June 3, 2024 | Alex Summers

Navajo Nation


North America’s Largest Tribe

The Navajo people were once nomadic hunter-gatherers that lived off the land as their simple, yet substantial, way of life.

Today, they are the largest Native American tribe in North America.

From fascinating cultural traditions to indescribable massacres, find out how the Navajo people survived decades of injustice and conflict, using sheer persistence and their intriguing, “secret code.”

Navajo Split Image

The Navajo

The Navajo are a Native American people of the Southwestern United States. With more than 400,000 enrolled tribal members as of 2021, the Navajo Nation is the largest federally recognized tribe in the United States.

NavajoRuslanKphoto, Shutterstock

Location

Additionally, the Navajo Nation has the largest reservation in the country. The reservation straddles the Four Corners region and covers more than 27,325 square miles (70,770 square kilometers) of land in Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico.

Navajokatsrcool, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Migration

They are believed to have migrated from northwestern Canada and eastern Alaska, where the majority of Athabaskan speakers reside.

Although the exact timing of the relocation is unknown, it is thought to have been between 1100 and 1500 CE.

Navajo Indians emerging from the shadowsUniversalImagesGroup, Getty Images

Language

The Navajo speak an Apachean language which is classified in the Athabaskan language family, and referred to as the Navajo Language. Many also speak English.

They traditionally referred to themselves as the Diné, meaning '(the) people'.

Navajo  family in front of their houseUnknown Author, Wikimedia Commons

Traditional Lifestyle

Initially, the Navajo were largely hunters and gatherers, relying on their natural environment for all of their needs, including food, shelter, and medicine.

Three Navajo menEdward S. Curtis, CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Traditional Shelter

Traditionally, the Navajo lived in hogans—a domed shaped house with a wood frame and walls made out of clay. The door of the hogan always faced east so they could see the sun rise.

Old Navajo houseKen Lund, Flickr

Farming

After migrating to the Southwest, the Navajo adopted farming practices from the nearby Pueblo people—growing mainly the traditional Native American "Three Sisters" of corn, beans, and squash.

Navajo peopleNew Mexico. Bureau of Immigration, Wikimedia Commons

Livestock

In additional to crops, they started herding sheep and goats as both their main source of food as well as trade.

Meat became essential in the Navajo diet, and sheep became a form of currency and familial status.

Navajos Shearing Their SheepNational Archives and Records Administration, Wikimedia Commons

Hunting

Keeping some tradition alive, the Navajo continued to hunt animals for food, such as deer, rabbits, and prairie dogs.

Four Navaho WarriorsNational Gallery of Art, Wikimedia Commons

Traditional Dishes

Some of their top traditional dishes include: mutton stew, fried cornbread, and even grilled prairie dog.

Navajo woman making foodPhotoQuest, Getty Images

Traditional Clothing

Before the Navajo started raising sheep, they wore clothes made of woven yucca plants or deerskin.

The men wore breechcloths and the women skirts. Their shoes were soft leather moccasins. Later, they wore clothes woven from the wool of sheep.

Navajo couple in traditional clothesGerhard Sisters, Wikimedia Commons

Accessories

In addition to traditional clothing, the Navajo were—and still are—extremely talented with arts and crafts, and often divided up various creative activities among the men and women.

This included silver jewelry (which was created by the men) that often included turquoise embellishments.

Navajo man, jewelryFrederick Monsen, Wikimedia Commons

Handicrafts

In addition to the jewelry, the Navajo women wove blankets and made clay pots. Both of which would later become significant symbols of the Navajo culture.

Navajo Rug WeavingNational Archives and Records Administration, Wikimedia Commons

Woven Blankets

Navajo chief's blankets—hand crafted by the tribe’s women—were often used as symbols of wealth, power, and prestige. They were highly sought after and were considered valuable trade items.

Native American leaders and chiefs would often wear or display these blankets as a sign of their authority and influence.

Navajo weaverHistorical, Getty Images

Authentic Navajo Blankets Today

Today, authentic Navajo blankets are extremely valuable for their rarity, scarcity, and artistry. These blankets could take up to a year to make, and neither two were ever exactly the same.

Authentic Navajo BlanketsJonathan Cutrer, Flickr

Trading

The value of the woven blankets was equally as valuable back in the day, especially in terms of trade.

