IamA Navajo from the Navajo Nation (aka Navajo Indian Reservation) AMA!
Yá’át’ééh shi Dine’é, dóó táhanołtso! Shi’eiya commodity_for_all yinishyé. Tódích’íi’nii nishłį́, dóó Naakai báshíshchiin. Ta’neeszahnii dashíchei dóó Bilagáana dashínáłí.
Hello, Everyone. I am commodity_for_all. I am Bitterwater, born for a Mexican. My maternal grandfather is of the Tangle People and my paternal grandfather is a white guy.
I was born and raised on the Navajo reservation. My family is traditional(pagan). AMA
family butchering a sheep Graphic
Inside of our family hogan that we use for ceremonies and gatherings
Edit: RIP Inbox. I'll try to answer questions I haven't answered. I'm thinking about going to sleep in a little while.
Edit 2: I'm gonna give it a rest. I may or may not get around to answering more questions. I'll see how I feel in a few hours.
Edit 3: I'm sorry if I sound like an asshole in some of my responses. It was 3 am when I wrote most of them.
Edit 4: I'm gonna throw this in here for the sake of others. I in no way represent every tribe in the US or Canada. I also in no way represent the Navajo Nation as a whole. My are opinions are my opinions.
Edit 5: I will not be answering anymore questions. Sorry guys
Last Edit: I want to thank these subreddits and If you're interested in anything Native American or Navajo check out: /r/Navajo /r/NativeAmerican /r/IndianCountry /r/FirstNations /r/Hopi /r/AmericanIndian /r/IdleNoMore /r/Aboriginal /r/NativeAmericans
Yes. But the way people have adapted them into mainstream culture is really off. They are human beings who like mischief and misery and I don't really like talking about what they do because it's taboo and you'll think I'm a nutcase haha.
I think I know what you mean. There are people who walk around so soulless and incapable of seeing consequences of certain actions. Even in sight of those consequences they bear no remorse.
So kind of like a psychopath?
Yup. Hit it right on the head.
the way people have adapted them into mainstream culture is really off.
Can you explain how mainstream culture gets it wrong?
Super scary, demonic figures, not human, etc. Throwing stuff in there to make it scarier.
So what are they really like? Why is it considered taboo to talk about them?
They are people. Often very greedy and jealous. They run around in skins and stalk you and what not.
Animal skins haha. But I don't think I'd want to see one in human skin.
So nothing supernatural about it? Just assholes wearing pelts?
There is. I just can't explain it.
What are relationships like between your Nation and other Indian Nations? Do you treat them all as being separate from yourselves or is there a sense of togetherness or kinship?
Tribes in our immediate area such as the Apache bands, Hopi, Tewa, and a host of other Pueblos are very good. There's a lot of inter-tribal marrying and a lot of our cultures cross. We acknowledge the separateness but when one tribe is getting screwed by a foreign entity we usually come together.
I live right next to a Ute tribe and it seems there's always bad talking about Navajo tribes and vice versa. Why do these two groups seem to have more friction than others?
No idea. Utes use to raid us vice versa. I guess old habits die hard. I have a nephew that's Half Ute.
That's probably it. I have a feeling we live pretty close to each other! Are you near Tuba City or Kayenta by chance?
I'm all over! Mainly Chinle, and Fort Defiance. I go back and forth between my parents.
I don't know much about all this. I'm from India, how do you guys feel about the term "Indian" for you?
We don't like being called Indian by outsiders but we'll use it in jokes.
What are your personal feelings about the Washington Redskins football team name? Does it offend people you know or do most people not care at all?
In my opinion, it should go. The mascot does not represent my tribe but for the sake of others who are affected by its imagery. A lot of Navajos don't mind but I think the more progressive, younger generation, like myself, care. It's kind like of our cry out to the world that we are still here.
I'm a fan of the team, which is why I asked. I grew up loving the team but never knew the name meant anything sinister, so the recent actions against the name are kind of a shock. I am sure the name will change sooner rather than later, but please know that the vast majority of fans do not connect the name to a derogatory moniker of Native Americans. It's just a word to us, no meaning. I know that doesn't help, but it is the truth.
I understand where you're coming from man.
How do you feel about other names for teams? I know Redskins is offensive, but names ike the Blackhawks, Braves, and the Fighting Souix. I know the Fighting Illini had issues in the past about this.
It all depends on the imagery of the mascot.
