White and Navajo Indian Council Fort Defiance Arizona April 20 1891

Navajo Agency

Report of Special Agent Walter O. Marmon on the Indians of the Navajo reservation Navajo agency New Mexico and Apache County Arizona March April and May 1891.

Name of Indian tribe occupying the Navajo reservation: 1 Navajo.

The unallotted area of this reservation is 8,205,440 acres or 12,821 square miles. The outboundaries and some portions of the reservation have been surveyed and subdivided. It was established altered or changed by treaty of June 1 1863 (15 U. S. Stats. p. 667) and executive orders October 29 1878 January 6 1880 and two of May 17 1881. (1769600 acres in Arizona and 967680 acres in Utah were added to this reservation by executive order of May 17 1881 and 16080 acres in New Mexico restored to public domain but again reserved by executive order April 21 1886.)

Indian population June 1 1890: 17,204 including roaming Navajos and children of school age hid away.

The Navajo agency is in New Mexico but the reservation extends into Arizona as well as into Utah. It is convenient therefore to give some particulars as to the reservation as a whole under Arizona. 2

“There is little need to ask what we will do with the Navajos if they lose their reservation. ‘How shall we locate them then’ you inquire. Under the ground instead of on top of it is the only reasonable answer I can frame. Unless mines are found in it the Navajo reservation will probably never sustain as many white men as it now sustains Indians. If good mineral deposits should be found in the Carrizo and Tuincha Mountains where prospectors have recently sought for them the Navajos will of course lose their lands and herds in a very few years and become vagabonds.

“Of the Navajos it can be said that they are neither too proud nor too lazy to work but are willing to earn money at any sort of labor they can find when the Atlantic and Pacific railroad was built through this country 10 years ago much of the grading was done by Navajo laborers and white men working on the line with them have told me that they liked them as companions ‘on the job’; that (unlike Chinamen) they kept up prices and were agreeable fellows to work with. We have employed them at Fort Wingate in making adobes digging excavations etc. and have strange to say found them more satisfactory laborers than the Zuni Indians. Before the Indians who once camped around here were compelled to go on their reservation they performed all manner of domestic services for us. I have often seen a stalwart warrior work all day at a washtub for $1 and when he was in no real need of the money and intended perhaps to devote it to no higher purpose than staking it on a game of monte. Many of them are inclined to be provident. I believe if they knew how to bank or accumulate money they would do it; but apart from the increase of their herds it is difficult for them to amass property. One way they have is in covering their persons bridles saddles etc. with silver ornaments. This is done not so mach for purposes of adornment as for a means of accumulating what Mr. Wenamick calls ‘portable property ‘. One provident Indian silversmith has now deposited in my safe $165. They are said to be inclined to steal from one another and it is necessary that portable property should be kept well in sight. For myself I must say I have never bad a Navajo steal anything from me though I have given them every chance to do so. As you know the Navajos are well to do self-sustaining and prosperous. I have rarely known one to beg.

“There is no notable physical deterioration as yet among the Navajos. Their general health and power of resisting disease seems to me as good now as when I first came among them 11 years ago.

“Consumption and scrofula those worst enemies of reservation Indians have not yet troubled the Navajos.”

Navajo Reservation

White and Navajo Indian Council Fort Defiance Arizona April 20 1891
White and Navajo Indian Council Fort Defiance Arizona April 20 1891
Be-seuta-begai, Kaiga-begai, Dan Dubois, Soldow, Hosteen Yaga, Frank Walker Interpreter, Beochita, Juanico (Hosteen Hoskal), Chee Interpreter, Col. W. G. Marmon Special Agent, Mrs. Shipley, A.D. Shipley Agent, Manuleto, Col. John Donaldson Special Agent, Vinnie Craig, Magie Dubois, G.W. Parker agent, Amelia (No real indication of who was whom, not enough names for amount of people.

The Navajo Indians claim that they came from the north to this region before the advent of the Spaniards at a time when the ancestors of the modern village Indians yet occupied many of the cliff buildings. The names of the bands or clans are as follows: “Man that went armed” “Black sheep” “Close to stream” “Big water” “Meeting of the water” “Blackwood” “Leaves” “Red bank” “Band that escaped “.-D. L. Shipley United States Indian agent.

