Ancient Navajo and Native Americans Migrations

This is the story of the Diné, The People, as the Navajos call themselves and there migration to Dinétah.

Dinétah is the traditional homeland of the Navajo tribe of Native Americans. In the Navajo language, the word “Dinétah” means “among the people”.

The Navajo, are the largest Native American group in North America.

The Navajos say they came from the north and archaeologists bear them out. From Bering Strait to the shores of Hudson Bay and from the Arctic Ocean to the American line, the native inhabitants are chiefly Athabascans.

Then down the coast of the Pacific, near the coast but seldom on it, little tribes of Athabascan stock mark the trail of a great southern migration which may or may not have brought the ancestors of the Navajos.

‘The earliest inhabitants of America were hunters who migrated from the Asian mainland across the Bering Straits land bridge between 40,000 and 25,000 B.C.E. ‘ (European Voyages of Exploration: Latin America University of Calgary The Applied History Research Group)

Routes if Ancient Americas Migrations

That a land bridge between Asia and North America existed during the last ice age is strongly supported by geological evidence. Ocean water locked up in glacial ice lowered sea levels to the point where a corridor up to 1600km or more wide existed between Siberia and Alaska.

“Long before Euro-Americans entered the Great Basin, substantial numbers of people lived within the present boundaries of Utah. Archaeological reconstructions suggest human habitation stretching back some 12,000 years. The earliest known inhabitants were members of what has been termed the Desert Archaic Culture–nomadic hunter-gatherers with developed basketry, flaked-stem stone tools, and implements of wood and bone. They inhabited the region between 10,000 B.C. and A.D. 400.

These peoples moved in extended family units, hunting small game and gathering the periodically abundant seeds and roots in a slightly more cool and moist Great Basin environment.

About A.D. 400, the Fremont Culture began to emerge in northern and eastern Utah out of this Desert tradition. The Fremont peoples retained many Desert hunting-gathering characteristics yet also incorporated a maize-bean-squash horticultural component by A.D. 800-900. They lived in masonry structures and made sophisticated basketry, pottery, and clay figurines for ceremonial purposes. Intrusive Numic peoples displaced or absorbed the Fremont sometime after A.D. 1000.

Beginning in A.D. 400, the Anasazi, with their Basketmaker Pueblo Culture traditions, moved into southeastern Utah from south of the Colorado River. Like the Fremont to the north the Anasazi (a Navajo word meaning “the ancient ones”) were relatively sedentary peoples who had developed a maize-bean-squash-based agriculture.

The Anasazi built rectangular masonry dwellings and large apartment complexes that were tucked into cliff faces or situated on valley floors like the structures at Grand Gulch and Hovenweep National Monument. They constructed pithouse granaries, made coiled and twined basketry, clay figurines, and a fine gray-black pottery. The Anasazi prospered until A.D. 1200-1400 when climactic changes, crop failures, and the intrusion of Numic hunter-gatherers forced a southward migration and reintegration with the Pueblo peoples of Arizona and New Mexico.”

ddd Archaeologists believe the indigenous peoples that eventually populated the Americas occurred in three separate migrations.The largest of these groups is referred to as the Amerind (Paleo-Indians). The Amerind, which includes most Native Americans south of the Canadian border, commenced around 11,500 B.C..A second migration called the Na-Dene occurred between 10,000 B.C. and 8, 000 B.C.. Even though at this point the Bering Sea separated Siberia and Alaska, it was only three miles wide in some places.

The Athapascan speaking populations of Canada and the United States belong to this group of migrants. The Apache and Navajo in the southwestern United States are from the Athapascan migrants.

The third migration around 3,000 B.C. included the Aleuts and Eskimos of Alaska, Canada, and the Aleutian Islands (Taylor).

According to modern belief The Navajos are descended from that great race which produced Genghis Khan and conquered in his lifetime half the world. While the victorious Mongols were driving relentlessly west and south, making kings and emperors their vassals, some small fragments of their clans were crossing Bering Sea, probably on the ice, and gradually overrunning North America.