On a similar vein do you prefer Indian or Native American or other?
American Indian or Indigenous. Anyone born in America is Native to America.
What's your opinion on Andrew Jackson being on the $20 bill? Is that not a bigger issue?
I don't really care. He wasn't the white guy that fucked us over.
How often do you get people telling you they're 1/32 Cherokee or some other tribe?
Quite often. I usually just smile and say "That's cool."
What is you're opinion about all the recent mess over the confederate battle flag?
I honestly don't care. I'm liberal and I like watching it from the sideline because it all seems like one big joke to me. I'm neutral because I think the same argument can be made for the American flag. It was being carried when the U.S. Cav came rolling through our homeland burning crops and killing women and children. It was being flown over our place of internment and it was being flown over the boarding schools that were beating children for speaking Navajo. It's a flag. It can symbolize what ever you want it to symbolize. It can stand for oppression and it can stand for freedom. But in the end. It's a piece of cloth.
Edit: For clarification, the heritage argument is BS. I do not condone the flag being flown over the state capitol.
What is the current status of spoken/written Navajo? I get the impression that it's being preserved very well in comparison to other native languages? Do all/most young people learn it?
Also Navajo-Churro sheep are fucking delicious. A local (northern CA) farmer raises them here.
It is well preserved but it's slowly fading out. Even though Navajo is the first language in our household I can only understand it and can't hold a conversation very well. If you're from the reservation you'll most likely pick it up in the house and then it's taught on reservation schools starting in kindergarten. It's very hard to pick up.
Sadly, the breed is almost extinct on the reservation because of government intervention with our livestock. We got sheep still but hardly any of them are Navajo-Churro. But yup. I love my mutton.
What's your thought on people who aren't american Indian learning Navajo?
I'm all for it. It's time for us to colonize ;).
Can you explain the government intervention?
The first instance was when the government came in and removed us for a while. Slaughtered the animals. After we returned there was a few times the government said we had too much livestock and confiscated and slaughtered.
I remember being back in elementary school and reading a book about the Navajo and obsidian for some reason. I was fascinated to say the least, but I couldn't tell you the book's title.
Do the Navajo still practice traditional trades and craft? How large is the res you grew up on and how is it divided up? How often is it that a non-native marries into the nation? Do many people live off res? Do you see many people leaving the res to join mainstream society? How was growing up on the res, just like anywhere else in the U.S.? What do most of the people living on the res do for living?
I apologize in advance if any of these questions are ignorant or dumb.
I'll answer the best I can.
- Yes. my grandmother still weaves and I know a few people who make bows and arrows.
- We are the largest res in the country. Look us up :).
- It's actually quite common. I'm an example. My dad's Mexican/white. He ended up on the reservation because he worked at Bureau of Indian Affairs school.
- A lot of people live off the reservation. Mainly in Phoenix, AZ.
- The reservation isn't in the stone-age. We embrace mainstream society.
- I wouldn't trade my childhood for anything else. A lot of horseback riding, going to communal ceremonies, exploring, hiking, etc. I would say, if you grew up in a rural area such as a farm or ranch, sorta like that.
- Mainly teaching, nursing, and tribal office work. There's a few businesses here and there. Welding is a big thing. Many people leave to job-site for a few months, save up, and then come back and live off of what they saved. Then they do it all over again.
It's fine. I like answering questions.
Where would you recommend purchasing Navajo crafts if one were so inclined? Thanks for they reply!
The reservation itself. Flea markets specifically and trading posts near the reservation. Never buy from truck stops or even online. If you can, have a Navajo or Native friends buy for you. Silversmiths often pull the price up for tourists.
Random but my step-dad is a silversmith! :)
What do you think about people who argue that non-natives buying native crafts or wearing native jewelry is cultural appropriation, specially when a lot of the people who make these arguments aren't even native themselves?
They should shut their mouths because a lot of Navajos make a living off of their craft.
Hi, I'm curious that you mentioned never buy Navajo products online. Is it because it is so hard to distinguish from legitimate Navajo crafters, or is it due to lack of an online presence in the retail market?
If the latter, what is the opinion of using the Internet to increase tribal presence and raise awareness of specific issues?
Hard to distinguish.
I'm all for it!
Why are there so many Navajo welders? I know of quite a few. Is it because of Page? (For people who don't know, powerhouses employ a lot of welders.)
