The Navajo Nation, the largest semi-autonomous territory within the United States

The Navajo Nation, officially Naabeehó Binahásdzo but which its own citizens commonly refer to as Dine Bikeyah either navajolandis a semi-autonomous territory within the United States that covers 71,000 square kilometers, approximately the same area as Belgium and the Netherlands together.

It is the territory of the Navajo tribe in which some 166,000 natives (Navajos and other tribes) live today, and which extends through the states of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico, although it is not part of them. Nor is it a state in itself, although if it were it would be larger than 10 of those that make up the United States.

It has its own government, president, parliament, judicial system, and security forces, but all decisions made by these bodies must be approved (in practice, this implies that they can also be vetoed and invalidated) by the Secretary of the Interior of the government of the States. Joined. In that sense it actually has less autonomy than if it were a state.

Location of the territory of the Navajo Nation | photo Navajohistory on Wikimedia Commons

The territory was granted by the United States to the tribe by the Navajo Treaty of 1868 as a trustthat is, ceding the administration but not the property, so that in practice it does not belong to them, they cannot sell it, buy it or rent it.

The agreement was reached four years after the Navajo were forcibly displaced and interned in Bosque Redondo, a reservation in southeastern New Mexico, which turned out to be a complete failure. Deportation is known by the name of long march of the Navajo, and consisted of up to 53 forced marches similar to the Trail of Tears that the Seminoles, Cherokees, Choctaws, Creeks, and Chikasaws had suffered three decades earlier. By then the tribe’s population had dwindled, due to disease and starvation, to about 2,000 individuals.

Navajo Nation Council Chamber / photo William Nakai on Wikimedia Commons

Thus, in 1868 they were allowed to return to their homelands establishing the Navajo Nation, in exchange for annexing them to the Union. At first they were granted the 14,000 square kilometers that stretched between their four sacred mountains.

Subsequently, throughout the final decades of the 19th century and the first decades of the 20th until 1934, the territory was expanded through executive orders confirmed by the US Congress to its current extent.

It is significant that the treaty establishing the Navajo territory precedes the admission of Utah as the 45th state of the Union by 28 years and the admission of New Mexico and Arizona as the 47th and 48th states respectively by 44 years.

Flag of the Navajo Nation / photo Gerd Müller on Wikimedia Commons

The Navajo Nation has its own flag, adopted on May 21, 1968 and designed by Jay R. Degroat who was the winner of the contest called for that purpose. In it the four sacred mountains are represented surrounding the map of their territory with the national emblem in the center. A rainbow symbolizes the sovereignty of the Navajo people.

Small minorities of Caucasians, Asians, and African-Americans also live in the territory of the Navajo Nation, making up 4 percent of the total population. The total number of members of the tribe is recorded at about 300,048 registered (as of July 2011). In order to be a member of the tribe, it is necessary to accredit a quarter of Navajo blood and obtain a certificate issued by the Office of Indian Affairs.

Window Rock / photo Ben FrantzDale on Wikimedia Commons

The capital and seat of government is the town of Window Rock (in Navajo Tséghadoodzáni), located in Apache County, northeastern Arizona. The name derives from a rocky arch, near which stands the representative chamber of the council of the nation, which has a special mystical meaning for the tribe.

Curiously, the territory completely surrounds that of another tribe, the Hopi, who have their own self-government and constitution, established in 1936.

One of its main resources, along with oil, is tourism. Some of the most outstanding national monuments and natural areas are located in the Navajo Nation, such as Canyon de Chelly, Monument Valley (famous for being the setting for numerous movies), the Rainbow Bridge (considered one of the natural arches largest in the world), and even the easternmost part of the Grand Canyon.


Navajo Nation Government (official website) / Navajo Nation / Quora / Wikipedia.

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