Navajo Clanship Chart

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Traditionally, the People were forbidden to marry into the first two clans; today they are still strongly discouraged from doing so. K’é also extends to the natural world and the gods. The People are always among relatives.He or she belongs to his or her mother’s clan. He or she is born for his or her father’s clan. He or she has maternal and paternal grandfathers’ clans.

After the four original clans were established by Changing Woman , women who came into the tribe’s membership either brought a clan name with them, or were assigned a clan on acceptance into the tribe.
Reichard, Gladys A. Social Life of the Navajo Indians: With Some Attention to Minor Ceremonies. Appendix: Navajo Genealogies FS Library film 0001307 WorldCat

Guide to Navajo family history, and genealogy census, school, and agencies and their records. The Navajo Nation is 27,000 square miles and the nation has over 320,000 tribal citizens living in 110 chapters or communities.As the United States gained control over present-day New Mexico and Arizona, they began assigning religious groups to the different tribes. Mainly the Bi’ee’adaałts’isi (Presbyterian or Protestants) were assigned to the Navajo reservation.

As stated previously, the superintendent of Indian affairs oversaw Indian agents. As for the Navajo Nation, at times superintendents were at odds as to whom held authority over areas occupied by the Navajos. Neighboring superintendents also assisted governing superintendents over the Navajos. Over time territorial boundaries also shifted and changed. The New Mexico and Arizona Superintendency are the main record holders for Navajo information. The National Archives Microfilm Publication M595 has copies of the Indian Census Rolls, containing about 692 rolls dealing with a large number of tribes in the United States. It is during this time that Indian Census Roll takers were given instructions to include an individual’s Indian and English name. By 1902 instruction was given that families should be given the same surname and that they should translate Indian names into English if they were too difficult to pronounce or remember. If names were too “foolish, cumbersome or uncouth translations which would handicap a self-respecting person should not be tolerated,” or derogatory nicknames were dropped and changed. For more information about searching these records see more The majority of records of individuals were those created by the agencies. Some records may be available to tribal members through the tribal headquarters.They were (and are) the local office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and were charged with maintaining records of the activities of those under their responsibility. Among these records are:

Just like any other civilization, precautionary steps were taken to limit intermarriages among immediate family members. The Navajo established family clans, with the maternal line being the predominant line. When introducing oneself, a Navajo will provide their parent’s clan and typically their maternal grandfather and paternal grandfather’s clan, establishing their place in the world. Knowing one’s clans is just as important as knowing the names of past ancestors and goes hand-in-hand with genealogical research. For a more detailed list of clans, a short history, and a brief introduction, click here, clans.As a result of a number of issues surrounding land, the federal government and especially with the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 (a.k.a Wheeler-Howard Act) which encouraged Natives to determine their membership and enrollment. The question set before Natives was, “Who is an Indian?” To help move the issue along, Blood Quantum was introduced as a requirement for tribal membership, allowing tribes to select the degree of ancestry for an individual to be considered part of a specific tribe. As for the Navajos, 1/4 degree of blood for membership was selected. The Navajo Nation’s reservation boundaries have been changed since the original reservation boundaries were established in 1868. At the same time, governmental guardianship over these lands has changed. Currently, the Navajo Nation is divided into five agencies (Chinle Agency, Eastern Navajo Agency (AZ) and Eastern Navajo Agency (NM), Western Navajo Agency, Fort Defiance Agency, and Shiprock Agency) governing a specific geographical area, with the seat of government located in Window Rock, Arizona. Each of these agencies are further divided into smaller political units called Chapters, the number of Chapters have fluctuated over the years, but there are roughly 110 Chapters. Typically, Chapters do not carry documents containing family history information, and most will refer you to the Navajo Nation offices. In addition to this, many of the documents held at the agencies have also been transferred to National and Regional archives throughout the United States. The Navajo (Naabeeho, Navaho, and other variants) are the largest federally recognized tribes in the United States, or known among kinsmen as Dine’. The Navajo Nation is an independent government body, which manages the Navajo reservation.For those that were enrolled into a federally recognized tribe are given a Certificate Degree of Indian Blood or CIB and are assigned an Indian Census Number unique to each individual. Knowing your relatives’ Indian Census Number can be quite helpful when searching the Indian Census Rolls and can help eliminate confusion, but not all Indian Census Roll takers included censuses. At times the U.S. decennial census taker would include Census Numbers in their records.

