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Navajo - 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 Diné, 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 in Oklahoma.
 

 

Related Information within this Site
[ Blanket ][ Carson ][ Hogan ][ The Long Walk ]
[ Manuelito ][ Prayer Sticks ][ Sand Painting ]