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James Nells

James Nells


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Year Inducted



James Nells, born in Winslow, Arizona is full blood Navajo Nation tribal member. His mother was Dorothea (Jackson) Shirley, father was Edward Nells. He is Salt clan, born for under his cover clan, grandparents are Black streak in the wood (mother) and Red bottom (father).
James has three sisters living on the Navajo reservation including Brenda, Sandra and Dixie. They grew up around the Cedar Springs, Seba Dalkai, White Cone area of Arizona. They finally moved to Church Rock, New Mexico and James attended Church Rock Elementary, Bountiful Junior High and South Bountiful Jr. High in Bountiful, Utah. He attended and graduated from Wingate High School, Fort Wingate, New Mexico in 1977.
James attended Haskell Indian Junior College (1978-80), Lawrence, Kansas, and graduated from Central State University (1980-83), Edmond, Oklahoma with a Bachelor degree in Teaching Physical Education and Health with a coaching option.
He participated in Cross Country, Wrestling and Track. In college he ran both cross country and track. He is a state high school champion in the two-mile run (1976) and state runner-up in cross country, track mile and two mile run several times. He is also a High School All-American in Track. In college he was a two time All-American in Indoor Track and held the cross country course record while attending Haskell in 24:47 for 8K.
James served in the US Army from 1984-92, was second in command in his unit while in Desert Storm with the 2-16 Infantry Rangers, Fort Riley, KS and received a Bronze Star.
James and his wife Daisy Elana (Pratt) Nells have been married 38 years and they have two daughters and five sons and 13 grandkids.
Photo: James and Elana Nells in 2022

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