Navajo Nation Chapters
The United States and the Navajo people do not have a pleasant history. As with all other Native American tribes across the content, the Navajo were subjected to incredible persecution, neglect, and downright hostility. This lasted between when Europeans first came to the United States, and some argue that it is still going on today. Despite all of this however, the Navajo have struggled to continue their traditions even into the 21st century. One important part of doing that is the continued recognition of the Navajo and their use of land.
Though the Navajo once inhabited most of the southwest, their lands are now a much smaller region located just to the south and west of the four-corner region of the United States. Let’s take a look at the Navajo Nation, as well as its national chapters. In addition, we will take a look at how the Navajo Nation formed, and continues to operate in the present day.
A Brief Look at the History of the Navajo Nation
The Navajo Nation came into existence in 1868 and was originally called the Navajo Indian Reservation. Over the course of the next 50 years, it would be slowly expanded until it hit its present form. Now covering over 27,425 square miles, the Navajo Nation is an autonomous Native American governed territory. Its size makes it the largest land area assigned to native inhabitants inside the United States. It is the largest and most well organized group of Native Americans in the United States.
The Navajo Nation Chapters
Existing over such a large area, the Navajo Nation is broken down into a number of Navajo Nation Chapters. In all, there are five major agencies. Taking up most of the west is the Western Agency. In the center of the Navajo Nation is the Chinle Agency. Directly south of the Chinle Agency and to the east of the Western Agency is the Ft. Defiance Agency. Along the eastern border is the Eastern Agency. Finally, in the north center of the Navajo Nation is the Shiprock Agency. Within each agency is dozens of chapters (similar to counties) that speak for the local tribes that comprise the Navajo Nation. Each Agency along with its chapters is its own administrative divisions. In the center of the Navajo Nation is the Hopi Reservation, which is not a part of the Navajo Nation.
Chapters and Divisions
Chapters are divided up according to a number of different things. First, there is the tribe of Navajo living in the area. These tribes form population centers, with individual unique cultures. As a result, it is easy to break up Chapters based on individual size and cultural identity. In addition, there are the numerous geological features that help separate population centers and chapter borders. Mountain chains and long swaths of prairie help to separate the few population centers and rivers in the area. What is left is a land of breathtaking beauty.
Various parts of the Navajo Nation have economies unique to other regions. This is because some areas of land are rich in coal and uranium. As of 2005, uranium mining is prohibited. However, there are still many things supporting the Navajo National economy, including coal, sheep, cattle, yarn production, blanket, and rug production. There is also a vibrant market in turquoise and silver jewelry production. Sadly however, many chapters in the Navajo Nation report staggering high unemployment. Depending on the chapter, unemployment can range from 15 to 85 percent.
Each Navajo Nation Chapter has its own president, vice president, secretary, grazing representative, and council delegate. In addition, depending on the chapter, there may also be a community service coordinator, wear-house operator, and assistants. Each chapter offers services unique to the Navajo residents they serve. This can cause there to be dramatic change in services depending on what Chapter you live. In addition, the general wealth of the chapter fluctuates depending on where it is and the resources they have available to them. Some chapters even include mission statements and special community assistance.
Membership in a chapter as a citizen only requires you be allowed to live in the area. However, to be a full tribal member and have full citizenship, you must have a certain amount of Native American Blood in you. If you are a quarter or more Native American, then you can be eligible for enrollment and citizenship. Of all the Navajo Nation Chapters, there are 173,987 Navajo citizens, representing just over 58 percent of the total population. In total, there are just over 300,000 people spread across all of the Navajo Nation chapters. Finally, the biggest minority groups in Navajo Nation include Paiute people, Hopi, and Anglo-Americans.
If you are interested in learning more about the Navajo Nation Chapters and its people, then consider this the first step and good luck.