Time, Resources, and Authority in a Navaho Community1


  • 1

    Earlier drafts of this paper were read by Terry Reynolds and Louise Lamphere at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association in Denver, November 1965. The authors conducted research during the summer of 1963 while they were members of the Harvard-Columbia Field School, Dr. B. N. Colby, Director. Funds were provided by the National Science Foundation. During the summer of 1964, additional data were collected at Rimrock (Louise Lamphere received assistance from a National Institute of Mental Health Fellowship). The Rimrock files (Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe), land allotment files (B.I.A., Gallup Area), genealogies, census material, and residence maps have been used to supplement the ethnographic field work. We would like to thank David F. Aberle, T. O. Beidelman, and Richard Kluckhohn for valuable comments and criticisms.


Social units in the Rimrock Navaho community are examined to support the thesis that variation in Navaho social organization is part of an integrated system operating in accordance with consistent principles. These units are defined, and it is shown how they are related to one another through processes of formation, growth, and fission. Changes over time in the composition of social units and in their spatial distribution are related to the control and transmission of economic resources. It is suggested that the matrilineal system of the Navaho differs from societies with large, corporate matrilineages.