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Transcript of The Navajo
The Navajo are the largest federally recognized tribe of the United States of America
The Navajo Nation constitutes an independent governmental body.
300,048 enrolled tribal members.
First began in 1500's
Spanish came and influenced culture and lifestyles in 1600s
Navajos came into contact with the U.S. govt. in 1846
By Josh & Jacelyn
27,413 sq miles
(But mostly Jacelyn)
Hopi Indian area
The Navajo culture is rich in ceremonies, second only to the Pueblo.
Most famous for nine-day treatment ceremonies for mental/physical illnesses.
In these ceremonies, many dry paintings (or "sand-altars" are made depicting The Holy Ones.
Five major ceremonies:
Blessingway: the blessing way honors the divine feminine as a nurturer.
Protectionway: divine masculine as a protector-provider.
Purification and cleansing: numerous with specific names for specific purposes.
Spiritual renewal: a nine-day ceremony for spiritual renewal.
Journey to spirit world: the ceremony for a person on their journey to the spirit world.
Almost every act of their life—the building of the hogán, the planting of crops, etc.—is ceremonial in nature, each being attended with songs and prayers.
Hogan: Packed mud around a conical or square wooden structure
The principal foods consumed are mutton and corn prepared in various ways.
In the 1500s, the Navajo mostly were farmers who grew beans, corn, and squash. They hunted a few animals such as deer and rabits.
After the Spanish came in the 1600s, they began to farm sheep and goats, becoming dependent on them.
Navajo tacos are made from a type of flat bread that likely came from Navajo Indians.
stuffed squash blossoms
The Navajo wore clothes made of woven yucca plants or deerskin. The men wore breechcloths and the women skirts. Their shoes were soft leather moccasins. Later, they wore clothes woven from the wool of sheep.
At first, the navajo only used turqoise in spiritual ceremonies. Then they began making jewelry to trade in the 1900s. They used mainly turquoise and silver in making their jewelry. Traditionally, jewelry was only made by men.
The structure of the Navajo society is largely a matrilineal system, in which women owned livestock and land. Once married, a Navajo man would move to live with his bride in her house and among her mother's people. Daughters were traditionally the ones who received the generational property inheritance. The children are "born to" and belong to the mother's clan, and are "born for" the father's clan.
In 1849, the military governor of New Mexico led a force of 400 soldiers into Navajo country and signed a treaty with two Navajo leaders. The treaty let the U.S. begin building military forts on Navajo land.
In 1861, General James H. Carleton initiated military actions against the Navajo. Colonel Kit Carson was ordered by Carleton to gain their surrender. Carson and his forces swept through Navajo land, killing Navajos and destroying any crops, livestock or dwellings they came across. Facing starvation and death, the last group of Navajo surrendered and were taken to internment camps on July 20, 1863.
The Long Walk
In the spring of 1864, around 9,000 Navajo men, women and children were forced to embark on a trek of over 450 miles to Fort Sumner, New Mexico for internment at Bosque Redondo. However, the government failed to provide an adequate supply of water, wood, provisions, and livestock for the people. Large scale crop failure and disease were also prevailing during this time, as well as raids by other tribes and civilians. Many Navajo (at least 200) died of starvation and fatigue.
Their way of life is based on a belief that the physical and spiritual world blend together, and everything on earth is alive and sacred.
The Yei, or Holy Ones, live in the four sacred mountains in each of the four directions, which form the boundaries of the Navajo land. The Holy Ones are attracted by their ritual songs, prayers, stories, paintings, and ceremonies.
The Holy People passed through a succession of underworlds, each of which was destroyed by a flood, until they arrived in the present world. Here they created First Man and First Woman, the ancestors of all the Earth Surface People. The Holy People gave to the Earth Surface People all the practical and ritual knowledge necessary for their survival in this world and then moved away to dwell in other realms above the earth.
However, they remain keenly interested in the day-to-day doings of the Earth Surface People, and constant attention to ceremonies and taboos is required in order to keep in harmony with them. The condition of hozoji, or being in harmony with the supernatural powers, is the single most important ideal sought by the Navajo people.
When a baby was born with no head, the people decided to leave it to die. Instead, it grew into the Horned Monster. Another woman gave birth to to the Monster Eagle and another birthed the Monster Who Kicks People Down the Cliff.
Another type of monster was born with no heads but two holes on top that resembled eyes. They grew to become the Monsters That Kill with Their Eyes.
The monsters hid along paths and roads, killing and eating unsuspecting travelers.
White Shell Woman produced two twins who could perform miracles and destroy monsters. Together, the twins set out to rid the land of monsters.
It is believed the bodies of the monsters slain by the twins turned to stone and make up the large formations now known as Monument Valley in Arizona.
Many Navajos believe firmly in the existence of skinwalkers and refuse to discuss them publicly. They believe skinwalkers walk freely among the tribe and secretly transform under the cover of night.
According to Navajo legend, a skinwalker is a medicine man or which who has attained the highest level of priesthood in the tribe, but chose to use his or her power for evil by taking the form of an animal to inflict pain and suffering on others.
To become a skinwalker requires the most evil of deeds, the killing of a close family member. They literally become humans who have acquired immense supernatural power, including the ability to transform into animals and other people.
Because it is believed that skinwalkers wear the skins of the animals they transform into, it is considered taboo to wear the pelt of any animal other than sheepskin and buckskin.
Those who have talked of their encounters with these evil beings describe a number of ways in which a skinwalker will try to inflict harm. Some describe hearing knocks on the window or banging on the walls. Others have spotted an animal-like figure peering in through a window.
In ancient Indian legend, Kokopelli the flute player was the symbol of happiness and joy. He talked to the wind and the sky.
Kokopelli embodies everything pure and spiritual about music. He was also thought of as a fertility god and traveling prankster. He would visit villages playing his flute, carrying his songs on his back. Everyone would sing and dance the night away. In the morning, when he left, the crops were plentiful and all the women were pregnant.
Kokopelli and his flute bring the Spring out of the Winter.
Many Navajos still use a traditional cradle board to keep their babies safe and protected. The cradle boards feature a wide, wooden hoop over the baby's head that protects the child. Navajos believe the flat boards will give the baby a strong, straight back. The cradle board is blessed with corn pollen, prayers, songs and good thoughts for the baby.
The economy of the Navajo have been continually evolving in Response to new opportunities and challenges since their first arrival in the Southwest, so that it is difficult to speak of any traditional economy. From 1868 to about 1960, the people depended on a combination of farming, hunting, and the sale of various products to traders. The cultivation of maize was considered by the Navajo to be the most basic and essential of all their economic pursuits, although it made only a relatively small contribution to the Navajo diet.
The raising of sheep and goats provided substantial quantities of meat and milk, as well as hides, wool, and lambs that were exchanged for manufactured goods at any of the numerous trading posts scattered throughout the Navajo country. Additional income was came from the sale or exchange of various craft products, especially rugs, and of piñon nuts.
Beginning in the early 1900s, a few Navajo were employed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and in off-reservation towns and ranches, but wage work did not become a significant feature of the Navajo economy until after World War II. By the 1980s, wage work was contributing about 75 percent of all Navajo income, although the more traditional farming and livestock economies were still being maintained throughout the reservation as well. Tourism, mineral production, and lumbering are the main sources of cash income on the Navajo Reservation Today.