Hogan

Published on March 27, 2012 by Amy

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Hogan Navajo
Hogan Navajo

A hogan is the primary traditional home of the Navajo people. Other traditional structures include the summer shelter, the underground home, and the sweat house. A hogan is usually round and cone shaped, but they may also be square, with the door facing east to welcome the rising sun, or for good wealth and fortune. Made of wood and packed mud and earth.

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Importance and uses

The hogan is considered sacred to those who practice the Navajo religious way of life. The religious song “The Blessingway” describes the first hogan as being built by Coyote with help from beavers to be a house for First Man, First Woman, and Talking God. The Beaver People gave Coyote logs and instructions on how to build the first hogan, now known as a “forked stick” or “male” (áłchʼįʼ adeezʼá) hogan; which resembles a pyramid with five triangular faces. Earth may fill the spaces between the framework logs, hiding the five faceted shape and creating thick, winter-protective walls. The “forked stick” or “male” Hogan contains a vestibule in the front and was used only for sacred or private ceremonies.

The “circular” or “female” hogan (tsé bee hooghan), the family home for the Navajo people, is much larger and does not contain a vestibule. In it, the children play, the women cook, weave, talk, and entertain and men tell jokes and stories. Navajos made their hogans in this fashion until the 1900s, when they started to make them in hexagonal and octagonal shapes. The change in shape may have been due to the arrival of the railroad. A supply of wooden cross-ties, which could be laid horizontally to form walls of a larger, taller home, allowed the retention of the “female” hogan shape but with more interior room. The doorways of the hogans always face east.

Many cultural taboos are associated with the hogan and its use. Should a death occur in the structure, the body is either buried in the hogan with the entry sealed to warn others away, or the deceased is extracted through a hole knocked in the north side of the structure and it is abandoned and often burned. A hogan may also become taboo for further use if lightning strikes near the structure or a bear rubs against it. Wood from such structures is never reused for any other purpose by a Navajo.

Today, while some older hogans are still used as dwellings and others are maintained for ceremonial purposes, new hogans are rarely intended as family dwellings.

Traditional structured hogan is also considered a pioneer energy efficient home. Using packed mud against the entire wood structure, the home was kept cooled by natural air ventilation and water sprinkled on the dirt ground inside. During the winter, the fireplace kept the inside warm for a long period of time and into the night. This concept is called Thermal Mass.

The Navajos lived in hogans they made them with wooden poles tree bark and mud. hogans were round and cone shaped. they hung a blanket in the doorway like a curtain.

Modern Application and Revival

The preference of hogan construction and use is still very popular among the Navajos, although the use of it as a home shelter dwindled through the 1900′s, due mainly by the requirement by many Navajos to acquire homes built through government and lender funding – which largely ignored the hogan-style and the sacred space – in preference for low cost, low bid HUD-standardized construction.

With government and lender requirements requiring low costs, as well as bathrooms and kitchens, the hogan as a person’s home was dwindling away, save for those who could build their own. That began to officially change in the late 1990′s with various small projects to find ways to bring the hogan back. In 2001, it began changing significantly with a joint-venture of a partnership involving the Navajo Nation, Northern Arizona University, the US Forest Service and other private and public partners – to begin manufacturing and building log hogans from a Navajo-majority owned log home factory in Cameron, Arizona next to the Cameron Chapter House. Using surplus small-diameter wood being culled out of the Northern Arizona forests to mitigate devastating wildfires, and with a series of meetings between elders, medicine men, and project leaders – a log hogan revival is being born right on the Navajo Nation. While keeping the sacred space of the hogan relatively untouched, and also meeting the requirements for modern home amenities, an ancient tradition is now once again beginning to flourish. Along with assuring the survival of a cultural heritage, this project has also created new jobs, summer school construction experience for Navajo teens, and public buildings, and much more.

Source: wikipedia

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@ article {NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com2014,
    title = {NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com Unabridged},
    month = Sep,
    day = 18,
    year = 2014,
    url = {http://nativeamericanencyclopedia.com/hogan-2/},
}
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