APPENDIX I. The Navaho Indian
OF ALL the North American Indian tribes none is more interesting than the Navaho. Occupying a reservation in the northeastern corner of Arizona and the northwestern corner of New Mexico—the largest Indian reservation in the United States, with an area of 12,360,723 acres, or about 19,313 square miles, larger than the states of New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island combined—the Navaho tribe is rapidly on the increase.
While the Navaho are supposed to remain on their reservation, they pay little attention to suppositional requirements. They occupy, in addition to their reservation, about 2,304,000 acres, or 3,600 square miles, of Government and railway land, together with a large portion of the Hopi Indian Reservation. It is said that fully 2,000 Navahos are now living on the lands of the Hopi. I suppose it is owing to the rapid increase in the number of these people, their industrious trading, farming, and sheep-herding occupations, and their peaceable character that they are accorded these freedoms. The Hopis do not seem to need all their land, and little or no objection is made to the presence of the Navahos, and the white people are so eager and anxious for the trade of a thrifty, prosperous, and wealth acquiring race that they welcome, rather than object to, their presence and bartering proximity.
Yet it must not be thought that the Navaho is a weak, subservient, dependent Indian. Even in his trading he is bold, independent, self-reliant, and self-assertive. The most skilful traders on the reservation assure me that they are as alert as the most wide-awake white men, and that the wits of the latter are often taxed to the utmost to keep pace with them. The major portion are honest and reasonably truthful, but they are ready and quick to seize every advantage, and are unscrupulous in dealing with a too-confident, boastful, or ignorant white.
It can scarcely be said of them that they are—what Inspector James McLaughlin, in his admirable My Friend the Indian, terms the Utes — ‘‘„unwhipped.„’’ From time immemorial they are said to have warred upon the Pueblo Indians, and, after the Spaniards settled in New Mexico, upon these invaders also. It was not so much enmity or hostility as ‘‘„benevolent assimilation„’’ that was the motive of these wars. The industrious and
The village, at a short distance, looked like an extensive brick-kiln. Approaching, its outline presented a square with some arrangements for defense. Into this square the inhabitants are sometimes compelled to retreat, with all their stock, to avoid the attacks of the Utaws (Utes) and Navahos, who pounce upon them and carry off their women, children, and cattle. Only a few days since, they made a descent on the town and carried off 120 sheep and other stock. As Captain Cooke passed through the town ten days since, a murder had just been committed on these helpless people.
I saw here the hiding places of the Navahos, who, when few in number, wait for the night to descend upon the valley and carry off the fruit, sheep, women, and children of the Mexicans. When in numbers, they come in daytime and levy their dues. Their retreats and caverns are at a distance to the west, in high and inaccessible mountains, where troops of the United States will find great difficulty in overtaking and subduing them, but where the Mexicans have never thought of penetrating. The Navahos may be termed the lords of New Mexico. Few in number, disdaining the cultivation of the soil, and even the rearing of cattle, they draw all their supplies from the valley of the Del Norte.
This was the common reputation of the Navahos when the Americans first began to come in contact with them. The Mexicans and the Indian tribes dreaded them as a hostile, thieving, quarrelsome, yet brave and daring, people. They were in constant fear, and tried again and again to make treaties with them, which were no sooner made than they were broken.
The United States Government, through its officials in the field, started in on the same plan. Rumors were current that the Navahos had a great and impregnable fortress in the heart of their country; they were reputed warlike and treacherous, and the better and wiser plan seemed to be to conciliate, rather than provoke them to declared hostility.
FIG. 230. ‘‘„Extra„’’ Native Wool Undyed Blanket of Striking Design. (Courtesy of J. A. Molohon & Co.) This weaver never duplicates her blankets. [PAGE 153]
A remarkable speech was made at this treaty which has been preserved. In his negotiations Doniphan outlined the policy of the United States in New Mexico, and he was then replied to by Sarcilla Largo, a young, bright, and aggressive Navaho, as follows:
Americans! You have a strange case of war against the Navahos. We have waged war against the New Mexicans for many years. We have plundered their villages, killed many of their people, and have taken many prisoners. Our cause was just. You have lately commenced a war against the same people. You are powerful. You have great guns and many brave soldiers. You have therefore conquered them, the very thing that we have been attempting to do for many years. You now turn upon us for attempting to do what you have done yourselves. We cannot see why you have cause to quarrel with us for fighting the New Mexicans on the west, while you do the same thing on the east. Look how matters stand! This is our war. We have more right to complain of you for interfering in our war than you have to quarrel with us for continuing a war we had begun long before you got here. If you will act justly you will allow us to settle our own differences.
