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McKinley History & Culture

McKinley County is one of only 38 county-level census divisions of the United States where the most spoken language is not English and one of only 3 where it is neither English nor Spanish. 45.75% of the population speaks Navajo at home, followed by English at 38.87%, Zuni at 9.03% and Spanish at 5.72%. The county’s per-capita income makes it one of the poorest counties in the United States.

The county seat Gallup is sometimes called the “Indian Capital of the World”, for its location in the heart of Native American lands, and the presence of Navajo, Zuni, Hopi and other tribes. One-third of the city’s population has Native American roots. Gallup’s nickname references the huge impact of the Native American Cultures found in and around Gallup. It has close proximity to Native American reservations, and historic lack of economic development in addition to many mine closures in the last century. As a result of these mine closures, Gallup has a large socioeconomic poor population.

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