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The Navajo

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12 October 2012

Navajo Written Work

The Navajo had a vast history. The Navajo occupied the southwest of what is now the United States by the eleventh century. They are now located in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah.

The Navajo people are known for making woolen rugs, belts, and blankets, as well as the use of turquoise in jewelry. They are also known for being forced by the United States to take The Long Walk onto a reservation, killing more than 2000 Navajo. The Navajo had many important leaders in their history.  Manuelito was a warrior who successfully fought off Mexicans and Hopi. However, the United States eventually defeated Manuelito and forced the Navajo onto a reservation. Also, Annie Dodge Wauneka became the first woman to be elected to the Navajo Tribuna. She was an important advocate for Navajo rights and health. Later. Peterson Zah became the chief executive of the Navajo Nation Government and focused on Navajo education. These leaders greatly helped to improve the Navajo conditions.

Navajos’ rite of passage was unusual form. Navajos used oral chants to perform the rite of passage. Oral chants were special rituals that required the shaman to recite and during the ritual, the shaman recited Navajo myths, songs, and poetry with musical accompaniment.

The chants of Navajos were especially long compare to the other tribes; their creation myth has 24 episodes and 324 songs. These chants were also used during healing ceremonies. Their chants were passed on to the next generations through spoken words without actual recording.

        Navajos were polytheistic, worshipping many gods called Holy People. Navajo praised these gods on a daily basis. Theses gods were based mostly off of nature, meaning they greatly embraced animism. They believed in many deities, including the Sun God, the Earth Mother, and many other deities pertaining to nature.

In Navajo myth, there were twin heroes named Naayééʼ Neizghání and Tóbájíshchíní. Those two were brave and adventurous warriors who courageously defeated many monsters with the help of clever coyote. The twins received rituals which were passed on from generation to generation.

Coyotes were important part of Navajo myth. It may depend on a myth to portray coyotes as helpful or deceiving and cunning. Sometimes coyotes help people and guide them through right path. However, usually, they are depicted as cunning and clever tricksters who are greedy.  

Navajos feared and dreaded the death and they believed in malevolent ghosts who came to haunt them. Navajos believed that sickness and accidents were caused by ghost to inflict harm on people.

Navajos did not believe in afterlife; there were little mentions about the dead and there was no concept of punishment after the death. There was also no systemized belief of afterlife.

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