Cultural Heritage of the Navajo

This page was written by Erin Klauk as part of the DLESE Community Services Project: Integrating Research in Education.

Three Navajo.
Three Navajo. Details

The Navajo reservation, created in 1868, is by far the largest reservation in the United States, with over 15 million acres of land, and a human population of over 148,000. The Diné, as they call themselves, have been remarkably successful at preserving their unique culture, despite an increasing shift toward Anglo-American lifestyles. It is estimated that approximately 80% of the population speaks the Navajo language (Navajo (Dine) (more info) ).

The Navajo originated from northwest Canada and Alaska around the 15th century, and many of their traditions have survived through time. Their arts, including weaving, basket making, pottery making, and jewelry making continue to be passed on to daughters and granddaughters. Many Navajo children raised on the reservation continue to herd sheep and livestock. The Diné believe they are sustained as a nation because of their enduring faith in the Great Spirit. Because of their strong spirituality, the Navajo people believe they will continue to survive as an Indian nation forever (Explore the Navajo Nation).

Two Navajo children riding a horse. Details

Investigate the Culture of the Navajo

Resources related to culture of the Navajo

  • Navajo (Dine). This website consists of a fact sheet that provides a brief account of the ancient and modern history the Navajo peoples. The text discusses the Navajo transition from nomadic hunting and gathering people in the early Spanish period to the sheep herding, blanket-weaving peoples of the nineteenth century. Links within the text lead to a glossary of terms and additional information about the history and cultural heritage of the Navajo peoples. (more info)
  • Navajo Country. This map of the Navajo Nation illustrates settlements, landforms, water features, parks, forests, and neighboring Indian reservations. The map index provides links to additional information about some of these features. (more info)
  • Navajo Nation. This site is an informational website about Navajo culture. Information includes the meaning of the Navajo flag, the origin of the Navajo people, the four worlds of the Navajo, the significance of the four directions (north, south, east, west) to the Navajo, language, family and culture. Users may also follow links to information on other Native American cultures, an ancient civilization index, and an alphabetical list of all files in the Crystalinks website. (more info)
  • Navajo Timeline. This searchable timeline describes Navajo history from 1200 BC through the year 2002. Throughout the timeline, historical events of the Navajo are described and paired with world history. Useful links to topics concerning the Navajo can be found in the later periods within the timeline. Users can search the timeline using a pull-down menu of time periods. (more info)

For ideas on how to use these webpages in a classroom, a Study Guide is provided.