The Navajo Indian Land lies in three states, including the northeast Arizona, the northwest New Mexico, and the southeastern Utah. A portion of the reservation lies in Apache, Coconino and Navajo Counties. It is the largest Indian Land in the United States. The elevation ranges from 4,500 feet to 10,400 feet. Currently, the tribe has 175,000 members.
The Navajo (pronounced “NAH-vuh-ho”) Indians are descendants of the Athapascan speaking people. They are also related to the Apache Indians, who arrived here from the north. Navajos do not refer to themselves as Navajo, but as Dineh (pronounced “dee-NAY”), meaning “the people.”
In the beginning, the Navajo were nomadic bands of hunters and gatherers. They attacked the Hopi Indian villages for supplies. But as time passed, the Navajo began to change. They learned farming, weaving and pottery making. Members of the tribe were living in homes called hogans raising herds of sheep and goats.
During the 1800’s, the Navajo came into conflict with the Spanish colonists. However, it wasn’t until the United States became involved did war occur.
In 1846, the first treaty was made between the Navajo and the United States government. Unfortunately, disagreements arose and troops were sent in 1849. It was also during this time, that Kit Carson led an extensive war against the Navajo.
Carson was able to take charge and captured 8,000 Navajo. These Indians were led to a reservation called Fort Sumner in New Mexico. This trek to the fort was later called the “Long Walk.”
While at the reservation, the Navajo suffered. Disease, crop failure, and other warring Indians all took their toll on the Navajo tribe. Then in 1868, another treaty was signed allowing them to return to their homeland. The treaty established the Navajo Indian Lands. Later, in 1884 additional land was given the Navajo. Then again in the 1900’s, the land was extended to encompass 4,775,068 acres.
Today, the Navajo Tribal Headquarters is in the town of Window Rock. An elected chairman, vice chairman, and 87 delegates govern the Navajo Nation.
The Navajo Indians are known for their pottery, baskets, silver jewelry and woven rugs.
Canyon de Chelly National Monument is a combination of three gorges measuring 100 miles in length. The gorges were created by a 1,000-foot cut in the sandstone plateau. The canyon also houses five periods of Indian culture dating from 350 A.D. to 1300 A.D. It is the perfect backdrop to Anasazi ruins and Navajo homes. It is located three miles east of Chinle on U.S. Highway 191.
Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is 23 miles north of Kayenta. The valley itself lies in the northern section of Arizona and continues into the southern part of Utah. It contains rolling sand dunes, magnificent mesas, fragile pinnacles, colorful sandstone spires, and arches. This is a very popular site for many movies and commercials. Those interested in seeing these amazing rock formations up close will need to take a guided tour off of the road.
Four Corners Navajo Tribal Park is the only spot in the United States where four state boundaries meet. Visitors can place all fours with an arm and leg in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. There is a visitor center, demonstration center, and picnic area.
Rainbow Natural Bridge National Monument is along the blue waters of Lake Powell. It is the world’s largest natural bridge stretching nearly 290 feet high. Visitors can reach the bridge by way of boat, hiking or horseback. A permit is required for hiking or horseback.
Navajo National Monument includes two of Arizona’s largest Indian ruins. Betatakin and Keet Seel Ruins are pieces from the Anasazi past that have survived over 900 years. The monument is 10 miles north of State Highway 564.
Antelope Creek Canyon is one place that has been photographed time and time again. The canyon has a variety of shades of color that change throughout the day. It is sometimes called, “Cork Screw Canyon.” This spot is not for the weak at heart, one must hike down to the bottom to see its wonder.
Window Rock Tribal Park is a small park at the base of the huge red rock formation. The sandstone has a large hole in the middle making it look as though it is a window. There are trails and picnic areas available. The park was created to honor all warriors during times of war and peace. It is located in the town appropriately named Window Rock.
St. Michael Historical Museum is near Window Rock. The museum is housed in an old mission. It provides visitors a background on the Franciscan influence on the Navajo people.
Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site is 28 miles west of Window Rock. The post is the nation’s oldest known trading post and is still open today. The adjoining Hubbell home shows the history of the Southwest through paintings and Indian crafts.
Kayenta Visitor Center is filled with information on the Navajo Nation and its spectacular sights. There is also a museum with exhibits including artifacts and history of the Navajo culture. Visitors will also find a food court area.
Grand Falls is a spectacular sight. The falls are located on the Little Colorado River east of Highway 89 between Flagstaff and Cameron. These falls are a sight to see especially after a big rainstorm when water is sent cascading over 185 feet of rock terraces.
Fourth of July Celebration and Pow Wow July
Navajo Tribal Fair September
Western Navajo Agency Fair October