You can’t wake a person who is pretending to be asleep. – Navajo

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You can’t wake a person who is pretending to be asleep. – Navajo

Early history

A 19th-century hogan

Navajos spinning and weaving

The Navajo are speakers of a Na-Dené Southern Athabaskan language they call Diné bizaad (lit. ‘People’s language’). The language comprises two geographic, mutually intelligible dialects. The Apache language is closely related to the Navajo language; the Navajo and Apache are believed to have migrated from northwestern Canada and eastern Alaska, where the majority of Athabaskan speakers reside.[4] Speakers of various other Athabaskan languages located in Canada may still comprehend the Navajo language despite the geographic and linguistic deviation of the languages.[5] Additionally, some Navajo speak Navajo Sign Language, which is either a dialect or daughter of Plains Sign Talk. Some also speak Plains Sign Talk itself.[6]

Archaeological and historical evidence suggests the Athabaskan ancestors of the Navajo and Apache entered the Southwest around 1400 CE.[7][8] The Navajo oral tradition is said[by whom?] to retain references to this migration.[citation needed]

Until contact with the Pueblo and the Spanish peoples, the Navajo were largely hunters and gatherers. The tribe adopted crop-farming techniques from the Pueblo peoples, growing mainly the traditional “Three Sisters” of corn, beans, and squash. After the Spanish colonists influenced the people, the Navajo began keeping and herding livestock—sheep and goats—as a main source of trade and food. Meat became an essential component of the Navajo diet. Sheep also became a form of currency and status symbols among the Navajo based on the overall quantity of herds a family maintained.[9][10] In addition, women began to spin and weave wool into blankets and clothing; they created items of highly valued artistic expression, which were also traded and sold.

Oral history indicates a long relationship with Pueblo people[11] and a willingness to incorporate Puebloan ideas and linguistic variance into their culture. There were long-established trading practices between the groups. Spanish records from the mid-16th century recount the Pueblo exchanging maize and woven cotton goods for bison meat, hides, and stone from Athabaskans traveling to the pueblos or living in their vicinity. In the 18th century, the Spanish reported the Navajo maintaining large herds of livestock and cultivating large crop areas.[citation needed]

Western historians believe that the Spanish before 1600 referred to the Navajo as Apaches (from the Zuni word for “enemy”) or Quechos.[12]:2–4 Fray Geronimo de Zarate-Salmeron, who was in Jemez in 1622, used Apachu de Nabajo in the 1620s to refer to the people in the Chama Valley region, east of the San Juan River and northwest of present-day Santa Fe, New Mexico. Navahu comes from the Tewa language, meaning a large area of cultivated lands.[12]:7–8 By the 1640s, the Spanish began using the term Navajo to refer to the Diné.

During the 1670s, the Spanish wrote that the Diné lived in a region known as Dinétah, about sixty miles (100 km) west of the Rio Chama valley region. In the 1770s, the Spanish sent military expeditions against the Navajo in the Mount Taylor and Chuska Mountain regions of New Mexico.[12]:43–50 The Spanish, Navajo and Hopi continued to trade with each other and formed a loose alliance to fight Apache and Commanche bands for the next twenty years. During this time there were relatively minor raids by Navajo bands and Spanish citizens against each other.

In 1800 Governor Chacon led 500 men in an expedition to the Tunicha Mountains against the Navajo. Twenty Navajo chiefs asked for peace. In 1804 and 1805 the Navajo and Spanish mounted major expeditions against each other’s settlements. In May 1805 another peace was established. Similar patterns of peace-making, raiding, and trading among the Navajo, Spanish, Apache, Comanche, and Hopi continued until the arrival of Americans in 1846.[12]

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Posted on August 18, 2019, in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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