Navajo people
The Navajo of the Southwestern United States
Southwestern United States
The Southwestern United States is a region defined in different ways by different sources. Broad definitions include nearly a quarter of the United States, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah...

 are the largest single federally recognized tribe of the United States of America. The Navajo Nation
Navajo Nation
The Navajo Nation is a semi-autonomous Native American-governed territory covering , occupying all of northeastern Arizona, the southeastern portion of Utah, and northwestern New Mexico...

 has 300,048 enrolled tribal members. The Navajo Nation constitutes an independent governmental body which manages the Navajo Indian reservation
Indian reservation
An American Indian reservation is an area of land managed by a Native American tribe under the United States Department of the Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs...

 in the Four Corners area of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. The Navajo language
Navajo language
Navajo or Navaho is an Athabaskan language spoken in the southwestern United States. It is geographically and linguistically one of the Southern Athabaskan languages .Navajo has more speakers than any other Native American language north of the...

 is spoken throughout the region, although most Navajo speak English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 as well.

Early history

Until they came into contact with the Spanish
Spanish people
The Spanish are citizens of the Kingdom of Spain. Within Spain, there are also a number of vigorous nationalisms and regionalisms, reflecting the country's complex history....

 and Pueblos, the Navajo were hunters and gatherers. They adopted farming techniques and crops from the Pueblo people, growing mainly corn
Maize known in many English-speaking countries as corn or mielie/mealie, is a grain domesticated by indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica in prehistoric times. The leafy stalk produces ears which contain seeds called kernels. Though technically a grain, maize kernels are used in cooking as a vegetable...

, bean
Bean is a common name for large plant seeds of several genera of the family Fabaceae used for human food or animal feed....

s, and squash. As a result of Spanish influence, they began herding sheep and goats, depending on them for food and trade. They spun and wove sheared wool
Wool is the textile fiber obtained from sheep and certain other animals, including cashmere from goats, mohair from goats, qiviut from muskoxen, vicuña, alpaca, camel from animals in the camel family, and angora from rabbits....

 into blanket
A blanket is a type of bedding, generally speaking, a large piece of cloth, intended to keep the user warm, especially while sleeping. Blankets are distinguished from sheets by their thickness and purpose; the thickest sheet is still thinner than the lightest blanket. Blankets are generally used...

s and clothing which could be used for personal use or trading. They also depended on their flocks of sheep for meat. Their lives depended on sheep so much that, to the Navajo, sheep were a kind of currency
In economics, currency refers to a generally accepted medium of exchange. These are usually the coins and banknotes of a particular government, which comprise the physical aspects of a nation's money supply...

 and the size of the herd was a mark of social status.

The Navajo speak dialects of the language family referred to as Athabaskan
Athabaskan languages
Athabaskan or Athabascan is a large group of indigenous peoples of North America, located in two main Southern and Northern groups in western North America, and of their language family...

. The Navajo and Apache
Apache is the collective term for several culturally related groups of Native Americans in the United States originally from the Southwest United States. These indigenous peoples of North America speak a Southern Athabaskan language, which is related linguistically to the languages of Athabaskan...

 are believed to have migrated from northwestern Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 and eastern Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

, where the majority of Athabaskan speakers reside. The Dene
The Dene are an aboriginal group of First Nations who live in the northern boreal and Arctic regions of Canada. The Dené speak Northern Athabaskan languages. Dene is the common Athabaskan word for "people" . The term "Dene" has two usages...

 First Nations
First Nations
First Nations is a term that collectively refers to various Aboriginal peoples in Canada who are neither Inuit nor Métis. There are currently over 630 recognised First Nations governments or bands spread across Canada, roughly half of which are in the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia. The...

, who live near from Tadoule Lake in Manitoba
Manitoba is a Canadian prairie province with an area of . The province has over 110,000 lakes and has a largely continental climate because of its flat topography. Agriculture, mostly concentrated in the fertile southern and western parts of the province, is vital to the province's economy; other...

 to the Great Slave Lake
Great Slave Lake
Great Slave Lake is the second-largest lake in the Northwest Territories of Canada , the deepest lake in North America at , and the ninth-largest lake in the world. It is long and wide. It covers an area of in the southern part of the territory. Its given volume ranges from to and up to ...

 in Northwest Territories
Northwest Territories
The Northwest Territories is a federal territory of Canada.Located in northern Canada, the territory borders Canada's two other territories, Yukon to the west and Nunavut to the east, and three provinces: British Columbia to the southwest, and Alberta and Saskatchewan to the south...

, also speak Athabaskan languages. Despite the time elapsed, these people reportedly can still understand the language of their distant cousins the Navajo.
Archaeological and historical evidence suggests that the Athabaskan ancestors of the Navajo and Apache entered the Southwest by 1400 CE
Common Era
Common Era ,abbreviated as CE, is an alternative designation for the calendar era originally introduced by Dionysius Exiguus in the 6th century, traditionally identified with Anno Domini .Dates before the year 1 CE are indicated by the usage of BCE, short for Before the Common Era Common Era...

. Navajo oral traditions are said to retain references of this migration.

Navajo oral history also seems to indicate a long relationship with Pueblo people and a willingness to adapt foreign ideas into their own culture. Trade between the long-established Pueblo peoples and the Athabaskans was important to both groups. The Spanish records say by the mid-16th century, the Pueblos exchanged maize
Maize known in many English-speaking countries as corn or mielie/mealie, is a grain domesticated by indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica in prehistoric times. The leafy stalk produces ears which contain seeds called kernels. Though technically a grain, maize kernels are used in cooking as a vegetable...

 and woven cotton
Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective capsule, around the seeds of cotton plants of the genus Gossypium. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. The botanical purpose of cotton fiber is to aid in seed dispersal....

 goods for bison
American Bison
The American bison , also commonly known as the American buffalo, is a North American species of bison that once roamed the grasslands of North America in massive herds...

 meat, hides and material for stone tools from Athabaskans who either traveled to them or lived around them. In the 18th century, the Spanish reported that the Navajo had large numbers of livestock and large areas of crops. The Navajo probably adapted many Pueblo ideas into their own different culture.

The Spanish first used the term Apachu de Nabajo in the 1620s to refer to the people in the Chama Valley region east of the San Juan River and northwest of present-day Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe is the capital of the U.S. state of New Mexico. It is the fourth-largest city in the state and is the seat of . Santa Fe had a population of 67,947 in the 2010 census...

. By the 1640s, they were using "Navajo" for these indigenous people. The Spanish recorded in 1670s that they lived in a region called Dinetah
Dinétah is the traditional homeland of the Navajo tribe of Native Americans. In the Navajo language, the word means "among the people" or "among the Navajo"...

, about sixty miles (100 km) west of the Rio Chama valley region. In the 1780s, the Spanish sent military expeditions against the Navajo in the southwest and west of that area, in the Mount Taylor and Chuska Mountain
Chuska mountains
The Chuska Mountains are an elongate range on the Colorado Plateau and within the Navajo Nation. The range is about 80 by 15 km , and it trends north-northwest and is crossed by the state line between Arizona and New Mexico. The highlands are a dissected plateau, with an average elevation of...

 regions of New Mexico.

