The Navajo (Diné) believe that we evolved through various worlds (or earths) to arrive in the current world (the fourth world). The departure of one world and emergence to the next was prompted by an onset of various events. Each world corresponds with a color that represents conditions of that world.

  • First World Black
  • Second World Blue
  • Third World Yellow
  • Fourth World White
The flag of the Navajo Nation

"The Long Walk" to Bosque Redondo

The relationship between the federal government and the Navajo tribe has not always mimicked a fairytale friendship. In 1868, the United States Army forcefully removed the Diné from their homeland in Arizona to travel by foot to Bosque Redondo in central New Mexico

Formation of the Navajo Government 

The September 24, 1922 discovery of oil by the Midwest Refining Company showed the need for tribal government representation to assist the Navajos in their business proceedings. In 1922, a Business Council was organized by Chee Dodge, Charlie Mitchell, and Dugal Chee, who had the power to arrange leases for the tribe.

Livestock Reduction & the Collapse of the Navajo Traditional Economy

July 1933, livestock overgrazing and soil erosion on the Navajo reservation became the Department of Agriculture’s focus. John Collier, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, proposed that the Navajo reduce their livestock holdings in 4-5 years. Sheep allowed the Navajos to survive under the most adverse conditions, thus the plan proved devastating. Livestock reduction struck at the center of the Navajo basic economic and social values.

The first five Chairmen of the Navajo Tribal Council, photographed in 1938.

Left to Right: Marcus Kanuho, Deshna Clah Cheschillige, Henry Chee Dodge (founding Chairman), Tom Dodge (Henry Chee Dodge's son), and Henry Taliman.

Navajo Code Talkers

In May 1942, twenty-nine (29) Navajo recruits voluntarily reported for duty to the U.S. Marine boot camp at Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, California. They would become known as the Navajo Code Talkers after developing an encrypted communication weapon. The Navajo Code was a dictionary of everyday Navajo words used in place of military terms. Each Code Talker had to memorize, encode, transmit, and decipher coded messages in 20 seconds (400 Navajos were trained as code talkers). The Navajo Code Talkers of World War II were honored for their contributions to defense on September 17, 1992, at the Pentagon, Washington, D.C.

Boarding School

In the early 1900s, Navajo children were placed in industrial-based learning boarding schools. These children were instructed in ways the federal government deemed to be “civilized living” with the intent of producing “contributing” members of the United States. However, schools with a military code-of-conduct and strict discipline did not always yield the intended purpose.

Indian Relocation

With the Indian Relocation Act of 1956, the U.S. government provided opportunity for jobs in various urban centers, offering individual Indians and Indian families paid moving expenses and vocational training in exchange to not return to their respective reservations.

Undermined natural resource development and its transition

Over the last century, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) sold oil, coal, minerals, timber and natural gas on Indian lands at below market prices and lacked effective accounting for these resources. Enlightenment of Indian people have led to settlements and renegotiations after lengthy court battles.

Listen, Don’t Talk Series – Photo Courtesy of Kenji Kawano

The state of the Navajo Nation today

The Navajo Nation is diversifying its economic portfolio with the creation of Diné Development Corporation (DDC), the parent holding company of NOVA Corporation and its sister companies, DDC-I.T. Services (DDC-ITS) and DDC-Construction Services (DDC-CS). NOVA Corporation, DDC-ITS, and DDC-CS ensure continued economic development throughout the Navajo Reservation while competing against non-Native business powerhouses. As the Navajo Nation evolves into mainstream corporate growth, its adherence to the legacy of culture and language separate it from its competitors.

Navajo Technical College.