Indian Education

Utah State Board of Education


Manuelito of the Din’eh Navajo tribe.  Hastiim Ch’ilhaajinnii (Man of the Black Plants Place) Bit’aa’nii – Folded Arms People Clan was born in 1818 in the Utah region but moved and lived where his wife’s people lived in the New Mexico and Arizona areas.  Because of growing up near the Utes he spoke both Navajo and Ute fluently.

Manuelito was a tall young man who was eager to be found worthy for battle.  Such was the way of life at that time.  Life was not easy for Manuelito and his family.  During Manuelito’s early life there existed an uneasy peace between the Mexicans and Indian tribes. Throughout his life he waged many battles with the Mexicans killing and taking women and children as slaves.  This practice was common with the Mexican people as well.  His father-in-law Narbano would try to have peace with other Indian tribes as well as the Mexicans.

His father-in-law Narbano foresaw that Manuelito would be a strong leader protecting his family and later in life could be strong in peace.  Manuelito did not begin life as a chief; he earned that honor from his people, and ironically was given the title ‘head chief’ by Merriweather the Indian agent at another peace meeting in Santa Fe in 1855.

Narbona took Manuelito with him on an early mission of peace to Santa Fe so that his son-in-law would learn the value of peace and how to attain it.  Narbona hoped that learning about peace would balance the thrill of battle Manuelito seemed to enjoy.  Manuelito and his father-in-law parted not as friends later in life because Manuelito raged about the killings and taking of lands and animals by Mexicans and the U.S. Army.

Manuelito later in his life would urge the Navajo to have their children educated because he felt it would be the path to independence once again.

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Reading about Manuelito’s life and the atrocities committed against the Navajo people and by them against others leads the reader to consider the difficulties a leader must face.

In Utah Studies of the American Indians, * Utah Core Standard(s) 6040-02 Students trace the emergence and development of culture in Utah, can look at the Essential Question #2 and learn about the characteristics of one of the five Utah Indian Tribes, the Navajo.  Teachers can focus their readings and discussions about Manuelito’s life and the attitude of the U.S. Army toward the Navajo.

In * Utah Core Standard(s) 6050-02 Students trace the development and expansion of the United States through the 19th century, the teacher can use the story of Manuelito’s life to discuss the impact of expansion on the American Idians;e.g., loss of land, reservations, education and lifestyle. Manuelito lives during that era dying in 1893.  He saw the many changes that drastically affected his people, the Din’eh.

In *Utah Core Standard(s) 6120-0301 the teacher will lead students to explore life among the various American Indian nations prior to European exploration of the New World, but focus on Changes to American Indian lands as a result of European exploration.

In *Utah Core Standard(s) 6250-01-0103 the teacher can lead the students to analyze the growth and division of the United States from 1820 through 1877 and examine the United States policies relating to the American Indian, specifically the Navajo.  This period was during Manuelito’s lifetime.

For Stage 2  Assessment, students will be able to write an essay on Manuelito’s leadership and how it affected his people.

Stage 3 the Learning Strategies the teacher can divide students to groups to read, discuss and write about portions of Manuelito’s life.

  • his battles with the Mexicans
  • his battles with other tribes
  • signing peace treaties
  • refusal to go on The Long Walk
  • decision about education of Navajo children

The teacher could use the story of Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce to compare to Chief Manuelito’s life.  What commonalities existed between the two, what difference’s about Chief Joseph’s tactics versus Chief Manuelitio?

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