In the last 1,000 years, Navajos have had a history of expanding their range and refining their self-identity and their significance to other groups. This probably resulted from a cultural combination of endemic warfare
Endemic warfare
Endemic warfare is the state of continual, low-threshold warfare in a tribal warrior society. Endemic warfare is often highly ritualized and plays an important function in assisting the formation of a social structure among the tribes' men by proving themselves in battle.Ritual fighting permits...

Raid (military)
Raid, also known as depredation, is a military tactic or operational warfare mission which has a specific purpose and is not normally intended to capture and hold terrain, but instead finish with the raiding force quickly retreating to a previous defended position prior to the enemy forces being...

) and commerce with the Pueblo, Apache, Ute
Ute Tribe
The Ute are an American Indian people now living primarily in Utah and Colorado. There are three Ute tribal reservations: Uintah-Ouray in northeastern Utah ; Southern Ute in Colorado ; and Ute Mountain which primarily lies in Colorado, but extends to Utah and New Mexico . The name of the state of...

, Comanche
The Comanche are a Native American ethnic group whose historic range consisted of present-day eastern New Mexico, southern Colorado, northeastern Arizona, southern Kansas, all of Oklahoma, and most of northwest Texas. Historically, the Comanches were hunter-gatherers, with a typical Plains Indian...

 and Spanish peoples, set in the changing natural environment of the Southwest.

Conflict with Europeans

The Spanish started to establish a military force along the Rio Grande
Rio Grande
The Rio Grande is a river that flows from southwestern Colorado in the United States to the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way it forms part of the Mexico – United States border. Its length varies as its course changes...

 in the 17th century to the east of Dinetah
Dinétah is the traditional homeland of the Navajo tribe of Native Americans. In the Navajo language, the word means "among the people" or "among the Navajo"...

 (the Navajo homeland). Spanish records indicate that Apachean groups allied themselves with the Pueblos over the next 21 years, successfully pushing the Spaniards out of this area following the Pueblo Revolt of 1680
Pueblo Revolt
The Pueblo Revolt of 1680, or Popé's Rebellion, was an uprising of several pueblos of the Pueblo people against Spanish colonization of the Americas in the province of Santa Fe de Nuevo México.-Background:...

. Raiding and trading were part of traditional Apache and Navajo culture, and these activities increased following the introduction of the horse
The horse is one of two extant subspecies of Equus ferus, or the wild horse. It is a single-hooved mammal belonging to the taxonomic family Equidae. The horse has evolved over the past 45 to 55 million years from a small multi-toed creature into the large, single-toed animal of today...

 by the Spaniards, which increased the efficiency and frequency of raiding expeditions. The Spanish established a series of forts that protected new Spanish settlements and also separated the Pueblos from the Apaches.

In the 18th century, Spanish-Navajo relations were improved for 50 years, the constant incursions of Yutas and Comanches against Navajos. The Spaniards—and later, Mexicans—recorded what are called punitive expeditions among the Navajo that also took livestock
Livestock refers to one or more domesticated animals raised in an agricultural setting to produce commodities such as food, fiber and labor. The term "livestock" as used in this article does not include poultry or farmed fish; however the inclusion of these, especially poultry, within the meaning...

 and human captives. In 1772, King Charles III of Spain
Charles III of Spain
Charles III was the King of Spain and the Spanish Indies from 1759 to 1788. He was the eldest son of Philip V of Spain and his second wife, the Princess Elisabeth Farnese...

 issued a reglamento for the northern frontier of New Mexico, declaring that the main objective of any military operation against the Indians was to get peace and that the death penalty would apply to anyone who killed an Indian prisoner. Non-neutral Navajo tribes or groups in turn raided settlements far away in a similar manner. This pattern continued, with the Athabaskan groups apparently growing to be more formidable foes through the 1840s until the United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 arrived in the area.

New Mexico Territory

Officially, the Navajos first came in contact with forces of the United States of America in 1846, when General Stephen W. Kearny
Stephen W. Kearny
Stephen Watts Kearny surname also appears as Kearney in some historic sources; August 30, 1794 October 31, 1848), was one of the foremost antebellum frontier officers of the United States Army. He is remembered for his significant contributions in the Mexican-American War, especially the conquest...

 invaded Santa Fe
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe is the capital of the U.S. state of New Mexico. It is the fourth-largest city in the state and is the seat of . Santa Fe had a population of 67,947 in the 2010 census...

 with 1,600 men during the Mexican American War. In 1846, following an invitation from a small party of American soldiers under the command of Captain John Reid who journeyed deep into Navajo country and contacted him, Narbona
Narbona was a Navajo chief who participated in the Navajo Wars. He was killed in a confrontation with U.S. soldiers on August 30th, 1849....

 and other Navajos negotiated a treaty of peace with Colonel Alexander Doniphan
Alexander William Doniphan
Alexander William Doniphan was a 19th-century American attorney, soldier and politician from Missouri who is best known today as the man who prevented the summary execution of Mormon founder Joseph Smith, Jr. at the close of the 1838 Mormon War in that state...

 on November 21, 1846, at Bear Springs, Ojo del Oso (later the site of Fort Wingate
Fort Wingate
Fort Wingate is near Gallup, New Mexico. There were two locations in New Mexico that had this name. The first one was located near San Rafael. The current fort was established on the southern edge of the Navajo territory in 1862. The initial purpose of the fort was to control the large Navajo...

). The treaty was not honored by young Navajo raiders who continued to steal stock from New Mexican villages and herders. New Mexicans, on their part, together with Utes, continued to raid Navajo country stealing stock and taking women and children for sale as slaves.

In 1849, the military governor of New Mexico, Colonel John Macrae Washington – accompanied by John S. Calhoun, Indian agent – led a force of 400 into Navajo country, penetrating Canyon de Chelly, and there signed a treaty with two Navajo leaders who held themselves out as "Head Chief" and "Second Chief" acknowledging the jurisdiction of the United States and allowing forts and trading posts in Navajo land. The United States, on its part, promised "such donations [and] such other liberal and humane measures, as [it] may deem meet and proper". Narbona had been killed along the way in an unhappy accident.

In the next 10 years, the U.S. established forts in traditional Navajo territory. Military records state this was to protect citizens and Navajo from each other. However, the old Spanish/Mexican-Navajo pattern of raids and expeditions against one another continued. New Mexican (citizen and militia) raids increased rapidly in 1860–61, earning it the Navajo name Naahondzood, "the fearing time."

In 1861 Brigadier-General James H. Carleton
James Henry Carleton
James Henry Carleton was an officer in the Union army during the American Civil War. Carleton is most well known as an Indian fighter in the southwestern United States.-Biography:...

