A Note on Regional Variation in Navajo Kinship Terminology1


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    Research on the Navajo Indian Reservation was supported by the Frederick G. Voss Anthropology and Archaeology Fund of the Department of Anthropology, The American Museum of Natural History; by the Undergraduate Ruearch Participation Program, National Science Foundation (grant number GY-4415); and by the Urban Corps. Mrs. Diana Rochman, supported by the Hunter College work-study program financed jointly by Hunter College of the City University of New York and the American Museum of Natural History, assisted us in analyzing the data. The students who assisted us on the Navajo Reservation were Miss Nancy Bonvillain (Columbia University), Miss Mary Ann Castle (Herbert H. Lehman College, City University of New York), Miss Helen Fisher (New York University), Miss Judith Kopecky (Barnard College), and Miss Laura Lein (Swarthmore College). We thank these students and organizations for their assistance.


Analysis of genealogies collected from ninety-four Navajo respondents living in two widely separated areas of their reservation revealed significant regional variation in kinship terminology. Considerable individual variability in the terminologies from one of these regions suggests that the kinship terminology in this region may be changing. The reasons for this possible change are unclear, but we note that the kinship terminology in this region resembles that of the nearby Hopi.