again comedian.

ONLY NATURAL - Norm Crosby, left, miliar "You can call me Ray...or you can cracks up as Raymond J. Johnson (Billy Sa- call me J” routine while filming a commer-luga) center background, begins with his fa- cial in Brentwood, Calif, recently.

“Since the whole campaign began in February of last year they tell me sales have gone up 50 percent. Isn’t that incredible?” says Crosby in amazement. ■ “We’ve won awards, too, for best ad campaign and things like that. As a spokesman for the beer I’m now involved with everything they do.”

Crosby directly credits the commercial for helping him

get the job of weekly host of The Comedy Shop, a syndicated series that’s been renewed for a second 26 shows. He’s also signed an exclusive entertainment deal with the corporation that handles the Sands, Frontier and Desert Inn hotels in Las Vegas.

Could Crosby and Saluga become another Abbott arid Costello?

 

An 'absurd bureaucratic reaction’

To the editor:

I’ve heard of sbme absurd bureaucratic reactions to trivia, but the forced removal of the plaque com-: memorating the final resting place of “Nig” has got to be somewhere in the top five.

One can only wonder what Mr. Kai-, Ian’s, reaction would have been if the poor dog had been named, “Whitey,” “Honkey,” or heaven forbid, “Black-: ie.” «

With such a vehement reaction one can only suppose that Mr. Kailan would not have reacted to the white slurs,’but would have reacted the same to “Blackie.”

Had it been a man’s grave, then I could possibly understand Mr. Kai- Ian’s reaction, but the whole issue is over a plaque commemorating a faithful and much loved dog. I fail to see what all the furor is about.

It is even more ridiculous that the Bureau of Reclamation, as well as certain state legislators, have nothing more important to worry about than a complaint from one very sensitive and probably very prejudiced invididual.

It seems to me that these legislators should be watching out for the elephants behind them and not the ants under their feet.

C. Haden

 

Letter to the Ediotr:

. A special “THANK YOU” to all who signed to get Nig’s Plaque back. I also want to thank Mr. Bill Richardson and Gold Strike Inn, Mrs. Sorensen of Sorensen’s Sewing Center, Mrs. G. Surber, The Recreation Tavern who also helped me to obtain signatures, (s) Betty Rovacchi

 

Boulder City News, Boulder City, Nevada Thursday, April 12, 1979

Now It's Verified

'NIGS Dam Mascot, Died in 1941

by Bill Harbour

The famous canine mascot of the construction workers of Boulder Dam died on Feb. 21, 1941, when he was run over by the wheels of a truck as he was sleeping.

The research and verification of Nig’s date of death was done by pioneer Boulder City resident Everett Blan-‘ chard who passed the documentation to the NEWS.

The following is an excerpt from the Friday, Feb. 21, 1941, edition of the Las Vegas Review - Journal.

“NIG,” BOULDER DAM’S MASCOT, KIL

LED BY TRUCK

“Nig”, the mascot of Boulder Dam workmen since 1931, died today, and many hearts were stirred in Boulder City when it was learned that the familiar mongrel dog who never belonged to anybody but was a friend to everybody was gone. “Nig” lived and died a hero in the eyes of the workmen and a movement was started in Boulder City this morning to have his body mounted for permanent display as a tribute to the faithful dog “who adopted Boulder Dam

orders were issued that all dogs in Boulder City would have to be licensed or exterminated, the Boulder workmen contributed money to buy “Nig” a license. Each year since, the “homeless” mongrel has been provided with the necessary identification tag and the fee has been paid for him.

Although having no single owner, “Nig” enjoyed the love, respect, and affection of thousands of Boulder workmen, but he never took one of them for his master. That place in his heart was Boulder Dam.

The passing of old “Nig” was a real tragedy in the lives of his friends and a fitting tribute to him is being planned by them.

Excerpt from page 2, Friday, Feb. 21, 1941, issue of

Las Vegas (Nevada) Evening

Review Journal.

Public outcry by area residents at the removal of a plaque above Nig’s grave at the damsite is still increasing. Another 300 signatures on an informal petiion protesting the plaque’s removal have been collected by B.C. resident Betty Rovacchi. They are

mational sign with “revised” wording.

Nig’s origin is obscure. One story has it that he has brought to the construction camp by a worker who “appropriated” the tiny pur from the car of a tourist in Sunset. A more popular version says that Nig was one of a litter of pups from beneath one of the workmen’s barracks here.

However he arrived, he soon made himself a permanent art of the dam work force. He carried his special lunch in a paper bag firmly gripped in his mouth as he boarded a transport for the daily trip to the worksite in Black Canyon. He’d park his lunch with the others until it was time to eat ... then pick up the bag and have a workmen open it for him.

He was thoroughly “at home” in the tunnels, on the catwalks... anywhere there was action. He identified with no one but with all men on the job. When the crew struck in 1935, Nig joined their walkout and refused to ride the tranp- sorts until the dispute was settled.

Certainly fact and legend are intertwined in the hundreds of tales told about the dog ... of hojw

dog ... but he reportedly had driven but a short distance beyond Boulder City before Nig realized what was up. He attacked the car’s interior with such zest that the frightened driver promptly brought him back to the downtown area.

Boulder City resident Johnny Weston remembers seeing Nig asleep behind the wheels of a truck on the morning he was killed. He was probably one of the last to see Nig before the accident.

Word sprtzad quickly and a pall spread over the community. A grave was carved into the rock near the spot where the accident had occured and the dog’s remains were placed to rest, covered by a ton of concrete. On the plain slab, someone drew the letters NIG in a simple final tribute to the dog who had brought cheer to thousands during the tough construction years.

 

Boulder City News, Boulder City, Nevada Thursday, April 12, 1979

Now h's Verified

'NIG*, Dam Mascot, Died in 1941

by Bill Harbour

The famous canine mascot of the construction workers of Boulder Dam died on Feb. 21, 1941, when he was run over by the wheels of a truck as he was sleeping.

The research and verification of Nig’s date of death was done by pioneer Boulder City resident Everett Blan-’ chard who passed the documentation to the NEWS.

The following is an excerpt from the Friday, Feb. 21, 1941, edition of the Las Vegas Review - Journal.

“NIG,” BOULDER DAM’S MASCOT, KIL

LED BY TRUCK

“Nig”, the mascot of Boulder Dam workmen since 1931, died today, and many hearts were stirred in Boulder City when it was learned that the familiar mongrel dog who never belonged to anybody but was a friend to everybody was gone. “Nig” lived and died a hero in the eyes of the workmen and a movement was started in Boulder City this morning to have his body mounted for permanent display as a tribute to the faithful dog “who adopted Boulder Dam when it was a baby and watched it grow to full manhood.”

He was lying in the sunshine on top of the dam this morning when a truck loaded with steel backed over him, and he died instantly. The driver was unable to see him as he lay stretched out waiting for the next transport.

“Nig’s” early history is shrouded in mystery, but he appeared in Boulder City when both he and the town were in their adolescence. He looked around for a few days and one day hopped into a transport carrying the men between Boulder City and the dam. From that day forward he was the most regular passenger on the big transport. He has traveled thousands of miles in the past 10 years between the town and the dam.

He had the place of honor along side the driver, and when the motor on the machine started, he hopped in for the ride.

A few years ago when

orders were issued that all dogs in Boulder City would have to be licensed or exterminated, the Boulder workmen contributed money to buy “Nig” a license. Each year since, the “homeless” mongrel has been provided with the necessary identification tag and the fee has been paid for him.

Although having no single owner, “Nig” enjoyed the love, respect, , and affection of thousands of Boulder workmen, but he never took one of them for his master. That place in his heart was Boulder Dam.

The passing of old “Nig” was a real tragedy in the lives of his friends and a fitting tribute to him is being planned by them.

Excerpt from page 2, Friday, Feb. 21, 1941, issue of

Las Vegas (Nevada) Evening

Review Journal.

Public outcry by area residents at the removal of a plaque above Nig’s grave at the damsite is still increasing. Another 300 signatures on an informal petiion protesting the plaque’s removal have been collected by B.C. resident Betty Rovacchi. They are being forwarded to Congressman Jim Santini’s office following earlier petitions with several hundred signatures.

The plague was purchased by present dam workers to honor and compliment the simple concrete slab marking the final resting place of the dam’s beloved mascot. It was mounted on the rock cliff directly above the grave.

Last summer, a visitor from Wisconsin, Clarence Kailin, viewed the plaque and filed a verbal complaint calling it “offensive and racist” in nature.

Upon his return to Wisconsin, Kailin continued to complain through letters to the Bureau of Reclamation here as well as letters to member of Congress the NAACP, etc.

Finally in March of this year, the plague was quietly removed. When queried by the NEWS, U.S.B.R. officials stated it was their intention to replace it with an infor

mational sign with “revised” wording.

Nig’s origin is obscure. One story has it that he has brought to the construction camp by a worker who “appropriated” the tiny pur from the car of a tourist in Sunset. A more popular version says that Nig was one of a litter of pups from beneath one of the workmen’s barracks here.

However he arrived, he soon made himself a permanent art of the dam work force. He carried his special lunch in a paper bag firmly gripped in his mouth as he boarded a transport for the daily trip to the worksite in Black Canyon. He’d park his lunch with the others until it was time to eat ... then pick up the bag and have a workmen open it for him.

He was thoroughly “at home” in the tunnels, on the catwalks... anywhere there was action. He identified with no one but with all men on the job. When the crew struck in 1935, Nig joined their walkout and refused to ride the tranp- sorts until the dispute was settled.

Certainly fact and legend are intertwined in the hundreds of tales told about the dog ... of h<M he rode the skips, the cables ... of his absolute ability to communicate his desires through barks-and movements....

how he loved candy bars. But they made him sick and someone ran an ad in the paper under Nig’s name saying ... “Please don’t feed me candy bars, they make me sick.”

After the dam was completed and the majority of the work force left, Nig remained. He never attached himself to any one individual but continued to call Hoover Dam his true-home. When he’d tire of being there, he’d position himself in the center of the dam roadway and hitch a ride by barking at passing cars until someone stopped to pick him up.

Some stories say he was “dognapped” once or twice but that he always come back. One fellow allegedly picked Nig up at the dam and was told to drop him off in Boulder City. Apparently the driver though he’d confiscate himself a

dog ... but he reportedly had driven but a short distance beyond Boulder City before Nig realized what was up. He attacked the car’s interior with such zest that the frightened driver promptly brought him back to the downtown area.

Boulder City resident Johnny Weston remembers seeing Nig asleep behind the wheels of a truck on the morning he was killed. He was probably one of the last to see Nig before the accident.

Word spread quickly and a pall spread over the community. A grave was carved into the rock near the spot where the accident had occured and the dog’s remains were placed to rest, covered by a ton of concrete. On the plain slab, someone drew the letters NIG in a simple final tribute to the dog who had brought cheer to thousands during the tough construction years

 

Letter to the Editor:.

I want to join the scores of ’people who have expressed their objections to the removal of a plaque commemorating “Nig” the faithful mascot of ^Hoover Dam.

How can Clarence Kailin accuse racism in the name “Nig” when he neither saw or knew this mascot who was admired and loved by every con- < struction worker in j Boulder City and Hoover t Dam. Why didn’t, amongst the thousands ] of construction workers, the hundreds of minority workers who petted, greeted, awarded and cherished this dog, express resentment in his name at that time? The name “Nig” was as descriptive and appropriate to this dog as , Whitey, Red, Blackie, Blondy, Curley, etc., has been attached to any manor beast.

This dog did more to ' weld the common interests of all races working on this man made wonder of the world than Mr. Kailin will ever know. This dog established friendship, admiration and consideration amongst every one who knew him. What has Mr. Kailin done towards the recognition of the achievements of man and beast? So far we raXXWMBVaMM*.

have not learned of any, but we do know that he has created resentment a plenty. Who is the racist - in my language it’s Kailin! Let’s get that plaque back where it belongs!

(s) Everett E. Blanchard P.S. For the record I wish to correct a misconception. I came to work at Hoover Dam in June 1940 and I remember this mascot vividly. I know his death was not in 1936 as indicated on the plaque. A little research would probably show the date to be May or June 1941 as more correct.

 

Henderson Home News and Boulder City News

Page 21

Don Ashbaugh Immortalized "Nig" Boulder Dam Mascot

The late Don Ashbaugh, nationally known columnist and reporter and one time editor of the NEWS was a later day prophet when it came to rediscovering the immortal Boulder Dam Mascot, the unforgettable “Nig” Don’s story about Nig, illus- g-ated with artist’s sketch’s of Nig walking the cat walk and climbing up the full heighth of Hoover Dam, flashed across the world. Lines such as Nig being the first citizen of Boulder Dam and also of Boulder / City, became bywords especially among the construction stiffs.

“Nig belonged to Boulder Dam and Boulder Dam belonged to Nig” is a Don Ashbaugh line.

Don was to write that even though the grave is marked by a flat cement slab, that had the men at the dam, or old time Boulder City citizens, been given a choice the crypt would have been a marble monument. But the government said “no” and “Nig” (three simple letters) mark the grave of an ordinary mongrel.

Ordinary in one sense only, he was born as a dog. In every other way Nig was extraordinary. He lives in the memories

someone bought him a can and opened it. From then on, when a friend gave him an unopened can of dog food, Nig would trot down the streets of Boulder City until he found a friend with a can opener.

Nig even wept on strike in 1935. It had been his habit to join the workman every morning and he always took the front seat of the double decker buses from the lot west of the Visitor’s; Bureau.

When the strike was called, Nig, who had not been in on the meetings, refused to get on the empty transport. Nor would he go to the dam all during the 14 days the strike lasted. The morning after the strike had ended Nig jumped aboard as usual and resumed his normal daily task of “supervising” construction.

“He knew every nook and corner of the project. He rode the skips, elevators and monkey slides. He strutted the catwalks hundred of feet above the canyon floor. One day he saw a worker prepared to swing over the canyon in the bucket, it really took an act of derring - do to swing into space but Nig was as nonchalant about that as

his face at the operator’s > surprise. When he wished a skip lowered he’d stand at the bottom and bark.

There are a multitude of stories told of his knowledge of every road on the project. Many who gave him a ride, and old - timers say he would only ride with a construction stiff, and the men who hauled him insist that he would bark at a crossroad and his “woof’ of thanks is remembered. Then he would trot across a corner and hitch another ride the way he wished to travel.

He was so much a part of the construction gang that the commissary cooks prepared a special lunch for him. Along with the hundreds of men, Nig would eat at noon. He always hid his lunch and would fetch it when the whistle blew.

After the dam was built Nig spent much time in town. He was apt to scratch on the door of a multitude of friends if he were cold or hungry.

The saga of Nig is one of the finest dog stories ever told- His cement crypt is the only one at the dam. It is located close to where a truck backed over him in 1940 and he was crushed to

 

Henderson Home News and Boulder City News

Page 21

Don Ashbaugh Immortalized "Nig" Boulder Dam Mascot

The late Don Ashbaugh, nationally known columnist and reporter and one time editor of the NEWS was a later day prophet when it came to rediscovering the immortal Boulder Dam Mascot, the unforgettable “Nig” Don’s story about Nig, illustrated with artist’s sketch’s of Nig walking the cat walk and climbing up the full heighth of Hoover Dam, flashed across the world. Lines such as Nig being the first citizen of Boulder Dam and also of Boulder City, became bywords especially among the construction stiffs.

“Nig belonged to Boulder Dam and Boulder Dam belonged to Nig” is a Don Ashbaugh line.

Don was to write that even though the grave is marked by a flat cement slab, that had the men at the dam, or old time Boulder City citizens, been given a choice the crypt would have been a marble monument. But the government said “no” and “Nig” (three simple letters) mark the grave of an ordinary mongrel.

Ordinary in one sense only, he was born as a dog. In every other way Nig was extraordinary. He lives in the memories of the 50,000 men or more who labored on the dam. Nig was the offspring of the known generations of construction worker dogs. Born under a Six Companies dormitory on lot 40 A (The El Rancho Motel is built on the site of Nig’s birth) and from the day Bud Bodell found him he began to show unusual acumen. On the days when the barracks was scrubbed down Nig refused to enter until the floors were dry.

Nig learned about canned dog food when

someone bought him a can and opened it. From then on, when a friend gave him an unopened can of dog food, Nig would trot down the streets of Boulder City until he found a friend with a can opener.

Nig even went on strike in 1935. It had been his habit to join the workman every morning and he always took the front seat of the double decker buses from the lot west of the Visitor’s; Bureau.

When the strike was called, Nig, who had not been in on the meetings, refused to get on the empty transport. Nor would he go to the dam all during the 14 days the strike lasted. The morning after the strike had ended Nig jumped aboard as usual and resumed his normal daily task of “supervising” construction.

“He knew every nook and corner of the project. He rode the skips, elevators and monkey slides. He strutted the catwalks hundred of feet above the canyon floor. One day he saw a worker prepared to swing over the canyon in the bucket, it really took an act of derring - do to swing into space but Nig was as nonchalant about that as he was every day as he brought delight to the veteran workers.

He was a greeter at heart. He was at hand to greet Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt Sept. 30, 1979 when the dam was dedicated.

“Old timers tell the story with a smile of the new elevator operator who refused to. let Nig board the downbound elevator. The canine glared caught a ride to the bottom on a truck, hopped on an up - bound elevator and jumped off at the top with a laugh on

his face at the operator’s > surprise. When he wished a skip lowered he’d stand at the bottom and bark.

There are a multitude of stories told of his knowledge of every road on the project. Many who gave him a ride, and old - timers say he would only ride with a construction stiff, and the men who hauled him insist that he would bark at a crossroad and his “woof’ of thanks is remembered. Then he would trot across a corner and hitch another ride the way he wished to travel.

He was so much a part of the construction gang that the commissary cooks prepared a special lunch for him. Along with the hundreds of men, Nig would eat at noon. He always hid his lunch and would fetch it when the whistle blew.

After the dam was built Nig spent much time in town. He was apt to scratch on the door of a multitude of friends if he were cold or hungry.

The saga of Nig is one of the finest dog stories ever told- His cement crypt is the only one at the dam. It is located close to where a truck backed over him in 1940 and he was crushed to death.

There were many damp eyes in Boulder City and at the dam site when 'word reached everyone that Nig was dead.

Don Ashbaugh is dead also. His story about Nig did more to assure the Boulder Dam Mascot, place in Hoover Dam history than any other story told about the famous dog.

The NEWS dedicates this story to Don Ashbaugh and the black dog he never met but revered all the same.

 

902-/79/^2/

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Letter to the Editor about Nig

Nig had a lot of black friends on Boulder Dam. They are, even now, sdgning petitions that are being circulated around Las Vegas.

*** In 1932 they formed y the Major Peerlow Post no. 2668 consisting of 50 black workers who 5 worked with Charlie f Rose on Boulder Dam (as it was called for 14 years) i and they held a dance and celebration which they called a ‘ Dixie Min

strel” and they all gathered at the Elks Hall, Saturday, Feb. 18, 1932. The committee of the VFW Department Encampment sponsored the fine program.

On July 8, 1932, again an article appeared and it mentined that black labor employed on Boulder Dam was the first of the African race to be hired.

The matter was brought to the attention of the Secretary of the Interior through the Na

tional Bar ssociation.

Measurements were taken to assure blacks their just proportion of the work on Boulder Dam.

These are but two of the articles that appeared in Las Vegs papers about black service men and Boulder Dam.

As Nora Doyser states so well in her excellent letter about ‘Nig” the blacks would have been honored to have a place in the history of the Boulder Dam Mascot (s) Teddy Fenton

 

Page 14

Letter to the Editor:'

areas of Clark County.”

Every individual involved in this affair should feel shame. It was unworthy.

To the Editor x

So a poor mewling bit of insecurity has decided the name of the dog is offensive and has ’’racist overtones”.

The dog’s^name was “Nig” not “Nigger”. He was no one’s dog, but everyone’s friend. He recognized no color or racial barriers.

In the years after the big transports stopped the dam run, he’d hitch rides with those he knew, make his inspections, then nap in a warm sunny, spot. He was killed in such a spot as he slept in June 1940, not in 1936. The woman, on the switchboard in Boulder City wept as she spread the news.

the loal news sheets. “Dear Friends, please don’t give me candy. It mades me sick. Your friend, Nig.”.

This person who can’t see beyond this blackness is hard put to find discrimination if he must come halfway across the nation to find an obscure corner bypassed by most tourists for almost 40 years - Nig’s grave.

His statment, “Black people don’t usually come1 to Hoover Dam or for that matter to the West,” is absurd Black people work at the dam. They work, live and play in all the surrounding

The plaque should be replaced. It should read NIG 1932-1940

No one’s dog. Everyone’s friend.

He adopted a dam

(s) Mrs. Ray Poyser ,

The nameplate on his collar read “Nig - Boulder Dam Mascot.” He loved candy. At times a notice would appear in

 

Las Vegas Review-JournalIB

 

TJNLV professor backs plaque

By James Kastelic R-J Staff Writer

The plaque at Hoover Dam dedicated to the black dog “Nig” symbolizes an important piece of Nevada history and should be reinstalled; a UNLV ethnic studies professor says.

The plaque should be reinstalled because, at the time, “no one in the entire community (Boulder City) whs disturbed by this event,” according to professor Roosevelt Fitzgerald.

“Taking the plaque down or putting up another one that’s been reworded would be a coverup of the racism that was involved in naming the dog,” Fitzgerald says.

Fitzgerald, who is black, has researched Nevada black history, and said the plaque has historical value,

“The active racists named the dog — the passive ones said nothing about it,” he said.

“It is important to our understanding and appreciation of the history of the dam and the prevailing mentality of the time, that the name not be changed

and that the plaque be put back up,” Fitzgerald said.

The plaque was installed by tour guides last year as a memorial to the mascot of the men who built the Hoover Dam.

However, it was taken down after a Wisconsin man complained to government authorities and civil rights groups that he was offended by the racial overtones of the name “Nig.”

The plaque read: ‘“Nig” The Dog That Adopted A Dam. Born about 1932, Died about 1936.”

“The people who named the dog used an innocent animal as a means of poking a racial jab at not only those few blacks that worked on the dam, but at i every other black person in the United States,” Fitzgerald said.

According to stories, Nig lived with dam laborers in Boulder City; rode back and forth to the dam with them, rode the skips and elevators alongside them and kept the site free of ring-tailed cats.

When he was accidently killed by a worker backing up a truck, Nig was buried in concrete at a spot on the

Nevada side of the dam:. The word Nig was drawn on the tomb.

Although it is uncertain who actually named the pet, Fitzgerald claims it could have been the result of white attitudes toward black people during the 1930s.

“The perception of blacks was initially negative at that time,” Fitzgerald said. “When they became part of the work force, the perception deteriorated.”

Fitzgerald said that in 1932 the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the National Bar Association had to force Six Companies — builders of Hoover Dam — to hire black people to work on the dam.

“Up until that time blacks were turned down because they didn’t have experience with dams. The truth is, no one had dam experience, including whites,” Fitzgerald said.

“It was generally felt that whites didn’t have jobs because the black worker took them away, even though there were no more than 30 blacks working on the dam at any one

time,” he said.

Fitzgerald said if Boulder City residents were embarrassed by the plaque, then “Boulder City has grown up from the racism of the 1930s.

“If the folks are proud of it, it’s indicative that the sentiments of a contemporary Boulder City citizen that ‘we already have enough Negroes’ is repre- hensive of the populous,” Fitzgerald said.

Meanwhile, a petition containing 300 signatures to have the plaque reinstalled has been forwarded to Senators Paul La'xalt Rep. Jim Santini by Boulder City resident Betty Rovacchi.

Rovacchi has sent two other petitions to the legislators with a total of 200 signatures.

 

'Restore the plaque’

To the editor:

Webster defines democracy as “rule by majority.” In recent times, the American people have seen many changes brought about by “democracy” but not as Webster defines it.

Prayer has been removed from our schools by a minority of individuals. Forced segregation by busing has been accomplished by a minority of voices — and the majority, although voicing objections, failed to have any impact.

Now, one man is capable of negating the wishes of many— by successfully bringing about the removal of the commemorative plaque in honor of “Nig.”

Most Americans are proud of our heritage and the hearts arid, souls that went into its making. Nig is one of

those hearts, loyal and dedicated.

We’re now faced with rising prices, fuel shortages and, as the strong, determined breed we Americans are, somehow we will cope. It takes a smaller but no less important blasphemy to hurt the heart of us all.

I pity Mr. Kailan who must be lonely and unhappy, but we in Nevada can be proud he resides in Wisconsin.

Is it possible that Kailan believes the people who built Hoover Dam were “racists,” that there were no blacks who worked and died there, no so-called ethnic groups?

Read the history books, mister, and know there were all sorts of people, from all natiorialities, who pulled together. Nig was one of them, please restore my faith and restore the plaque.

