The Navajo reservation is the largest Indian reservation in the United States, with some 300,000 people spread across 16 million acres in Arizona, New Mexico, and Southern Utah. The number of tribal members ranks second only to the Cherokee.
The Navajo Nation occupies a large portion of northeastern Arizona, as well as part of northwestern New Mexico and southern Utah. Its capital is at Window Rock, Arizona. The Navajo people believe they are safe within the four sacred mountains that bound their reservation – Mt. Taylor, San Francisco Peak, Blanca Peak, and the La Plata Range. Although much of the land on the Navajo Reservation is high-altitude desert, the area includes 500,000 acres of forest. Oil, gas, coal, and uranium are found underground.
Unlike many tribes, the Navajo have succeeded in keeping their cultural heritage alive. Over 97% of adults still speak the Navajo language, and many tribe members continue to practice the ancient religious and ceremonial ways.
History of Navajo Reservation
The Navajo Indians originally began their tribes in the 1500’s. They traded maize (or corn crops) and woven cotton items such as blankets for things like bison meat and various materials that they could use to make tools and weapons.
The Navajo Indians are considered to be the largest tribe of all Native American Indians. When the Spanish came into their territory in the 1600’s, the Navajo who use their sheep for things like clothing and food. They would set up trading posts within the Spanish towns with their handmade items in order to barter for things that they needed.
Eventually, both the Spaniards and the Mexicans began to take violent action against the Navajo tribes because of their raids on the camps. They sent in military installations to intimidate the tribes, and eventually, about 2/3 of them surrendered to their wishes and moved to new territories, including Utah. For those who refused to surrender, they hid out in the mountains and the canyons to avoid being caught.
The Navajo Indians settled into a reservation on Fort Sumter in the late 1800’s. By this point, they had begun raising sheep, giving them a prosperous and profitable edge. Today the Navajo population is still going strong.