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Southwest Tribes: NAVAJO

The Navajo Language is part of the Athabaskan Language family. The Navajo have been a matriarchy. All property was owned and passed to daughters and daughter-in-laws including the home and sheep. Although the women owned the sheep, the men tended to the sheep. During Franklin Roosevelt's Administration, his men were unaware of the fact that the women owned the sheep and the men tending to them were not the owners. FDR's men were trying to allot sheep, only they allotted them to the men tending them and not the women that owned them. Some women had several brothers, husbands, and uncles tending their sheep, while other women only had one or two male relatives tending their sheep, and when FDR's administration reassigned the sheep they messed up the property rights to the women. All rights of residency extend from the head mother of each residence. If a woman wants a divorce, she simply places the man's moccasins outside the hogan and he must leave with his shoes and nothing else as all property belongs to the women. At the death of a husband, a woman is expected to remarry or return to her natal unit. Child birth is a formal ceremony of the family with the mother, sisters, and husband present. Traditionally the woman dug a hole in the hogan and a red sash was tied to the ceiling frames of the hogan. The woman held onto this red sash during the birth while standing for the delivery over the dug-out hole. When the baby was born, a female relative took the red sash and tied it around the new mother's belly where the baby was born from. The afterbirth of the child was then formally buried inside the hogan and the hole was filled over. In modern times, some hospitals allow Navajo women to take their afterbirth/placenta back to the reservation with them to be traditionally buried inside their hogan.

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Navajo Links
Athabaskan (Na-Dene) Language Family
Cheyenne, Kwakiutl, and Navajo Nations
Navajo Code Talkers
Navajo Creation Story
Navajo Indians
Navajo Literature
Navajo Nation: Official Site
Navajo Religion

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Last updated 12.7.2014