Marilyn Jamieson

 

Page 25

The Day 'NIG' Died;

. Thursday, April 19, 1979

Herb Oliver Laid Him To Rest

by Bill Harbour

Herb Oliver of Boulder City was among those working at Hoover Dam on February 21, 1941 ... the day that “NIG” died.

The beloved black dog known as the mascot of Hoover Dam had sought a shady spot for a quick nap directly beneath the rear wheels of a large truck. The driver, Bob -Fisher, didn’t see the sleeping dog as he began

backing up and the dog that had won the hearts of thousands of workmen since his arrival on the project in 1932 was instantly killed.

Fisher was stunned. His grief was shared by others as the word quickly spread that NIG was no more.

Oliver was shift chief on the swing shift at the time. The current project underway was the construction of the exhibit building on the Nevada side of the dam.

By the time he arrived for work that sad day, permission had already been obtained to bury the faithful canine friend next to his true master, Hoover Dam.

M.O. Dodge gave the O.K. for a small grave to be carved in the rock floor of the small turnout area just abofe the exhibit building. It was done.

The body of the dog was wrapped in a tarp and placed in a box to await burial.

Oliver remembers the day well. Work on the digging of the grave had jtust begun when he came on the job at 3 p.m. It wasn’t until around 9 p.m. that all was ready.

And so on that February evening in 1941,

the simple funeral was conducted. It wasn’t a big affair; not many were there. Mickey Thomas, cement worker; Francis Stay, air tool operator; Walter Klann, concrete ... and Oliver were in the small group.

NIG was laid to rest, his days of play and joy were done. His feats of daring and his unbridled love for the great dam, and its men continued on in the hearts and minds of all who had been fortunate enough to know him.

The legend grew ... while NIG rested in an obscure grave passed by thousands of tourists each year. Few even noticed the simple slab with the letters NIG. Of those that did spot it, few

 

understood its significance.

Finally, a year or so ago, a simple small plaque was installed on the- canyon wall directly above the slab. It read: "NIG ... The dog that adopted a dam. Born about March 1932, died about June 1936." Actually, the date of death is incorrect ... but the senitment expressed is not.

Last summer, a Wisconsin tourist, Clarence Kailin. saw the plaque and demanded it be removed. He termed it “racist” in nature. He launched a barrage of letters which finally resulted in pthe simple

memorial being removed from the wall in March of this year

Reaction was immediate. Hundreds of persons have signed a petition circulated by Betty Rovacchi requesting the plaque be returned. Letters have been written to Nevada’s representatives and Congressman.

To date, no action has been taken. Bureau of Reclamation officials here said plans will be made to replace the plaque with an informational sign with “revised” wording. No firm plans have yet been started to this end.

 

MANY MEMORIES - Herb Oliver of Boulder City re* membered many things this week as he knelt beside the simple grave of the Hoover Dam Mascot, NIG. Oliver was among the small group of men that buried the beloved mascot after he was killed by a truck on February 21, 1941.

< ’wwwyvvvwvwvwvvvvvyv’IO!

// //■ A/ H-/tf / 7

 

Letter to the Editor

Dear Mr. Harbour

While reading the Tuesday edition of the Review Journal, I came to the picture of the bob-tailed black dog and quickly read the article with it. Some? thing wasn’t right. I again read the story, this time more deliberately - and came away with anger and a feeling of loss for another time and yet, it ' was for now.

I had finished the- story of “Nig”. This dog- who belonged in the hearts of a hundred men every day, and forever, could not exist for one man ever.

When Mr. Kailen-tendered out his racial wees to the bureaucracy and succeeded in having them relieved, I felt he put emotions in the simple

assignment of a name that was never there.

I don’t think these men could love and care -for a dog through the years and also carelessly malign themselves and their pet for the sake of racial slur.

No, I couldn’t do that to someone I loved and neither could they.

I think for those- who believe what I wrote, we ask for the original plaque to be returned.

Sincerely,

-Ketry Z. Drake

 

'Letting sleeping dogs lie’

To the editor:

(Re: March 27, R-J)

I was outraged to learn of the pitiful plight of Nig the dog.

For years, Nig faithfully guarded and watched over the construction of Hoover Dam and was the mascot of the many men who built it.

For Mr. Clarence Kailan of Wiscon- • sin to come to Hoover Dam and interfere in tbe affairs of Southern Nevadans by demanding that the humble monument to Nig be removed, is an insult to Clark County residents. It should not be tolerated.

To the one solitary man to ever

complain about this monument out of 19 million Hoover Dam visitors, I ask this question: If it is unknown who first owned or who first named the dog, hoW can Kailan assume “Nig” is a shortened version of a black racial slur?

The desecration of this simple headstone is a terrible wrong which should be righted at any cost.

I would take any action necessary to prevent its needless destruction. Call me a fanatic, but I believe in letting sleeping dogs lie.

Brian R. McCarthy

 

Z) A x

Nig’s plaque m»^n15°W d°eS Ke know that a black man who was working on the dam didn t name the dog (which is possi-

How does he know that “Nig” was not short for “Nigel,” or any other re! lated name?

I would like you and others to know that my family and I are in complete agreement that the dog’s plaque be returned to its rightful place.

Robyn A. Mello

In favor of

To the editor:

Nil^Xf knon reading your letters on Nig, the dog. I am inclined to agree with eyeryone who is in favor of having the plaque returned to its rightful place.

First of all, I do not see how Mr. faNfc C°Uld any radal Judice .. H0* d°es he know about something that absolutely no one knows, save for the dog and the one who owned him (it he was owned)?

 

'Confused W.O.P. with Whopper’

To the editor:

- (In answer to Steve Pagano’s letter, “We Italians have feelings, too”)

Stevie, old boy, you have some how been misinformed.

The word “Whopper” is used to describe the size of Burger King’s hamburgers.

“Whopper” is a slang word that was adopted many years ago to describe

large objects. You have confused W.O.P. with Whopper. W.O.P. derived from the words: “Without Papers.” W.O.P. pertains to any nationality of people that enters the United States on an illegal basis, not just Italians.

Don’t get me wrong; we love all of you “Italians.”

Joseph Judkuir

 

More comments on the dog 'Nig’

To the editor:

I can’t speak for everyone, but as for myself I am getting a little irritated' with the crybaby and pity me wailing of the minorities.

It seems to me that when they can’t come up with a constructive argument they’turn to that tired out cliche of racism.

Recently, I read a story in the R-J about a dog that adopted the dam. Just because the men at the dam, of which my father was one, gave the dog the name “Nig” the plaque which marks the grave of the animal was removed by the Bureau of Reclamation.

Why? Because a man claimed it

racist in nature.

Now I ask you, has anyone ever heard of such idiocy?- That’s like me telling Burger King to change the name of their hamburger because I’m Italian. It seems that if people can be and are this petty, it would be impossible to please them.

I suppose that this letter will be termed racist by people who can’t think of good argument against it. That is what usually happens, but I am not concerned. You see people shouldn’t hear the remarks of fools.

Mike Crawford

 

To date, I have received letters from Rep. Santini, Senator Laxalt and Senator Cannon stating their concern oyer the Plaque removal in memory of Nig - Hoover Dam Mascot. I am sure the citizens who signed my petition have also received letters.

I do not know whether the plaque wHI be returned Vjith Nig's correct history, but I DO WANT TO KNOW what power or influence one man from Wisconsin had with one senator and 30 letters to have the plaque removed, when we have

500 signatures representing 500 letters, two senators and one congressman from pur State of Nevada and still nothing has been done.

The citizens of this state have a right to know how Kailin from Wisconsin with no interest at all in our state except to ridicule it, or I might add, lost hts money in Las Vegas? had his last vengence on Nig.

I have written to Dr. McMillan of the State of Nevada's NAACP asking their concern, also I have been in touch with radio station KMJJ asking; for their help, whatever it might be.

Time will only tell what will be done and I am waiting in hope for Nig's return.

Betty Rovacchi '

663 Ave K

Boulder City, Nev 89005

 

Boulder City News, Boulder City, Nevada Thursday, May 3, 1979 Page 8

Boulder Dam Mascot Honored

The 23rd Annual 31'er Reunion Was Dedicated to Nig

With a crowd of 216 old-timers in attendance at the April 28 reunion of the men and women who built Hoover Dam nothing was more,natural than the public announcement by vice-president, Lucille Burt, ’ that the loudly acclaimed and loved Boulder Dam mascot, the one

and only “Nig” should have the entire evening be a night to remember him, and further, to. reaffirm that no one could get away with putting the plaque back up without his name name “NIG’' written plain ENOUGH for all the world to know that here lies a dog beloved by all and

revered by all the Boulder Dam workers and their families.

Jake Dieleman came to the microphone and made a motion that a resolution be made to put pressure on the powers who had removed the plaque with Nig's name on it ?that it henceforth and very darn

ed soon be placed ■ back where it belonged; not only the name but the correct date of his tragic death on the top of the dam on Feb. 21, 1941.... and that a likeness of his unforgettable body be engraved on that plaque. The 216 31'er's agreed wholeheartedly, the-reso- lution was seconded? carried and from that- moment forward the conversations centered around the Boulder Dam Mascot.

Postcards were » sold with his picture on it, articles that had been cut from the Boulder City News were given to one and all, a collection of over $100 was taken from the sale of the cards- and LeRoy Burt, in direct contact with Senator- Cannon in Washington took the- petition that Betty Rovacchi had passed a- mong the 206 members of. the 31’er club, and- it is being sent to Cannon in Washington. A letter already received by LeRoy Burt from Senator Cannon has assured him that the Secretary of the Interior is on the case.

Everett Blanchard-had a book with 29 pages of the articles that have -been printed in the NEWS and in one Las Vegas paper re:“Nig” and the fight to get the black dog fixed forever with immortality because he was so loved and was indeed an«inte- gral donation to the-glory of the dam the men said he helped them build. Their statement is easily explained. The very sight of Nig leaping from ^a

 

transport, and into the bucket carrying the meh across the dam and- from that he would race back and forth upon the swinging catwalk and up the ladders and into the bowels of the rising-dam. None knew where he would pop up next but all knew that the day was brightened and the work lightened when his beloved form hove into view.

There is another story that has surfaced and it came by a long distance phone call from Phil Lawson to Teddy Fenton.

One day said Phil-, who came upon the project in 1931, “I was standing with Charlie “Dogface” Rose, “whose crew of laborers were all black. None knew better than I how much Charlie thought of his hard working crew and among them all -there was a shared affection for “Nig” who was scarcely out of puppyhood when his master was killed on the project. Charlie Rose was credited as being Nig’s best buddy.” -

While we stood -there and I was talking to Charlie, here came this black dog” and at- that time no one had heard of him. “Nig” was black, make no mistake about that, and one black laborer spoke to his co-worker and remarked that the dog was blacker than he was! ” Up spoke his friend-..why

then he ought to be called, “Nigger". Shortened to “Nig” it is now perhaps a legend...would you - say? At any rate, perhaps Nig spent his searching in that long truth that man has no better friend than his dog and was Nig on - that everlasting search for his first master?

We would like again to remind our readers that Nig lies in a grave, his body in a cardboard box, the box wrapped in a tarp, and around, and. below him, abov£ him • and

protecting him is - solid granite topped by a 3 foot layer of cement.

The last man to place a bit of immortality on that precious slab that protects Nig from all but the enemy who ordered the remov al of his memorial..

was Walter Klann of Henderson. Walt scratched the simple 3 letters.... “Nig”.

Think back to Feb. 21, 1941, on that sad day Bob Fisher drove the, truck that backed over Nig as he lay sleeping in its shade. A true story ended that day, but lived on for the following 38 years.

When Boulder City becomes 50 years old Nig will have been dead for 40 years. Can any person among our readers expect the immortality that is his? Rest in Peace, Dear Nig.

The Narrator

 

To the Editor r '

Recently my husband and I read about the removal of the plaque in mentory of Nig at Hoover Dam. On our two visits to Nevada we have visited the dam both times and understand the pride and history behind it. Cannot possibly conceive Of how any man would object to anything that' is part of such a wondrous feat such as the dam and the faithful dog that was there to see it all happen. Instead of drinking in the beauty, this man from Wisconsin could only see racism in a name on a plaque. What a pity.

My husband and I were very much impressed with Boulder City and ■ after reading the articles about this matter and the action that is being taken we are just as impressed with the people living there.

Please inform Mrs. Ro- vac^chi that she has. our permission to put our names on her petition to have the plaque to Nig put * back where it belongs, and we feel she and all concerned are really standing up to be counted. Sincerely, Mr. & Mrs. Charles Houston, 627 Eastern Avenue, Lynn, Massachusetts

 

Sunday, May 20, 1979—Las Vegas Review-Journal—7A

without plaque;

 

Santini wants plaque restored

BOULDER CITY — The Buredii of Reclamation overlooked the cojj? - cems of a vast majority of people to appease one individual when it removed a plaque at Hoover Dam last' March honoring Nig the dog, Rep.' Jim Santini says.

In a letter to Eugene Hinds, direc- , tor of the bureau here, Santini said he has been “deluged” with letters, calls and petitions from citizens protesting the plaque’s removal, initiated after q Wisconsin man complained to govern- ■, merit and civil rights agencies that the wording of the memorial was racist. **, / “As I review this situation, it seemtz i to me that in an attempt to appeasD " one individual the bureau has over- ; looked the concerns of the vast major? - ity,” Santini said.

“I personally believe that the rE- moval of the plaque was a hasty and unnecessary action, and I would, therefore, urge you to restore the pla- . que to its original and proper post- ’ tion,” he added. . 3 *

Nig, a black, rough-coated caning ’ who became known as the mascot "of * the builders of Hoover Dam, was acci- q dentally killed by a worker backing up a truck in -the early ’40s. He was bur- ' ied in a concrete tomb on the Nevada side of the dam.

Clarence Kailin, a tourist from ' Madison, visited the dam this year and was offended by the dog’s name, — a condensed version of an ethnic 1 slur, he contended.

/->./6

 

Page 11

"The Other Side!

Letters To The Editor Re: W

 

EVIEW-

Journal.

1111 W. BONANZA ROAD • POST OFFICE BOX 70 • LAS VEGAS, NEVADA 89101 • (702) 385-4241

May 24, 1979

Dear Mr. Fitzgerald:

Enclosed are the letters from various civil rights and government agencies regarding Nig the Dog that I promised to mail off. Hope they meet with your satisfaction.

MEMBER

DONREY MEDIA GROUP

 

 

IN REPLY

United States Department of the Interior

BUREAU OF RECLAMATION

LOWER COLORADO REGIONAL OFFICE

P.O. BOX 427

REFER TO: LC-140

BOULDER CITY, NEVADA 89005

100.3

DEC 5 137c

Honorable Gaylord Nelson United States Senator 507 Federal Building Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53202

Dear Senator Nelson:

In response to your inquiry on behalf of Mr. Clarence Kailin who had raised questions about "Nig," the Hoover Dam construction crew’s mascot, I am providing the following information.

As Mr. Kailin indicated, "Nig" was a black, rough-coated dog which was found as a pup, named, and raised by the Six Companies construction crews who built Hoover Dam in the early 1930’s. The enclosed articles indicate that this animal became almost a legendary local figure on the construction project.

Following "Nig’s" accidental death, the exact date of which is uncertain construction workers used air hammers to chisel out his present tomb at the Nevada side of the dam.

You will note from the articles that "Nig" was both an unusual dog and an endeared mascot. Although his story does not appear, in any official Bureau publications, journalists have frequently done feature stories on this animal. School tours visiting the dam find both the grave and the accompanying story a memorable part of their visit.

In response to Mr. Kailin’s concern about proper recognition being given to those workers killed during the dam construction, I am enclosing photographs showing two memorial plaques. A photo of "Nig’s" grave and marker is also enclosed.

The larger of the two memorial plaques is located at the Arizona end of the dam. flhe smaller memorial, made by the American Federation of Labor, is currently being cleaned and prepared for remounting at the memorial plaza on the Nevada side.

 

2

trying to explain this account of "Nig" to Mr. Kailin, Mr. J. S. Sweeney, Chief of Hoover Dam Visitor Services, acknowledges that he told Mt. Kailin that there was little likelihood of the marker being removed for the reason requested. Hoover Dam has recently welcomed its 19 millionth visitor, and this is the first charge of racism which has been associated w^-*-h the dog, the dam, or the visitor services program.

I hope this information will satisfy Mr. Kailin’s concerns.

In duplicate

Enclosures

Sincerely,

j- f i ■ _

Mnriuc! Lopezj Jpj *' '►JO--104, Sirector'4'

 

''Metropolitan School District

jlasS. Ritchie, Superintendent ---------

December 21, 1978

,, 545 West Dayton Street, Madison, Wisconsin 53703<

Mr. Manuel Lopez, Jr.

Regional Director

U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Reclamation

Lower Colorado Regional Office

P. 0. Box 427

Boulder City, Nevada 89005

Dear Mr. Lopez:

RE: LC-140

100.3

built Hoover Dam.

°f tight or wrong

Do

ir lives?

with

we wan t K^.-inue

story work, of an extension <_f reflection of the 30

’“S 1’ -Ullonth visitor

about the name of the dog. A

find both the grave and tha^ "school tours visiting

"I--" is the most tragic one^fstory a memorable part g c one of all. j wonder how many little

X ln? of the name afixed to the the experience? I wonder, also, how had an additional layer of.dehumani-

“ -is. is an interesting and „arm to be touched by the presence oi X '"-“T’ >""lcult ■-a of man's humanity to pets t„.‘ ,,a Classlc Portrayal , -e 30’s where there 2 ' Trag^ally, it is aiso a

of man s inhumanity to man. ' retrospect, a large amount

The question, as I see it i<-

- racist or non-raclst, but a'mnclXX mUCh of rlSht or wrong remember this relationship between the °"a ° how do ”e Mnt to tn --p cween the men and the dog?

th^WiP °r d° We want to conti that permeated that era?

you indicated that

to remember the beauty of the relationsh to be reminded of the "ugliness

The paragraph in which the dam f ' ' of their visit" l children of darker skprs have felt th ma8 and.^ssed the whole beauty of zinv h i n °f li8hter skins have zing behavior added to their lives?

You also indicate that the dam no one registering a complaint

 

"r- I U,,e2

^^121)1978

Page 2

of this

MAC;bep

— a ideals

Marlene A r

Human Relatlo" "8f

X8XrttRef ;hr winion- VISltG(I H

--Lr X'-O-onLo^--^ X-er.

u,i, *X”h„7

8I1MSS’ ~a"

today an , 8 ? Pe^od i-

b-"- XX t0 the capacity to w°uld not like i

to be be baJlVdTr d°S. the r- ^fnal anajysl^tedct,y tf)e name.

Weight.

— in our hi<X ~^Ue ^aheled ’’Nie"

ou^ children th ^"^d with 8 7 « name giVen

Respectino h. ' the country rho ? dehumani Rro» In "h8eihr p nftUre> « i do ad°J and «e eir level nF uo» and all

remembered by t^G "seami^'

e rence Kallin

Senator Caylord »G1-o,

ization is men who . owing humans side ofSthe(th°Se "e" betoeenl

■ ■ e lsnae\tbeautif8“i

W

- whatever ^^^eL

eVer th«e thoughts 3ro

WOrth» I remain

Empathetically yOurSj

 

December 28, 1978

545 West Dayton Street Madison, Wisconsin 53703

 

Douglas S. Ritchie, Superintendent

Mr. Ira Hutchinson Deputy Director Natiohal Parks Service Department of Interior Washington, D.C. ■ 20240 i

Dear Mr. Hutchinson:

HooieEeDai! COrre^pond6nce regarding^ most unfortunate situation at

why^lacks do H°oks' ^"icle where he quoted you as wondering

why Blacks do not visit some of the national parks. Perhaps, this is one on differentnthine«°rle "^d of being insulted. Rumors or reports

different things travel quite fast throughout the Black community.

What is your feeling about point of view, that can be

tlon?

the enclosures and is there anything, from vour done to rectify this rather insensitive situa-

With respect,

Marlene A. Cummings; f\ Human Relations Consultant

MAC:sj g

Enclosures

 

Board of Education

Madison Metropolitan School District

E';“el Lopez,Jr. .Regional Director Deparvment of Interior eau of Reclamation er Colorado,P.O.Box 427 Ider City, Colo.

89005

545 W. Dayton Street Madison, Wisconsin 53703

^iduals ?ive to 3ns who ite and

slurs that might offend local re- W and organi- ———— • i/u-ses • bHax per- .

glorify a very shameful past. Without question. I am sure:

I look foward to your most immediate

to register both a concern and formal memorial plaque to a dog simply referred

NIG”, was the

p Mr. Lopez, purpose of this missive is Plaint with you regarding a

[ Xt 1S my understanding that this dog,

might conclude^harsudh^^rr* benefit of local history

it has come to my attention thatNIG" ^was

very derogatory epithet still on a a “ Ereviation

r Americans ofa - red °ffensive to myself and

leans of Afro-American descent.

XX'-a^ofT r^reSentin£ a multi-cultural community, 1 am' s co&ii-^ant of insults and ethnic "

and groups. Therefore. I am constantly aware of and

the legitimate requests of individuals',groups, Ui vi6anI seex to remove any and all instituting! . .

J -institutional vestiges-that pe

understand my concern. In closing, »nse. (

cc; Clarence S. Kailin

Sincerely,

Kwame S. Salter,Member MMSD Board of Education

 

BOB KASTEN MEIER to OsTWICT, WISCONSIN

committee on JUDICIARY

2232 House O»r»ct Buiunno ^*O*« Area Coot 202. 225-2906

HOME OTFKZE: Suite 517 119 Momma Avenue Madison. Wisconsin 53703 Phone Area Code SOS. 252-5206

Congress ok the United Atates House ok Representatives Washington, D.C. 20515

January 17, 1979

CHAIRMAN. SUBCOMMITTEE ON COURTS, CIVIL LIBERTIES ANO THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE

COMMITTEE ON'

INTERIOR AND INSULAR AFFAIRS

SUBCOMMITTEES ON:

NATIONAL PARKS AND INSULAR AFFAIRS

SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS

t

Mr. Clarence Kai I in

1344 Fish Ha+chery Road

Madison, Wisconsin 53715

Dear Mr. Kai I in:

Thank you for writing me regarding your recent trip to Hoover Dam and your concern about the possible racial overtone^ of the name "Nig" that is inscribed on a plaque which honors the mascot of the workers who constructed the Dam.

Indeed, if the name of the dog was considered by visitors to be a racist insult, it should certainly be removed. On the other hand, as Mr. Lopez explained in his letter to Senator Nelson, you were the first of more than 19 million visitors to raise the charge of racism with respect to the dog, the dam ort the visitor services program.

While I am sensitive to the point you raise, In view of Mr. Lopez' detailed response to Senator Nelson, I am inclined to accept his explanation.

In view of what Mr. Lopez has indicated, I do not see how a persuasive case can be made for the removal of the plaque at this time. Accordingly, I see little point in pursuing this matter further with the National Park Service. However, I do hope that you will continue to contact me about Issues of special Interest to you In the months to come.

With kind regards.

RWK:mlk

 

TIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF COLORED PEOPLE

MADISON BRANCH

1862 BELD STREET 53713

February 21, 1979 ;

MADISON, WISCONSIN

P. O. BOX 772 53701

Mr. Manuel Lopez, Jr.

Regional Director, US Dept, of the Interior

Lower Colorado Regional Office

P.O. Box U27

Boulder City, Nevada 89005

Dear Mr. Lopez:

The Madison Branch of the NAACP if forwarding this letter in support i of Mr. Clarence Kailin’s position against the plaque located on the Hoover ■ Dan in remembrance of the dog "Nig". The name is offensive, racially motivated and demeaning in nature. This ’’endeared mascot I note was a black dog who in all probability was brought up and cared for by white racists workers who were not brave enough to memorialize the dog as "Nigger". Conversely, I wonder how far our democratic government would have sunported, and even defended, a group of black workers constructing a plaque to a dog whose name would be demeaning to the Caucasian race.

We are not impressed with the allegation that Mr. Kailin’s complaint is the first. Our Judeo-Christian society has always been careless when dispensing the truth to ethnic people of color. If this is truthfully the first complaint concerning the dog’s name, this is indeed a sad commentary on the ethics and mentality of our society. Mr. Kailin, a white crusader for freedom and a proud member of our Branch, is sensitive to all social injustices. In this attitude, he is in illustrous company such as Jesus, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Frederick Douglass. All were committed, and all were a minority in their opinions during their times.

I ’

It is predictable that nothing will be done to alter this situation. Our hope would be that the plaque would remain, but the name Would be removed and/or changed. The Branch will watch future developments with care.

