Navajo History - Long before the theory of the 'land bridge from Asia to North America across the Bering Strait', Navajo elders told their own story about their own origin. The Navajo (DINE') creation is the story of their origin through a series of emergences through a series of different colored worlds.
Accounts vary as to the exact number and colors of the worlds, for example, black, then blue, then yellow, then glittering, all of which lead up to their final emergence in the present world.
Although raiders and plunderers since known to history, the Navaho cannot be designated a warring tribe, for however courageous they may be, their lack of political integrity has ever been an obstacle to military organization. They never have had a tribal chief, properly so called, while their many leading men could never command more than a small following.
ManuelitoManuelito, who was acclaimed head-chief in 1855 at the conference with Governor Meriwether for the purpose of negotiating a treaty, probably had a greater following than any other Navaho in historic times, but he could never have relied on a majority of the warriors of his widely scattered tribe.
Although divided into many bands, like the Apache, the Navaho, unlike them, were not engaged in ceaseless depredation, their sporadic raids having been conducted by small parties quite independent of any organized tribal movement. They preferred rather to follow a pastoral life.
With their large population, had they possessed the Apache's insatiable desire for war and a political organization that permitted concerted action, the subjugation of the Southwest would have been far more difficult than it proved to be.
While the statement is made that the Navaho were never a warlike people, it must not be presumed that they never caused our Government trouble. Those familiar with the Navaho admire their energy, industry, independence, and cheerful disposition, and their ability to attack the problems of life in a way that no other wandering tribe has exercised.
Navajo History Timeline
1300 A.D. - The Anasazi Indians lived in the Monument Valley area before they disappeared. Archaeologists have recorded more than 100 ancient Anasazi sites and ruins dating before 1300 A.D.
1100–1500 A.D. Distinctive Navajo culture emerges. Believed to have been born to Earth centuries earlier, a distinctive Navajo culture takes hold in the Four corners area of the Colorado Plateau.
1300s A.D. San Juan Band Paiutes frequent the area as temporary hunters/gatherers
They name the Monument Valley area Valley or Treeless Area Amid the Rocks.
Spanish Era - 1492 - - 1820
1581-1583 A.D. First Spanish contact with Navajos
1774 A.D. Navajo drive Spanish settlers from eastern regions off their land
1805 A.D. Massacre at Canyon de Chelly — Spanish soldiers kill more than 100 Navajo women, children, and elders hiding in a cave
Mexican Era - 1821 - 1847
1851 A.D. U.S. Army established Fort Defiance near Window Rock
Navajo Wars· 1848 - 1868
1863 A.D Scorched Earth Campaign conducted by Kit Carson against the Navajo. Captives are force-marched on the Long Walk to Fort Sumner, 350 miles east in New Mexico, and many died. One group, led by Hoskininni, fled from Monument Valley. Kit Carson, in pursuit, named Agathla Peak ¡§El Capitan¡¨ because of its imposing rock formation.
1868 A.D. Treaty of Bosque Redondo creates a Navajo Reservation
Rez Beginning· 1869 - 1927
1906 A.D. John and Louisa Wetherill start trading post at Oljato
1921-1927 A.D. Navajo Tribal Council created — Navajo communities are organized into chapters
1923 A.D. Harry Goulding established a trading post, still in operation today
Stock-Reduction · 1928 - 1940
1933 A.D. Roosevelt appointed a Commissioner of Indian Affairs, who advocated a system of livestock reduction to alleviate soil erosion problems, in conflict with the importance of livestock to the Navajo
1935 A.D. Navajo reject the Indian Reorganization Act because it is identified with livestock reduction
Coming Out · 1941 - 1969
1942-1945 A.D. Marine Navajo Code Talkers in World War II — Navajo Marines use their language as a battlefield code, which the enemy is unable to decipher
1951 A.D. First woman elected to Navajo Tribal Council
1961 A.D. The Navajo Tribal Museum established at Window Rock
1968 A.D. Navajo Tribal Council declares the reservation the Navajo Nation, also adopts Navajo flag
1968 A.D. Navajo Community College, the first Native-operated college, opens
Self-Determination · 1970 - Present
1986 A.D. Navajo Tourism Department established
1990 A.D. Due to Government reform, the first Navajo president elected was Peterson Zah
2000 A.D. President Clinton approves Congressional Medals for World War II Code Talkers
2008 A.D. 50th Anniversary of MVNTP
2009 A.D. First hotel opens within the MVNTP
With the Indian, as well as with civilized man, honesty may be interpreted in various ways. If one should leave his camp equipage unprotected in a tent, it would be entirely safe from all except the renegade, already recognized by his people as a thief. But if one should turn his back and later find that his horse had been run off by a Navaho in the hope of being rewarded for returning it, the tribesmen of the raider would regard him as one whose cunning should be emulated.
