Navajo Rug Appraisal Co.
The Navajo Nation
The Navajo Nation (Dine'é in Navajo language) is a Native American sovereignty. The Navajo Reservation covers about 27,000 square miles (70,000 square kilometres, 17 million acres) of land, occupying all of northeastern Arizona, and extending into Utah and New Mexico, and is the largest land area assigned primarily to a Native American jurisdiction within the United States. Members of the nation are often known as Navajo (or Navaho) but traditionally call themselves Diné (sometimes spelled in English as Dineh) which means people.
The 2000 census reported 298,215 Navajo people living throughout the United States, of which 173,987 were living within the Navajo Nation boundaries, 131,166 lived in Arizona and 17,512 of these lived in Maricopa County, which includes the city of Phoenix. Because the Navajo Nation encompasses land in three states, its Division of Economic Development extracts census data for the Navajo Nation as a whole, and sends a representative to the Census Board. Another group lives on the Colorado River Indian Tribes reservation along the Colorado River in California and Arizona.
Other Amerind tribes are located in this area, including several Pueblo nations: Congress established a Hopi (Navajo, Oozéí, or Ayahkinii "underground-house-people") reservation within the Navajo reservation at an historic homeland where Hopi history predates that of Diné in the area. Adjacent or nearly adjacent to the Navajo Reservation are the Southern Ute of Colorado, the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe of Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico, both to the north; the Jicarilla Apache to the east, and other tribes to the west and south. A conflict over shared lands emerged in the 1980s, when the Department of the Interior attempted to relocate Diné living in the Navajo/Hopi Joint Use Area. The conflict was resolved, or at least forestalled, by the award of a seventy-five-year lease to Diné who refused to leave the former shared lands.
Trade between the long-established Pueblo and the Apachean peoples became important to both groups by the mid 1500s. The Spanish noted that the Pueblos exchanged maize and woven cotton goods for bison meat, hides and material for stone tools. There was also some trade (and raids) between the Spanish colonists along the Rio Grande valley, especially in sheep and horses. Francisco Vásquez de Coronado observed Plains people wintering near the Pueblos in semi-established camps. The Spanish first mention the "Apachu de Nabajo" (Navajo) in the 1620s, referring to people in the Chama valley region east of the San Juan River. By the 1640s, the term was applied to Athabaskan peoples living in what is now Western New Mexico and Eastern Arizona.
The Navajo Nation is divided into five Agencies (which match the five Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) agencies which support the Nation) and 110 Chapters, analogous to counties. The Navajo Nation Council presently consists of 88 delegates representing the 110 Chapters, elected every four years by registered Navajo voters. As reorganized in 1991, the Nation's government at the capital in Window Rock has a three branch system: Executive, Legislative, and Judicial.
The United States still asserts plenary power to require the Navajo Nation to submit all proposed laws to the United States Secretary of the Interior for Secretarial Review, through the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Most conflicts and controversies between the federal government and the Nation are settled by negotiation and by political agreements. Laws of the Navajo Nation are currently codified in the Navajo Tribal Code. The Bureau of Indian Affairs maintains five Indian Agencies within the Navajo Indian Reservation: Chinle, Eastern, Western, Fort Defiance, and Shiprock. The Agencies provide various technical services under direction of the BIA's Navajo Area Office in Gallup, New Mexico.
Local and federal law enforcement agencies that routinely work within the Navajo Nation include the Navajo Division of Public Safety, with the Navajo Nation Police (formerly the "Navajo Tribal Police"), the BIA Police, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation
The Navajo governing council continues a historical practice of prohibiting alcohol sales within reservation boundaries. Navajo residents who drink alcohol often obtain supplies in nearby cities, such as Gallup, Grants, New Mexico, and Cortez, Colorado. For some visitors of the area — often attracted by the Indian jewelry trade, by tourist attractions or by Interstate Highway 40 that passes through the area — heavy traffic to off-reservation liquor stores, and the public drunkenness that often follows have created impressions that drunkenness seems to describe Indian culture. Leaders and some member groups actively oppose the sale of alcohol, and have taken several measures to find and offer treatment for those members who are suffering from alcoholism.
There is no private land ownership within the Navajo Nation - all land is owned in common and administered by the Nation's government. Leases are made both to customary land users (for homesites, grazing, and other uses) and to organizations, including the BIA and other federal agencies, churches and other religious organizations, and businesses.
Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley, Jr. addressed the Navajo Nation Council in the annual State of the Navajo Nation Address on January 24, 2005 and presented his conviction to develop a new governing document for the Navajo Nation. President Shirley, who campaigned to return government to the Diné by government reform, stated that the document must establish the structure and authority of a central government. The Navajo Nation, being organized under a code, is subject to the Bureau of Indian Affairs unlike some other Indian nations that do not need BIA approval for most actions.
Until 2004, the Navajo Nation had declined to join other Native American (indigenous) nations within the United States who have opened casinos. That year, the nation signed a compact with the state of New Mexico to operate a casino at To'hajiilee, near Albuquerque. Navajo leaders also negotiated with Arizona state officials in talks that could lead to casinos near Flagstaff, Lake Powell, Winslow, Sanders (Nahata Dziil Chapter), and Cameron (Grand Canyon entrance).
The Black Mesa and Lake Powell railroad serves one of the coal mines in the Dine region, carrying coal to the Navajo Generating Station at Page, Arizona. Another mine in the area, Peabody Energy's Black Mesa coal mine near Kayenta, a controversial strip mine, was shut down on December 31, 2005 for its emission credits. This mine fed the Mojave Generating Station at Laughlin, NV, via a slurry pipeline that used water from the Black Mesa aquifer..
Culture and education
The Navajo Nation runs Diné College, a two-year community college which has its main campus in Tsaile in Apache County, as well as seven other campuses on the reservation. Current enrollment is 1,830 students, of which 210 are degree-seeking transfer students for four-year institutions. The college includes the Center for Diné Studies, whose goal is to apply Navajo Sa'ah Naagháí Bik'eh Hózhóón principles to advance quality student learning through Nitsáhákees (thinking), Nahatá (planning), Iiná (living), and Sihasin (assurance) in study of the Diné language, history, and culture in preparation for further studies and employment in a multi-cultural and technological world.
Housing and transportation
Due to the reservation's remote geographic location, many structures do not have telephone or public utility services and lack complete kitchen or plumbing facilities. However, infrastructure development has grown by significant leaps through the years, affording Navajo families the modern conveniences of DSL, satellite television and even wireless access in some communities. The government subsidized phone program has brought even the most remote locations of the reservation in contact with the rest of the Navajo Nation.
Roads within the reservation vary in condition. Most federally operated U.S. highways are in excellent condition year-round and are suitable for vehicles of any size. Roads are generally unpaved in many rural areas and small villages. In the central parts of the Navajo Nation, near the Black Mesa (Arizona), roads are often only poorly maintained, and are sometimes in nearly unusable condition after very heavy rains. In general, except for the most remote regions, road conditions in the Navajo Nation are usually acceptable for routine use.
Diabetes mellitus is a major health problem among the Navajo, Hopi and Pima tribes, about four times higher than the age-standardized U.S. estimate. Medical researchers believe increased consumption of carbohydrates, coupled with genetic factors, play significant roles in the emergence of this chronic disease.
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