The Navajo Tribe is primarily associated with the states of Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico.
The Navajo Agency of the Office of Indian Affairs was created in 1851 and was under the jurisdiction of the New Mexico Superintendency. Even when the Arizona Superintendency came into existence in 1863, the Navajo Agency remained under New Mexico until that superintendency was abolished in 1874.
The early Navajo Agency was located at Fort Defiance, Arizona and continued to operate there even after the superintendencies ceased to exist.
Currently there are five agencies of the Bureau of Indian Affairs administering the government's programs with the Navajo Nation -- Chinle Agency, Eastern Navajo Agency, Fort Defiance Agency, Shiprock Agency, and Western Navajo Agency. Each of these agency offices maintain the standard records required by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, so far as they apply to the Navajo Nation. A few of the records no longer in use by the local offices have been transferred to the Pacific Regional Archives of the National Archives and Records Administration in Laguna Niguel, California.
The Navajo Nation created their own government in 1923 to handle their own business affairs. When the Indian Reorganization Act was passed in 1934, they chose not to reorganize under its authority, since they already had a tribal government. It was also felt that the requirements of the new act was unduly complicated.
The Navajo government is run by a tribal council with elected officials from chapters in each of the agencies.
The earliest census taken under the auspices of the Office of Indian Affairs was enumerated in 1885. Many of the census records thus recorded have been microfilmed and are available at the National Archives, all of the Regional Archives of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), and at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. This set of Indian Census Rolls also are available online at Ancestry.com, which is a subscription web site. In order to locate the correct roll, one must know the residence of the family being sought. The following census rolls were recorded for the indicated agencies within the Navajo Nation. The names are as recorded in the microfilm copy created by the National Archives on their Microcopy M595 (692 rolls).
- Eastern Navajo -- 1929-1935
- Eastern Navajo Reservation -- 1937
- Hopi and Navajo Indians -- 1930-1936
- Leupp Agency -- 1915-1917, 1920-1925, 1927, 1929-1935
- Leupp Reservation -- 1937
- Navajo -- 1915, 1936, 1938-1939
- Navajo: (Moqui Pueblo or Hopi, and Navajo) -- 1885
- Northern Navajo -- 1930-1935
- Northern Navajo Reservation -- 1937
- Pueblo Bonito (Navajo Indians) -- 1909-1912, 1914-1924, 1926
- Pueblo Day Schools (Pueblo and Navajo) -- 1912-1919
- San Juan (Navajo) -- 1916
- Southern Navajo -- 1929-1935
- Southern Navajo Reservation -- 1937
- Western Navajo -- 1905, 1915-1920, 1922-1927, 1929
- Western Navajo: (Hopi Indians and Navajo and Paiute Indians for 1929) -- 1937
It is important to know the above names because that is the way they are listed in the Indian Census Rolls collection.
Tribal enrollment for the Navajo Nation is handled through:
Navajo Office of Vital Records P.O. Box 9000 Window Rock, AZ 86515 Telephone: 928-871-6386 or 928-729-4020
Everyone enrolled as a member of the Navajo Nation since 1925 has been assigned a tribal census number. Those records are also maintained by this office.
Historically, Navajo children have attended local public schools, day schools, boarding schools and mission schools. Each of these have their own sets of records, some of which have found their way into archives and historical societies. The Office of Indian Affairs (now Bureau of Indian Affairs) was charged with providing educational opportunities for Navajo pupils and identifying them through school census records and other means. Some of the schools attended by Navajo pupils include:
- Pueblo Day Schools
- Intermountain Indian School
- St. Michael's School
This is a very incomplete list of such schools. It does illustrate different types of schools available to Navajo children.
Important Web Sites
Questions and Answers about Navajo history, names, culture, bands, etc.,
- Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives; Record Group 75, Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
- Hodge, Frederick Webb. Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico.
- Swanton, John. The Indian Tribes of North America.