Graded Final Navajo Indians Survival of an Adaptative Society 25 Points

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Navajo Indians Survival of an Adaptive Society

Kemi McBeth

Anthropology 101

Instructor Steven Sager

4 February 2013

One of the fastest growing ethnic populations in the United States is said to be the Navajo

Indians. They are the second largest American Indian group in the United States, according to

the U.S. Census Bureau in 2008, and they are known to be an adaptive type of society. As a

pastoral society who utilized farming as their primary mode of subsistence, the Navajo Indians

(Dineh – meaning Navajo people) had to learn other ways to survive in a constant changing

world. The Navajos have never stopped speaking their native Athabaskan Language. The Navajo

language is spoken only on the reservation in the southwestern part of the United States. Their

language is very reflective of their way of life and their world. Navajo’s have shown resiliency

throughout history by fighting for their land and way of life. It is vital for the survival of the

Navajo Indian Tribe to preserve their social and economic organization, while adapting to the

social changes in the Western culture. I will be focusing on three aspects

of Navajo culture: social organization and economic organization and social change.

SOCIAL ORGANIZATION

The Navajo Indian Tribe is the largest tribe of North American Indians. Over one

thousand years ago they began their journey from Canada and Alaska, and resided in

southwestern United States. They live on reservations in Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New

Mexico.( Navajo Nation). Their housing is made of wooded poles, tree bark, and mud. They

leave the doorway opened facing east to get the morning sun blessing (Ecke, P., 1998). They are

a close knit society who focuses on their collectivism which incorporates family, social

gatherings, spirituality, nature, as well as their economic well being. Hospitality to one another,

as well as their neighbors is extremely important to their identity. The balancing of work and

family is essential to their well-being. Unfortunately their traditional ways have been interrupted

by corporate giants and or the government by forcing them to adapt to a more modern western

culture and ideology. “Navajo’s have been negotiating the impact of colonialism , which

includes the mainstream cultural values of individualism and traditions for centuries” (Hoxie,

2008, Lomay&Hinkebein, 2006, Paniagua, 1994). Although preserving their identity and

tradition are still the focal point of their lives, it is still a constant struggle for them and has been

for many years. Due to federal policies being forced upon them matrilocality has diminished and

land ownership is almost obsolete. “The influence of Westernization on Navajo may have some

negative repercussions, such as the changes in traditional rituals and language, but there are

positive outlooks, too. For instance, institutional education and paid employment contribute to

the well being of the Navajo Indians”(Loyd, L., 2008). The effects of the constant change in the

Western culture have resulted in psychological problems for many Navajo Indians who have

struggled with the bi-cultural ideology. They have lost their focus in their identity, so they utilize

substances to fill the void, primarily alcohol.(Broudy, D. & May, P. ). Alcohol abuse resulted

in a breakdown of the family. This proved to be tragic due to the importance of family being the

focal point in Navajo traditions.

ECONOMIC ORGANIZATION

[Family and traditions are the forefront of Navajo culture. When the Navajo met the

Pueblo Indians along their journey, it did not take long for the Navajos to make friends with

them. The Pueblo Indians taught...
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