Navajo people

ethnic group

The Navajo people (Navajo: Diné or Naabeehó) are a tribe of Native Americans from the southwestern part of the United States. The Navajo tribe has about 300,000 members. It is the second largest tribe in the United States.[1] The Navajo Nation is an independent government that runs a large Native American reservation[2] in parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.[3] Many Navajo live there, but not all of them. Most Navajo speak English. Some speak the Navajo language, The Navajo have many things in common with the Apache tribe and the two groups may share a common ancestry.[a]


The Navajo Nation works to maintain an economy for a population of 250,000 plus members.[5] The discovery of oil on Navajo lands in the 1920s started the tribe towards building a systematic form of government.[5] A tribal government was established in 1923 to deal with oil exploration.[5] The Navajo Nation is currently the largest and most sophisticated form of Native American government.[5] The Navajo Nation has become a wealthy nation in it's own rite.[5]

Code talkersEdit

First 29 Navajo U.S. Marine Corps code-talker recruits being sworn in at Fort Wingate, NM

Navajo code talkers were bilingual Navajo speakers who were recruited during World War II by the U.S. Marines. They served in their standard communications units in the Pacific Theater. The Navajo code was created by the first 29 Navajo recruits in May of 1942. About 400 Navajos were trained as code talkers.[6] Their training was intense and all 17 pages of the code had to be memorized.[6] From 1942 to 1945 Navajo Code Talkers took part in every Marine assault in the Pacific Theatre.[7] Navajos served in all six Marine divisions plus parachute units and the Marine Raider battalions.[7] They transmitted messages on the battlefield including orders, troop movements and logistics.[7] While the Japanese were able to break codes used by the United States Army and the United States Army Air Corps, they were never able to break the Marine codes.[7] Even a Navajo soldier captured during the Battle of Bataan could not figure out the code for the Japanese.[7] Major Howard Connor, a 5th Marine Division signal officer at Iwo Jima stated: "Were it not for the Navajos, the Marines would never have taken Iwo Jima."[7] On September 17, 1992, the Navajo code talkers of World War II were honored for their contributions at the Pentagon in Washington, DC.[7] The long delay was due to the Navajo code being Classified information.[7]


  1. DNA evidence shows a possible common ancestor of both the Navajo and Apache (and other tribes) "if one reaches far enough back in time". It could also be explained by a long period of contact (mixing) between the two tribes.[4]


  1. Stella U. Ogunwole, 'The American Indian and Alaska Native Population: 2000, Census 2000 Brief (Washington, DC: U.S. Census Bureau, February 2002), p. 10
  2. David E. Wilkins, The Navajo Political Experience (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2013), pp. xviii–xix
  3. Lawrence W. Cheek; Edie Jarolim, Arizona (New York: Fodor's, 2004), p. 112
  4. Jessica Dawn Palmer, The Apache Peoples: A History of All Bands and Tribes Through the 1880s (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 2013), p. 28
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 "History". Department of Information Technology, Navajo Nation. Retrieved 7 February 2016.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Code Talking". National Museum of the American Indians. Retrieved 7 February 2016.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 "Navajo Code Talkers: World War II Fact Sheet". History and Heritage Command, United States Navy. Retrieved 7 February 2016.

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