Fort Defiance, Arizona

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Fort Defiance (Navajo: Tséhootsooí) is a census-designated place (CDP) in Apache County, Arizona, United States. The population was 4,061 at the 2000 census.



Fort Defiance was established in September 18, 1851 by Col. Edwin V. Sumner to create a military presence in Diné bikéyah (Navajo territory). It was built on valuable grazing land that the federal government then prohibited the Navajo from using. As a result, the appropriately named fort experienced intense fighting, culminating in two attacks, one in 1856 and another in 1860. The next year, at the onset of the Civil War, the army abandoned Fort Defiance. Continued Navajo raids in the area led Brigadier General James H. Carleton to send Kit Carson to impose order. Carleton's "solution" was brutal: thousands of starving Navajo were forced to the Long Walk and interned near Fort Sumner, New Mexico, much of their livestock was destroyed. The Navajo Treaty of 1868 allowed those interned to return to a portion of their land, and Fort Defiance was reestablished as an Indian agency that year. In 1870, the first government school for the Navajo was established there.

Today, the site of Fort Defiance is populated by buildings dating from the 1930s to the present day used by various governmental agencies including the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Indian Health Service, and the Navajo Nation. The largest of these buildings was the Fort Defiance Indian Hospital until 2002.


Fort Defiance is located at 35°44′31″N 109°4′0″W / 35.74194°N 109.066667°W / 35.74194; -109.066667 (35.742032, -109.066739),[1] on the Defiance Plateau about 4 miles north of Window Rock, Arizona.

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