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NEW ISSUE HONORS NAVAJO CONTRIBUTIONS

The Navajo Indians are a people of culture and tradition. The Navajos today encompass more than 200,000 individuals, spanning more than 14 million acres of reservation land. The beautiful Navajo Reservation covers the states of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

Since Navajo artwork is unique and exquisite in design, the U.S. Postal Service will issue a new two-cent definitive stamp featuring a painted detail of a Navajo silver and turquoise necklace with sand-cast "squash blossoms."

The new stamp is part of the American Design series started in 2002 and will be released Aug. 20.

A squash blossom necklace is typically composed of silver beads resembling stylized blossoms with a single crescent-shaped pendant at the center. The necklace depicted on the stamp is very popular in the southwest United States.

The Postal Service artist Lou Nolan based his painting for the design on a photo by noted photographer Peter T. First.

The Navajo migrated to the Southwest from the North around the 15th century. It was originally thought that the Navajo originally consisted of four clans, but today they have expanded to more than 600. Progress and prosperity came to the fore.

The discovery of oil on their land in the early 1920s clarified the need for a more systematic form of tribal government. In 1923, the Navajo established a government to deal with the oil companies wishing to lease Navajo land for exploration -- a most successful financial arrangement to this day.

Thus, the Navajo Nation Council has grown into the largest and most sophisticated American Indian government in the United States. The Navajos are also proud of their heroism in helping the United States during World War II. The Navajo language was used as a code to confuse the Japanese in the Pacific. They were inducted into the U.S. Marine Corps and trained as "code talkers" on the front line. It was the only code that could not be broken during that war.

The new stamp is a tribute to the Navajos and their creative people. With the issuance of the five-cent American Toleware stamp in 2002, the USPS launched a new series of definitive stamps featuring examples of the rich diversity of American design. The series showcases objects from various regions, eras and ethnic cultures that combine utility with beauty and function.

First day of issue covers of the Navajo necklace stamp are on the Postal Service agenda. Call (800) STAMP-24.