Spending Time with Navajo Native Americans in Monument Valley, USA

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Whilst travelling across the USA in Summer 2014, I had the pleasure of spending some time with a group of Native Americans, who are part of the Navajo Group. For those who don’t know, the Navajo Tribe is the second largest Native American group, with around 300,000 members. They are primarily based around the ‘Four Corners’ of the USA. I travelled across the USA with a well known tour operator, as I was travelling alone and was not old enough to hire a car in the USA

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I toured through Monument Valley via jeep. Our tour guide was a member of the Navajo People. As well as showing us the amazing landscape, we also learned a great deal about the lifestyle of the Navajo People. The Navajo People or the ‘Diné’ believe that this is the Fourth World. Nature is very important to the Diné and they believe that their purpose is to restore the balance between the earth and the people.

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Traditionally, the Navajo people live in small homes, traditionally made from wood, bark and mud. These homes are called Hogans and are used for religious ceremonies. They are almost dome shaped and they have a hole in the roof. This allows the Diné to light fires inside of the house. The doorway always faces east because the sun rises in the East. I had the pleasure of being invited into one of these homes10

 

 

The Navajo people are well known for their creative textile rug designs. Traditionally, the rugs are bold in design and quite colourful. In my photo below, you can a lady who is making yarn from wool.

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Whilst travelling through Monument valley, we came across some Navajo drawings, in the rocks. These drawings had been there, undisturbed, for many years. They were fairly high up on the wall which indicates that the ground level used to be much higher.

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In the evening, The Navajo People cooked for us. We had Beef Steak which had been sacrificed earlier that week, so the meat was very fresh. The beef was served with a simple salad and was served on Navajo Fry bread.4

In the evening, the Diné dressed in full traditional clothing. They performed traditional music and dances for us. We also took part in traditional group dances, which involved making a chain and weaving in and out of each other, dancing in male-female pairs and taking turns to dance in the middle of the circle in groups of 4. The Diné encouraged us to let our bodies feel the music and to do whatever felt natural, no matter how silly we may have felt.

Meeting the Navajo people was one of my trip highlights. I learnt a lot about the beliefs and traditions of the Diné, The Diné fully welcomed us and were happy to share their stories with us. I encourage everyone who is travelling through the four corners to visit the Navajo People. They truly are remarkable people.

Happy Travels,

Jasmine

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