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