The Navajo Society: The Navajo Society

2208 Words9 Pages
The Navajo Society The Navajo Society The Navajo People have led a pastoral lifestyle and existence in the Southwest United States with limited space on reservations and have been able to maintain a strong sense of their identity, social structure and culture along the way. In this paper I hope to explain how the Navajo culture has persevered throughout the many challenges and changes over the last three centuries. Although it is difficult for most outsiders to confine the social organization of the Navajo into a certain category, a definite system is present with most emphasis on motherhood. Understood as a conceptual or symbolic social system, “motherhood is found in life, reproduction, and subsistence”, (Witherspoon, 1970, p.55). The…show more content…
It is through a connection to traditions that allow the Navajo the ability to adapt to these issues and continue to survive as a culture and society. Although the new internal challenge they face is the effects of the Euro-American belief system that has altered the culture and poses many concerns among the elder community. With the influence of the English language and the loss of teaching the Dine language in the communities, many Navajo elders believe the younger generations are unable to fully understand the meaning of the origin stories. The consensus among them is the, “Navajo cultural identity is contingent on the ability to speak the language. They believe that a Navajo person should and must know how to speak the Dine language and that language helps a person have a strong connection to their identity”, (Lee, 2006, p.10). One would like to point out how this theme of concern for the preservation of culture and teachings is shared by many other cultures not excluding the American culture. The argument is made though that each generation defines itself through the continuous process of producing tangible and intangible products. Examples of these products varies from the intangible like prayers, chants and stories to the tangible like jewelry, skirts and pants and the signifying factor remains that this is a philosophy that has existed in the Navajo society since creation(Lee, 2006, p.11).…show more content…
Dole and Csordas state, “Navajo youth today, as they move through the multiple social worlds that constitute both on and off reservation life, find themselves continually confronting shifting and deeply problematic notions of what it means to be Navajo”(Sep, 2003, p.2). Previously discussed is the emphasis on the lost teachings of the Dine language that has led elder Navajo to believe is the reason the younger generation struggle with personal identity. Lee states, “the children see the Navajo way of life led by an elder as boring, unhappy and miserable. Navajo children, according to the elders, are too confused and have too many thoughts”, (2006, p. 11). Although the pride in claiming to be Navajo still remains, the culture and practice of the latter seems to be what is in jeopardy. Navajo youth appear to be adapting to the new surroundings and idealisms that most American children face today that differs greatly from their parents and grandparents generations. The value placed on tradition can understandably get lost in translation but does that make the younger generation less of a Navajo? One would venture to think how the relevance of the times we live and the view of our peers is what makes and shapes us into who we are and who we

More about The Navajo Society: The Navajo Society

Open Document