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Some time during training for the Apollo programme, a number of trainee moon astronauts were taken out into the desert to try out their space suits. As it turned out, this particular bit of desert was part of a Navajo reservation, and throughout proceedings, the various trainees and other personnel were observed by an elderly Navajo gentleman, who was sitting in the shadow of a boulder.
As they are preparing to go home, the old guy approaches the NASA group and asks them what they were up to. They explain that some of the trainee astronauts are going to travel to the moon, and had come to the desert to find out what it might be like.
After talking awhile, the old guy asks whether it would be possible for the astronauts to take a message from him to the moon. The NASA people think that this is kind of cool, and ferret around for a tape recorder. Eventually they find one, and they record a brief message in the old man's native tongue, which, of course, they don't understand. The old man thanks NASA for this favour; but he will not translate what he said. That, he explains, is between him and the moon.
So, the NASA people decide to ask someone else for a translation. On their way out of the reservation, they approach various other people, and, explaining their purpose, ask for a translation of the tape. But no-one is forthcoming; they listen to the tape, burst into laughter, and refuse to say anything more.
Eventually, with alcoholic inducement, they get a translation of the old man's message:
``Watch these guys-- they'll take your land.''
Copyright (c) 2001 Chris Lightfoot. All rights reserved.