I think that it's a very great career option and we like to work with our hands.
Yá’át’ééh! I was raised up near Rock point in Northern Az! (Saltwater clan) I just wanted to say that I think its fantastic you're doing this!
Bot says I have to ask a question though so I'll ask are you half Navajo or full?
I'm a half-breed. My bio has my clans.
That's cool, I'm half as well.
I'm digging the name.
Really stupid question but how true is the whole "no body hair" thing?
Even for a half-breed I can't grow body very well. But yeah. Most Navajos I know are hairless.
What are your thoughts on clothing and other companies using the Navajo print?
For leggings and all that shit it's generic. But once they start using actual designs that come from a specific weaver that's when they cross the line.
Biggest misconception white people have about NA's? How about the opposite?
I think one is that we all get checks from the government. I went to boarding school and I always had non-natives (I say non because it's not just white people that have misconceptions) tell me, we get checks. Never asked if we did, just always assumed. For the Navajo and a lot of the tribes of AZ and NM, we don't get checks. Another misconception is that we are all the same. Same language, same culture, etc. I had to battle a lot of stereotypes at boarding school. Even argued with some teachers and got a substitute fired.
For misconceptions on our side. Depending how you are raised, a lot of kids had misconceptions that all white people are wealthy. As you get older and been around, you see that it's not true. I think it stems from the fact that most of the non-natives on the reservation are doctors or single teachers. The cost of living is low on the reservation and the paycheck of a doctor can go a long way.
What happened with the substitute?
She basically told a class full of Navajos that we stole our culture from the Mexicans and that we're all poor because we don't believe in God.
Sup man. I grew up on Hopi and had plenty of Navajo friends, but never knew as much about you guys as I did about Hopis. Got a random Navajo fact for me that I might not know?
Peace and hope you're enjoying that rez life.
Random Navajo Fact of the day: We're not supposed to point at rainbows with our fingers.
My mom used to say "Because you'll get a wart." Do you believe the same thing?
That or, "Your fingers will fall off!"
My grandma always said to point with your thumb
I was told that too.
Thanks for doing this AMA. Recently, several native Indians walked off the set of a movie Adam Sandler is filming because they were offended/insulted by the disrespectful portrayal of Indians. Were you aware of this and do you have any opinion? Have there been any TV or big screen depictions of Indians that you feel are accurate; in both positive or negative ways. Interesting AMA, thanks again!
Those Natives were Navajos haha. It made a lot of buzz. On one hand it is a comedy, but they did hire a cultural adviser. I honestly don't have a set opinion. I think it's great that they walked off because it shows they're not selling out. Honestly, I guess Dances with Wolves but that doesn't pertain to Navajos so I can't be picky with it. Wind Talkers was alright. There's a contemporary movie on Netflix called Winter in the Blood. It's pretty good. Old westerns are really negative. I still enjoy them though because they use to hire Navajo extras and you can hear them speaking it in some.
Is there anything
equivalent to Haikus
within your culture?
No poetry. But you could listen to some of our chants on youtube.
How would you feel your culture compares to the current culture of the United States? And are there any problems or grievances you feel the general public should know about?
There's some clash, but like any culture, religions, etc. there always will be. Our society is matriarchal so women hold a very high role in households. Traditionally they own everything, the fields, the cattle, the house, etc. When a man gets married he moves to the wife's family homestead so Navajo families generally live within a mile radius with each other and modern communities often belong to a main group of clans. I went to boarding school and faced some culture shock but a big part of that was just from the racial tension at school. The town I went to high school had a lot of resentment towards reservation Navajos and Apaches. I don't think our culture is being oppressed at this point in time.
As for grievances I have very little. I think at this point, healing for our tribe has to come from ourselves and we're getting there. There's a big movement right now pushing towards traditionalism and we are working on getting the clowns out of the tribal government.
Was boarding school consensual or federal/state forced?
It was consensual. The opportunity came up to go and I wanted to take advantage of it so I went.
I'm from Germany and have no clue so sorry if my questions are weird.
Are there American Indian or even Navajo specific newspapers, radio or tv news shows? If no why? If yes, What are they like compared to other news?
Yes. There are two radio stations done in all Navajo. They're like any other paper and radio. Giving you the scoop of what's going on.
Boozho! I am a member of the Chippewa Tribal Indians in the Midwest and come from a very small town, and still to this day deal with racism. Being the biggest reservation in the nation and having a lot of tribal members do you still experience racism there? And was your boarding school you attended for Native Americans?
