The Navajo People call themselves Dine’, which means “people of the surface of the earth.” The Navajo Nation is the largest Native American group in the United States today, numbering over 250,000 people. They speak Navajo, which is in the Athabascan language family..
The history of the Navajo in the southwest is a remarkable one. Small hunting and gathering bands of the Dine migrated south from from western Canada over a long period of time, arriving in the Southwest between 1300 and 1500 A.D. They settled first in north-central New Mexico where they came into contact with the various Pueblo peoples already living there. From the Pueblos they learned agricultural, and adopted new elements of religion, social organization, and art. By the late 1600s the Navajo had also acquired livestock through trade and raiding expeditions on the Spanish.
The farming and pastoral (herding) lifestyle developed by the Navajo after their arrival in the Southwest was unique among the Native American peoples. It was also very successful, and as their population grew, the Dine began to occupy other parts of the Colorado Plateau; areas that had been abandoned by the earlier Anasazi farmers.
The U.S. government created the Navajo reservation in 1868. The reservation is the largest Native American reservation in the United States. The Navajo Nation is comprised of 110 local government Chapters. The central government of the Navajo Nation is comprised of three branches (executive, legislative, and judicial) and is located in the city of Window Rock, Arizona.
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