Instructor Merissa Olmer
May 7, 2012
The Survival of the Navajo Indians in a Western Culture
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.(Hoxie 2008, Lomay & Hinkebein (2006), Paniagua (1994). Preserving their traditions is a priority for the Navajo Indians. They are known for their collectivism, as it incorporates family in every aspect of their lives.(Sampson,1988, Triandis, 1995). On the contrary, they also need to focus on how they would adapt to the Western culture, which is more individualistic and focuses on self, rather than a group.( Hossain, Z., Skurky, T., Joe, J., Hunt, T., 2011). The Navajo have shown resilience throughout their history because they have had to fight for their land and lifestyle since their establishment, and they are still going strong. But, is it possible for this matrilineal culture adapt, and survive in a culture that is so farfetched from their 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, which they are a part of. The strong spirit of the Navajo Indians can preserve, and sustain their identity while adapting to the ever changing Western culture. METHOD
Conducting research on the Navajo Indians was a tedious task because they have existed for over one thousand years.(Loyd, L., 2008). The amount of information available on Navajo Indians is unending, but focusing on their social and economic organization, as well as social change narrowed the search. The Internet was the main source of information, with Ashford University library being the resource portal. Proquest and Jstor were the main resources utilized because they were the most informative regarding Navajo Indians' social and economic organization, and social changes. The article, Collectivism and Individualism Among Husband and Wives in Traditional and Bi-Cultural Navajo Families on the Navajo Reservation, was extremely informative because it provided an in-depth outlook on what the Navajo Indians are all about. Having to compromise their beliefs and lifestyle, but still maintain their sense of identity is something they have struggled with, but has not defeated them. The article, “New Frontier for Gangs:Indian Reservations.” and “Wealth, Success, and Poverty in Indian Country” were eyeopeners because they described the life on Indian reservations today, and how the people have been affected by culture change, especially the children. There were a couple of websites retrieved on the Internet which also gave important information of what it is like on Indian reservations today. “Navajo Attitudes toward Development and Change: A Unified Ethnographic and Survey Approach to an Understanding of Their Future” provided great information on the economy of the Navajo Indians. Also “The Navajo Way of Life” provided a personal experience of a couple who spoke with the Navajo Indians.
The Navajo Indian Tribe is the largest tribe of North American Indians. (Eck, P., 1998). Over one thousand years ago they began their journey from Canada and Alaska, and resided in southwestern United States.(Ecke, P., 1998). They live on reservations in Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico.( Navajo Nation). Their housing is made of wooded poles, tree bark, and mud.(Ecke, P., 1998). 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.(Sampson, 1998, Triandis, 1995). Hospitality to one another, as well as their...