They were used as clothing, blankets, window and door coverings, and entrance rugs. Over time, colors and fabrics were acquired and added, increasing their uniqueness and value.

Navajo woman making blanketCarpenter, William J, Wikimedia Commons

Social Structure

Historically, the structure of the Navajo society is largely a matrilineal system, in which the family of the women owned livestock, dwellings, planting areas, and livestock grazing areas.

Aside from that, there are other considerations taken in regards to their social structure.

Navajo woman and sheepCarpenter, William J., Wikimedia Commons

Clans

There is a system of clans or K’é that defines relationships between individuals and families. The clan system is exogamous: people can only marry (or date) partners outside their own clans, which for this purpose include the clans of their four grandparents.

Navajo FamilyGeorge Wharton James, Wikimedia Commons

Clan Bonds

Some Navajos favor their children to marry into their father's clan. While clans are associated with a geographical area, the area is not for the exclusive use of any one clan. Members of a clan may live hundreds of miles apart but still have a clan bond.

A Navajo Family.Culture Club, Getty Images

Marriage

Once married, a Navajo man would follow a matrilocal residence and live with his bride in her dwelling and near her mother's family. Daughters (or, if necessary, other female relatives) were traditionally the ones who received the generational property inheritance.

In cases of marital separation, women would maintain the property and children.

Navajo familyBettmann, Getty Images

Children

Children are "born to" and belong to the mother's clan, and are "born for" the father's clan. The mother's eldest brother has a strong role in her children's lives. As adults, men represent their mother's clan in tribal politics.

Navajo Woman & ChildUnknown Author, Wikimedia Commons

Original Navajo Clans

Today, there are more than 100 clans. But traditionally, there were four clans said to be the original ones, given to the Navajo from Asdzą́ą́ Nádleehé or Changing Woman.

Kinyaa’áanii - The Towering House clan
Honágháahnii - One-walks-around clan
Tódich’ii'nii - Bitter Water clan
Hashtł’ishnii - Mud clan

Marriage isn’t the only activity governed by gender roles in the Navajo culture, though.

Navajo Indian familyBettmann, Getty Images

Gender Roles

Men and women are seen as contemporary equals as both males and females are needed to reproduce—however, women’s fertility is important.

Navajo Indian FamilyPierce, C.C, Wikimedia Commons

Fertility

Although women may carry a bigger burden, fertility is so highly valued that males are expected to provide economic resources (known as bride wealth).

It is considered to be immoral and/or stealing if one does not provide for the other in that premarital or marital relationship.

Navajo WomanCurtis, Edward S., Wikimedia Commons

The Fertility Symbol

In regards to fertility, Corn is a symbol of fertility in Navajo culture, so much so that they eat white corn during their wedding ceremonies to encourage fertility.

That’s not all corn is valued for, though.

Navajo woman holding cornHistorical, Getty Images

Significance of Corn

Corn is a central part of the Navajo, as well as other Native tribes. Corn pollen is used in daily prayers, to cure illness, and during puberty and marriage ceremonies. Corn meal or pollen can be offered to the rising sun with prayer.

Navajo in Corn FieldBettmann, Getty Images

Religion

Navajo spiritual practice is about restoring balance and harmony to a person's life to produce health and is based on the ideas of Hózhóójí.

Actually, it goes much deeper than this.

Navajo Ceremonial CostumeMidnight Believer, Wikimedia Commons

Spiritual Beliefs

Navajo religion is widely practiced and notable for its intricacy. Some of its many traditions relate to the emergence of the first people from various worlds beneath the surface of the earth.

A Navajo manUnknown Author, CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Navajo Creation Beliefs

The Navajo people believe they passed through three worlds before arriving in this world, the Fourth World or the Glittering World.

They also believe in two classes of people: Earth People and Holy People.

family of NavajoUnknown Author, Wikimedia Commons

Earth People

Earth People, the Navajo must do everything within their power to maintain the balance between Mother Earth and man.

They’re also expected to keep a positive relationship between them and the Diyin Diné —the four inhabitants of the First World (also called the Dark World.)

Navajo medicine ceremonyEdward S. Curtis, CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

The First World (Dark World)

The First World is also where the First Woman and the First Man came into existence. Because the world was so dark, life could not thrive there and they had to move on.