It was left for ‘‘„Kit„’’ Carson, who served in New Mexico in 1862-6, under General James H. Carleton, completely to break the warlike and treaty-breaking spirit of the Navaho. James F. Meline, in his Two Thousand Miles on Horseback, thus tells part of the story:
Soon after General Carleton assumed command in New Mexico, an eminently respectable deputation of eighteen Navaho chiefs, with keen perspective of indefinite presents, called upon him to know if he would make a treaty. The general is from the state of New Hampshire and characteristically answered their question with another question: ‘‘„What do you want of a treaty?„’’ ‘‘„That we may hereafter have peace.„’’ ‘‘„Well, then,„’’ was the unexpected reply, ‘‘„go home, stay there, attend to your own affairs, commit no more robberies or murders upon this people, and you have peace at once, without the trouble of a treaty.„’’ Treaties, the general informed them, appeared to confuse matters and involved the double labor to the Navahos of making and breaking them. They, the Navahos, well knew they never kept them, and he, the general, was not a child to be beguiled by them. ‘‘„Now,„’’ he continued, ‘‘„go; and if you rob or murder any of this people, so surely as the sun rises, you shall have a war that you may not soon forget.„’’ Navaho, discomfited, said he had never been treated that way before. Refused a treaty! Was such a thing ever heard of? They were good Indians though. They would return to their country and try to persuade their young men to behave. The result was that in a few weeks the robbery and murder of Mexicans began again. Then came a Navaho message that a large number of them were peaceably disposed. This was in the spring of 1863. General Carleton
One feature of Carson's method of warfare Mr. Meline does not comment upon, yet it reveals more than anything else Carson's keen insight into Indian character. Instead of arguing pow-wowing or threatening, Carson acted.
From General Carleton's report, as quoted by Twitchell, we find that in five counties alone, in the year 1863, the Navahos stole 224 horses, 4,178 cattle, 55,040 sheep, and 5,901 goats, besides killing sixteen citizens. Carson's method was to retaliate in kind, but in such swift and merciless fashion as to stun and bewilder the Navahos, unused, as they were, to quick and forceful action on the part of the Mexican soldiers. Carson fought as did De Wet and the other generals of the Boer war. They had no evolutions, no marching battalions advancing upon the foe in lined-up battle-array. Stealthily, in the night, by forced marches in unsuspected places and at undreamed-of times, Carson's men moved and acted, hit suddenly, hit hard, killing all the horses, cattle, sheep, and goats they saw, remorselessly, relentlessly, and swiftly. Carson made war hell to the Navahos, and such swift and persistent hell that they began to realize—as nothing had ever made them realize before—that now they were fighting with men who knew no defeat, and who also knew how to conquer. There is no other way of dealing with an Indian when he has once gone on the warpath.
FIG. 231. Individualistic Design in ‘‘„Extra„’’ Blanket. (Courtesy of J. A. Molohon & Co.) [PAGE 154]
During the time they were kept here the fates seemed against them. Year after year their crops failed. Even at the best they were not expert farmers, and the corn-worm ravaged the few crops they did persuade to grow. The grazing was insufficient to nourish their flocks and herds, and they died in large numbers. Even the natural increase that took place was a disadvantage rather than a benefit, for the mother-sheep, weakened by insufficient food, not only could not nourish their lambs, but they were unable to recover their own strength, and perished. To add to their miseries their hereditary foes, the Comanches and other Indians of the plains, defying the forces of the United States that were supposed to protect them, stealthily fell upon them and punished them severely. Weakened by want of food, stricken by disease, broken in spirit, they were in sorry plight.
Then came Congress to their rescue, under the administration of President Grant. A Peace Commission was appointed, and if any of my readers have felt that my many strictures, written here and elsewhere, upon the criminal wickedness of the white men who were the provoking causes of Indian wars—even those of the Apache and Sioux, as well as the Navaho—have been too severe, I would urge upon them a careful perusal of its report. The Commission claimed (and proved its claims) that in fifty years the United States Government had spent five hundred million dollars, besides the loss of twenty thousand lives, and, it unhesitatingly affirmed, had been uniformly unjust toward the Indian.
