American Indians and History

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Diné: A History of the Navajos

Peter Iverson
Photographs by Monty Roessel

This comprehensive narrative traces the history of the Navajos from their origins to the beginning of the twenty-first century. Based on extensive archival research, traditional accounts, interviews, historic and contemporary photographs, and firsthand observation, it provides a detailed, up-to-date portrait of the Diné past and present that will be essential for scholars, students, and interested general readers, both Navajo and non-Navajo.

As Iverson points out, Navajo identity is rooted in the land bordered by the four sacred mountains. At the same time, the Navajos have always incorporated new elements, new peoples, and new ways of doing things. The author explains how the Diné remember past promises, recall past sacrifices, and continue to build upon past achievements to construct and sustain North America's largest native community. Provided is a concise and provocative analysis of Navajo origins and their relations with the Spanish, with other Indian communities, and with the first Anglo-Americans in the Southwest. Following an insightful account of the traumatic Long Walk era and of key developments following the return from exile at Fort Sumner, the author considers the major themes and events of the twentieth century, including political leadership, livestock reduction, the Code Talkers, schools, health care, government, economic development, the arts, and athletics.

Monty Roessel (Navajo), an outstanding photographer, is Executive Director of the Rough Rock Community School. He has written and provided photographs for award-winning books for young people.


Peter Iverson, Regents Professor of History at Arizona State University, is the author of twelve books in American Indian history.


"Combines indigenous and archival perspectives in a history of the Navajo Indians from their origins to the present."


The Chronicle of Higher Education

"Iverson, a history professor at Arizona State University, draws on a wealth of oral traditions, interviews, archival documents, and personal experience to paint a vivid and detailed portrait of Native American adaptation and endurance in the Southwest. Beginning with the Navajo creation story, he skilfully traces the history of the Diné from their semi-nomadic origins through the tragedy of the Long Walk, the dark days of the reservation period, and the twentieth-century emergence of the Navajo Nation. Throughout, Iverson emphasizes the unique cultural qualities that have enabled the Navajo to persist and prosper in the face of adversity. Sympathetic without sacrificing objectivity, this finely wrought book is likely to stand for the foreseeable future as the standard history of the Navajos."


Journal of Arizona History

"Perhaps owing to Iverson's lengthy relationship with the tribe, this history stands out among the many other books on the subject, which pale by comparison. His well-organized, thoughtful, and informative book offers a vivid and detailed account of Navajo culture and history. . . . The story of the Navajo struggle to survive covers both the good and bad events in U.S.-Navajo relations as well as the internal struggles of the tribe. Monty Roessel's photographs offer beautiful and thought-provoking glimpses into the dynamic Navajo world, adding vivid detail to Iverson's work."



"This is an important book not only for the history it creates, but also for the questions it raises. Iverson negotiates the flash points involved in tribal histories- pointing them out without fully engaging them. He does so with uncommon grace and skill. . . (the book) stands out as a landmark of American Indian history."


Western Historical Quarterly

"Peter Iverson's work is exemplary."



"Few scholars aside from Peter Iverson could accomplish this authoritative and comprehensive history, which starts with 'origins' and ends in the twenty-first century. . . . The work will stand for many years as a useful reference and an engaging narrative."


Journal of American History

". . .(Iverson) skillfully traces the history of the Diné from their semi-nomadic origins through the tragedy of the Long Walk, the dark days of the reservation period, and the twentieth-century emergence of the Navajo Nation."


Inside Tucson Business, Southwest Books of the Year

6 x 9 in. 400 pages 32 color plates, 57 halftones, 2 maps