The Navajo Nation: Background information when reading Yellow Dirt

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Yellow Dirt

An American Story of a Poisoned Land and a People Betrayed

by Judy Pasternak

Yellow Dirt
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2010, 336 pages
    Jul 2011, 336 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Stacey Brownlie

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Beyond the Book:
The Navajo Nation

The Navajo Nation is a semi-autonomous political and cultural entity within the United States which covers northeastern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico and parts of southeastern Utah. This is part of the area known as the Four Corners region, where the borders of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah meet, which became USA territory in 1848 after the Mexican American War. At about 26,000 square miles it is the largest land area assigned primarily to a Native American jurisdiction in the USA, and larger than 10 of the 50 states. The Navajo people refer to themselves as Diné ("the people"); Navajo is a Spanish word. The center of government for Diné Bikéyah (Navajoland) is in Window Rock, Arizona.

The basis of the present-day Navajo Nation was created by treaty with the U.S. Government in 1868. Four years earlier, in what is known as the "Long Walk", the Navajo had been forced off their traditional land and marched at gunpoint for 18 days to what is now Fort...

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