For a long period prior to the acquisition from Mexico of the territory now forming the northern portion of Arizona and New Mexico, which, since first known, has been occupied in part by the Navaho, the tribe had been in the habit of making raids on the New Mexican Indian pueblos and the white settlements along the Rio Grande, chiefly for the capture of livestock, although both Indians and Mexicans also were taken and enslaved. The Mexicans lost no opportunity to retaliate, with the result that scattered throughout their villages in the valley of the Rio Grande there were more captives of Navaho blood than there were Mexican prisoners among the Navaho tribe;
but in the matter of sheep, cattle, and horses, the Navaho were far ahead in the game of thievery, and even boasted that they could easily have exterminated the Mexicans had they not needed them as herders of their stolen flocks.
In consequence, bitter enmity early arose between the Mexicans and the Navaho, which reached its height about the time Col. Stephen W. Kearny took possession of the territory in behalf of the United States in 1846.
In the year named a military expedition was sent into the Navaho country for the purpose of making a treaty of peace and friendship with this marauding tribe; but this treaty, like several others that followed, was soon broken, and the raids continued as before.
In 1858 the troubles arising from the plunderings became especially severe and led to several other expeditions, but with little result. The problem became a serious one in 1861, when the Civil War necessitated the withdrawal of troops from the frontier, leaving the way open to the devastation of the country by the Navaho and Mescaleros, until General Carleton, who assumed command of the military forces in New Mexico in 1862, formulated a policy to thoroughly subdue the Navaho and to transfer them to the Bosque Redondo, on the Rio Pecos in New Mexico, where Fort Sumner had been established, and there hold them as prisoners of war until some other plan could be devised.
His plan was successfully carried out. By the spring of 1863 four hundred Mescaleros were under guard on the new reservation, and by the close of that year about two hundred Navaho prisoners had either been transferred thither or were on the way. Early in 1864 Col. Kit Carson led his volunteers to the Cañon de Chelly, the Navaho stronghold, where in a fight he succeeded in killing twenty-three, capturing thirty-four, and compelling two hundred to surrender.
The backbone of the hostility was now broken, and before the beginning of 1865 about seven thousand, later increased to 8491, were under military control within the new reservation. But the Bosque Redondo proved unhealthful and disappointing as a reservation, while its maintenance was costly to the Government.
A treaty was therefore made with the Navaho in 1868, one of the provisions of which was the purchase of fifteen thousand sheep to replenish their exterminated flocks. In July 7304 Navaho, the remainder having died or escaped, arrived at Fort Wingate on the way to their old home, where they have since lived in peace and prosperity.
The Navajo People: A Brief History
"The Navajos do not refer to their mode of living as a way of life; it is the way of life." According to The Book Of The Navajo by Raymond Friday Locke. It is estimated that the Navajo Indians entered and settled in the Four Corner region of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado around 1000 A.D. The ruins of a Navajo home site near Gallup, NM (93 miles south of us) has been dated to 1380. The land the Navajo live on is sacredlled Dinetah-the land of the People.
First contact with the Spanish was in 1598. The Spanish had come north from Mexico bringing sheep and horses. When they met the Navajos, the Spanish tried to convert the Navajo people to European customs and religion. According to Locke’s The Book of The Navajo, "they (the Navajo) were more interested in the Spaniard's sheep and horses." The Navajo’s resisted the Spanish and in fact allowed the United States to capture the Southwest.
This is a debt however we would not repay or acknowledge.
In 1863, "Kit" Carson ruthlessly attacked the Navajo People burning their homes and killing their sheep. U.S. forces starved them into submission and rounded the Dine` into herds. Later the Navajo people were marched 300 miles across New Mexico. The Navajos were beat and killed arbitrarily for "sport" by Cavalry troops and their Indian allies. At Bosque Redondo the Navajos were imprisoned. They were fed rations of rancid bacon and insect infested flour. Supplies that the U.S. Cavalry troops were going to throw away. Finally in 1868 the Dine` were allowed to return to the four corners area, the land that they loved. They were forced to sign a treaty in exchange for the land that would become the reservation they currently live on. A land that is located in the high desert area of Northwestern New Mexico. There are very few trees which are used for firewood to cook and heat with. The part of the reservation where the recovery home is located is 8600 feet above sea level.
Most of the rest of the reservation is between 7000-8600 feet. Because of this the summers are very hot and windy and the winters cold and harsh.
During World War II 421 Marines of Navajo origin served as "code talkers." They used an encoded version of the Navajo Language to confuse the Japanese who had been "cracking" the codes of the U.S. military. It is estimated that 150-200 of these "code-talkers" are still living.
Today the Navajo Nation is run by a representative government. The people elect a president and vice-president every four years. The chapters (communities) on the reservation work with local issues and ultimately the president of the nation.
Ceremonies are an important way of life. Interestingly enough, for many decades Americans didn’t think the Navajos had any form of worship at all as there is no one word for religion. "The Universe, as viewed by the Navajo, is an orderly system of interrelated elements, all-inclusive unity that contains good and evil."