Navajo Pastoralism

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Navajo Pastoralism, Transhumance, Kinship Bonds, and Sacred Ceremonies Teresa Prisco ANT 101 Professor Marble September 10, 2012 Navajo Pastoralism, Transhumance, Kinship bonds, and Sacred Ceremonies The Navajo tribes practice pastoralism, but unlike traditional pastoral societies they follow a matrilineal and matrilocal kinship system and implement the use of transhumance. This act of transhumance dates back to their original time when they were known as the Diné. The Diné began as foragers living off of the land and slowly, throughout the centuries transformed themselves to pastoralists. Kinship systems, gender relations, and healing practices among the Navajo rely heavily on giving, producing, and taking care of…show more content…
You are of sky and I am of earth. You are constant in your brightness, but I must change with the seasons. You move constantly at the edge of heaven, while I must be fixed in one place. Remember, as different as we are, you and I, we are of one spirit. As dissimilar as we are, you and I, we are of equal worth...Unlike each other as you and I are, there can be no harmony in the universe as long as there is no harmony between us’" (p. 275). These very distinct roles of what the men’s responsibilities are among the tribe versus the women’s responsibilities is known as K'é. According to Gary Witherspoon (1977), the roles they played were a “static reality.” This static structure encompasses the ceremonial realm of the tribe, which we will be exploring later in this paper. The women who Witherspoon described as playing a role known as “active reality” encompasses the tribal roles of economic and social responsibilities. This put the women in charge of the food, home, and the family systems (p. 14). Because the Diné followed a matrilineal system, women within the tribe had just as much as (if not more) responsibilities as men did. The lineage model kept women in power within the home as well as within the tribe. Even as the Diné changed from a foraging way of life into a transhumance pastoral way of life, women still played a central role among the…show more content…
Kinship terminology for nadleehi relies on the distinction between male and female, and a male nadleehi is referred to as "daughter-in-law" when introduced to her partner's parents (PK, BH). Terms of endearment between nadleehi and their partners are based on female and male associations, respectively, and not on association with a third gender (p. 279). This means that all in all, gender relations among the Navajo were based more on the role the person played in the tribe rather than on sexual orientation. If it weren’t for outside views and the “politically correct” pressure from people outside of their tribal constructs, the Navajo probably wouldn’t have differentiated nadleehi or berdache in the ways that they are. Kinship systems within this pastoral society were based on love, acceptance, and caring for others. They prove this to be true by accepting not only the person who is deemed nadleehi, but by allowing them to find their own place within society. Sickness and

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