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What are Navajo homes like?

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Quick Answer

Traditional Navajo homes are known as hogans and are constructed out of wooden poles, mud and tree bark. They typically have a conical frame made of sticks set at 45-degree angles. As of 2015, Navajo families also live in trailers or modern houses, but some still choose to live in hogans.

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Full Answer

Navajo hogans are built so that the doorway opens to the east. This allows the home to receive the morning sun, as well as good blessings. A blanket is placed in the doorway instead of a door. The entire hogan is covered in weeds, earth or grass, except for the apex. The apex in the roof is left open to allow for smoke from the fire built in the center to escape. As of 2015, many hogans are used for ceremonial purpose and tribe meetings rather than as homes, especially newly built hogans.

Hogans are energy efficient homes that use thermal mass in the form of a fireplace to heat the building. The home is kept cool using natural air ventilation from the packed mud or grass on the outside of the structure.

Sometimes Navajo homes are built with stone or in a polygonal form rather then conical. Storm doors may be added in winter to protect the home from the cold, or extra curtains added to protect from wind. Simpler huts may be constructed during the summer season. Other traditional buildings used as homes include the underground home and the sweat house.

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