Intro. Cultural Anthropology
Dr. Janis McFaul
February, 6 2012
The Navajo nation is the largest native tribe in the United States. They are a society built on harmony with Mother Earth. They believe that everything has a purpose whether it be good or evil. They rely on the land for nourishment and medicine. They are a proud tribe and have close family unity. The Navajo are a peaceful tribe and strong in values.
I will discuss a few interesting topics with you in this essay. The Navajo Nation, is in my option, is one of the most beautiful tribes. The name “Navajo” comes from the Pueblo Indian word for planting fields. The name was given to this tribe because they were farmers. The Navajo ways of family structure is strong and proud. Children do not want to disappoint their parents. Harmony is a daily goal. The respect for one another is a beautiful thing. “The basic principle of K”e', meaning relationships comprised of kindness, love, cooperation, thoughtfulness, friendliness, and peacefulness guides interaction among family members in the extended matrilineal kinship network and among clan members”. (Morgan, F. 2002; Witherspoon 1983) The Navajo nation are proud people who are deserving of great respect. Their harmonious ways could be a template for others to follow. Horticulturalist
“The Navajo were traditionally cultivators, although many now herd sheep, which they acquired from the Spanish”. (Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia) They have four primary plants that they harvest; beans, corn, squash, and tobacco. Corn being the most important. The Navajo share a spiritual connection with Mother Earth, so knowledge and respect of the plants is passed on to the children. The use of sheep was also an important part of the Navajo way. Not only were the sheep used for food (mutton), it also provided clothing, blankets, and rugs from the wool.
Belief and Values
The Navajo believe they travel through three other worlds before entering this world. The number four is predominate within the Navajo society. There are four sacred mountains that are associated with four colors, four directions, and also the first four clans. There are four aspects of importance in the life journey of the Navajo. First is the importance of religion. These ways are intertwined with their daily lives. Secondly, is food. The importance of this aspect is strong, for the daughters will become the primary meal provider for her family when she marries. The boys need this knowledge for when they become hunters. The third aspect is water. The importance of water is a spiritual experience. It is considered to be a gift from the Holy People. Fourth brings the plants. The spiritual connection between the Navajo and Mother Earth brings great respect for the gifts of nature. These ways are proudly passed from a mother to her children. In their ways, life revolves around Mother Nature.
The Navajo believe that there are two classes of people: Earth people and Holy People. The Holy People are believed to have passed through other worlds, thus taking them to the fifth world. This is where the Holy People created the first man and first woman. These are the ancestors of the Earth People. The Holy People have moved on to live in other realms above the earth. The Earth People must do everything they can to maintain harmony with Mother Earth.