Navajo danceLibrary of Congress, Getty Images

The Second World (Blue World)

The Second World (also called the Blue world) was inhabited by a few of the mammals' Earth People know today as well as the Swallow Chief, or Táshchózhii.

The First World beings offended him and had to move on to the Third World.

Navajo manUnknown Author, Wikimedia Commons

The Third World (Yellow World)

The Third World (also called the Yellow World) is where they found the Four Sacred Mountains. But due to a great flood, First Woman, First Man, and the Holy People were forced to find another world to live in.

Blanca PeakMeniscus~commonswiki, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

The Fourth World (Glittering World)

This time, when they arrived, they stayed in the Fourth World. In the Glittering World, true death came into existence, as well as the creation of the seasons, the moon, stars, and the sun.

NAVAJO CHIEFSH. Armstrong Roberts, Getty Images

Final Homeland

The Holy People, or Diyin Diné, had instructed the Earth People to view the four sacred mountains as the boundaries of the homeland in which they should never leave.

This included Blanca Peak in Colorado, Mount Taylor in New Mexico, San Francisco Peaks in Arizona, and Hesperus Mountain in Colorado.

Mount TaylorKen Lund, Flickr

The Four Sacred Mountains

Times of day, as well as colors, are used to represent the four sacred mountains. As well, the importance of a specific number is emphasized in the Navajo religion—the number four, which appears to be sacred to their practices.

Four times of day, four colors, four original clans, and four original songs.

Navajo Indians Weaving RugsBettmann, Getty Images

Religious Rites and Ceremonies

Some of the Navajo religious rites and ceremonies are simple rituals carried out by individuals or families for luck in travel and trade or for the protection of crops and herds.

Navajo  ceremonyBuyenlarge, Getty Images

Complex Rituals

More-complex rites involve a specialist who is paid according to the length and complexity of the ceremony—this is more typical in regards to curing physical and mental illnesses.

Native American Navajo medicine man and boysFPG, Getty Images

Traditional Ceremonies

Many other ceremonies were simply prayers, songs and dances that were accompanied by dry paintings made of pollen and flower beds.

In some cases, hundreds and even thousands of Navajo people are in attendance—and these ceremonies are still performed today.

Navajo dancerPixel Doc, Shutterstock

Tribal Raids

Although the Navajo never raided as extensively as their neighboring tribes, like the Apache, their raiding was serious enough that there is now a term used to describe major conflicts they were involved in.

Navajo Warriors in Fighting GearBettmann, Getty Images

The Navajo Wars

The “Navajo Wars” began back in the 16th century and included three distinct periods of conflict in the American West: the Navajo against the Spanish (late 16th century through 1821); the Navajo against the Mexican government (1821 through 1848); and the Navajo against the United States (after the 1847–48 Mexican–American War).

Portrait of a Young Navajo BoyBettmann, Getty Images

Raids & Expeditions

These conflicts ranged from small-scale raiding to large expeditions mounted by governments into territory controlled by the Navajo.

Navajo LeadersUnknown author, Wikimedia Commons

Tribal Raids

During this time, the Navajo raided other tribes and nearby settlements, who in return raided into Navajo territory, creating a cycle of raiding that perpetuated the conflict.

Navajo men on horsesBuyenlarge, Getty Images

Coexisting with the Spanish

For the most part, the Navajo had a tense but largely peaceful coexistence with the Spanish. It wasn't until the American settlers began arriving in stronger numbers during the 1840s that conflict started to rise to higher levels.

Navajo FamilyTranscendental Graphics, Getty Images

The Mexican-American War

During the Mexican-American War of 1846, the United States invaded Mexico, which involved numerous large-scale battles.

At this time, the Navajo signed a peace treaty with the U.S. Army—though it was broken by members of both sides during the conflict.

Mexican-American WarHenry R. Robinson, Wikimedia Commons

Peace Treaties

Numerous attempts at peace were made, including one in 1849 between the military governor or New Mexico and two Navajo chiefs.

The treaty acknowledged jurisdiction transfers and allowed forts and trading posts to be built on Navajo land in exchange for various donations and liberal and humane measures deemed proper.

Unfortunately, fate had other plans.

Navajo manUnknown Author, Wikimedia Commons

A Tragic Interference

While on route to sign the treaty, prominent Navajo peace leader Narbona, was killed, causing instant hostility between the treaty parties—thus, destroying the possibility of any peace between the two.