June 1, 1867, General Sherman and Colonel Tappan signed a treaty with the Navahos—the terms of which I beg my readers to note carefully—by which they should be returned to their own country in New Mexico and Arizona, Schools should be established and schoolhouses built for every thirty children between the ages of six and sixteen years among them, their education made compulsory, the heads of families given one hundred and sixty acres of land for individual ownership, seeds and agricultural implements, flocks of sheep and cattle, and one hundred dollars the first year, twenty-five dollars the second and third years, with clothing and other articles needed to encourage and aid them in beginning and living a civilized and industrious life.
I have given these promises in the words of Colonel Twitchell. How were they carried out? The flocks were given to them, and some money, clothing, and food. But in the main they have been left to themselves to
It should be noted with gratification, at this time, that there is a decided tendency to improvement in our treatment of the Navaho. And it may be that for many of the past years there has been an earnest desire to help them on the part of the high officials at Washington, which—broadly and generally speaking—was frustrated by the incompetency and inefficiency of the agents and superintendents in the field. I am led to this conclusion by recent personal investigations which have demonstrated that where an agent or superintendent really has the welfare of the Indian at heart, and his knowledge and ability are commensurate with his sympathies, he is left to carry out his plans, not only unhampered by the department in Washington, but, in the main, with their cordial cooperation, sanction, and financial help. At the San Juan Agency, locally known as Shiprock, Superintendent W. T. Shelton took hold of matters with the clearest understanding of any man I have yet met in the Indian service in over thirty years of experience. He perceived, what all other workers with Indians have always learned, that to educate a boy or girl born in a hogan, away from all of the life he, or she, would naturally lead if left alone, and then return such an individual to the original conditions and environment, was to waste time, energy, and money, just as if he were to prepare a beautiful garment, carefully laundering, embroidering, and decorating it, merely to throw it, when completed, upon a dirt pile to be trampled under foot by wild and unclean animals. The simile may seem unduly strong, but it is not any exaggeration upon the actual conditions that Mr. Shelton knew to exist. Hence, he determined to care for the life of the Navaho boys and girls of his school (and other schools) after their scholastic education was completed. With the vigor of the superior man who knows what he wants and how to obtain it he has gone ahead, backed up generously in the main by the department, and has set aside 5,000 acres of land to be used as home plots for the Indians when they need them. This acreage is near enough to the San Juan Agency to allow daily contact with the life of the school and church, and to give the superintendent and teachers opportunity for watchful care and guardianship over their whilom scholars.
As soon as the young people graduate each one is given one of these house plots of five acres and aided in building a house, planting out the ground, and carefully cultivating the crop. Fine sheep, horses, pigs, and oxen have been bought for breeding purposes, and each scholar is given
FIG. 232. Individualistic Design. Same Weave as Fig. 230, (Courtesy of J. A. Molohon & Co.) Showing the fertility of invention in the maker. [PAGE 154]
Being on the reservation, their parents and friends are able to visit them and are encouraged to do so. In this way it is hoped the good influence will spread and the whole tribe ultimately be permeated with the better ways of the industrious white man.
This plan of Superintendent Shelton cannot be too highly commended, and it is one which, if persistently followed, will do more to civilize the Navaho, or any other Indian, than a thousand years of the methods hitherto followed.
There seems to be some conflict as to the number of Navahos now found on the reservation. Their number as given in 1869, when they returned from their banishment at Bosque Redondo, was nearly 9,000. In 1890, though the census is acknowledged to have been faulty, the figures returned were 17,204. That of ten years later gave more than 20,000, and in 1906 the Indian Department reported a rough estimate of 28,500. On the other hand, Father Berard, of St. Michaels, in his An Ethnologic Dictionary, published in 1910, confuses the census of 1890 with that of 1900, assuming that that of 1900 gave the return of 17,204. Hence, he infers that 20,000 is as near as one can now estimate. Still others assert that, as many of the Navahos never submitted to ‘‘„Kit„’’ Carson, and have always lived in more or less inaccessible places, and yet have partaken, directly or indirectly, of the benefits that peace has brought to the tribe, they have increased to such an extent that it would be safe to say there were 35,000 of them.
