Fort Defiance

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 on 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), on the Defiance Plateau about 4 miles north of Window Rock, Arizona.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 6.1 square miles (15.7 km²), all of it land.


As of the census of 2000, there were 4,061 people, 1,115 households, and 890 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 669.3 people per square mile (258.3/km²). There were 1,321 housing units at an average density of 217.7/sq mi (84.0/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 4.53% White, 0.17% Black or African American, 92.86% Native American, 0.30% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.22% from other races, and 1.90% from two or more races. 1.35% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 1,115 households out of which 49.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.8% were married couples living together, 30.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 20.1% were non-families. 18.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 2.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.61 and the average family size was 4.15.

In the CDP the age distribution of the population shows 40.0% under the age of 18, 9.2% from 18 to 24, 27.1% from 25 to 44, 19.1% from 45 to 64, and 4.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 26 years. For every 100 females there were 89.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.9 males.

The median income for a household in the CDP was $33,125, and the median income for a family was $35,448. Males had a median income of $35,455 versus $24,522 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $10,716. About 27.9% of families and 29.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 35.0% of those under age 18 and 32.5% of those age 65 or over.


Fort Defiance is a part of Window Rock Unified School District.

Fort Defiance is served by Window Rock Elementary School, Tse Ho Tso Middle School, Window Rock High School.

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