Navajo Architecture Harvard Case Solution & Analysis


                    Today, roughly more than 300,000 people claim to be the descendants of Navajo heritage. They are proudly the second largest Native American tribe in the United States. Their Native American sister tribes called them the Navajo, which means “many farmers.” Regardless of the name, and like many other Native American tribes, they became known by the name others called them.

                    It might shock many people to learn that the ancestors of this mammoth tribe originated in the sub-arctic region of Canada. Like the Apaches, they are Athabasca’s. At some time in the history, all the Athabasca’s were one ethnic group. Now they can be located in New Mexico, Arizona, Chihuahua, northern California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Alaska, Yukon, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. Today some of their sub-tribes that are located in Canada near the Great Slave Lake call themselves by their ancient name Dine. The period when the Navajo’s and the Apaches left their ancestral origination place of the frosty lands in northern Canadian was not too long ago in the history (Stephen C. Jett).

             It is the assumption of some of the Archaeologists that the primary relatives of the Navajos and Apache’s based themselves in the Southwest after the year 1000 AD and numerous others arrived in the region during the 1200 s. The tradition of the Navajo tribe still holds those migrations in their memory.

                    It appears that the Dane at some point in time were more dominatingly farmers,how ever by the 1600 s when the Spanish arrived in the region and began to colonize the region.The Navajos primarily started hunting abandoning their farming practices of their forefathers and then traded and exchanged their preserved meats with other tribes and in the area to farmed products. The Navajo resisted Spanish influence but quickly adapted sheep and goat raising practices from the Spanish. In addition to this, they learned to knit some wonderful baskets. But regrettably the new practice that they had adopted of sheep farming led to the desertion of the home constituency that was once an agricultural land. Today sheeps are still their basic and primary business and are raised to craft wool to knit blankets for the tourist market(George L. Claflen).

                   The region of their genetic forefathers, Dane, now gives an astounding look of a barren land no more eligible for vegetation and agriculture and was not constantly that way in all places. Native grasses and pine forests once dominated in the countryside of the Navajo lands. The desertion of their land today is the outcome of over cutting of trees by the ancestors of their entire sister tribes along with them combined with overgrazing by cattle and sheep during the past periods of their self-sufficiency.

                 The conventional Navajo building also known as Hogan was earth sheltered architecture. A layer of clay differing in breadth from 6 inches to 3 feet protected these people from extreme heat and cold and the wood apparatus used in the buildings was on a small scale, and it also included dead limbs. This type of architecture was suitable to the realities of a desert.

                          There were two types of Hogans namely female and male. Female buildings were designed as per family requirements that were to reside with the female. They were formerly dome-shaped.  Male buildings had a tunnel like entrances and were much smaller in size and they were called, “Forks.” Most male buildings were smaller than female buildings. The Hogans were used for collective purposes.Navajo Architecture Case Solution

                            Creation of a Hogan was followed by prayers and sacred purification. The initial stride was to make a circle or oval in the location. Four slender posts were hard-pressed into the ground at a 30-degree angle from the vertical. They were tied together with horizontal timbers to create a rigid frame. Thin, slender trunks were then arranged against the structure and on top of it a hole was left in the roof for smoke to exit. The last step is the packing of wet clay against the saplings. Their history tells about their brilliant civilization, their culture, and tradition. They are one of the largest North American tribe in the country.


For the Navajo people, the liking of the private residence is obvious. Construction of conventional infrastructure is a typical part of life, and even the distinctiveness and practices of construction are directed clearly in Navajo rituals. However,constructing places that was not part of their lives and societies before has been a controversial debate. Nonetheless,the tribe is very clear about the rituals and traditions and is very affirmed about this to any place that symbolizes the tribe reputation......................

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