, the new commander of the Federal District of New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

, initiated a series of military actions against the Navajo. Colonel Kit Carson
Kit Carson
Christopher Houston "Kit" Carson was an American frontiersman and Indian fighter. Carson left home in rural present-day Missouri at age 16 and became a Mountain man and trapper in the West. Carson explored the west to California, and north through the Rocky Mountains. He lived among and married...

 was ordered by Carleton to conduct an expedition into Navajo land and receive their surrender on July 20, 1863. A few Navajo surrendered. Carson was joined by a large group of New Mexican militia volunteer citizens and these forces moved through Navajo land, killing Navajos and destroying any Navajo crops, livestock or dwellings they came across. Facing starvation, Navajo groups started to surrender in what is known as The Long Walk
Long Walk of the Navajo
The Long Walk of the Navajo, also called the Long Walk to Bosque Redondo , refers to the 1864 deportation of the Navajo people by the U.S. Government. Navajos were forced to walk at gunpoint from their reservation in what is now Arizona to eastern New Mexico. The trip lasted about 18 days...


Long Walk

Starting in the spring of 1864, around 9,000 Navajo men, women and children were forced on The Long Walk of over 300 miles (482.8 km) to Fort Sumner
Fort Sumner
Fort Sumner was a military fort in De Baca County in southeastern New Mexico charged with the internment of Navajo and Mescalero Apache populations from 1863-1868 at nearby Bosque Redondo.-History:...

, New Mexico. This was the largest reservation (called Bosque Redondo) attempted by the U.S. government. It was a failure for a combination of reasons. It was designed to supply water, wood, supplies, and livestock for 4,000–5,000 people; it had one kind of crop failure after another; other tribes and civilians were able to raid the Navajo; and a small group of Mescalero Apaches
Mescalero is an Apache tribe of Southern Athabaskan Native Americans. The tribe is federally recognized as the Mescalero Apache Tribe of the Mescalero Apache Reservation in southcentral New Mexico...

 had been moved there. In 1868, a treaty was negotiated that allowed the surviving Navajos to return to a reservation that was a portion of their former nation.

Conflict on the reservation

The United States military continued to maintain the forts. Some Navajo were employed by the military as “Indian Scouts”
Navajo Scouts
The Navajo Scouts were part of the United States Army Indian Scouts between 1873 and 1895. Generally, the scouts were signed up at Fort Wingate for six month enlistments. In the period 1873 to 1885, there were usually ten to twenty-five scouts attached to units...

 through 1895. Manuelito
Manuelito was one of the principal war chiefs of the Navajo people before, during and after the Long Walk Period. His name means Little Manuel in Spanish. He was born to the Clan, near the Bear's Ears in southeastern Utah about 1818. As any Navajo, he was known by different names depending upon...

 founded the Navajo Tribal Police
Navajo Tribal Police
The Navajo Nation Police is the law enforcement agency on the Navajo Nation in the Southwestern United States. It is under the Navajo Division of Public Safety. It is headed by a Chief of Police, six Police Captains and eight Police Lieutenants...

, which operated between 1872 and 1875 and was used by the Navajo to stop raiders from their tribe.

By treaty, the Navajo were allowed to leave the reservation with permission to trade. Raiding by the Navajo stopped when they were able to increase the size of their livestock and crops, and not have to risk losing them to others. But, while the size of the reservation increased from 3.5 million acres (14,000 km²) to the 16 million acres (65,000 km²) of today, economic conflicts with the non-Navajo continued. Civilians and companies raided resources that had been assigned to the Navajo. The US government made leases for livestock grazing, took land for railroads, and permitted mining on Navajo land without consultation with the tribe.

Regional newspapers have many accounts of conflicts between Navajo and European Americans in this period, which regional politicians sometimes turned to their own purposes. While it is likely true that some Navajo strayed, it is equally true that some white
White people
White people is a term which usually refers to human beings characterized, at least in part, by the light pigmentation of their skin...

 citizens strayed from the laws of the land. US military reports did not reflect the alarm of the newspapers.

In 1883, Lt.
A lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer in many nations' armed forces. Typically, the rank of lieutenant in naval usage, while still a junior officer rank, is senior to the army rank...

 Parker, accompanied by 10 enlisted men and two scouts, went up the San Juan River to separate Navajos and citizens who had encroached on Navajo land. In the same year, Lt. Lockett, with the aid of 42 enlisted soldiers, was joined by Lt. Holomon at Navajo Springs
Navajo Springs, Arizona
Navajo Springs is a community located on the Navajo Nation, near Holbrook, Arizona. The community is almost exclusively Native American, and a permit is required from the Navajo Nation for off-road travel in that area. During the time of the Old West, this area was frequented by notable western...

. Evidently, citizens of the surname(s) Houck and/or Owens had murdered a Navajo chief's son and 100 armed Navajos were looking for them.

In 1887, citizens Palmer, Lockhart, and King fabricated a charge of horse stealing and randomly attacked a home on the reservation. Two Navajo men and all three whites died, but a woman and a child survived. Capt Kerr (with two Navajo scouts) examined the ground and then met with several hundred Navajo at Houcks Tank. Rancher Bennett, whose horse was allegedly stolen, pointed out to Kerr that his horses were stolen by the three whites to catch a horse thief. In the same year, Lt. Scott went to the San Juan River with two scouts and 21 enlisted men. The Navajo believed Lt. Scott was there to drive off the whites who had settled on the reservation and had fenced off the river from the Navajo. Scott found evidence of many non-Navajo ranches. Only three were active, and the owners wanted payment for their improvements before leaving. Scott ejected them.

In 1890, a local rancher refused to pay the Navajo a fine of livestock. The Navajos tried to collect it, and whites in southern Colorado and Utah claimed that 9,000 of the Navajo people were on a warpath. A small military detachment out of Fort Wingate restored white citizens to order.

In 1913, an Indian agent ordered a Navajo and his three wives to come in, and then arrested them for having a plural marriage. A small group of Navajo used force to free the women and retreated to Beautiful Mountain
Beautiful Mountain
Beautiful Mountain is the highest mountain in San Juan County and the highest of the New Mexico Chuska Mountains at 9,388 feet above sea level...

 with 30 or 40 sympathizers. They refused to surrender to the agent, and local law enforcement and military refused the agent's request for an armed engagement. General Scott arrived, and with the help of Henry Chee Dodge
Henry Chee Dodge
Henry Chee Dodge , also known in Navajo by his nicknames ' and ' , was chairman of the Navajo Business Council from 1922 until 1928, and chairman of the then Navajo Tribal Council from 1942 until 1946. Thereafter, he became the first and only Navajo politician elected vice-president who died...

, defused the situation.
In the 1930s, the United States government claimed the Navajo's livestock were overgrazing the land. It killed more than 80% of the livestock, in what is known as the Navajo Livestock Reduction
Navajo Livestock Reduction
The Navajo Livestock Reduction was imposed upon the Navajo Nation by the federal government in the 1930s. During the 1920s and into the 30s, the Federal Government decided that the land of the Navajo Nation could not support the increasingly large flocks of goats and sheep and the herds of cattle...

, and started a permit system, requiring the Navajo to apply for grazing permits.

