Collection Description

Brief Culture Description

Culture Name


Culture Description

The Navajo are the second largest Native North American group. They currently live mostly in northwestern New Mexico, northeastern Arizona, and southeastern Utah. The Navajo language belongs to the Apachean branch of the Athapaskan family. Ancestors of the Navajo are thought to have migrated to the Southwest within the last one thousand years. Modern Navajo culture exhibits a unique blend of Athapaskan, Puebloan, Mexican, and Anglo-American influences. Every Navajo belongs to one of sixty-four matrilineal clans. Navajo mythology is epitomized in the curing ceremony called the Blessing Way.


Select the Culture Summary link above for a longer description of the culture.


North America --Southwest and Basin


United States

OWC Code


Collection Information

Number of Documents


Note: Select the Collection Documents tab above to browse documents.

Number of Pages


Collection Indexing Notes

Advisory committee -- advisers to the tribal council -- category 647

Blessing Way ceremony -- categories 755, 796, 751

camp -- 2-10 separate households living in a geographically distinct residence area -- categories 596, 621

Bureau of Indian Affairs--657

chapters -- moderately large political units -- category 631

clan groups -- category 614 (sometimes with 615)

code talkers (during World War II) -- category 708

Community Effort for Economic Development (CEED) -- an organization designed to help promote small businesses at the local chapter level -- category 179

constitutional assembly -- category 646

cooperating groups -- see "outfit"

co-residential kin groups -- category 613

district grazing committees -- categories 647, 233, 634 (sometimes 654 applicable)

DINEBEIINA NAHILNA BE AGADITAH (D.N.A.) -- a legal aid service designed to provide free legal advice to the Navajo -- category 693

field matrons -- similar in function to visiting nurses (non-Navajo)-- categories 657, 748

grattage -- a special surgical procedure used by government doctors in the treatment of trachoma in which the granules inside the eyelids are scraped off with a special instrument -- categories 657, 744

hand tremblers -- categories 756, 791 (depending on context)

hand trembling divination -- category 787

HATLI -- chanter -- category 756

homestead group -- category 596

HWELDE -- a reference to the march of the Navajo to Fort Sumner following the Navajo wars -- category 727

Ideal Woman -- 885

Indian Health Service (His)-744

JISH - medicine pouch -- 778

KINAALDÁ -- a girl's first menses and accompanying ceremony -- category 881

land management districts -- 18 in all on the reservation -- categories 634/657

land use community -- see "outfit"

NAACHID -- a winter council -- category 623

NAT'ANI (NAAT'AANIIS) -- headman -- category 622 (sometimes with 624)

Native American Church--795

natural communities -- category 621

Navajo Nation's Historic Preservation Department (NNHPD) -- category 814

New Mexico Association of Indian Affairs (NMAIA) -- a private charitable organization involved in promoting Indian health care issues -- category 747

Office of Navajo Economic Opportunity (ONEO) -- an organization designed to help the Navajo in proposing economic programs and in administering federal money to operate the projects -- category 179

outfit (called cooperating groups by Malcolm Collier) -- social units more extended than residence groups which cooperate with one another in various economic activities -- categories 596, 613 (sometimes with 628 and 476)

POBRES -- peasants, commoners -- category 565

pollen - 243, 782, 824

residence groups -- one or more closely related households living in close proximity to one another -- category 596

RICO -- nobility; individuals of high status and wealth constituting a class-like structure in the society -- categories 565, 554, 556

singers -- curing and religious functionaries -- category 756 (sometimes combined with 796 and 755)

Squaw Dance -- categories 755, 535

star-gazers -- category 756

stock reduction -- category 233 (sometimes with 179)

tribal council (modern -- post 1923) -- category 643

YEI -- the Holy People -- category 776

Close Box