Census: Navajo enrollment tops 300,000

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 It's official. There are more than 300,000 enrolled members of the Navajo Nation.

The tribe's census office last week pegged tribal enrollment at 300,048, said Sherrick Roanhorse, chief of staff for President Ben Shelly.

Tribal officials have been saying for most of the past decade that the tribe's enrollment has been in the area of 300,000.

This still doesn't give the Navajos bragging rights as the largest Indian nation in the United States, however. That remains with the Cherokee.

In August 2010, the Cherokee Nation gave its enrollment as 288,749, not including the Eastern Band, which accounted for another 13,000 plus members, for a total of about 302,000.

It should be pointed out that the two tribes figure membership differently.

For Navajo Nation membership, a person must have one-quarter or more Navajo blood. The Cherokees require only that members be able to trace their ancestry back to someone listed on the Dawes Roll of 1907 - a membership list created by the Dawes Commission so the Cherokee reservation could be parceled out in individual allotments. The Cherokee tribe has no blood quantum requirement for membership.

The big question within the Navajo universe is how many tribal members live on the reservation and how many can be considered urban Navajos.

Roanhorse said the tribe will have a better grasp of that once the U.S. Census Office releases its 2010 population figures for the Navajo Reservation.