The Navajos have inhabited the mountains and plateaus of Arizona and New Mexico between the San Juan and Little Colorado rivers ever since they were discovered. By their contact with the progressive Pueblos the Navajos have acquired many useful arts among them spinning and weaving. Their blankets woven in looms are of great excellence and bring prices ranging from $25 to $100. They cultivate the soil raising large quantities of corn squashes and melons. Colonel Baker United States army in 1859 estimated their farms at 20000 acres; their agent’s report for 1875 places the cultivated lands at 6000 acres. Their principal wealth is now in horses sheep and goats having acquired them at an early day and fostered their growth so that they now count their horses by the thousand and their sheep by hundreds of thousands. Notwithstanding the excellence of their manufactures their houses are rude affairs called by the Spaniards jackals and by themselves hogans being small conical huts of poles covered with branches in the summer and in winter with earth. Like the Apaches they made incessant war on the Mexicans who made many unsuccessful attempts to subjugate them. The expeditions against them on the part of the United States by Doniphan in 1846 Wilkes in 1817 Newby in 1848 and Washington in 1849 were practically failures. Colonel Sumner established Fort Defiance in 1851 but was forced to retreat and all other attempts to subdue them were defeated until the winter campaign of 1863 when Colonel Kit Carson killed thousands of them and compelled the remainder to remove to the Bosque Redondo on the Pecos River where 7000 were held prisoners by the government for several years. In 1868 a treaty was made with them under which they were removed to Fort Wingate and the following year they went back to their old home around Fort Defiance and the Canyon De Chelly where a reservation of 5200 square miles was assigned them. They came back reduced in numbers and subsisting on the bounty of the government; no stock save a few broken down sore backed horses a few sheep and goats not to exceed 10000 in all; the unhappy remnant of the once most powerful tribe of the southwest only thankful for the boon of being allowed once more to return to the land of their forefathers. A count made in 1877 put their number at 11768 3000 of whom were said to come directly under the civilizing influences of the agency. In 1877 although they produced largely they were dependent upon the government for two-thirds of their subsistence. In 1890 11012 (enumerated) Navajos lived on that portion of the Navajo reservation in Arizona 5109 in New Mexico and 993 in Utah or roaming. They are entirely self-sustaining. They are a forcible illustration of the success of the Indian as a herder.

In July 1869 in accordance with one of the stipulations of the treaty of 1808 a survey was made establishing the boundaries of the original Navajo reservation 61 miles east and west by 81 north and south the north boundary being the north line of Arizona and New Mexico the reservation lying almost equally in the above named territories. At the same time the valleys were laid off into townships and subdivided into sections preparatory to locating the Indians on lands in severalty in compliance with another section of the treaty.

In November of 1809 a count was made of the tribe in order to distribute among them 30000 head of sheep and 2000 goats. Due notice was given months before and the tribe was present. The Indians were all put in a large corral and counted as they went in. A few herders holding the small herds that they then had bunched on the surrounding hills were not in the corral. The result of this count showed that there were less than 9000 Navajos all told making a fair allowance for all who had failed to come in. At that time everything favored getting a full count; rations were being issued to them every 4 days; they had but little stock and in addition to the issue of sheep and goats there were also 2 years annuities to be given out. The season of the year was favorable the weather fine and they were all anxious to get the sheep and goats and annuities. Once since there was another issue of 12000 sheep. Whatever they now have of livestock more than that number is due to their own care and labor.

The Original reservation which comprised about 5000 square miles in 1869 has been increased from time to time until now it aggregates 12821 square miles; besides Navajo’s in fact occupy the greater portion of the Moqui reservation containing another 5000 square miles. Even this scope of country is not sufficient. Navajo settlements can be found from the Big Colorado River on the west to within 20 miles of the Rio Grande on the east from the San Juan River on the north to the Dahl and Gallinas Mountains on the south an area of country fully 250 miles east and west by 200 miles north and south. Over this immense area they tend their herds and on portions of it raise their crops and are as peaceable and honest as the majority of the people who surround them.

