Chief Narbona

Encyclopedia Article


Narbona Primero was a greatly respected and wealthy Navajo man born in 1766 and killed in 1849 in a confrontation with the US Army. He was not technically a chief since the Navajo did not have a central authority or structure of that sort, but he is often mistakenly referred to as a chief by outsiders to the culture.

He gained prominence in the tribe by leading men in several battles against the colonizers and attempts to broker peace. The site of an 1829 battle is named Narbona Pass after this leader, changed from its former name, Washington Pass. He was on his way to sign a peace treaty when he was killed.

Photo Credit: 

"Narbona Primero, sub-chief of the Western Navajo," photograph by Charles Bell. Palace of the Governors Photo Archives Collection (003197). Palace of the Governors Photo Archives, New Mexico History Museum, Santa Fe.

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