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The Navajo Or Diné Essay

1647 words - 7 pages

The Diné, or Navajo, exhibit in the Arizona Museum is organized in an appropriate manner. The exhibit starts with the introduction to the Diné people, discussing the Athapaskan Migration. It then displays a beautiful sand painting done by a Diné man which represents the Diné Bikeyah or homeland. The Diné are introduced as a pastoral people who adopted customs from other native peoples as they migrated south to present day Arizona. The next topic discussed in the exhibit is the Long Walk, or the forceful movement of Diné people to Fort Sumner in 1863 and the return to Diné Bikeyah in 1868. Pastoralism is then discussed more in depth including how pastoralism and specifically sheep effected the Diné economy. The importance of weaving rugs is introduced as well. Sheep were an important part of the Diné culture, not only economically, but through kinship and community as well. The sacred narrative of Spider Woman was an audio recording within the exhibit accompanied by a modern day scene of women weaving rugs and spinning their own wool into yarn. This scene is important because while it shows the Diné living in a modern home, it shows how they blend modern day lifestyles with sacred Diné tradition. The conclusion of the exhibit discusses this blend with the modern day and traditional as well as displays rugs both modern and traditional.
The Diné have been a pastoral people for the last three centuries. The main animals they care for are horses, cattle and sheep. Sheep, being the most influential animal group they raise and care for due to their role in Diné economy, kinship, and community. The history of pastoralism revolves around central concepts of animals, lands and journeys. The Diné people consider their entire history just a grouping of journeys. The Diné were originally from Northern Canada. It does not say why they migrated south in the exhibit. What I found interesting was that they originally were one group of people but spilt into two groups. One group became the Diné and the second group became the Apache. They are connected still by a similar Athapaskan language. The Apache remained more of a hunter-gatherer society while the Diné became a pastoral and farming people, living a sedentary lifestyle. The Spanish called them the “Apache de Nabajo” which means the Apache who practice agriculture.
During their migration south on “The Beautiful Trail”, the Diné adopted several different things from other native cultures which they felt complimented their way of living. They were very flexible when it came to adding to their tradition. From the Pueblo people, the Diné learned agriculture. When the Spaniards came, the Diné adopted a pastoral lifestyle with the introduction of sheep, goats and horses. So, agriculture and pastoralism became a mainstay of life for the Diné. Originally, the Diné were part of a hunter gatherer society. It is believed that all Native American groups started from this point and some eventually decided to become...

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