Navajo Nation

Encyclopedia Article


Although the Navajo Nation can in some senses refer to the Navajo Reservation as a territory, and in other senses to the Navajo as a people, the Navajo Nation is a specific reference to the governmental entity that engages with other nation-states in the management and negotiation of Navajo tribal sovereignty. In this sense, the Navajo Nation can incorporate elements of territorial sovereignty as well as the cultural bedrock comprised of Navajo traditional lifeways and language, but it is a distinct governing body that participates in the political, economic, educational, and social realms at a transnational, and sometimes international, level on behalf of the Navajo people.

On April 15, 1969, the Navajo tribal government officially rejected the U.S-designated assignation of "tribe" and self-identified as "nation." From that point forward, governing bodies such as the Navajo Tribal Police became the Navajo Nation Police

Photo Credit: 

"Sign at Resistance Camp, Big Mountain, AZ, circa 1989," photograph, (mss857-0004). Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico.

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