Navajo Chief Manuelito suggest to his people 145 years ago: "My grandchildren, education is the ladder," Since that time Navajo people have advocated this vision for young people to go out and receive and education. The numbers show an increasing number of our youth have completed their pursuit higher education. Navajo Technical University has become an important step on that ladder by providing the next step on that ladder, an education that is local, economically feasible and steeped in traditional ways of knowing.
At its inception as the Navajo Skill Center in 1979, the institution was able to meet the immediate needs of a population. Students learn the rudiments of a trade, graduated, and joined the workforce in and around the Navajo Nation. It soon became clear that the students wanted more than knowledge or skill in a trade or vocational program. Prompted by the school's expanding mission, in 1985 the Board of Directors changed the Skill Center's name to Crownpoint Institute of Technology (CIT).
In 1994, through an Executive Mandate by the United States, CIT was designated as a Land Grant college. The status has led to rapid expansion of the school's facilities and services as well as to its increasing influence in the academic community. A land-grant college is an institution of higher education in the United States designated by a state to receive benefits of the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890. Both Morrill Acts funded educational institutions by granting federal land to the states for them to develop colleges with a mission as set forth in the 1862 Act which is to focus on the teaching of practical agriculture, science, military science and engineering as a response to the industrial revolution and changing social class. This missions was in contrast to the historic practice of higher education to focus on an abstract liberal arts curriculum.
In November 2006, the Navajo Nation Council approved changing the name to Navajo Technical College (Navajo Nation Council Resolution CN-58-06) and only a few years later, in July 2013 the name changed again to Navajo Technical University (Navajo Nation Council Resolution CJY-35-13). Navajo Technical University developed swiftly into a respected technical-vocational tribal University that addresses the continually changing requirements of its students. The University offers a broad selection of certificate and degree programs, each designed to prepare students for entry into careers and further education. Other graduates' professional and academic success is living testimony to the quality of their education at NTU.
Today, in the high-tech, high-speed twenty-first century, the magnificent high desert country of the Navajo Nation remains largely unknown to the rest of the world. Remote, mysterious and unspoiled by the wider society that surrounds it, the Navajo culture not only survives, but flourishes. Since the desperate days of the Long Walk, a century and a half ago, when the possibility of extinction loomed above us, the Navajo population has grown to become the largest American Indian Nation in the United States. Now numbering some 300,000+, our population is young and proud, and is ambitious in its desire to preserve its heritage and to meet the challenges of a world in which changes is the only constant. The Navajo language is recognized by the Modern Language Association as one of the 30 major non-English languages spoken in the United States today.