Design change : an aspect of Navaho socio-cultural dynamics

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Akard, William K.
Glenn, Elizabeth J.
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Thesis (M.A.)
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The Navahos have undergone extensive culture change through acculturation that began with their conquest and containment by the U. S. government in 1863. This is not the complete explanation for all Navaho culture change. For instance, in the area of arts, innovation or internallyderived change is evidenced by the replacement of traditional approaches to weaving design by designs that had been exclusively relegated to ceremonial usage within the context of the sandpainting medium.It is the purpose of this work to examine the artist's role during this transition period to determine what internal factors affected the changes. Historical accounts offer ethnographic information concerning the innovation of four design types that had traditionally been exclusively used in ritual as sandpainting designs. This information will be presented and used in an analysis of the weaver in Navaho society; the role of the ritual specialist; the function of weaving in Navaho society and group response to weaving and the weaver. Finally, an appraisal of the specific cases with respect to the analytical framework will be offered in conclusion to validate the role of internal innovation.