Some Americans were strongly sympathetic to the Navajo. In 1937, Mary Cabot Wheelright and Hastiin Klah, an esteemed and influential Navajo singer, or medicine man
Medicine man
"Medicine man" or "Medicine woman" are English terms used to describe traditional healers and spiritual leaders among Native American and other indigenous or aboriginal peoples...

, founded The Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian
Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian
The Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian is a museum devoted to Native American arts. It is located in Santa Fe, New Mexico and was founded in 1937 by Mary Cabot Wheelwright, who came from Boston, and Hastiin Klah, a Navajo singer and medicine man....

. It is a repository for sound recordings, manuscripts, paintings, and sandpainting tapestries of the Navajo people. It also featured exhibits to express the beauty, dignity, and logic of Navajo religion. When Klah met Cabot in 1921, he had witnessed decades of efforts by the US government and missionaries to assimilate the Navajo people into mainstream society. Children were sent away to Indian boarding schools, where they were to learn English and practice Christianity. They were prohibited from using their own languages and religion. The museum was founded to preserve the religion and traditions of the Navajo people, which Klah was sure would soon be lost forever.

In the 1940s, during World War II, the United States denied the Navajo welfare relief because of the Navajos’ communal society. Eventually, in December 1947, the Navajos were provided relief in the post-war period to relieve the hunger that they had had to endure for many years.

In the 1940s, large quantities of uranium were discovered in Navajo land. From then into the early twenty-first century, the US allowed mining without sufficient environmental protection for workers, waterways and land. The Navajo have claimed high rates of death and illness from lung disease and cancer resulting from environmental contamination. Since the 1970s, legislation has helped to regulate the industry and reduce the toll, but the government has not offered holistic and comprehensive compensation is yet forthcoming.


The name “Navajo” comes from the late 18th century via the Spanish (Apaches de) Navajó "(Apaches of) Navajó", which was derived from the Tewa
Tewa language
Tewa is a Kiowa–Tanoan language spoken by Pueblo people, mostly in the Rio Grande valley in New Mexico north of Santa Fe. The 1980 census counted 1,298 speakers, almost all of whom are bilingual in English...

 navahū "fields adjoining a ravine". The Navajo call themselves Diné, which means "the people". Most Navajo now acquiesce to being called "Navajo." (an older spelling of the word – "Navaho" – is not preferred by most Navajo in modern times).

Traditionally, like other Apacheans, the Navajo were semi-nomad
Nomadic people , commonly known as itinerants in modern-day contexts, are communities of people who move from one place to another, rather than settling permanently in one location. There are an estimated 30-40 million nomads in the world. Many cultures have traditionally been nomadic, but...

ic from the 16th through the 20th centuries. Their extended kinship groups had seasonal dwelling areas to accommodate livestock, agriculture and gathering practices. As part of their traditional economy, Navajo groups may have formed trading or raiding parties, traveling relatively long distances.
Historically, the structure of the Navajo society is largely a matrilineal system, in which women owned livestock and land. Once married, a Navajo man would move to live with his bride in her dwelling and among her mother's people and clan
A clan is a group of people united by actual or perceived kinship and descent. Even if lineage details are unknown, clan members may be organized around a founding member or apical ancestor. The kinship-based bonds may be symbolical, whereby the clan shares a "stipulated" common ancestor that is a...

. Daughters (or, if necessary, other female relatives) were traditionally the ones who received the generational property inheritance. The 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, males represent their mother's clan in tribal politics. The clan system is exogamous
Exogamy is a social arrangement where marriage is allowed only outside of a social group. The social groups define the scope and extent of exogamy, and the rules and enforcement mechanisms that ensure its continuity. In social studies, exogamy is viewed as a combination of two related aspects:...

: people must date and marry partners outside their own clans, which for this purpose include the clans of their four grandparents.

Traditional dwellings

A hogan
A hogan is the primary traditional home of the Navajo people. Other traditional structures include the summer shelter, the underground home, and the sweat house...

 is the traditional Navajo home. These eight-sided houses are made of wood and covered in mud, with the door always facing east to welcome the sun each morning. Hogans are houses made of poles and brush covered with earth. Navajos have several types of hogans for lodging and ceremonial use. Ceremonies, such as healing ceremonies or the kinaaldá, will take place inside a hogan. According to Kehoe, this style of housing is distinctive to the Navajo, and he writes, "even today, a solidly constructed, log walled Hogan is preferred by many Navajo families." Most Navajo members today live in apartments and houses in urban areas.

For those who practice the Navajo religion, the hogan is considered sacred. The religious song "The Blessingway" describes the first hogan as being built by Coyote with help from beavers to be a house for First Man, First Woman, and Talking God. The Beaver People gave Coyote logs and instructions on how to build the first hogan. Navajos made their hogans in the traditional fashion until the 1900s, when they started to make them in hexagonal and octagonal shapes. Today they are rarely used as dwellings, but are maintained primarily for ceremonial purposes.

The Navajo people traditionally hold the four sacred mountains as the boundaries of the homeland they should never leave: Blanca Peak
Blanca Peak
Blanca Peak is the highest peak of the Sierra Blanca Massif at the southern tip of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in the U.S. State of Colorado. It is the fourth highest peak of the Rocky Mountains, and the eighth highest peak in the contiguous United States....

 (Sisnaajiní — Dawn or White Shell Mountain) in Colorado; Mount Taylor (Tsoodził — Blue Bead or Turquoise Mountain) in New Mexico; the San Francisco Peaks
San Francisco Peaks
The San Francisco Peaks are a volcanic mountain range located in north central Arizona, just north of Flagstaff.The highest summit in the range, Humphreys Peak, is the highest point in the state of Arizona at in elevation. The San Francisco Peaks are the remains of an eroded stratovolcano...

 (Dookʼoʼoosłííd — Abalone Shell Mountain) in Arizona; and Hesperus Mountain
Hesperus Mountain
Hesperus Mountain or Hesperus Peak is the highest summit in the La Plata Mountains, a small subrange of the San Juan Mountains, which in turn are a subrange of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, United States...

 (Dibé Nitsaa — Big Mountain Sheep) in Colorado.


A silversmith is a craftsperson who makes objects from silver or gold. The terms 'silversmith' and 'goldsmith' are not synonyms as the techniques, training, history, and guilds are or were largely the same but the end product varies greatly as does the scale of objects created.Silversmithing is the...

ing is an important art form among Navajo. Atsidi Sani
Atsidi Sani
Atsidi Sani was the first known Navajo silversmith.-Background:Atsidi Sani played an important role in the history of Navajo silversmithing. He is known by many to be the first Navajo silversmith, although his main focus was in blacksmithing; working with iron. Many agree that he learned...

