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Various Spellings: Navajo, Navaho
Population: 1868: 10,000 1990: 220,000
P.O. Box 9000
Window Rock, AZ 86515
The Navajo (Dine', Naabeeho, Navaho, and other variants) are the largest federally recognized tribes in the United States. The Navajo Nation is an independent government body, which manages the Navajo Indian reservation.
Like most groups, the Navajos relate their history to major events which influenced their people and family history information will usually relate to these events.
- Spanish Era (1492-1820)
- Mexican Era (1821-1847)
- Navajo Wars (1848-1868)
- Reservation Era (1868-1927)
- Stock-Reduction (1928-1940)
- Coming Out (1941-1969)
- Self-Determination (1970-Present)
Pre-Spanish contact Navajo history varies somewhat, but it is during these early years that the Navajo clan system becomes expanded. When a baby is born, they belong to the mother's clan and is passed their children. It is custom to introduce one's maternal and paternal clans on both sides when introducing yourself for the first time.
See the information on Navajo Nation, Arizona (Tribe)
- Chinle Agency
- Eastern Navajo Agency (Arizona and New Mexico)
- Western Navajo Agency
- Fort Defiance Agency
- Jicarilla Agency
- Santa Fe Agency
- Shiprock Agency
Bureau of Indian Affairs
The Bureau of Indian Affairs is commonly known as the BIA, and is part of the U.S. Department of Interior since they hold in trust American Indian lands. The BIA also serves 566 federally recognized tribes in the United States. For those that are seraching BIA records, three main National Archives and Records Administration are used:
- Record Group Number 29: Records of the Bureau of the Census
- Record Group Number 48: Records of the Office of the Secretary of the Interior
- Record Group Number 75: Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs
The BIA also has listed a publication by the Office of Public Affairs-Indian Affairs called, "A Guide to Tracing American Indian & Alaska Native Ancestry" which can help guide your research.
There are two types of census records available for people searching American Indian records. The first is the U.S. decennial census records and Indian Census Rolls, both have identical information and some differences. Indian Census records were usually taken each year by agents or superintendents in charge of Indian reservations, then sent to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, as required by an act of July 4, 1884. By 1940 many areas covered under the Indian Census Rolls were soon incorporated into U.S. population census records.
As the result of a number of issues surrounding land, the federal government and especially with the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 (a.k.a Wheeler-Howard Act) which encouraged Natives to determing their membership and enrollement. The question set before Natives was, "Who is an Indian?" To help move the issue along, Blood Quantum was introduced as a requirement for tribal membership, allowing tribes to select the degree of ancestry for an individual to be considered part of a specific tribe. As for the Navajos, 1/4 degree of blood for membership was selected.
For those that were enrolled into a federally recognized tribe were assigned an Indian Census Number unique to each individual. Knowing your relatives' Indian Census Number can be quite helpful when searching the Indian Census Rolls and can help eliminate confussion, but not all Indian Census Roll takers included censuses.
Indian Census Rolls, 1885-1940
The National Archives Microfilm Publication M595 has copies of the the Indian Census Rolls, containing about 692 rolls dealing with a large number of tribes in the United States. It is during this time that Indian Census Roll takers were given instructions to include an individual's Indian and English name. By 1902 instruction was given that families should be given the same surname and that they should translate Indian names into English if they were too difficult to pronounce or remember. If names were too "foolish, cumbersome or uncouth translations which would handicap a self-respecting person should not be tolerated," or derogatory nicknames were dropped and changed.
When searching Indian Census Rolls, be mindful that they are divided into one of four main agencies (Eastern, Southern, Western, Northern, and some smaller ones), others can be found in other tribal rolls (Hopi, Ute, Paiute, and etc).
Online verses Microfilm. Online Indian Census Rolls can be found at Ancestry.com (a pay site), this has all the benefits of searching records from the comfort of home. At this point in time they only have a few Indian Census Rolls available for Navajo records. Searching microfilm at LDS FHL centers (free) can be more time consuming, but can provide more information which is left out by online sites. Online sites only include the names of individuals and leave out a wealth of information at the beginning of the census rolls; which includes special instructions and procedures by the census taker and even census maps.
U.S. Population Census
The United States Federal Population Census records in regards to Navajo Indians varies by area. Since about 1885 until 1930, Natives were required to be placed on Indian Census Rolls, by 1940 they were incorporated into U.S. federal population census records. In some areas Navajos were placed on U.S. federal population census records as early as 1900. As most know, U.S. federal population census records are recorded every ten years and at times can also include Indian Census Numbers and can be helpful in tracking down ancestors.
One major issue when dealing with these records is that many of the Census takers were not Navajo speakers and some relied on translators for information. Navajo at the time these censuses were taken was still in the process of becoming an official written language and so many Census takers phonetically wrote names. Many a times Census takers also wrote generic names for people using Navajo terms such as; "At'eed," (girl); "Ashkii," (boy); and "Asdzaan" (woman).
