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Traditions Of Song And Dance In Navajo Culture

Music and dance are an integral part of Native American cultures, with them being used to strengthening community bonds and as a celebration of a bountiful life. But there is so much more to it than this. Songs are used as vehicles to pass down stories from one generation to the next, a reminder of their roots, their traditions, the rules of the tribe, and their genealogy. In addition to this, they are used to commemorate special occasions such as marriages, funerals, and so on. As expressions of joy in everyday life, to bring happiness in the community or as a form of prayer during rituals — songs and dances enrich the lives of the Navajo people.

Types of Dances

Healing ritual dances have generated a lot of interest in the research community. This helps them to know a lot about the beliefs of the tribe while also helping others to gain a deeper understanding of the community’s traditions.

These healing ritual dances are almost always performed in a group, and precedence is given to back and forth movements, signifying the attempt to usher in healing energies in the person who is sick in the community.

The dance steps also stress on the Navajo people’s connection to nature and how their life is dependent on the flora and fauna around them. Obeisance is paid to the revered four directions, reminding them of the four mountains that surround their homeland. Such dances have been depicted beautifully on handicrafts such as Native American beaded purses, crystal Navajo rugs, and other such items.

There are special dances performed during sacred ceremonies such as the Basket Dance that honors their history, the Sash Belt Dance that pays tribute to the first weavers of the community, and the Ribbon Dance which is performed during summer and winter solstice ceremonies - all of which portray the rich heritage and legends of the tribe.

Music & Songs In Navajo Tribe

Similar to other Native American tribes, chanting and rhythmic singing is a part of the everyday lives of Navajo people. While these were once used to call upon spirits to bring rains or to please the gods, now there are annual festivals wherein they are sung to preserve the tribe’s oral tradition.

Live performances involve drums, rasps, flutes, rattles, bullroarers, depending on the type of ceremony that is being performed. Some of them are also accompanied by sandpainting, believed to restore harmony in the surrounding environment.

Coming to the lyrics, these tell the stories of important mythical figures such as the Changing Woman, the Hero Twins, and the Monster Slayer. Because these stories are so lovingly preserved through such songs, these have been documented and have also made their way into coin purses, clothes, bags, mugs, and so on in the form of Navajo morning blessing art in the present times.

If you want to explore the traditional teachings, the life lessons, and the history of the Navajo people, there is no better way to be acquainted with it than through Navajo art, music, and dance. We hope that you have great time learning more about them!

Author’s Bio: The New Mexico-based blogger is a retailer of Navajo art accessories.

About This Author

Joined: January 17th, 2019
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