Warfare: An "undesirable necessity" in Navajo life

The first part of this thesis examines how Navajo cultural philosophy views raiding, warfare, and warriors. Navajos understand raiding and warfare as controlled evils that should only be used for defense and protection. Anything human, environmental, or spiritual that poses a threat to Navajo individuals and/or society is considered an enemy. Likewise, anyone who provides protection against these potential harms may be considered a warrior.
The second part of this research tests Clifton Kroeber and Bernard Fontana's hypothesis regarding indigenous warfare in respect to the Navajo. These scholars theorize that indigenous men used warfare as a means to re-establish their social worth which had presumably diminished as a result of some cultural shift in equity between the sexes. Their hypothesis is somewhat accurate as it pertains to Navajo warfare. Warfare, understood as protection, provides several outlets for men, women, and medicine people to bolster their self-esteem and social worth.


Brent Spicer


Tom Holm





Arizona State Museum: 

M9791 S75w


ATT 1394139

UA Library: 

E9791 1999 052
College of Social and Behavioral Sciences