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Habitat

The Navajo lived in what is now northwestern New Mexico and northeastern Arizona. This land contained peaks, grasslands, deserts, and canyons. The Navajo were a nomadic group of people until they came into contact with the Pueblo. They adopted some of the beliefs and customs of the Pueblo including farming, making pottery, and weaving.

Homes

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Model of a hogan built by a student

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The Navajo lived in homes called hogans. Hogans were round houses built with forked sticks. The sticks were covered with brush, packed earth, hides, and whatever was available. The front door of the hogan always faced east to catch the first light of the morning sun. Later the Navajo built a six-sided hogan of logs and mud. The hogan always had only one room. Some had tables, chairs, beds, and wood-burning stoves. Outside the home a loom for weaving was set up. It was brought indoors only in the winter. A corral for the herd of sheep was close by the hogan. Homes were far apart from each other. The Navajo blessed their homes in a special ceremony to bring it good luck and happiness.

 

Dress

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The Navajo make their clothing from deerskin. The men wore breechcloths and leggings. The women wore deerskin dresses. Both wore moccasins. After the 1800’s the Navajo men borrowed the style of  the Mexicans and wore blankets draped over one shoulder. Their pants ended halfway between their knees and ankles. They decorated the seams of their pants with silver buttons. The women also borrowed the Mexican style of dressing. The women wore woolen dresses made with two blankets stitched together at their shoulders. The women carried their babies in cradle boards, sometimes strapped to their backs. Later the women traded for calico and made big, full skirts.

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 The following information was sent to us from

Bernadette M. Wright
Phoenix, AZ   

Traditional women would wear a traditional dress made of cotton material, having three to four tears in the skirt.  Her shirt is typically made of velvet or crushed velvet adorned with coin buttons.  She will also wear two types of traditional belts, either at the same time or one at a time.  That decision is usually made based on the type of event or reason for dressing traditional.  The first belt is a woven belt is named “sash belt”, the second, a leather belt, which is worn on top of the sash; this is called a concho belt.  The women have no head dresses, rather a Navajo bun positioned on the back of the head.

A traditional man would wear cotton pants, a concho belt, and velvet or crushed velvet shirt.  A man and wife will usually wear matching outfits.  The only traditional head dress worn is worn by a man.  Aside from the Navajo bun, positioned in the back of the head, there would be a scarf, folded to make a long thin (belt looking) scarf.  This would be tied above one ear.

 

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