The Graet Livestock Massacre

Topics: Navajo people, Navajo Nation, New Mexico Pages: 2 (502 words) Published: October 15, 2012
The Navajo Livestock Reduction aka “The great livestock massacre” This memoir, by Chester Nez, captures the tradition of the Navajo people. One of the original 29 Code Talkers, this is not only a historical novel, but it is a thoughtful account of the spirit of his people. The triumphs and tragedies captured are sure to be appreciated by the reader. In chapter 8 of the memoir, Chester Nez tells us about a program implemented in the 1930’s. The federal government decided that the Navajo Nation land could not support the grazing of the millions of animals that were on it so it ordered the reduction of livestock. At the time, we were in the midst of the Dust Bowl years and this put the overgrazing issue under the “microscope of public awareness” according to Nez. This was to be a preventative action, and was carried out without sufficient warning to the Navajo People. To bring you into the mindset of the people this happened to you first must understand the Navajo traditions, beliefs and history of the Tribe. This book explains some of how important to the lives of the Navajo, the livestock were. The Navajo were sheepherders, protectors over their herds. The wealth of the family was largely based on the amount of sheep, goats and cattle they owned. The Navajo Nation was self-sufficient. Their sheep were the main source of their livelihood. The sheep and goats were food, their wool made yarn for clothing and rugs. The Navajo rugs were sold to the trading post or were traded for goods. These humble people were excellent sheep herders and the population of sheep went from 15,000 to over 1,000,000 in some 50 years. All of the families would help each other with the herding, with the care of other family members. The Navajo community was a tight knitted one. The federal government, along with the newly appointed Commissioner of Indian Affairs, John Collier, implemented the Navajo Livestock Reduction. The Bureau of Indian Affairs also helped with this employing...
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