If no action is forthwith from these usual forms of communications, perhaps unusual methods will have to be tried. i

Finally, since this terminology is being defended, I trust that this plaque and its damaging terminology are being shown to all of our visiting

 

February 21, 1979

Please reply.

Sincerely,

Bolling BT Smith, Sr. President

BBS/pmr /

cc: Mr. C. Kailinr

Sen. G. Nelson

Rep. R. Kastenmeier

File (2)

Mr. Manuel Lopez, Jr.

Page Two j

■ <■ th. Third World. If this area is being avoided with

?heskvls"°^7there is hypoerlsy and IneOnslstaney somewhere.

 

The University of Wisconsin—Extension Lowell Hall, 610 Langdon Street Madison, Wisconsin 53706 Phone (Area 608) 262-0646

March 27, 1979

Honorable Gaylord Nelson

United States Senator

507 Federal Building Milwaukee, WI 53202

Dear Senator Nelson:

It has been brought to the attention of WWIA by Mr. Clarence Kailin that a plaque has been placed at Hoover Dam to honor the construction crew's mascot, named "Nig".

Wisconsin Women in the Arts, Inc. is a nonprofit organization concerned with changing stereotypical images and language, oppressive to women and minorities. The name of the mascot and the placement of the plaque at a national landmark(with the name on it)appear to be a reinforcement —a condoning by the federal government--of racism in America.

Please support a change in the plaque; the change suggested by Mr. Kailin is non-racist, while providing the recognition desired by the construction crew.

The fact of 19 million visitors to the dam seems irrelevant to the real of issue, the inherent racism in the name. Please, again, support a change in the plaque, which will not reinforce for the next 19 million people the underlying racism in our society.

Sincerely,

Anna Biermeier for the State Board of Wisconsin Women in the Arts, Inc.

 

April 17, 1979

Mr. Manuel Lopez, Jr.

Regional Director

United States Department of Interior

Bureau of Reclamation

P.O. Box 427

Boulder City, Nevada 89005

Dear Mr. Lopez:

This letter regards two issues -

1. the plaque "NIG" at Hoover Dam

2. your letter to Senator Gaylord Nelson providing information about "NIG."

Both the plaque and your letter are offensive. The plaque not only commemorates the mascot, it also commemorates the blatant racism of the 1930*s. This racist mentality sanctioned calling a dog, which happened to be 'black, rough coated' by the abbreviated term used to degrade a whole group of people.

Your letter to Senator Nelson reveals that insensitivity and racism have prevailed to the present day. You defend that racist thinking with reference to unofficial documentation of the dog's unusual and endearing qualities. Most appalling, however, is your statement "School tours visiting the dam find both the grave and the accompanying story a memorable part of their visit." The United States government is obviously not aware that it is perpetuating in the memories of children the racist terms that are part of our country's history. There is no question but that children learn more and other aspects than teachers think they are teaching.

For our children's sake, and in commemoration of the International Year of the Child, I recommend that the name on the plaque be removed or modified. How about "An Usual Dog" and/or an "endeared mascot." Will children not have just as memorable an experience?

For our country's sake, I would recommend that all U.S. Government, plaques, historical markers, signs, posters be monitored for racist implications and that efforts be intensified to eliminate racism wherever it exists and by any means necessary.

(continued)

...in the struggle for peace and justi< freedom and digni for all people

 

page 2

Mr. Manuel Lopez, Jr. Boulder City, Nevada

Mr. Lopez, I ask you to reconsider your previous position, namely, ''the likelihood of the marker being removed for the reason requested" by Mr. Clarence Kail in, and that you recommend, for that very reason, that the plaque be removed or modified as quickly as possible.

DWD:cjk

Dorothy W/Davids

Director

Center for Racial Justice

 

Sincerely,

cc: President Jimmy Carter

Ms. Jean Young

Senator Gaylord Nelson

Representative Robert Kastenmeier Mr. Clarence Kail in Mr. Ira Hutchinson

 

EVlEW- VOVRNAL.

1111 W. BONANZA ROAD • POST OFFICE BOX 70 • LAS VEGAS, NEVADA 89101 • (702) 385-4241

Apri I 12, 1979

Studies

Department

891 54

Roosevelt Fitzgerald P rofessor, Ethnic UNLV Anthropology Las Vegas, Nevada

Dear Rooseve It:

Sorry it has taken me so Long to get back to you, but I wanted to wait until the story about you and the infamous dog "Nig" came out so I could send it to you.

Also enclosed are copies of previous articles that were run in the Review-Journal. Hope they meet your needs .

I enjoyed talking with you Last week, and I hope we can have other discussions in the future. If I can be of assistance in the future, do not hesitate to give me a ring.

d-

MEMBER

DONREY MEDIA GROUP

 

U

April 17, 1979

National Board of the

Young VVo men’s Christian Association of the U.S.A.

6001/exingtpn Avenue New York. N.Y. 10022 2I2-M-4700

Cshle: Emissarjus. N.Y.

Zi

Assistant Treasurer

Mr. Manuel Lopez, Jr.

Regional Director

United States Department of Interior

Bureau of Reclamation

P.O. Box 427

Boulder City, Nevada 89005

Dear Mr. Lopez:

This letter regards two issues -

  1. the plague "NIC" at Hoover Dam
  2. your letter to Senator Gaylord Nelson providing information about "NIG."

 

Both the plaque and your letter are offensive. The plaque not only commemorates the mascot, it also commemorates the blatant racism of the 1930's. This racist mentality sanctioned calling a dog, which happened to be 'black, rough coated' by the abbreviated term used to degrade a whole group of people.

Your letter to Senator Nelson reveals that insensitivity and racism have prevailed to the present day. You defend that racist thinking with reference to unofficial documentation of the dog’s unusual and endearing qualities. Most appalling, however, is your statement "School tours visiting the dam find both the grave and the accompanying story a memorable part of their visit." The United States government is obviously not aware that it is perpetuating in the memories of children the racist terms that are part of our country's history. There is no question but that children 'learn more and other aspects than teachers think they are teaching.

For our children's sake, and in commemoration of the International Year of the Child, I recommend that the name on the plaque be removed or modified. How about "An Usual Dog" and/or an "endeared mascot." Will children not have just as memorable an experience?

For our country's sake, I would recommend that all U.S. Government, plaques, historical markers, signs, posters be monitored for racist implications and that efforts be intensified to eliminate racism wherever it exists and by any means necessary.

(continued)

...in the struggle for peace and justice freedom and dignitj for all people

 

page 2

Mr. Manuel Lopez, Jr. Boulder City, Nevada

Mr. Lopez, I ask you to reconsider your previous position, namely, "the likelihood of the marker being removed for the reason requested" by Mr. Clarence Kail in, and that you recommend, for that very reason, that the plaque be removed or modified as quickly as possible.

Sincerely

DWD-.cjk

Dorothy W/ Davids

Director

Center for Racial Justice

cc: President Jimmy Carter

j iv) . UCQII I’JUiKJ

Senator Gaylord Nelson

Representative Robert Kastenmeier

Mr. Clarence Kail in

Mr. Ira Hutchinson

 

April 21, 1979

13UU Fish Hatchery rd

Madison, Wis 33713

Mr. James Kastelic

Las Vegas Review-Journal

Dear Jim,

I thought you might be interested in the enclosed letter from Dorothy Davids, Director, Center for Racial Justice, YWCA.

I am also enclosing a copy to Prof. Roosevelt Fitzgerald. However, since I don’t know his address, perhaps you could be so kind as to put an address on the envelope and send it on.

I also included the following note to the Professor which I would like to have you use in the form of a letter to the editor, or a story, or whatever, perhaps along with the Davids letter;

Dear Prof. Fitzgerald,

I found your comments in the Las Vegas Review-J ournal of April 12, most interesting and useful—except for one thing: that ’’the plaque... symbolized an important piece of Nevada history," and that; "Taking the plaque down or putting up another one that’s been reworded would be a coverup of the racism that was involved in naming the dog. "

Suddenly, the naming of the dog becomes the most important thing.

Remember, Black people were usually (and too frequently still are) referred to as n-----r. That’s history, too... So if we ask people to stop using

the term, is that a cover-up of racism??

The term n-----r was one of the many ideological weapons used to maintain

white supremacy. 'When Black people were lynched (Some 3,000 recorded lynchings in the first four decades of this century) it was not as equals— it was as n-----rs, inferiors, sub-humans, animals.

Did we learn nothing from World War II and Hitler ’ s anti-Semitism?

One of the major aims of the Potsdam meetings after the war was to put an end,not only to the nazis, but to the ideology of nazism. When people believe the absurdities of nazism and racism, they will commit any kind of atrocity—from lynchings to genocide of the Jews. Mr. James F. Reynolds, Director, Colorado Civil Rights Commission, in asking for the removal of the plaque, was quite right when he stated; "lynching was an acceptable means of social control."

If you are so concerned with the preservation of history—and the fight against racism, then why not suggest putting up the racist NIC"plaque in a museum with an explaination of the racism of the times and the name.

And remember, further, that the plaque wasn’t put up in the 1930’S when the dam was built. It was put up only last year—which indicates how racism hangs on—unless you take positive steps to eradicate it. Or would you rather not take "tHe 'trouble?

Yours for a world free of racism,

Clarence Kailin

 

April 27, 1979 4441 Escondido Las Vegas, Nevada 89109

Mr. Clarence Kailin

1344 Fish Hatchery Rd.

Madison, Wisconsin

Dear Mr. Kailin,

In your letter you write "Suddenly, the naming of the dog becomes the most important thing." I thought that the name of the dog was the crux of the matter. If the dog had been named "Blackie" there would not have been a problem with the plaque. You also say "if we ask people to stop using the term (Nigger) if that would be "a cover-up of racism??" As I understand it the dog was named in 1932. It was definitely a racist act. If we re-name the dog it would be a cover-up. We cannot un-do what has happened. If we affect the behavior of people in the future that could not possibly be a cover-up. A cover-up is when an attempt is made to conceal that which has happened and not when you attempt to keep that which has not yet happened from happening.

I agree whole heartedly with your statistics on the number of Blacks lynched and the rationale ultilized as a justification by America's twin of the German Nazi.

I think we learned quite a lot from World War II and Hitler's anti-Semitism. We are yet searching for Nazi war criminals who were involved in those atrocities. Some of the ovens are still there. A monument, in the name of all those slain, was recently erected. This was not done to glorify those events. They are there to serve, hopefully, as a constant reminder that men are capable of acting in unmanly ways when given the opportunity. They are to serve as a beacon to those of us who demand that these kinds of things not happen again. So that we who have respect for the human spirit can say "This ol' hammer killed John Henry, but it won't kill me."

You do not have to think for a moment that I am not interested in preserving the history of the United States. Too much of the history of this country has been distorted. It is because of the distortions that a goodly number of "Americans" experience difficulty in comprehending the plight of those of us who happen to be black. There are people who believe that slavery was in the "best interest" of black people. There are those who believe that blacks have not been members, historically, of the professions because of laziness. There are those who believe that white Americans have the best interest of blacks at heart always. [Perhaps this is why unemployment among blacks is so high; infant mortality is so high; lack of housing is so high; etc). Distorted history. It is time to shut the doors on the excape hatches. Certainly, there are a number of people who wish to create the illusion that there is nothing wrong with the word "NIG" and because there is nothing wrong with it the plaque should be returned. Do not think for a moment that I have been misled by these. There is everything wrong with the word. My parents were referred to in those kinds of terms all of their lives and I was referred in a like manner for half of mine. It was offensive in 1932 and it is offensive now.

I want the plaque back up not because I like it, or am proud of it or anything else of the sort. I want it back for the same reason as some Texans wish for the Alamo to be preserved. I want it for the same reason that Japanese-Americans should want to preserve Manzanar. I want it for the same reason that Sand Creek or Wounded Knee is important to Native-Americans. For the same reason that

 

-2-

there is a monument at the Little Big Horn, or for the same reason that Nurem-burg is important to ewish people or the reason why a bough of holly is generally placed on the calendar for the 25th of December. But even more than any of these I want it for Emmett Till, The Scottsboro Boys, W.E.B., Martin, Medgar, and all of the millions of blacks who have suffered in this country since 1619. I want it there because I don’t ever want to forget that there are some people who have made a conscious effort to destroy the true meaning of democracy. We've all looked the other way. We've said "they don't mean any harm", "don't lower yourself to their level", "it'll be better in the next generation", and all kinds of other"cop outs/ It is time to take a stand. Americans are going to have to admit that these kinds of things did indeed take place in 1932 and they are going to have to ask themselves "is the same thing true today?" Some of us are no longer willing to make it easy for the bigot to be a bigot. We are not letting them hide it and stash it away or clean it up as they've done in the past. You say that the plaque was not put up in the 1930's but last year. "...which indicates how racism hangs on." You write this as though you are informing me of something. Be assured that I am well aware that racism is.yet with us and growing—partially because we let it hide in dark, dank, milde’.wjv places far removed from our everyday vision.

I have not yet understood why your question—"Or would you rather not take the trouble?"j How long have you been involved in a civil rights movement? Have you ever been arrested for your involvement? Have you ever been bitten by police dogs while participating in a march or some similar activity? Have you ever been hit by a billy club once or twice? Kept in an open stockade in 90° + heat for several days without any facilities? Have you ever worked in voter registration with pickup trucks with armed KKK members driving along beside you? Do you have any idea what a person who happens to be black have to go through in order to become a registered voter in the state of Mississippi prior to 1965? Have you been insulted every day for a straight thirty-eight years? Have you ever been forced to carry weapons because you knew that on any day at any time for no reason your life could be threatened andr if not prepared, taken away say to me "...would I rather not take the trouble?" I've been in trouble most of my life. I'm in trouble right now. I"ve taken the trouble to deal with this problem of racism since forever it seems.

You close your letter by saying "Yours for a world free of racism," and I close my letter by saying,

 

Yours for. a world free of assumptions,

 

May 9, 1979

13UU Fish Hatchery rd

Madison, Wis £3715

Dear Prof. Fitzgerald,

I want to thank you for answering my letter. Perhaps an exchange of letters and ideas will help to clear up the different ways we have of examining historical events.

I must first apologize for my remark "or would you rather not take the trouble." I still have no idea what you are involved in, and the remark added nothing to the discussion. I want to avoid confrontation since we both should be fighting the same enemy—racism.

As for your question "How long have you been involved in the civil rights movement?" More than years. Yes, I've been arrested for it, lost jobs, denied work, had my home surrounded by police for 30 straight days, been shot, got abusive phone calls, and lived in poverty for most of my life. I’m neither bragging nor complaining. I simply accept the fact that if you want to change things, you have to take all the guff that goes with it. I guess that's what they call "the American way." Well, you asked the question, so that's just between us... Visits from the FBI were not uncommon. I sometimes wonder if I could afford the file they have on me. They make it as difficult to get as possible—for 100 a page—with much deleted—and usually an additional search charge.

Enough of that. Now, as to the plaque. I'm not asking that we rename the dog. My initial reaction to the plaque remains: under the present circumstances that kind of a plaque only helps to perpetuate racism. So I suggested two things. First, I don't care if a plaque to the dog remains. He was a beloved mascot to the men who built the dam. So, let that be his epitaph. And, second, it would be best if the original plaque were to be placed in a museum with an explanation of the racism that was involved. A little history of this sort would be enlightening for the viewers. Perhaps your university has an historical society where this could be arranged.

You say in your letter to me "Certainly, there are a number of people who wish to create the illusion that there is nothing wrong with the word 'NIG'...There is everything wrong with the word... It was offensive in 1932 and it is offensive now." It is because it is offensive then and now that we must strongly oppose the continued acceptance of such ter* minology because it becomes justification for white supremacy and all that goes with it. Ever since slavery every generation has had a racist literature. Not by accident did this appear. Even the term "race" as used by Linnaeus (and others) as a convienence in describing physical types was grasped upon by the slavers as "scientific" proof of biologically different types—with the African, of course, at the bottom. That was only the beginning...

Which is why I stated: Let it be in a museum.

 

-2-

I think it is fairly obvious that we can agree as to the existence and nature of racism. But the major difference is: how do we deal with it; You wish to preserve the NIG plaque "for the same reason that some Texans wish for the Alamo to be preserved. .. For the same reason that there is a monument at the Little Big Horn, or for the same reason that Nuremburg is important to Jewish people..."

Now, this brings us to the heart of the matter. We can put all this in our various museums. We can put it in our books. But the question is: in what form? In other words, do we place equal emphasis on al1 historical material? Do we, for example, equate Martin Luther King, Jr. with his killer? Do we, for example, in teaching history, use our old textbooks which we now recognize are so racist?

In a word, is there really such a thing as "neutrality" in the teaching of history? Everyone has their own bias, and mine is to teach and present history in an anti-racist manner. We no longer can take the works of Rhodes and Burgess and Dunning and so many more, and use them on an equal basis with Woodson and Wesley and Du Bois. The former have distorted history in the most racist manner; the latter have brought forth an antiracist revision. We consciously discard the former because they only promote racism. We accept the latter because their teachings help to destroy racism. They help us restore a "neglected history.« They were aware that neutrality in the teaching of history only promotes the status quo—and that’s promotion of racism.

You wish to preserve the Alamo. But in what context. How do most Americans remember the Alamo? The Alamo became justification for further anti-Mexican outrages. I like the comments Frederick Douglass made in the North Star (Jan. 28, 18I4.8): "... the evil spreads. Large demands are made on the national treasury, (to wit: the poor man’s pockets)... the curse is upon us... The people appear to be completely in the hands of office seekers, demagogues and political gamblers... a general outcry is heard... ’Mexico must be humbled!... National honor!... Free institutions...'" (Doesn't this sound like Vietnam?) So when we preserve the Alamo, we (or at least I) cannot do so for the same reasons that some Texans wish for it to be preserved.

You say: "Some of us are no longer willing to make it easy for the bigot to be a bigot." But we are making it easy for the bigot when we allow them to commerate "NIG." The monuments erected in Nuremburg and Buchenwald and Aushwitz and Dachau and the hundreds of historic sites set aside in the areas of total destruction are monuments erected to the heroism of the people who gave their lives to destoy fascism. In rebuilding destroyed cities, some of the ruins were left as a reminder of what war and fascism are like. Now, all of this is in the context of the struggle against fascism. And this is made very clear in the markers that accompany the monuments.

NH does not do this. Allow me to quote from a letter devoted to this very subject. This letter was directed to Mr. Manuel Lopez, Jr., Regional Director, Bureau of Reclamation of Lower Colorado: "The paragraph in which you indicated that 'school tours visiting the dam find both the grave and the accompanying story a memorable part of their visit’ is the most tragic one of all. I wonder how many little children of darker skins have felt the 'sting' of the name affixed to the dog and missed the whole beauty of the experience? I wonder, also, how many children of lighter skins have had an additional layer of dehumanizing behavior added to their lives?" (Signed) Marlene A. Cummings, Human Relations Consultant, Madison Metropolitan School District, £U£ West Dayton Street, Madison, Wis £3703.

 

-3-

Mrs. Cummings' letter is valid because of the context in which NIG is placed.

The fight against this kind of stuff goes on. There is presently a nation-wide fight to get the Sambo restaurant chain to change its name— and for the same reason.

Georgia State Senator, Julian Bond, head of the Atlanta NAACP Chapter, has filed suit against the Federal Communications Commission seeking to have n-----r added to the FCC ban on obscene words taboo on television.

He said: "I don't think it ought to be permissible to use the six-letter word that dehumanizes and badly characterizes an entire race of people."

Perhaps this is why the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has denounced continued dominance of the television industry by white males. The Commission issued a 97-page report that urged the Federal Communications Commission to examine network programming decisions that led to stereotyped portrayals of women and minorities and the impact of these portrayals on viewers.

Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall stated in his Bakke Dissent: "... The experience Lf Negroes in America has been different in kind, not just in degree, from that of other ethnic groups. It is not merely the history of slavery alone but also that a whole people were marked as inferior by law. And that mark has endured..."

As for your statement: "We are yet searching for Nazi war criminals..." I don't know who you mean by "We." Certainly not the United States Government, recent news stories notwithstanding. Several years ago a member of the Department of Immigration and Naturalization wrote a book, Wanted; The Search for Nazis in America (Time Books, 1977). The author, Howard Blum, personally tracked down twenty-two (if I remember the number correctly) nazi war criminals. He presented all the evidence. Witnesses came from Europe to testify. Had he been wrong he would have had several dozen slander suits to contend with. His department told him to get lost. They refused to prosecute. The fact is that our government doesn't care about tracking down nazi war criminals. Our support for repressive governments—South Africa and the present government in Chile, for example—show where our interests lie.

History is fascinating and one could go on and on...

I want to thank you kindly for writing and would like to hear from you again.

Cordially,

Clarence Kailin

 

To: Th|r Editor

WM The ica.1 Background of thL_"Nig" ZituatiWh'

.1+ is always possible to do the right thing for the wrong reason. In 1929 . when LongresS'approved thDbwing- Lav i s Mil the Hp-ahea'dz was given for the construction of a dam at Black'D^nyon on the Lolorado stiver. dust months - later the country was plunged into the ’’Great Depression''. People, began losing job* and job loss worked from the bottom up. The first to go were those who performed the menia l tasks or those .other kinds of which the we 11-to-do did not care to do for themselves—domes lies, maids, janitors, porters, Pte. Most of those-kinds of jobs, at that time, were he Id by black people. People who hM a black maid, somehow or other felt .that they had it made. -Blacks had not, historical ly, teen a I lowed to work in thosW positions where some sembIance of a decent wage might be earned. In the good old -days . the "good' bl' boys" would 'not permit blacks to join the unions and as ffl result, except where 'there might have been open shops, blacks were automat!caI IV excluded f j^Mhheh"rea I " job ^market. Th i s,^! rcumstance has on I y recently begun to change. Look around you. Whore there were open shops blacks were genera Ily requ i red to have experience before bei ng hi red and others, quite often, gai ned.' th Mi r experience after be i ng hired. The longer these others, .worked the more experience .they hqd. .'The longer blacks were" kept from working. thF mono remote then r chances of' geff ihg exper i enco became. The gap between the two obv ious I y grow. Anyone 'can see that."

ma-ttbr' of th^> construction of the Boulder Dam was no different. Mq,s.t of those who' rushed to Nevada- and to Las Vegas in 1930. seeking employment ' had- no experience din dam construction. (Few dame, other than the'earthen kind, j^iad .been bu.i 11 up to that time). One ,could say .that there were workers who were experienced with explosives but of the 5000 workers on the project les#'" than I % were involved with explosives. 'One might attempt to suggest that the number of technicians greatly outnumbered the number of common Iaborers, or.concrete finishers, or high sea Iers. I wouldn't advise it. The documents shw d iftereht l-y. Thaj number of professiona l s wem’mi n imad . Howgver, -out of the construction of the BouIder Dam came some of the best dam workers i n the worl d. They .Learned their craft arid they learned it well and they learned it after goi ng to work on the Bou I der Dam. I f M were ^gbi ngftb bull d-'a' dam>- tpdUV^ I would look for workers Mthmthef abm l i ty of the Bou I der Dam workers.

To work at the dam project required Nevada citizenship, physteal tenacity, and one had to be a veteran. The contract spec i f i ed that Mongol Ians would not be. h i rod. linemp I oyed b I acks j WhC-Mel' the? requirements, were turned, down when they made application for employment. They were turned down for the overly used explanation that they had no experience. How many of us could, if asked if we- had experienced' in which we've had,kcould answer in the .affirmative!^. Blacks ..were systematical ly kept from ^working at the dam site.

There seems to have been a coftsp-iracy between the Six Companies, The Labor icfe- -i'Tt 'Lag Mgss, and^the personnel off icH' which wqs involved in tMLg actual interviewing. The condition of blacks remained dismal throughout the f irst two years.of the aefuaI constructionjwork. The NAACP. and^bther democratic minded organizations In the United States such as the National Bar Association put constant pressure on the Department of the Interior and other federal es. Pi naI Iy, foI lowing an investigation !nto comp I ai nts

by^Mr. Walter White, Executive Secretary of the National Association for the. Advancement of dCo'lored People, the Secretary of the' Interior issued a

 

-2-

Di rect i ve to the S. i'x Companies to the extent that b I acks were not to be ci i s- crimtnatc.d against in the hiring practices of the project. The perception of blacks at th is- time was at the' very best terrible—once they became a part of the work force that perception deteriorated. It was be Ii eved that the presence of bI acks on the Dam Project was keep i ng whites from working. No one had cared that the presence of whites on the Dam Project had . kept bI acks from working. I suppose the major difference is that at its height there were as many as 5000 5 workers.on that project. At one poigt all 5000 were white. At another point as many as 30 b I ack workers could be .-found on the dam project. I guess';’we are to believe that these thirty turned the destiny of thejUnited ^States around. ■ Look at the figures and you be the judge.

