The Navajo Indians
Cultural Anthropology 101
The Navajo Indians of the Southwestern United states have a distinct social organization, kinship, and a both traditional and biomedical way that they approach sickness and healing. Their social organization revolves around their community and the Earth. Kinship for the Navajo is matriarchal and they are a pastoral society. The traditional Navajo have medicine men that the tribe goes to for any sickness and healing that needs to be done. The modern Navajo has established the Indian Health Service as their standard medical facility and agency. I will go into more detail on all three areas of the tribe’s society of the Navajo people throughout this paper. The tribes of the Navajo Indians are located in Southwest region of the United States. They range from Southwestern Colorado, Northwestern New Mexico, and Northeastern Arizona. Most of the Navajo Indians live on reservations in northeastern Arizona and northwestern New Mexico. The Navajo are the second largest of the Native American tribes and have a population of 7.2% of the Native Americans. They are second to Native Alaskans ((U.S. Census Bureau, 2008).. The marriage rate in the Navajo nation is forty five percent. Only seven percent have a college degree. They have the lowest income level out of all of the Native American tribes. They have a large poverty rate at thirty seven percent. The La Plata Mountain of Southwest Colorado are considered a sacred place for the Navajo. The Dine’ is the word Navajo use for their tribe. That is Navajo in their language. Navajo society is a holistic and collective society focusing around oneself, the good of the tribe, and the natural ecology around them. The Navajo try to maintain their traditional lifestyle and values, but there has been a strong influence from western culture, including the churches (John, 1998; Lamphere, 2007). Factors. The family base relies on strong kinship and blood kin when it comes to child care. The extended family members take care of the children when there is a working family member. When it come to the extended family , there are a lot of people involved. The extended family includes older women and their husbands, her unmarried children and married daughters, and the married daughters husband and children (Hossain et al., 1999). The Navajo hold on to their tradition and mainly speak their own language. Twenty six percent speak Navajo, twenty eight percent do not speak very good English. These numbers are increasing and decreasing respectively due to influences or Western culture.
The kinship and family base of the Navajo is a matriarchal based society. The family until revolved around the women and women's ancestry. Women own the land, livestock, and other properties that are in the family. These possessions are passed down to the daughters in the family and the female line (Howard, 1993). They are traditionally known for their collective mentality. They work together to achieve human growth and family function. Kinship and clan membership is the focal point. The Navajo have a very interdependent family network. There has been a lot of change in the world over the course of the Navajos existence. There has been a lot of western influence that has made an impact on how the Navajo live and how the family unit functions (John, 1998; Lamphere, 2007). With a western perspective people have very strict boundaries and a concept of self. The main focus is to take care of oneself as a priority. Working by oneself to protect oneself and take care of number one. That is a lot different from the non-western perspective of the Navajo and other tribes and cultures around the world (Sampson, 2000). The Navajo traditionally had flexible boundaries and have and interdependence on other clan members. With the course of time and other western influences, there has been an impact on the Navajo people. Socioeconomic differences such as agrarian societies and...
Csordas T. Healing and the Human Condition: Scenes from the Present Moment in Navajoland. Culture, Medicine & Psychiatry [serial online]. March 2004;28(1):1-14. Available from: Academic Search Premier, Ipswich, MA. Accessed February 25, 2013.
The Sense of Collectivism and Individualism among Husbands and Wives in Traditional and Bi-cultural Navajo Families on the Navajo Reservation. Journal Of Comparative Family Studies [serial online]. September 2011;42(4):543-562. Available from: Academic Search Premier, Ipswich, MA. Accessed February 25, 2013.
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