Glen Canyon Dam and the Navajo Indians

The Native American tribe that has suffered many cultural effects induced by the operation of the Glen Canyon Dam is the Navajo Nation. In order to assess the overall impact of the Glen Canyon Dam on the Navajos, we must first attain a general understanding of the Navajo. The Navajo Nation primarily inhabits the area of our country which is now Utah, New Mexico and Arizona. It is important to remember that the Native Americans have inhabited this land for over 40,000 years, and their culture has experienced many changes that occur over time. These cultural changes have caused the tribe to split into factions, each having different customs and beliefs. However, there is a aspect of Navajo life that has remained consistent over time, and that is the profound relationship between culture, religion and ways of life. These aspects are all intertwined, and cannot be investigated as separate entities because it would undermine their interdependency. Their way of life is deeply rooted in their relationship with the land. Like many Native Americans, the Navajos do believe that, “the whole land is sacred.” A member of the Navajo describes the religious significance of land, “Every inch of ground, all vegetation and the fauna on it are considered sacred. . .There are so many stories that go with the land that it would take more than twenty years to tell them. (Mamie Salt, 1987)” In general, the Navajo, like many other indigenous populations, wish nothing more than to live simply within the natural limitations of the land. Unfortunately, our government has made it almost impossible for the Native Americans to protect their most fundamental interests which are embedded in the land. Each time our Federal Government takes away land from the Navajo, they are undermining their religion and disregarding their profound link to the environment.

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