Arizona: Navajo

Map: Arizona, Navajo
Today the Navajo live on the largest reservation in the United States. The number of tribal members ranks second only to the Cherokee.

Unlike most tribes, the Navajo have kept their language alive. Over 97% of adult Navajo speak the Navajo language.

Although much of the land on the Navajo Reservation is arid, historically there have been substantial water resources. For the last hundred years, the land has been used for grazing. Lately, overgrazing and misuse of underground water by power and coal companies have diminished the land and water resources.

The Navajo reservation boasts half a million acres of forest. Oil, gas, coal and uranium are found underground.

The Navajo people believe they are safe within the four sacred mountains that bound their reservation — Mt. Taylor, San Francisco Peak, Blanca Peak, and the La Plata Range. In their creation stories, this is the place of their origins; of their emergence to the surface of the earth from the other worlds below.

The Navajo call themselves “Diné” — The People. About 8,000 lived in the Southwest in 1680.

They came from the North but were influenced by the Anasazi culture, already in place in the Southwest. The Navajo language comes from the Athapascan linguistic family, which originates in Northern Canada and Alaska.

The Navajo were nomadic people in constant search of food for survival. The Navajo overran the Pueblo People in New Mexico and learned farming, weaving, and various crafts from them.

Banditry was the cornerstone of the Navajo economy for many decades. The Navajo were considered to have a keen intellect and adapted themselves by using the tools provided by other cultures. They stole not only ideas, but the craftsmen and artisans of other tribes to teach new technology to their people.

The Navajo were willing to both dominate and accept other cultures and people. This allowed them to become the largest and most pervasive tribe in the Southwest. They took the best of everything and incorporated it into how they developed their society and how they learned to survive.

The Navajo became accomplished horsemen after the Spanish came. They also took sheep and goats from the Spanish and became herders.

The Spanish used the Navajo for slave labor and tried to convert them to Catholicism. This led to continual skirmishes between the Spanish and the Navajo.

The Navajo generally lived in widely scattered buildings called hogans, instead of in pueblo-like communities.

After the U.S. acquired Arizona and New Mexico in 1848, the U.S. tried to wipe out the Navajo.

No More Broken Promises

No American Indian Elder should live in isolation. No American Indian Elder should go hungry.

Generation after generation has broken this promise. It's time to end the cycle.

Change begins with you. You can make a pledge today to remember the history of Native Americans in the United States, celebrate the strength of American Indian culture today, and get informed about how to build strong self-sufficient American Indian communities for tomorrow. Sign the pledge to help keep Native American languages, history, art, culture, and traditions alive!

Sign the Pledge

Over 46,000 people of all creeds and races have signed this simple pledge to Remember. That's a start, but not nearly enough.

Our goal is to reach out to over 100,000 people from all over the United States and the world. We want to create a large, visible community of people who are not only calling for change, but willing to do something about it. Once you sign, we pledge to keep you informed, tell you about opportunities to get involved, and help you remember.

About Partnership With Native Americans subtitle

Partnership With Native Americans is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to championing hope for a brighter future for Native Americans living on remote, isolated and impoverished reservations. Our mission: "Serving immediate needs. Supporting long-term solutions" and our vision: "Strong, self-sufficient Native American communities."

Collaborating for 25 years with our reservation partners, we provide consistent aid and services for Native Americans with the highest need in the U.S. The most important thing PWNA brings to these communities is hope. We adhere to guiding principles that we call "The PWNA Way".

The PWNA Way
The PWNA Way is to reduce immediate need on the reservations, while enhancing existing reservation programs and services. This dual focus builds for today and tomorrow and creates more opportunities for positive change in reservation communities.

Here are the principles that guide our work:

  1. PWNA works with reservation Program Partners who identify the needs in their communities that we can help them address.
    We provide goods and services to our partners and work with them to plan and implement distributions and activities in their communities. This brings immediate relief, addressing basic day-to-day needs and supporting sustainability projects in tribal communities.

  2. PWNA brings Thanksgiving to remote locations.
    PWNA brings Thanksgiving
    to remote locations.

    PWNA helps Program Partners enhance the reservation programs where they work.
    By volunteering with PWNA, the partners learn how to work with outside resources, organize and advertise events, and recruit and coordinate volunteers. Their volunteers also build skills and confidence. This learning benefits reservation programs and builds community capacity for the long run.

  3. PWNA gives preference to rural and remote communities with limited access to transportation and services.
    Many who live on reservations reside in rural areas far away from health care, stores, schools, or employment opportunities. They also lack the transportation needed to get to the nearest town or facility. These are the areas PWNA prioritizes for service.

  4. When a group is selected for service, PWNA strives to serve everyone in the group.
    In addition to need, a group may be further defined by age, location, the partner’s service area or other factors. These criteria make clear who is to receive the service. Using this system helps to avoid any feeling of unfairness or partiality within the community — feelings that could undermine the effectiveness and credibility of PWNA or its Program Partners.

  5. Monetary donations help meet basic nutritional needs.
    Your donations help meet basic nutritional needs.
    PWNA delivers only needed goods and services.
    We work with Program Partners to understand what products are needed and in what quantities, then strive to match those needs with high-quality products. In other words, we do not "dump and run." Dumping goods merely because they are available doesn’t guarantee a benefit. Some goods are unwanted or inappropriate, and this varies by community.

    Delivering the wrong thing at the wrong time or to the wrong place can create a problem for the community. Thus, PWNA only delivers to our reservation partners and only delivers requested goods the partners say will help.

  6. PWNA insists upon program accountability.
    No paper or pencils? PWNA helps students succeed.
    No paper or pencils?
    PWNA helps students succeed.

    We expect our Program Partners to care as much as we do about the goods and services provided. Goods and services must go only to the defined group and be reported on by the partners in a timely fashion. We fulfill our obligations to our Program Partners, and we expect our Program Partners to fulfill their obligations to us.

    We clearly outline expectations as to what a Program Partner needs to do and what PWNA will do for them. Building this line of communication makes PWNA services more effective because everyone’s expectations are clear.

  7. PWNA is also accountable to its donors.
    We take seriously the management of resources that donors entrust to our care. We work efficiently and effectively year-round to achieve the maximum reach and impact from available resources. This enables PWNA to be a consistent resource to Indian country and to the partners who are counting on us.

For more information, contact