Blacks have historically been looked down upon by non-blacks. This goes all the way back to slavery. Anything that a black person did was i n effect What a slave would do. .Whitos. did not want blacks doing the kind.of Work that they' were doing because it was common Iy fe11 that th i s would demean the work, Iower the i r status and i t wouId be part i cuI ar Iy devastating to those who fe11 that one needed "superior" intelligence to do the work that they were doing. To permit blacks to do the work wouId be the same as admitting that blacks were equa I ly smart or they were equally dumb. As Omar Khayyam would suggest : " I hf it hither hurried whence? Or is it whither hurried hence."? Is it cLear what kind of effect this Kind of thin.ki ng would have oh the seI f-concept of that kind of person? I hope so.

How to strike back? That is the question. Cheap shots were taken whenever possi bIe. The appearance of a stray bI ack dog afforded some of the workers, those with strong•anti-bI ack feeli ngs, an opportuni ty to vent the i r fee Ii ngs* By "tagging" thi s. an ima I "'Nig" they used an innocent anima l as a means of poking a racia I jab at not on Iy those few b lacks who had been hi red on the project but at every other black person in the United States. It did not do a Iot of good for most white people in this country either. Most blacks and whites were and are totally unaware that this'happened. They've gone through thei r I!ves not having to deal with one more act of raci sm and we al I know that we've had to deaI with enough of it. Even though we reaIize that' the Word "Nigger" has no in reaIity with race—that anyone can be A

nigger—reaIi ty i s not always fact nor is fact always reality. In th i s case the be Iief that the word "Nigger" is reserved for black people takes precedence over reaIi ty and those men's reality was the be Iief that blackness was synonymous to n iggernoss.

That this event took pI ace is a historicaI fact. Renaming the anima] "Blackie" or "Trixie;" or simply will, in effect, be an- attempt to change .history. 11 wouId be a cover-up—a smaI I one but yet a cover-up. The fact of hi story is that there were, at the very best, both active and passive racists involved in the: work- on the dam. The active ones named, the dog "Nig" and the passive ones went a Iong with it. 11 is an important piece of Nevada History that in 1932: this event took place and that it d i d 'rjot matter to anyone who might have been i n a pos i tion to do something about it. Feature this as a story Ii ne in a newspaper for 1932: "Few Me Hards Attempt to name Black dog NIB but Majority of Workers Would Not Stand. For It". even, today? I not.

It is important to our understanding and appreciation of the hi story of the construction of the.dam and the prevaiIing mentality that the name not be changed .and that the-' plaque hot be removed. . I am not proud of this'event.

I should hope that no one else is. I wouId hope that it serves as a marker for us—a re We st i I I in the same, position, have we or have we grown

up and away from that aspect of the "good oId days"?

 

-z-

If a teacher should take an elementary class on a field trip to the .dam and a child, blacker white, should ask "Teachey what does NLG mean?" The teacher could answer, "It was a derogatory racia I’s I ur used Lack in 19'52. Ue Mon it use i't any more."

Rooseve 11 F itzgeraId

 

To: The Editor.

Re: The "Nig" fiasco.

The animal had no idea what the significance of the word "Nig" was and is.\ I am sure that anyone who has lived in this country for any length of time realizes that this word and its associates are offensive to a sizeable portion of the population. Offensive not because it has directly to do with any one group of people but because of the manner in which it has historically been used.

Blacks had tried unsuccessfully to gain employment on the dam project. Their requests were denied and more and more workers from around the country werehhired. The constant requests and intervention of both the local and national offices of the NAACP and the American Bar Association infuriated workers at the dam project. The Six Companies were finally forced to hire blacks on the project. This did not make for good relations between the races at the dam. None of those eleven blacks were shot or beaten or anything like that. Those kinds of things were happening in other parts of the country. Not here. Instead the poor, innocent, black,,rough haired, "man's best friend" was used. He was given the name "Nig" and I would guess each and every time the animal was called, that while love could be detected, by him, in the tone of voice used, the animal, simultaneously, did not realize that he was being used as a vehicle to insult black workers.

The fact that the animal was called "Nig" is history. That cannot and should not be changed. It is important that we know that in 1932 those kinds of people were among the dam workers. These were the active racists. I only regret that from the ranks of the majority of the workers (Hopefully) that a protest was not lodged then against the use of that word "Nig". Anyone who believes that a word "NIG", with its derogatory connotation, could have been given as a name of endearment is in a psychological wonderland. It would be akin to believing that one would call a sweetheart S.O.B. when feeling affectionate.

See this thing for what it is and let us all hope that we have grown up since 1932. The plaque should be there because that is the way it was. How is; it; today?,/; Ask the ;"peosi cpof 'BouJden C i t-.y-., . /

Roosevelt Fitzgerald

 

To: The Editor.

Re: The "Nig" affray ascan episode in Nevada History.

An observation of some of the letters written in regards to the "NIG"

situation at the Boulder Dam-..

"We Italians have feelings too". This letter refers to the "Whopper" in Burger King advertisements. The writer should check on the spelling of his acknowledged derogatory term for Italians. I am sure it is not spelled "Whop".

The writer of the letter "What's in a Name" seems to want to suggest that there is no difference between "Nig" (shortened form of Nigger) and Blackie or Whitey. Whitey Ford is ok, Black Bart was not black and Vida Blue is far from it. Red Scheondist is not red and Jo Jo White is not white. Nig, nigger, chink, wop, kike, honkey are all derogatory and racially inflamatory words. They are not names but insults. Anyone who uses these words do not have racial harmony as one of their intentions. This same response could also apply to the letter titled "The list would be endless". There is nothing wrong with "black beauty, "ol yaller","white Christmas", "red sunsets" or "black clouds". There is a difference between these and racial slurs which should be evident to all.

One writer suggests that blacks might have named the dog or at least called the animal by using the word "Nig". He also said that blacks are too "noble to get. involved in the ruckus". Interesting. Until very late in 1932 blacks were not hired on the dam project. They were not on the property. They did not name the animal. They did not accidentally back a truck over the animal and kill him. They did not etch "Nig" in a concrete slab over the animal's grave. They did not place the plaque with the word "Nig" at the dam. The entire "Nig" episode was created, maintained, and resurrected by a few white people. It seems as if some would like to lay the blame for the entire fiasco on Blacks. We will not have it.

Roosevelt Fitzgerald

 

Mr. Jack Tell, Editor

The Las Vegas Israelite

Re: Letter concerning "NIG" plaque at the Boulder Dam.

Those of us who have been brutalized physically or psychologically or both or have had-friends or relatives to whom such has happened can appreciate the significance of a racial slur. Those who have been fortunate enough not to have had these things happen to them sometimes have difficulty in comprehending the impact of such.

Within the past month there has been quite a lot said and written about •a small mongrel, rough-haired, black dog who was adopted by some workers at the Boulder Dam in 1932. They named the animal "Nig". The name had racial overtones and was and is insulting to most black people. Recently a plaque, commemorating the presence of the animal was placed at the Dam. It was seen by a tourist from Wisconsin who wrote letters of protest which had the ultimate effect of having the plaque removed on the grounds that it was racially offensive. It is offensive. However, that workers named this animal such is a historical fact. It is a fact which was not known to many prior to the placing of the plaque. To commemorate this event is not all that important. It is important that we know that these kinds of attitudes were in existence here in this country at the same time when similar slurs were directed toward Jewish people both in this country and abroad. We have seen some of the results of this kind of thinking at "Wounded Knee", at the "sleepy Lagoon", at "Scotsboro" and Philadelphia, Mississippi, at "Manzanar", at San Francisco at the turn of the century and with the Nurnberg Laws of 1935 and their aftermath.

It is important, too, that the general public be aware of the kinds of things which those of us who are black have had to contend With. The attempts The attempts at destroying the self-concept of black people, the denial of economic opportunities, the lack of available housing and the lack of protection by the laws have all influenced the restrictions blacks have had to deal with.

 

We have come a distance since 1932 when the dog was named "Nig". Let us use that date, that event as a landmark from whence we can measure how far we've come since then.

As a black person who have experienced these kinds of behavior patterns for the greater part of my life and who have spent the past fifteen years actively studying the impact, growth and development of racism in the United I should hope that the placque be returned to the Dam. A constant reminder of what we will never again tolerate in the United States of America.

Roosevelt Fitzgerald

 

HAIL! HAIL! the Gang's all here J at least 206 of the 3 Ver's of Hoover Dam fame arrived last Saturday and chatted and chewed for five hours. The resounding conclusion of all who attended the affair, whi^h was a noonday luncheon, was that it was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone and all who were there planned to come again next year. Judging from the sober looks on the pioneer's faces above one must believe that the resolution has jpst been passed

that the plaque to "Nig" be immediately and forthwith placed back where it was unlawfully removed because of a single man's request that it was racist. No pioneer is going to let Washington D.C. kick "Nig" around if indeed it is proven that the order was not locally based. The 31 'ers are not going to be satisfied until justice is done. Look over the crowd in this picture if you don't belieive it.

 

Benjamin Pantier

Together in this grave lie Benjamin Pantier, attorney at law,

And Nig, his dog, constant companion, solace and friend.

Down the gray road, friends, children, men and women,

Passing one by one out of life, left me til I was alone With Nig for partner, bed - fellow, comrade in drink. In the morning of life I knew aspiration and saw glory.

Then she, who survives me, snared my soul With a snare which bled me to death, Till I, once strong of will, lay broken, indifferent, Living with Nig in a room back of a dingy office. Under my jaw - bone is snuggled the bony nose of Mg-

Our story is lost in silence. Go by, mad world!

 

Nig a masonry term

I read the story about the dog Nig, and the plaque honoring him at Boulder Dam, with incredulity. The removal of the plaque borders on the ridiculous (as most acts by governmental agencies do). But, the protesting Kailin’s presumption, that the men who worked on the dam named Nig in hostility, a word for Nigger, a derogatory term, reaches the height of, ridiculousness. We’ll give that sometimes university lecturer an “A” for being psychic (reading minds), and another “A” for projecting his own - prejudices in the, ’70s back into the 7 minds of men who were working on the dam in the ’30s.

If Kailin had bothered to consult his” dictionary (as all good little university ■> lecturers should do occasionally) he’d * have found that nig is a masonry term * (a transitive verb, to be exact) which t means nidge (another verb), which means: to dress a stone with a pick or* kevel.

It seems inconceivable that those men” would have named a dog they loved as-t much as Nig a word they said with ha- „ tred and malevolence. And they prob-- ably didn’t. What’s more likely is that> they named him (what was to them) a ' term of affection, chosen from their working, everyday vocabularies.

DORIS ANN SAMPLES”

 

Dear Editor, Boulder City News.

I have just finished reading an article in the “Milwaukee Journal” concerning Nig, “the dog that adopted a dam.'' I must say I was shocked and angered that the misplaced sensitivities of one man, Clarence Kailin, could cause the removal of a plaque honoring a remarkable dog obviously loved and admired by many people.

Mr. Kailin’s assumption that the name Nig is a racial slur is ludicrous. It is just as likely that the name is short for “niggling,” which Webster de- - fines as “spending too much effort on minor details.” That sounds like Mr. Kailin.

Most likely, however, the dog was named by a reader of Edgar Lee Masters’ classic ‘‘Spoon River Anthology”. As the enclosed photocopied excerpt shows, Nig was the. loyal companion of attorney Benjamin Pantier in Spoon River, Masters’ fictional .town created in 1915.

I urge that Mr. Kailin, the Bureau of Reclamation and th® Lower Colorado Dams project office staff all read the excerpt, or bettor yet; the entire “Spoon River Anthology”, in which Masters so skillfully protrays the narrow - minded thinking which the aforementioned individual and organizations have demonstrated.

Sincerely, (Robert D. Buege 4905 S. 35th Street Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53221

June 16, 1979

 

C1Q ■ THE SUN/THE DAILY HERALD

What's a name? Factions feud <

By CELESTE DURANT

THE LOS ANGLES TIMES

BOULDER CITY, Nev. — Until Clarence Kailin’s visit to Hoover Dam last November, Nig, a black mongrel that "adopted” the dam, had been resting in peace for nearly half a century.

Then came Kailin, who was walking on the Nevada side of the dam when he spotted a plaque on the cliff face that read: Nig The dog that adopted a dam

Born about March 1932

Died about June 1936

A tour guide explained to Kailin that Nig — mostly Labrador — had been adopted by the construction workers years ago. And when he was killed — in 1941, not 1936 — the workers got permission to bury him under a cement slab on the cliff.

To Kailin, an occasional lecturer at the University of Wisconsin the name Nig was an abbreviated form of the ethnic slur “nigger,” emblazoned on a national landmark.

“When I left the tour," Kailin said in a telephone interview, "I went to the superintendent of tours, J. 8. Sweeney, and asked if there was any information about the dog.

“He gave me a printed sheet that described the dog as black and having rough hair. I told him that it was a racist name and the plaque should be taken down. He said, ‘No way.’ “

Kailin left Hoover Dam an angry man. When he returned home to Wisconsin, he sat down at his typewriter and began pounding out letters to every agency and elected official he felt should hear about it.

Soon letters started arriving at the Bureau of Reclamation office in Boulder City condemning the men who named the dog, and those who allowed the plaque to be displayed.

As a result, on March 21, the regional office of the Bureau of Reclamation and the Lower Colorado Dams project office, which jointly oversee the dam, ordered the plaque removed.

But Nancy Rovacchi, a Boulder City resident, was having a cup of coffee in her kitchen one morning, reading her weekly issue of the Boulder City News, when she saw an article about the removal of the plaque.

She concluded that something should be done about it so she wrote and circulated a petition among her friends, neighbors and

 

BRUCE

Ben Wilkinson, below, project manager of Lower Colored' plaque that was removed from display at Hoover Dai complained that it was racist. The plaque honored a dog nai photo shows Nig as he appeared on a postcard before hi

 

 

M

Mississippi Gulf Coast, Sunday, June 17, 1979

C1Q ■ THE SUN/THE DAILY HERALD

— to oversee the construction of the dam.

For the next 11 years (the plaque was in error about the date of his death), Nig boarded the buses with the workers in the morning and returned with them in the evening.

Although much of his time was spent

ground is cloaked in obscurity. Most people say that he was born under one of the construction workers’ barracks and one day a worker picked the puppy up and took him aboard a bus that transported work crews to the dam site.

Once there, Nig found his mission in life

By CELESTE DURANT

THE LOS ANGLES TIMES

BOULDER CITY, Nev. —- Until Clarence Kailin’s visit to Hoover Dam last November, Nig, a black mongrel that “adopted” the dam, had been resting in peace for nearly half a century.

Then came Kailin, who was walking on the Nevada side of the dam when he spotted a plaque on the cliff face that read: Nig The dog that adopted a dam

Born about March 1932

Died about June 1936

A tour guide explained to Kailin that Nig

— mostly Labrador — had been adopted by the construction workers years ago. And when he was killed — in 1941, not 1936 — the workers got permission to bury him under a cement slab on the cliff.

To Kailin, an occasional lecturer at the University of Wisconsin the name Nig was an abbreviated form of the ethnic slur "nigger,” emblazoned on a national landmark.

“When I left the tour,” Kailin said in a telephone interview, "I went to the superintendent of tours, J. 8. Sweeney, and asked if there was any information about the dog.

“He gave me a printed sheet that described the dog as black and having rough hair. I told him that it was a racist name and the plaque should be taken down. He said, ‘No way.’ “

Kailin left Hoover Dam an angry man. When he returned home to Wisconsin, he sat down at his typewriter and began pounding out letters to every agency and elected official he felt should hear about it.

Soon letters started arriving at the Bureau of Reclamation office in Boulder City condemning the men who named the dog, and those who allowed the plaque to be displayed.

As a result, on March 21, the regional office of the Bureau of Reclamation and the Lower Colorado Dams project office, which jointly oversee the dam, ordered the plaque removed.

But Nancy Rovacchi, a Boulder City resident, was having a cup of coffee in her kitchen one morning, reading her weekly issue of the Boulder City News, when she saw an article about the removal of the plaque.

She concluded that something should be done about it so she wrote and circulated a petition among her friends, neighbors and fellow dog lovers asking that the plaque be restored to its rightful place.

“Those men loved that dog. That dog is a part of history, ’ ’ she said. ‘ ‘It’s not a racial thing. Nig is only a name and what’s in a name?”

Those who favor the plaque and those who oppose it have one thing in common: they agree that Nig was an exceptional animal.

Members of the "Thirty-Oners Club,” a group of men and women who were original settlers of the town in 1931, loved Nig. Talking to these people, reading articles about the dog and letters to the editor in the Boulder City News, this picture of Nig’s life and tragic death emerges: Nig’s back-

chasing the cats that would wander onto the dam site, the rest was devoted to inspecting the dam’s progress.

He would walk back and forth across the catwalks, take elevators up and down* barking when he wanted to be picked up and again when he reached the floor he wanted.

If he missed his bus and wanted a ride back to town, he would sit by the side of the road barking until a truck or car stopped to give him a lift.

Because he was a stray and stayed with no one in particular everyone wanted to feed him. One day he was given candy that made him sick. Workers started a food fund for Nig and from then on the dog was fed regular meals from the workers’ commissary.

From then on Nig went to the commissary every day, picked up his lunch in a paper bag that he carried in his mouth, boarded the bus and placed his lunch beside him on the front seat.

When the bus arrived at the site, he would put his lunch next to those of the other workers and would not touch it until the work whistle blew at noon.

He would take his bag to a worker to open for him and . he would eat with the men.

So much money was contributed to Nig’s food fund that a bank account was opened in his name and the extra money used for his yearly dog license and incidentals.

On Feb. 21, 1941, on a day when the sun baked the canyon with 120-degree heat, Nig took shelter under the shade of a truck and I the driver, unable to see him, rolled over and crushed him. Nig died instantly.

His body was wrapped in a tarp. One of the jackhammer operators broke apart a concrete slab and Nig was placed in the j hole. Fresh concrete was poured over him. j While the surface was still wet, they > scratched his name on it.

"The news of Nig’s death was phoned to ! town and it was the quietest day Boulder j City every experienced,” says an ij anonymous story in the dog’s file.

"Later, rough, tough rock-hard men wept openly and unashamed...In death as in life, Nig looks upon the dam he loved for so long as it shall stand and when the wind howls around the towers of the dam, oldtimers 1 smile knowingly. It isn’t the wind. It’s Nig j baying at the ringtailed cats.”

So far Betty Rovacchi’s petition has col- I lected 516 signatures, which she has sent to Nevada’s representatives in Washington. | Along with the signatures, Mrs. Rovacchi !

has gotten letters of support from residents | of other towns who want their names added ! to the petition.

There have also been letters to the Boulder City News editorial pages, the majority of ! which call for the restoration of the plaque. j Julien Rhinehart, public information of- !

ficer for the Bureau of Reclamation’s re- j gional office in Boulder, said the bureau is ! considering replacing the plaque with an I informational sign” that doesn't mention I the dog’s name. But as yet no decision has been made.

BRUCE COX/LA TIMES PHOTO

Ben Wilkinson, below, project manager of Lower Colorado Dams, holds the plaque that was removed from display at Hoover Dam after a visitor complained that it was racist. The plaque honored a dog named “Nig.” Above photo shows Nig as he appeared on a postcard before his death in 1941.

What's a name? Factions feud over dog called Nig Rv r’K’T JT’QHT’Tn FlTTDAMm — - _______

 

/J/W- rfsfrf'ps

Letter To

The Editor A !

•Dear Editor, Boulder City News.. - • ’-I

M- i

I have just finished J reading an article in the .•' “Milwaukee Journal”. ' concerning N ig, “the dog I that adopted a dam.” I I must say I was shocked | and angered that the ,| misplaced sensitivities i of one man, Clarence ., Kailin, could cause the removal of a plaque ' honoring a remarkable • dog obviously loved and admired by many peo- . pie.

Mr. Kailih's assumption that the name Nig is a racial slur is ludicrous. It is just as likely that the .name is short.for “niggl- < ing,” which Webster de- fines as “spending too ’ much effortOM minor de- ' tails.” That sounds like 1 Mr. Kailin, > T

Most. likely, however, 1 the dog was named by a 1 reader of Edgar Lee Masters’ classic “Spoon i River Anthology". Asthe » enclosed photocopied ex- . cerpt shows, Nig was the J loyal companion of at- ' torney Benjamin Pantier in Spoon River, Masters’ fictional town 1 created in 1915.

I urge that Mr, Kailin, the Bureau of Reclama- ) tion the .Low? Cyl- H prado Dams project of: fice staff all read the ex- cerpt, or better yet, the entire “Spoon River An thology”, in which Mas- 1 ters so skillfully prot- ’ rays the narrow-minded ' thinking which the aforementioned -individual and organizations have demonstrated.

Sincerely, ■ (Robert D. Buege 4905 S. 35th Street Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53221

June 16, 1979

 

Letter To The Editor

Dear Sirs,

That so-called article you printed about the dog, “Nig” was totally unfair to the dog. How would you feel if somebody made fun of your name? You wouldn’t,like it at allr He couldn’t help it if his name happened to be Nig. After

all, how many dogs are named “Whitey” or “Blackie” ? The Plaque was put up in his honor, and it shouldn’t be taken down for three reasons:

  1. It reminds people of how faithful Nig was.
  2. Construction workers donated their hard earned

 

money for all his expenses (and in those days- construction didn't pay too much!)

  1. and Mostly, it reminds people of the fact that dogs are not always the dirty, filthy, mean animals that people think they are. Some dogs, like

 

Nig, have independence and CLASS!! !!!!!!!!4!!!!!

Amy Kendall, age-9 imeweaver. Ill. « G.A.T.E. Program (Gifted and Talented Education) - -

 

Dear Editor:

In the Examiner & Chronicle Sunday edition of this date I read about the controversy over the name Nig for your beloved damsity dog. The * love naming of..NIG should

solve the problem.

Some time ago my Swedish friends were visiting this country from Goteburg, Sweden. While’’ visiting the dam they were intrigued by the plaque as they had heard this story from their Uncle, - Nils Ludwigs, but thought it was one of his jokes (“Yokes”, they said).

When the men were trying to decide on a

name for the puppy, Unde Nils kept repeating, - ‘Nils iss goot name.” This always brought a laugh until someone said, “Why hot, —■ ‘Nils iss goot’, that describes it all? the dog.and the man."

Nils Iss Goot was rather long and became shortened to N.I.G. Eventually the original name was forgotten.

' jysfe. put the periods back so ' the name will stand for Nils-Iss-Goot and N.I.G. and Uncle Nils will remain happy and I hope so will all their friends.

Most sincerely yours, Althea Honkie

(Mrs. M.E. Honkie)

 

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See also Continuing The Nig Story, Page 5

 

Pa8® 5 Thursday, July 26,1979

Continuing The 'Nig' Story j

i A dog that would be ! almost 390 years old if I one reckons in “dog | years” and if it were still I alive; and a lone tourist ' from Wisconsin, a white I man with time on hand to | find a ‘racist’ inference | in the Hoover Dam’s • builders’ mascot’s name I on its grave marker have | spurred national atten- 1 tion. Boulder’s citizens J are aware of the ‘Nig I Controversy’.

I

| Mr. Clarence Kailin of I Madison, Wise., objected ’ to the plaque over the I black dog’s final resting | place at the dam. On fed- | eral property, he said, he J was “shocked” and r“concerned” not with | the plaque itself, “but

Mrs. Betty Rovacchi, a B.C. resident, then objected to the actions taken in regard to the plaque and the dog’s memory. Just as Mr. Kailin had sent off letters to government agencies protesting the marker, Mrs. Rovacchi, through a letter to the NEWS, solicited contrary opinions. The point was: first, the Latin word for the color black is“niger,” a fact hard to eradicate from the books. And “Nig” was a very black dog. Second, it was the dog’s name— and more than 40 years after his death, should there be someone denying him that, being a mascot to those who

Los Angeles Times and I the Cleveland Plain | Dealer. 1

And the letters sup-.! porting the return of* Nig’s name to the grave | marker are still pouring j in. But even if his name ! never does show up on I the plaque, it’ll still be j on the grave: Herb j Oliver, the man who ! buried him, made it a I point to etch “NIG” into | the hardening cement 1 slab that was to cover the J dog’s grave. So far, no-1 body has traveled to | Hoover Dam to object to 1 that.

| with the name of the dog:

Mr. Kailin succeeded »■ in having the Interior | Department’s Bureau of j Reclamations remove I the original plaque at » the grave, after some 19 | million visitors to the j dam had not uttered any I objection to its being » there.

built one of the greatest structures ever erected in history, under a time of incredible hardship.

