Unbeknownst to most Americans, there is a sovereign nation living within the borders of the United States that is somewhat unaffiliated with the national U.S. government. Actually there are a number, but the largest of them and most recognized is the Navajo Nation.
The Navajo Nation is a territory that covers over 27,000 square miles of land in the southwestern part of the United States. They occupy the areas near the corner of 4 states but only occupying in 3 of them, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico. They contain their own government consisting of their own legislative house, executive branch, and judicial government. They have their own law enforcement, social services, health services, college, zoo, educational trusts, and economy.
The Navajo Nation all started following Navajo treaty between the United States and the Navajo tribe. In 1863, the U.S. army rounded up all the Navajo people and forced them into Fort Summer, after 5 years, the U.S. allowed them to go back to part of their homeland. In 1969, the Navajo people created their own government, and called it the Navajo Nation.
Following the Navajo treaty, the United States only gave them part of the land that they occupied. Some Navajo went back to living on the land that they previously did, even though the treaty said it was outside of their boundaries. Much of their homes lied along the Colorado rivers. After years of the territory continuing to expand, the United States started to sell land to the Navajos that they were already occupying.
The Navajo people began to form a committee in 2006 to create a Navajo constitution. Their goal was to create representation for every person in the nation. The first presidential election was held in 2014.
The legislative branch of the Navajo has 24 delegates that represent all 110 chapters of the Navajo Nation.
There are also local governments, more often called leadership. The local governments are formed around the women, and children are born into their mother’s family where they gain status after their mother.
Law Enforcement in the Navajo Nation is enforced by the Navajo Nation Police, Navajo Nation Department of Fish and Wildlife, Navajo Rangers, Navajo Nation EPA Criminal Enforcement Section, Wildlife Law Enforcement and Animal Control Sections, and Navajo Nation Forestry Law Enforcement Officers. U.S. state and federal agencies also are apart of their law enforcement.
The area that the Navajo Nation occupies is the largest Indian reservation in all of the United States. It can be compared in size to the West Virginia. Near the Navajo Nation lies other Native clans, such as the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Jicarilla Apache, the Zuni, White Mountain Apache, Hualapai Bands, and Hopi.
The Navajo Nation isn’t 100% Navajo people in fact. There are about 166,000 Navajo or other Native American people, 3,200 White people, 400 Asian or Islander, 208 African American, and the rest are other identities.
Most Navajo schools are funded by the Navajo Nation government. They are taught primarily in the Navajo language up until third grade when English become part of the learning process. Navajo Nation students also attend U.S. public school system. They have a community college called Diné College, about 1800 students. There is also the Navajo Technical University for those looking to get technical education and certificates.
In the history of the Navajo people, much of their economic status was based on sheep, cattle, wool, yarn, blankets, rugs, turquoise, silver, jewelry making, sand painting, sculpture, and pottery, and craft making. They also now have their own businesses and work force, although about 40% of the people are unemployed.
There are a number of tribal parks in the Navajo Nation. Shiprock Pinnacle is located in New Mexico and is the old remnants of a historical volcano, fabulous canyons, lakes, gorges, and old ruins.
Mining was a major income generator for Navajos. They would mine coal, and uranium, but it has since declined.
The media intake of Navajo made by Navajo include the print media of the Navajo times, which is the largest Native owned newspaper company in the United States. KTNN was a radio station that has info and entertainment for Navajo Nation. There are also a number of other websites and print media for the Navajo people.