Historically, Navajo children have attended Bureau of Indian Affair schools (boarding schools), public schools, and contract schools (mission schools). Each of these have their own sets of records, some of which have found their way into archives and historical societies. The Office of Indian Affairs (now Bureau of Indian Affairs) was charged with providing educational opportunities for Navajo pupils and identifying them through school census records and other means. Some of the schools attended by Navajo pupils include:
Pueblo Day Schools
School Census of Navajo Indians in McKinley and Valencia Counties, New Mexico, 1957, 1961. by Martin M. Martinez. Arranged alphabetically by surname. FHL film 1,036,099 item 2.
See also: Agencies for school records
- Eastern Navajo -- 1929-1935
- Eastern Navajo Reservation -- 1937
- Hopi and Navajo Indians -- 1930-1936
- Leupp Agency -- 1915-1917, 1920-1925, 1927, 1929-1935
- Leupp Reservation -- 1937
- Navajo -- 1915, 1936, 1938-1939
- Navajo: (Moqui Pueblo or Hopi, and Navajo) -- 1885
- Northern Navajo -- 1930-1935
- Northern Navajo Reservation -- 1937
- Pueblo Bonito (Navajo Indians) -- 1909-1912, 1914-1924, 1926
- Pueblo Day Schools (Pueblo and Navajo) -- 1912-1919
- San Juan (Navajo) -- 1916
- Southern Navajo -- 1929-1935
- Southern Navajo Reservation -- 1937
- Western Navajo -- 1905, 1915-1920, 1922-1927, 1929
- Western Navajo: (Hopi Indians and Navajo and Paiute Indians for 1929) -- 1937
It is important to know the above names because that is the way they are listed in the Indian Census Rolls collection.
Tribal enrollment for the Navajo Nation is handled through:
Navajo Office of Vital Records P.O. Box 9000 Window Rock, AZ 86515 Telephone: 928-871-6386 or 928-729-4020
Everyone enrolled as a member of the Navajo Nation since 1925 has been assigned a tribal census number. Those records are also maintained by this office.
Questions and Answers about Navajo history, names, culture, bands, etc.,
- Bruchas, Joseph. Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two.
- Paul, Doris. The Navajo Code Talkers.
- Acrey, Bill. Navajo History: The Land and the People.
- Bailey, Garrick and Roberta G. Bailey. A History of the Navajos: The Reservation Years.
- Iverson, Peter and Monty Roessel. Dine': A History of the Navajos.
- Locke, Raymond Friday. The Book of the Navajos.
- Sundberg, Lawrence. Dinetah: An Early History of the Navajo People.
- Underhill, Ruth. The Navajos.
- Benally, Malcolm. Bitter Water: Dine' Oral Histories of the Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute Peoples.
- Benedek, Emily. The Wind Won't Know Me: A History of the Navajo-Hopi Dispute.
- Bailey, Lynn Robison. Long Walk: A History of the Navajo Wars, 1864-1868.
- Broderick, Johnson. Navajo Stories of the Long Walk Period.
- Denetdale, Jennifer. The Long Walk: The Forced Navajo Exile.
- Denetdale, Jennifer Nez. Reclaiming Dine' History: The Legacies of Navajo Chief Manuelito and Juanita.
- Frisbie, Charlotte and David P. McAllester. Navajo Blessingway Singer: The Autiography of Frank Mitchell, 1881-1967.
- Leake, Harvey and Louisa Wade Wetherill. Wolfkiller: Wisdom From a Nineteenth-Century Navajo Sheperd.
- McPherson, Robert S.A Navajo Legacy: The Life and Teachings of John Holiday.
- Turner, Ann. The Girl Who Chased Away Sorrow: The Dairy of Sarah Nita, a Navajo Girl, New Mexico, 1864.
- Brugge, David. Navajos in the Catholic Church Records of New Mexico, 1694-1875.
- Blue, Martha. Indian Trader: The Life and Times of J.L. Hubbell.
- Berkowitz, Paul and Kevin Gilmartin. The Case of the Indian Trader: Billy Malone and the National Park Service Investigation at Hubbel Trading Post.
- Evans, Will. Along Navajo Trails: Recollections of a Trader, 1898-1948.
- Gillmor, Frances and Louisa Wade Wetherill. Traders to the Navajos: ;The Story of the Wetherills.
- Graves, Laura. Thomas Varker Keam, Indian Trader.
- Kennedy, John D. A Good Trade: Three Generations of Life and Trading Around the Indian Capital Gallup, New Mexico.
- Kennedy, Mary Jeannette.Tales of a Trader's Wife: Life on the Navajo Indian Reservation, 1913-1938.
- Moon, Samuel.Tall Sheep: ;Harry Goulding, Monument Valley Trader.
- Richardson, Gladwell. ; Navajo Trader.
- Wagner, Sallie and Mary Tate Engels. Tales from Wide Ruins: Jean and Bill Cousins, Traders.
- Wagner, Sallie and Edward T. Hall.Wide Ruins: Memories from a Navajo Trading Post.
- Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives; Record Group 75, Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
- This page was last modified on 20 December 2013, at 16:14.
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