The Southwest’s Hidden Gem: Navajo Nation
Join the Cowboy Lifestyle Network team as we explore everything that is the Navajo Nation. We will be deep-diving into their culture, history, athletes, makers, natural wonders, and much more. Welcome to the place where history comes alive. Welcome to the Navajo Nation!
It can’t be a surprise that the Navajo were in present-day America centuries before Christopher Columbus landed in the Americas in 1491. By that time, Navajos had already settled in the Four Corners area of Colorado. However, Navajos weren’t the first inhabitants of the land. According to anthropologists & historians, Ice-Age Paleo-Indian hunters (12,000-6,000 B.C.) roamed the Monument Valley area thousands of years earlier, followed by archaic hunter-gatherers (6,000 B.C-1 A.D.). Evidence of Anasazi in Monument Valley is still visible through their sites and ruins dating before 1300 A.D. But it wasn’t until 1581 that the first Spaniards made contact with the Navajo. From the cultural perspective, Navajos believe they came to their land by emerging through four levels of worlds, to currently residing in the fourth level, the “Glittering World”. For more on Navajo culture, make sure to visit their website.
Long Walk – HWÉELDI BAA HANE’
The Long Walk of the Navajos is a prominent history in Navajo life because it officially established Navajoland upon the release of the Navajos from Bosque Redondo, New Mexico where they were incarcerated in January 1864. At that time the Navajo were forcefully removed from their land due to continued conflict with settlers moving on and surrounding their land.
Navajo Reservation History
Diné Bikéyah (pronounced as Din’eh Bi’KAY’ah), or Navajoland is unique because the people here have achieved something quite rare: the ability of indigenous people to blend both traditional and modern ways of life. The Navajo Nation truly is a nation within a nation. In years past, Navajoland often appeared to be little more than a desolate section of the Southwest, but yet is a mixture of arid deserts and alpine forests with high plateaus, mesas, and mountains. The discovery of oil on Navajoland in the early 1920’s promoted the need for a more systematic form of government when the Navajo Nation became known as a wealthy nation in a world of its own. In 1923, a tribal government was established to help meet the increasing desires of American oil companies to lease Navajoland for exploration. Navajo government has evolved into the largest and most sophisticated form of American Indian government.
Discovering the Navajo Nation
There are so many different aspects of the Navajo Nation that make it special and truly make it an experience in itself. From the casinos and wide open spaces, to some of the best beef in the west, there is so much to be discovered! Today, we are just going to highlight some of those areas then you can look forward to additional articles on each category in the coming months.
*Please note that some locations could be closed due to the pandemic. Please do your own research before visiting the Navajo Nation.*
The Navajo Nation is home to some of the most breathtaking scenery in the United States. These parks are some of Navajoland’s prime tourist destinations and should not be missed when traveling through. From one of the world’s most recognized scenery, Monument Valley, to the majestic cliffs that rise from the brilliant blue waters of Lake Powell, these parks draw in a record number of visitors each year because of their incredible views and natural wonders. There are many entities that make the protection and oversight of these parks possible, some of them include National Park Services, the Navajo Parks and Recreation, Bureau of Land Management & the rest – community control. You can expect full in-depth reviews on these locations later on in this series!
- Antelope Canyon
- Antelope Point Marina
- Bisti Badlands
- Churchrock Formation
- Coalmine Canyon
- Dinosaur Tracks
- Four Corners Navajo Tribal Park
- Little Colorado Navajo Tribal Park
- Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park
- Shiprock Peak
- Wheatfields Lake Recreational Park
- Window Rock Navajo Tribal Park & Veteran’s Memorial Park
- Navajo Nation Zoo & Botanical Park
Nowhere in Navajoland is the blend of past tradition and present culture more evident than at the National Monuments scattered around the Nation. These monuments are home to several periods of Indian culture, and provide a spectacular backdrop for hundreds of ancient Anasazi ruins. Step back in time and capture a glimpse of how the ancient ones lived more than 900 years ago. These monuments are very sacred sites to the Navajo people and should be treated with the utmost respect and reverence.
Come visit one of the many museums within the Navajo Nation to experience the history and culture that makes the Navajo so special. Each museum, though different in many ways, lets you learn and experience the story of the Navajo people and land. Learn about Navajo history, people, culture, government, beliefs, arts, ceremonies, sacred sites and language.
- Ned A. Hatathli Cultural Center
- Navajo Code Talkers Museum
- Explore Navajo Interactive Museum
- Navajo Nation Museum & Visitor’s Center
- Navajo Village Heritage Center
- St. Michael’s Historical Museum
Blending the old world with the new, the Navajo Nation has preserved some of the old west with these Trading Posts that are still in business today. Many of these are located in the original buildings from the late 1800s and have changed only slightly since then. Selling anything from daily use commodities to artistic Navajo textiles (commonly known as Navajo rugs), handmade pottery & art, these stops along the way are a great way to connect with the Navajo culture of yesterday and today.
- The Gap Trading Post
- Tuba City Trading Post
- Toadlena Trading Post
- Hubbell Trading Post
- Foutz Trading Post
- Teec Nos Pos Trading Post
- Totsoh Trading Post
- Shonto Trading Post
- Two Grey Hills Trading Post
- Oljato Trading Post
Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise (NNGE) is a tribally-owned enterprise. Each casino property offers an exciting gaming experience, as well as unique dining opportunities and live entertainment. In addition, Twin Arrows offers a four-diamond resort and award-winning restaurants. Our properties in Arizona and New Mexico showcase the rich Navajo spirit through art, architecture, hospitality, and cuisine.
Since its inception in 2004, NNGE has created over one thousand three hundred jobs with a focus on hiring and training Navajos and has distributed millions of dollars in revenue to both the Nation and State governments. We are proud of each employee that works tirelessly to create an unforgettable experience for guests. We are also grateful for our board, Navajo Nation government, loyal patrons, and surrounding communities that have supported us and our growth. For more information about the NNGE, please click here.
- Fire Rock Navajo Casino
- Flowing Water Navajo Casino
- Northern Edge Navajo Casino
- Twin Arrows Navajo Casino & Resort
In the coming months, you can expect stories spanning far and wide across the Navajo Nation and everything they have to offer. Cowboy Lifestyle Network is proud to share their stories, culture, art, and beauty of the Navajo Nation. Stay tuned!