Navajo People Essay

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Words: 1972
Pages: 8

The Navajo People
Chris Tim
ANT101: Cultural Anthropology
December 16, 2012

The Navajo tribe is one of the bigger Indian tribes located here in the United States and is currently located on a reservation. This reservation encompasses the four corners of the United States, which includes portions of New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Arizona. Despite their struggles and tribulations through time, they remain active here today continuing most of their traditions and cultural lifestyle. The Navajo people interacted with other tribes and many settlers during their time, which played a major role in their history, which was also shaped by their relocation to their reservation. The Navajo people eventually transitioned their lifestyle of raiding and begun incorporating pastoral and agricultural qualities. Their new way of pastoral and agricultural lifestyle has helped paved a history in their everyday activities, such as their social organization, their way of spiritual healing and even their family relations (Harper & Demchick, 2009). Since the early beginnings of the Navajos, the main interactions outside of their own tribes had been limited to the “Pueblos”, which were tribes located in the southwestern region of the United States. During the end of the 16th century, the Navajos also had many contacts with the Spanish settlers which arrived in the area. The relationships with these groups were generally hostile which has forged a long period of raiding and warfare by the Navajos. In July of 1598, the Spanish settlers arrive in the southwestern portion of the United States. Bringing with them they brought domesticated animals such as sheep and horses, which were new creatures to the Navajo people. During the beginning of the 17th century, the Navajos primarily relied on raiding other tribes as survival. They generally raided surrounding settlements for supplies like food, animals, and even tools. Oftentimes they would capture individuals and attempt to integrate them into Navajo society. When the Spanish settlers arrived in the area, the Navajo people realized they had an opportunity for advancement. Once the Navajo begun raiding, they started the beginning of a new lifestyle. By raiding the new Spanish settlements, the Navajo were able to gather new livestock consisting primarily of sheep and horse. This later emerged into one of the important aspects of Navajo lifestyle. The Spanish settlements carried other important items such as metal, ammunition and firearms, which would later be introduced to the Navajos. With the relationship that the Navajos created with the Spanish settler, there was a very hostile atmosphere between them. This hostile relationship, lead to retaliation from the Spanish. However, as destructive as this relationship was, it also benefited the Navajos. As the raids continued, the Navajos and Spanish were able to transfer many ideas and ways of living though each other’s actions. As the Navajo would be capture and raided as retaliation, those that escaped would bring new ideas and technologies back to their tribes. The women and children, who returned, adopted many of the methods of agriculture and herding from the Spanish. This eventually changed the role of women and children within the tribe. Despite the relationship with these two societies, they eventually established an allied relationship towards the early 1700’s during their interactions with the Apaches during the Battle of Sierra Zul. Also during this time period, the Navajos were able to remain physically distant from the Spanish, which prevented the chances of catching the widespread epidemic of small pox that was sweeping the area which eliminated many surrounding tribes. This also allowed for greater expansion and more livestock and crops. The Navajos eventually migrated to Canyon De Chelly, which became their homestead, which offered an advantageous opportunity to grow corn and peach trees. Because of the geographical