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J.B. Tanner, respected Indian trader, dies at 84

J.B. Tanner, a well-respected New Mexico trader who spoke the Navajo language fluently, died on Saturday. He was 84.

Tanner grew up around the Navajo Nation in New Mexico and Arizona. He was kicked out of high school for drinking alcohol and went to work for his family's trading post.

His family later opened up the Navajo Shopping Center near Gallup, New Mexico. Tanner became influential in the business, partly because he connected with the Navajo people.

"He knew how to speak the language, how to laugh and talk with Navajos," friend and fellow trader Stewart Hatch told The Farmington Daily Times. "Everywhere he went, the Navajos enjoyed being around him."

Tanner later used his relationships to urge Navajos to lead sober lives. He hosted a radio program in Gallup that was broadcast in the Navajo language.

"He's the person who sobered me up," Ken Martine said. "I've been sober for 20 years now, but I'm not the only one he helped. There were lots of Navajos who were alcoholics, and J.B. told us he went through the same thing."

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Trader Tanner was known for his compassionate help (The Farmington Daily Times 10/29)