While the Department of the Interior bowed to Mr. Kailin’s pressure and removed the plaque—which simply read: “NIG—The Dog That Adopted A Dam—”, including a vague ver-

 

Pag- 5 Thursday, July 26,1979

» Continuing The 'Nig' Story j

| A dog that would be : almost 390 years old if I one reckons in “dog I years” and if it were still | alive; and a lone tourist ’ from Wisconsin, a white I man with time on hand to | find a ‘racist’ inference | in the Hoover Dam’s ’ builders’ mascot’s name I on its grave marker have I spurred national atten- | tion. Boulder’s citizens ’ are aware of the ‘Nig I Controversy’.

I

| Mr. Clarence Kailin of * Madison, Wise., objected ’ to the plaque over the I black dog’s final resting | place at the dam. On fed- | eral property, he said, he J was “shocked” and I “concerned” not with | the plaque itself, “but | with the name of the dog:

Mr. Kailin succeeded I in having the Interior | Department’s Bureau of | Reclamations remove ! the original plaque at I the grave, after some 19 | million visitors to the j dam had not uttered any I objection to its being » there.

Mrs. Betty Rovacchi, a B.C. resident, then objected to the actions taken in regard to the plaque and the dog’s memory. Just as Mr. Kailin had sent Off letters to government agencies protesting the marker, Mrs. Rovacchi, through a letter to the NEWS, solicited contrary opinions. The point was; first, the Latin word for the color black is“niger,” a fact hard to eradicate from the books. And “Nig” was a very black dog. Second, it was the dog’s name— and more than 40 years after his death, should there be someone denying him that, being a mascot to those who built one of the greatest structures ever erected in history, under a time of incredible hardship.

While the Department of the Interior bowed to Mr. Kailin’s pressure and removed the plaque—which simply read: “NIG—The Dog That Adopted A Dam—”, including a vague version of his birth and death dates, the Department’s Bureau of Reclamation came up with a more accurate and elaborate plaque to replace the original — smartly avoiding to mention the mascot’s name.

Unimpressed, more than 1,100 people wrote Mrs. Rovacchi through the NEWS, and “not one of them expressed a view different from mine,” she said. Those letters, incidentally, are not from local citizens. Most of them are from out of state, return addresses ranging from New Jersey to San Francisco and even Canada. The writers had learned about the story from the attention the ‘Nig Controversy” had gained in large metropolitan newspapers such as the

Los Angeles Times and I the Cleveland Plain | Dealer. a

And the letters sup- ! porting the return of I Nig’s name to the grave j marker are still pouring j in. But even if his name ! never does show up on I the plaque, it’ll still be | on the grave: Herb | Oliver, the man who ! buried him, made it a l point to etch “NIG” into I the hardening cement A slab that was to cover the ! dog’s grave. So far. no-1 body has traveled to | Hoover Dam to object to A that.

 

'Nig' To Be Honored With

New Plaque

A plaque honoring Nig, the mascot of Hoover Dam , will be replaced on the canyon wall ^bove the inconspicuous grave located beside the roadway on the Nevada side of the dam.

The announcement was made this week by Bureau of Reclamation officials here in Boulder City.

The exact wording and design of the new plaque will be determined in the next weeks.

The original plaque placed on the wall a few years ago read: “Nig, the dog that adopted a dam ... Born about March, 1932 ... Died about June 1936.

Further research determined that the dog actually died in 1941.

The plaque was in place for some time when it was spotted by a tourist from Wisconsin, Clarence Kailin. He objected to the memorial containing the name “Nig”, claiming it to be a racist slur.

Kailin continued to file written objections to Bureau officials, members of Congress, the N.A.A.C.P. and other organizations. Bureau officials here finally decided to remove the plaque in March of this year.

Area residents reacted strongly following the story of the plaque’s removal in the NEWS and the Review - Journal. A Boulder City resident, Betty Rovacchi, circulated petitions objecting to the removal. Hundreds of signatures were obtained. The newspapers were swamped with irate letters demanding that the plaque be returned.

Nevada’s Congressman Jim Santini recently sent a letter to U.S.B.R. Chief Eugene Hinds requesting that the plaque honoring the much beloved mascot be replaced.

* P'

 

Saga of Nig Spreads in the West

The Nig controversy is tio longer a local issue.

On May 30, Nig’s-story was printed in the Los Angeles Times complete with pictures of the, mascot himself.

The result has been an outpouring of letters from Californians to Betty Rov- acchi, who led the petition drive for restoration of the plaque.

Betty said all the letters express, “...outrage that one man could have the plaque ordered down.”

“I can’t believe that so many people feel the same way,” she said.

Concerned Californians have offered assistance in the way of continuing the

letter writing campaign. Betty said one envelope contained a donation of two dollars to help with expenses.

Nig’s story is not- confined to Nevada and California. Betty, has also received letters from Montana, Arizona - and Wyoming. It seems that vacationers passing through Boulder City saw the story in the Boulder City News and felt the need to get involved in this controversial- Matter.

None of the powers that be have been spared the thoughts of these irate citizens. Everyone concerned from Clarence Kai-

gt&N;

len, who initiated the plaque removal to President Carter have received letters condemning the plaque’s removal.

A letter from R. Keith Higginson, commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation was amongst the correspondence Betty received. It was dated-May 30; the same date Nig’s Story appeared in the L A. Times.

It read, “We have received numerous letters similar to yours from

en down in an attempt , to . respond to the sensitivities of some of the many publics which the Federal Government serves.”

It went on to • say, “...our plans are to remount an expanded,'more informative marker to aid visitors. While the existing grave site will never be disturbed, the revised

the southern Nevada area and I fully appreciate the concerns of the local population. However, the plaque was originally tak

wording on the new marker will most likely not carty the dog’s name.”

Betty said she will be sending repliues to all the letters she has received. It is safe to say that R. Keith Higginson has not heard the last of her either.

 

(clW/??p.z7

Letter to the Editor

To The Editor:

We would like to add our names to the list of supporters gathered by Betty Rovacchi to reinstate the plaque honoring Nig at Hoover Dam.

A recent story in the Los Angeles Times (May 30,1979) told the story of Nig and the removal of this plaque. It was a classic example of how one narrow-minded individual can undo a great right.

If Mr. Kailin is upset about any racial implications, perhaps he would like to amend Webster’s by removing- words with those awful | racial implications such | as Niger-Congo, niggard, | niggle. It is so sad that I there are still people 1 around who must make < the most well meaning or j innocent thoughts dirty;] Perhaps rather than feeling anger toward j Kailin he should be pitied.

Thank you and we sin- ] cerely hope that Nig’s name can be again hon- j ored as it was intended j by the Hoover Dam buil- 1 ders... with love which is i I’m sure a feeling never < felt or understood by < Kailin. !

Sincerely, !

Ebit Finnigan j Ryan Rees I

Mary Jane Farley

Dave Amenda J Cathy Alexander J Susan Dimitriou

 

Kids Defend 'Nig7 Plaque

By Bill Harbour

;-“Nig was a part' of Boulder ( Dam aiid helped build it. Therefore .Nig has a right to have . his name up there. Nig * J was, and is, a part of his- ? > story and is one of the his-f.toric animals that

America should re- •t ..member.” r N The above sentiments .. were written by a young lad in California after reading of the removal of Nig’s plaque at Hoover Dam in a story written in the Los Angeles Times.

Bobby Balbuena is a fifth grade student at St. >-Elisabeth School in Van <. iNuys, California. One of x his classmates brought •//■the story of Nig and the •.plaque to school.

Bobby's teacher, Lois . Blackmore, read it aloud 1 for her class. Following •is discussion, the group £11 wrote letters to the NEWS protesting removal of the plaque honoring the "Mascot of .Hoover Dam” which was taken down in March of ■ this year following a ' barrage of angry letters from Clarence Kailin of Wisconsin who accused the plaque pf racistover-tones.

The NEWS broke the story that same week.

“The construction workers were really like pals with Nig. They spent a lot of time with him. Nig was usually around the dam with his good pals or chasing cats. Please put the plaque back up

i where it belongs.”

Christina Mullins wrote these thoughts. “The word Nig is only a name of a good dog. If Nig was a bad dog, then I could understand ... but Nig was a very ghod dog and probably wouldn’t hurt anybody at all.”

Rebbecca Flores took exception to the racist charges. “Now if silly Mr. Kailin were to die and his name was Nig and they tore it off his tombstone, would he like it?”

Alex Estrada noted: “When people die, they have a plaque next to their grave so I think you’ should put Nig’s plaque back next to his grave because Nig was a wonderful dog and he helped the workers to build the dam.” ■

Scott Brewster agreed. “Nig must have been a £reat dog, all those things he did. That plaque must be a great sight but if it isn’t up what would be so historic about it?”

. Mary Ann O’Brien felt

should get a plaque and have it up for a real long time.”

Sheldon Kendrick was touched by the story. “We know how the guys felt when they found Nig dead. We felt the same way when we read the story together. Please put the plaque back where it belongs.”

Mark Worrell had something to add. “I love dogs very much. Some of them are very smart just like the dog Nig. Nig was a very brave dog. I’m writing to save the plaque for this intelligent dog.”

Michael Gilbert wrote: “What do you have against a plaque? A dam is just a place to hold water anyways.”

Matt Williams was. short and to the point. “I think.you should keep the plaque because almost everyone that dies has a plaque .by their grave. Nig was so much like a person he should have a plaque by his grave, too ... also, he helped build the dam.”

And so the letters went. All 27 students drew pictures to accompany their pleas for the placement of the historic plaqtie back to its rightful spot. They also

Florida called for pictures and information on the beldved friend of the construction workers of Hoover Dam.

In death, Nig has captured the hearts of thousands of people who

 

By Bill Harbour

“Nig was a part’ of Boulder , Dam ahd helped build it. Therefore -Nig has a right to have : his name up there. Nig fl was, and is, a part of his- n. ^ory and is one of the his- sitoric animals that

America should re- K Member."

'M ' The above sentiments

were written by a young lad in California after reading of the removal of Nig’s plaque at Hoover

 

Dam in a story written in the Los Angeles Times.

 

Bobby Balbuena is a fifth grade student at St.

; Elisabeth School in Van inNuys, California. One of .. his classmates brought v4he story of Nig and the plaque to school.

: Bobby’s teacher, Lois glackmore, read it aloud

f for her class. Following '!? discussion, the group

:411 wrote letters to the

 

NEWS protesting re- moval of the plaque honoring the “Mascot of

Hoover Dam” which was taken down in March of

 

this year following a

 

barrage of angry lette'rs from-Clarence Kailin of Wisconsin who accused

 

... the plaque pfracist.over- tones.

The NEWS broke the story .that same week. Hundreds of letters followed in protest to the. removal of a bit of Nevada history. Other newspapers, including the L.A. Times, picked up the story.

Here’s how some of Bobby’s ' classmates reacted to the story:

Monima Calabang enjoyed the story "but found it “pretty sad. A dog that smart and brave that died could be a real shock to someone,” she noted. “It’s very crtiel to take the plaque off that I ^think Nig would have ‘ liked very much. The plaque should stay, be-

cauke maybe the next

 

. one that they make may ;

turn out to be. terrible and Nig wouldn’t like that.” c

■ Karla Canepa agreed.

Kids Defend 'Nig7 Plaque

“The construction workers were really like pals with Nig. They spent a lot of time with him. Nig was usually around the dam with his good pals or chasing cats. Please put the plaque back up where it belongs."

Christina Mullins wrote these thoughts. “The word Nig is only a name of a good dog. If Nig was a bad dog, then I could understand ... but Nig was a very g8od dog and probably wouldn’t hurt anybody at all.”

Rebbecca Flores took exception to the racist charges. “Now if silly Mr. Kailin. were to die and his name was Nig and they tore it off his tombstone, would he like it?”

Alex' Estrada noted: “When people die, they have a plaque next to their grave, so I think you should put Nig’s plaque back next to his grave because Nig was a wonderful dog and he helped the worker's to build the dam.”

Scott Brewster agreed. “Nig must have been a £reat dog, all those things he did. That plaque must be a great sight but if it isn’t up what would be so historic about it?”

Mary Ann.O’Brien felt strongly. “Nig was a very nice dog and probably would never hurt anyone. He listened and obeyed the men that worked at the construction area. I think the plaque that belonged to the people and Nig should be still standing this day. It should not be all left up to Mr. Kailin. Nig was his name and no one should have gone against it.”

Hollis Dyer summed up his feelings in his opening sentence. *‘L think it is dumb to take the plaque, off the dam.”

John Holmes, was puzzled by the whole thing. “Why would a person not want the plaque of Nig up? I. don’t know and I don’t thinkyou do either. I think a dog that famous

should get a plaque and have it up for a real long time.”

Sheldon Kendrick was touched by the story. “We know how the guys felt when they found Nig dead. We felt the same way when we read the story together. Please put the plaque back where it belongs.”

Mark Worrell had something to* add. “I love dogs very much. Some of them are very smart just like the dog Nig. Nig was a very brave dog. I’m writing to save the plaque for this intelligent dog.”

Michael Gilbert wrote: “What do you have against a plaque? A dam is just a place to hold water anyways.”

Matt Williams was. short and. to the point. “I think you should keep the plaque because almost everyone that dies has a plaque by their grave. Nig was so much like a person he should have a plaque by his grave, too ... also, he helped build the dam.”

And so the letters went-. All 27 students drew pictures to accompany their pleas for the placement of the historic plaque back to its rightful spot. They also requested that their names be added to the petition circulated by Betty Rovacchi of Boulder City.

The battle for Nig continues. Although plans are in progress for a new marker for the dog that adopted a dam, latent word is that the canine's" name will not be included in the wording. The simple inscrpition j “NIG” is visible on the small concrete slab atop the dog’s final resting place.

In removing the plaque, the Bueau of Reclamation has given the ' dog far more publicity and exposure than he ever received while he was alive. There will be wore. Just this week, a national publication in

Florida called for pictures and information on the beloved friend of the construction workers of Hoover Dam.

In death, Nig has captured the hearts of thousands of people who

were previously unaware, of his existence or of his amazing personality. Plaque or no plaque, he is now known from one end of the country to the other.

Nig ... may he rest in glory!

 

Boulder City News, Boulder I

Letters to the Editor

NIG’S CALIFORNIA

■ = FANS

Editor:

I Mve just read an article in the Los Angeles Dines about the removal Bf.the plaque at Hoover 3>aih which had been placed to honor Nig.-

It is incredible that one idiot, making an unjustifiable and unfounded assertion, could stampede ■the Bureau of Reclamation jnto removing the plaque which has been there for so many years.

Many cheers for Nancy Rqvacchi and all the btheSwho insist that the Buxc-u of Reclamation reverse its foolish and unwarranted decision.

Please add my name to those - opposing the removal of the marker to Nig.

Most Sincerely,

' Warren Ashworth Alhambra, California

Mr. Clarence Kailin:

I "have just finished ' reading a. news report in the Mis- Angeles Times aboMyour crusade to remove; a plaque dedicated to a dog named “Nig”.

How narrow minded can you be? The name carries no racist connota- tinn Up wac a

ity, Nevada

RE: NIG-HOOVER DAM MASCOT

In answer to the letter I . received from the Bureau of Reclamation, Washington, D.C., dated 5/30/79.

To make brief the letter I received from Mr. R. Keith Higginson, Commissioner, my answer to Mr. Higginson is I DO NOT AGREE with their “proposal that the new marker will most likely NOT CARRY THE DOG’S NAME, because of the response to the sensitivi-. ties of SOME of the many publics which the Federal Government serves. ’'

Is the “some”- -the minority or majority of people concerned, that is really concerned about the feelings of the men who built Hoover Dam and their beloved dog.

To all the people- who want the Plaque put back with Nig’s name on it please write your letters to: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation, Washington^.C. 20240, Attn': Mr. R. Keith Higginson, Commissioner

I would also like to thank whole heartedly to all the Los Angeles- area people who have called me since the release of the story in the Los Angeles Times and all the letters f have received from them, but it seems in spite of all |

yz/z? p‘ h

my signatures of protests, letters from other states, the articles in the Boulder City News, Review Journal and the Los Angeles Times just does not seem to matter to Mr. Higginson. He has responded only to “some”.

Thursday, Ji

PLEASE KEEP YOUR LETTERS GOING! -

Maybe someone can get this plea for NIG in the papers in the EAST, NORTH AND SOUTH.

Sincerely,

(s) Betty Rovacchi-

 

Boulder City News, Boulder

letters to the Editor

NIG’S CALIFORNIA

• g FANS

Edito£:

I Jrave just read an article in jhe Los Angeles Mines about the removal plaque at Hoover ' which had been 'placed to honor Nig.- . It is incredible that one idiot; making an unjustifiable and unfounded assertion, could stampede She Bureau of Reclamation Into removing the plaque Svhich has been there for •So many years.

Many cheers for Nancy Rqmxhi and all the others who insist that the Bureau of Reclamation , reverse its foolish and unwarranted decision.

Please add my name to those opposing the removal of the marker to Nig.

Most Sincerely, Warren Ashworth Alhambra, California

Mr. Clarence Kailin:

I Nave just finished ' reading a. news report in the sEps- Angeles Times aboiiFyour crusade to remove a plaque dedicated to a dog named “Nig”.

How narrow minded can you be? The name carries no racist connotation. He was a beloved animal of the Hoover Dam crew and as such was immortalized by his friends.

I hope I never have the chance to meet you; you are really a man of miserly thoughts and affections. I have no idea whether you are white or black -- it doesn’t matter » I’m sure both groups would be ashamed of your narrow mindedness.

■ Mrs. Katharine W. Danner

Alhambra California

cc: Boulder City News

Gentlemen:

I read the story about the commemorative plaque honoring “Nig” in today’s L.A. Times with some disgust. I’ll give you three to one that Clarence KMn otherwise occupies his time picking fly specks out of pepper. J

. Please add our names to the petition being circulated by Nancy Rovacchi of your city. ' .

ns Sincerely, Colin C. Brown Adaline C. Brown San Clemente, California

[EDITOR’S NOTE:} The Loe Angeles Times referred to Boulder City’s Betty Rovacchi as Nancy Rovacchi.

-ity, Nevada

RE: NIG-HOOVER DAM MASCOT

In answer to the letter I received from the Bureau of Reclamation, Washington, D.C., dated 5/30/79.

To make brief the letter I received from Mr. R.

- Keith Higginson, Commissioner, my answer to Mr. Higginson is I DO NOT AGREE with their “proposal that the new marker will most likely NOT CARRY THE DOG’S NAME, because of the response to the sensitivities of SOME of the many publics which the Federal Government serves.”

Is the “some”- the minority or - majority of people concerned, that is really concerned about the feelings of the men who built Hoover Dam and their beloved dog.

To all the people- who want the Plaque put back with Nig’s name on it please write your letters to: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation, Washington^.C. 20240, Attn': Mr. R. Keith Higginson, Commissioner

I would also like to thank whole heartedly to all the Los Angeles- area people who have called me since the release of the story in the Los Angeles Times and all the letters f have received from them, blit it seems in spite of all |

yz/z? p.n

my signatures of protests, letters from other states, the articles in the Boulder City News, Review Journal and the Los Angeles Times just does not seem to matter to Mr. Higginson. He has responded only to “some”.

Thursday, Ji

PLEASE KEEP YOUR LETTERS GOING!

Maybe someone can get this plea for NIG in the papers in the EAST, NORTH AND SOUTH.

Sincerely,

(s) Betty Rovacchi-

 

In Memory of Nig on the 4th of July, 1979

As. of last week, Betty Rovacchi had nearly, 800 signatures on her petition

signatures on her -petitions which have asked that not only should the Memorial Plaque at Hoover Dam be replaced, but that it contain the name of “NIG” the Boulder Dam Mascot. On the 4th of July, barring some unforeseen happening, our Betty will be at the

Wisconsin, the hue and cry from Boulder Dam pioneers was heard around the entire United States. Stories have appeared in publications as far away as Florida, Ohio, and New York State. Each of the Nig yarns brings another flood of letters to Betty’s mailbox. Each is answered and the writer is encouraged to write to R. Keith. Higginson, U.S.

Dept; of Energy, Bureau of Reclamation, Washington D.C. 20240. Be sure to ask that the name rW placed on the plaque as it was on the originaj^KG that was taken

Without the furor ed by the Wisconsin tourist we would not haVe had the historical fact tha„t. Nig was born in 1931 and died in 1941 established: by the research conducted by pioneer Blanchard. The storvSfe

Damboree, and as strong as. public feeling is running, there will surely be another 1000 signatures to send to the Commissioner, R. Keith Higginson, of the U.S. Dept, of the Interior.

There is an urgency involved in this continuing story of Nig’s place in Boulder Dam history. When the plaque was taken down at the request of a single altogether unreasonable citizen from

Betty Rovacchi, right, is shown taking the signa- terior. Betty will never stop the fight for th? ture ot Mrs. Peter Backley at the recent 31’er name of the Boulder Dam Mascot, “Nig” to Ke reunion. Nearly 200 pioneers signed the petition placed on the memorial plaque when it rM which was then sent to R. Kenneth Higginson, stored to the canyon wall above the crypt. 8M Commissioner, United States Dept, of the In- Story. D

 

Betty Rovacchi, right, is shown taking the signature of Mrs. Peter Backley at the recent 31’er reunion. Nearly 200 pioneers signed the petition which was then sent to R. Kenneth Higginson, Commissioner, United States Dept, of the In-

In Memory of Nig on

terior. Betty will never stop the fight for thF' name of the Boulder Dam Mascot, “Nig” to he® placed on the memorial plaque when it is raa£' stored to the canyon wall above the crypt. Story.

the 4th of July, 1979 H

As of last week, Betty Rovacchi had nearly, 800 signatures on her petition signatures on her -petitions which have asked that not only should the Memorial Plaque at Hoover Dam be replaced, but that it contain the name of “NIG” the Boulder Dam Mascot. On the 4th of July, barring some unforeseen happening, our Betty will be at the

Damboree, and as strong as. public feeling is running, there will surely be another 1000 signatures to send to the Commissioner, R. Keith Higginson, of the U.S. Dept, of the Interior.

There is an urgency involved in this Continuing story of Nig's place in Boulder Dam history. When the plaque was taken down at the request of a single altogether unreasonable citizen from

Wisconsin, the hue and cry from Boulder Dam pioneers was heard around the entire United States. Stories have appeared in publications as far away as Florida, Ohio, and New York State. Each of the Nig yarns brings another flood of letters to Betty’s mailbox. Each is answered and the writer is encouraged to write to R. Keith. Higginson, U.S.

Dept; of Energy, Bureau of Reclamation, Washing-, ton D.C. 20240. Be sure to ask that the name rte placed on the plaque MA. was on the original SS8 that was taken downTjS

Without the furor ed by - the WisconsA tourist we would not had the historical fact thqt. Nig was born in 1931 aikd died in 1941 established* by the research conducted by pioneer Blanchard. The story, bound to have a reasoilM-have happened Betty continues her fight for the name to 'lM carried forth to the nw marker it will havens, happy ending. Right?

Look for Betty and ahyi friend who will help hD carry the petitiOW-through the DamboxM grounds this July MA What more fitting ory could Nig have thanAD establish his fame on thfe: 4th of July in Boulder City?

Nig, you are going to be. remembered longer thW: any of us.

 

SC a/

d Boulder City News

:R$ to the EDITOR:

'I’o'Tke Wtor.1 """"

I believe that the first consideration should go to those men who worked, bled, and sweated-constructing the dam. Did anyone even bother to ask what these men thought, I for one doubt it. Well asked or not, they are giving their views and answers to you. The plaque should be replaced as it is, not with the name

Never in my Jjfe have I heard of. or witnessed such a blatant act of cowardice, than that of the Bureau of Reclamation in

removing the plaque which marks the grave of NIG the dog of Hoover Pam.

I find it difficult to believe that people would bow down to the idiocy of one mans, insecurity. Many men worked on the dam, both black and white and never was there any cry of racism when the plaque was placed on the grave of the dog that all of these men loved and cared for. Then to listen to the crybaby attitude of a man who wasn’t there and knows nothing about the men or what they felt for a dog, a mascot really is inconceivable to me..

removed as many sug- gest, but as it was and is. NIG was the dog's name and that is the way the plaque should and must read.

We not only are asking for this, but are demanding that it be done, we are demanding it!

It is time that the people who live here get what they want and quit yielding to outsiders. I ask the Bureau of Reclamation, are you so sure of your actions that you never question what you do?

Michael Crawford-

 

Boulder City News, Boulder City, Nevada

 

WW

S p,aj1ke £ron? Hoo.ver 02M Her petition gathered hundreds of signatures supporting the protest. For the outcome, see story.