On the border towns yes. There was a lot of resentment towards natives and they all seemed to group us together (we had Apaches, Hopi, Tewa, and Navajos all in one school).
Hi! Thanks for doing this. I have a few questions, if you don't mind.
Has alcohol or drug usage been as much of a problem in your community as many of us are led to believe it is? In what ways is the community as a whole addressing the issue?
How strong is the Navajo Nation identity among young people? Have you seen isolationism to be a problem for higher education of Nation members?
Alcohol among youth not so much, like any group of youth you have those who like to party. Drugs among youth, maybe just weed but I really don't see that as a very destructive substance. It's hard to actually tell if there's a drug problem because everything is spread out so far and not concentrated.The reservation is dry so it helps. Most of the bad alcoholics I know are middle-aged adults.
For traditional Navajos, very strong. For Christian converted Navajos it's almost like they're ashamed.
Not really, I graduated with a 4.0, I'm a quarter white, and I got along super well with my full-blooded, lower than average preforming student, friends. I guess it's all maturity. From my observation, as a community, we are pretty big supporters of those with higher education.
How would I go about exploring my navajo /native roots on the rest as I was raised off the res?
Do you know your clans?
No dad skipped out kinda early.
Are you half?
Yes, I always try to pressure my mom to give me any info and she won't.
PM me maybe I can help you!
Hi there! I took a cultural tour in Monument Valley, and was fascinated by the culture I saw there. I was especially interested in some of the ancient drawings I saw. One in particular was explained by my guide as a depiction of contact with aliens, though another tour guide I met during my trip disagreed with this statement. I know this is an extremely specific question to ask, but I am curious as to your opinions on the matter. Do you think that ancient humans had contact with aliens? Also, what part of your heritage/history do you find the most interesting?
Oh man, If only you were here in person. My friends and I have deep discussion about this. I think so. Our creation story has many instances that could be perceived as alien encounters. I find our Holy People most interesting.
If you could go back in time, what time would you want to see your ancestors in and experience that time?
I've always been fascinated with our war against Spain. It's also the time we adopted sheep and horses into our culture which contributed to our rise in power. Plus we fucked up the Spanish.
honest question from a black guy here.. I have a friend who is married to a native guy (I'm sorry I don't know from which nation I just know he's from bozeman montana)
anyway he's pretty cool with me but he said on his res and a few others they really don't like black people at all... in your experience have you seen anything like this?
I think some of it might be old resentment. The Spanish brought black slaves and since the Spanish were our enemies we didn't like their slaves. I have a few friends that are half black/half Navajo.
Hello! I'm an adeezhí of a Navajo friend from Flagstaff.
What do you think of the recent plans for development in and around the Grand Canyon, including the plans to commercialize Tusayan? I haven't been to the canyon yet, but I'd hate to go and have to see all of the construction and buildings around one of the natural wonders.
Also, it's been said that the Navajo language is dying out. Do you plan to teach your children navajo/ help keep this from happening?
Thanks for the AMA.
I think they need to stop developing. The Grand Canyon is very sacred to many tribes and I feel that it should be respected. No amount of money can restore destruction. I've been there a few times. Ran/Hiked it once. It's breath taking.
Yes, I do. I'm hoping that my future children will pick up English and Navajo simultaneous.
Is the movie Windtalkers legit?
I actually haven't seen that in a long time. I know not many Navajos liked it. Adam Beach's Navajo was bad and the other Native guy was Zuni. Some of the praying they made a little over spiritual. I'll have to watch it again.
Canadian here, looking for an outsider's perspective. How much do you personally, or the others in your tribe, pay attention to the plight of aboriginal peoples north of the border?
I've actually never really talked to a First Nations. My auntie married one and he was a lawyer on the Hopi Res for a while. Never got a chance to sit down and actually talk with him.
Do you feel your public school education was good enough to set you up for college and the rest of 21 century life?
We aren't that bad off. We're in the 21st century too haha. I got sent to boarding school for high school. Stayed in a Bureau of Indian Affairs ran dorm and went to the towns public school. All my needs were met. I did dual enrollment and finished high school with 19 credit hours. There's been a big push in reservation high schools for dual enrollment too and I think a lot of the larger communities are starting to offer it.
Edit: My Engrish is bad.
