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The evolution of the hogan as of the 1930s.

A hogan (/ˈhɡɑːn/ or /ˈhɡən/; from Navajo hooghan [hoːɣan]) is the primary, traditional dwelling of the Navajo people. Other traditional structures include the summer shelter, the underground home, and the sweat house. A hogan can be round, cone-shaped, multi-sided, or square; with or without internal posts; with walls and roof of timber, packed earth, and stone in varying amounts, and a bark roof for a summer house.[1] The door traditionally faced east to welcome the rising sun, believed to bring good fortune.

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.

Hogans are also considered pioneers of energy efficient homes. Using packed mud against the wooden walls, the home was kept cool in summer by natural ventilation and water sprinkled on the packed dirt floor. In winter the fireplace kept the inside warm well into the night, due to the high thermal mass of earth in the construction.[2]

Modern application and revival

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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 1900s, due mainly to the requirement by many Navajos to acquire homes built through government and lender funding – which largely ignored the hogan-style and cultural needs of a community – in preference for HUD-standardized construction.[3]

Modern day hogan.
Hogan at Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park

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 1990s with various small projects to find ways to bring the hogan back.

In 2001, a joint venture involving the Navajo Nation, Northern Arizona University, and the US Forest Service began building log hogans with materials from a Navajo-owned log home factory in Cameron, Arizona, next to the Cameron Chapter House, using surplus wood culled from Northern Arizona forests to prevent wildfires. Through cooperation among elders, medicine men, and project leaders, this ancient Navajo tradition is reviving. While providing the traditional sacred space of the hogan, new construction also meets requirements for modern amenities. The project has also provided jobs, summer school construction experience for Navajo teens, and new public buildings.[4]

In other languages

Possible Native American sources of the English word hogan:

See also

References

  1. ^ Franciscan Fathers, An Ethnologic Dictionary of the Navajo Language. 1910 Saint Michaels, Arizona, reprinted 1929 by Max Breslauer; Leipzig, Germany.
  2. ^ DeVault, Kayla (2018-10-19). "The Energy Efficiency and Cultural Significance of Traditional Housing: Comparing the Navajo Nation and Pueblo of Acoma in an Effort to Reform Federal Indian Programs". Indigenous Policy Journal. 29 (2). ISSN 2158-4168.
  3. ^ DeVault, Kayla (2018-10-19). "The Energy Efficiency and Cultural Significance of Traditional Housing: Comparing the Navajo Nation and Pueblo of Acoma in an Effort to Reform Federal Indian Programs". Indigenous Policy Journal. 29 (2). ISSN 2158-4168.
  4. ^ Minard, Anne (3 September 2001). "Hogans readied for sale". Arizona Daily Sun.