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Rez Life#2 Dwellings


Rezgirl

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gallery_4560_8_837914.jpg

 

The structure in the picture is called a Hogan (pronounced ho-gone). This is the traditional dwelling for the Navajo people. A hogan can be constucted of logs, adobe block , modern lumber or stone as this one is. The roof on this old hogan was made of logs and filled in with mud. I can imaging it created quite a mess during the monsoon season. My husband's family lived in this one, probably before my husband was born. By the time he came along, they were living in a 4 room house. He's the youngest of 9 children. Some of the older siblings had already left home by this time.

 

There are still families who live in Hogans, but not as many as when I came here 15 years ago. Today many families live in single and doublewide trailers. There are many houses also and there is the Navajo Housing Authority housing. The joke for NHA is that it means "No Hickeys Allowed" or "No Happiness Allowed"

 

Inside of a hogan you would typicaly find a small wood stove in the center with the stove pipe going straight up through the roof. A bed or 2 along one side, a table and a couple of chairs and a cupboard or shelves for food. A chest of drawers for clothing. Most had a dirt floor. To sweep a dirt floor, you would sprinkle water on it, then sweep with a broom. Children mostly slept on a sheep pelt on the floor.

 

Most hogans have only one or two windows, and the door was always to the east. If someone passed away in the hogan, it was usually deserted by the family. A hole would be broken through the north side to allow the spirit of the deceased to leave. Some Navajo's are superstitious about owls. If an owl perched on a hogan, it too would be abandoned.

 

I know a family with 5 children who live in a hogan. It is a large hogan and they have built a room on that they use as an entry way/ mud room/ kitchen. They have a large closet built along one wall in the hogan that is used for clothing storage and changing room. The larger part of the hogan is used as a dining/living/bedroom. They do not have electric or running water. They use a generator some. (did a double take once when I visited near Christmas and they had Christmas lights outside :D) They now have solar & wind power. The windmill and the solar panels are on a platform as large as a skid. These are rented from the tribe for about $25 a month. They have a propane refridgerator/ freezer and a propane stove. The solar/wind power gives them light and runs the TV!

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Wow, that is so amazing. I'm going to be sharing this with my children. BTW, that little girl is precious.

 

I have a question, and I hope it won't be offensive, please forgive me in advance if it is. Why is there such poverty? Are they trying to live off the land and not work away from home? Farming? Sheep herding?

 

Thank you Rezgirl for giving us this window into your world.

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Rezgirl, this is fascinating and so very educational! Thank you for letting me view a culture I may never experience firsthand. We can learn much from your sharing!

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Wow, that is so amazing. I'm going to be sharing this with my children. BTW, that little girl is precious.

 

I have a question, and I hope it won't be offensive, please forgive me in advance if it is. Why is there such poverty? Are they trying to live off the land and not work away from home? Farming? Sheep herding?

 

Thank you Rezgirl for giving us this window into your world.

 

 

This is not an offensive question. I have delayed answering because I was trying to come up with a short answer. I'm not sure there is a short answer. To have a good job and still live here people commute. The $$ spent for gas eats the paycheck. Many do not have a good education or good job skills. The biggest employer for our area is the goverment, teachers working for the BIA etc. The second biggest employer is The Union Pacific Railroad. Those employees travel out of state every week. Way out of state, like Oregon, Idaho or Kansas. They work in gangs and a whole car full will travel together and drive straight through. The job options locally are not plentyful. My husband has a CDL and works in the oilfields about a 45 min drive from here. He gets to bring his tank truck home every night. We are blessed that we spend no gas money for him to go to work.

Living off the land is impossible. Convincing the older generation of that is a challenge, since they did it with the help of goverment handouts. Not all of us want to live that way.

Another factor is just poor money management skills, and gambling addictions.

 

I read the above to my husband for his approval... :) He said to add that some do not want to work, they just want to live off of GA (Goverment Assistance)

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Thank you for that explanation Rezgirl. I am so thankful that there are people like you and your husband to help change things and encourage those around you.

 

(((Rezgirl)))

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This is really fascinating! The lifestyle is so different from anything I have ever lived. I'm looking forward to more posts on this.

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Thanks for answering Stephanie's question, it was mine, too. What an amazing dwelling! I'm just thinking of all I could do with the sheep....

 

Blessings!

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Hi Rezgirl. I love the picture you put up. My favorite author is Tony Hillerman. He writes mysteries and they are all located in the southwest(4 corners area). He is very knowledgable about the Navajo and their beliefs and customs. I had known about the people abandoning a hogan when someone died but not the part about the owl. I love reading about the native people of our country. Way back many generations ago I know that one of my grandmothers was native indian, but never was able to find out her name or tribe. I saw her picture once when I was young. She had beautiful long hair. My parents were always so secretive, we never could learn very much about our family. Anyyway....if you are a reader and happen to like mysteries, I recommend Tony Hillerman. He passed away last fall, but he wrote many episodes in the "Chee and Leaphorn" series. ...Thanks for posting....Katmom

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Hi Rezgirl. I love the picture you put up. My favorite author is Tony Hillerman. He writes mysteries and they are all located in the southwest(4 corners area). He is very knowledgable about the Navajo and their beliefs and customs. I had known about the people abandoning a hogan when someone died but not the part about the owl. I love reading about the native people of our country. Way back many generations ago I know that one of my grandmothers was native indian, but never was able to find out her name or tribe. I saw her picture once when I was young. She had beautiful long hair. My parents were always so secretive, we never could learn very much about our family. Anyyway....if you are a reader and happen to like mysteries, I recommend Tony Hillerman. He passed away last fall, but he wrote many episodes in the "Chee and Leaphorn" series. ...Thanks for posting....Katmom

 

I have read many Hillerman books and they are very accurate. Tony Hillerman was the son of a trader if I remember correctly, and he was raised on the Navajo reservation. The name of our community was mentioned in one of his books, Sacred Clowns, I think.

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