Art & Art History ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 4-9-2019


The Navajo hogan is one of a small number of traditional Native American dwellings still in use during the 21st century. Part of the reason for the hogan’s persistence has been the widespread adoption of a particular form, the tsin bee hooghan, that can accommodate Euro-American building technologies while also serving as a distinctive symbol for tribal identity. This dissertation surveys the emergence of the tsin bee hooghan as a Navajo icon during the period between 1890 and 1950 and suggests that Euro-American representations of Navajo culture played a role in popularizing the form. These representations could be found within ethnological villages at world’s fairs and at tourist destinations which capitalized on the hogan’s “primitive” appearance. During the same period, Indian reform groups targeted Native American architecture as a source of paganism and disease and sought to “improve” the hogan.

By the 1920s, a compromise had begun to emerge which deemed the hogan as an acceptable form of housing while at the same time viewing it as in need of modification. In 1933, the Office of Indian Affairs instituted a number of programs that built masonry versions of the tsin bee hooghan as "model hogans." At the same time, Euro-American roadside entrepreneurs began constructing examples of the tsin bee hooghan. A number of different hogan forms could be seen along major highways through Navajoland during this period, but the tsin bee hooghan became the most popular, and by the late 1950s, it had become a "trademark of the Navajos.”



Document Type


Degree Name

Art History

Level of Degree


Department Name

UNM Department of Art and Art History

First Committee Member (Chair)

Justine Andrews

Second Committee Member

Christopher Curtis Mead

Third Committee Member

Peter Nabokov

Fourth Committee Member

Joyce Szabo

Fifth Committee Member

Chris Wilson


Hogan, Navajo, Tourism, Trading Posts, Roadside Architecture, Native American Architecture

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