Topography And Resources

Fort Defiance the agency for the Navajos is situated in Arizona 6 miles north of the south boundary of the reservation. A never failing stream of water flows through Canyon Bonita and through the agency lands and forms a junction with Black River about 1 mile south from the agency. The soil in this locality is very rich and produces all kinds of grain and vegetables in great profusion. A number of Indians are settled in the vicinity of the agency and do a little farming very crude and with no system. Black River valley lying just east of the agency is a narrow fertile tract 25 or 30 miles long. It could be made very productive and has sufficient arable land to furnish farms for fully 100 families. Black River would furnish sufficient water for irrigation if properly stored and saved. Small grains wheat rye and barley fall sowed would do well; also corn and vegetables and some kinds of fruits. There is not a fruit tree at the agency. Even a few cottonwood trees planted by the troops while there have been used up or have died from ill use. North of the agency in the vicinity of Washington pass and west of the Tunitcha Mountains there are streams abounding in fish and containing sufficient water to irrigate all the arable land in that section. A few families are settled along these streams and do a little farming raising the finest quality of wheat corn beans pumpkins squashes and melon.

This section is finely timbered pine oak piñon cedar and aspen being in abundance. This could be made a farming as well as a grazing country. Sixty miles north of the agency and south of the Carrizo and west of the Tunitcha. Mountains is another fine valley the Lu-ka-chu-ki through which rums the Lu-ka-chu-kai or Carrizo creek. A number of families are settled along this river who raise wheat corn and vegetables. There are several peach orchards. In this section many of the Indians have built good stone houses and more are anxious to follow the example set them. They complain that they can not get lumber for roofs doors and windows. This valley is over 30 miles long. The river running through it empties into the De Chelly or into the Chinlee River. There is a store on this stream near Round Rock. The traders there say they will buy 200000 pounds of wool this season. Thirty miles east at Sa-lee is located another store where the traders expect to buy 25000 pounds of wool this year outside of the pelt and hide trade. The Carrizo country lying to the north is broken and mountainous. This range runs east and west with numerous small streams and valleys both to the north and south where some farming is clone but it is principally a grazing country.

The Carrizo Mountains are said to be rich in gold and silver ore and the nomad miners threaten to go in and take possession causing not a little apprehension to the Indians and the authorities. I would respectfully recommend that a commission be appointed to investigate this matter and satisfy the government whether this is a valuable Mineral country. That fact established then treat for it; but in the meantime allow no intruders even if it be necessary to quarter a company of troops there permanently.

The Chinlee valley lies about 30 miles west of the agency and is from 1 to 3 miles wide and fully 60 miles long. The climate is mild altitude about 5000 feet. The soil is very fertile and will produce every variety of grain vegetables or fruit of the most favored localities. This valley is covered with old ruins. There are probably 200 families who do a little farming in this valley. The rivers De Chelly and Chinlee which form a junction about 30 miles north from the south boundary of the reservation furnish abundance of water for all purposes of irrigation. In Canyon De Chelly are many peach orchards. These were cut down during the war but grew again from the roots stronger and better than before. Here they raise corn and melons and here the Indians from the mountain districts gather to feast on the good things the toil of the Indian husbandman provides. The trader at Pueblo Colo. stated that some years he bought 200000 bushels of corn from this valley and could have bought more if he had needed it.

The Chasid valley lies east of the Chuski and Tunitcha range about 15 miles east of the agency is from 12 to 20 miles wide has abundance of fine soil and is irrigated in the spring by the numerous streams running from the ranges just mentioned and the melting snows from the mountains. There is an unusually large rainfall for this country. This is the corn valley. In 1860 while surveying a line 12 miles north and south we were in a cornfield the whole way. This was in August and the stalks were higher than men’s heads and the ears of corn a foot or more long. The altitude is about 5000 feet. The Chuski and Tunitcha mountains with an elevation of from 7000 to 10000 feet form the western boundary. This valley extends from the south boundary of the reservation to the San Juan River on the north a distance of more than 70 miles. Numerous springs of good water are scattered through it and along the foothills on the west. The mountain summits are covered with pine timber many small lakes of clear water and abundant grass. The slopes are covered with pine cedar and oak suitable for fuel and I fence posts. In many of the small valleys coming down from the mountains are to be found farms and some peach orchards. Twenty acres of agricultural land here with irrigation and properly farmed would be sufficient for one family. What is true of this valley is also true of the Chinlee Black River Lu-ki-chu-ki Sa-lee and all the other farming localities. All these valleys are covered with old ruins and bear evidence of having at some time long past supported a dense population.

