Cultural Aspects of the Navajo Indians Essay

Cultural Aspects of the Navajo Indians Essay

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Culture gives definition to a group of people’s way of life. Culture defines people; It is who the people are. The Navajo Indians are a group located in the southwestern part of the United States with a distinct culture. They originated there sometime between the year “1200 and 1500” (Craats 4). Unlike the beginning of their residence in the United States, different aspects of the culture have changed, but the Navajo people still remain a culturally rich group of people.
To this day, their political organization, economy, social organization, and religious beliefs are the four major elements that make them who they are as a whole.
Before establishing the political structure that spoke for the entire Navajo community, a smaller political structure existed among different independent groups of Navajos. “In summary: no centralized authority existed among the Navaho. The political unit was the natural community, environmentally defined” (Hill 28). Since most disputes and conflicts “were locally their own” (Hill 23), a political system was not developed until “oil was discovered on the reservation and the federal government needed an official body of Navajos to approve the oil leases” (O’Neil). In 1922, the United States government established the Navajo Business Council, the first political structure that spoke for every single Navajo person. Before this modern political structure, a smaller structure existed among different independent communities of Navajo people. “Community leadership was vested in one or more individuals whose duties involved the direction of domestic affairs and warfare” (Hill 24). The war leaders were in control of defense operations and were chosen completely “upon ritual attainment” (Hill 24). These leader...


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...helsea Clubhouse, 2004. 4-17. Print.
Downs, James F. "The Navajo." Case Studies in Cultural Anthropology (1972): 95. eHRAF. Web. 28 Oct. 2011.
Hamamsy, Laila S. "The role of women in a changing Navajo society." American Anthropologist 35 (1957): 102-106. eHRAF. Web. 24 Oct. 2011.
Hill, Willard W. "Some Navaho culture changes during two centuries: [with a translation of the early eighteenth century Rabal manuscript]." Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections 100 (1940): 23-28. eHRAF. Web. 23 Oct. 2011.
O'Neil, Caitlin. "The Navajo's Ancient Roots." PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2011. .
Sonneborn, Liz. The Navajos: Native American Histories. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications, 2006. 11-32. Print.
Witherspoon, Gary. "Navajo social organization." Southwest (1983): 535. eHRAF. Web. 24 Oct. 2011.

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