Traditionally, the People were forbidden to marry into the first two clans; today they are still strongly discouraged from doing so. K’é also extends to the natural world and the gods. The People are always among relatives.He or she belongs to his or her mother’s clan. He or she is born for his or her father’s clan. He or she has maternal and paternal grandfathers’ clans.Reichard, Gladys A. Social Life of the Navajo Indians: With Some Attention to Minor Ceremonies. Appendix: Navajo Genealogies FS Library film 0001307 WorldCat
Guide to Navajo family history, and genealogy census, school, and agencies and their records. The Navajo Nation is 27,000 square miles and the nation has over 320,000 tribal citizens living in 110 chapters or communities.As the United States gained control over present-day New Mexico and Arizona, they began assigning religious groups to the different tribes. Mainly the Bi’ee’adaałts’isi (Presbyterian or Protestants) were assigned to the Navajo reservation.
As stated previously, the superintendent of Indian affairs oversaw Indian agents. As for the Navajo Nation, at times superintendents were at odds as to whom held authority over areas occupied by the Navajos. Neighboring superintendents also assisted governing superintendents over the Navajos. Over time territorial boundaries also shifted and changed. The New Mexico and Arizona Superintendency are the main record holders for Navajo information. The National Archives Microfilm Publication M595 has copies of the Indian Census Rolls, containing about 692 rolls dealing with a large number of tribes in the United States. It is during this time that Indian Census Roll takers were given instructions to include an individual’s Indian and English name. By 1902 instruction was given that families should be given the same surname and that they should translate Indian names into English if they were too difficult to pronounce or remember. If names were too “foolish, cumbersome or uncouth translations which would handicap a self-respecting person should not be tolerated,” or derogatory nicknames were dropped and changed. For more information about searching these records see more The majority of records of individuals were those created by the agencies. Some records may be available to tribal members through the tribal headquarters.They were (and are) the local office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and were charged with maintaining records of the activities of those under their responsibility. Among these records are:
Just like any other civilization, precautionary steps were taken to limit intermarriages among immediate family members. The Navajo established family clans, with the maternal line being the predominant line. When introducing oneself, a Navajo will provide their parent’s clan and typically their maternal grandfather and paternal grandfather’s clan, establishing their place in the world. Knowing one’s clans is just as important as knowing the names of past ancestors and goes hand-in-hand with genealogical research. For a more detailed list of clans, a short history, and a brief introduction, click here, clans.As a result of a number of issues surrounding land, the federal government and especially with the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 (a.k.a Wheeler-Howard Act) which encouraged Natives to determine their membership and enrollment. The question set before Natives was, “Who is an Indian?” To help move the issue along, Blood Quantum was introduced as a requirement for tribal membership, allowing tribes to select the degree of ancestry for an individual to be considered part of a specific tribe. As for the Navajos, 1/4 degree of blood for membership was selected. The Navajo Nation’s reservation boundaries have been changed since the original reservation boundaries were established in 1868. At the same time, governmental guardianship over these lands has changed. Currently, the Navajo Nation is divided into five agencies (Chinle Agency, Eastern Navajo Agency (AZ) and Eastern Navajo Agency (NM), Western Navajo Agency, Fort Defiance Agency, and Shiprock Agency) governing a specific geographical area, with the seat of government located in Window Rock, Arizona. Each of these agencies are further divided into smaller political units called Chapters, the number of Chapters have fluctuated over the years, but there are roughly 110 Chapters. Typically, Chapters do not carry documents containing family history information, and most will refer you to the Navajo Nation offices. In addition to this, many of the documents held at the agencies have also been transferred to National and Regional archives throughout the United States. The Navajo (Naabeeho, Navaho, and other variants) are the largest federally recognized tribes in the United States, or known among kinsmen as Dine’. The Navajo Nation is an independent government body, which manages the Navajo reservation.For those that were enrolled into a federally recognized tribe are given a Certificate Degree of Indian Blood or CIB and are assigned an Indian Census Number unique to each individual. Knowing your relatives’ Indian Census Number can be quite helpful when searching the Indian Census Rolls and can help eliminate confusion, but not all Indian Census Roll takers included censuses. At times the U.S. decennial census taker would include Census Numbers in their records.Since multiple tribes lived in territorial boundaries, agents