- A tribe of southwestern Indians, known to the early Spaniards as Apache
de Navajó-Navajó being the name for a large area of cultivated
land in what is now Arizona and New Mexico. The Navajo called themselves
Which meant simply "People."
In the early days they were much like the
Apache, and were a warlike people, raiding pueblos and Spanish settlements.
Even after New Mexico became a possession of the United States, the Navajo
were untamed according to the white man's idea, and it was not until Colonel
Kit Carson rounded up some 8,000 of them and kept them captives from 1863
to 1867 that they became peaceful.
The Navajo were noted for their blankets,
or rugs; their jewelry; and their sand painting. They raised their
own sheep and goats, sheared them, washed the wool, prepared it for spinning,
dyed the yarn, and wove their blankets. No two blanket designs ever
are the same. Their jewelry, with the familiar "squash blossom beads,"
and their silver conchas are equally well known.
The Navajo believed that corn or maize
was a living child of the gods. They lived in hogans, or earth covered
lodges, scattered throughout their territory, and seldom in villages.
A hogan where a person had died was called a "devil house" and was destroyed
by fire. Because of their long association with Mexicans, many of
them spoke Spanish.
The Navajo held their first election under
the white man's system in March, 1951, in which 75 per cent of the eligible
voters cast ballots. They cling to their old customs, however, and
resent the intrusion of the white man. When the Office of Price Administration
met at Phoenix, Arizona, in World War II and sought to ration beef on the
Navajo reservation, one old chief replied:
"In no part of the Treaty of Guadeloupe
is the Office of Price Administration mentioned. Neither is there
said anything that the white man can investigate the eating habits of the
Indians. The territory reserved for the Navajo is vast and the narrow
mountain passes are treacherous for feet unfamiliar with them. It
would not be impossible that investigators of the Office of Price Administration
would frequently throw themselves headlong down one of these steep canyons."
There was no rationing of meat in the Navajo
country. It is a vast area and their reservation is as large
as Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont put together, spreading out
in Arizona, New Mexico, and southeast Utah. Today they are the largest
tribe in the United States. Their name has been given a county, creek,
village and spring in Arizona; a village in Montana, and there is a Navajoe
within this Site
][ Carson ][ Hogan ][
Long Walk ]
][ Prayer Sticks ][ Sand