|The Navajo People: A Brief History|
Navajos do not refer to their mode of living as a way of life; it is the
way of life." According to The Book Of The Navajo by
Raymond Friday Locke. It is estimated that the Navajo Indians entered
and settled in the Four Corner region of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and
Colorado around 1000 A.D. The ruins of a Navajo home site near Gallup,
NM (25 miles south of us) has been dated to 1380. The land the Navajo
live on is sacredlled Dinetah-the land of the People.
First contact with the Spanish was in 1598. The Spanish had come north from Mexico bringing sheep and horses. When they met the Navajos, the Spanish tried to convert the Navajo people to European customs and religion. According to Locke’s The Book of The Navajo, "they (the Navajo) were more interested in the Spaniard's sheep and horses." The Navajo’s resisted the Spanish and in fact allowed the United States to capture the Southwest.
This is a debt however we would not repay or acknowledge.
In 1863, "Kit" Carson ruthlessly attacked the Navajo People burning their homes and killing their sheep. U.S. forces starved them into submission and rounded the Dine` into herds. Later the Navajo people were marched 300 miles across New Mexico. The Navajos were beat and killed arbitrarily for "sport" by Cavalry troops and their Indian allies. At Bosque Redondo the Navajos were imprisoned. They were fed rations of rancid bacon and insect infested flour. Supplies that the U.S. Cavalry troops were going to throw away. Finally in 1868 the Dine` were allowed to return to the four corners area, the land that they loved. They were forced to sign a treaty in exchange for the land that would become the reservation they currently live on. A land that is located in the high desert area of Northwestern New Mexico. There are very few trees which are used for firewood to cook and heat with. The part of the reservation where the recovery home is located is 8600 feet above sea level.
Most of the rest of the reservation is between 7000-8600 feet. Because
this the summers are very hot and windy and the winters cold and harsh.
During World War II 421 Marines of Navajo origin served as "code talkers." They used an encoded version of the Navajo Language to confuse the Japanese who had been "cracking" the codes of the U.S. military. It is estimated that 150-200 of these "code-talkers" are still living.
Today the Navajo Nation is run by a representative government. The people elect a president and vice-president every four years. The chapters (communities) on the reservation work with local issues and ultimately the president of the nation.
Ceremonies are an important way of life. Interestingly enough, for many decades Americans didn’t think the Navajos had any form of worship at all as there is no one word for religion. "The Universe, as viewed by the Navajo, is an orderly system of interrelated elements, all-inclusive unity that contains good and evil."
"The front page of
the Gallup, NM
newspaper has daily
stories in it which are
related to DWI,
alcohol and alcohol
Recovery Home Mgr.
|Cold and Cars-Leading Cause In Native American Deaths|
|"While Native Americans are less likely than other Americans to die of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, their mortality rate from unintentional injuries is more than double the corresponding rates for the United States as a whole. Unintentional and intentional injuries are the leading cause of death for||Native
Americans." The Journal of the American Medical Association,
Between 1980-1989 1,585 Native Americans, a large number of them Navajo Indians ,were killed by unintentional injuries. The three top reasons for death were as follows: Motor vehicle occupants,
struck by vehicles and hypothermia.
According to the JAMA article, "Native Americans are at an especially high risk for both hypothermia and pedestrian deaths in New Mexico. These two disparate categories of death are linked by a common high-risk –alcohol and roadside walking.