Navajo men

Photography by Dane Coolidge NAVAJO TYPES Above: Hosteen Yazzi, Short Man, showing Pueblo influence (left); Hosteen Nez, Tall Man (right). Below: Kia ahni Nez, Tall Kia abni (left); Hosteen Tso, Big Man (right).

There are, many significant facts which, to the student of literature at least, prove an Asiatic origin.The Venetian traveler, Marco Polo, who visited the Court of Kublai Khan in 1275, gives some very interesting accounts of the Mongols,At a later date the French Jesuit, M. Hue, describes the wild tribes of the Grasslands. We have thus a picture of the social life of the Mongols with which to make comparisons.
Both authors agree that among the primitive Mongols the women attended to all the trading.They bought and sold and provided every necessity for their husbands and families: ‘The time of the men,’ as Marco Polo says, ‘being entirely devoted to hunting, hawking, and matters that relate to military life.’

The same is true among the Navajos to-day, as far as the women are concerned.

“Wherever they went — until the white people subdued them — the Dineh’ like the Mongols, were raiders and spoilers. The mystery of the vanished Cliff-Dwellers is a mystery no longer when we know the nature of the warriors who came among them. The Zuñis told Cushing that twenty-two different tribes had been wiped out by the Enemy People, as they called them; and the walled-up doors of proud Pueblo Bonito testify mutely to the fears of its inhabitants.” (Dane Coolidge 1930)

MONGOLS WRESTLING

Photograph by Dane Coolidge NAVAJOS WRESTLING, KAYENTA, 1913

MONGOLS WRESTLING

Photograph from the Central Asiatic Expeditious of the American Museum of Natural History MONGOLS WRESTLING

History of the Navajo

Ancient Navajo and Native Americans Migrations
First Contact with the Navajo – 1540
The Americans and the Navajo
The Mexicans and the Navajo
The Spanish and the Navajo
Navajo Long Walk to Bosque Redondo
Antonio el Pinto Chief of the Navajos

Comments

  1. Let them be whatever they wanna be i guess… all these comments sound so subjective anyways

  2. Emery Yazzie says:

    Ha’taah’lhee’s,say otherwise,, the ancient -Diné language is different from the one we speak now, elders say we did war with the anaa’sazi, and their fighting styles are well known, it is said that the anaa’sazi, exceeded there own sacred religiousTribal laws, practicing other forms of worship, in -Diné ‘ they were báá háá zhid, some what evil, a drought transpired, and brought strong winds, along with the winds they vanished from their dwellings, some adopted into the Pueblos, Contrary to the migration theory, some Diné split of from the southwestern tribes and went North, north being a taboo place, they told to never come back, and they were called , roughly in translation, ( never to be seen again) . On all accounts, the healing process of a patient on the chants speak of the process of the creation of the Diné people, consisting of all elements of nature, no foreigner will except us for who we say we are, they haven’t master the -Diné language yet. Nor will they master the chants to heal a person’s spirit,. They always want to think they are right about everthing, yet they are what’s wrong with everything that’s bad on this planet
    .

  3. Cannot remember which nation/tribes, but read that DNA showed an association with the ancient people of Lake Baikal, Altai Mountains.

  4. Tim Lohrentz says:

    The Navajo journey is complicated coming from east and west, south and north, but only in the last 1000 years from the Canadian coast to their present home. They came to help protect the other tribes from the Enemy People the Zuni spoke of – the Toltec. They surrounded the Toltec remnants who came to be called Hopi. The Athabasca people were part of the main original migration to the Americas about 14000 BCE in boats along the coast – not the land bridge – coming from Japan (Jomon). They stopped in Aleutian Islands for a time, maybe 1200 years, and then made it all the way to southern Chile. Then for several thousand years in northern Chile, then El Salvador, they were part of the Itza Maya formation. In 7500 BCE they moved to Lake Huron, the founding of the Algonquin. But in a deep philosophical disagreement, two youth killed members of a wedding party including young baby. They fled. They were pursued by boat. They could only find safety back in Asia, in kayaks, to the Yenisei River. They mixed with local people and a new people formed. The Athabaska renounced the actions and philosophy of their ancestors at Lake Huron and were allowed by the Algonquin to return to the Americas, maybe by 7300 BCE, where they settled in Alaska and later down the coast.