 (ca. 1830–ca. 1918) is considered to be the first Navajo silversmith. He learned silversmithing from a Mexican man called Nakai Tsosi ("Thin Mexican") around 1878 and began teaching other Navajos how to work with silver. By 1880, Navajo silversmiths were creating handmade jewelry
Handmade jewelry
Handmade jewelry is jewelry which has been assembled and formed by hand rather than through the use of machines. According to the guidelines of the FTC, in order to be stamped or called "handmade" the work must be made solely by hand power or hand guidance. This means that jewelry may be made...

 including bracelets, tobacco flasks, necklace
A necklace is an article of jewellery which is worn around the neck. Necklaces are frequently formed from a metal jewellery chain. Others are woven or manufactured from cloth using string or twine....

s and bracer
A bracer is a strap or sheath, commonly made of leather, stone, or plastic that covers the inside of an archer's arm to protect it while shooting. Bracers keep the inside of the archer's forearm from getting hurt by the string of the bow or the fletching of the arrow; they also prevent loose...

s. Later, they added beautiful silver earrings, buckles
Buckles is a comic strip by David Gilbert about the misadventures of a anthropomorphic naïve dog. Buckles debuted on March 25, 1996.King Feature's Syndicate: "More of an only child with canine instincts than he is the family pet...

, bolos, hair ornaments, pins and squash blossom necklaces for tribal use, and to sell to tourists as a way to supplement their income.

The Navajo's hallmark jewelry piece called the "squash blossom" necklace first appeared in the 1880s. The term "squash blossom" was apparently attached to the name of the Navajo necklace at an early date, although its bud-shaped beads are thought to derive from Spanish-Mexican pomegranate designs. The Navajo silversmiths also borrowed the "naja" (najahe in Navajo symbol to shape the silver pendant that hangs from the "squash blossom" necklace.

Turquoise is an opaque, blue-to-green mineral that is a hydrous phosphate of copper and aluminium, with the chemical formula CuAl648·4. It is rare and valuable in finer grades and has been prized as a gem and ornamental stone for thousands of years owing to its unique hue...

 has been part of jewelry for centuries, but Navajo artists did not use inlay techniques to insert turquoise into silver designs until the late 19th century.


Navajo came to the southwest with their own weaving traditions; however, they learned to weave cotton on upright looms from Pueblo peoples. The first Spaniards to visit the region wrote about seeing Navajo blankets. By the 18th century the Navajo had begun to import Bayeta red yarn to supplement local black, grey, and white wool, as well as wool dyed with indigo
Indigo dye
Indigo dye is an organic compound with a distinctive blue color . Historically, indigo was a natural dye extracted from plants, and this process was important economically because blue dyes were once rare. Nearly all indigo dye produced today — several thousand tons each year — is synthetic...

. Using an upright loom, the Navajo made extremely fine utilitarian blankets that were collected by Ute
Ute Tribe
The Ute are an American Indian people now living primarily in Utah and Colorado. There are three Ute tribal reservations: Uintah-Ouray in northeastern Utah ; Southern Ute in Colorado ; and Ute Mountain which primarily lies in Colorado, but extends to Utah and New Mexico . The name of the state of...

 and Plains Indians
Plains Indians
The Plains Indians are the Indigenous peoples who live on the plains and rolling hills of the Great Plains of North America. Their colorful equestrian culture and resistance to White domination have made the Plains Indians an archetype in literature and art for American Indians everywhere.Plains...

. These Chief's Blankets, so called because only chiefs or very wealthy individuals could afford them, were characterized by horizontal stripes and minimal patterning in red. First Phase Chief's Blankets have only horizontal stripes, Second Phase feature red rectangular designs, and Third Phase feature red diamonds and partial diamond patterns.

The completion of the railroads dramatically changed Navajo weaving. Cheap blankets were imported, so Navajo weavers shifted their focus to weaving rugs for an increasingly non-Native audience. Rail service also brought in Germantown wool from Philadelphia, commercially dyed wool which greatly expanded the weavers' color palettes.

Some early European-American settlers moved in and set up trading posts, often buying Navajo rug
Navajo rug
Navajo rugs and blankets are textiles produced by Navajo people of the Four Corners area of the United States. Navajo textiles are highly regarded and have been sought after as trade items for over 150 years. Commercial production of handwoven blankets and rugs has been an important element of the...

s by the pound and selling them back east by the bale. The traders encouraged the locals to weave blankets and rugs
Navajo rug
Navajo rugs and blankets are textiles produced by Navajo people of the Four Corners area of the United States. Navajo textiles are highly regarded and have been sought after as trade items for over 150 years. Commercial production of handwoven blankets and rugs has been an important element of the...

 into distinct styles. These included "Two Gray Hills" (predominantly black and white, with traditional patterns); Teec Nos Pos (colorful, with very extensive patterns); "Ganado" (founded by Don Lorenzo Hubbell
Don Lorenzo Hubbell
Don Lorenzo Hubbell was a 19th century trader instrumental in promoting the sale of Navajo art. He was also sheriff of Apache County, Arizona, a member of the Arizona Territorial Legislature, and after statehood a member of the Arizona Senate...

), red-dominated patterns with black and white; "Crystal" (founded by J. B. Moore); oriental and Persian
Persian rug
The Persian carpet is an essential part of Persian art and culture. Carpet-weaving is undoubtedly one of the most distinguished manifestations of Persian culture and art, and dates back to ancient Persia. In 2008, Iran’s exports of hand-woven carpets was $420 million or 30% of the world's market...

 styles (almost always with natural dye
Natural dye
Natural dyes are dyes or colorants derived from plants, invertebrates, or minerals. The majority of natural dyes are vegetable dyes from plant sources – roots, berries, bark, leaves, and wood — and other organic sources such as fungi and lichens....

s); "Wide Ruins", "Chinlee", banded geometric patterns; "Klagetoh", diamond-type patterns; "Red Mesa" and bold diamond patterns. Many of these patterns exhibit a fourfold symmetry, which is thought to embody traditional ideas about harmony or hózhǫ́.

Today Navajo weaving is a fine art, and weavers opt to work with natural or commercial dyes and traditional, pictorial, or a wide range of geometric designs.

Healing and spiritual practices

Navajo spiritual practice is about restoring balance and harmony to a person's life to produce health. One exception to the concept of healing is the Beauty Way ceremony: the Kinaaldá, or a female puberty ceremony. Others include the Hooghan
A hogan is the primary traditional home of the Navajo people. Other traditional structures include the summer shelter, the underground home, and the sweat house...

 Blessing Ceremony and the "Baby's First Laugh Ceremony." Otherwise, ceremonies are used to heal illnesses, strengthen weakness, and give vitality to the patient. Ceremonies restore Hózhǫ́, or beauty, harmony, balance, and health.

When suffering from illness or injury, Navajos traditionally seek a certified, credible Hatałii (medicine man
Medicine man
"Medicine man" or "Medicine woman" are English terms used to describe traditional healers and spiritual leaders among Native American and other indigenous or aboriginal peoples...

) for healing, before turning to Western medicine (e.g., hospitals). The medicine man will use several methods to diagnose the patient's ailments. This may include using special tools such as crystal rocks, and abilities such as hand-trembling and Hatał (chanting prayer). The medicine man chooses a specific healing chant for that type of ailment. Short prayers for protection may take only a few hours, and in some cases, the patient is expected to do a follow-up afterward. The medicine man may give advice, such as avoiding sexual relations, personal contact, animals, certain foods, and certain activities for a period of time; it is not unlike a doctor's advice.