Hastiin NarbonaRichard H. Kern, Wikimedia Commons

Precautionary Measures

Over the next decade, the U.S. army put up forts on traditional Navajo territory, claiming it to be a “precautionary measure” to protect both citizens and the Navajos from each other.

Long Walk of the Navajos, 1864Unknown author, Wikimedia Commons

The Fearing Time

However, heinous battles continued and many Navajo warriors lost their lives and their women and children became slaves. Their crops and dwellings were destroyed.

The Navajos call this period Naahondzood, "the fearing time."

Navajo warriorsMeem, John Gaw, Wikimedia Commons

The Apache Tribe’s Surrender

In 1861, U.S. army commanders ordered the complete take down of the neighboring Apache tribe, including ending their lives and destroying their property. The scare tactic worked, and the tribe surrendered.

The Navajo tribe was next.

apache tribe familyAdolph F Muhr, Rawpixel

The Attack

Two years later, the Navajo met a similar fate. The U.S. army swept through Navajo lands, taking lives, destroying dwellings, fouling wells, and capturing livestock.

Survivors facing starvation and imminent death, fled in search of safety.

Navajo Nation landLibrary of Congress, Picryl

Surrender

Not too long later, some Navajo survivors felt trapped and ended up surrendering and joining the Apache tribe at their newly appointed reservation.

But that was certainly not the end.

Hastobíga, Navaho Medicine ManSmithsonian Libraries and Archives, Wikimedia Commons

Hiding in Fear

Not all Navajos surrendered—many of them hid near rivers and streams, eventually joining other Apache bands. They lived as isolated as possible, constantly in fear or capture.

Sadly, their fears came true.

Navajo Brave And His MotherBoston Public Library, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

A Significant Moment in History

In late 1863, the U.S. government raided any and all lands they could, searching for Navajo people in hiding. Winter temperatures and increasing starvation left them with them without any options, and any existence of them was being destroyed.

By Spring of 1864, the official “ethnic cleansing” and deportation took place.

BarboncitoUnknown Author, Wikimedia Commons

The Long Walk of the Navajo

The U.S. government subdued the Navajos, forcing 9,000 Navajo men, women, and children to march over 300 miles on foot, from Arizona to New Mexico to their impending imprisonment.

This excruciating journey is now known as, “The Long Walk.”

Navajo Captives At Fort SumnerU.S. Army Signal Corps, Wikimedia Commons

The Long Walk

The march was very difficult and pushed many Navajos to their breaking point. Many began the walk exhausted and malnourished, others were not properly clothed.

That’s not even the worst of it, though.

Navajos under US guardUnknown author, Wikimedia Commons

Cruel Mistreatment

American soldiers were unfairly cruel to the Navajo people during this time, inflicting pain and punishment as they struggled to walk without breaks, food, or water.

The captors were never informed as to where they were going, how long it would take, or why.

Navajo womenUnknown Author, Wikimedia Commons

Survivor Accounts

One survivor account from the Navajos noted a particularly heinous moment when a young, pregnant Navajo woman had suddenly gone into labor during the walk.

The soldiers forced her parents to leave her behind, claiming they would “spare her” for the sake of keeping with their schedule.

Navajo womanPierce, C.C., Wikimedia Commons

Unspeakable Actions

The woman had apparently reassured her parents that perhaps this would be her and her child’s saving grace. The woman was then ripped from her mother’s arms and the parents were forced to continue walking, leaving her behind.

Moments later, a soldier backtracked… and shots were heard.

Long Walk Home -Gallup Downtown MuralsJay Galvin, Wikimedia Commons

Casualties

The Long Walk lasted a grueling 18 days and covered over 500 kilometers. During horrific event it is estimated that at least 200 lives were lost from starvation, exhaustion, dehydration, and at the hands of American soldiers.

Blind daughter of Chief Manuelito, c. 1901Pierce, C.C, Wikimedia Commons

Groups

There were as many as 50 groups that were taken along seven known routes. They each took a different path, but on the same trail.

In total, 8,000-9,000 Navajos were settled on an area of 140-square-kilometers—but “settled” does not mean safe.

Members Of The Alamo Navajo Reservationjclarson, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Bosque Redondo

The Navajos were brought to a reservation called Bosque Redondo. Many were sold into slavery. And the remaining were forced to settle among the Apache tribe—a traditionally known enemy of the Navajos.