What are some of the key issues facing Navajo Nation? What do you feel can be done to resolve them?
Mainly intra-tribal issues. Nothing involving the government. Getting our tribal government set straight, and utilizing our resources a lot better. It's all on us. Weeding out the crooks should help some. Our last tribal election looked liked something out of Nigeria.
How do you feel about hippies and new agers? Do they make you want to throw your head against a wall like they do to reconstructionist polytheists?
I find Shamanism a big joke. I never really encountered any hippies so I don't know how I feel. I think that question would be best answered by a Lakota because they're having some problems with them right now.
Haho! I'm native american myself, and i know of some topics that are never to be publicly disclosed, especially to white people. They are only to be passed down orally and are very sacred pieces of information. Do the Navajo have anything similar? I'm not asking for specifics, obviously, but what is the jist of it if there are any?
Yeah. Mainly what takes place in ceremonies. What tribe?
What book would you recommend for someone to gain some insight into what life is like for Indians in recent times? Preferably a novel, but non fiction is good too.
Anything Sherman Alexie, although he's not Navajo but from a tribe in Washington his books describe life very well.
I saw "Smoke Signals" (produced and written by Alexie and directed by an indigenous guy) years ago and really liked it. I don't know if it's on Netflix or otherwise immediately available.
It's on Netflix :)
You say that you don't need external help to preserve your ways on the reservation, but what external influence/interference has been most detrimental to your reservation that you would like to stop?
I try not to close minded but Christianity. It's not like they're hurting anybody physically but they do hinder the preservation and survival of our culture.
Do you plan to continuing your education in college? What do you plan to study and what would you like to do as a career?
Yes. I'm doing a semester at a local community college this fall and then plan on joining the Air Force. Afterwards I want to major in Mechanical Engineering and pursue a career in that and a dream of mine is too open an engineering company based on our reservation.
In another answer you wrote that the easiest way to become part of a tribe is to marry into one. How do you generally go about integrating "outsiders" that marry into a tribe? Are those people actively taught tribe history, customs, beliefs, etc.?
(A friend of mine is married to a Japanese woman and lives in Japan - he says he often feels left out or treated like a child when it comes to cultural matters in a larger family context. A bit like "yeah don't mind him, he's German, he can't really understand our culture.")
It's accepted. My family held a puberty ceremony for a family friend's daughter who is white. Medicine man didn't mind at all. You might get teased.
I absolutely love A Tribe Called Red, Nataani Means, Tall Paul, Inez Jasper, and Kait Angus. Who are some of your favorite Native American musical artists, and what's one of your favorite jams this summer?
I like a Tribe Called Red. I actually know Natanni Means personally (he use to date my step-sister). There's a little music scene on our reservation. I'm in a punk band myself. I don't really have any favorite artist.
I'm in a punk band myself.
Rad. Got a soundcloud or anything where one can hear your work?
We haven't set one up yet.
What do you think the US and Canadian governments should be doing to ensure that NA traditions aren't lost? I look at the Haida people, for example, and feel like so much of their way of life is simply gone. How can the average citizen contribute to cultural preservation?
It's not the governments job. It's the tribes. So don't feel pressured!
Do you still follow the traditional religion you were raised with? If so, what are your feelings towards those who convert to Christianity within your community?
I spent some time on a reservation in New England and missionaries converted most of the community to Christianity. The people who remained with the traditional religion were not happy about it and were struggling to re-instill the traditional beliefs and values into children/teenagers. However, the community was/is small (just a few hundred people) so I am not sure if this is an issue seen throughout larger and different native communities.
My family is traditional. I have some resentment towards those who converted but I can't hate. They are always super preachy too.
It seems like great boxers usually come from difficult backgrounds. I am a huge boxing fan, boxed amateur myself, and have always wondered if, given the warrior culture background of tribes like the Navajo or Comanche (closer to me geographically) how the kids of the tribe might be interested in (free) boxing training, even if it was offered by a white dude.
It imposes a lot of structure and goals, with opportunity for acheivement. What do you think?
Boxing and wrestling is very big on the reservation! There's a few big clubs and a girl from my town actually made it to the Junior Olympics. I think another boxing club wouldn't hurt.
Did you write the Navajo in the OP yourself? I've never met a Navajo speaker before. That's pretty awesome.
I can't write with the all the stops and expressions. I copied and pasted the text with all the right stops.
