The Navajo are one of the largest and most successful tribes of Native Americans, with a thriving culture and language. They live in what is known as the Four Corners region, where the states of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah meet. This area is mainly comprised of the high desert, known for its striking red rock scenery and rugged mountains. This area is known also as Diné Bikéyah, or Navajoland, to its residents.
The Navajo, along with other Athabaskan-speaking peoples, migrated from Canada into the United States in the period from ca. 1100 to 1500 AD, interacting with the Pueblo cultures, especially the Hopi, who previously occupied the region. Although they were initially hunter-gatherers, when they settled in the Southwest, they developed agricultural communities.
Navajo religion is polytheistic. It has elaborate creation stories involving the emergence of the first people from the earth. It emphasizes harmony with society and nature. The Navajo have elaborate ceremonies designed to cure people of mental, spiritual, and physical ills and which often involve the creation of intricate sand paintings.
Navajo art is widely admired and includes jewelry, rugs, and baskets, which are sold to tourists and supplement agricultural and other income. Navajo also serve in the United States Armed Services, and their work as "code talkers" was important in World War II. Casinos and tobacco sales on tribal lands also provide revenue.
Navajo traditionally have a matrilineal social structure and associate in small groups run by local councils.
The novels of Tony Hillerman, which were also made into a TV series by PBS (reference below), have popularized Navajo culture and been enjoyed by many viewers.