ANT 101 Cultural Anthropology
Professor Michelle Dorne
The Navajo Have Adapted to the 21st Century
There are many cultures still thriving in the world in the twenty first century. There are quite a few cultures here in the United States. One of the oldest and one of the most heard of is the Navajo, also known as the Diné. The Navajo culture dates back to the mid sixteenth century and some archeological evidence might even show from earlier. The Navajo has been able to survive throughout the years by living off the land and staying true to their heritage.
The Navajo’s beliefs and values have not changed much since the mid sixteenth century. There are quite a few Indians that still practice what their ancestors did a long time ago. The economic organization has changed throughout the years but still has the basic core values. The Navajo’s men and women both have had important roles throughout the years. They are not as they once were but the fundamentals are still in place. Even though times have changed the Navajo has remained strict with their basic ways of living.
The Navajo Indians farmed as their primary mode of subsistence, they had to adapt to the new ways of living as time went on. They were originally hunters and foragers, but adopted agriculture, weaving, and other arts from other tribes in the Southwest. They had a close relationship in which the Navajo traded hides, piñon nuts, and other goods to the other people in substitute for agricultural products, woven goods, and pottery. The Navajo has been continually changing in response to new ways of doing things and challenges since they first came to the Southwest. From 1868 to about 1960, the people depended on a combination of farming, animal’s, and the sale of various products to traders. The farming of corn was one of the best ways for the Navajo to be able to trade for other necessities they needed. Corn was just a small part of their diet, but did contribute some. The raising of animals such as sheep and some goats provided large quantities of meat and milk. They never wasted an animal they used the hides and wool and traded some of the excess they didn’t need. The Navajo did a lot of crafts also. They made rugs, pottery and sand paintings and would trade these for additional income. In the early 1900s, a few Navajo were employed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Hourly work for the Navajo did not start until after World War II. According to Colwell-Chanthaphonh (2006), “By the 1980s, wage work was contributing about 75 percent of all Navajo income, although the more traditional farming and livestock economies were still being maintained throughout the reservation as well.” The Navajo have a few ways of making additional income now a day’s, tourism, mineral production, and lumbering are some of the ways they make money today.
The Navajo people have several beliefs on how their people came to this world. The Navajo say they passed through three different worlds before ending up in this world. They believe there are two types of beings, the Earth People and the Holy People. The Holy People are believed to heal and also hurt the people of earth. The Navajo are part of the Earth people and they have to do everything to maintain peace and balance on this world. The Navajo believe that a long time ago the Holy People taught them how to live their everyday life. They were taught to live in synchronization with the Earth, the Sky and many other essentials such as man, animals, plants, and insects. They believe the Holy People put four mountains in four different directions. The Navajo assigned a different color for each direction associated with the mountains. Mt. Blanca is to the east of Alamosa, Colorado which is white shell. Mt. Taylor is to the south, which is west of Albuquerque, New Mexico and is turquoise. San Francisco Peak is to the west, which is located just east of...