A group of over 50 Native American clans, who were originally nomadic hunter-gatherers and, like the related Apaches, originated in western Canada. They moved southwards to the “four corners” area of Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico between the 11th and 15th centuries, displacing much of the native Anasazi culture to the south by the end of the 13th century, and raiding the neighbouring Hohokam to the south. Spanish contact began in 1540–42, and from 1609 Spanish missions worked among them. The Navaho adopted horse-breeding and pastoralism from the Spanish, as well as learning Anasazi weaving skills and Spanish silver-working artistry.
The Navaho often engaged in sporadic warfare with the pueblo (village)-dwelling peoples, such as the Hopi. In the mid-19th century, the Navaho were resettled and most became sheep farmers. They are now the largest single Native grouping in the USA. Their kinship organization is based on extended matrilineal groups, in which women have a high status. Recent discoveries of oil and mineral reserves on their reservation have given them an extra source of material wealth.
Subjects: World History.