PROTECT LETTERS - Betty Rovocehi is shown looking over a batch of letters received from out ot state persons objecting to the removal of the

 

NIG: The Plaque Returns,

Ml

The Name Does Not

Latest word on the fate of a commemorative marker for Nig, the black dog that was the mascot of Boulder Dam during its construction days, is that a new “informative marker” will be placed at the dog’s gravesite but that his name will not appear.

A plaque erected in the dog’s memory in 1978 was removed earlier this year following a barrage of letters from a Wisconsin tourist Clarence Kailin who strongly objected to the “racist” nature of the black dog’s name, claiming it stood for nigger.

Hundreds of persons have signed a petition initiated by Boulder City resident Betty Rovacchi to have the pldque restored. The petitions have been forwarded to the Commissioner of the Department of the Interior R. Keith Higginson.

The Commissioner recently wrote Mrs. Rovacchi concerning the matter. He pointed out correctly that the original plaque contained an error in the date of Nig’s death which

occurred in February, 1941 rather than June of 1936 as inscribed on the small marker. He pointed out, too, that the grave itself has “NIG” clearly etched ipto its concrete surface and promised, this would not be disturbed.

“Had the original plaque been correctly dated and had it been erected at the time of burial, it too would have been preserved,” Higginson wrote. ... adding that “In view of this country’s recently expanded sensitivity to racial issues, I have elected not to place the name “Nig” on the new marker.”

Instead, the Commissioner wrote that a picture of the famous dog will be hopefully included on the new marker which will carry the following wording:

“The Hoover Dam construction crew’s mascot was found as a puppy by workers at the construction camp. This dog traveled to and from the damsite and spent his days visiting the many work areas. On February 21, 1941, the life of this devoted animal came to an

end when a truck under which he was sleeping rolled over him. The grave below was completed by workers later that same day.”

The saga of the dog that adopted a dam has received national attention following the removal of the simple plaque which read: “NIG ... The dog that adopted a dam. Born about June, 1932... djed about June, 1936.”

Fact and legend are intertwined regarding the exploits of the orphan pup and his absolute devotion to the men and to the darn he watched rise from the bowels of Black Canyon. He belonged to no one... yet belonged to all. He rode the transports with the crews, carried a lunch with him and is reported to have inspected every nook and cranny of the engineering marvel of its day as it climbed higher and higher.

The NEWS recently received a letter from the Wisconsin tourist Clarence Kailin explaining his stand. The letter is reproduced below in its entirety. ,

 

Editor

Boulder City News

I just received copies of your paper and noted the articles regarding tfye removal of “NIG” plaque at Hoover Dam. The dog was named in the 1930’s when lynching was an accepted means of social control, and n—-r was the derogatory and offensive epithet commonly used against people of color. It was used to denote Black inferiority and was part of the white supremacy arsenal used to justify oppression. The “NIG” plaque did no honor to the dog or to the men who named him. And to show how racism hangs on, the plaque was not erected until 1978! One would suppose that this kind of racist terminology on federal property would be a thing of the past. The plaque could just as well have been titled “A beloved mascot to the men who built the dam.”

Nor is this kind of racist terminology an isolated incident. Georgia State Senator Julian Bond, head of the Atlanta NA AC? Chapter, has filed suit against the Federal Communications Commission seeking to have n—-r added to the FCC ban on obscene words taboo on TV: “I don’t think it ought to be permissible to use the six - letter word that dehumanizes and badly characterizes an entire race of people.

In a word, such terminology only helps to perpetuate racism. This is why there was such a broad protest against the Hoover Dam plaque (it was not the work of just one person).

Supreme Court Justice Marshall, in his Bakke dissent, summed it up: “The ex

perience of Negroes in. America has been different in kind, not just in degree, from

that of other ethnic groups. It is not merely the history of. slavery alone, but also that a whole people.were marked .as inferior by law. And that mark, has endured.”

Although racism has changed outwardly - and in many areas much progress has been made - for millions of Black Americans condemned to life in our big city ghettoes, racism still remains a heavy burden. The Black - white division only makes it that much harder to solve America’s problems.

(s) Clarence Kailin Clarence Kailin

 

Letter To The Editor

June 28,1979

R. Keith Higginson, Commissioner

Bureau of Reclmation Washington, D.C. 20240

Dear Sir:

Regretfully, I will have to inform all the people, whom I believe .was the majority of people regardless of race, that the Bureau of Reclamation has conceded to give in to the racial sensitivities who backed Clarence Kailin.

I just cannot understand if you are going to leave NIG in the concrete, why are you taking it off the plaque? Maybe someone else (possibly a friend of Clarence Kailin) will object even to that. All I can say, if you give in to this, as you obviously have, then in this country the minority RULES, not the majority.

I certainly am not prejudice because I have been brought up with all

kinds of nationalities, but I am getting really tired of all this RACIAL SENSITIVITIES. Other people have feelings too, and racism hasn’t a thing to do with it, especially when it is a dog’s name.

To date, I have one thousand protests, and I am still going to try to right a wrong because it was wrong to take the plaque down because you want to satisfy'‘some of the many publics ', and it is an insult to everyone who cares about this. We are all not racists like Clarence Kailin. HE IS THE RACIST and a troublemaker.

Sincerely,

(s) Betty Rovacchi

CC:

Cecil R. Andrus, Secretary of the U.S. Dept, of Interior; Celeste Durant, L A. Times; James Kas- telic, Review Journal, Las Vegas; Bill Harbour, Boulder City News; Dan Rathers, 60 Minutes, New York, New York.

BCN 7/$779 p'/<>

 

Benjamin Pantier

Together in this grave lie Benjamin Pantier, attorney at law.

And Nig, his dog, constant companion, solace and friend.

Down the gray road, friends, children, men and women,

Passing one by one out of life, left me til I was alone With Nig for partner, bed - fellow, comrade in drink. In the morning of life I knew aspiration and saw glory.

Then she, who survives me, snared my soul With a snare which bled me to death, Till I, once strong of will, lay broken, indifferent, Living with Nig in a room back of a dingy office. Under my jaw - bone is snuggled the bony nose of Nig- .

Our story is lost in silence. Go by, mad world!

 

E LETTERS ™ EDITOR

OPEN LETTER TO MR. CLARENCE KAILIN

We pioneers of Boulder City do not agree whatsoever with your views, conclusions, and interference in our love and devotion towards a dog whose fame has lasted over 40 years.

None among us expect such immortality.

Where is the thinking of our black ,friends when it comes to a pet that was black. Black is beautiful, right?

Nig was a working man’s dog. One of our local pioneers, here since 1931, married to a veteran and worker on

the dam, said that she loved Nig as much as anyone could, but he was constantly exposed to the dust and mud at the damsite and she never thought she would want to touch him or pet him because he was in need of a good brushing or pbrhaps a bath!

Nig wasn’t all that crazy to be touched according to those who were familiar with his habits. There are so many legends about him. A gathering of pioneers or a letter from a distant friend has seldom failed to mention “old Nig” for he was unforgettable.

So now we have Nig

forever. Our bones, and yours, will return to dust, our names wiped out from the plates of time and a hundred years from now we will have been forgotten.

Nig will become a legend. His immortality is assured.

Our black friends in Las"Vegas, those who worked on the gang with Charley Rose, the latter a White man who never stood for any criticism of his crew, will be heard from soon. The News has spreas the word of the way Nig’s noble name has been defiled. Nig ... you were black and black is beautiful.

Sincerely, Teddy Fenton

 

ijjeeoi

Dear Mrs. Rovacchi,

The article in the Los Angeles Times pertaining to Nig’s plaque has just been brought to my attention. Please add my name to those who believe the plaque should be restored.

I am twenty-eight years old, and don’t feel either naive or ignorant, but I could never have found anything offensive in that sweet pup’s name. There is no way that I would have equated the dog’s name with a racial slur. Would Clarence Kailin have been upset if the dog’s name had been “Blac- kfe”?

So for what it’s worth, I’m with yoii! If there’s anything I can do to help you with your cause, please let me know. It saddens me that one man’s perversion can destroy other people’s feelings and sentimentality (not to MsMsv tow). It seems to be a symptom of our so-called modern* society.

Letters About NigGOOOOOOOO

Sincerely, Diane Glaze

6633% Kester Ave. Van Nuys, Calif. 91405

Dear Nancy Rovacchi,

It was with disbelief and anger that I read in the St. Paul Dispatch last night the article regarding Clarence Kailin’s attempts concerning removal of the plaque honoring Boulder City’s “Nig”, and your courageous efforts to get the plaque restored to its rightful place. I admire and commend you for your stand in this matter--good for you! If I lived closer I would join you. Put my husband and me on your petition list for return of the plaque. I sincerely hope the citizens of Boulder City will rally together and show this Clarence Kailin that he should employ his talents, such as they are, to WWZ by concentrating on the crucial problems that beset this country and need tend

ing to, instead of fomenting trouble concerning an honored and beloved dog. “Nig’s” memory should be and will be vindicated by the citizens of Boulder City.

Outwit this character Nancy - you can dp it. Where there is a will there is a way: isn’t it true someone “remembers” that “Nig” was named for the charming flowering plant “Nigella”? Mr. Kailin, obviously, isn’t aware that persons, animals and objects are honored by being named after plants, i.e., Peace rose, John F. Kennedy rose, Lily Pons rose, Senator Dirksen Marigold, Job’s Tears, Mexican sunflower, Oyster plant, Spider plant, African violet, Butterfly flower, Canary creeper, Dogwood, Foxglove, Lily-of- the-Valley, Tiger Lily, etc. and etc. and etc.

Also, how about erecting a statue of “Nig” with his plaque, to be placed ia the city path? I will be glad to contribute.

Another thing

couldn’t some artist make a painting of the plaque, with “Nig”? This would be another way to circumvent the plaque, per se. It could occupy a place of honor in Boulder City’s city hall.

Good luck to you, Nancy, and to the people of Boulder City. My husband and I love animals, and “Nig” must have been an exceptional dog it is fitting and proper that his memory be honored and cherished.

Sincerely,

Mrs. Bernie Kram- linger

1465 N. Dale Street

St. Paul, Minn. 55117

Mr. Clarence Kailin c-oUniversity of Wisconsin

Madison, Wisconsin 53706

Dear Sir,

It was with disbelief and anger that I read in the St. Paul Dispatch last night an article regarding your Msmpts to remove the plaque honoring Boulder City’s “Nig”.

v/r/r? A P

 

Dear Mrs. Rovacchi,

The article in the Los Angeles Times pertaining to Nig’s plaque has just been brought to my attention. Please add my name to those who believe the plaque should be restored.

I am twenty-eight years old, and don’t feel either naive or ignorant, but I could never have found anything offensive in that sweet pup’s name. There is no way that I would have equated the dog’s name with a racial slur. Would Clarence Kailin have, been ;upset if the dog’s nhme had been “Blac- kife”?

So for what it’s worth, I’m with yoii! If there’s anything I can do to help you with your cause, please let me know. It saddens me that one man’s perversion can destroy other people’s feelings and sentimentality (not to motion isos). It sssms todss WWMM of our so-called modern' society.

tetters About NigGOOOOOOOO

Sincerely,

Diane Glaze

6633% Kester Ave.

Van Nuys, Calif. 91405

Dear Nancy Rovacchi, It was with disbelief and anger that I read in the St. Paul Dispatch last night the article regarding Clarence Kailin’s attempts concerning removal of the plaque honoring Boulder City’s “Nig”,. and your courageous efforts to get the plaque restored to its rightful place. I admire and commend you for your stand in this matter-- good for you! If I lived closer I would join you. Put my husband and me on your petition list for return of the plaque. I sincerely hope the citizens of Boulder City will rally together and show this Clarence Kailin that he should employ his talents, such as they are, to MM use by ®9®een- tratiag on the crucial problems that beset this country and need tend

ing to, instead of fomenting trouble concerning an honored and beloved dog. “Nig’s” memory should be and will be vindicated by the citizens of Boulder City.

Outwit this character Nancy - you can do it. Where there is a will there is a way: isn’t it true someone “remembers” that “Nig” was named for the charming flowering plant “Nigella”? Mr. Kailin, obviously, isn’t aware that persons, animals and objects are honored by being named after plarits, i.e., Peace rose, John F. Kennedy rose, Lily Pons rose, Senator Dirksen Marigold, job’s Tears, Mexican sunflower, Oyster plant, Spider plant, African violet, Butterfly flower, Canary creeper, Dogwood, Foxglove, Lily-of- the-Valley, Tiger Lily, etc. and etc. and etc.

Also, how about erecting a statue of “Nig” with his plaque, to be placed istkscttypELMUbs glad to contribute.

Another thing -

couldn’t some artist make a painting of the plaque, with “Nig”? This would be another way to circumvent the plaque, per se. It could occupy a place of honor in Boulder City’s city hall.

Good luck to you, Nancy, and to the people of Boulder City. My husband and I love animals, and “Nig” must have been an exceptional dog it is fitting and proper that his memory be honored and cherished.

Sincerely,

Mrs. Bernie Kram- linger

1465 N. Dale Street

St. Paul, Minn. 55117

Mr. Clarence Kailin c-oUniversity of Wisconsin

Madison, Wisconsin

53706

Dear Sir,

It was with disbelief and anger that I read in the St. Paul Dispatch last night sn article regarding MZWM to remove the plaque honoring Boulder City’s “Nig”.

7/r/rt A P

I sincerely hope the citizens of Boulder City will rally together to perpetuate the memory of this exceptional and beloved dog - it is fitting and proper that his memory be honored.

Is it not possible, Mr. Kailin, to employ your talents, such as they are, to good use by concentrating on the crucial problems that beset this country and need tending to, instead of fomenting trouble concerning an honored and wellloved dog? “Nig’s” memory should be and will be vindicated by the citizens df Boulder City. Why not get busy and set your sights (and intelligence?) oy serious matters involving our whole country at this time instead of witch-hunting.

You may just discover that this whole thing was a disastrous mistake on z your part.

Sincerely,

Mrs. Bernie Kram-

linger

1488 N. Dale Street

St. Paul, Minn. 55117

 

 

L

 

New plaque honors Nig —

 

NIG THE DOG ...new plaque at the dam

By James Kastelic R-J Staff Writer

BOULDER CITY— Dog lovers, rejoice!

A commemorative plaque dedicated to Hoover Dam mascot Nig has been reinstated above his grave, ending a five-month struggle to return the canine to prominence.

However, the plaque lacks the one thing that caused Nig to slip briefly into notoriety in the first place — his name.

The marker, which once stated: “Nig ... The dog that adopted a dam,” now carries revised wording as a result of complaints filed with government agencies earlier this year by a Wisconsin man who contended the canine’s name was a shortened version of an ethnic slur.

The new plaque, installed by the Bureau of Reclamation, reads:

“The Hoover Dam construction crew’s mascot was found as a puppy by workers at the construction camp. This dog traveled to and from the dam site with them and spent his days visiting the many work areas.

“On Feb. 21,1941, the life of this devoted animal came to an end when a truck under which he was sleeping rolled over him. The grave below was completed by workers laterthat same day.”

Through a barrage of letters, Clarence Kailin of Madison, Wise., succeeded last March 21 in getting the original plaque removed from the breccia cliff above Nig’s gravesite near the dam, claiming the name

Thursday, October 4, 1979—Las Vegas Review-Journal—15A out doesn’t use his name

contained racist overtones.

Reaction was immediate and widespread. Newspapers around the United States and Canada carried the saga of Nig. Irate people wrote letters to their congressmen and passed petitions, demanding the reinstatement of the plaque.

• But for five months, Nig remained unknown to Hoover Dam visitors because his grave identification was gone.

Finally, yielding to the public’s outcry, BuRec officials installed x new aluminum plaque wh.'.h carries a photoengraved liklpess of the black, multi-o'^ed pooch.

Directly underneath the marker is Nig’s concrete tomb with his name drawn on it. BuRec officials have promised that the name on

the grave will never be disturbed.

Boulder City resident Betty Rovachi, who was instrumental in getting a marker placed back over the tomb by distributing petitions and contacting government officials, said this week she was “satisfied we have this plaque back up even if it doesn’t have Nig’s name on it.”

“I’m glad everybody didn’t end up bowing down to one man who insisted it be taken down,” Rovachi said.

Rovachi, who said she received support sympathizers in every state in the union, also mentioned that a heart-shaped plaque from

an animal adoption center in Anaheim, Calif., has been put on permanent display to honor the canine at the dam’s exhibit center.

That memorial has the name Nig on it, she said.

Meanwhile, UNLV ethnic studies professor Roosevelt Fitzgerald has been collecting Rovachi’s letters and other memorabilia connected with Nig to see if there is enough material to write a book.

“I’m collecting a lot of

things,” Fitzgerald said. “If there’s anything that might be workable, a book is a very good possibility.”

Fitzgerald said the the book probably would be about the conditions existing for black workers at the dam and would use Nig as the central point.

“What I have in mind is something that will take a more detailed look at what went on out there during the time the dam was constructed,” Fitzgerald said.

 

Henderson Home News qnd Boulder City News •

LETTERS to the EDITOR:

Dear friends, «-

At the recent gathering of the 31ers I had the honor of being the member'who had traveled the greatest distance to attend. In truth, I would have travelled twice as far : -as I had come, • from Chattanooga, Tennessee to be with all of you this year.

It is a joy to- find Boulder City has kept its loving concern for all those who jjve here. I have been particularly pleased with seeing the service available for Senior-Citizens and the recreation program for al). Even newcomers here have been infected with the pioneer fever of those who built this oasis. I have been touched by your desire to keep alive the traditions we held dear years ago; for Sy many communities are just too busy with their present expansion to do so.

Thank you for your warm greetings, extended even though I have been away; too long. Thank you

Never in my life have I heard of, or witnessed such a blatant act of cowardice, than that of the Bureau of Reclamation in

for the many condolences extended on the recent death of my father. Doc Jensen. Thank you for being yourselves. Thank you for your kindness to my stepmother.

My family, Margaret, Billy, Kathy and husband Bill (who is with South Central Bell Telephone Co.) very generously curtailed their vacation plans this summer to make my visit possible. My mother sends you her -best wishes.

I Will return home to begin my new work at Chattanooga State Technical Community College in June, where I will be teaching dance as physical and psychotherapy.

Sincerely,

(s) Christyna Jensen Benton, 31 er from 1936 to 1948.

removing the plaque which marks the grave of NIG the dog of Hoover Dam.

I find it difficult to believe that people would bow down to the idiocy of one mans insecurity. Many men worked on the dam, both black and white and never was there any cry of racism when the plaque was placed On the grave of the dog that all of these men loved and cared for. Then to listen to the crybaby attitude of a man who wasn’t there and knows nothing about the men or what they felt for a dog, a mascot really is inconceivable to me..

I believe that the first consideration should go to those men who worked, bled, and sweated-constructing the dam. Did anyone even bother to ask what these men thought, I for one doubt it. Well, asked or not, they are giving their views and answers to you. The plaque should be replaced as it is, not with the name

Women living alone have many unique safety problems. Their exposure to these risks can be greatly minimized - thru some simple precautions?

(1) Use good judgment in selecting a place to live.

(2) Have the Jocks in your new home rekeyed or change the Jocks, preferably to dead bolts.

(3) Don’t leave »keys under the door mat or in the mailbox and never put your address on your key ring.

 

removed as many suggest, but as it was and is. NIG was the dog’s name and that is the way the plaque should and must read.

We nbt only are asking for this, but are demanding that it be done, we are demanding it!

It is time that-the people who live here get what they want and quit yielding to outsiders. I ask the Bureau of Reclamation, are you so sure of your actions that you never question what you do?

Michael Crawford-

 

Be it resolved by the members of the Boulder City 31ers Club, assembled at the Annual Convention in Boulder City Nevada, April 28,1979, that we go on record as opposing the action taken by the Bureau of Reclamation, in removing the Plaque of our beloved Mascot, “NIG” from Hoover Dam.

And whereas, during the many years of hardships encountered by the dedicated people who were responsible for the construction of this immense project, Hoover Dam.

And whereas, the visits of old “NIG” to each of the operations that made up the construction of the Dam, helped to make each one’s labor a little easier. He was a very unusual and remarkable dog.

Therefore, be it resolved, that a petition be circulated among the group here assembled, requesting the U.S Bureau of Reclamation to re - install a plaque above the grave site with the following inscription.

In Memory of NIG Our Beloved Mascot 1932-1941 Respectfully Submitted, Jake Dielman, Bruce Eaton, M.L. Burt

This Resolution was approved 100 percent by the Boulder City 31ers Club.

 

'Nig' To Be Honored With

New Plaque

A plaque honoring Nig, the mascot of Hoover Dam , will be replaced on the canyon wall above the inconspicuous grave located beside the roadway on the Nevada side of the dam.

The announcement was made this week by Bureau of Reclamation officials here in Boulder City.

The exact wording and de-, sign of the new plaque will be determined in the next weeks.

The original plaque placed on the wall a few years ago read: “Nig, the dog that adopted a dam ... Born about March, 1932 ... Died about June 1936.

Further research determined that the dog actually died in 1941.

The plaque was in place for some time when it was spotted by a tourist from Wisconsin, Clarence Kailin. He objected to the memorial containing the name “Nig”, claiming it to be a racist slur.

Kailin continued to file written objections to Bureau officials, members of Congress, the N.A.A.C.P. and other organizations. Bureau officials here finally decided to remove the plaque in March of this year.

Area residents reacted strongly following the story of the plaque’s removal in the NEWS and the Review - Journal. A Boulder City resident, Betty Rovacchi, circulated petitions objecting to the removal. Hundreds of signatures were obtained. The newspapers were swamped with irate letters demanding that the plaque be returned.

Nevada’s Congressman Jim Santini recently sent a letter to. U.S.B.R. Chief Eugene Hinds requesting that the plaque honoring the much beloved mascot be replaced.

BC^ s/z p* e-

 

NOT FOR ME

By Ruth Shook

t When we were living those “Good old days,” . .

They didn’t seem so good.

We read by the light of kerosene lamp And heated our homes with wood.

 

I We carried water up the hill

,4-To wash with, cook and scrub

And we took our baths behind the stove § In a galvanized laundry tub.

|1 still can smell the old lye soap and feel L the sting & hurt

| When some of it got in my eyes, X But it really got the dirt.

| We slept on cornhusk mattresses, E Sometimes three in a bed.

|If you were late you got the foot, F The early ones took the head.

A.

We waded in snow, and ice, and mud

To get to the “seat of learning”

( With a potbellied stove that froze our 4 backs.

| While our fronts were nearly burning. « We drank from a cup by a water pail KOn a bench where the teacher put it.

I And. whatever ailment any kid had, •! The rest were sure to get it.

In winter you milked in a drafty barn While the wind whistled through the

And the swirling snow, while you were •.'■■inside ' ' > .

Filled up your fresh - made tracks.

A little house at the end of a path, r Half hidden with brush and weeds, 'In summer’s heat and winter’s cold ..Served other family needs.

^Now you may look with envious eyes To these times - if you are 20,

But I’ve been through those “good old

And once, my friend, is plenty.

Is the life you live today really as bad as you think? As for me, I’m happy to be alive today and I’m looking forward to tomorrow!

CWT WWj

530 AVE. G. 293-2559 OR 293-3101

 

Boulder City News, Boulder City, Nevada Thursday, May 3, 1979 Page 8

Boulder Dam Mascot Honored

The 23rd Annual 31'er Reunion Was Dedicated to Nig

With a crowd of 216 old-timers in attendance at the April 28 reunion of the men and women who built Hoover Dam nothing was more natural than the public announcement by vice-president, Lucille Burt, that the . loudly acclaimed and loved Boulder Dam mascot, the one

and only “Nig” should have the entire evening be a night to remember him, and further, to reaffirm that no one could get away with putting the plaque back up without his name name “NIG” written plain ENOUGH for all the world to know that here lies a dog beloved by all and

>ade tion >ure

revered by all the Boulder Dam workers andltheir families.

Jake Dieleman ca le to the microphone and a motion that a reso be made to put pre on the powers whqhad removed the plaqudvith Nig’s name on it tit it henceforth and verytrn-

ed soon be placed ■ back where it belonged; not only the name but the correct date of his tragic death on the top of the dam on Feb. 21, 1941.,.. and that a likeness of his unforgettable body be engraved on that plaque. The 216 31'er's agreed wholeheartedly, the-reso. lution was seconded? car-

V

198

lb

FRO

BBQ

FRYER LEGS OR WINGS ,

ried and from that moment forward the conversations centered around the Boulder Dam Mascot.

Postcards were <sold with his picture on it, articles that had been cut from the Boulder City News were given to one and all, a collection of over $100 was taken from the sale of the cards- and , LeRoy Burt, in direct 1 contact with Senator- Cannon in Washington took

■ the petition that Betty Rovacchi had passed a- mong the 206 members of the 31’er club, and- it is being sent to Cannon in Washington. A letter already received by LeRoy Burt from Senator Cannon has assured him that the Secretary of the Interior is on the case.

