Being sheepherders and farmers enabled the Navajo and Mandans to stay in one permanent location year round both these tribes lived in Hogans. The Navajo Hogans of the southwest differ quite a bit from their northern counterparts; Navajo Hogan’s are octagonal (have eight sides) whereas the Mandan’s were round, also since they lived in a much colder climate they covered their entire structure in dirt rather than just the roof like the Navajo’s.
The sides of the oldest type of Navajo Hogans were constructed of poles lined up vertically. Spanish influence, in later years, caused the poles to be lain horizontally similar to walls of a cabin. Ours is the older kind. Mud is used to chink the cracks between the poles. The ceiling is made by building a framework of poles in the center of the structure then supporting beams lean between those and the walls. Then willows are laid on these beams, straw follows and lastly a foot or more of dirt over the whole roof. A square hole in the top allows light and ventilation. There is a long entrance like a tunnel by using a dual set of curtains this tunnel will regulate the air entering the building in this way the smoke is drawn from the fire out the square hole in the roof. The floor is made of clay adobe covered with animal blood and melted fat. The floor when treated this way will become as hard as concrete, it can be swept and mopped thus it is far better than the dirt floors of the pioneer women.
The Spanish also built a type of Hogan which they called Jacales, they are also buildings with poles lined up vertically and chinked with mud. Ruins have been found here in Costilla county.
Navajos are known world wide for their silver work and weaving. Originally all Navajos participated in these crafts in their spare time. Surplus items would be traded for things such as horses and cooking pots. It is interesting to note that both art forms the Navajo are so well known for now were introduced by the Spanish. Cotton weaving had already been a part of the Pueblo Indian culture but the Navajo did not really get into this until wool was available. Sheep were brought to the new world by the Spanish along with the knowledge of silver working. Once the Navajos learned the basics from the Spanish they took both of these crafts to a whole new level. Blankets were woven by many tribes but the Navajo’s quality was so far superior that they were worth much more; sometimes twice as much. These arts are still a part of their culture. In modern times the many Navajo Indians are excellent jewelers, potters and rug weavers.
One of the Navajo’s four most sacred mountains is Mount Blanca 14,345 above sea level it is right behind our Trading Post. For many years pilgrimages have been made here to worship and gather meat. Hogan ruins have been found near Rock Creek and are believed to be of Navajo origin. Inside our Hogan you will find it just as it was in the early seventeen hundreds. We hope you will enjoy visiting our Hogan display.