There are two types of census records available for people searching Native American records. The first is the U.S. decennial census records and Indian Census Rolls, both have identical information and some differences. Indian Census records were usually taken each year by agents or superintendents in charge of Indian reservations, then sent to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, as required by an act of July 4, 1884. By 1940, many areas covered under the Indian Census Rolls were soon incorporated into U.S. decennial census records.
Since multiple tribes lived in territorial boundaries, agents were created to govern one or more tribes or geographical areas. Indian agents were appointed by the President with the approval of the Senate. Agents were to report to the Superintendent, but at times records were sent directly to Washington D.C.When searching Indian Census Rolls, be mindful that they are divided into one of four main agencies (Eastern, Southern, Western, Northern, and some smaller ones), others can be found in other surrounding tribal census records (Apache, Hopi, Ute, Paiute, and etc).The United States Federal Population Census records in regards to Navajo Indigenous People varies by area. Since about 1885 until 1930, Natives were required to be placed on Indian Census Rolls, by 1940 they were incorporated into U.S. federal population census records. In some areas Navajos were placed on U.S. federal population census records as early as 1900, and are usually limited to Natives living in or around border towns. As most know, U.S. federal population census records are recorded every ten years and at times can also include Indian Census Numbers and can be helpful in tracking down ancestors.

Like most groups, the Navajos relate their history to major events which influenced their people. Family history information will usually relate to these events.
The Navajo Reservation is located in three different states, covering a number of counties. Each of these areas have resources available to the public to search for ancestors.One major issue when dealing with these records is that many of the Census takers were not Navajo speakers and some relied on translators for information. in addition, Navajo at the time these censuses were taken was still in the process of becoming an official written language and so many Census takers phonetically wrote names. Census takers often wrote generic names for people using Navajo terms such as; “At’eed,” (girl); “Ashkii,” (boy); and “Asdzaan” (woman) or Hastiin (mister or man).

United States and Native American relations began with the first acts of the Continental Congress in 1775 which passed several ordinances dealing with indigenous people. The first was to divide administrative responsibility into three geographical districts (northern, central, and southern) with the creation of a superintendent to govern the affairs between Congress and the Native peoples. It was often the case that ex officio superintendent of Indian affairs was usually held by Territorial governors who would help negotiate treaties and obtain titles to Native American lands.By the late 1800s, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka Mormons) began moving into and settling southern Utah, Arizona and western New Mexico. The Navajos called these people Gaamalii (meaning: the fat ones that are coming). Mission records, missionaries and settlers wrote a number of journals and diaries that can include Navajo family names. Baptismal records and Church membership records are harder to come by and are usually limited to Church members only. But, baptismal and Church membership records in earlier times are very limited as to the fact that when Navajos were incorporated into the Church, the Church did not have plans of establishing or maintaining religious contact with the Navajos unless there was a dire need.The BIA also has listed a publication by the Office of Public Affairs-Indian Affairs called, “A Guide to Tracing American Indian & Alaska Native Ancestry” which can help guide your research.

The Navajo have a complex polytheistic belief system which dictates how to treat oneself, others, and one’s environment. This belief system has helped them deal with numerous groups of people entering into Navajo country. As the Spanish penetrated present-day New Mexico and Arizona, they introduced Spanish Christianity to the Navajos. The Navajos called Catholic priests and missionaries Bi’ee’dahninnezi (Catholic: the one with long clothes). There are some documentations from Spanish sources which include Navajo names, but usually the names are too generic to pinpoint ancestors. Mexican documentation also has this shortcoming.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) was then created in 1824 as part of the War Department, to govern the affairs between settlers and Native peoples. Originally called, Heads of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, this title was later changed to Commissioner of Indian Affairs and has since been changed to Assistant Secretary of the Interior of Indian Affairs. When Natives were no longer considered to be a threat, the BIA was then transferred to the Department of the Interior in 1849, and continues to this day.

