The Navajo Nation, or Diné Bikeyah, is a 24,078 square mile sovereign land base that extends across Arizona, New Mexico and Utah and represents 36 percent of all Indian lands in the continental United States. Over 300,000 people call the Navajo Nation home, many of whom are among those Native Americans who serve in the United States Armed Forces at a rate five times the national average. For more than one hundred years, Diné have served with distinction in every major conflict the United States has ever fought. The Navajo Code Talkers, for example, were instrumental in helping the United States win World War II.
But the United States and Navajo were not always on the same side.
In 1848, the Army initiated a scorched earth campaign against the Diné that in 1863 devolved into their forced relocation known as the “Navajo Long Walk,” in which Kit Carson’s soldiers forced 11,500 Diné to walk as much as 450 miles to a concentration camp in Fort Sumner, New Mexico. In 1868, the Navajo became the only Native Nation to use a treaty to escape removal and return to their home, enabling the Diné to return to their homeland within their four sacred mountains: Sisnaajiní, or Blanca Peak in the east; Tsoodził, or Mount Taylor in the south; Dook’o’oosłííd, or the San Francisco Peaks in the west; and Dibé Nitsaa, or Mount Hesperus in the north.
The Naal Tsoos Sani, or Treaty of 1868, is the contractual agreement between the U.S. government and the Navajo Nation, key to preserving our sovereignty, and the basis of our government to government relationship with the United States.