Navajo Culture Essay Example

Essay on Cultural Aspects of the Navajo Indians

2390 Words10 Pages

Culture gives definition to a group of people’s way of life. Culture defines people; It is who the people are. The Navajo Indians are a group located in the southwestern part of the United States with a distinct culture. They originated there sometime between the year “1200 and 1500” (Craats 4). Unlike the beginning of their residence in the United States, different aspects of the culture have changed, but the Navajo people still remain a culturally rich group of people.
To this day, their political organization, economy, social organization, and religious beliefs are the four major elements that make them who they are as a whole. Before establishing the political structure that spoke for the entire Navajo community, a smaller…show more content…

Unlike the war leaders, the peace leaders or local headman were chosen by the Navajo people through an election, and a ceremony, Chief Blessing Way ritual, was held after elections. The applicable individuals had to possess the characteristics of “exemplary character, oratorical ability, personal magnetism, and proven ability to serve in both the practical and religious aspects of the culture” (Hill 25). Though they held a leadership role within the community, this role did not allow them to persuade the Navajo people in any way. “The natani [WPM: the local headmen] acted as general economic director and encouraged productive activities” (Hill 27), and “In the legal sphere he [WPM: the local headman] arbitrated disputes over damages, acted as mediator in quarrels between individuals, remonstrated with wrong-doers, and adjusted family difficulties” (Hill 27). Since peace leaders were never in a position to persuade their community of Navajo people, they only upheld the values of the Navajo without suggesting any change. Though there are no more local headmen to direct the Navajo’s economy, the Navajo’s economy still persists today though it has changed slightly. The Navajos planted crops as a source of substance. Their farming methods changed due to Congress approving the Navajo Irrigation Implementation Project (NIIP) in the 1960s, and by the mid-1990s, a farm called the Navajo Agricultural Products Incorporated (NAPI) was producing and packaging profitable

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The Navajo Code Talkers Essay

3342 Words14 Pages

The Navajo Code Talkers

During the Pacific portion of World War II, increasingly frequent instances of broken codes plagued the United States Marine Corps. Because the Japanese had become adept code breakers, at one point a code based on a mathematical algorithm could not be considered secure for more than 24 hours. Desperate for an answer to the apparent problem, the Marines decided to implement a non-mathematical code; they turned to Philip Johnston's concept of using a coded Navajo language for transmissions.

Although this idea had been successfully implemented during World War I using the Choctaw Indian's language, history generally credits Philip Johnston for the idea to use Navajos to transmit code…show more content…

Additionally, the Japanese could not imitate the code. Consequently, there was never fear that the Marines might receive fake communications. The services these Code Talkers provided not only saved many lives, but, according to some, actually had a huge effect on the outcome of many battles. Maj. Gen. Robert Magnus, commander of Marine Corps Air Bases, claimed "there was a dramatic reduction in Marine casualties" due to the usage of the Code Talkers (qtd. in Bond 3). In fact, Sharon Bond, a writer for the St. Petersburg Times, recently declared that, "On Iwa Jima… the Marines could not have taken the island without [the Code Talkers]" (Bond 3).

Sadly enough, the Navajos returned home after these successes unable to tell their stories or receive recognition for their efforts because the government had classified the work Top Secret. It was not until 1969 that the Code Talkers received some public recognition for their achievements. But, for nearly the next twenty years, very little was known about them. In the 1980's, though, a strong public appeal to decorate the Code Talkers for their World War II work resulted in President Reagan declaring August 14th National Code Talker Day (Shaffer 2). Even considering this national honor, the debate still continues over whether the

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