Navajo Family with Flock of Sheep
Navajo Family with Flock of Sheep
Navajo Reservation Arizona August 1891

To the north and west of the agency as far as the San Juan river on the north and the Big and Little Colorado Rivers on the west lies a vast extent of broken and mountainous country cut up by deep canyons and washes with small fertile valleys and wooded tableland sandy wastes and volcanic ridges and peaks many springs and an occasional running stream. This wild section is the home of many Navajos who farm in the valleys and pasture their flocks of sheep and goats and herds of horses and cattle. Here they live from year to year in undisturbed peace very seldom visiting the agency. They seem to be prosperous; their herds are increasing. Here are found fine horses and herds of cattle. The climate is salubrious and while not a farming country in the true sense all crops grow and do well. The nearest trading stores to this section are at Round Rock on the east and at Moencopie and Blue canyon on the west. The Navajos are said to be hospitable and always glad to meet white people yet no agent has visited them. They seem to be as it were working out their own salvation as best they may. The trader at Round Rock stated that a large proportion of the wool he buys conies from this section. Away in the far northwest it is reported that rich minerals exist. In this section west of the De Chelly River garnets amethysts opals and other beautiful stones are found in great numbers. Although geologically speaking this locality is diamond bearing no diamonds have as yet been found. In the territory of Utah and just south of the Colorado River are located the famous Navajo Mountains supposed to be rich in gold and silver but jealously guarded by the Navajos and some Piutes who live in that section.

Off the Navajo reservation to the west over the greater portion of the Marini reservation southwest to the valley of the little Colorado River and beyond to the San Francisco Mountains to the west the Canyon Diablo and the Sunset Mountains on the south are many settlements of Navajos who do a little farming but who are for the most part stock raisers. A few have made permanent locations and desire to secure title to the land. The same is true of those who live south and east of the reservation in. New Mexico in the vicinity of the Alamocita 60 miles south of Laguna where there is a settlement of about 100 who have built good house and located their land. At the Canyon Cozo 15 miles northeast of Laguna about 20 families have filed on land; they have good houses have constructed a large reservoir and are living as their neighbors do. In Water canyon 10 miles north of Cubero are located 5 or 6 families; in the vicinity of San Mateo are others. North of Chaves Mariano a band numbering some 200 or 300 are anxious to locate and obtain patent for the land. At Rameh south of Fort Wingate and. east of Zuñi and in the Chaco canyon and that vicinity are settlements of Indians who farm a little and are making progress in the civilized manner of living.

There is within the limits of this reservation as large a proportion of arable-land suitable for the cultivation of all the ordinary grains vegetables and fruits as can be found elsewhere in New Mexico or Arizona excepting the Rio Grande valley. The greatest altitude does not exceed 7000 feet and the lowest is 4000 feet. The climate is equable and except in the heights the cold is not more severe than in the upper Rio Grande as far south as Socorro. The rainfall and snow is greater than in many other farming sections in southern Utah and southwestern Colorado. In higher altitudes the snowfall and cold are less than in northern Ohio and fall grains wheat rye and barley and the hardier fruits such as apples would do well. A good system of irrigation is required.

Navajo Houses

Navajo Hogan or house
Navajo Hogan or house
Navajo Reservation Arizona August 1891

The common winter habitation of the Navajo is a sort of mud and stick structure in the form of a Sibley tent made by placing 3 or 4 strong forked poles in the ground at an angle at equal distances which are locked together at the top while smaller poles are laid against these at an angle of 450 the spaces being covered with bark or sticks and the whole covered with dirt. A doorway opens to the east. A blanket is used to close it dropping down from the top. The doors are about 2 feet wide and 4 feet high. An aperture is left in the top for the escape of smoke. The fire is built in the center of the “hogan” as the house is called. Hogans are made of different sizes according to the number of people in the family. In the summer they generally construct a shelter of boughs; some of the well to do buy wall or officers tents and use them. These tents pitched amid the trees on some distant hill and suddenly seen along with herds of sheep and horses in the distance make up a scene very refreshing to a hungry traveler and a jaded horse.

