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Navajo-France Association » Diné (Navajo) culture

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Diné (Navajo) culture

Navajo Flag

Population: 298,215 as of Census 2000
Language: Navajo and English.
Religions: Navajo way, Christianity, Native American Church.
Related ethnic groups: other Southern

The Navajo land is 27,000 square miles. The land occupies the northeast also extending to Utah and New Mexico. This is the biggest land given to the Native American Jurisdiction In the United States.

Navajo History

Who are the Navajos

Navajo, or Dine -they call themselves, is the largest tribe of North American Indians. Long ago, the ancestors lived in Northwestern Canada and Alaska. Over 1,000 years ago they began to travel south and reached the southwestern United States. They met farmers who are known as Pueblo Indians, and the Navajo began to settle near them and learn from them. The Navajo learned how to plant corn, beans, squash, and melons. The Navajo also began to learn a similar style of weaving, making clothing and art from the Pueblo Indians. The Navajo Indians lived in homes called hogans. They are made from wooden poles, tree bark, and mud. The doorway opened to the east so they could welcome the sun.
The Navajos’ evolution

After the Spanish settled in the 1600’s, the Navajo began to steal sheep and horses from them. The Navajo started to use the animals in their daily life. They used the sheep for its wool to make clothes, blankets, and rugs. They also used the sheep for food. They used the horses to travel longer distances and also used them to begin trading. The Navajo began making items to trade in towns. There were also trading posts built on reservations to sell their handmade crafts, such as pottery and blankets.

The Navajo Long Walk

In January 1863, Navajos were band form their homelands and was sent on journey called the long walk. The walk was from ft. defiance to Fort Summer. This was the largest Reservation attempted by the U.S. It took 20 days to walk 300-miles and over 200 Navajos died along the walk while some of them hid in the Grand Canyon. Slow people were shot even pregnant women. In 1868, two chiefs signed a treaty and the surviving Navajos were free to go home to their home land. When they came back, their life stocks were killed and their corn crops were burned to the ground.

Today’s Navajos

Evolution Navajo Clothes

The Navajo reservation is currently the largest in the United States. It has over 140,000 people with 16 million acres most of which are in Arizona. They still weave from wool and use natural vegetable dyes for color. Today, people live like the old days the best they can with the modern lifestyle, but others use modern technology to live.



The number four

The Navajo four sacred mountains

There are the four sacred mountains which are the San Franciso Peaks, Mt.Taylor, Mt.Blanca, Mt.Hesperus. Navajo Nation is located in the middle of these mountains. Each of these Mountains are colored coded with Blue, Yellow, Black, and White. These four color are the colors of the worlds which they came from.
San Franciso Peak.Located at Flagstaff,AZ in the east direction.It has abalone shells, the sacred color is yellow.
Mt.Taylor is known to be the south. It is located is north of Laguna,New Mexico.The sacred stone is to be turquoise and the color is blue.
Next is Mt.Blanca, the mountain in the east located near Alamosa,CO. Sacred color is white, it represents the dawn or white shell.
The last is Mt.Hesperus,the mountain up north. It represents the color black, the big mountain sheep. And is located in La Plata Mountains,CO.
These are the mountains the Navajos pray to guide them in life to keep them away from misfortune .Prayers and songs are about these moutains to always be safe and to always think positive. It will always be going clockwise from east to north. Also by the colors white to black such as day to night and shall always be repeated.

Navajo Stories

Story telling can only be done during the winter time when all the animals, bugs and insects go to sleep. Most of these stories are very sacred to some animals or bugs. And if they hear people talking they will be punished. These stories are for is to know what to do, and what not to do, and how to live.

The Navajo Clan System

The clan system is important, because the Navajo will know who is brother or sister or parent. That way we won’t marry our cousin or any other family member. Also it is very important to who they are and who are their Parents. The first clan would be the mother’s clan, second would be the fathers clan, third, would be the mother’s father, and lastly the father’s dads clan. Therefore, they have four clans.

The four Elements

They try to live in Harmony and balance with the four elements. The four elements are Land, Air, Water, and the Sun. Each of these they pray to and ask for protection from harm.

Navajo Ceremonies

The Navajo house blessing ceremony

In the Dine language, the Navajo house blessing ceremony is known as hooghan da ashdlisigil. It was given to the Earth Surface People by the Holy People. It is to promote harmony, peace, good-luck, well-being for it’s inhabited. This ceremony is to prevent hardship, misfortune, bad dreams, visitations from ghost and evil spirits, wind and fire ill destruction. A private ceremony is much shorter and lasts one night. A public ceremony would last one to four nights. It involves structure and prayer, also with sand-paintings. And these songs go directly to the hogan (home). A hogan would bring more luck into to home if the enterance is facing east where native americans can meet Father Sun and Father Sky.

The Navajo Kinaldaa

A kinaalda is when a woman becomes a young woman and is going to enter womanhood. In her ceremony she has to wear traditional clothing and turquoise jewelry. This ceremony takes about 3 to 4 days to complete. Then she also has to run before the sun comes up first she runs towards the east about 2 miles she makes a circle and then runs back towards the west. While she is doing this people can run with her, but they can not run head of her. They make her a cake that’s cooked underground and also she has to serve everyone her cake. Also she can’t eat her own cake I really don’t know why that is.

Traditional Wear

Navajo men and women often use these items for special occasions and also for ceremonies. It is very important that these items remain preserved in within a family. They are passed onto future generations.

Sash Belt
Sash Belt
Moccasins
Moccasins
Bolo Tie (For males)
Bolo Tie
Turquoise Bracelets
Turquoise Bracelets
Turquoise Concho Belt
Turquoise Concho Belt
Turquoise Squash Blossom (For Females)
Turquoise Squash Blossom


Bow Guard (For males)
Bow Guard