What are my Navajo clans?
The four original clans of the Navajo people are Kinyaa’áanii (The Towering House clan), Honágháahnii (One-walks-around clan), Tódich’ii’nii (Bitter Water clan) and Hashtł’ishnii (Mud clan). Cached
Newspapers provide a wealth of information besides local happenings; birth, death, and even marriage information can be found in local newspapers around the Navajo reservation. Each paper is held at a variety of libraries, depositories, and institutions in different states. Here is a list of newspapers around the reservation that deal specifically with the Navajo, but are not limited to this list:

What are the colors of the Navajo clans?
The Navajos define their homeland as the area between four sacred mountains in each direction, so each color represents a sacred mountain as well. Thus, among their myriad other meanings, the colors black, white, blue, and yellow link the Navajos to their ancestral homeland and the story of its creation.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs is commonly known as the BIA, and is part of the U.S. Department of Interior since they hold in trust Native American lands. The BIA serves 573 federally recognized tribes in the United States. For those that are searching BIA records, three main National Archives and Record Administrations are used:

Navajo Indian Scouts of the Geronimo Expedition 1886 records indicates there were about 150 Navajo scouts, who were a part of the 5,000 man force under General Nelson A. Miles.
When dealing with Native American records, you will come into contact with a number of government offices that have dealt with Native American tribes. The three main levels of offices included are Indian agents, Superintendents, and Commissioner of Indian Affairs. The following is a very brief explanation of what these offices entailed.Historically, Navajo children have attended Bureau of Indian Affair schools (boarding schools), public schools, and contract schools (mission schools). Each of these have their own sets of records, some of which have found their way into archives and historical societies. The Office of Indian Affairs (now Bureau of Indian Affairs) was charged with providing educational opportunities for Navajo pupils and identifying them through school census records and other means. Some of the schools attended by Navajo pupils include, but are not limited to:

North America was home to many thriving civilizations in the Middle Ages, three of which occupied today’s Southwest and Midwest. Discover the world of the Apache, Navajo, and Mandan civilizations as recorded by the Europeans who led to their demise.
When two Navajo meet each other for the first time they will often introduce themselves with a greeting, their name and then go on to lay out their clan system going back two generations. Exchanging this information is routine and gives each individual a sense of identity and belonging.”K’é is a unifying thought process among the Navajo people,” said Evangeline Parsons Yazzie, author of “Diné Bizaad Bínáhoo’aah: Rediscovering The Navajo Language” and Professor Emerita of Navajo from Northern Arizona University.

Reporter Shondiin Silversmith covers Indigenous people and communities in Arizona. Reach her at [email protected] and follow her Twitter @DiinSilversmith.In Navajo culture, Changing Woman, a revered Navajo deity, created the Navajo people. When she was about to leave on her journey back to the West, she gifted them with four clans.

Why is the number 4 sacred to the Navajo?
The most important number is four, the symbol of the horizontal picture of the world, which is most clearly represented among North American Indians: “In its essence, this symbolism stays for a cycle associated with fertility.
The four original clans of the Navajo people are Kinyaa’áanii (The Towering House clan), Honágháahnii (One-walks-around clan), Tódich’ii’nii (Bitter Water clan) and Hashtł’ishnii (Mud clan).When a Navajo person introduces themselves to another Navajo person who happens to have one or more of the same clans they do, those two become related through clan.Arizona is home to 22 sovereign Native American communities. The Arizona Republic is committed to telling the stories of indigenous communities across the state. Support in-depth reporting such as this by subscribing today.The clan system was Changing Woman’s way of telling the Navajo people that this will allow you to be who you are, said Grace Tracy, cultural liaison for Tséhootsooí Medical Center in Fort Defiance, Arizona.

