ePub The Navajo ePub

by Susan Stan

This was the least informative and enjoyable book I've ever read about Native Americans. Every other book I've ever read provides a lot more information and insight into a tribe's culture, but this chose to highlight only one time, the time after white people made contact with the Navajo. There was a shocking lack of details and culture before the Navajo started integrating white culture into their own, like nothing was known about them at all. That's what I came away feeling like, that the Navajo were unknown until white people came. And maybe that's because nothing is actually known about them until white people started documenting them the way they saw them, so that's all they had to go on now. All that was said was they probably wore deerskin clothing. That was pretty much it.

I kept wanting more detail, more about their culture, but nothing was given at all. I didn't like the way topics were bounced around in a random way, what the author chose to highlight, and most of all the myriad of things that could've been addressed but weren't. It's clear the book was written a couple decades ago or something, I didn't bother to look, but the pictures looked like they were from the 80s. They weren't clear, they weren't that impressive; most came out dark-looking like they were taken on a cloudy day, and the moments they captured weren't the best. It was like candid, but the bad kind of candid shots where you take it and you really should've let the person know they were being photographed so they could prepare. One picture of Arizona looked like it was during a thunderstorm, not impressive at all, and I'm shocked these pictures made it into the book at all.

The artwork left much to be desired, it was mostly vague splotches of color that didn't go together that well. The white soldiers had patches of red skin like they've been injured. It looked like wounds on their faces and hands. The Navajo looked very light brown, white and pink. One man had a light brown face, pink cheeks, and was pink from the neck down. He looked like he'd been skinned or boiled. It was crazy. Everyone was two-toned and three-toned.

There were a few good lines that were eloquently spoken and really inspirational, it was clear the author admired that aspect of the Navajo, because emphasis was placed on the Navajo land being beautiful and valuable, even though it was desert land. It described it like the Navajo inherited good land because of all the rugged and majestic landmarks. It was nice reading that even though some people move away to pursue a college education they usually return to the reservation. And in spite of the government trying to change them, they kept their cultural identity and it remains today. Navajos rarely marry outside of their tribe. Many speak their language. "To visit the Navajo reservation is very much like stepping into another country. In many ways, true Navajo nation is just that—a nation within a nation."

I thought that was written well, that they had a strong cultural identity that hadn't been broken. It was evident the author admired Navajos and that was appreciated. I just wish the information had been presented in order, because some skipped around and went back and forth. There were so many things that needed to be mentioned but wasn't. I'll have to go elsewhere for their culture, like marriage customs, dancing, beliefs, legends, stories, way of life, etc. I can't believe all the crucial information that was left out.

There was some useful information:
There were two groups of Navajos; came from New Mexico and from the west. The one in Mexico farmed and lived in permanent homes and the other group that were related to the Apaches were nomads that were as far north as Canada and traveled in small hands to hunt and gather food. When they arrived in Arizona they stayed hidden from other tribes in canyons and mountains that were near water and food. They called the area the Dinetah which means homeland.

Spanish explorers came across them and said they were peaceful and brought them tortillas. They saw horses for the first time and knew the advantage of them, and raided horses from the Spanish. They were able to appear out of the canyons quickly, steal the horses and disappear again as fast. The Spanish conquered the Pueblo Indians and made them work for low wages and give up part of what they grew or made. Some were taken as slaves and treated harshly, and some were tortured by having a foot cut off or being maimed. The Navajos freed as many of the Pueblos as they could, and some Pueblos joined to escape the Spanish. The Navajo raided the sheep herds and took the Pueblo sheep herders as well. The Navajos adopted ceremonies and styles from the Pueblos and the Pueblos adopted the language and other aspects of Navajo culture. The Pueblos had apartment style homes and the Navajos live in hogans. The Navajo moved into Arizona to escape the Spaniards and Comanches and Utes that were attacking them. The Navajos lived mostly permanently, not the nomadic lifestyle they used to have, moving only 2 or 3 times a year to follow good pastures. They received peach seeds from other Indians that had worked on Spanish estates, and were considered wealthy because they had livestock, plenty of food, shelter and clothing.

The army decided to capture the Navajo and make them farmers, and burnt their cornfields, destroyed their homes, stole or killed their horses and sheep, and took women and children captive in an effort to make the Navajo leave the land. The numbers of their livestock flourished but the government thought the land couldn't support all the animals, so they started taking or killing them.

In the 1600s the Navajo women wove rugs. Sheep belonged to the women and horses belonged to the men. White traders introduced dyed yarn and the women made designs that had been ordered by white women. In this way new designs were created. Today they're a mixture of traditional patterns and creativity. Trading posts were set up and Indians traded their wool and blankets, silver and turquoise jewelry, after a day's journey on horseback to reach it. They took their time there, talking with family and friends. John Hubbell, a white man who helped the Indians understand white ways, was the one to introduce silver smithing to the Navajos. They used jewelry to pawn, leaving the item at the trading post for a loan and getting it back when they paid the money back. They used to wear deerskin clothing but then traded for cotton from the whites. The men dressed like Mexican gentlemen, with blankets over one shoulder. Their pants came down between their knee and ankle. Women wore dresses made of 2 blankets stitched together at the shoulders. Then they started wearing long, wide skirts like white women. Some men started wearing coats and pants, but some still wore breechcloths and leggings. For many years they all wore moccasins, fearing the white men's things.

A tribal council was set up to deal with the federal government and a local one for communities. The Navajo were willing to accept aspects of other cultures that were useful while leaving the rest. They always kept their own cultural identity even when they adopted things from other cultures.

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Book Title
Book Author
PublisherRourke Publishing (FL)
Release date 01.12.1989
Pages count32
eBook formatHardcover, (torrent)En
File size2 Mb
Book rating2 (1 votes)
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