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Navajo Nation: Then and Now

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Navajo Nation:

Then and Now


ANT 101

Christopher Deere


Table of Contents

Page3: Opening about the Navajo Nation

Page 4/5: Beliefs and Values of the Navajo Nation

Page 5/ 6: Sickness and Healing of the Navajo Nation

Page 6/7: Social Organization of the Navajo Nation

Page 7: Conclusion

Page 8: Reference Page

Nestled in the heart of the great Southwest is quite possibly the world's best kept secret; a rich and vibrant American Indian tribe called Dine which translates into Navajo or the people who live within the Navajo Nation. The Navajo tribe is the largest Native American tribe in North America at this time with the reservation covering an estimated 27,000 square miles into Utah, Northwest New Mexico and Northern Arizona. They live a non-intensive pastoral lifestyle and have been living among us for decades and centuries with perhaps the best survival skills of the desert area. As a pastoral society who utilized farming as their primary mode of subsistence, the Navajo Indians (Dine - meaning Navajo people) had to learn other ways to survive in a constant changing world.

Today traditional Navajo teachings and values remain strong among the Dine even with all the hardship their ancestors had to endure throughout the history of the Navajo Nation. In 1860 over eight thousand Navajos were taken from their homes and forced to march to Bosque Redondo near Fort Sumner where they were then placed in custody for four years before being allowed to go home. Children were pulled out of their homes as well and sent off to schools away from their people and their families and subsequently yelled at for speaking their native language. This incidentally is the language that was used as a secret code to defeat the Japanese in World War II.

With that being said I will discuss three aspects of the culture that involved the Navajo Nation society that has not changed much if at all in the many years the Dine have been among us starting with beliefs and values, sickness and healing, following with social organization which are all aspects of the Navajo Nation and will be explained in great detail.

The Navajo people believe that they came to be on this plane of existence by traveling through three worlds before settling in the fourth world, or 'White World' as they called it in the past and some still do today. The first world housed the twelve groups of Níłchʼi Dineʼé, or the Air-Spirit People and also Diyin Dineʼé, Coyote, mist beings and various insect people, the second world or Niʼ Hodootłʼizh was inhabited by furry mammals and birds. The third world, or Niʼ Hałtsooí, was also home to animal people. They had food and water but still no sun. They were forced to flee that world when Coyote stole Tééhoołtsódii's child and she destroyed the world forcing the Diné to move on to the fourth world, our world.

With the emergence of the Diné in this world, it brought with it a set of beliefs and a philosophy that had not been thought of before. The number four permeates a culture that is rich in history, and if we would just take the time to listen the stories are very much there in the elders of the Nation. The Navajo culture believes there are 'four directions, four seasons, the first four clans and four colors that are associated with the four sacred mountains. In most Navajo rituals there are four songs and multiples thereof, as well as many other symbolic uses of four.' ( Which is why according to the Navajo, there are two classes of people; The Holy People and the Earth People.

The Holy people are considered to be spiritual beings that cannot be seen, much like Christian's god or Pagan's gods and goddesses. Centuries ago, the Navajo people were taught by the Holy People to live in harmony with Mother Earth and how to conduct their many activities of everyday life. Holy People are also believed to aid or harm Earth People, even though the earth people of the Dine are an "intrigal part of the universe" as they are just regular mortals, they still must do everything within their power to keep harmony and balance with the Earth Mother.

To this day, the Dine still believe in the creation myth, although to them it is their history and not a myth. It is still also believed that the Holy People taught the Dine to live in harmony with Mother Eart, Father Sky, and the myriad of other elements such as other men, animals, plants, and insects.

The Holy People also put their four sacred Mountains in four different Directions: Mt. Blanca to the east, Mt. Taylor to the south, San Francisco Peak to the west, and Mt. Hesperus to the north. These Mountain ranges are still prevelant in today's Navajo Nation's society as these mountains represent the major parts of the traditional Navajo religious beliefs, helping them to live in harmony with both nature and their Creator.

Although the Navajo system of medicine



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