Sunday, March 13, 2011

"Navajo" pt. 1

There has probably been more written about the Navajo (NAH-vuh-ho) tribe. Of the Four Corners area of America. Then any other Native American Indian tribe. Once a rag tag band of nomadic peoples. They now occupy the largest reservation in America (3.5 million acres). And they now have the largest population (1 million on and off the reservation). The Hopi who are there common enemy, even to this day. Predicted this would happen. How the Hopi knew this, is any one's guess. I have had many Navajo friends over the years. And one of my sons is married to a Navajo girl from New Mexico. Like most peoples, the Navajo can be kind, or they can be your worst enemy. As a Navajo electrician I once worked with said. 'The Navajo still have a wild spirit in them.' You will find from this brief history of the Navajo, what I mean.

The Navajo and the Apache are closely related. And both tribes were known for there attacks on other tribes of the southwest. And later on there attacks on the Mexicans, Spaniards and White settlers. The Navajo became domesticated in just recent years. Some where around the 1850s. When they were brought under control of the U.S. Calvary. You will learn here of there 'Long Walk'. Which took them back to there homelands in the Four Corners area.

The Navajo ancestral lands were. Northeastern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico and a little into Colorado (Cortez) and Utah (Ute Mountain). The Navajo came to the southwest in about 1400 AD (from Canada). The Spanish started calling the Navajo, 'Apache de Navajo'. There own language is 'Dineh or Dine'. Which simply means, 'The People'. From now on I will refer the Navajo as the 'Dineh'. Which they prefer to be called by.

The Navajo of the Four Corners area were, hunters and gathers. Living a nomadic life style. Along side there Apache cousins. They also launched raids on pueblo Indians, who used agriculture to survive. They would take, food, pottery, women and slaves. The Navajo were feared by the Whites, Indians, Spanish and Mexicans alike. Even though the Navajo continued to raids other peoples of the southwest. The Dineh adopted the ways of the Pueblos neighbours. They gradually become farmers, weavers and sand painters. They also learned pottery and basket weaving from the Pueblo Indians. Then from the Spanish, they became herders of goats, and sheep. They learned to take care of the animals they herded. And used them for there milk, meat and wool, for cloths and blankets. Which the Navajo (Dineh) are known World wide for. There Apache cousins didn't learn this lesson. And soon would wipe out there live stock. The Dineh would be introduced to horses in the 1600s. FYI, Horses were common to North America. Then for some reason they became extinct, in North America. And were reintroduced by the Spaniards.

The Dineh lived in hogans, that were doomed shaped. They were constructed of wooden poles. Covered with bark and mud. As the settled down to a more domestic way of life. Before there shelters would have been some hastily constructed shelter of brush and sticks.

The Dineh religious ceremonies. Were a combination of art and religion. That they could relate to the Spirit beings. They believed that there was both a 'Natural' and 'Supernatural World'. And that the Dineh came from the inside of the Earth. (Brent Chase Dineh, Emergence Story) The rituals where a way to connect to ones ancestors. Who could bring good weather and cure the sick of the tribe.

Like the Hopi and most other Native American tribes. History was taught in Oral chants and songs. Along with musical accompaniment. Here is a Dineh Creation song.

I am a frivolous Coyote; I wander around.
I have seen the Black "God's" Fire; I wander around.
I stole his fire from him; I wonder around.
I have it! I have it!
I am changing Coyote; I wonder around.
I have seen the bumble bee's fire; i wander around.
I stole his fire from him; I wander around.
I have it! I have it!

I have written about many other tribes who use the Coyote in there rituals. Here so the Dineh also use the Coyote. The Coyote is know to the Dineh for his, many abilities. He helps people, and meddles in there business. He's cleaver, greedy and always a trickster. The Coyote is one of the Holy People in Dineh religion. And the Dineh also spoke of 'Spider Women'. Who they must of taken from the Hopi tales. (The Dineh like all Native American tribes. Took pieces of the religions from various other tribes. You also see this in Hopi ceremonial dances. Where they barrow from other Clans dances.) The Dineh also have the 'Hero Twins'. Which most other tribes have, including the Mayans. You also see the 'Hero Twins', in cultures from around the World. The Dineh had ghosts called 'Chinde'. Who were dead people who caused accidents and sickness. Dineh believed in Witches, who practised Black Magic.

The Dineh developed sand painting abilities they got from other Pueblo tribes. They also did sand painting on the ground. Much like you see from Tibetan Monks. The sand painting came from the Pueblo people. Who got it from the Yaqui. Who lived in northern Mexico and southern Arizona. The sand paintings were used as Altars in healing ceremonies. And at the end of the ceremony. The sand painting was destroyed. In just the same way as the Tibetan Monks.

As the world knows. The Dineh are World famous blanket weaver, jewelers, pottery makers, basket makers and painters. The Dineh learned weaving from the Pueblo people as already stated. There jewelry making came from the Mexicans in the mid 1800s. As they repaired leather items for the Spaniards horses. Then then passed this skill onto the Pueblo tribes such as the Zuni.

Next I'll get into the wars and othe Dineh topics. Such as WWII Code Talkers. Here is link to a Dineh band I recorded last summer called Blackfire.

"God" bless on this Sunday evening. May you have sweet dreams with soft landings. bye

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