The Navajos are the largest North American Indian tribe. They came from Canada more than a 1,000 years ago.
They are made up of many different tribes. They call themselves Dine which means “The People.”
The people moved southwest and met the Pueblo Indians who were farmers. The Pueblos taught them how to farm and weave.
Navajo comes from the Pueblo word for planted fields or farmlands. The Navajo live in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado which is called the Four Corners. They still live there today.
The Navajo live on a reservation that is owned and ran by the Navajos themselves.
They are also United States citizens and must obey American laws.
In the past the Navajo were led by chiefs who were tribal councilmen. These men spoke for the tribe. Everybody had to agree before the tribe could do anything.
Today the Navajo nation is led by a president and the council who are elected by the people.
Navajo children do the same things all children do. Play, go to school, and help around the house. Many children like to go hunting and fishing with their fathers. In the past they had more chores and less time to play. They did have toys, dolls, and games to play.
Navajo mothers carry the young children on cradleboards on their backs.
Here are some cradleboards that were used in the past.
At first the Navajo men wore breechcloths and the women wore skirts woven from yucca fiber. Later men wore poncho-style wool shirts and the women wore wool dresses.
In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s they began to wear long velveteen shirts and blouses and Mexican style cotton skirts.
The Navajo did not wear feather war bonnets. They usually wore cloth headbands tied around their foreheads instead.
Both men and women wore their hair gathered into a figure-eight shaped bun called a tsiyeel.
Here is a Navajo woman in full dress today. See the hair and the bright colors that she is wearing.
The Navajo men have fancy feathers and beads in their tsiyeel.
The traditional home of the Navajo is the hogan. A hogan is a traditional earth house.
A hogan is made of a special wood framework packed with clay into a domed shape, with the door always facing east.
Today most Navajos live in modern houses but hogans are still built and used for religious and cultural purposes. Some older Navajo still prefer to live in hogan type homes.
There are a lot of traditions in the Navajo tribe, many are in their dances. The dances are telling stories. Many of these stories are legends and fairy tales. Storytelling and dancing are very important to the Navajo Indian culture.
The Navajo are famous for their colorful woven rugs.
They are also famous for their pottery, baskets and sand paintings.