This led to further struggle for the surviving Navajos.

Bosque RedondoPhilkon Phil Konstantin, Wikimedia Commons

Tribal Conflicts

Already plagued with starvation, dehydration and exhaustion, the Navajos encountered several disputes with the Apache tribe during their encampment.

Not only that, the reservation was not equipped for the total number of people it now housed.

Delegation,  Wooden Lance  (Kiowa),  Apache John  (Apache), And  Big Looking Glass  (Comanche).National Archives at College Park, Wikimedia Commons

An Unsuitable Living Arrangement

Bosque Redondo was prepared for 5,000 people, not the 10,000 people it was now filled with. Water and firewood were major issues from the start; the water was brackish, and the round grove of trees was quite small. Crops were infested and failed repeatedly, and a flood washed out the irrigation system.

It was quickly becoming inhabitable.

FORT SUMNERAndrew J. Russell, Wikimedia Commons

Raids and Resentment

Less than a year later, the Navajo began leaving, and by 1867 the remaining Navajo refused to plant crops. The Comanches tribe raided them often, and they raided them back—once stealing over 1,000 horses.

Comanche Indian on horseback.Internet Archive Book Images, Wikimedia Commons

Starvation

With the people of Bosque Redondo starving, raiding neighboring villages for food and water was their only way to survive.

Purchasing of supplies for the reservation was not properly managed, and they ended up with nearly nothing.

Navajo boyCurtis, Edward S., CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Abandoning the Reservation

The U.S. army spent as much as $1.5 million a year to feed the people on the reserve, and it was still not enough.

They also did not have enough materials for shelters, causing many people to lose their lives during frigid winter temperatures.

Eventually, the U.S. army recognized their loss.

Navajo boysBoston Public Library, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

The Rise of the Navajos

So, in 1868, the government declared their “experiment”—meant to be the first Indian reservation west of Indian Territory—over, and the Navajo’s forced confinement had come to an end.

And you can bet they got it in writing.

An Elderly Navajo WomanBuyenlarge, Getty Images

The Treaty of Bosque Renondo

The Treaty of Bosque Redondo between the United States and many of the Navajo leaders was concluded at Fort Sumner on June 1, 1868.

This treaty included establishing a safe reservation, restrictions on raiding, education for children, compensation, and much more.

Fort Sumner RuinsJERRYE & ROY KLOTZ MD, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

A Decade of Promises

The Navajo agreed for ten years to send their children to school and the U.S. government agreed to establish schools with teachers for every thirty Navajo children.

The U.S. government also promised for ten years to give to the Navajos annually: clothing, goods, and other raw materials, not exceeding the value of five dollars per person, that the Navajos could not manufacture for themselves.

Navajo PeopleFPG, Getty Images

The Navajo’s Return

On June 18, 1868, the once-scattered bands of Navajo set off together on the return journey, the "Long Walk" back home.

This is one of the few instances where the U.S. government permitted a tribe to return to their traditional boundaries.

Navajo Native Americans at Fort DefianceFotosearch, Getty Images

Getting Their Land Back

The Navajo were granted 3.5 million acres (14,000 km2) of land inside their four sacred mountains.

They also became a more cohesive tribe after all that they endured and together were able to successfully increase the size of their reservation since then, to over 16 million acres (70,000 km2).

Navajo landMilton Snow, Wikimedia Commons

Continued Military Presence

Although they were back home, the U.S. military continued to maintain forts on the Navajo reservation. However, rather than fight against them, the U.S. government employed Navajos as “Indian Scouts,” to fight on their side.

This led to the creation of the Navajo Tribal Police.

NavajoHistorical, Getty Images

Reestablishing Their Livelihood

The 1868 treaty allowed the Navajo to leave the reservation for trade, which helped the tribe increase their livestock and crops. After successfully establishing their livelihood once again, their population grew, which resulted in an increase in land for their reservation.

However, as always, conflict was never far away.

Navajo IndiansPaolo KOCH, Getty Images

Economic Conflicts

Economic conflicts continued for many years as civilians and companies exploited resources assigned to the Navajo.

The U.S. government made the Navajo pay to lease their livestock fields, took land for railroad development, and allowed unlawful mining on Navajo land without consulting the tribe.

That’s not even the worst of it.