Many are building good storehouses particularly in the farming localities. This is notably so in the Chuski Lu-ki-chu-ki and Chinlee valleys and Canyon De Chelly. The generally accepted idea that the Navajos On superstitious grounds will not live in houses is fallacious. Many of them are anxious to build houses and live like white people. One clan the Kin-e-a-nies say that a long time ago their forefathers lived like the white people. The word Kin-e-a-nie means those who live in houses being derived from the word “kin” which means houses.


The principal industry of this tribe is raising sheep goats horses and cattle. I shall give only the return of census district No. 9 which I enumerated: 3

Sheep and goats247,687
Population of district2,313

The Navajos are successful stock raisers. Careful and patient they guard their flocks most jealously. The men and larger boys look after the horses and the women and girls and smaller boys as a rule take care of the sheep herds. They are now emphatically a pastoral people. They have sufficient water abundance of good grass plenty of good protection for herds and a mild climate. It is estimated that the wool shipped this year will approximate 1500000 pounds outside of Sheep and goat pelts.

They own but comparatively few cattle and these do well. Their horses as a rule are not large although the northwest toward Utah they raise fine large horses crosses from stock obtained from the Mormons. They delight in horse races.


This industry takes the second place; large quantities of corn wheat pumpkins squashes melons and beans are raised. Their mode of farming is of the crudest kind; but few use plows. Fruit trees do well here. Many of the Navajos are ready and anxious to become farmers as well as stockmen.


Navajo Women Weaving a Blanket
Navajo Women Weaving a Blanket

The art of weaving blankets belts cloth for women’s dresses footless socks leggings and ties is carried on to a great extent Women do this work and do it well. The Navajo blanket has a national reputation Their looms are very crude in construction and consist of 2 upright posts set in the ground 5 or 6 feet apart and reaching 7 or 8 feet above ground with a ground piece to which the work is attached and a similar piece fastened to the posts above to which the other end of the warp is attached. The figures are all worked in by hand. A large blanket with many designs will require the steady patient toil of 1 woman often 2 or 3 months to complete. Blankets rate in price from $1 to $100 according to size quality and intricacy of design. They dye their own wools; buy zephyr bayetta and other grades used in making the finest blankets. There are always 1 or more blanket makers in each family.

Blacksmithing And Silversmithing

There are numbers of expert workers in iron who make bridle bits; and workers in silver who make ornaments of all kinds worn by the people as well as ornaments for bridles and saddles. Some bridles are valued at $75 and $100 each and have over $50 in silver upon them. There are saddlers among them who make a very serviceable saddle from the saddletree to the last strap as well as bridles and halters. They are ingenious and quick to learn and certainly do remarkably well for persons whose opportunities have been so limited. They as a rule are good workers quick in their movements and soon attain proficiency in suggesting improvements on their methods of industry.


One of the provisions of the treaty of 1808 was that for every 30 families a schoolhouse should be built and a teacher furnished. Up to date there is but 1 school on the reservation and that is a boarding school at the agency with some 50 or 60 children. The boarding school at Fort Defiance appears to be in fair condition. The number of pupils is small which is due mainly to the fear among the Indians that their children will be taken off to Grand Junction or some other distant school without their knowledge or consent. The Navajos are anxious to have their children educated but ask that schools be established on their reservation fit compliance with the treaty of 1868.

Farming in Kansas and Pennsylvania is different from the kind required in New Mexico and Arizona and they ask that a model farm be established at each of these schools where all kinds of fruits vegetables and products may be raised that there their children may be taught practical farming where the parents may visit and see and learn for themselves. They say their medicine men are of little account seldom cure them and they would like to have a white doctor at each of these schools or in their different valleys who would visit them and cure them. They have faith in the white man’s medical skill and in his medicines. Diphtheria 3 years ago was brought among them and is still raging; many have died.