  5. Remember Eastern Siberia is on the North American continental plate. Eastern Siberia is part of North America, NOT a part of ASIA . Middle eastern origins ? No. Linguistic evidence or Athabaskan connections to Siberian languages have been documented. Navajos resemble Asians , not middle easterners

  6. I don’t think native Americans are Mongolians neither Chinese, Japanese, or korean , asiatic yes but their own race who have their own distinct features and language . I believe that they came from middle east a Canaanite people who mixed with the amorites (imliq) arabs move like the native indians not modern day Asians. The two Canaanites were dravidians and native indians both mixed with amorites and akkadians . You will see both features in jordan one fair and one brown or dark in color with lank to wavy hair .

    It is weird that vikings came to north America by ship how about native Americans ? The chinese came before Columbus as explorers , they were in north America building railway and Japanese also were here at early time any asian dna might be from when those people came to north America during that time

    https://youtu.be/Fhcx5utC6Gg

  7. DeLaine Goito says:

    Wow, impressive information from both sides. However, people accept what they deem to be true to their culture and history and it’s their right. As an African-American may I suggest future in-house discussions for parties affected, ” United (we) stand but divided (we) fall”. There is validity on both sides, compromise, please.

  8. Haskeyaneya says:

    The Real Athabascan, I was an archaeologist working on the Navajo Nation for the Navajo people for nearly 20 years. I saw substantial evidence over those years for the Navajo people arriving well before the Anasazi left, and much evidence of their interaction. What are you basing your opinion on that none of that happened?

  9. The ppl found on that land bridge could have been there at any point in time. How do you know the origin of ppl, humans, isn’t the other way around. Originating here and going out that way? Footprints have been found South of Navajo land that predates the land bridge. Is it really so hard to believe a People can be where they are really from. From this gorgeous land that everyone is laying claim to? Is that so hard to believe? See when you look at Diné history and culture, I mean real Diné history not like you read about in some magazine; I’m talking through ceremony, sweat lodge, etc. these monuments and symbols are here, right here outside your window. The Scared Mountains right here in the Four Corners region today, here and now, and you can visit them and see them and use them for strength. Please stop trying to take that away because all the theories don’t hold water. You can’t make a connection no matter what you do, it’s not for you to know that and we believe in ways what is good and pure. It’s right here intertwined with new technology. It didn’t get displaced; it became part of the new ways yet has the ability to stay traditional. Ever since that first light, Diné Bizaad has had the ability to adapt. It was our relatives that Came Home from a journey; this is where Hózhójí and many other ceremonies, songs first developed. You can’t make a connection, it won’t happen.

  10. I really don’t understand why this should be upsetting news to the Navajo nation. Considering it links them to a people that conquered and ruled over the white man for hundred of years. As well as the known world. How would that destroy or hurt your people in a 100 years?

  11. Brooks Garis says:

    My new historical fascination is the Bering Strait land mass and the pilgrim people who crossed over. Only, the evidence is beginning to show that they didn’t just cross. They started marching from Asia 25,000 years ago, stopped marching and hung out on the Bering Strait for 10,000 years, and then when the ice age glaciers that had blocked their passage east for 10,000 years melted and opened up the route, they continued their migration east to the next land mass as the Native Americans.

    Here’s the thing: they may have entered as Asiatic but the exited as Native American. This team of researchers in Upward Sun River discovered a burial site 11,500 years old that held 2 kids with different moms, one was premature birth and the other was about 3 months old. Their DNA shows no Asian traits and diverse Native American traits. So the eastward moving population from Asia halted long enough in a habitable spot to separate itself from any trace of it’s Asian heritage and produce its own unique genetic diversity before proceeding to populate the Americas.

    The idea of social or societal similarities my simply be that similar circumstances shared by two genetically separate peoples who evolved thousands of years apart found intelligent solutions to suit those similar circumstances. That’s a lot more reasonable than assuming that human behavior unaccountably is so ritualized that thousands of miles and thousands of years distance between one people and another, people who don’t even share a common language yet would have unaltered wrestling styles and that would be sufficient evidence to prove a connection. As likely that cold weather wouldn’t cause people to put on a coat unless they had learned how from some historical connection to coat-wearing ancestors.

