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Navajo Home Site


The hogans at this site were constructed in the traditional manner. Because in the Dineh (Navajo) view of the world, everything is either male or female, including homes.The family live in the round, female hogan. The cone-shaped male hogan is for ceremonies. Both have doorways facing east towards the Holy People.

The four main posts of the female Navajo hogan represent the four mountains that are sacred to the Navajo. Logs are laid with the root ends turned clockwise. Cedar bark is used to fill in the cracks, and then mud is applied as a protective coating. Hogans are still common throughout the reservation, and they are used both for homes and for ceremonies.

Sweat Lodge

The sweat lodge is made much like a small male hogan. In early days, a person would take four ceremonial sweats, coming out and drying off each time with sand. This is a very effective way of getting clean without having to haul water. Sweat lodges are still used today as a type of health spa.

Shade House

The Navajo shade house was a gathering place made of tree trunks for posts and leafy branches for cover. Today, many homes have these structures, and are a great place to keep cool during the hot summer months. A shade house can range in size depending on the amount of materials in the area and the need of the family. A shade house is rarely “finished,” because it requires constant care. There can also be more than one per home site. The shade house has a variety of uses. It’s a common place for outdoor cooking, weaving, or for butchering sheep.

Rock Oven

The outdoor oven is rarely seen today. Adapted from Mexican ovens, it was essentially a rock lined fire pit with a roof. A fire was built to heat the rocks, and then the ashes were removed so some type of bread could be placed inside to bake. Many of these breads are still popular today, including “kneel-down bread,” which is made of fresh corn baked in corn husks.


Please be respectful to the artifacts and buildings. Thank you! 

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We have a free map available to our visitors so you can prepare before you visit. To see all the features and get the full experience, please plan on a full day of exploring. 

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San Juan Foundation
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