Navajo Woman Standing with Her SheepCatherine Karnow, Getty Images

Assimilating into White Society

Another struggle for the Navajo people involved their forced inclusion into white society.

While they may have been allowed back to their homelands, they agreed to government funded schooling for their children—which involved boarding schools.

Carlisle boarding schoolUnknown Author, Wikimedia Commons

Boarding Schools

Navajo children were sent to strict boarding schools both within the reservation and off the reservation.

The children were forced to speak English only, and were punished if they didn’t comply.

Navajo SchoolBettmann, Getty Images

Horrific Conditions

In addition to not having enough the eat, the children in these schools were under militaristic discipline and were forced to provide physical labor in kitchens, fields, and boiler rooms.

They were also forced to wear uniforms and cut their hair.

American Indian boarding schoolsUnknown Author, Wikimedia Commons

Hiding Again

Many older Navajos were against this education and would hide their children to keep them from being taken.

Children who were forcibly taken attempted to run away and many ended up severely mistreated as a result.

Navajo Woman And InfantAnsel Adams, Wikimedia Commons

A New School

After new control took over in 1929, these boarding schools were subjected to review and most were shut down with new schools created in their place, including the Evangelical Missionary School which had a family-like atmosphere, home cooked meals, adequate clothing, human treatment, and a Navajo-based curriculum.

School on A Navajo ReservationBettmann, Getty Images

Losing Their Language

While these schools were more welcomed by the tribe, they still experienced a significant language loss as a result. English continued to be the primary language spoken at these schools, but the Navajo language was prioritized at home.

Navajo children at schoolBettmann, Getty Images

Imminent Modernization

Over the next several years the Navajo were subjected to various other challenges, including a livestock reduction and further conflicts among non-Navajo neighbors.

As the older population dwindled, the younger Navajos began leaving the reservation in search of factory jobs, and one other service that was said to keep with their warrior culture.

Navajo livestockGeorge Rinhart, Getty Images

A New World for the Navajos

Many Navajo men volunteered for military service. And, gaining firsthand experience with how they could assimilate into the modern world, many did not return to the overcrowded reservation, which had few jobs for them.

In fact, they found a way to become useful in their new role.

Navajo code talkersTerry Feuerborn, Flickr

Code Talkers

Four hundred Navajo code talkers played a famous role during World War II by relaying radio messages using their own language. The Japanese were unable to understand or decode it.

Navajo Code TalkersArlington National Cemetery, Flickr

An Integral Role

The Navajo Code Talkers played a significant role in USMC history. Using their own language they utilized a military code; for example, the Navajo word "turtle" represented a tank.

They were able to translate their code faster than any other cryptographic facility—making them incredibly important and ultimately creating the USMC Code Talker Program.

Navajo Code TalkerBettmann, Getty Images

Program Success

Numerous Navajo people entered the program, becoming code talkers. And there was never a crack in the Navajo language, it was never deciphered.

Navajo Code TalkersInterim Archives, Getty Images

An Honorable Achievement

These achievements of the Navajo Code Talkers have resulted in an honorable chapter in USMC history.

Their patriotism and honor inevitably earned them the respect of all Americans.

Code Talkers NavajoPhotoQuest, Getty Images

We Will Not Forget

While the Navajo have undoubtably made a comeback, their four-year captivity has left a legacy of bitterness and distrust has that has still not entirely disappeared.

Navajo Code Talker Thomas BegayUnited States Department of Veterans Affairs, Wikimedia Commons

21st Century Navajo Lifestyle

Many Navajo today continue to live a predominately traditional lifestyle, speaking the Navajo language, practicing their spiritual religion, and organizing traditional forms of social structure.

Navajo Towering House ClanEzra Shaw, Getty Images

Navajo Land

As well, many Navajo continue to live on their reservations, as well as irrigated lands along the lower Colorado River. Many earn a living away from the Navajo country, but remain closely connected to their tribe.

Navajo CountryJohn Fowler, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

An Important Part in American History

The Navajo’s persistence and loyalty to protecting their heritage have earned them the title of cultural innovators, with their Navajo code talkers giving them a spot in American history books.

Navajo code talkersUnknown Author, Wikimedia Commons

Final Thoughts

While the Navajo people have come a long way over the years, they may always find themselves in a battle for justice and preservation of their heritage.

Old Navajo womanSergii Figurnyi, Shutterstock


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