Navaho Indians

Navaho Indians, Navajo Indians. From Tewa Navaho, referring to a large area of cultivated land and applied to a former Tewa pueblo, and by extension to the Navaho, known to the Spaniards as “Apaches de Navajó,” who intruded on the Tewa domain or who lived in the vicinity, to distinguish them from other so-called Apache bands Also called:

  • Bagowits, Southern Ute name.
  • Dacabimo, Hopi name.
  • Devaxo, Kiowa Apache name.
  • Dine’, own name.
  • Djene, Laguna name.
  • Hua’amti’u, Havasupai name.
  • I’hl-dene, Jicarilla name.
  • Moshome, Keresan name.
  • Oop, Oohp, Pima name.
  • Pagowitch, southern Ute name, meaning “reed knives.”
  • Ta-cab-ct-nyu-mflh, Hopi name.
  • Ta’hli’mnin, Sandia name.
  • Tasamewe, Hopi name (Ten Kate, 1885) meaning “bastards.”
  • Te’liemnim, Isleta name.
  • Tenye, Laguna name.
  • Wild Coyotes, Zuni nickname translated.
  • Yabipais Nabajay, Garces (1776).
  • Yntilatldvi, Tonto name.
  • Yoetand or Yutahra, Apache name, meaning “those who live on the border of the Ute.”
  • Yu-i’-ta, Panamint name.
  • Yutflapaa, Yavapai name.
  • Yutilatlawi, Tonto name.

Connections. With the Apache tribes, the Navaho formed the southern division of the Athapascan linguistic family.

Navaho Location. In northern New Mexico and Arizona with some extension into Colorado and Utah.

Navaho History. Under the loosely applied name Apache there may be a record of this tribe as early as 1598 but the first mention of them by the name of Navaho is by Zarate-Salmeron about 1629. Missionaries were among them about the middle of the eighteenth century, but their labors seem to have borne no fruits. For many years previous to the occupation of their country by the United States, the Navaho kept up an almost constant predatory war with the Pueblo Indians and the White settlers. A revolution in their economy was brought about by the introduction of sheep. Treaties of peace made by them with the United States Government in 1846 and 1849 were not observed, and in 1863, in order to put a stop to their depredations, Col. “Kit” Carson invaded their country, killed so many of their sheep as to leave them without means of support, and carried the greater part of the tribe as prisoners to Fort Sumner and the Bosque Redondo on the Rio Pecos. They were restored to their country in 1867 and given a new supply of sheep and goats, and since then they have remained at peace and prospered greatly, thanks to their flocks and the sale of their famous blankets.

Navaho Population. Mooney (1928) estimates that there were 8,000 Navaho in 1680. In 1867 an incomplete enumeration gave 7,300. In 1869 there were fewer than 9,000. The census of 1890, taken on a faulty system, gave 17,204. The census of 1900 returned more than 20,000 and that of 1910, 22,455. The report of the United States Indian Office for 1923 gives more than 30,000 on the various Navaho reservations, and the 1930 census 39,064, while the Indian Office Report for 1937 entered 44,304.

Connection in which the Navaho have become noted. This tribe has acquired considerable fame from its early adoption of a shepherd life after the introduction of sheep and goats, and from the blankets woven by Navaho women and widely known to collectors and connoisseurs. The name has become affixed, in the Spanish form Navajo, to a county, creek, and spring in Arizona; a post village in Apache County, Ariz.; a mountain in New Mexico; and a place in Daniels County, Mont. In southwestern Oklahoma is a post village known as Navajoe. The tribe has attracted an unusual amount of attention from ethnologists and from writers whose interests are purely literary.

Swanton, John R. The Indian Tribes of North America. Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 145. Washington DC: US Government Printing Office. 1953.

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