I've heard that the concept of time is different in the Navajo culture and language, but the person wasn't able to explain it well to me, do you think you could give me an ELI5 about how Navajo language perceives time?
I'm not too familiar with that part of our culture sorry :/.
How do the Navajo generally view the use of cannabis? Has there ever been any discussion of growing it as a cash crop now that it's being legalized in several states? I imagine the southwest would be an ideal climate for this particular crop.
As an American I support it 100%. As a Navajo I'm not too sure.
Were you ever told any stories regarding the relationships (if there were any) between your tribe and other tribes of the Southwest or possibly the Great Plains? I have always wondered how the oral tradition differs from what I read in textbooks.
Thanks for doing this AMA! I learned a great deal from reading your responses.
We've always been pretty friendly with the Apaches and Pueblos. I don't know why but we don't like the Paiutes. I've never really heard stories about all out wars. We have clans that are descendants of other tribes. Things are pretty chill these days.
I've often heard that US colleges have some kind of rule that basically makes it easier for minority groups to enter, minority groups being almost everyone that it not white. How do you feel about people getting into college because they're "1/16th Cherokee", and how do you feel about those people in general? Have you ever met someone who claims to be practically native because one of his great-grandparents was?
Honestly, fuck them. I think it takes away from students who actually need it. They irritate me. Yes, I have and it led to some pretty unpleasant conversations.
What is your favorite traditional Navajo meal?
Blood sausage and blue corn mush. Also sheep intestines is fucking delicious.
Ever been to Gallup, NM? I had a friend out there and the Navajo presence is huge.
I go to Gallup like every weekend! But yeah it is. I think the culture of Gallup is awesome. The cultures blend pretty well there.
A good number of the origin stories and the tales of the heroes of the old worlds in Navajo lore--those can be found on the Internet without much trouble. But it's tough to make heads or tails of them as a whole, how they relate to one another. I could use an anchor, a sort of central point to start to make sense of it all.
What are your favorite stories, though? What are the ones you'll make sure to pass down to your little loved ones? Or just any funny ones?
My favorite one is our creation story. That one fascinates me the most.
I'm from the Midwest and 90% of the reservations I've been to are very poor and sad places. How would you feel if the federal government assimilated the reservations to provide proper health care, police, education, and infrastructure?
I can't speak for those tribes. Our reservation is well off. You'd have to ask one of them.
Do you interact with visitors? I've always wanted to visit the Navajo reservation and take as many tours as I can, but I don't want to be rude and talk to people if they don't want to be talked to.
Also, and this might sound ignorant, would I be looked at funny since I have blonde hair and blue eyes? I'm not American, and whenever I go back to my own country, people do look at me funny (so I'm used to it).
Yeah. I like to explain things and what not. Usually vendors will always be more than happy to answer questions.
No you won't. We got white people on the reservation too.
Not sure if I may have jumped in too late here, but I live very close to the res you live on (I'm assuming) and have a few close friends who are Native (Navajo and Apache, I believe). Growing up very close to the Navajo community has been enlightening for me in a lot of ways, and I love what I've seen of res culture. So I was wondering, what's one thing you wish everyone would know about the culture you grew up in (whether specific to your res or Navajo culture or anything)? Thanks!
Awesome! I think it would probably be that not all tribes are the same. I hated when people at school (I went to place along I-40) would say, "Well, you guys are all the same so does it really matter?" or something close to that!
Thanks for talking to us! I've got two questions. 1. How big is the punk community up there? It seems like every show I go to in Phoenix I meet someone from Tuba City or Window Rock. 2. How do you feel about books like "The Education of Little Tree"? (When it was still sold as an autobiography and not fiction)
It died for a bit but I think it's making a come back! This is one of my bros bands: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_fOW4KJxNw
I honestly never heard of it.
What's the deal with reservations and roadside trash? I know that's a generalized statement, but I will say the few reservations (UT, AZ, OK) I've been to have been overloaded with trash on the side of the road. The worst I've ever seen.
I was at a gas station in Mexican Hat, UT and an Indian/Native American/Indigenous American simply unloaded all the shit from his car (paper, food wrappers, can, bottles, etc) in the parking lot and went on his way. He clearly didn't give it a second thought, nor did anyone else.
Really disgusting and disappointing. Your thoughts?
I hate people who dump trash. I think it's because we don't have a good trash pick up system. That's something we need to work on.
