Those who came from the Navajo backwoods, beyond the forts, had never seen coffee. The Navajo children drink some of the goat milk, but the tribe did not take over the European fondness for dairy products along with domesticated animals.
The Navajos were farming people. They raised crops of corn, beans, and squash. Navajo men also hunted deer, antelope, and small game, while women gathered nuts, fruits, and herbs. After the Spanish introduced domestic sheep and goats, the Navajos began raising herds of these animals for their meat and wool as well.
The Navajo depend on agriculture and live-stock but supplement their income through commerce in native crafts. In addition, contracts for resources such as timber, oil, coal, uranium, and gas provide the Navajo nation with income, and many men work on the railroads.
Known to its speakers as Diné, Navajo is an Athabaskan language spoken by 150,000 people. Although Navajo is the most-spoken Native American language in the U.S., it is rarely spoken outside of the Navajo reservation.
The Navajo are known for their woven rugs and blankets. They first learned to weave cotton from the Pueblo peoples. When they started to raise sheep they switched to wool. These blankets were valuable and only the wealthy leaders could afford them.
Indian reservations were established, and U.S. military personnel were tasked with keeping peace between white settlers and Native Americans. The Native American alcohol prohibition was part of this patronizing peacekeeping effort.
The Navajo people call themselves Dine’, literally meaning “The People.” The Dine’ speak about their arrival on the earth as a part of their story on the creation.
The sprawling Navajo reservation, located in parts of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico, is the largest and most populous Indian reservation, with 14 million acres of trust lands, which are leased for farming, grazing, and oil, gas and other mineral extraction.
The Diné believe there are two classes of beings: the Earth People and the Holy People. The Holy People are believed to have the power to aid or harm the Earth People. Since Earth People of the Diné are an integral part of the universe, they must do everything they can to maintain harmony or balance on Mother Earth.
The Navajo and the Apache are closely related tribes, descended from a single group that scholars believe migrated from Canada. When the hunter-gatherer ancestors of the Navajo and Apache migrated south, they brought their language and nomadic lifestyle with them.
The four original clans of the Navajo people are Kinyaa’áanii (The Towering House clan), Honágháahnii (One-walks-around clan), Tódich’ii’nii (Bitter Water clan) and Hashtł’ishnii (Mud clan).
The Navajos used to make their houses, called hogans, of wooden poles, tree bark and mud. The doorway of each hogan opened to the east so they could get the morning sun as well as good blessings.
Like endangered species, languages are dying across the planet. Of the roughly 70 Native languages still spoken in the region, Navajo is by far the healthiest, with more than 170,000 speakers. Many languages, however, are down to their last speakers.
In Navajo, you can say ‘ayóó anííníshní’ to mean ‘ I love you ‘. There is a variation you could use as well, ayóó ánóshní, which also has the same meaning. But none of these words in Navajo actually mean love. ‘Ayóó’ actually means ‘very’ or ‘a lot’.
Navajo – Not only is Navajo a complicated language to learn, but there are no written grammatical rules or published dictionary of Navajo words. This unique aspect of the language led to it being adopted by the US military for intelligence communications during the Second World War.