born on June 17, 1912 at Sonsela, 45 miles north of Window Rock,
Arizona. His father's name was Bitanny Dodge. His grandfather was
Chee Dodge. Adee's mother was the sister of Thomas Dodge. Adee had
one brother, Bitanny Chee Begay, who was two years younger than
Adee was raised as a Catholic. He says his grandfather was a very
devout Catholic having taken on this religion while in Fort Sumner.
All of Adee's aunts and uncles were raised in the Catholic faith.
He attended school as a youngster at Fort Defiance, going to High
School in Chilocco, Oklahoma. Adee then went to Bacone Junior College
near Muskogee, Oklahoma. This was a private Baptist College and
Adee felt that the President of that College singled him out since
he, Adee, was a Catholic. At each Sunday service the College President,
one Dr. Weeks, seemed to preach directly at Adee, trying to persuade
him to come over to the Baptist Religion.
During this time, Adee found a small Catholic Parrish close to
the Bacone College campus and would sometimes attend Mass there.
He said he felt more comfortable with the Catholic services. He
states of the Catholics, "the Catholics... they are just like
Navajos or like Pueblos, you know. they are doing something holy
but you can’t understand what they are doing."
Dr Weeks never managed to convert Adee. Adee says, "I kept
telling them, I’m a Catholic. I was a Catholic, of course,
I was never serious about any religion on earth. Grandfather was
baptized. I don’t remember if I was baptized. Anyway, I went
to a Baptist College as a Catholic. I came out as a Catholic, shook
hands with everybody as a Catholic."
Adee was familiar with the Mormon Religion and claimed to have
a Book of Mormon in his possession. He stated that he had read it.
However, Adee was suspicious of the Mormons, saying that they had
sided with the Hopi over some disputed land.
After graduating from Bacone College Adee went to the University
of New Mexico for two years. He received a scholarship to Columbia
University where he obtained a Masters Degree.
During his years at Columbia, Adee commuted back to the reservation
during the summer where he held classes at Fort Defiance for medical
interpreters and nurses school. Adee obtained a PHD in Anthropology,
specializing in Comparative Linguistics. He obtained this degree
while teaching in the medical school at Fort Defiance. During this
time he also worked with Gladys Amanda Reichard on the Navajo Chant
System. She subsequently published a book entitled "Navajo
Religion." This book was published while Adee was away in the
armed services during World War II. Reichard died mysteriously before
Adee returned from military duty.
Although Adee had many interesting stories about his service years,
most of them could be classed as "war stories." He has
told of being a Navajo "code" talker, a test pilot, and
a spotter for General Macarthur in the South Pacific.
As far as can be determined, Adee spent the most of his service
years in the Midwestern Pprocurment District stationed out of Wright-Patterson
Field in Dayton, Ohio. He had that rank of First Lieutenant.
Adee married while in the service but this first marriage ended
in divorce. There were no children.
He was in the service for a period of five years.
After being discharged from the armed forces, Adee returned to
the University of New Mexico to obtain a law degree. He then worked
out of Window Rock for the public welfare department of the University
of New Mexico in connection with the New Mexico Governor's office.
While attending law school in Albequrque Adee met a woman named
Maria Pillsbury. She was married at the time to an artist. It was
an unhappy marriage. Adee tried to counsel with Mr. Pillsbury but
to no avail. The marriage eventually ended.
By this time Adee's brother had married and had five children,
John, Paul, Jimmy, Thomas, and Nnanabah. His sister-in-law was confined
to a T.B. Sanitarium in Colorado and Adee's brother was not well.
Bitanny Chee Begay was a victim of diabetes and eventually lost
a leg through the disease. Caring for the five children was a hardship
for him and Adee helped him as much as he could.
When Adee heard of Maria's divorce he returned to Albequrque and
married her. They were married in 1950. She was 13 years older than
Adee. It was her third marriage and his second. Maria's maiden name
was Maria Delubic. She was of polish extraction. Her family was
from the Chicago area. She had a child from her first marriage to
a man by the name of Ostergrado but the child died. They divorced
and she married Mr. Pillsbury in Chicago and they moved to New Mexico
where she eventually met Adee Dodge.
