A Brief Glimpse into the World of the Navajo

NAVAJO LIFE

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Navajo legend says that Dine had to pass through three different worlds before emerging into the present world – the Fourth World or Glittering World. So, the Holy People put four sacred mountains in four different directions. Mt. Blanca in the east. Mt. Taylor in the south, San Francisco Peaks in the west, and Mt. Hesperus in the north, thus creating the boundaries of Navajoland.

The Navajo (Diné) and Apache tribal groups of the American Southwest speak dialects of the language family referred to as Athabaskan. The Navajo people are very dynamic and creative people who strongly believe in the power of the mind to think and create; finding expression in the myriad symbolic creations of the Navajo language, art and ritual ceremonies.

Aside from being the mother tongue of the Navajo Nation, the Navajo language also has played a highly significant role in helping the entire nation. During World War II, the Navajo language was used as a code to confuse the enemy. Navajo bravery and patriotism is unequaled. Navajos were inducted and trained in the U.S. Marine Corps to become “code talkers” on the front-line. Shrouded in secrecy at the time, these men are known today as the famed Navajo Code Talkers, proved to be the only code that could not be broken during World War II.

Family is very important to the Navajos. There is the immediate family, and the extended family. The extended family is broken up into clans, which were created by the Holy Ones. The four original clans are ‘Towering House’, ‘Bitterwater’, ‘Big Water’ and’ One-who-walks-around’.

Today there are about 130 clans. When one Navajo meets another for the first time they tell each other what clan they are from.

A Navaho house is called a “hogan” and is made of logs, brush, and earth. Summer houses are also utilized and made of brush with a windbreak.

Each symbol has specific meaning with its own story.

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