Everett Blanchard-had a book with 29 pages of the articles that have -been printed in the NEWS and in one Las Vegas paper re: “Nig” and the fight to get the- black dog fixed forever with immortality - because he was so loved i and was indeed an^inte- 4 gral donation to the-glory 1

“Hot” Hickory Smoked S.S.tz.

WHOLE BBQ MIN. WT. 1 LB, 4 0Z

WHOLE CHICKENS / WCH

SAUSAGE s oz pkg 29* each ’ WITH MINIMUM PURCHASE OF $500 EXCLUDING DAIRY OR [I TOBACCO PRODUCTS. LIMIT 2 PKGS. PER COUPON

 

Boulder City News, Boulder City, Nevada Thursday, May 3, 1979 Page 8

Boulder Dam Mascot Honored

The 23rd Annual 31'er Reunion Was Dedicated to Nig

With a crowd of 216 old-timers in attendance at the April 28 reunion of the men and women who built Hoover Dam nothing was more natural than the public announcement by vice-president, Lucille Burt, that the . loudly acclaimed and loved Boulder Dam mascot, the one

and only “Nig” should have the entire evening be a night to remember him, and further, to reaffirm that no one could get away with putting the plaque back up without his name name “NIG” written-plain ENOUGH for all the world to know that here lies a dog beloved by all and

revered by all the Boulder Dam workers and their families.

Jake Dieleman came to the microphone and made a motion that a resolution be made to put pressure on the powers who j had removed the plaque With Nig’s name on it that it henceforth and very darn

ed soon be placed • back where it belonged; not only the name but the correct date of his tragic death on the top of the dam on Feb. 21, 1941.... and that a likeness of his unforgettable body be engraved on that plaque. The 216 31'ef's agreed wholeheartedly, the-resolution was seconded? carried and from that moment forward the conversations centered around the Boulder Dam Mascot.

Postcards were * sold with his picture on it, articles that had been cut from the Boulder City News were given to one and all, a collection of over $100 was taken from the sale of the cards and LeRoy Burt, in direct contact with Senator Cannon in Washington took the petition that Betty Rovacchi had passed a- mong the 206 members of the 31’er club, and- it is being sent to Cannon in Washington. A letter already received by LeRoy Burt from Senator Cannon has assured him that the Secretary of the Interior is on the case.

Everett Blanchard-had a book with 29 pages of the articles that have been printed in the NEWS and in one Las Vegas paper re:“Nig” and the fight to get the- black dog fixed forever with immortality because he was so loved and was indeed anointegral donation to the-glory of the dam the men said he helped them build. Their statement is easily explained. The very sight of Nig leaping from a

transport, and into the bucket carrying the men across the dam and- from that he would race back and forth upon the swingings catwalk and up the ladders and into the bowels of the rising-dam. None knew where he would pop up next but all knew that the day was brightened and the work lightened when his beloved form hove into view.

, There is another story that has surfaced and it came by a long distance phone call from Phil LSwson to Teddy Fenton.

One day said Phil; who came upon'the project in 1931, “I was standing with Charlie “Dogface” Rose, whose crew of laborers were all black. None knew better than I how much Charlie thought of his hard working crew and among them all -there was a shared affection for “Nig” who was scarcely out of puppyhood when his master was killed on the project. Charlie Rose was credited as being Nig’s best buddy.” •

While , we stood -there and I was talking to Charlie, here came this black dog” and at- that time no one had heard of him. “Nig” was black, make no mistake about that, and one black laborer spoke to his co-worker and remarked that the dog was blacker than he was! ” Up spoke his friend-..why

then he ought to be called “Nigger”. Shortened to “Nig” it is now perhaps a legend...would you - say? At any rate, perhaps Nig spent his searching in that long truth that man has no better friend than his dog and was Nig on - that 'everlasting search for his first master?

We would like again to remind our readers that Nig lies in a grave, his body in a cardboard box, the box wrapped in a tarp, and around and below him, above him • and

protecting him is solid granite topped by a 3 foot layer of cement.

The last man to place a bit of immortality on that precious slab that protects Nig from all but the enemy who ordered the remov al of his memorial., was Walter Klann of Henderson. Walt scratched the simple 3 letters.... “Nig”.

Think back to Feb. 21, 1941, on that sad day Bob Fisher drove the truck that

backed over Nig as he lay sleeping in its shade. A true story ended that day, but lived on for the following 38 years.

When Boulder City becomes 50 years old Nig will have been dead for 40 years. Can any person among our readers expect the immortality that is his? Rest in Peace,-Dear Nig.

The Narrator

 

As of last week, Betty Rovacchi had nearly 800 signatures on her petition signatures on her -petitions which have asked that not only should the Memorial Plaque at Hoover Dam be replaced, but that it contain the name of “NIG” the Boulder Dam Mascot. On the 4th of July, barring some unforeseen happening, our Betty will be at the

Memory of Nig bn the 4th of July, 1979

Damboree, and as strong as public feeling is running, there will surely be another 1000 signatures to send to the Commissioner, R. Keith Higginson, of the U.S. Dept, of the Interior.

There is an urgency involved in this continuing story of Nig’s place in Boulder Dam history. When the plaque was taken down at the request of a single altogether unreasonable citizen from

Wisconsin, the hue and cry from Boulder Dam pioneers was heard around the entire United States. Stories have appeared in publications as far away as Florida, Ohio, and New York State. Each of the Nig yarns brings another flood of letters to Betty’s mailbox. Each is answered and the writer is encouraged to write to R. Keith Higginson, U.S.

Dept, of Energy, Bureau of Reclamation, Washing-' \ ton D C. 20240. Be surqM ask that the name (ve placed on the plaque asM \ was on the original otzK that was taken down. _

Without the furor cads-’ ed by the WisconW-tourist we would not haivi^ had the historical fact tW Nig was born in 1931 aM died in 1941 established' by the research conduct^ by pioneer EverE Blanchard. The story bound to have a reason to have happened and Betty continues her hard fight for the name to be carried forth to the new marker it will haveM happy ending. Right? W

Look for Betty and any-friend who will help h,er‘ carry the petitioH§' through the Damborg^* grounds this July 4M What more fitting mem ory could Nig have than to': establish his fame on the: 4th of July in Boulder City?

Nig, you are going to be remembered longer than any of us.

 

 

terior. Betty will never stop the fight for the name of the Boulder Dam Mascot, “Nig” to be":- placed on the memorial plaque when it is re< stored to the canyon wall above the crypt. 8ee Story.

Betty Kovacchi, right, is shown taking the signature of Mrs. Peter Backley at the recent 31’er reunion. Nearly 200 pioneers signed the petition which was then sent to R. Kenneth Higginson, Commissioner, United States Dept, of the In-

 

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PAUL LAXALT NEVADA

COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS

COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY

QlCnxfeb z-SMales; ^enah

WASHINGTON. D.C. 20510

April 6, 1979

WASHINGTON OFFICE: 315 Russell Office Building (202) 224-3542

CARSON CITY OFFICE: 705 North Plaza Street (702) 883-1930

LAS VEGAS OFFICE: 300 Las Vegas Blvd., South (702) 385-6547

RENO OFFICE: 300 Booth Street (702) 784-5568

Dear Betty:

Thank you for your recent letter and the petition attached apprising me of your concern over the removal of the plaque commemorating the mascot of the workers during construction of Hoover Dam.

This note is simply to let you know I am looking into the matter and will be back in touch with you when I have received a response to my inquiry.

eely,

-»- »■ -273

AXALT

U. S. Senator

PL: le

Mrs. Betty Ravacchi 663 Avenue K

Boulder City, Nevada 89005

 

 

100.3

United States Department of the Interior

BUREAU OF RECLAMATION

WASHINGTON, D.G. 20240

APR 17 1879

Honorable Howard W. Cannon

United States Senate

Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Cannon:

This is in response to your recent inquiry concerning "Wig", the Hoover Dam construction crew's mascot; I am able to provide you with the following summary and update.

"Nig" was a black rough-coated dog born on the project and raised by the Six Companies construction crews who built Hoover Dam in the 1930's. The enclosed articles indicate that this animal became almost a legendary local figure on the construction project.

Following the dog's accidental death, the exact date of which is uncertain, construction workers used air hammers to chisel out his present tomb at the Nevada side of the dam.

You will note from the enclosed articles that "Nig" was both an unusual dog and an endeared mascot. Although his story does not appear in any official Bureau publications, journalists have frequently done feature stories on this mascot. School tours visiting the dam find both the grave and the accompanying story a memorable part of their visit.

In an effort to further this grave site to visitors, a bronze plaque was erected in 1977 at Government expense. This marker was placed a feet above the grave on the canyon wall, and bore the inscription:

"Nig"

The Dog That Adopted A Dam Born about March 1932 Died About June 1936

In the summer of 1978, Mr. Clarence Kailin of Madison, Wisconsin, toured Hoover Dam and complained about the "racist plaque." He voiced his concern to Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson, to whom we responded by letter in December.

 

2

Since December numerous additional have been received in the Bureau's Boulder City, Nevada. Practically Mr. Kailin.

letters complaining about the plaque Lower Colorado regional office in all of these letters refer to

In mid-March, we decided to temporarily remove the plaque, and this was done on March 21, 1979. A decision will be made as to whether to rein— stall the plaque or to replace it with another bearing more informative information, but without the name.

Following the removal of the plaque, we received a number of complaints from residents of the Boulder City area who protested this action. These include several telephone calls, personal visits by citizens to our Boulder City office, and numerous articles and letters to the editor in local newspapers.

I hope this information satisfactorily addresses your concerns.

r. Keith Higginson' Commissioner

Enclosures

 

COMMITTEES:

HOWARD W. CANNON NEVADA

CHAIRMAN, COMMERCE, SCIENCE

AND TRANSPORTATION

ARMED SERVICES

RULES AND ADMINISTRATION

zSlfvlcs denote

WASHINGTON, O.C. 20510

April 18

1979

Mrs. Betty Rovachi

663 Avenue K

Boulder City, Nevada 89005

Dear Mrs. Rovachi:

Thank you for your letter regarding the unofficial mascot in the construction of Hoover Dam and the action of the Bureau of Reclamation removing his marker.

I have contacted the Bureau expressing my concern over the injustice of this decision to remove the dog s memorial because his name, "Nig", may be misconstrued to involve racial conotations, when none were intended.

I have been pleased to express my interest in this matter and will be in contact with you again as soon as I have a response.

With best wishes, I am

 

Sincerely,

HOWARD'W. CANNON

HWC:KApj t

 

 

s~73

 

Elates Senate

WASHINGTON, O.O. 20510

Official Business

u.s.s.

April 6

1979

Dear Betty:

PL; le

•MMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS

COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY

letter and the petition concern over the re

Mrs . Betty Ravacchi 663 Avenue K

Boulder City, Nevada 89005

This note is simply to let you know I am looking into the matter and will be back in touch with you when I have received a response to my inquiry.

PAUL LAXALT NEVADA

Thank you for your recent attached apprising me of your moval of the plaque commemorating the mascot of the workers during construction of Hoover Dam.

5HCni£eb 4£>ena£e

WASHINGTON, D.C. 20510

Mrs. Betty Ravacchi 663 Avenue K

Boulder City, Nevada 89005

WASHINGTON OFFICE: 315 Russell Office Building (202) 224-3542

CARSON CITY OFFICE: 705 North Plaza Street (702) 883-1930

LAS VEGAS OFFICE: 300 Las Vegas Blvd., South (702) 385-6547

RENO OFFICE: 300 Booth Street (702) 784-5568

 

AXALT

U. S. Senator

 

 

IS REPLY S27ER TO: 10Q

- A

United States Department of the Interior

BUREAU OF RECLAMATION

WASHINGTON, D.C. 20240

100.3

APR 17 1979

Honorable Howard W. Cannon

United States Senate

Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Cannon:

This is in response to your recent inquiry concerning "Wig", the Hoover Dam construction crew's mascot5 I am able to provide you with the following summary and update.

"Nig" was a black rough-coated dog born on the project and raised by the Six Companies construction crews who built Hoover Dam in the 1930's.

The enclosed articles indicate that this animal became almost a legendary local figure on the construction project.

Following the dog's accidental death, the exact date of which is uncertain, construction workers used air hammers to chisel out his present tomb at the Nevada side of the dam.

You will note from the enclosed articles that "Nig" was both an unusual dog and an endeared mascot. Although his story does not appear in any official Bureau publications, journalists have frequently done feature stories on this mascot. School tours visiting the dam find both the grave and the accompanying story a memorable part of their visit.

In an effort to further this grave site to visitors, a bronze plaque was erected in 1977 at Government expense. This marker was placed a feet above the grave on the canyon wall, and bore the inscription:

"Nig"

The Dog That Adopted A Dam Born about March 1932 Died About June 1936

In the summer of 1978, Mr. Clarence Kailin of Madison, Wisconsin, toured Hoover Dam and complained about the "racist plaque." He voiced his concern to Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson, to whom we responded by letter in December.

 

2

December numerous additional letters complaining about the plaque have been received in the Bureau's Lower Colorado regional office in Boulder City, Nevada. Practically all of these letters refer to Mr. Kailin.

In mid-March, we decided to temporarily remove the plaque, and this was done on March 21, 1979. A decision will be made as to whether to rein- stall the plaque or to replace it with another bearing more informative information, but without the name.

Following the removal of the plaque, we received a number of complaints from residents of the Boulder City area who protested this action. These include several telephone calls, personal visits by citizens to our Boulder City office, and numerous articles and letters to the editor in local newspapers.

I hope this information satisfactorily addresses your concerns.

Sincerely yours,^--^

R. Keith Higginson'' Commissioner

Enclosures

 

HOWARD W. CANNON

NEVADA

QlCtttleb L»tcrtes Lrenttte

COMMITTEES:

CHAIRMAN, COMMERCE, SCIENCE AND TRANSPORTATION

ARMED SERVICES

RULES AND ADMINISTRATION

WASHINGTON, D.C. 20510

April 18, 1979

Mrs. Betty Rovachi 663 Avenue K

Boulder City, Nevada

Dear Mrs. Rovachi:

89005

Thank you for your letter regarding the unofficial mascot in the construction of Hoover Dam and the action of the Bureau of Reclamation removing his marker.

I have contacted the Bureau expressing my concern over the injustice of this decision to remove the dog's memorial because his name, "Nig", may be misconstrued to involve racial conotations, when none were intended.

I have been pleased to express my interest in this matter and will be in contact with you again as soon as I have a response.

With best wishes, I am

HOWARD‘W. CANNON

 

Sincerely,

HWC:KApj t

 

HOWARD W. CANNON

NEVADA

CHAIRMAN, COMMERCE, SCIENCE

COMMITTEES:

51 I nUeb Senate

AND TRANSPORTATION

ARMED SERVICES

RULES AND ADMINISTRATION

WASHINGTON, D.C. 20510

April 25

1979

Mrs. Betty Rovachi

663 Avenue K

Boulder City, Nevada 89005

Dear Mrs. Rovachi:

Knowing of your interest in the disposition of the controversy which has developed over the memorial for "Nig," the mascot at Hoover Dam, I am enclosing a letter from the Bureau of Reclamation responding to my strong expression of concern.

I am disappointed the Bureau has not taken a more positive response to the expressions of protest from Nevadans who remember "Nig" and determined to replace the original marker immediately. However, you will note that consideration is being given to replacing the marker with a modified version. Your letters to the Commissioner were very appropriate and will, I hope, lead to the replacement of the original marker. Please be assured I will continue to do what I am able to be helpful in this regard.

With best wishes, I am

Sincerely,

HOWARD W. CANNON

HWC:KApjt

 

JIM SANTINI

NEVADA

COMMITTEES:

INTERIOR AND INSULAR AFFAIRS

WASHINGTON OFFICE: 1007 Longworth House Office Building Washington, D O. 20515 TELEPHONE: (202) 225-5965

DISTRICT OFFICES:

Suite 4-620 Federal Building 300 Las Vegas Boulevard South Las Vegas, Nevada 89101 Telephone: (702) 385-6574

Congress ok the United Atates House ok Representatives Washington, T.C. 20215

1139 FEDERAL BUILDING 300 BOOTH STREET RENO, Nevada 89509 Telephone: (702) 784-5657

RURAL OFFICE: Telephone: (702) 784-5657

May 9, 1979

SUBCOMMITTEES:

CHAIRMAN, Mines and Mining Oversight and Special Investigations

* Public Lands

INTERSTATE AND FOREIGN COMMERCE

SUBCOM MITTEES: Transportation and Tourism Oversight and Investigations

SELECT COMMITTEE ON AGING

SUBCOM MITTEE:

Housing and Consumer Interests

Mr. Jim Kastel I c Review Journal

P.O. Box 70

Las Vegas, Neyada__89101

Dear Jidrn: f /

\ » !A A A

I appreciated receiving your recent letter, as well as the petition which had been circulated by Mr. and Mrs. Wall.

Like most who have contacted my office concerning the removal of the dog’s plaque, I share the feeling that the Bureau of Reclamation’s action was hasty and unnecessary. For your information, I have written to the Bureau, asking that the original plaque be restored to its proper position. I have communicated this information^o Mr. and Mrs. Wall.

Should you need any farther information on this matter, please let me know. /

JDS/sa Enclosure

 

Member of Congress

 

May 30, 1979

Mr. Kailin,

I do hope you will forgive my lack of the word "dear" but I do not feel it would be appropriate.

You, sir, are one of the reasons this country is going downhill. You and your kind are causing valuable time and money to be spent on trivial matters such as your ridiculous insistence that the plaque to "NIG" be removed. You must have nothing better to do than go around "digging"up things to make yourself a "hero". Well, what you have succeeded in doing is proclaiming your ignorance to the world

I suppose it never occured to you to look in a dictionary to see what possible reason there might have been for those men naming that dog "NIG". You are, of course, the one who determined that it stood for "nigger". If you look in "The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language" you will find on page 477 (in case you can«t find it) the word "niggling" (nig-ling) adj. 1. Fussy. 2. Petty. 3. Showing or requiring close attention, to details. (Prob.<Scand.) — nig-gling-ly adv. As closely as the first two definitions could be applied to you, the third one could be applied to "NIG". Those men might have named him that because of his close attention to details; his close scrutiny of the building of the dam.

What those men had was a pet that meant the world to them and IF he was named for the black race (which you are so quick to assume) and IF I were black, I would be glad that an animal so loved were named for my race.

If you are black, Mr. Kailin, your insecurities are showing; if you are not, mind your own business. If you are white, you are an embarrassment to me, and no matter what colour you are, you are a fool0

Most sincerely.

 

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1 to the Editor

;eles Times

geles, California

ere were tears in my eyes when I finished reading Celeste Durant’s article a5s^' Wednesday May 30, .1979, “What's In s name" because I felt Boulder suffered another Indignity.

thoughts of Boulder Dara (ie Hoover Dara) go back to my childhood when a few hted men made many many trips out to Boulder Canyon, over dirt roads and

think, no accommodations, other than "sleeping out", to search out a sight great dam they visioned. My father was one of those men.

iR they finally "E secure in the knowlege they had found the right location proposed dam, a delegation went .to Washington,». C. to talk to President

1 remember my father coming home from that trip very down-hearted and "He (President Hoover) said, 'Gentlemen, 1 will meet you socially but I ' me'et wlth y°u to discuss the construction of that dam in Boulder Canyon'", sue.i.», I remember my father making many many trips to Washington, DC and tally President Roosevelt approved the construction of Boulder Dam,

■ tdent Hoover! Thus., I say another indignity, as the name waa changed! vl,e was changed from "Boulder" to "Hoover" and now a person, named

ies along and wants to remove the name of a faithful dog only because was ’Nig". Celeste Durant is correct In saying, “What's in a Name?"

had a dog, once long long ago, called "Punk" - not because he was a

• ne was an Irlsh Setter of pumpkin color and the name came out "Punk".

about "O' 1 Red" of the Disney series? Have the American Indians gotten ate over that dog’s name? Howabout"m• ni»•

ow about 01 Bl ue , another ethnic thing?

be w® namcd animis by their color, with no ethnic thoughts. A friend

 

*2-

said to me today, "We had a black cat we called 'Niger' (look that up in Webster's New World Dictionary). That is the way she spelled it and according to Webster, it is a river flowing through Nigeria into the Gulf of Guinea.

Thus, again,another person wants to erase another name from that great dam; the name of "Nig" — unthinkable!

Has that person Kailin thought of all the names,(nick - names) that might be included in the lose of life of the building of that great dam? Close to a thousand, I would assume and perhaps more. Many men lost their lives and then comes along this REAL BIGOT who wants to do away with the memory of a dog that gave love; was loved and is still remembered.

Yes. I did cry. I would have loved "Nig", could I have been able to meet him as my father made many many trips out there when the dam was under construction and, as I am sending a copy of this letter to Betty Rovacchi and I hope she will include my/our names in her petition asking that the plaque be restored to its rightful place.

Who could be so bigoted? Only that KaUin person!

 

AHA Mary dine DeLanty (my father was Benjamin F. DeLanty, Geh’1 Mgr., Chief Engineer, Pasadena Light Dept.)

CC* Betty Rovacchl — KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!

 

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1111 So. Montebello Blvd. Montebello, California 90640 Sunday June 3, 1979

To whom it may concern;

In response to an article in the Los Angeles Times newspaper on May Z0, 1979 entitled What's in a Name? - Controversy at Hoover Dam. Plaque Honoring Dog Removed As Racial Slur. I enclose a copy of the story with my letter to verify my reasons for typing you this letter.

I well remember the years in which the Hoover Dam was built as my father was a copper miner and worked on this project for a short while and later died with silicosis. Times were rough especially in the early thirties and many people drifted from job to job to.make a living. Being a man fifty-eight years old and looking back in my life to my youth I can remember many events in relation to the "nigger". I can remember going home from movies in which I saw them beaten and given treatment worse than animals. I well remember crying to think that the world could be so bitter against a man because of the color of his skin. I was reared in Arizona and heared much of the hatred for the nigger in the Deep South.

In my hometown, Superior, Arizona in the early thirties there lived a colored man and his wife, T. Sanders. My grandfather, Ed McKelvey operated a garbage route and hauled away dead animals for the county and when he needed help T. Sanders was always there. I can close my eyes and see Grandpa and old T. Sanders sitting alongside him in that old 1928 Chevrolet ton and a half truck doing a job together. When my grandfather died in 1935 and I was riding in a car behind the hearse to the cemetery, the funeral procession passed the busiest corner of the little copper town. An aunt seated to the outside of the hearse said "Oh look there is T. Sanders with his hat over his chest and it looks like he is crying."

Much has been said about the many nationalities in my lifetime as I have had the finger pointed at me for being an Irishman. Many more slang names are given such as Pollock, Chink, Jap, Gook, Guinea Wop, Wetback, Limie, Kraut, Greaser, Frog to name only a few and the many, many more not mentioned. I honestly feel that we all have to learn to laugh at ourselves and not carry a grudge because one race thinks that it is better than another. After all God created us in His image.

I would be most grateful if any name associated with myself and an event such as this event was used because behind it all this animal brought warm heartfelt feelings and a share of its love to one and all during its lifetime. Why can't this be a lesson to every human being on the face of this earth? Put the plaque back in its place.

 

United States Department of the Interior

BUREAU OF RECLAMATION WASHINGTON, D.C. 20240

nr reply

REFER TO: 100

100.3

JUN 25 1979

Mrs. Betty Ravacchi 663 Avenue K Boulder City, NV 89005

Dear Mrs. Ravacchi:

I have reviewed all the recent correspondence from you and others who have written concerning the plaque at Hoover Dam.

As you know, the plaque in question was placed on the canyon wall above the dog's grave in 1977, rather than at the time of burial. We have since learned the June 1936 date of death appearing on the original marker was incorrect. The date of Nig's death has now been established as February 1941.

With these two facts in mind, I have approved a proposal to replace the original plaque, removed on March 21 of this year, with another more informative marker. The grave, which has "NIG" clearly etched into its concrete surface, has never been and will not be disturbed.

Had the original plaque been correctly dated and had it been erected at the time of burial, it too would have been preserved. In view of this country's recently expanded sensitivity to racial issues, I have elected not to place the name "Nig" on the new marker.

We are attempting to use a photo-engraving process to place a picture of "Nig" on the new metal marker. This would be accompanied by the following wording:

"The Hoover Dam construction crew's mascot was found as a puppy by workers at the construction camp. This dog traveled to and from the damsite and spent his days visiting the many work areas.

 

E *

On February 21, 1941, the life of this devoted animal came to an end when a truck under which he was sleeping rolled over him. The grave below was completed by workers later that same day."

I appreciate your concern in this issue, and trust that the compromise solution I have outlined above will meet with your approval.