There is no system of irrigation that merits the name on this reservation. There was some work of this kind attempted 3 or 4 years ago but it amounted to nothing.


I have had an opportunity to see the workings of this system and have to say that a police force properly selected fairly paid and under good discipline and discreetly and vigorously used would be a great power for good in the hands of the agent. A good reliable white man on a liberal salary should be engaged as chief of police. This force should be under strict discipline and subject to the same rules as govern the military. Often the agent needs a little physical power to fall back on. His police force should be that power. The best men should he put on the force.

The Liquor Traffic

Tho liquor traffic is carried on to some extent to the east and south of the reservation. The civil authority fails to root out the evil. Navajos buy whisky by the keg and then they come on the reservation and retail it out. The Majority of the Indians are opposed to the traffic but are powerless to stop it.


Good coal veins crop out along the south boundary of the reservation in New Mexico and extend up to San Juan River on the east. The coal belt lies along the east side of the Chuski valley. A number of mineral and warm springs are situated in the same valley in the vicinity of Bennetts Peak. Placer gold is found along the San Juan River but is what miners call “flour gold” and can not be saved. Some iron crops out in Washington Pass and in the Carrizo Mountains where rich veins of gold and silver are also said to exist. In the vicinity of Dwells camp 12 miles north of the agency peridots and garnets are found the former of large size the latter very small but many of them when cut are beautiful.


The Navajo reservation is divided by 2 ranges of mountains into 3 valleys and 2 watersheds. The Chuski Tunitcha and Carrizo form a continuous chain on the west of the Chuski valley from the south boundary almost tine north for 40 miles then in a northwesterly direction to the De Chelly River near the north line of Arizona. This range is fully100 miles long. The Canyon De Chelly range extends south between the Chinlee valley and the Bonita and Black River valleys almost to the line of the Atlantic and Pacific railroad. These ranges are heavily timbered with yellow and spruce pine cedar pinion oak and aspen. The agency sawmill situated 10 miles northwest of Canyon Bonita and in the edge of one of these belts turns out an excellent quality of lumber. Very nutritious grass grows in abundance on the slopes and here is the pasture ground of many herds.


Old ruins of towns are found in every valley and almost on every hill. Some are but mounds of stone and earth with a faint semblance of ever having been human habitations others are in a fair state of preservation but all bear unmistakable traces of antiquity. The most noted are found in the Canyon Do Chelly. These cliff dwellings were built in clefts in the perpendicular walls of the canyon from 50 to 500 feet above its level. They have been investigated by various scientific expeditions including those reporting to the Bureau of Ethnology of the Smithsonian Institution.

Burial Rites and Customs Of The Navajos

Usually when one of their number dies the body is bathed in water in which some herbs and barks have been steeped; then it is clothed with the best garments obtainable; the hair is washed and neatly done up and such ornaments as are usually worn are placed on the body which is then wrapped in blankets and buried in a grave dug in the hogan where the body lies. Sometimes the sepulcher is a cleft in the rocks walled up and covered with stones. Often horses are killed on the death of a Navajo but the custom is growing into disfavor with many of the tribe. One custom is generally observed upon the death of an inmate of a hogan; a door is opened at the west side and all the furniture and blankets are taken out that way and the people go in and out by that door the one to the east being tabooed. While they have a great dread of dead people it is not as great as is often pictured and in fact not more than will frequently be found among white people.


The first question when a proposal of marriage is made is that of the amount of dowry. This is usually decided and arranged by the near relatives of the two parties and is finally ratified by them if satisfactory; if not it is rejected. The woman is free to act; she owns her horses cattle and sheep. What the bridegroom pays at the marriage he can not afterward touch; it belongs to the woman and her children or if she should die goes to her own people where there are no children. She has the same right to leave the husband that he has to leave her and she does not hesitate to use it when she deems the cause sufficient; and when she goes she takes all her belongings as well as her children. The principal causes for separation are adultery on the part of either jealousy and incompatibility of temper; and often when a man takes a new wife without the consent of the first the old one quits him.


Polygamy is practiced to some extent. The women have a good deal to say in this matter and as a rule they are averse to the practice. Sometimes an Indian will marry a widow with one or two daughters and he will marry the daughters when they are old enough; or a man will take two sisters; but the practice is not approved by the majority and its devotees do not care to have white people know that they practice it.