    The ‘10,000 year stall’, as the remarkable era of the Bering land mass people is being called, excites the imagination. What remarkable knowledge would have developed among the first Americans in a hospitable homeland where they lived and probably thrived over a period twice as long as our current recorded history?

  12. d'truthsicker says:

    I see some comments saying that if Navajo accepts they are of Mongolian descent they will lose their rights to their land. How different is that from identifying themselves Indians or native Indians… I was told a story by my Navajo friend’s son that a Mexican kid at the school over an argument told the Navajo kid to go back to his country India because Navajo kid and many Native Americans identify themselves and American Indians or Native Indians… Vast majority of Native american tribe websites and facebook pages are called Native Indian and it naturally makes ppl who are not familiar with Native American tribes to think that it is about people of Indian origin.

  13. Thanks Charley for your western-colonial and blatant racist perspective of the Diné peoples. Why should the Navajo need to accept westernized archeological research as truth? Because its scholarly work generated by a white researcher so that must be true? And we are suppose to accept studies controlled by non-natives about Native America? Please don’t spread your colonizing thoughts, it’s perpetuates racism and bigotry. The Diné have their own epistemological ways that differ from standardized western thought, you don’t need to agree, but have some respect.

  14. The navajo will never accept what science has already proven. They will always be the lying thieving people they have always been. They came here with nothing so they raided and stole from other tribes. They still do this up to today so I’m surprised that they don’t want to accept what science has proven. Pow-Wow is not theirs but they claim it to be. Same with peyote and many other things, traditions and cultures stolen from other tribes but yet call it their own. They say they came from a glittering world. Doesn’t that sound like glittery sparkles from snow covered lands, the Bering Strait? I’m sure if research was done or stories told by other tribes, pueblos and plains, their stories would be very similar to each other but different from the navajos whom still believe they came from a special place.

  15. The Real Athabascan says:

    Ice-age Navajo? I don’t think so. Your mapping is inaccurate. It’s clear that path was along the coast within the last 2,000 – 3,000 years ago. You just need to look and trace the linguistic peoples and where they settled.

    I had a chance to meet some tribes along the coast, intimately. I got along with them very well. Compared to some other tribes, not along the coast. I’ve met and went out with some and they seem to get along with us, very well.

    There isn’t one single bit of evidence that the Navajo had any contact with the Anasazi people. I feel sorry for the uneducated people whom believe that the Navajo had contact with the Anasazi (Ancient Pueblo Peoples). They were long gone before the Navajo arrived.

    Peyote eaters are just a waste of time. Peyote was not the way of our Dine People. Our people were too cautious as not to let down our guard.

  16. According to navajo oral history before the time of the last ice age sea levels were higher separating north and south America the climate was perfect in dinetah for peyote to grow, when the ice age happened diné went on a pilgrimage north then west in to Asia to find azhiee (father medicine of all life)-payote. Anasazi does not mean ancient ones as history books state a litteral translation of Anasazi is aná (enemy) sazí ( rooted in the word yazí for small child) they were our small enemys they grew to be 4 ft tall. If you would like to know more about the navajo come see us in monument valley, navajospirittours.com
    As for the diné who are upset with this information I understand the frustration as the diné believe if our language and history is written down it will be lost. That is why I have only given as little information as I have.

