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Ruth Murray Underhill
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Newspaper accounts of the Navajos in recent years have prompted widespread interest in the tribe, its history, and its present condition. In this volume Ruth Underhill presents the absorbing and authoritative account of the Navajos, from the time of their myth-shrouded appearance in the Southwest to their present-day position as America's largest Indian tribe, with a population of 100,000 occupying a reservation of fifteen million acres.
The Navajos, blood relations of the Apaches, once virtually ruled the area now known as Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico, which they robbed with impunity. Unable to tolerate their depredations any longer, Anglo-Americans, Mexicans, and other Indians rose up in protest, demanding the subjugation of the Navajos, who were accused of every crime and held responsible for almost every Indian attack in the area. The job was given to Colonel Kit Carson, who defeated the Navajos in 1864 and moved them to a small reservation at Fort Sumner, where they remained for nearly four years before being returned to their original home.
It was upon their agriculture, sheepherding, and artistry in blanket weaving and silversmithing that the Navajos, now unable to continue their profitable raiding, became dependent during the early, trying days of reservation life. Miss Underhill's careful examination of the complex mythical aura that surrounds the early Navajos offers an interesting insight into their colorful history and rich cultural background, but it is her sensitive portrayal of their adjustment to a new way of life that distinguishes her account of this great tribe. For this printing, the final chapter, "Fourth Beginning," has been rewritten to bring the story of the Navajos up to 1967.
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