The Navajo are the largest Indian tribe in the United States. They live on the largest reservation in the U.S. which covers over three states on 17 million acres in the Four Corners area of the southwest. The states include Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and a small part of Colorado. The current population is at least 160,000 and projected to grow to a quarter of a million by the year 2000. Growth in commerce on the reservation promises to make the Navajo one of the wealthiest tribes in the country, but it does not seem that way. Like the other Athapascan-speaking people in the southwest, the Apaches, they arrived later than most tribes in the region. Archaeological evidence indicates that the Navajos migrated from the north about A.D. 1025 and the earliest Apache bands arrived about A.D. 825.

The Spanish began calling the Navajos by the name Apache de Navajo to distinguish them from the Apaches. The word Navajo, or Navaho (pronounced NAH-vuh-ho), is not Athapascan however, it is a Pueblo Indian word of a stretch of land in the Southwest. In their own tongue they identify themselves as the Dine, or "the people" and call their homeland Dinetah.

The Navajos reside in shelters called hogans. Their hogans were shaped as conicals and later into hexagons and octagons. They used logs and poles for the framework and built the walls of earth and bark, and eventually, into stone and adobe.

The Navajos acquired sheep and goats from the Spaniards. Unlike the Apache they did not consume all of their meat supply. In contrast, they allowed their flocks to increase, which they kept for a meat, milk, and wool source. Therefore, animal husbandry, especially sheepherding became an economic resource to the Navajo.

The Navajos acquired sheep and goats from the Spaniards. Unlike the Apache they did not consume all of their meat supply. In contrast, they allowed their flocks to increase, which they kept for a meat, milk, and wool source. Therefore, animal husbandry, especially sheepherding became an economic resource to the Navajo.

The Apache and Navajo were feared by Indian, Spanish, Mexican, and American inhabitants of the region. They earned their vicious reputation from the time they first arrived in the Southwest by launching raids on the agricultural Pueblo Indians for food, property, women, and slaves. Gradually through contact with the native tribes of the area they began to adopt new cultural traits. They learned to farm, weave and sand paint, as well as mold pottery and new basket weaving techniques.

Art and religion, for the Navajos, as for all Indians, are intimately related. Art served as a bridge between the natural and supernatural worlds and a way to relate to spirit beings. It was also a medium to contact their ancestors and influence the spirits to bring good weather or cure the ill.

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THE NAVAJO TRIBE

 

GEOGRAPHY & BIOLOGY OF THE NAVAJO NATION

 The Navajo Nation is located on the Colorado Plateau and covers over 25,000 square miles in northeast Arizona, northwest New Mexico, and southeast Utah. It is bordered by two major rivers-the Colorado on the west and the San Juan on the north. Other major geographic features within its borders include the Little Colorado River, Navajo Mountain, Rainbow Bridge, Black Mesa, Monument Valley, Canyon de Chelly, Chuska Mountains, Carrizo Mountains, and Ship Rock. Elevations range from 10,388 feet to 2,722 feet, and biotic communities range from subalpine conifer forests to desert scrub. Thirteen federally endangered, threatened or proposed species reside on the Navajo Nation. Six species or subspecies of plants and animals are found only on the Navajo Nation.

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