Adee and Maria had no natural children but adopted Nanabah, Adee's
niece, shortly after their marriage. Nanabah refers to Adee as her
father and her daughter Navidad calls him Grandpa and Maria is Grandma.
Adee had intended to continue his work on the chant system and
linguistics but his wife bought him a set of colors and he started
painting. His first commercial efforts were with textiles. He painted
a beautiful taffeta skirt for his wife that was worn by the wife
of the Governor of New Mexico at one time.
While living on the reservation near Wheatfield, Arizona, Adee
painted; eventually publishing some of his pictures in the Arizona
Highways Magazine between the years of 1958 through 1966. There
was a feature story done on him in the Arizona Republic in 1960.
And he was subsequently commissioned by the Valley National Bank
in Sedona, Arizona for a series of murals on display at that location.
In 1960 Adee made a trip to Phoenix with a group of small paintings.
He had been given the name of a woman who ran a gallery called "el
sombrero" in the Phoenix area. She put his work on display
and eventually purchased the series of paintings.
Adee commuted between his home in Wheatfield and Phoenix, selling
his paintings. Adee became acquainted with many celebrities such
as Howard Hughes and Will Rogers Jr. Some hollywood stars have purchased
some of Adee's pictures as well.
The main purpose for Adee's artwork is to retell the Navajo cultural
and religious system and keep it alive. He feels that the younger
people are not learning the chants and fears that the system will
disappear if he does not pass this information on for publication.
It is his intent to have a book published of his paintings and the
explanation of the symbolism in the paintings to be used as a textbook
in the Navajo schools to keep the legends and the cultural and religious
system from being lost to the Navajo community.
Around 1977 Adee's eyesight began to fail. He developed a cataract
on the left eye and was in need of surgery. At about this same time,
Dr. Gerry Hooper and Dr. Richard Melde were introduced to Adee's
work and became interested in his project subsequently forming the
corporation, Adee Dodge ltd., with him in 1983.
In December of 1977 Adee rented a small house on 32nd street in
Phoenix where he stayed during the winter months. The trips back
and forth from Phoenix to Wheatfield had become more difficult because
of his failing eyesight and his wife complained of the frightening
trips back up to the reservation. Also his health was beginning
to fail as well as Maria's.
In February of 1978 Nanabah's mother died of tuberculosis. There
was some dispute at that time regarding the inheritance that is
still going on at this time. In November of 1980 Adee's brother
came to live with him in Phoenix. It was not until February of 1982
that Adee finally had his surgery performed at Phoenix Indian Hospital.
Ironically, only a few days earlier Maria was hospitalized with
a broken hip. .
While Adee recovered from his eye surgery his wife did not fare
as well. She was bedridden from that time forth and demanded a great
deal of time and care from all the members of the family.
Nanabah and her husband, George Grogan, with Adee's granddaughter
Navidad moved into the house with Adee and helped care for Maria.
Adee painted and cared for his wife during this time.
Adee's home has always been a "stopping place" for all
the relatives in the Dodge family. When they come to Phoenix they
always stayed with Adee and he offers them the full hospitality
of his house. It became increasingly burdensome with his wife being
ill. Then in March of 1983 she was taken off the Indian Service
Medical and Hospital aid, making it even more of a financial burden
Although the visiting nurses came to care for his wife on a regular
basis, Adee was not satisfied with their treatment of her. He was
very attached to his wife and didn't want her to leave him although
he knew that death was imminent and he tried to prepare himself
for her passing. Adee refused to put Maria in a nursing home, knowing
that she would not get the care that he felt she needed
During this time Adee's production of paintings began to decrease
because of the time he spent caring for his wife. It finally became
almost a full time job and near the end he did not produce any paintings
at all. She died on february 27, 1984 at 4:30 am.
Adee is 6'2" and weighs 180 pounds. He appears to be a gruff,
uneducated "Indian" but is really an extremely bright
man, well educated, well traveled. His knowledge of world geography
and linguistics is superb. The tenderness with which he treated
his wife in her final days is extremely touching.