The report of the Indian Department for 1912 gave the following figures of the Navahos who came under the observation, more or less, of agents and school superintendents at the agencies named. The gross totals are merely estimated and make no pretence to numerical accuracy.
|CHILDREN OF SCHOOL AGE.....||GROSS TOTAL OF CHILDREN AND ADULTS|
|Moki (Keam's Canyon) .....||462||2000|
|Western Navaho .....||1409||6131|
|Pueblo Bonita .....||1221||2685|
|San Juan .....||2500||8000|
|Grand total of children .....||8579||Grand total .....||30356|
While I have no desire to be an alarmist, it seems to me that the Indian Department will some day have a new Indian problem on its hands. As I have elsewhere shown, the Navaho is not confined strictly to his own reservation. He has reached over and seized all the available water-holes, springs, pasture, and corn-land on the Hopi Reservation that are not in the actual occupancy of the Hopis. He has done the same on the Zuni Reservation, and has not a few locations on the public domain. Being prosperous and well fed, he is naturally virile, and the women of the tribe being uniformly healthy and vigorous, families are sure of increase. The ratio of births enlarges as the years go by, and it will not be long before there will be 50,000 Navahos on territory that is none too large as it is. What then? If the Hopi and Zuni demand the clearing of their own reserves, how will the Government meet their demands? If uninterrupted occupation confers certain rights, what will be said to the Navahos when they assert such a claim to springs and land on the public domain? And it must be remembered that the Navahos of this generation know little or nothing of the Bosque Redondo experience, and, in their prosperity, have come to regard themselves as their original name, Di-né, implies—the people. They will prove to be no easy-going, peace-loving tribe who will meekly submit to what they regard as injustice. They will assert what they conceive to be their rights and bravely stand by them, and it behooves our Indian Department and the wide-awake statesmen of the land to begin to consider what course of action can righteously and properly be taken when these contingencies arise.
About the name Navaho, its derivation, significance, and spelling, there has been considerable controversy. Here are the salient facts. The name first appears in literature in Benavides' Memorial to the King of Spain, written in 1630. He there says, after describing the Gila Apaches, that more than fifty leagues north of these—
One encounters the province of the Apaches of Nauajo. Although they are the same Apache nation as the foregoing, they are subject and subordinate to another Chief Captain, and have a distinct mode of living. For those of back yonder did not use to plant, but sustained themselves by the chase; and today we have broken land for them and taught them to plant. But these of Nauajo are very great farmers, for that is what Nauajo signifies—great planted fields.
From the expression, ‘‘„the Apaches of Nauajo,„’’ it is evident that the word Navaho was not given to the people, but was the name of the province or territory in which they lived; or, in other words, the Indians themselves were called Apaches, and their country was called Navaho, until, later, the name Apache was dropped and the name of the territory applied to the inhabitants.
FIG. 233. Simple and Pleasing Design. Generally woven in ‘‘„Extra„’’ quality. [PAGE 154]
The Tewa Indians assert that the name ‘‘„Navahu„’’ refers to a large area of cultivated lands. This suggests an identity with Navaho, which Fray Alonzo Benavides applied to that branch of the Apache nation then living to the west of the Rio Grande, beyond the very section above mentioned. . . . It would seem, at any rate, that the Tewa origin of the tribal designation, Navaho, is assured.
As to the spelling: Father Berard adopts Navaho in his An Ethnologic Dictionary, as did Dr. Washington Matthews in his Navaho Legends, The Night Chant, and all his later writings on these people. These two men are by long odds the chief authorities upon the subject, and the ‘‘„Bureau of American Ethnology,„’’ which is the official guide to all matters Indian in the United States, has formally adopted it; also the ‘‘„Board of Geographic Names„’’ and most leading writers. Why, then, others should object to Americanizing a name which had its origin in this country is to me a perversity and a mystery. Is there any pleasure to be derived from spelling a word so that hundreds of thousands of reasonably cultured Americans will mispronounce it? I am glad to follow the true American style.
In the English pronunciation of the word Navaho the first a is short and sounded as a in ‘‘„hat";’’ the second a is indistinct; the h is strongly aspirated; the final o has its natural sound, and the accent is on the first syllable. Thus, in reading the word, the vowels and the v and h have about the same sound as in the sentence, ‘‘„have a hoe.„’’ The Mexicans place the main accent on the last syllable, pronounce the h slightly guttural and sound the a as in ‘‘„ma„’’ and ‘‘„pa.„’’ The Navahos themselves, when using this name, pronounce it thus: Na-we-hÓ.