History of the Navajo Indians of Utah

Taken from the Utah History Encyclopedia (Links Added)
The Navajo Indians in Utah reside on a reservation of more than 1,155,000 acres in the southeastern corner of the state. According to the 1990 census, more than half of the population of San Juan County is comprised of Navajo people, the majority of whom live south of the San Juan River.

*Scholars still debate when the Navajo entered the Southwest. Some argue that by the fourteenth century, the Dine, or the People, were migrating into the Four Corners region as the Anasazi departed. Navajo lore is replete with stories of interaction between the two native groups. Most anthropologists agree that by the end of the 1500s the Dine were spread throughout northern New Mexico, a portion of southern Utah, and part of northern Arizona. They also concur that the Navajos migrated from northern Canada with other Apachean peoples, who are linguistically related to Athapaskan speakers. Studies suggest the separation between northern groups and those migrating south occurred around A.D. 1000, and that the division between Apaches and Navajos happened about three to four hundred years ago. However, these are only rough estimates and often vary widely.

Navajo beliefs reject these ideas, saying that there is no evidence in their oral tradition of this movement. Instead, their religion teaches that they traveled through three or four worlds beneath this one and emerged into this sphere in the La Plata mountains of southwestern Colorado or the Navajo Dam area of northwestern New Mexico. The gods created the four sacred mountains--Blanca Peak and Hesperus Peak in Colorado, Mount Taylor in New Mexico, and the San Francisco Peaks in Arizona--preparing them as supernatural boundaries within which all was safe and protected. In addition, the gods also established four rivers, one of which was the San Juan, to serve as defensive guardians. This river played an important role in some of the Navajo chantway myths and functioned as a clear line of demarcation between Navajo and Ute territories.

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