The Navajo People are well known for their fine silversmithing, weaving and sandpainting traditions which express traditional Navajo culture and contemporary life. Navajo jewelry is noted for larger pieces with symmetrical and simple designs set with larger Turquoise stones.
Traditional execution of silversmithing includes the use of various stamping patterns, geometric designs and silver leaves. Jagged-edged or smooth rounded bezels are crafted to hold and set stones.
Navajo weavings (rugs) are hand woven with hand spun natural colored wool, vegetal dies or commercial wools on upright looms and reflect designs from various locations on the Reservation.
Sandpaintings are part of the healing ceremonies performed to cure various illnesses. Traditional Sandpaintings are created in the earth and destroyed after the ceremony. Each piece of Navajo art is a reflection of the cultural, familial and dramatic geological heritage of the Navajo Nation.
Historically nomadic, the Navajo people migrated into the Southwest about the same time Spanish explorers arrived in the mid-1500′s. The Pueblo people taught farming to the Navajos, who in turn learned about sheep herding and ranching, which were introduced to the Southwest by Spanish colonizers. The largest (sixteen million acres), most populous (298,000 people) Native American Nation in the United States, the Navajo Nation, is located in the Four Corners Area, covering northwest New Mexico, northeast Arizona and southeast Utah. Its capital is Window Rock, Arizona. Three other Navajo Bands are located away from the main reservation in the Communities of Alamo, To’hajiilee and Ramah in New Mexico.
The Dine’ (in Navajo–”The People”) have endured many hardships. During the infamous “Long Walk” of 1863 – 1866, more than 8,000 Navajos were forcibly marched and incarcerated at Bosque Redondo near Ft. Sumner, New Mexico by the U. S. Army. Native Americans have served notably in every U. S. conflict since World War I. Perhaps the most well known were the Navajo Code Talkers. These men communicated military strategy over the South Pacific battlefield airwaves in the Navajo language. Japanese code breakers were never able to figure out what these Navajo soldiers were transmitting. The last of the original Navajo Code Talkers died in 2014.