Text from plaques in the Ethnology gallery of Museum of Northen Arizona (March 2016)
The Navajo Today
Navaho life is changing rapidly. Population growth, a crowded land base, and the desire for consumer goods are forcing more people to seek wage work jobs for income. Fewer people are living the traditional lifestyle.
Thus, modern Navajos no longer live exclusively from farming and sheepherding as they did a generation ago. However, these are still symbolically important activates. Because of the traditional value and prestige given to them, their importance extends far beyond their actual economic contribution.
The Navajo word hozho means harmony, beauty, peace of mind, goodness and health. To the Navajo, hozho is the most desire quality in all things. The word describes the natural world, ideal family relationships and the beauty that is placed into arts and crafts. To live to an old age, to have a close family, health and to be happy is to achieve hozho.
Illness is the result of disharmony, which in turn is caused by evil introduced by the violation of taboos, witchcraft, over-indulgence or bad dreams. Navajo ceremonies, taught by the Holy People, are designed to restore the ill person to a state of hozho. This is done through song, use of herbs, drama and creations of sand paintings. The Navajo have many ceremonies lasting from one to nice nights, which attack specific causes of disharmony and thus neutralize evil.
The Navajo are traditionally farmers as well as herders. Staples are corn, beans, squash, wheat and tobacco. Although farming today contributes only a small amount to the income of the Navajo, it is still very intervened with religious belief. Corn is the most sacred of all foods and corn pollen is the most important of rituals substances. Most families grow a few acres of corn every summer and it remains an indispensible past of the diet. The small fields are generally located new washes, the mouths of canyons and other well-water location.
“I’ve been planting ever since I was a small boy. In those days everybody helped with farming… We all worked together. We knew to start planting by the full moon in Taatsho (May). We’d all get together and start with one corn field and plant that and then move on to the next…My family never planted corn in exactly the same spot every year. The plants grew better that way… A farmer cannot be lazy and he must be strong. He must always be at his farming.”
The Hopi Today
“Ever since the white man appeared, we have been changing, adapting to new ideas and ways of bettering our condition…the white man has brought…a new order of nature…to survive one had to do things we never did before. We had to reorganize out thinking and while we were doing, we lost a firm grip on our traditions…I have always thought that the only way we can save the old traditions is to recognize the forces at work in our lives…that way we can survive and preserve a part of our mind for the old values. If you don’t survive, you don’t have anything.”
“We feel the world is good…We are grateful to be alive…We sense that we are related to other living creatures. Life is to be valued and preserved…When you go out of your house in the morning and see the sun rising, think about it. That sun brings warmth to the things that grow in the fields. If there’s a cloud in the sky, look at it and remember it brings rain to a dry land. When you take water from a spring, be aware that it is a gift from nature…”
 Except that the Ifugaos do not have any sheepherding, these two paragraphes can describe the their situations almost exactly.
Cooperative value in traditional California Agriculture
Text from plaques in the California Agricultural Museum (December 2016)
Farm life was hard and inseparable from work. Even times of relaxation were spent in useful activity such as better-making or corn husking. Everyone in the family was expected to do their part. Because they worked together, families were close knit and could depend on each other.
Being a good neighbor was very important. Barn raising, “bees and frolics” gather nearby neighbors together to accomplish large tasks, turning often tedious work into lively social occasions. A spirit of cooperation and mutual aid existed and in this way families supported and provided for each other.
A strong cooperative spirit prevailed in these local farming communities. Threshing the wheat and oat harvest with a horse powered threshing machine required help from neighboring farms. Most farmers did not own their own threshing machines, but rather contracted with a local thresherman, who supplied the equipment. The host farmers supplied horses, labor and food for everyone involved.
Sample interview questions
Since the interviews are semi-strcutured, detailed questions vaired in each interview depending on the interviewee’s background, interest, time availability and so forth. The listed questions below are generally but not all asked.
What comes to your mind first when you think of Ifugao?
Is there any change in the elements of Ifugao culture?
Do you have experiences that illustrate such change?
What do you think is the reason for these changes?
How do you like these changes?
If the changes are desirable, what has been done to promote them? If not, what has been done to prevent them?
How do you think of you life now? What is your plan for the future?