How do you find out if you are Navajo?
Online Indian Census Rolls can be found at (a pay site), this has all the benefits of searching records from the comfort of home. At this point in time they only have a few Indian Census Rolls available for Navajo records. does provide free access to Navajo Indian census rolls on-line.
If someone also comes from another heritage not part of the Navajo clan system, it’s common practice to substitute out the clan for a word indicating that heritage, according to English translation would be “I am (mother’s clan), born for (father’s clan), my maternal grandfather is (maternal grandfather’s clan), my paternal grandfather’s clan is (paternal grandfather’s clan).

How do I introduce myself in Navajo?
And you represent your mother her nationality as your clan. Really simple keep it simple what is your mother’s clan.
“The way this clan system is structured results in the mother’s clan being carried forward always, whereas the father’s clan cycles out after two generations,” according to”You want to establish your sense of belonging among those people you’re introducing yourself to. Also, you are telling them that you are Navajo,” she said.

What is the structure of the Navajo clan?
The Navajo society and clan system are matrilineal (kinship with the mother as the identifying line) and matrilocal (the husband will live with the woman’s family). Each individual belongs to four clans, starting with their mother’s clan, father’s clan, maternal grandfather’s clan, and paternal grandfather’s clan.
The Navajo people are a matrilineal and matrilocal society, with each person belonging to four different clans. The first clan is from the mother, second is the father, third is the maternal grandfather and the fourth is the paternal grandfather.

Traditionally, Yazzie said, when a child is born and presented to its mother, the mother greets the newborn by telling them their maternal clan, followed by the paternal clan.Today, there are more than 100 clans among the Navajo people. Tracy said each clan comes from different parts of the Navajo Nation, with their own meaning and a story behind them.

What is DNA in Navajo?
DNA is an acronym for the Navajo phrase Diné be’iiná Náhiiłna be Agha’diit’ahii which means “attorneys who work for the economic revitalization of The People”.
Originally there were four clans created by Changing Woman but overtime clans have been added by non-navajo to recognize new American Indian Groups adopted by Navajo people.

What are the 4 sacred colors of the Navajo?
Four colors in particular—black, white, blue, and yellow—have important connections to Navajo cultural and spiritual beliefs. These col- ors represent the four cardinal directions.
The additional groups are Tábąąhí (Water’s Edge), Táchii’nii (Red Running into the Water), Tsé níjíkiní (Cliff Dwellers/Honey Combed Rock), Tó’aheedlíinii (Water Flows Together), and Tsinaajini (Black Streaked Wood).(Source: From Ch. 7 “K’é Clan Relationships” from the book, Diné Bizaad Bínáhoo’aah: Rediscovering the Navajo Language, by Evangeline Parsons Yazzie, Ed.D and Margaret Spears, Ph.D.)

Traditionally you are required to say Ya’at’eeh which translates to “It is good” reinforcing a positive attitude on life when greeting others followed by your name.
The original four clans are Kinyaa’áanii (Towering House), Honágháanii (One Who Walks Around), Tó’dích’íinii (Bitter Water), and Hashł’ishnii (Mud Clan).

K’é promotes peace throughout the family and community and after the child’s clans are declared he/she is responsible for respecting and aiding those surrounding him/her especially representing the K’é concept.
K’é refers to the establishment of familial and clan relationships and enables the Navajo individual to balance their own morality achieving kindness while following Navajo Tradition.We provide legal assistance, advice and representation in U.S. and tribal courts, promotes tribal sovereignty, and offer community education programs that promote greater understanding of the law. Since 1967, DNA’s services have helped people living in poverty use existing policies and laws to protect their property and assets, stay safe from physical, mental and financial abuse, avoid exploitation and safeguard their civil rights.