were created to govern one or more tribes or geographical areas. Indian agents were appointed by the President with the approval of the Senate. Agents were to report to the Superintendent, but at times records were sent directly to Washington D.C.When searching Indian Census Rolls, be mindful that they are divided into one of four main agencies (Eastern, Southern, Western, Northern, and some smaller ones), others can be found in other surrounding tribal census records (Apache, Hopi, Ute, Paiute, and etc).The United States Federal Population Census records in regards to Navajo Indigenous People varies by area. Since about 1885 until 1930, Natives were required to be placed on Indian Census Rolls, by 1940 they were incorporated into U.S. federal population census records. In some areas Navajos were placed on U.S. federal population census records as early as 1900, and are usually limited to Natives living in or around border towns. As most know, U.S. federal population census records are recorded every ten years and at times can also include Indian Census Numbers and can be helpful in tracking down ancestors. The Navajo Reservation is located in three different states, covering a number of counties. Each of these areas have resources available to the public to search for ancestors.One major issue when dealing with these records is that many of the Census takers were not Navajo speakers and some relied on translators for information. in addition, Navajo at the time these censuses were taken was still in the process of becoming an official written language and so many Census takers phonetically wrote names. Census takers often wrote generic names for people using Navajo terms such as; “At’eed,” (girl); “Ashkii,” (boy); and “Asdzaan” (woman) or Hastiin (mister or man).
United States and Native American relations began with the first acts of the Continental Congress in 1775 which passed several ordinances dealing with indigenous people. The first was to divide administrative responsibility into three geographical districts (northern, central, and southern) with the creation of a superintendent to govern the affairs between Congress and the Native peoples. It was often the case that ex officio superintendent of Indian affairs was usually held by Territorial governors who would help negotiate treaties and obtain titles to Native American lands.By the late 1800s, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka Mormons) began moving into and settling southern Utah, Arizona and western New Mexico. The Navajos called these people Gaamalii (meaning: the fat ones that are coming). Mission records, missionaries and settlers wrote a number of journals and diaries that can include Navajo family names. Baptismal records and Church membership records are harder to come by and are usually limited to Church members only. But, baptismal and Church membership records in earlier times are very limited as to the fact that when Navajos were incorporated into the Church, the Church did not have plans of establishing or maintaining religious contact with the Navajos unless there was a dire need.The BIA also has listed a publication by the Office of Public Affairs-Indian Affairs called, “A Guide to Tracing American Indian & Alaska Native Ancestry” which can help guide your research.The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) was then created in 1824 as part of the War Department, to govern the affairs between settlers and Native peoples. Originally called, Heads of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, this title was later changed to Commissioner of Indian Affairs and has since been changed to Assistant Secretary of the Interior of Indian Affairs. When Natives were no longer considered to be a threat, the BIA was then transferred to the Department of the Interior in 1849, and continues to this day. Newspapers provide a wealth of information besides local happenings; birth, death, and even marriage information can be found in local newspapers around the Navajo reservation. Each paper is held at a variety of libraries, depositories, and institutions in different states. Here is a list of newspapers around the reservation that deal specifically with the Navajo, but are not limited to this list: The Bureau of Indian Affairs is commonly known as the BIA, and is part of the U.S. Department of Interior since they hold in trust Native American lands. The BIA serves 573 federally recognized tribes in the United States. For those that are searching BIA records, three main National Archives and Record Administrations are used:
Reporter Shondiin Silversmith covers Indigenous people and communities in Arizona. Reach her at [email protected] and follow her Twitter @DiinSilversmith.In Navajo culture, Changing Woman, a revered Navajo deity, created the Navajo people. When she was about to leave on her journey back to the West, she gifted them with four clans.
Traditionally, Yazzie said, when a child is born and presented to its mother, the mother greets the newborn by telling them their maternal clan, followed by the paternal clan.Today, there are more than 100 clans among the Navajo people. Tracy said each clan comes from different parts of the Navajo Nation, with their own meaning and a story behind them.Originally there were four clans created by Changing Woman but overtime clans have been added by non-navajo to recognize new American Indian Groups adopted by Navajo people.