Navaho Houses, pages 469-518 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 57 pages of information about Navaho Houses, pages 469-518.

Some of the Pueblo tribes, the Hopi or Moki, for example, have been subjected to much the same conditions as the Navaho; but in this case similarity of conditions has produced very dissimilar results, that is, as regards house structures.  The reasons, however, are obvious, and lie principally in two distinct causes—­antecedent habits and personal character.  The Navaho are a fine, athletic race of men, living a free and independent life.  They are without chiefs, in the ordinary meaning of the term, although there are men in the tribe who occupy prominent positions and exercise a kind of semiauthority—­chiefs by courtesy, as it were.  Ever since we have known them, now some three hundred years, they have been hunters, warriors, and robbers.  When hunting, war, and robbery ceased to supply them with the necessaries of life they naturally became a pastoral people, for the flocks and the pasture lands were already at hand.  It is only within the last few years that they have shown indication of developing into an agricultural people.  With their previous habits only temporary habitations were possible, and when they became a pastoral people the same habitations served their purpose better than any other.  The hogans of ten or fifteen years ago, and to a certain extent the hogans of today, are practically the same as they were three hundred years ago.  There has been no reason for a change and consequently no change has been made.

On the other hand, the Hopi came into the country with a comparatively elaborate system of house structures, previously developed elsewhere.  They are an undersized, puny race, content with what they have and asking only to be left alone.  They are in no sense warriors, although there is no doubt that they have fought bitterly among themselves within historic times.  Following the Spanish invasion they also received sheep and goats, but their previous habits prevented them from becoming a pastoral people like the Navaho, and their main reliance for food is, and always was, on horticultural products.  Living, as they did, in fixed habitations and in communities, the pastoral life was impossible to them, and their marked timidity would prevent the abandonment of their communal villages.

Under modern conditions these two methods of life, strongly opposed to each other, although practiced in the same region and under the same physical conditions, are drawing a little closer together.  Under the strong protecting arm of the Government the Hopi are losing a little of their timidity and are gradually abandoning their villages on the mesa summits and building individual houses in the valleys below.  Incidentally they are increasing their flocks and herds.  On the other hand, under the stress of modern conditions, the Navaho are surely, although very slowly, turning to agriculture, and apparently show some disposition to form small communities.  Their flocks of sheep and goats have decreased materially in the last few years, a decrease due largely to the removal of the duty on wool and the consequent low price they obtained from the traders for this staple article of their trade.

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Navaho Houses, pages 469-518 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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