The Navajo believe that certain ailments can be caused by violating taboos. Contact with lightning-struck objects, exposure to taboo animals such as snakes, and contact with the dead create the need for healing afterward. Protection ceremonies, especially the Blessing Way Ceremony, are used for Navajo who leave the boundaries of the four sacred mountains. It is used extensively for Navajo warriors or soldiers going to war. Upon return, the person receives an Enemy Way
Enemy Way
The Enemy Way or is one half of the major Navajo song ceremonial complexes, the other half being the Blessing Way. The Enemy Way is a traditional ceremony for countering the harmful effects of alien ghosts or chindi, and has been performed for returning military personnel.The Enemy Way ceremony...

 Ceremony, or Nidáá, to get rid of the evil elements in the body, and to restore balance in his or her life. This is important for Navajo warriors or soldiers returning from battle. Warriors or soldiers often suffer spiritual or psychological damage from participating in warfare, and the Enemy Way Ceremony helps restore harmony to the person, mentally and emotionally.

Some ceremonies cure people from curses. People may complain of witches
Witch (Navajo)
There are a number of beliefs in traditional Navajo culture relating to practices which, in English, are all referred to as 'witchcraft.' In the Navajo language, they are actually each referred to distinctly, and are regarded as separate, albeit related, phenomena.The practices lumped together in...

 and skin-walkers that do harm to their minds, bodies, and families. The ailments are not necessarily physical and may take other forms. The medicine man is often able to break the curses that witches and skin-walkers put on families. Mild cases do not take very long, but for extreme cases, special ceremonies are needed to drive away the evil spirits. The medicine man may find curse objects implanted inside the victim's body. These objects are used to cause the person pain and illness. Examples of such objects include bone fragments, rocks and pebbles, bits of string, snake teeth, owl feathers, and turquoise jewelry.

The medicine men learn fifty-eight to sixty sacred ceremonies. Most of them last four days or more; to be most effective, they require that relatives and friends attend and help out. Outsiders are discouraged from participating, as they may become a burden to others or violate a taboo. This could affect the turnout of the ceremony. The ceremony must be done in precisely the correct manner to heal the patient. This includes everyone who is involved.

The medicine man must be able to correctly perform a ceremony from beginning to end. If he does not, the ceremony will not work. A Hatałii learns as an apprentice to a master, and the study is extensive, arduous, and takes many years. The apprentice learns everything by watching his teacher, and memorizes the words to all the chants. If a medicine man cannot learn all sixty of the ceremonies, he may choose to specialize in a select few.

The origin of spiritual healing ceremonies is part of Navajo mythology. It is said the first Enemy Way ceremony was performed for Changing Woman's twin sons (Monster Slayer and Born-For-the-Water) after slaying the Giants (the Yé'ii) and restoring Hózhǫ́ to the world and people. The patient identifies with Monster Slayer through the chants, prayers, sandpainting
Sandpainting is the art of pouring colored sands, powdered pigments from minerals or crystals, and pigments from other natural or synthetic sources onto a surface to make a fixed, or unfixed sand painting...

s, herbal medicine and dance.

Another Navajo healing, the Night Chant ceremony, is administered as a cure for most types of head ailments, including mental disturbances. The ceremony, conducted over several days, involves purification, evocation of the gods, identification between the patient and the gods, and the transformation of the patient. Each day entails the performance of certain rites and the creation of detailed sand paintings. On the ninth evening a final all-night ceremony occurs, in which the dark male thunderbird god is evoked in a song that starts by describing his home:
In Tsegihi [White House],
In the house made of the dawn,
In the house made of the evening light

The medicine man proceeds by asking the Holy People to be present, then identifying the patient with the power of the god, and describing the patient's transformation to renewed health with lines such as, "Happily I recover." The same dance is repeated throughout the night, about forty-eight times. The Night Chant ceremony takes about ten hours to perform, and ends at dawn.

In the media

In 2000 the documentary The Return of Navajo Boy
The Return of Navajo Boy
The Return of Navajo Boy is an award-winning documentary film produced by Jeff Spitz and Bennie Klain about the Cly family, Navajo who have suffered health problems due to environmental contamination from uranium mining on tribal land in Monument Valley, Utah...

 was shown at the Sundance Film Festival. It was written in response to an earlier film, The Navajo Boy
The Navajo Boy
The Navajo Boy was a silent film of the 1950s that depicted the Cly family on the Navajo Nation in Monument Valley, Utah. The director, Robert J. Kennedy, narrated the film live at each showing. He provided little written information about the context or the identities of the Navajo people...

 which was somewhat exploitative of the Navajo People involved. The Return of Navajo Boy allowed the Navajo People to be more involved in the depicting of their own people.

In the final episode of the third season of the FX reality TV show 30 Days, the shows producer Morgan Spurlock
Morgan Spurlock
Morgan Valentine Spurlock is an American documentary filmmaker, humorist, television producer, screenwriter and journalist best known for the documentary film Super Size Me...

 spends thirty days living with a Navajo family on their reservation in New Mexico. The July 2008 show called Life on an Indian Reservation, depicts the dire conditions that many Native Americans experience living on reservations in the United States.

Notable Navajo people

  • Dr. Fred Begay
    Fred Begay
    Fred Begay , aka Fred Young or Clever Fox, is a Native American nuclear physicist. Begay was born in 1932 at Towaoc on the Ute Mountain Indian Reservation in Colorado. His mother was Navajo and Ute and his father was Navajo. As a youth, Begay was trained by the Bureau of Indian Affairs to become a...

    , nuclear physicist and a Korean War
    Korean War
    The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

  • Notah Begay III
    Notah Begay III
    Notah Ryan Begay III is an American professional golfer. He is the only full-blooded American Indian golfer on the PGA Tour. He is currently an analyst with the Golf Channel.-Amateur career:...

     (Navajo-Isleta-San Felipe Pueblo), American professional golfer
  • Klee Benally
    Klee Benally
    Klee Benally is the lead vocalist and guitarist of Navajo punk rock band Blackfire. Benally is also an activist, artist, silversmith, and filmmaker. He also performs traditional Navajo dances and is a champion fancy war dancer.-Background:...

    , musician and documentary filmmaker
  • Jacoby Ellsbury
    Jacoby Ellsbury
    Jacoby McCabe Ellsbury ; born September 11, 1983) is an American professional baseball center fielder with the Boston Red Sox of Major League Baseball....

    , Boston Red Sox
    Boston Red Sox
    The Boston Red Sox are a professional baseball team based in Boston, Massachusetts, and a member of Major League Baseball’s American League Eastern Division. Founded in as one of the American League's eight charter franchises, the Red Sox's home ballpark has been Fenway Park since . The "Red Sox"...

     outfielder (Enrolled member of the Colorado River Indian Tribes)
  • Joe Kieyoomia
    Joe Kieyoomia
    Joe Kieyoomia was a Navajo soldier in New Mexico's 200th Coast Artillery unit who was captured by the Imperial Japanese Army after the fall of the Philippines in 1942 during World War II...