The tribe generally enjoys good health and has increased largely in numbers since the return from Fort Stanton. Around the military fort and the railroad towns some gypsies can be found among the class who live near but out in the farming and pastoral districts there are very few of them. The Indian blood is here kept pure. These Navajos are unusually free from syphilis.

Medicine Men

These men are few in number and are losing their power and influence. They as religions priests have carefully fostered all the tribal traditions deal in all that is mysterious and seek through mysterious influences superstitious and bigotry to rule the people. The tribe has but little respect for them now. Their influence is nearly gone. Their skill as physicians is not great. They have knowledge of herbs and a rude kind of surgery which experience has taught them but all the men and women carry their medicine bags and know the value of many of the herbs and roots. It is claimed that they can cure syphilis and rheumatism by means of herb teas and the sweathouse.


Manuleto, Chief of the Navajos Arizona 1891
Chief of the Navajos Arizona 1891

In 1860 there were 12 clan chiefs and 24 sub-chiefs who signed the treaty. Of these clan chiefs only Manuleto and one or two others remain. The chief’s influence is weak and almost gone. This is due in a measure to the scattered condition of the people. The clans number 12 some authorities claim but 11 while others think there are a few more.

Indian Courts

A properly constituted court for the trial of Indian offenses would be of much service and a source of great assistance to the agent and if conducted as it should be would serve to teach the tribe the white man’s manner of dealing out justice and. give them an idea of law and legal procedure smoothing that they will have to become acquainted with in the near future. Nothing of this kind is in operation at this agency as yet.

Agency Buildings

With the school buildings which are very fair are the original houses put up by the troops under General Canby along in the fifties. Some of them have been pieced up with new roofs. The old corral that did duty in 1860 to hold the Navajos when they were counted is the only corral now in use and here the agency cattle herd is penned. The stable is good enough of its kind; it has been built recently.

The agency should be removed to the Lu-ki-chu-ki or the Sa-lee valley to the San Juan River or some other good locality. It would be better for the school better for the agency and better for the Indians.


The enlistment of Navajos in the regular army has been successful.


The religious belief of these people is made up of a conglomeration of traditions superstitions and. self-evident truths. Faith hope and charity are of their belief. They think their religion not infallible.

Navajo Reservation,

Department of the Interior. Report on Indians Taxed and Indians not Taxed in the United States, Except Alaska at the Eleventh Census: 1890. Washington DC: Government Printing Office. 1894.

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  1. The statements giving tribes areas and laws for agencies are from the Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs 1890 pages 434-445. The population is the result of the census.[]
  2. The following letter under date of August 2, 1891 was written by Surgeon Washington Matthews United States army Fort Wingate New Mexico “I know of no reliable estimate of the number of the Navajo tribe since they were released from captivity at the Bosque Redondo (Fort Sumner) in New Mexico. During their captivity reports of the War and Interior departments at that time gave accurate enumerations of these people. Very few escaped captivity. During their stay at the Bosque their numbers were greatly reduced by disease. Since their return from captivity to their own lands they have undoubtedly increased steadily until about 2 years ago when in one winter some 800 it is estimated died of a disease of the throat the precise nature of which I can not learn. I was not here at the time. Since that epidemic has passed away they have been doing well again. All statements as to their population made in the last 20 years are conjectured.[]
  3. The Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs 1880 pages 472478 gives for the whole Navajo reservation: 80 acres cultivated by the government &coo acres by Indians; 100 rods of fence made during the year; 8000 Indian families engaged In farming or other civilized pursuits; 500 bushels of wheat, 100 bushels of oats and barley, 30,010 bushels of corn, 200 bushels of vegetables, 107,000 pounds of pecan nuts produced; $201 earned by freighting; value of products of Indian labor sold $180,000; stock 250,000 horses and mules, 1,000 burros, 6,000 cattle, 700,000 sheep and 200,000 goats.[]

2 thoughts on “Navajo Agency”

    1. The 1890 census was destroyed in a fire in 1921. In between the census and the fire however, this report was made and printed in 1894. It is all that we have.

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