Encyclopedia Article


A hogan is one of several traditional Navajo structures. Building hogans has ceremonial significance, and instructions for their construction have been passed down for generations, originating with the Holy People. In creation stories, the whole Navajo homeland is referred to as a hogan, and the walls that comprise the hogan's construction correspond with each of the cardinal directions and the four sacred mountains that mark the breadth of the Navajo homeland. As an extension of the Navajo belief system, the hogan's health and equilibrium need to be nourished and protected, similar to the people who live inside it. Although a hogan functions on a daily level as a ceremonial space for the observance of cumulatively significant small rituals, the hogan can also provide a space for larger healing practices such as ceremonial singing and associated sandpaintings.

Photo Credit: 

"Hogan and Brush Arbor, Canyon de Chelly, Navajo Nation, AZ, August 17, 2008" by Jay Tilston. All rights reserved. Use with permission only.