    , captured by the Imperial Japanese Army
    Imperial Japanese Army
    -Foundation:During the Meiji Restoration, the military forces loyal to the Emperor were samurai drawn primarily from the loyalist feudal domains of Satsuma and Chōshū...

     after the fall of the Philippines in 1942
  • Jay Tavare
    Jay Tavare
    Jay Tavare is an American actor. Tavare is perhaps best known as Vega in 1994 film Street Fighter. Tavare has played a number of roles in movies, including a Seminole in Adaptation, an Apache in The Missing, a Cherokee in Cold Mountain, and a Cheyenne in Into the West.His mother was White Mountain...

    , actor
  • Cory Witherill
    Cory Witherill
    Cory Witherill is a native American Navajo race car driver from Los Angeles in the Infiniti Pro Series, Indy Racing League, and ARCA series. He made an improbable bump day run on a brand new engine to qualify for the 2001 Indianapolis 500, becoming the only full-blooded native American to race in...

    , first full-blooded Native American in NASCAR
    The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing is a family-owned and -operated business venture that sanctions and governs multiple auto racing sports events. It was founded by Bill France Sr. in 1947–48. As of 2009, the CEO for the company is Brian France, grandson of the late Bill France Sr...


Notable Navajo politicians

  • Mark Maryboy
    Mark Maryboy
    Mark Maryboy was an American politician for San Juan County, Utah, and a former Navajo Nation Council Delegate for the Utah Navajo Section of the Navajo Tribe. He is the brother of Kenneth Maryboy who currently serves in the positions he once stood...

    Aneth, Utah
    Aneth is a census-designated place in San Juan County, Utah, United States. The population was 598 at the 2000 census.-Geography:Aneth is located at ....

    /Red Mesa
    Red Mesa, Arizona
    Red Mesa is a census-designated place in Apache County, Arizona, United States. The population was 237 at the 2000 census.-Geography:Red Mesa is located at ....

    /Mexican Water), former NN Council Delegate and currently working in Utah Navajo Investments
  • Leonard Tsosie, Navajo Tribal Councilman (Whitehorse/Torreon//Pueblo Pintado) / Former State Senator - District 22, New Mexico Senate
    New Mexico Senate
    The New Mexico Senate is the upper house of the New Mexico State Legislature. The Senate consists of 42 members, with each senator representing an equal amount of single-member constituent districts across the state. All senatorial districts are divided to contain a population on average of 43,300...

  • Annie Dodge Wauneka
    Annie Dodge Wauneka
    Annie Dodge Wauneka was an influential member of the Navajo Nation as member of the Navajo Nation Council. As a member and three term head of the Council's Health and Welfare Committee, she worked to improve the health and education of the Navajo. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom...

    , Former Navajo Tribal Councilwoman
  • Peter MacDonald
    Peter MacDonald (Navajo leader)
    Peter MacDonald is a Native American politician and the only four term Chairman of the Navajo Tribe. He was born in Arizona, U.S.A., served the U.S...

    , Former Navajo Tribal Chairman
  • Kenneth Maryboy
    Kenneth Maryboy
    Kenneth Maryboy is an American politician for San Juan County, Utah, and the current Navajo Nation Council Delegate for the Utah Navajo Section. Kenneth is also one of three San Juan County Commissioners who oversee the needs of the county's residents and the Utah Navajo Element...

    Aneth, Utah
    Aneth is a census-designated place in San Juan County, Utah, United States. The population was 598 at the 2000 census.-Geography:Aneth is located at ....

    /Red Mesa
    Red Mesa, Arizona
    Red Mesa is a census-designated place in Apache County, Arizona, United States. The population was 237 at the 2000 census.-Geography:Red Mesa is located at ....

    /Mexican Water), helped initiate the Navajo Santa Program for poverty stricken Navajo families
  • Joe Shirley, Jr.
    Joe Shirley, Jr.
    Joe Shirley, Jr. is a Native American politician who was the previous President of the Navajo Nation. He is of the Navajo Tribe and is from Chinle, Arizona...

    , former President of the Navajo Nation

Notable Navajo visual artists

  • Atsidi Sani
    Atsidi Sani
    Atsidi Sani was the first known Navajo silversmith.-Background:Atsidi Sani played an important role in the history of Navajo silversmithing. He is known by many to be the first Navajo silversmith, although his main focus was in blacksmithing; working with iron. Many agree that he learned...

     (ca. 1828–1918), first known Navajo silversmith
  • Harrison Begay
    Harrison Begay
    Harrison Begay , is a renowned Navajo painter, perhaps the most famous of his generation. Begay specializes in watercolors and silkscreen prints. He is the oldest living former student of Dorothy Dunn at the Santa Fe Indian School...

     (b. 1914), Studio painter
  • Lorenzo Clayton
    Lorenzo Clayton
    Lorenzo Clayton is a contemporary Navajo sculptor, printmaker, conceptual and installation artist. His artwork is notable for exploring the concepts of spirituality through abstract art.-Background:...

     (b. 1940), artist
  • Blue Corn
    Blue Corn
    Blue Corn , also known as Crucita Calabaza, was a Native American potter from San Ildefonso Pueblo, New Mexico, in the United States. She became famous for reviving San Ildefonso polychrome wares and had a very long and productive career.-Early life:Her grandmother first introduced her to pottery...

    , potter
  • R. C. Gorman
    R. C. Gorman
    Rudolph Carl Gorman was a Native American artist of the Navajo Nation. Referred to as "the Picasso of American Indian art" by the New York Times, his paintings are primarily of Native American women and characterized by fluid forms and vibrant colors, though he also worked in sculpture, ceramics,...

     (1932–2005), painter and printmaker
  • Hastiin Klah, weaver and co-founder of the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian
    Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian
    The Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian is a museum devoted to Native American arts. It is located in Santa Fe, New Mexico and was founded in 1937 by Mary Cabot Wheelwright, who came from Boston, and Hastiin Klah, a Navajo singer and medicine man....

  • David Johns
    David Johns
    David Johns is a Dine' painter from the Seba Dalkai, Arizona, United States.-Background:He was born in Winslow, Arizona. As a child, David spent many hours with his grandmother herding sheep through their land. During these years, she passed on to David the teachings her grandparents had given to...

     (b. 1948), painter
  • Yazzie Johnson, contemporary silversmith
  • Klah Tso
    Klah Tso
    Klah Tso was a Navajo painter. He is considered a pioneer Navajo easel painter.-Background:Klah Tso was also known as Big Lefthanded, Big Lefthanded Chou, or Old Hostin Claw. He should not be confused with Hastiin Klah, the Navajo weaver, or Choh, the Navajo graphic artist. He lived near Tuba...

     (mid-19th c.—early 20th c), pioneering easel painter
  • Gerald Nailor, Sr.
    Gerald Nailor, Sr.
    Gerald Nailor, Sr. or Toh Yah was a Navajo Studio painter from Picurís, New Mexico. Beginning in 1942, he was commissioned to paint the history of the Navajo people for a large mural at the Navajo Nation Council Chamber, which has been designated a National Historic Landmark.-Background:Gerald...

