Navajo Indians (1939)

Major themes covered: Daily life; rug weaving; social life; courtship; wedding customs; sheepherding; preparing food; harvesting corn; carding and spinning wool; rug weaving; trade; silverwork; social dances; constructing a hogan.

Wide shot of three people on horseback right on foothills of giant rocky plateaus; four Navajo men riding towards the camera, plateaus in background; another of them passing R-L past camera; a young man identified as Toska on his horse, black button-up shirt and hat; a young female shepherd identified as Alnaba standing with her sheep (dibé) and goat herd, plateaus behind; the girl; back to Toska, smiling, and another rider;  Alnaba smiling; back to Toska; back to Alnaba; Alnaba and another little girl, identified as her sister, herding; herding into a three-wall coral at the edge of a cliff; wide shot from below the cliff where the herd is standing;  a hogan on cleared land, smoke coming out the top; interior of two women seated on the floor, one is slicing fat off a raw piece of mutton while the other flours a piece of meat in a metal bowl; a little girl seated on the floor holding a doll, a baby strapped into a cradleboard, and their father in button-down shirt and headscarf mending a leather saddle; Alnaba seated on floor next to metal pots and bowls, flipping and stretching bread dough into a flat disk between her hands; her hands placing the dough into a cast iron skillet over a wire grid on an open fire adjacent to a metal heating stove; Toska pulling cobs of corn (naadą́ą́ʼ) in a field, hills behind; walking over to place them in a large pile; Toska and a woman shucking a large pile of corn from their husks as a horse and wagon pull up alongside; a man with short hair, button-up shirt and headscarf on a horse speaking to them in Navajo (Diné, dubbed); back to Tosk and the woman shucking; interior shot of Alnaba, seated, spinning strands of wool onto a spindle (bee adizí) while her little sister cards raw wool/aghaaʼ, scraping it with big spiked paddles; closer views of the carding and spinning and stretching/twisting into finer yarn; Alnaba smiling at her sister; Alnaba weaving at a loom (dah iistłʼǫ́), inside, with her sister next to her working winding a ball of wool; closers view of weaving action; through the loom from behind, showing Alnaba's face as she works; Alnaba at the counter in a trading post piling her arms with fabric, a small white bag, a can of baking powder and a block of coffee from disembodied hands; back to from behind the loom; hogan and another open-air sun shelter (Chaha’oh), hillside behind, Toska rides up on horseback;  Toska squatting down and addressing a silversmith (béésh łigaii ííłʼíní) working outside, another man seated against the hogan behind;  the smith's face and then his hands working on a small horseshoe pendant; Toska smiling; Toska being handed the completed squash-blossom design silver necklace, smiling; Toska unfolds a blanket and a deerskin and hands it to the smith who looks them over; Alnaba loosening the straps on a cradleboard and picks up the baby from it; evening shot of a group walking in a circle, wagon and horses nearby, plateaus in background (music dubbed over); four Navajo men singing, one beating a small drum (dubbed); a group of women of various ages sitting on ground, wrapped in blankets; Alnaba and another girl;  Toska and two other boys riding up on horseback, stopping in area with parked wagons and dismount, walk off; back to group of women, focus on Alnaba smiling; Toska, smiling and other two looking; back to Alnaba and other girl who get up; the girls walking through dancing couples toward the boys; walking up to Toska in a group of awaiting boys; Toska and Alnaba walk away together; the dancing pairs; Toska and Alnaba dancing in the circle; closer shots of them and dancing feet; Alnaba's mother's hogan and hillsides/plateau in background panning over to a new hogan being built: men sawing wood, chopping, placing wooden logs; her father pointing and addressing the other men in Navajo (Diné Bizaad, dubbed);  men working; many people arriving on foot, in wagons and on horseback to Alnaba's mother's hogan; two men retrieving white sacks of flour from a wagon and walking off, then of two men lifting a side/quarter of beef out of a wagon; the people entering the hogan, some with gifts, men and horses outside; interior three women slicing the large quarter of beef, placing dough into skillet and pouring from a kettle, as a man sits and watches; back to people and a dogs entering the hogan;  a woman pouring corn pollen (táádidíín) mush from a tin can into a woven bowl; a group of men, seated, looking in same direction as a woman bends over placing bowls of and other containers in front; Alnaba holding out half of a hollow-ed gourd that another pours water into with a clay pitcher; Toska washing his hands as Alnaba pours water from the gourd over;  a group of women and girls watching, a little girl smiling; Toska holding up the gourd as a woman pours in water; pouring them over Alnaba's hands as she washes; the group of women looking on, metal dishes and containers in front; Alnaba's father sitting across from Toska, addressing them in Navajo (Diné, dubbed); Toska's face, then looking left; Alnaba's face; Toska picking up pollen mush with his fingers and eating it, smiling; Alnaba doing same; their hands picking mush from the part of the bowl facing east; alternating shots of them eating and looking at each other; their hands each picking meal from the center of the bowl; men looking on and then the men in front begin to serve the meal placed before them, handing back food to those behind; back to the group of when doing the same, dipping metal cups into a bucket of coffee; wagons of people pulling away from the hogan, dogs following; end credit.

Cultural Narrative: 

Narration #1 by Natasha Goldtooth, student at Diné College. Facilitated by Rhiannon Sorrell, Instructor & Librarian at Diné College.

Language of narration primarily English.


Narration #2 by Lorencita and Tyrell Willie, students at Diné College. Facilitated by Rhiannon Sorrell, Instructor and librarian at Diné College.

Language of narration primarily English, with some Diné Bizaad.

Toska, Alnaba