Navajo Indians

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Various Spellings: Navajo, Navaho

The Navajo Tribe is primarily associated with  the states of Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico.


Brief Timeline

Mid 1700s: Spanish sent missionaries

1846: Treaty

1846-48: Mexican War

1848: Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo Mexico cede the Southwest to the United States

1849: Treaty

1860: Attacted Fort Defiance

1862: Kit Carson began scorched-earth offensive

1866: relocate with Apache to New Mexico, at Bosque Redondo near Fort Sumner, about 200 Navajos died on the 300 mile trek. - "The Long Walk".  It is estimated 2,000 died while at Bosque Redondo  

1868: granted reservation

World War II: Navajo Code Talkers

Brief History

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, located at Fort Defiance Arizona, remained under New Mexico until that superintendency was abolished in 1874.The Fort Defiance Agency 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.


Additional References to the History of the Tribe

Frederick Webb Hodge, in his Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico, gave a more complete history of the Navajo tribe, with estimations of the population of the tribe at various time periods.

Tribal Headquarters

Navajo Nation
P.O. Box 9000
Window Rock, AZ 86515
Phone: 928.871.6352
Fax: 928.871.4025



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, 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.


  •  1849  September 9,
  •  1868  June 1, removal, reservation

Important Web Sites

Navajo Nation Official Web Site

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. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1906 Available online.
  • Klein, Barry T., ed. Reference Encyclopedia of the American Indian. Nyack, New York: Todd Publications, 2009. 10th ed. WorldCat 317923332; FHL book 970.1 R259e.
  • Malinowski, Sharon and Sheets, Anna, eds. The Gale Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes. Detroit: Gale Publishing, 1998. 4 volumes. Includes: Lists of Federally Recognized Tribes for U.S., Alaska, and Canada – pp. 513-529 Alphabetical Listing of Tribes, with reference to volume and page in this series Map of “Historic Locations of U.S. Native Groups” Map of “Historic Locations of Canadian Native Groups” Map of “Historic Locations of Mexican, Hawaiian and Caribbean Native Groups” Maps of “State and Federally Recognized U.S. Indian Reservations. WorldCat 37475188; FHL book 970.1 G131g.
Vol. 1 -- Northeast, Southeast, Caribbean
Vol. 2 -- Great Basin, Southwest, Middle America
Vol. 3 -- Arctic, Subarctic, Great Plains, Plateau
Vol. 4 -- California, Pacific Northwest, Pacific Islands
  • Sturtevant, William C. Handbook of North American Indians. 20 vols., some not yet published. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1978– .
Volume 1 -- Not yet published
Volume 2 -- Indians in Contemporary Society (pub. 2008) -- WorldCat 234303751
Volume 3 -- Environment, Origins, and Population (pub. 2006) -- WorldCat 255572371
Volume 4 -- History of Indian-White Relations (pub. 1988) -- WorldCat 19331914; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.4.
Volume 5 -- Arctic (pub. 1984) -- WorldCat 299653808; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.5.
Volume 6 -- Subarctic (pub. 1981) -- WorldCat 247493742; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.6.
Volume 7 -- Northwest Coast (pub. 1990) -- WorldCat 247493311
Volume 8 -- California (pub. 1978) -- WorldCat 13240086; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.8.
Volume 9 -- Southwest (pub. 1979) -- WorldCat 26140053; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.9.
Volume 10 -- Southwest (pub. 1983) -- WorldCat 301504096; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.10.
Volume 11 -- Great Basin (pub. 1986) -- WorldCat 256516416; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.11.
Volume 12 -- Plateau (pub. 1998) -- WorldCat 39401371; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.12.
Volume 13 -- Plains, 2 vols. (pub. 2001) -- WorldCat 48209643
Volume 14 -- Southeast (pub. 2004) -- WorldCat 254277176
Volume 15 -- Northwest (pub. 1978) -- WorldCat 356517503; FHL book 970.1 H191h v.15.
Volume 16 -- Not yet published
Volume 17 -- Languages (pub. 1996) -- WorldCat 43957746
Volume 18 -- Not yet published
Volume 19 -- Not yet published
Volume 20 -- Not yet published