The Navajo Nation of North America

With an area of land of 24,129 Square Miles or 17,544,500 Acres, roughly the size of West Virginia, the Navajo Nation is the largest “Indian Reservation” in the USA. The estimated population is of about 350,000 as of 2016.  Originally from the whole of Arizona and Western New Mexico, the Navajo were relocated and concentrated to portions of northeastern Arizona, southeastern Utah, and northwestern New Mexico in the United States. The Navajo called this relocation The Long Walk.

Lands within the exterior boundaries of the Navajo Nation are composed of Public, Tribal Trust, Tribal Fee, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Private, State, and BIA Indian Allotment Lands. On the Arizona and Utah portions of the Navajo Nation, there are a few private and BIA Indian Allotments in comparison to New Mexico’s portion which consists of a checkerboard pattern of all the aforementioned lands. The Eastern Agency, as it is referred to, consists of primarily Tribal Fee, BIA Indian Allotments, and BLM Lands. Although there are more Tribal Fee Lands in New Mexico, the Navajo Nation government intends to convert most or all Tribal Fee Lands to Tribal Trust.

Forbes: Why are Indian Reservations so Poor?

To explain the poverty of the reservations, people usually point to alcoholism, corruption or school-dropout rates, not to mention the long distances to jobs and the dusty undeveloped land that doesn’t seem good for growing much. But those are just symptoms. Prosperity is built on property rights, and reservations often have neither. They’re a demonstration of what happens when property rights are weak or non-existent.

The vast majority of land on reservations is held communally. That means residents can’t get clear title to the land where their home sits.

Economists call the tragedy of the commons: If everyone owns the land, no one does. So the result is substandard housing and the barren, rundown look that comes from a lack of investment, overuse and environmental degradation.

It is estimated the average Native Americans earn an average of $20,000 a year. Unfortunately, this number is offset by an unemployment rate of nearly 45% compared to the US measurement standard yielding a rate of 3.7% as of October 2018…

The Navajo Times article of December 6th: “It’s a real sickening sight,” Teller said. “What happened to the charge of disorderly conduct? Is it still a Navajo Nation law? “Are the judges not doing their jobs?” Teller asked.  “Our jail here in Chinle looks great and magnificent, but it’s just a motel. The drunks are let out at 7 a.m. Then they’re back at Basha’s again begging for money. That’s how things are here. How come this problem is not being worked on?”

Government

Executive Branch: The president and vice-president are elected every four years. The Executive nominates judges of the District Courts, and the Supreme Court.

Nation’s Council Chambers

Legislative Branch: The Navajo Nation Council, formerly the Navajo Tribal Council, is the legislative branch of the Navajo Nation. As of 2010, the Navajo Nation Council consists of 24 delegates representing the 110 chapters, elected every four years by registered Navajo voters. Prior to the November 2010 election, the Navajo Nation Council consisted of 88 representatives. The Navajo voted for the change in an effort to have a more efficient government and to curb tribal government corruption associated with council members who established secure seats.

Administrative Divisions: The nation consists of several divisions, departments, offices, and programs as established by law.

  • 5 Region Agencies
  • Law Enforcement
  • Transportation
  • Health
  • Education
  • Regional commissions

Capital: Window Rock.

Navajo Nation Code Talkers World War II Memorial is located next to the Window Rock

Economy

Key Industries: Agriculture; Service; Manufacturing; Government; Tourism.

Employment by sectors of the Navajo Nation

US Citizenship, Taxation, Voting rights.

On June 2, 1924, President Calvin Coolidge signed into law the Indian Citizenship Act, which marked the end of a long debate and struggle, at a federal level, over full birthright citizenship for American Indians.  As US citizens, they of course have the right to vote in State and Federal elections.

Native Americans have to pay taxes on income that is earned off of the reservation. On reservation it is up to them to file as independent contractors, if they so desire to increase their contributions to Social Security and Medicare.

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