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The hogan (hooghan, literally, "place home") was the basic Navajo dwelling, and in the early 1800s conical, forked-pole hogans ("male hogans") still dominated, although by the end of the century they would be replaced by the roomier, hexagonal or octagonal, cribwork hogans ("female hogans"). Piñon or ponderosa pine logs serve as the larger timbers for the framework, with juniper often taking a minor role in the construction.

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Covered in camouflage, the hogan is unique. Perhaps the men who constructed it for today's Enemyway ceremony used Army-surplus camouflage because of its military association, for the patient is, after ail, a Desert Storm veteran suffering from recurrent nightmares. Outside the north wall of the hogan, a man in sunglasses mounted on a palomino stallion keeps the curious away so that the evil unleashed by the ceremony will have a direct path to return northward, the direction of evil and power. Surveying the crowd, he can hear muffled singing inside the hogan led by an Enemyway singer with a reputation for successful ceremonies, enhanced by the fact that he is an ex-Marine who barely escaped death in Vietnam.


The hogan is a sacred home for the Diné (Navajo) people who practice traditional religion. Every family even if they live most of the time in a newer home -- must have the traditional hogan for ceremonies, and to keep themselves in balance.

The Navajos used to make their houses, called hogans, of wooden poles, tree bark and mud. The doorway of each hogan opened to the east so they could get the morning sun as well as good blessings.

Today, many Navajo families still live in hogans, although trailers or more modern houses are tending to replace them. The older form of hogan is round and cone-shaped.

The habitations of the Navahoes are usually of a very simple character. The most common form consists of a conical frame, made by setting up a number of sticks at an angle of about forty-five degrees.

An opening is left on one side of the cone to answer as a doorway. The frame is covered with weeds, bark, or grass, and earth, except at the apex, where the smoke from the fire in the centre of the floor is allowed to escape.

navajo traditional homes the HoganIn the door-way an old blanket hangs, like a curtain, in place of a door. But the opening of the door is not a simple hiatus, as many descrip-tions would lead one to suppose.

A cross-piece, forming a lintel, connects the jambs at a convenient height, and the triangular space between the lintel and the smoke-hole is filled.

A picture in Schoolcraft's extensive work is intended to represent a Navaho lodge ; but it appears to have been drawn by Captain Eastman from an imperfect description. In this picture the doorway is shown as extended up and continuous with the smoke-hole.

Some lodges are made of logs in a polygonal form, as shown in fig. ii. Again they are occasionally built partly of stone. In cold weather a small storm-door or portico is often erected in front of the door, and an outer and an inner curtain may be hung to more effectually keep out the wind.

Shelters. Contiguous to the hut, the Navaho usually con-structs a rude shelter of branches. Here, in fair weather, the family often cook and spend most of the day. Here, too, tne women erect their looms and weave or set out their metates and grind corn, and some even choose to sleep here. Such a " corral "

navajo homes - HoganSummer Houses. In summer they often occupy structures more simple than even the hut described above. represents a couple of summer houses in the Zuni Mountains. A struc-ture of this kind is built in a few hours.

A couple of forked sticks are set upright in the ground ; slanting poles are laid against this in the direction of the prevailing winds, so as to form a wind-break, half wall and half roof, and this is covered with grass, weeds, and earth. The ends may be similarly inclosed, or may be merely covered in with evergreen branches.

One side of the house is completely open. A loom is shown set up for work in one of these rude structures, the aboriginal appearance of which is somewhat marred by having a piece of old canvas lying on top.

Medicine-lodges. The medicine-lodges, when erected in re-gions where long poles may be cut, are usually built in the form of the ordinary hogans (huts), though of much greater size.

When these large lodges are constructed at low altitudes, where only stunted trees grow, they are built on a rude frame with walls and roof separate, somewhat on the same plan as the lodges formerly used by the Arickarees, Mandans, and other tribes on the Missouri, and seeming a connecting link between the Navaho hogan and the Mandan earth-lodge.

Sweat-houses. The sweat-house or sudatory is a diminutive form of the ordinary hogan or hut as described in par. 20, except that it has no smoke-hole (for fire is never kindled in it), neither has it a storm-door. It is sometimes sunk partly underground and is always thickly covered with earth. Stones are heated in a fire outside and carried, with an extemporized tongs of sticks, into the sudatory.

Modern Houses, During the past ten years, a few of the more progressive Navahoes have built themselves rectangular stone houses, with flat roofs, glazed windows, wooden doors, and regular, chimneys, such as their neighbors, the Mexicans and Pueblo Indians, build.

They have had before them, for centuries, examples of such houses, and they are an imitative and docile people. The reason they have not copied at an earlier date is probably a superstitious reason. They believe a house haunted or accursed in which a human being dies.

They abandon it, never enter it again, and usually destroy it. With such a superstition prevailing, they hesitate to build permanent dwellings. Perhaps of late years the superstition is becoming weak-ened, or they have found some mystic way of averting the supposed evil.

Lessson 2 Hooghan (Navajo Home)

By Clayton Long

Hooghan baah hashne’ dooleeł                                     
(I will speak about the hogan.)

E. Ha’ahaahdéé’ yah ajighááh. Ákwe’é nitsáhákees silá.
(You enter from the East. Here thought exists.)

S. Shádi’ááhjigo dashdiighááh. Ákwe’é nahat’á silá.
(You head toward the South. Here Organizing exists.)

W. Áádóó E’e’aahjigo dashdiighááh. Ákwe’é iiná silá.
(You head toward the west. Here life exists.)

N. Áádóó Nahookǫsjigo dashdiighááh. Ákwe’é sih hasin silá.
(You head toward the west. Here life exists.)

Ahéhee’.(Thank you.)