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.

In the present paper two spellings of the Navaho word for hut are used.  The proper form is qo[.g]an, but in and around the Navaho country it has become an adopted English word under the corrupt form hogan.  Thus nearly all the whites in that region pronounce and spell it, and many of the Indians, to be easily understood by whites, are pronouncing it lately in the corrupted form.  Therefore, wherever the term is employed as an adopted English word, the form hogan is given, but where it is used as part of a Navaho phrase or compound word the strictly correct form qo[.g]an is preserved.

An inverted comma (’) following a vowel shows that the vowel is aspirated.

An inverted comma following l shows that the l’ is aspirated in a peculiar manner—­more with the side than with the tip of the tongue.

[ng] represents the nasalized form of n.

[.g] represents the Arabic ghain.

In other respects the alphabet of the Bureau is followed.


The Navaho reservation comprises an extensive area in the extreme northeastern part of Arizona and the northwestern corner of New Mexico (plate LXXXII).  The total area is over 11,000 square miles, of which about 650 square miles are in New Mexico; but it would be difficult to find a region of equal size and with an equal population where so large a proportion of the land is so nearly worthless.  This condition has had an important effect on the people and their arts, and especially on their houses.

The region may be roughly characterized as a vast sandy plain, arid in the extreme; or rather as two such plains, separated by a chain of mountains running northwest and southeast.  In the southern part of the reservation this mountain range is known as the Choiskai mountains, and here the top is flat and mesa-like in character, dotted with little lakes and covered with giant pines, which in the summer give it a park-like aspect.  The general elevation of this plateau is a little less than 9,000 feet above the sea and about 3,000 feet above the valleys or plains east and west of it.

The continuation of the range to the northwest, separated from the Choiskai only by a high pass, closed in winter by deep snow, is known as the Tunicha mountains.  The summit here is a sharp ridge with pronounced slopes and is from 9,000 to 9,400 feet high.  On the west there are numerous small streams, which, rising near the summit, course down the steep slopes and finally discharge through Canyon Chelly into the great Chinlee valley, which is the western of the two valleys referred to above.  The eastern slope is more pronounced than the western, and its streams are so small and insignificant that they are hardly worthy of mention.

Still farther to the northwest, and not separated from the Tunicha except by a drawing in or narrowing of the mountain mass, with no depression of the summit, is another part of the same range, which bears a separate name.  It is known as the Lukachukai mountains.  Here something of the range character is lost, and the uplift becomes a confused mass, a single great pile, with a maximum altitude of over 9,400 feet.

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