FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – New FBI statistics show the vast Navajo Nation saw a sharp increase in the murder rate in 2013 and finished the year with 42 homicides, eclipsing major metropolitan areas like Seattle and Boston.
About 180,000 people live on the reservation that spans 27,000 square miles in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. It's a place where culture and language thrive. But scarce job opportunities, alcoholism, lack of basic necessities and cycles of family violence can stifle people's spirits.
The 42 people killed in homicidal violence last year surpassed the 40 in Boston and 32 in Seattle, both cities with populations of more than 600,000.
The FBI says 34 deaths were classified as homicides on the reservation in 2012. That figure represents a per-capita murder rate that is four times higher than the national rate.