Sincerely,

R. Keith HiggiiZsol Commissioner ( /

 

I

Dear Ms. Hosea:

Ms. Rose Hosea, President Feline and Canine Friends, Inc. 505 North Bush Street Anaheim, California 92805

response to your June 11, 1979 letter concerning "Nig," the Hoover Dam construction crew’s mascot, the following’ additional information may be of interest to you.

We expect to have the new installation completed within the next few weeks. The wording will read:

United States Department of the Interior

BUREAU OF RECLAMATION LOWER COLORADO REGIONAL OFFICE P.O. BOX 427

BOULDER CITY, NEVADA 89005

JUL 8 M

IN REPLY REFER TO: LC-140 180.

The Los Angeles Times article to which you referred failed to point out that the plaque in question was installed in 1977 rather than in 1941 when "Nig" was buried. This fact, coupled with thelerror in the date of death appearing on the plaque, prompted our decision to remove the original plaque and replace it with a more informative and acceptable marker.

"The Hoover Dam construction crew’s mascot was found as a puppy by workers at the construction camp. This dog traveled to and from the damsite with the crews on their buses. He spent his days visiting the many work areas. On February 21, 1941, the life of this devoted animal came to an end when a truck under which he was sleeping rolled over him. The grave below was completed by workers later that same day."

The award for "Nig" which you mentioned should be brought to the attention of Mrs. Betty Rovacchi, 663 Avenue K, Boulder City, Nevada 89005. Mrs. Rovacchi, who has coordinated a campaign for the replacement of the plaque, has been contacted by numerous people anxious to pay tribute to "Nig." Although you did not mention the

 

2

form in which the award would be made, she may be able to help you in recognizing "Nig" with the PAWS FOR LOVE presentation-

I hope the above information will be helpful to you-

Sincerely,

Eugene Hinds

Regional Director

be: Mrs. Betty Rovacchi, 663 Avenue K, Boulder City, Nevada 89005 (w/c ref. Itr.)

 

LOWER COLO DAfr

RECD JUN 19

ROUTING

FELINE AND CANINE FRIENDS, INC

1OQ_ 120 330 400

Dedicated To Humane Treatment of Animals

505 NORTH BUSH STREET • ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA 9280& * TELEPHONE:

714]

635-7^5

June 11, 19rS^~

Dear Sirs,

As of now, I am still fuming over the article that was written in the TIMES about ’’NIG”, the black labrador mix dc*> who was a Mascot at Hoover Dam while it was being built*

Not too long ago I and a friend visited Hoover Dam and we were very impressed with it, but you guessed it, we are in the humane business and it was the story of "Nig" that impressed us the most that day!!

2/very year we hold a fund-raising affair for homeless animals at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim. PAWS FOR LOVE Awards are presented to a person who has dedicated their lives to helping animals and also and award is presented to an animal that has done a gallent deed for mankind.

We feel that NIG was an inspiration of love to the men that built Hoover Dam and even though Nig is gone, he does deserve another plaque. One that would say that HE LOVED man, regardless of color, race, or creedj

People such as Mr. Kailin come and go. He was just a tourist who now thinks he is big stuff for having officials of the Bureau ox Reclamation and the Lower Daras remove Nig*s plaque!

• 'Kailin must be black and he should not feel insulted because a dog was given a name that he assumes to be “nigger", xie should be glad that the dog was named that and that it WAS very muched love by the working men. If it would have been a "Two-legged nigger” that same love would not have been so abundant*

Now in this day and age being black is something to be proud of - but because of that, it should not be abused — and it is being abuseci by Mr. Kailin. He certainly has a name that suits him. It has the vox

 

know you jr NIG but when four of we expect to

folks are a bit far to come and accept the ^ward. we will be deliverins it to you sometime in August us will be going to visit Hoover Dam. Aid)

see NIG * s Plaque still there!

 

Humanely yours,

Rose Hosea, President

s. You know all this concerning NIG IS political. Aren't you reminded of the time there were problems changing • 'O.

names of HOOVER to BOULDER and vice versa! .

Time heals all pounds - and wounds all heels' Those

that are frightened into keeping their political seats von t there after a while end they won't giro a

If enough uproar is made over a small plaque vx „

don't be surprised if the whole Dam xtself will be

 

FELINE AND CANINE FRIENDS, INC. SM

Dedicated^ Humana Tree of Animals

505 NORTH BUSH STREET • ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA 92805 » TELEPHONE: (714) 635-7975

June 11,

197 9

Dear' Editor,

Please find enclosed a copy of a letter X sent to Project Manager of the Colorado Dams, Ben Wilkinson whose picture was rn the TIMES removing NIG’s plaque. ( I am hoping By now IT HAS be put back I Funny how no one makes a big thing when people name dogs like "George" "Pete" or " Sam" I have a cat I named "Jiggy” after the word jiggaboo and I love her more than my other two cats! So yes, Nancy Novac chi is right: “What’s in a name"? )

Rose Hosea, President

 

Humanely yours,

A NONPROFIT CORPORATION • EXEMPT FROM TAXATION • TO WHICH DEDUCTIBLE GIFTS M ,

 

Congress ok the Minted Ntates House ok Representatives Washington. D.L. 20215

S^iei^i- Business

Ms. Betty Rovacchi

663 Ave. K

Boulder City, Nevada 89005

JIM SANTINI

NEVADA

WASHINGTON OFFICE: Longworth House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515 Telephone: (202) 225-5965

DISTRICT OFFICES:

Suite 4-620 Federal Building 300 Las Vegas Boulevard South Las Vegas, Nevada 89101 TELEPHONE: (702) 385-6574

1139 Federal Building 300 Booth Street Reno, Nevada 89509 Telephone: (702) 784-5657

Congress ok the United s>tates

House ot Representatives

Washington, D.C. 20515

July 11, 1979

RURAL OFFICE:

Telephone: (702) 784-5657

Ms. Betty Rovacchi 663 Ave. K

Boulder City, Nevada

89005

COMMITTEES:

INTERIOR AND INSULAR AFFAIRS

SUBCOMMITTEES:

CHAIRMAN, Minesand Mining Oversight and Special Investigations Public Lands

INTERSTATE AND FOREIGN COMMERCE

SUBCOM M1TTEES:

Transportation and Tourism Oversight and Investigations

SELECT COMMITTEE ON AGING

SUBCOMMITTEE:

Housing and Consumer Interests

Dear Ms. Rovacchi:

I appreciated hearing of your concern with the Bureau of Reclamation’s removal of the plaque honoring "Nig," the mascot of the men who built Hoover Dam.

When I learned of this action, I joined you in protesting the overreaction of the Bureau to the complaint of one individual. In responding to my letter, Mr. Eugene Hinds, Regional Bureau of Reclamation Director, indicated that your concerns and mine have been noted, and that the Bureau is trying to make up for the arbitrariness of the action.

As you may know, the Bureau had decided to put up a new plaque honoring "Nig.” The new plaque will feature a photoengraved picture of the dog, along with information concerning his history. It will be placed in the same location as the old plaque, above the dog’s grave. Although the new marker will not include Nig’s name, the Bureau will preserve the concrete grave, which does have "NIG" etched on its surface.

Thank you again for your interest.

position is that the date of death on the and that a new plaque should be made which Although new plaque without name, I’m sure that visitors to the site will additional accuracy the new marker.

The Bureau's plaque was wrong, accurately indicates the date and cause of death, that is obviously an excuse for creating the "offending" appreciate the of jiew Meanwhile, we will have to be satisfied with the m^ffiory of NiH^s true identity as it is etched in tHe concrete of the original grave.

Member of

Congress

JDS/jlh

 

August 9j 1979

Betty L. Rovaechi 663 Avenue K

Boulder City 3 Nv. 89005

Mr. H. R. Simpson 4961 Briarwood Portsmouth, Virginia 23703

Dear Sir:

Enclosed you will find copies of the letters I received from Senators Cannon and Laxalt and Rep. Santini, Cos*™ ■ /

They seem to be as disappointed as I am that this one man, Clarence Kailin3 had so much power that he frightened the Bureau of Reclamation in Washington in removing the plaque of a beloved pet.

I am happy to say that, in now in the Exhibit Buildvngfpr<

f Kailin3 NIG has a new plaque to me by Rose Hosea3 President

of Reline and Canine Animal Adoption3 Aneheim3 California. It was a simple ceremony with two of the men 3 a Mr. Oliver and Mr. Klann who buried NIG and Mr. Klann etched NIG’s name in the cement in the ground, at the time of NIG’s death. So in a way3 NIG will get a new plaque from the government., but NOT with his name on it3 and also the one from California.

Thank you so much for your interest and concern. I had over l3000 protests3 but I guess I just did not belong to the right organizations!

Sincerely3

Betty L. Rovaechi

P. S.

By the way3 the government still has not put up the new plaque as of this date.

 

EVIEW-

Journal.

1111 W. BONANZA ROAD • POST OFFICE BOX 70 * LAS VEGAS, NEVADA 89101 • (702) 385-4241

Oct. 10, 1979

Prof. Roosevelt Fitzgerald Ethnic Studies Department, UNLV 4505 S. Maryland Parkway 89109

Dear Prof. Fitzgerald:

Enclosed are some letters regarding Nig the dog that I don't believe you have in your files. Take particular note of the letter from George Howland of Madison. He's the type of individual who will say racial prejudice has been obliterated in this country.

Lots of luck on your efforts to write a book if you should decide to take the challenge. Let me know if it comes out in print.'

 

MEMBER

DONREY MEDIA GROUP

 

From the dtA of:

GEORGE H. HOWLAND

4513 Vernon Blvd.

Madison, Wisconsin 53705

 

The Tragedy of "Nig"

Friends, citizens of Boulder City, countrymen, lend me your ears:

I come to bury Nig (the dog that adopted Hoover Dam), not to praise him. The evil that men do lives after them, *

The good is oft interred with their bones,

So let it be with Nig. The noble Clarence Kailin

Hath caused the plaque honoring Nig be removed from men’s eyes, Because, he said, Nig’s name was racist;

If it were so, it was a grievous fault, And grievously hath Nig anser’d it.

Here, under leave of Mr. Kailin, and the

Bureau of Reclamation, and the

Lower Colorado Dams Project Office,—

For' Mr. Kail in is an honourable man;

So are they all, all honourable men,— Come I to speak in Nig’s memory.

He was a friend, faithful and loving to many;

But Mr. Kailin says his name is racist;

And Mr. Kailin is an honourable man.

His story did deeply move many a visitor to Hoover Dam, Whose monies did the general coffers fill:

Did this in Nig’s name seem racist?

When that the dog was made dead one day, the men wept in public places: Racism should be made of sterner stuff:

Yet Mr. Kailin says his name is racist;

And Mr. Kailin is an honourable man.

Many did see the plaque first placed,

Which none did refuse: was this racism?

Yet Mr. Kailin says his name is racist;

And, sure, he is an honourable man.

I speak not to disprove what Mr. Kailin spoke, You all did love him once, not without cause: What cause withholds you then to honor him?

0 Judgement’ thou art fled to brutish beasts, And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;

My heart is under the slab there with Nig, And I must pause till it come back to me.

* * * ' • - „

* * * «

But yesterday the word of Nig might

Have stood against the world; now lies he there, And none so poor to do him reverence.

0 masters’ if I were dispos’d to stir

Your hearts and minds to mutiny and rage,

I should do Mr. Kailin wrong, and the men of the

Bureau of Reclamation wrong, and the men of the Lower Colorado Dams Project Office wrong, Who, you all know, are honourable men.

(continued)

 

(con’t)

I will not do them wrong; I rather choose To wrong the dead, to wrong myself, and you, Than I will wrong such honourable men.

But here’s a parchment with the seal of the Bureau of Reclamation; I found it in the Bureau’s closet, *tis a story of Nig.

Let but the commons hear this testament— Which, pardon me, I do not mean to read— And they would go and kiss the dead wig’s grave of concrete, And dip their knees in the dust of the surrounding desert, Yea, beg a hair of him for memory.

Have patience, gentle friends; I must not read its It is not meet you know how Nig lov’d all men. You are not wood, you are not stones, but men;. And being men, hearing of the love of Nig, It will inflame you, it will make you mad.

And I fear I wrong the honourable men

Whose daggers have stabb’d Nlg’s spirit, I do fear it. Good friends, sweet friends, let me not stir you up To such a sudden flood of mutiny.

They that have done this deed are honourable;

What private griefs they have, alas] I know not, That made them do it; they are wise and honourable. And will, no doubt, with reason answer you.

I speak not, dear friends, to steel away your hearts.

I am no orator, as Mr. Kailin is, nor a writer, as Shakespeare is; For I have neither wit, nor words, nor worth. Action, nor utterance, nor power of speech, To stir men’s blood; I only speak right on;’ Show you sweet Nlg’s grave, And bid it to speak for me; but were I Clarence Kailin, Would ruffle up, your spirits, and put a tongue In the very grave of Nig, that should move All the concrete of Hoover Dam to rise in mutiny.

But alas, I have no such abilities, and so the Memory of Nig shall be forever hidden from man, And Nig shall be left alone and unnoticed, until that day when, Lol the honourable men return to his grave and break apart the Concrete that bears his name, and snatch the Carcass out of the ground, and cast it into a hot fire, and Grind the broken bones and concrete into fine sand, and Cast the sand far away from the dam he loved: For Mr. Kailin said Nlg’s name is racist;

And Mr. Kailin is an honourable man.

 

Dean Holmes Martin

12304 Burl Avenue

Hawthorne, California 90250

Adapted from Shakespeare’s Play: JUlius Caesar

 

HOWARD W. CANNON NEVADA

V® S' V" «a^ &•

< CB 1 /-ay *r '-1 ’T7% n 'L Tr"z^S r -s- <5

W- LVz^JEJV L L-. v *>ju V

WASHINGTON, D.C. 20510

COMMITTEES:

CHAIRMAN, COMMERCE, SCI

AND TRANSPORTATION

ARMED SERVICES

April 25, 1979

Mrs. Betty Rovachi

663 Avenue K

Boulder City, Nevada 89005

Dear Mrs. Rovachi:

Knowing of your interest in the disposition of the controversy which has developed over the memorial for "Nig," the mascot at Hoover Dam, I am enclosing a letter from the Bureau of Reclamation responding to my strong expression of concern.

I am disappointed the Bureau has not taken a more positive response to the expressions of protest from Nevadans who remember "Nig" and determined to replace the original marker immediately. However, you will note that consideration is being given to replacing the marker with a modified version. Your letters to the Commissioner were very appropriate and will, I hope, lead to the replacement of the original marker. Please be assured I will continue to do what I am able to be helpful in this regard.

With best wishes, I am

 

Sincerely,

HWC:KApjt

 

1111 ■§• So. Montebello Blvd.

Montebello, California 9064-0

Sunday June 3, 1979

To it concern:

In response to an article in the Los Angeles Tines newspaper on nay 30, 1979 entitled What’s in a Kame? - Controversy at Hoover Dam. Plaque Honoring Dog Removed As Racial Slur. I enclose- a ■ copy of the story with my letter to verify my reasons for typings you this letter.

I well remember the years in which the Hoover Dam was built as my father was a copper miner and worked on this project for a short while and later died with silicosis. Times were rough especially in the early thirties and many people drifted from job to job to make a living. Being a man fifty-eight years old and looking back in my life to. my youth I can remember many events in relation to the "nigger". I can remember going home from movies in which I saw them beaten and-given treatment worse than animals. I well remember crying to think that the world could be so bitter against a man because of the color of his skin. I was reared in Arizona and heared much of the hatred for the nigger in the Deep South.

In my hometown, Superior, Arizona in the early thirties there lived a colored man and his wife, T. Sanders. My grandfather, Ed McKelvey operated a garbage route and hauled away dead animals for the county and when he needed help T. Sanders was always there. I can close my eyes and see Grandpa and old T. Sanders sitting alongside him in that old 1928 Chevrolet ton and a half truck doing a job together. When my grandfather died in 1935 and I was riding in a car behind the hearse to the cemetery, the funeral procession passed the busiest corner of the little copper town. An aunt seated to the outside of the hearse said "Oh look there is T. Sanders with his hat over his chest and it looks like he is crying."

Much has been said about the many nationalities in my lifetime as I have had the finger pointed at me for being an Irishman. Many more slang names are given such as Pollock, Chink, Jap, Gook, Guinea, Wop, Wetback, Limle, Kraut, Greaser, Frog to name only a few and the many, many more not mentioned. I honestly feel that we all have to learn to laugh at ourselves and not carry a grudge because one race thinks that it is better than another. After all God created us in His image.

I would be most grateful if any name associated with myself and an event such as this event was used because behind it all this animal brought warm heartfelt feelings and a share of its love to one and all during its lifetime. Why can’t this be a lesson to every human being on the face of this earth? Put the plaque back in its place.

/ Yours truly, JoKfTs.' McKelvey

 

COMMITTEES:

JIM SANTINI

NEVADA

WASHINGTON OFFICE:

1007 Longworth House Office Building Washington, D C. 20515 TELEPHONE: (202) 225-5265

DISTRICT OFFICES:

Suite 4-620 Federal Building 300 Las Vegas Boulevard South Las Vegas, Nevada 89101 TELEPHONE: (702) 385-6574

LonZreLL of the Nnited States

House of Aepresentatives

Washington, D.C. 2OZ1Z

1139 FEDERAL BUILDING 300 BOOTH STREET BENO, NEVADA 89509 TELEPHONE: (702) 784-5657

July 11, 1979

RURAL OFFICE: Telephone: (702) 784-5657

Ms. Betty Rovacchi 663 Ave. K

Boulder City, Nevada 89005

INTERIOR AND INSULAR AFFAIRS

SUBCOM MITTEES:

CHAIRMAN, Mines and Mining Oversight ano Special I nvestigations Public Lands

INTERSTATE AND FOREIGN COMMERCE

SUBCOM M ITTEES:

Transportation and Tourism .

Oversight and Investigations

SELECT COMMITTEE ON AGING

SUBCOMMITTEE:

Housing and Consumer Interests

Dear Ms. Rovacchi:

I appreciated hearing of your concern with the Bureau of Reclamation’s removal of the plaque honoring ”Nig,” the mascot of the men who built Hoover Dam.

When I learned of this action, I joined you in protesting the overreaction of the Bureau to the complaint of one individual. In responding to my letter, Mr. Eugene Hinds, Regional Bureau of Reclamation Director, indicated that your concerns and mine have been noted, and that the Bureau is trying to make up for the arbitrariness of the action.

As you may know, the Bureau had decided to put up a new plaque honoring "Nig." The new plaque will feature a photoengraved picture of the dog, along with information concerning his history. It will be placed in the same location as the old plaque, above the dog’s grave. Although the new marker will not include Nig' s name, the Bureau will preserve the concrete grave, which does have "NIG" etched on its surface.

The Bureau’s position is that the date of death on the plaque was wrong, and that a new plaque should be mace which accurately indicates the date and cause of death. Although that is obviously an excuse for creating a new plaque without the "offending" name, I'm sure that visitors to the site will appreciate the additional accuracy of the new marker. Meanwhile, we will have to be satisfied with the memory of Nig’s true identity as it is etched in tHe concrete of the original grave.

Thank you again for your interest. .

Sincerely, x ’ /

. / r * t■ ? f J: Z

JAMES ■ I?. SANTINI f

Member of Congress

JDS/jlh

 

Racist remnants of past die slowl

the , Cle

'S

ig

a niFT FOR MOTHER

/ doubt ve were need to

— from fast-jnotism,” she ferent about Infident — if I

Lopez replied, “Hoover Dam has recently welcomed its 19 millionth

many of to bulge

re di te n a)

with the dog.”

Despite resistance and apathy, Clarence made an impact with the help of other interested Madisonians: Bettye Latimer, Kwame Salter, John Odom and Bolling Smith to name a few. Letters approached the issue from different points of view: “Why

exposed to racist insensitivities of the past?” “Would the plaque have been allowed if the dog had been named ‘Kike,’ ‘Honkey,’ ‘Dago’ or ‘Chink?’”

Kailin quite appropriately points out that the issue goes beyond the plaque. It is a reflection of the unresolved insidious racism still very much a part of our country. Why did it take so long to get a complaint? Certainly many blacks visited the site; but for years symbols such as this were just an expected part of the status quo.

Kailin, the dog who was unjustifiably named “Nig,” and the removal of the plaque are the talk of that area. Letters of protest have run four to one in favor of putting the plaque back, says Jim Kastelic, a reporter for the Las Vegas Review Journal.

Protest letters bring out several points of view: “So what is a name? It is how one is represented and remembered.” “The dog might have been named by one of the black workers on the dam.” “Changing the name may lead to changing other things like the

book title — ‘Black Beauty’ - song title — ‘That Old Black Mi And so it goes. Progress to repression to others. Kailin an< porter fear there may be enouj munity reaction to have the pla up again. Letters of support i needed to keep the plaque ou National Park.

Kailin has written the follov those who cannot see the ren the plaque as progress:

“The barriers that sepa: from each other are unnatural necessary. Allow me to quote black writer, Charles Adams, in the Michigan Chronicle, M 1979: “We are one in human Either we will learn to live 1 like brothers and sisters or certainly perish separately lil The sooner we come to grips oneness and mutuality and coi ity, the quicker we may all correct society according to t rather than attempt to falsify! cording to society’s injustice a uity.” . ...... ... .

for his persistence in trying to rectify deletions, distortions and misrepresentations in American history as they pertain to black Americans. He is also well known for his stands against racist practices wherever they have existed in this community. It’s little wonder that he mounted a letter-writing, awareness-raising and phone campaign that resulted in the removal of the plaque.

Kailin was told initially by J.S. Sweeney, chief of the Hoover Dam Visitor Services, that there was no way the plaque would be removed. He then wrote Sen. Gaylord Nelson, D-Wis., who in turn wrote to Manuel Lopez, regional director of the Bureau of Reclamation for Lower Colbrado.

lot dl more c< my family here, I’d

HWW ’re hatoy

By Marlene Cummings

jng in the middle of the

Save$E on our coun Small-Space Dining S

A KM who took a semester off to work on he\weight.

“In'Jowa where I grew up, I was embarrassed to go swimming in public or to go'bicycling during the day. I used to go jo^g night,” she rec

“But this surrhn^r, when I’m back home, I’m going/oW a membership at the pool and/force\v mom to play tennis with me.” •

Mrs. Wayler says that fbr her clients, the battle of tl began in childhood.

ranchangeyxyurji

X. “Food is the^tinjversal^c gobs all the way back to n .- and gratification,” 'she' sa; many ofxmr participants w< hood members of Club." :

Mrs. Wayler sa thought of a model ing. “Some overfat. so they claim they they are. /

“I tellW&m, ‘Try it thin don’t lljkdit, you can always v wavzback up.’” /,'■

Citizens making up the visible eth* ; lie minority groups know they cannot ■; escape remnants of past racist prac- 1 ; [ices and symbols in their travels : throughout the United States. It’s a •: comfort, though, to see those rem- • pants slowly crumble and give way to ; progress reflecting a more enlight- ■ ened and respectful cotintry.

Black Americans and other Ameri- . . cans will not have to be insulted when they tour Hoover Dam near Boulder City, Nev., this summer. A plaque erected in the memory of a black dog named “Nig” has been removed. The

dog, endeared mascot to builders of ^j^r/and this is the first time a the dam, accidently was killed by a charge of racism has been associated worker backing up a truck. A bronze plaque at the dog’s gravesite. was marked “NIG” in his memory.

The plaque, while a classic portrayal of man’s humanity to pets, was also a reflection of the 1930s -when there was a large amount of man’s inhumanity io man. Over and above the H question of racism is the question of * should minority taxpayers have to pay how the relationship• between some for the erection of a racist plaque?” men and a dog is to be remembered., “.Why should children continue to be Should the beauty oLthe relationship^1, be marred by the ugliness that perme-n f J

ated that era? F"—

Clarence Kailin, a’ Madison rest- f Vff f V< Illi dent and veteran of the Abraham Lin-.. <V-

Wl Zngadq from. 1 $7-1938, saw the Continued frort Page 1 plaque on a visit to tlie dam. Kailin is < well known in the Madison community ■ summer’s foiir-week stay.

--Sjjr1 ° ‘ ' Mrs. \ Burke, a trim, cheerful

woman 0^49 who comes “mostly fd> the exercise,” says Green Mountain reminds herpf summer camp. / /

“It’s structured, there’s r about it. But let’s face it, if/ that disciplines we wouldn't be here.” . \ /

Her assessment elicits a quick nod from Miriam Turlk 44/a hairdresser from New York City

“I’d tried everytl ing to high protein U says. T feel a myself now. I’m. could just bring stay forever.’y

Another/nappy loser Vs Marty Miles, ay undergraduate at Texas