Hey, thanks for doing this AMA! With all due respect, I've read about how bad situations are in reservations, what can I do to help?
I live in California and want to help, but I don't know how.
Well. actually we're helping you. A portion of Californian electricity is generation by the Navajo Generating Station on the northern tip of our reservation.
There's nothing really you can do. Our reservation is pretty well off compared to others.
A portion of Californian electricity is generation by the Navajo Generating Station on the northern tip of our reservation.
Is there any buzz among anyone you know about that particular generating station? It's pretty well known as one of the most polluting power plants in the country, but I'm curious if that's common knowledge, or that I'm aware of it just because of the circle that I run in.
Yeah but our tribal has a big hand in what gets put in our newspaper. We tried shutting it down a few years back. I don't like the station and it actually caused a lot of problems between us and the Hopi.
Recently Mormons and some other religious groups (even cults) have been cropping up in the rez, how does most Navajos feel about this? Does it ever feel infringing? I'm asking cause I would drop by and do a VBS with some of the leaders from a Navajo church, but I wanna be aware if I may come across offensive if I don't tread some cultural path. -TMOT
It's split. The Christians seem more vocal though. I think it infringes but I'm not going to go around pestering Christians Navajos that they need to convert back. You won't come across as offensive because generally you'll probably attract the Christians more than anything. Just don't set up near an Ndaa' (squaw dance).
Do your people stay on the reservation because they have to or because they want to? Do you think reservations are a good thing in this day and age? It may be a misconception on my part but it just seems like native Americans could do better living off the reservation. The whole system seems weird to me because historically wasn't the reservation a piece of "bad" land the American government forced your ancestors to live on? I mean it's technically not even your homeland, is it? Why is it important to stay on the reservation?
Because we want to. In our case we live on our holy land. The government saw no use for it so they gave it back. In our case, it is. It helps concentrate the culture and since we sit on a huge mineral deposit that mining companies lust over they'll never be able to buy it out.
Have you met any atheist American Indian?
I know plenty.
Hello there commodity_for_all!
Thanks for the AmA, my own personal reasons and interest are the basis of my questions.
I am curious about your opinions of the Mohegans and Pequots? and If you know any information on the Quecha Native South American people?
My first question relates to where I've grown up I lived my whole life right in the middle of these two tribes and have had a fairly good education on native culture because of living in close proximity. My second question is relevant to myself, when I was a baby I was born in Cochabamba, Bolivia and was adopted to an American family when I was six weeks old and have had a very hard time trying to figure out where I belong on the Native spectrum and in life. So I would appreciate any response! Thanks!
I'm not very familiar with the Meso and South American tribes.
How different are Navajo and Hopi cultures/everyday lives?
I have Hopi friends but I've never really asked. We all like to farm.
Very cool you are doing this. I lived in Chinle for a short time back in 2002 and really enjoyed the town. Any chance you are Begay or Yazzie? (I know it's like Smith and Johnson basically)
No. I'm not haha
I have always felt like the way the US treated all natives was one of the biggest shames of our country, right with slavery.
Is there anything the average person can do to help preserve your culture and way of life?
Also, do you ever hear stories from your elders about the wars with the plains/western tribes? Are there any big figures in your history someone from the Midwest may not know about? I ask because I recently read Joseph Marshall's book on Crazy Horse, and I figure there's gotta be other interesting oral histories not really experienced outside of the tribe.
Thanks for doing this!
Preservation is all on the tribe.
We're from the Southwest. And there's a lot of stories about our war with the Spanish, Mexico, and America. Mainly the most told stories are from the death march we were put on called the Long Walk. My great-great-grandfather who passed away in 2000 at a 104 years old had a lot of stories because he had aunts and uncles that went through it first hand. My grandpa is a very good story teller.
Some of our most renowned leaders are Narbona, Manuelito, and Ganado Mucho. The death of Narbona actually sparked the war with the United States. It's also a good example of how the US has never been very good with foreign relations haha.
My Great Great Grandmother was full Cherokee, but I've never really learned much of It or her and her family's way of life. How could I go about learning more of Native American history? I want the real gritty stuff. The real history. Anything and everything, if you know what I mean. I'm very interested and wish I could feel more in touch with my ancestors. Thanks for doing this AMA!
Internet. But be weary as you go.
This is pretty interesting. I'm part Cherokee and Creek but I've never looked into other tribes. I'm really curious about their old religions? Any info you could give on Navajoian religion, or at least, early religion of the tribe?
