Northern Navajo Frontier 1860 1900

Northern Navajo Frontier 1860 1900

Northern Navajo Frontier 1860 1900

Northern Navajo Frontier 1860 1900

Synopsis

McPherson argues that, instead of being a downtrodden group of prisoners, defeated militarily in the 1860s and dependent on the U.S. government for protection and guidance in the 1870s and 80s, the Navajo nation was vigorously involved in defending and expanding the borders of their homelands. This was accomplished not through war nor as a concerted effort, but by an aggressive defensive policy built on individual action that varied with changing circumstances. Many Navajos never made the Long Walk to Bosque Redondo. Instead they eluded capture in northern and western hinterlands and thereby pushed out their frontier. This book focuses on the events and activities in one part of the Navajo borderlands-the northern frontier-where between 1860 and 1900 the Navajos were able to secure a large portion of land that is still part of the reservation. This expansion was achieved during a period when most Native Americans were losing their lands.

Excerpt

The need for a history of the northern Navajo frontier has existed for a long time. Although writings about the Navajo are extensive, little detailed information has been published about the northern part of the reservation largely because it is considered peripheral to many of the tribe’s major events. Early recorded histories of this area often portray the Navajo as either a helpless nuisance to the white settlements along the San Juan River or as aggressors who preyed upon lonely victims. Few authors have delved deeply enough to realize that the Navajo pursued a general course of action which allowed them not only to survive but at times to prosper during the Euro-American advance of the late nineteenth century frontier of the Four Corners area.

My interest in their story began in 1976, when I started working for the Utah Navajo Development Council, and later, as a teacher for the College of Eastern Utah—San Juan Campus. As snatches of Navajo stories from the old days started to surface, it became apparent that the people I worked with had both an intense interest and a strong cultural pride in the deeds of their forefathers. Unfortunately, the mists of time covered much of their history. The paucity of accurate, published information spurred a search that led to government records, oral histories, settlers’ accounts, and public records. Because of the early time period under investigation (1860–1900), I depended heavily on written sources, but when feasible, I also interviewed and discussed with Navajo people living in the Four Corners area, the impressions received from information found in the documents. The result is, I hope, a book balanced in its presentation and judicious in its interpretation.

Special thanks is given to my mentors, Ted J. Warner and Thomas G.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.