     (1917–1952), Studio painter
  • Clara Nezbah Sherman, weaver
  • Ryan Singer, painter, illustrator, screen printer
  • Tommy Singer
    Tommy Singer
    Tommy Singer is a Navajo silversmith who specializes in chip-inlay jewelry. His inlaid turquoise, coral, and silver pieces incorporate traditional Navajo designs. Singer gained acclaim as the originator of the chip inlay design which he developed in the 1970s.Singer is a member of the Navajo...

    , silversmith and jeweler
  • Quincy Tahoma
    Quincy Tahoma
    Quincy Tahoma was a Navajo painter from Arizona and New Mexico.-Youth:Quincy Tahoma was born near Tuba City, Arizona in 1920. Tahoma means "Water Edge.'As a young boy he became familiar with many religious and traditional chants and rituals...

     (1920–1956), Studio painter
  • Emmi Whitehorse
    Emmi Whitehorse
    Emmi Whitehorse is a Native American painter.She was born in Crownpoint, New Mexico and is a member of the Navajo Nation. She currently lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico....

    , contemporary painter
  • Melanie Yazzie
    Melanie Yazzie
    Melanie Yazzie is a Navajo sculptor, painter and printmaker.-Background:Melanie Yazzie was born in Ganado, Arizona in 1966. She is Navajo of the , born for . She grew up on the Navajo Reservation....

    , contemporary printmaker and educator

Navajo writers

  • Irvin Morris
    Irvin Morris
    Irvin Morris is a Navajo Nation author and has taught at Cornell University, the State University of New York, the University of Arizona, and Dine College. He received his MFA at Cornell University. His work, From the Glittering World: A Navajo Story is a blend of Navajo creation narrative,...

    , author and lecturer
  • Luci Tapahonso
    Luci Tapahonso
    Luci Tapahonso is a Navajo poet and lecturer in Native American Studies.-Early life:Born on the Navajo reservation, to Eugene Tapahonso , and Lucille Tapahonso, , Luci Tapahonso was raised in a traditional way along with 11 siblings. English was not spoken on the family farm, and Tapahonso...

    , poet and lecturer
  • Elizabeth Woody
    Elizabeth Woody
    Elizabeth Woody is a Navajo-Warm Springs-Wasco-Yakama artist, author, and educator.-Background:Elizabeth Woody was born in Ganado, Arizona in 1959. She is an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs in Oregon. She is born for Tódích'íinii...

    , author, educator, and environmentalist
  • Sherwin Bitsui
    Sherwin Bitsui
    Sherwin Bitsui is originally from Baaʼoogeedí , on the Navajo Nation. Currently, he lives in Tucson, Arizona. He is Navajo of the Todichʼíiʼnii , born for the Tłʼízíłání ....

    , author and poet

Notable Navajo dancers, musicians, etc.

  • Blackfire
    Blackfire (band)
    Blackfire is a Navajo traditionally-influenced, high-energy, politically-driven musical group composed of three siblings: two brothers and a sister...

    , punk rock band
  • Raven Chacon
    Raven Chacon
    Raven Chacon is an American composer and artist. He is known as a composer of chamber music as well as a solo performer of experimental noise music...

    , composer
  • Radmilla Cody
    Radmilla Cody
    Radmilla A. Cody is a Navajo model, award-winning singer, and anti-domestic violence activist who was the 46th Miss Navajo from 1997 to 1998.As she was the first and thus far only Miss Navajo partially of African-American heritage, her nomination sparked considerable debate over Navajo identity...

    , traditional singer
  • R. Carlos Nakai
    R. Carlos Nakai
    Raymond Carlos “R.” Nakai is a Native American flautist of Navajo/Ute heritage.-Biography:Born Ray Carlos Nakai, in Flagstaff, Arizona, he released his first album, Changes, in 1983...

    , musician
  • Jock Soto
    Jock Soto
    Jock Soto is a former American ballet dancer and current ballet instructor.-Career:Soto danced featured roles in over 40 ballets, of which more than 35 were created for him....

    , ballet dancer
  • Douglas Spotted Eagle
    Douglas Spotted Eagle
    Douglas Spotted Eagle, is a Grammy-winning musician, noted for his live and recorded performances on the traditional Native American flute, sometimes accompanied by either traditional Navajo singers and instrumentalists or a modern band...

    , musician

See also

  • Diné Bahaneʼ
  • Navajo (disambiguation)
  • Navajo-Churro sheep
    Navajo-Churro sheep
    The Navajo-Churro, or Churro for short, is a breed of domestic sheep originating with the Spanish Churra sheep obtained by the Navajo Indian tribe. The breed is renowned for its hardiness and adaptability to extremes of climate. Its wool consists of a protective topcoat and soft undercoat...

  • Navajo Code Talker
  • Navajo language
    Navajo language
    Navajo or Navaho is an Athabaskan language spoken in the southwestern United States. It is geographically and linguistically one of the Southern Athabaskan languages .Navajo has more speakers than any other Native American language north of the...

Navajo-language films
  • Navajo Nation
    Navajo Nation
    The Navajo Nation is a semi-autonomous Native American-governed territory covering , occupying all of northeastern Arizona, the southeastern portion of Utah, and northwestern New Mexico...

  • Navajo pueblitos
    Navajo pueblitos
    The term Navajo Pueblitos, also known as Dinétah Pueblitos, refers to a class of archaeological sites that are found in the northwestern corner of the American state of New Mexico...

Further reading

  • Bailey, L. R. (1964). The Long Walk: A History of the Navaho Wars, 1846–1868.
  • Bighorse, Tiana (1990). Bighorse the Warrior. Ed. Noel Bennett, Tucson: University of Arizona Press.
  • Clarke, Dwight L. (1961). Stephen Watts Kearny: Soldier of the West. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press.
  • Downs, James F. (1972). The Navajo. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.
  • Hammond, George P. and Rey, Agapito (editors) (1940). Narratives of the Coronado Expedition 1540–1542. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.
  • Iverson, Peter (2002). Diné: A History of the Navahos. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. ISBN 0-8263-2714-1.
  • Kelly, Lawrence (1970). Navajo Roundup Pruett Pub. Co., Colorado.
  • Linford, Laurence D. (2000). Navajo Places: History, Legend, Landscape. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press. ISBN 978-0-87480-624-3
  • McNitt, Frank (1972). Navajo Wars. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.
  • Plog, Stephen Ancient Peoples of the American Southwest. Thames and London, LTD, London, England, 1997. ISBN 0-500-27939-X.
  • Roessel, Ruth (editor) (1973). Navajo Stories of the Long Walk Period. Tsaile, Arizona: Navajo Community College Press.
  • Witherspoon, Gary (1977). Language and Art in the Navajo Universe. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
  • Witte, Daniel. Removing Classrooms from the Battlefield: Liberty, Paternalism, and the Redemptive Promise of Educational Choice, 2008 BYU Law Review 377 The Navajo and Richard Henry Pratt
  • Zaballos, Nausica (2009). Le système de santé navajo. Paris: L'Harmattan. ISBN 978-2-296-07975-5.

External links

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