My family is traditional. Stuff hasn't really changed as far as what we believe in. We don't particularly believe in good or bad but more or less that nature is a balance of thing. It's not as spiritual as it sounds though. We have gods but they're not omnipotent.
Hi, commodity_for_all! What books, music, movies, and games do you like?
Favorite books: The Alchemist, Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven
Music: Big fan of punk rock and 90s grunge and alternative. I'm in a punk band.
Movies: Saving Private Ryan, Forrest Gump, Smoke Signals, and Star Wars
Games: The Fallout series.
Are you related to any Code Talkers from WWII? If so, how did they describe the experience?
No I'm not. My great-grandpa was in WWII and was KIA but he wasn't a Code Talker.
What's your opinion on cultural appropriation? Recently at my school there was a party where the theme involved Native Americans, and many people wore Native American themed clothing as a result. This resulted in massive outrage where people were complaining that the party goers were being insensitive for wearing Native American clothing in a party setting, however none of the complainers were Native American. To me it seemed pretty innocent especially considering nobody made any jokes or remarks about Native Americans, but what do you think about this situation? Do most Native Americans find these actions offensive?
We do find the actions offensive. Especially headdresses. Our tribes doesn't have them but I understand from some of my plains friends that it's really sacred. It kind of like stolen valor.
Does anyone you know make flutes? Do you know anyone that plays? I've always wanted a plains flute.... They sound awesome. Excuse my ignorance if the Navajo don't actually make/play flutes..... But I have heard seen many people claiming to own or okay a Navajo flute.
Flutes aren't our thing. But I know some Navajos that play them. A family friend of ours makes them.
How do you feel about Iron Eyes Cody, the "Crying Indian" from those ads back in the '70s? The fact that he was Italian but claimed he was Native his whole adult life, I mean.
His adopted son lives about 15 minutes from me. I honestly think it's kind of sad but I also think he should have not capitalized on it.
Ayyy. I just took a class on The depictions of Native Americans in film. What's your favorite movie? Are you a fan of any "Indian" movies? How do the depictions of Natives in film differ from your every day life?
Smoke Signals all day every day. Winter in the Blood too.
How prevalent is alcohol abuse on the reservation. Have there been any new attempts at curbing it?
Our reservation is dry. I think it's not too bad. I mean it could be worst but our anti-alcohol campaigns have done some good.
Do you know about the order of the site in boy scouts? What's your opinion on it if you do?
I honestly never heard of it.
How can the high school of Red Mesa, AZ in the heart of Indian land use the Redskins as their mascot? I thought this was offensive.
I don't call the shots man. It's all personal opinion.
What are your plans for the future? Have you ever considered moving from the res. (we have friends who had moved from the res. And felt abandoned from their friends as soon as they did) have you seen or heard any instances like this?
I'm doing a semester at a local community college this fall and afterwards I plan on joining the Air Force. Originally, I was in DEP for the Marines but I tore my MCL during my last football game and it put me out. I've heard of instances like this but I think it's all a mental thing. I went to boarding school off the reservation and never faced the problem.
Do you have any non-native friends? Caucasian, african, middle eastern, asian?
My best friend aka my dad. He's Mexican and white. But yeah I have plenty.
Are the people in your reservation friendly with people in towns just outside of it if there are any?
Yeah. I mean there's some tension and some resentment but I mean what can you do? We're all human.
I have always been interested in Native American culture and I find the validity and the essence of most native religions to rightly process what I believe the world to be. How could I become more of a "native american" if I do not have it in my blood. I know that to join a tribe I must be of a certain blood type. Also, have you read the book John Fire Lame Deer: Seeker of Visions? It was a very entertaining book about the Oglala Lakota religion.
Want to be part of a tribe? Marry into one. Easiest way to do it.
How do you call yourself Indian, and accept it? As an actual Indian it bothers me that native Americans call themselves, and are often referred to as Indians. It's understandable when others do it, but when you call yourself an "Indian", don't you feel like you're misrepresenting yourself?
No, I don't. I call myself Navajo. I get where you're coming from.
how many members of your extended family are alcoholics?
From my non-Navajo side. My paternal grandfather was and my oldest uncle. From my Navajo side. My grandpa is a former and my uncles are formers. One of my cousins might be getting there.
How there pale face?
Do you believe in skin walkers?
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