Cultural Research Paper
Professor: Ashi Das
a) Work by Gender
Beliefs and Values
Sickness and Healing
The culture that I’ve decided to write about is the Navajo Indians. The Navajo were given the name Ni’hookaa Diyan Diné by their creators. It means "Holy Earth People". The Navajo Indians of the Western part of the U.S are from a culture that has evolves tremendously over the centuries, and they lived an abnormal life compared to today’s society. In the 1600’s after sheep and horses were introduced, the Navajos were strained to change their way of finding food for themselves. They went from being foragers and partial horticulturalists to becoming pastoralists; they were always on the go looking for naturally occurring water and grass. They started to herd sheep for sustenance as well as economic support. After the addition of sheep, Navajo became predatory, raiding Spanish holdings and slowly moving south and west in search of more and better pasturage. Long before the theory of the 'land bridge from Asia to North America across the Bering Strait', Navajo elders told their own story about their own origin. The Navajo (DINE') creation is the story of their origin through a series of emergences through a series of different colored worlds. Accounts vary as to the exact number and colors of the worlds, for example, black, then blue, then yellow, then glittering, all of which lead up to their final emergence in the present world. The Navajo Nation encompasses portions of Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah, covering over 25,000 square miles of land. Through my readings I’ve realized that the Navajo people are rich spiritually, in culture, as well as customs, and they have stood strong through many hardships to make their way into the 20th century. They are currently the largest Indian tribe in the United States. Three distinct climates are to be found within the Navajo Reservation: the cold humid climate of the heights; the steppe climate of the mesas and the high plains; and the comparatively warm desert, including the lower portions of the Chaco and Chinle Valleys and all of the southern, western, and northwestern parts of the Reservation. Eight percent of the area is classed as humid; 37 per cent as steppe; and 55 percent as desert.
“…Pastoralists feed their animals on naturally occurring pastures. By definition pastoralist are those who regularly move in search of naturally occurring grass and water. This type of movement, following the seasonal grasses and availability of water, is called nomadism.” (Salzman, 2002, Cultural Anthropology). Pastoralists rely on their animals to fulfill most of their needs, using milk, blood, and meat for food, and sheep skin for clothing and tents. Pastoralism is found in many variations throughout the world. Composition of herds, management practices, social organization and all other aspects of pastoralism vary between areas and between social groups. The Navajo Indians are one of a handful of matrilineal pastoral societies and the central symbol of their social organization is motherhood. In my reading I found that the way the Navajo man cared for his sheep was looked at very greatly. For his community’s impression of him was basically if he took good care of his sheep he would also do the same for his community. This is also said to be among the Navajo informal position of leadership, this was not a position of major authority, and they had no authority over people. Gender relations in the Navajo are sometimes separated gender and sex. The men are not superior to females as in some cultures. Females do their share of hard labor just like the men; the women are also likely to own sheep. The men and women both do a large variety of jobs such as herding, shearing, and butchering sheep, but with the women the only difference is...
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