Native Americans for Kids
The Native American Navajo tribe is one of the largest tribes of American Indians. They lived in the Southwest in areas that are today Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah. The name "Navajo" comes from the Spanish who called them the Apaches of Navajo. They called themselves "Dine" or "the People".
What type of homes did the Navajo live in?
The Navajo lived in hogans. A hogan was a domed shaped house with a wood frame and walls made out of clay. The door of the hogan always faced east so they could see the sun rise.
What did the Navajo eat?
The Navajo were farmers who grew the three main crops that many Native Americans grew: corn, beans, and squash. After the Spanish arrived in the 1600s, the Navajo began to farm sheep and goats as well, with sheep becoming a major source of meat. They also hunted animals for food like deer and rabbits. They made dishes like mutton stew, fried cornbread, and even grilled prairie dog.
What types of clothes did they wear?
Before they started raising sheep, the Navajo wore clothes made of woven yucca plants or deerskin. The men wore breechcloths and the women skirts. Their shoes were soft leather moccasins. Later, they wore clothes woven from the wool of sheep.
Navajo Rugs and Blankets
The Navajo are known for their woven rugs and blankets. They first learned to weave cotton from the Pueblo peoples. When they started to raise sheep they switched to wool. These blankets were valuable and only the wealthy leaders could afford them. For this reason they were often called Chief's Blankets. Today, Navajo rugs and blankets are still in demand and can still be quite expensive.
In the olden days of the Navajo, the arts and crafts were divided between men and women. Women wove blankets and made clay pots while the men made jewelry. One form of jewelry that is still popular today is silver jewelry. The Navajo like to use turquoise in their jewelry as well.
The Long Walk
In 1864, around 9,000 Navajo were forced by soldiers on a march from Arizona to New Mexico. Around 200 people died during the 450 mile trek. The relocation was poorly planned and unsuccessful. Four years later the Navajo were allowed to return to their homeland.
Fun Facts about the Navajo Indians
Take a ten question quiz at the Navajo Nation questions page.
- Manuelito was one of the main war chiefs of the Navajo. He resisted the long walk and signed a treaty giving the Navajo a reservation in Arizona.
- Jacoby Ellsbury, a professional baseball player, is a member of a Navajo tribe.
- Before horses they used dogs to pull sleds called travois.
- They are closely related to the Apache tribes.
- The Navajo Nation is the largest American Indian reservation in the United States. The capital city of the reservation is Window Rock, Arizona.
- The Navajo language is so difficult to learn that it was used as a secret code in World War II.
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