  17. *edited*

    Fact or Fiction, the importance of Diné unwillingness to accept these studies is for our cultural preservation. The day we allow scientists and politicians tell us where we come from, and what we are to do with our society is the day the Diné lose all rights to our Lands, Resources, Genealogy, Language and Cultural Practices. We would seize to exist as an Independent people. Let alone our society being appropriated from our Cultural Arts and Customs. Being made a mockery,and looked at as Backwards. Although all these problems exist today, these wounds can be mended and Navajos can be on their own path again.
    To sustain a staunch standing against other Tribes in our region State and Federal Governments. It’s necessary for us to be The Original peoples to these lands. It’s the only foot hold we have to preserve our Cultural Identity which is obviously at a tipping point. Sociologist say our stories and costumes will be lost with my generation. Our Language Diné Bizaad will disappear with my Son’s generation. By the time his Children have children my Great Grand Children, there will no longer be full-blooded Navajo people. In affect within the next 100 years the Diné peoples may very well be in its Death Throws.
    I know by doing these works you seek to help my people in some way or another. The sad truth is, these findings are very counter productive to our current situation. I appreciate your point of view and your article. Obviously it’s not what we believe, and this isn’t our history. Now you know why Navajo’s will be irate, rude, and generally condescending to this theory. Not because we don’t like the findings, but accepting them could very well be the beginning of the end.

    Something for you to look into, is that the Anasazi had disappeared and it’s generally accepted they somehow returned as the Pueblo peoples. Navajos, say the Puebloes are I fact the Descendants of the Aztecas. The Aztecs after eradicating a Large portion of Anasazi took the rest as slaves. Eventually some Aztecs didn’t return to Mexico, but remained to start a new society from the Anasazi ruin. This obviously is a rebuttal to Hopi’s ambitions to their modern day land grabs. Saying they were here first, when they weren’t.
    Professionals usually ask “there’s very little Archeological evidence that the Navajos were here as long as the Hopi.”
    “Why?” You might ask.
    It’s because our teachings and traditions tell us not leave a foot print behind after one leaves this Earth, in fact its customary burn everything we can’t take with us.
    Our strict Oral Tradition is Very Accurate, because of this we know we saw the emergence of the Pueblo people. We did have to contend with them and had subdued many attempts by them to take our lands for their agriculture. Being stubborn and sedentary people we didn’t accept this on our territory and actually seeking to remove them completely.
    When the Hopi’s in particular had almost been completely annihilated. We had listened to their women’s cries for mercy, and allowed the to live on the Mesas if they wanted to stay.
    They and many others were spared, but of course we had taken reparation for war in the way of their women. We, being a predominantly Matriarchal society saw the ruin in allowing the Hopi Women to retain there Cultural Identity so we made new clans with Navajo names obviously so our language will be primarily used by later generations.
    We’ve adopted many peoples through out history this is just one story from my region. I’m sure there’s plenty more. Both these Areas of Research, Recorded by an Archaeologist, Sociologist and/or Genealogist would greatly benefit my people. It would lead to a greater incite to how long both Navajo/Apachean tribes interacted with the Pueblos.

  18. i really enjoyed your article. I am currently researching Navajo’s and where they came from, for a term paper I am writing for archaeology. I for sure am going to cite you in my paper. I am also interested about the DNA linkage, how did that work, hmmm.

  19. Paul Swartzendruber says:

    Ben,
    I gather from your comments that you are Navajo.
    During my 8 years in Mongolia, I was constantly amazed at the linkage between you and those fine people. In fact, on hearing of the DNA linkage, they were very excited AND PROUD to be your kin. Several weeks later, a Navajo dance team came over and really wowed the folks there.
    Some young Mongolians were our guests one evening and we put “The Wind Talkers” in the VCR (this was back in the mid 90’s). During the opening scenes when the young Navajos were boarding the bus to go off to World War II, one of the Mongolian ladies among our guests gasped and pointed to one of the women seeing the bus off. “She’s Mongolian!”

  20. Navajo did not migrate from the north, this is a white man assumption. I hate when white tells us this.
    we been here since beginning of time!

  21. The picture of the Navajo men wrestling is fantastic!

    We are an organization that is collecting information regarding the history and rules of traditional indigenous wrestling forms across the globe: Tigel in Ethiopia, Laamb in Senegal, Glima in Iceland, Bokh in Mongolia, Kushti in India, etc…

    We have been seeking information regarding traditional wrestling within the Native American communities.

    Do you know of the rules and history of traditional Navajo wrestling?

    Wrestling Roots
    http://www.wrestlingroots.org
    wrestlingroots@yahoo.com

  22. Gary Levin MD says:

    Very nice, Harold…cannot wait to see the rest of it . When?
    gary

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