Coyote Trading Company Homepage Indian Arts & Crafts Association

The Navajo Peoples

2013-07-10 15:11:28 - By Jennifer Perri

Diné Bikéyah, or Navajo land, is larger than 10 of the 50 states in America. This vast land is unique because the people here have achieved something quite rare: the ability of an indigenous people to blend both traditional and modern ways of life. The Navajo Nation truly is a nation within a nation.

Navajos are unsurpassed in their ability to create exquisite and multifaceted art. Nowhere is this more true than in the beauty of their silversmithing. It is believed that Navajos began working with turquoise after returning from the "Long Walk" to and from Fort Sumner, New Mexico in 1868. Aside from its ornamental value, turquoise is especially important to the Navajo people because of its religious significance and its representation of a well-being in an individual.

The Navajo people, the Diné, passed through three different worlds before emerging into this world. The Fourth World, or Glittering World.

The Diné believe there are two classes of beings: the Earth People and the Holy People. The Holy People are believed to have the power to aid or harm the Earth People. Since Earth People of the Diné are an integral part of the universe, they must do everything they can to maintain harmony or balance on Mother Earth.

The Holy People put four sacred mountains in four different directions, Mt. Blanca to the east, Mt. Taylor to the south, San Francisco Peak to the west, and Mt. Hesperus to the north near Durango, Colorado, thus creating Navajo land. The four directions are represented by four colors: White Shell represents the east, Turquoise the south, Yellow Abalone the west, and Jet Black the north.

[back to articles]