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Navajo Culture

A map of the United States with the Navajo Nation lands shaded yellow in parts of Utah, Arizona and New Mexico

The largest Indian reservation in the United States, the Navajo Nation is a 16-million-acre tract of land in northeastern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico and southern Utah. It is a self-governing entity whose laws are subject to review by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, through the Bureau of Indian Affairs. In the Navajo language the traditional homeland is called Dinetah (“land of the people”) and the Navajo are called Diné, “the people.” The Diné are descended from ancient tribes of hunters and gatherers who later became settled farmers and herders.

In 1863, the U.S. Army was ordered to relocate the Navajo from their land to Bosque Redondo, a reservation in southeastern New Mexico. When the Navajo resisted, the Army burned their fields to starve them off their land, and more than 8,000 Navajos were forced to walk the 800-mile journey to Bosque Redondo. In 1868, the Treaty of Bosque Redondo established the current reservation in the traditional Navajo homeland. When the Navajo made the “long walk” home, they formed a single group that measured ten miles long.

A black-and-white photograph of a group of people, some sitting and bundled in blankets, some on horseback.  At bottom: Two large rock formations with jagged edges, in an empty expanse of land

  A button with Navajo writing on it Find out more about the Navajo language
and learn some key words »

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