According to scientists who study different cultures, the first Navajo lived in western Canada some one thousand years ago. They belonged to an American Indian group called the Athapaskans and they called themselves “Dine” or “The People”.
Anthropologists hypothesize that the Navajo split off from the Southern Athabaskans and migrated into the Southwest between 200 and 1300 A.D. Between 900 and 1525 A.D. the Navajos developed a rich and complex culture in the area of present-day northwestern New Mexico.
At some point in prehistory the Navajo and Apache migrated to the Southwest from Canada, where most other Athabaskan-speaking peoples still live; although the exact timing of the relocation is unknown, it is thought to have been between 1100 and 1500 ce.
The Navajo people call themselves the Diné, or “the People.” Diné origin stories say they emerged from the fourth world into the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado, which border the Mesa Verde region to the northeast.
Despite all their efforts, the Navajo (Diné) people were removed from their homelands by the United States government in the 1860s.
With a 27,000-square-mile reservation and more than 250,000 members, the Navajo Tribe is the largest American Indian tribe in the United States today. More than 1,000 Navajo live, off-reservation, in the region today.
NAVAJO BELIEFS The Diné believe there are two classes of beings: the Earth People and the Holy People. Since Earth People of the Diné are an integral part of the universe, they must do everything they can to maintain harmony or balance on Mother Earth.
Today, most Navajo people live in modern houses and apartment buildings, just like you. However, hogans are still built and used for religious and cultural purposes, and some older Navajos still prefer to live in traditional hogans.
Private-property owners who meet zoning requirements can get a permit and start construction. But on trust lands, Navajos may apply only for long-term housing leases. Those wanting a home must get approval from officials at local Chapter Houses — there are 110 across the reservation — and the tribal Land Department.
The term Navajo Wars covers at least three distinct periods of conflict in the American West: the Navajo against the Spanish (late 16th century through 1821); the Navajo against the Mexican government (1821 through 1848); and the Navajo against the United States (after the 1847–48 Mexican–American War).
The Navajos used to make their houses, called hogans, of wooden poles, tree bark and mud. Today, many Navajo families still live in hogans, although trailers or more modern houses are tending to replace them. The older form of hogan is round and cone-shaped.
The Cherokee were Iroquoian speakers while, for example, the Navajo speak a dialect of the Athabaskan language. Several distinct Indian languages are represented in North America, including Algonquin and Siouan and many others.
Scouts from Ute, Zuni and Hopi tribes, traditional enemies of the Navajo reinforced Carson’s command. The objective was to destroy Navajo crops and villages and capture livestock.
The Navajo people call themselves Dine’, literally meaning “The People.” The Dine’ speak about their arrival on the earth as a part of their story on the creation.
The Navajo Nation covers the corners of three states: Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. The Navajo Nation is the largest reservation in the United States, covering 27,673 square miles.