The Navajo or Navaho are a Native American tribe, the second largest of its kind as federally recognized in the US, the first being the Cherokee. The Navajo people are mostly concentrated in the southwestern states of the United States. Around 300,460 people are enrolled as tribal members according to data available till 2015. There is what we call the Navajo Nation which is an independent governmental body responsible for managing the Navajo reservation. The area under its governance is primarily in the Four Corners area covering 27,000 square miles of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. Arizona is home to around a hundred and forty thousand Navajo people. New Mexico is home to over a hundred thousand. While the primary language spoken by the people is Navajo, they do speak English.
The present leader of the Navajo people is Peterson Zah. He reorganized the tribal government of the Navajo people and became the first president of the Navajo nation in 1990. Mr. Zah is from Low Mountain in Arizona. He has a bachelor’s degree in education from the Arizona State University. He has held political offices in Window Rock, he headed the Dine’beiina Nahiilna Be Agaditahe providing legal help to the tribes of Navajo, Apace and Hopi, was the president of Window Rock Unified School District Board of Directors and has been the Tribal Chairman. Peterson Zah has been recognized as one of the hundred Native Americans with significant contributions to the shaping of American history.
Zah’s predecessor was Annie Dodge Wauneka. Daughter of rancher and Navajo politician Henry Chee Dodge, Annie Wauneka has a bachelor’s degree in public health. She attended the University of Arizona in Tucson and also has an honorary doctorate for her relentless efforts to improve the lives of her people. Annie Dodge Wauneka was the first woman member in the Navajo Tribal Council. She was the Chairman of the Health and Welfare Committee of the Tribal Council. She was also a member of the Advisory Committee dedicated to the health of Indians set up by the Surgeon General of the US. Annie Wauneka was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award by John F. Kennedy but the award was actually presented by Lyndon B. Johnson after Kennedy’s assassination.
Other prominent Navajo leaders were Henry Chee Dodge, the last Head Chief and also the first Tribal Chairman, Manuelito and Hoskininni. Chief Hoskininni was among the first Navajo leaders to have brought the entire tribe together preceding the Long Walk.