Navaho Houses, pages 469-518 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 71 pages of information about Navaho Houses, pages 469-518.

  [Illustration:  Fig. 236—­Section of a summer hut]

Plate LXXXVI shows a shelter somewhat resembling that last described, but of more simple construction.  Here the main crosspiece which forms the front of the shelter is supported by forked upright timbers, as in the previous example, and here also the fork of the main upright is too large and has been filled in.

  [Illustration:  Fig. 237—­Masonry support for rafters]

Aside from the types described, which illustrate the more common forms of summer shelters, all kinds and degrees of variation are found.  As they, unlike the regular hogan, do not follow any rule or precedent, their form depends largely on the facilities or the particular requirements or abilities of the builder.  Figure 238 shows a shelter in the mountains, where timber is abundant.  Except that it is not covered with earth and has no door-frame, it might be classed as a regular hogan.

Figure 239 shows a form that occurs in the valley regions where driftwood can sometimes be obtained.  It is closely related to the “lean-to” type, but it is formed partly by excavating the side of a hill and is well covered with earth.  It will be noticed that the front is partly closed by logs leaned against it and resting against the front crosspiece or ridgepole.

Figure 240 shows a type which is common in the valleys where timber is scarce and difficult to procure.  Sage and other brush is used largely in the construction of shelters of this sort, as the few timbers which are essential can be procured only with great difficulty, and usually must be brought a great distance.

  [Illustration:  Fig. 238—­A timber-built shelter]

Plate LXXXVII shows a structure that might easily be mistaken for a summer shelter, but which is a special type.  It is a regular hogan, so far as the frame and timber work go, but it is covered only with cedar boughs.  The illustration shows a part of the covering removed.  This structure was a “medicine hut,” put up for the performance of certain ceremonies over a woman who was ill.  There are no traces of any fire in the interior, perhaps for the reason that the women’s ceremony is always performed in the day time.  Aside from its lack of covering, it is a typical hogan, and the illustration conveys a good impression of the construction always followed.  This kind of hut is called an [)i]nca qo[.g]an.

Rude and primitive as these structures seem, a certain amount of knowledge and experience is necessary to build them.  This has been discovered at various times by whites who have attempted to build hogans and failed.  An instance occurred not long ago where a trader, finding it necessary to build some kind of a travelers’ house, where Indians who came in to trade late in the evening or on Sunday could spend the night, decided to build a regular hogan.  He employed several Navaho to do the work under his own supervision.  The result was a failure, for, either on account of too much slope to the sides or for other reasons, the hogan does not remain in good order, and constant work on it is necessary to maintain it in a habitable condition.

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