Navajo Culture

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Navajo Culture
By: Jenn Colpitts. Rebecca Keirstead, Vanna Dufour , Vanessa Gaudet The Navajo society is a culture rich in tradition. They value the close knit relationship with their family and have a great appreciation for the land. They fought to preserve their way of life, resulting in high values in; kinship, lifestyle, religious beliefs, and their rites of passage. Navajo Geography

Diné or Navajo Nation borders Arizona, Utah and New Mexico. There are four mountains that act as landmarks are Tsisnaasjini' (Mount Blanca), Tsoodzil (Mount Taylor), Doko'oosliid (San Francisco Peaks), Dibé Nitsaa (Mount Hesperus). Navajo Nation is the largest Native American Reservation in the United States, occupying 17 million acres. Kinship System

The kinship system of the Navajo people is one filled with respect and co-operation which resides throughout their lives. Each member of the family plays an important role, allowing them to join together in harmony. The nuclear family is a unit which consists of a man, a woman, and their children which is smallest residence group in the Navajo society. The members all take part of daily tasks and live in the same Hogan. Navajo families are generally attached to their extended family which is in most cases from the bride’s side. The extended family typically consists of three generations and at least two nuclear families. The nuclear families each live in their own Hogan within shouting distance from each other and together, all contribute to the work at hand. This group is based on co-residence and cooperation. The relationships in Navajo society are very strong. Their system is organized in roles and expected role behavior which is shared by their whole society. Every role open to man is also open to women leaving little possibility for economic domination of one partner over the other. The husbands and wives play the main roles in this society. They lack romance but have a relationship filled with cooperation and companionship. They also take pride in each other's achievements and have consideration as well as gentleness for each other. The husband and wife each own their own sheep and horses. The man is considered the head of the household and is expected to make the decisions but only after consulting with the wife and family. The husband and wives work tasks are shared quite equally. Like any other society the Navajo couples have their rough moments. Excessive drinking is a common source of strain between the husband and wife. The mother is the main nurturer and authority figure towards the children in the family. The children spend the first years of their lives mainly with their mother. When the children are older they have a great deal of respect for their mother. Duties for their families take priority over salary jobs. If the children move away for employment reasons they generally send money to their families. The mothers are generally the ones that give the children gifts such as sheep or colts. Mothers and daughters share a very strong bond; they enjoy each other’s company during work and free time. The fathers in the Navajo society also play a large role in their children’s lives. They aid the mothers with the responsibility of raising the children and focus on teaching manners, punishing, teaching the legends and chants, as well as teaching male skills. With the younger children, the Navajo father is considered to be affectionate and playful while being companionable with the older sons. The children have a strong desire to be considered a good son or daughter, especially from the father’s eyes. In most cases the Navajo father appears to be respected, responsible, and loved. One of the strongest ties in the Navajo society is between siblings. They share a lifelong mutual feeling of responsibility for one and other. Sibling exchange is a frequent form of marriage among these people, making families very close knit. In most cases siblings share a very...
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