Navajo Clan System
Many people wonder how Navajo as a group or tribe has been developed in the past centuries. They are even interested and curious to learn how these people expanded their culture, beliefs and religion. The Navajo clan system was formed because of the presence of Changing Woman which greatly affected the way people live.
The Changing Woman
The Navajo people got a kinship system following the women’s lineage. At the 4 original clans that have been founded by Changing Woman, women coming into the membership of the tribe will be brought the clan name or were given the clan upon acceptance to the tribe. Others have been existing clans that come from some tribes, while some had been developed out of certain circumstances.
Changing Woman has been an extremely powerful deity among these people. She has been regarding as the kind goddess representing both protection and creation. She has been recognized as a goddess of reproduction and infertility.
The Development of the Changing Woman
Changing Woman has been developed the first 4 Navajo clans: Towering House, One Who Walks Around You, Bitter Water and Mud. These Navajo clans were settled within the area that is bounded by 4 sacred mountains in which it became Navajo Reservation. Navajo children have been “conceived’ to the clan where their mother belongs and take the name of her clan. They are also “born for” the clan of their father. Thus, it is possible for them to determine who they really are by identifying the clans of their father, mother, paternal grandfather and maternal grandfather.
Every time a Navajo child is conceived, she or he will belong to her or his mother’s clan. This clan name will proceed on from her up to her own children. Whenever a young man gets married, this should be with somebody who is completely out of his clan. This is the way that keeps them strong while allows them to produce healthy children. Even if the people within his clan have never been blood-related they consider it inappropriate to get married within his own clan. Such practice has been strictly observed. This must not take place since it has been regarded as “incest” in the perception of these people.
One essential part of Navajo Clan system is introducing one’s paternal and maternal on both family sides whenever they meet another Navajo person or introducing oneself in public for the very first time. This has been considered as their way of knowing one another’s family members and relationship.
Navajo Clans in the Present
In the present, the overall number of Navajo clans that were represented has been calculated in having more than 140 clans from 21 major groups. The Navajo Clan system has been their strength and this binds them together. Navajo has been matrilocal and matrilineal society. Every Navajo person is a part of 4 distinct and unrelated clans. Traditionally, they had been forbidden to get married into the 1st 2 clans. Nowadays, they consistently discourage them from doing this practice. The Navajo Kinship System is extending to the gods and the natural world. People have been always among their relatives.