Unidentified Diné Man and Manuelito
New Mexico Territory, ca. 1867
By Nicholas Brown & Son
Diné origin stories begin with a First World of darkness (Nihodilhil). From there the Diné journeyed through the Second or Blue World, Niʼ Hodootłʼizh and the Third or Yellow World, Niʼ Hałtsooí, until they reached the Fourth or White World, Niʼ Hodisxǫs, sometimes referred to as the “glittering world.”
In 1598 the founding of the Spanish colony of New Mexico changed the lives of the Diné forever, marking the beginning of the often-violent changes brought by settler colonialism. In 1848 the U.S. Army arrived in New Mexico territory, and in 1864 the U.S. government forcibly removed the Diné from their homeland to an impoverished tract of land known as the Bosque Redondo in eastern New Mexico. This exhibition observes the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Navajo Peace Treaty, which took place on June 1, 1868, after the Diné insisted on being allowed to return home. The Diné are the only Native Nation to successfully use a treaty to retain their homeland.