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Forum Home - Go Back > General > Native Life Navajo Wedding Navajo Wedding

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Old 08-22-2013, 12:36 AM   #1
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Navajo Wedding

I posted this on Reddit but since there are no responses there, I figured it can't hurt to ask here as well...

My family has lived off the reservation for generations and while I am not a tribal member but I still identify myself most culturally as NA as that's the side of my family I was closest with growing up. (even if my experiences are watered down compares to most of you) My father's side is mixed Navajo and Apache and my mother's side is of mixed European heritage. (yeah, that makes me half) I know much of the history, I know many of the stories, but I do not speak Dine Bizaad nor did I have the privelage of growing up totally surrounded by the culture.

Now that I've decided to marry, I'd like to have a small and simple traditional Dine wedding with my friends and family. (really small and simple as I have yet another wedding ceremony to do in Japan, where my fiance and I live, for her family and friends) The problem is I have no idea who to turn to for the ceremony? At the same time, I'm totally aware of all the phony "Medicine Men" advertising their "services." My wife's family actually runs a Buddhist temple and so the location and organization to turn to for the wedding ceremony there is easy. Without having lived on a reservation or larger Navajo community, I don't have that group of people or person to turn to. (Hence me reaching out here where I'm hoping someone can point me in the right direction to get a legit hah-tah'lih)

Most of my family lives in Southern California (near LA) so that's where the ceremony would be taking place. I would greatly appreciate any suggestions/advice!
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Old 08-22-2013, 02:02 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matsuki101 View Post
I posted this on Reddit but since there are no responses there, I figured it can't hurt to ask here as well...

My family has lived off the reservation for generations and while I am not a tribal member but I still identify myself most culturally as NA as that's the side of my family I was closest with growing up. (even if my experiences are watered down compares to most of you) My father's side is mixed Navajo and Apache and my mother's side is of mixed European heritage. (yeah, that makes me half) I know much of the history, I know many of the stories, but I do not speak Dine Bizaad nor did I have the privelage of growing up totally surrounded by the culture.

Now that I've decided to marry, I'd like to have a small and simple traditional Dine wedding with my friends and family. (really small and simple as I have yet another wedding ceremony to do in Japan, where my fiance and I live, for her family and friends) The problem is I have no idea who to turn to for the ceremony? At the same time, I'm totally aware of all the phony "Medicine Men" advertising their "services." My wife's family actually runs a Buddhist temple and so the location and organization to turn to for the wedding ceremony there is easy. Without having lived on a reservation or larger Navajo community, I don't have that group of people or person to turn to. (Hence me reaching out here where I'm hoping someone can point me in the right direction to get a legit hah-tah'lih)

Most of my family lives in Southern California (near LA) so that's where the ceremony would be taking place. I would greatly appreciate any suggestions/advice!
talk to that iron elk woman from the indian center there
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Old 08-22-2013, 02:05 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matsuki101 View Post
I posted this on Reddit but since there are no responses there, I figured it can't hurt to ask here as well...

My family has lived off the reservation for generations and while I am not a tribal member but I still identify myself most culturally as NA as that's the side of my family I was closest with growing up. (even if my experiences are watered down compares to most of you) My father's side is mixed Navajo and Apache and my mother's side is of mixed European heritage. (yeah, that makes me half) I know much of the history, I know many of the stories, but I do not speak Dine Bizaad nor did I have the privelage of growing up totally surrounded by the culture.

Now that I've decided to marry, I'd like to have a small and simple traditional Dine wedding with my friends and family. (really small and simple as I have yet another wedding ceremony to do in Japan, where my fiance and I live, for her family and friends) The problem is I have no idea who to turn to for the ceremony? At the same time, I'm totally aware of all the phony "Medicine Men" advertising their "services." My wife's family actually runs a Buddhist temple and so the location and organization to turn to for the wedding ceremony there is easy. Without having lived on a reservation or larger Navajo community, I don't have that group of people or person to turn to. (Hence me reaching out here where I'm hoping someone can point me in the right direction to get a legit hah-tah'lih)

Most of my family lives in Southern California (near LA) so that's where the ceremony would be taking place. I would greatly appreciate any suggestions/advice!
U don't need a "medicine man" for that. Turn to one of your uncles. They are the ones that conduct the wedding.

The ones I have participated in involve the groom and his party riding horses to the wedding place and giving the horse to the father of the bride.
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Old 08-22-2013, 02:06 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by milehighsalute View Post
talk to that iron elk woman from the indian center there
Ehhhhh...thanks?
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Last edited by Matsuki101; 08-22-2013 at 11:07 PM..
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Old 08-22-2013, 02:24 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ta'neeszahnii Techno View Post
U don't need a "medicine man" for that. Turn to one of your uncles. They are the ones that conduct the wedding.

The ones I have participated in involve the groom and his party riding horses to the wedding place and giving the horse to the father of the bride.
Unfortunately my uncle (and his peers) on that side of the family aren't really the best people for the job for various reasons. I really wish my great grandmother was still around as she was the only remaining person in the family that grew up near the reservation and still had many friends I could have turned to. My grandparents don't have any contact info with here friends but as she passed away a few years ago at the age of 90, my guess is most of her friends are no longer with us as well.

As much as I'd love to give my father-in-law to be a horse (he is, or used to be, an avid gambler at the racetracks) we're talking about a very old gentleman that has good days and bad days when it comes to simply walking. (though, like my great grandmother, the Japanese have no problem eating horse) I suspect the ceremony will be limited to the hah-tah'lih's advice and wedding basket ceremony...and that is fine with me as I'm not looking to impress anyone with the wedding, just make it meaningful for me, my bride and my family.
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Old 08-22-2013, 04:15 PM   #6
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the ceremony is simple and short as it is.

i still don't understand why you need a medicine man. normally, one of the bride's uncles would have the honors mainly because you are marrying into her family. her family hosts the ceremony and provide the basket and the corn mush.

under her uncle's direction, the basket is turned one way or another depending on her family's upbringing. that way, you can't blame an outside medicine man for any misfortunes that you may encounter later in life.

the other part i don't understand is why are you going through the trouble of a navajo ceremony only to have a much larger non-native ceremony afterwards? if you are marrying into her traditions, you do it the way her family would do it. this way, you don't need to worry about the legitimate medicine man concerns you have which you really don't need anyway.

Last edited by xTekno; 08-22-2013 at 04:18 PM..
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Old 08-22-2013, 10:58 PM   #7
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I flipped your replies so my responses make more sense.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ta'neeszahnii Techno View Post
the other part i don't understand is why are you going through the trouble of a navajo ceremony only to have a much larger non-native ceremony afterwards? if you are marrying into her traditions, you do it the way her family would do it. this way, you don't need to worry about the legitimate medicine man concerns you have which you really don't need anyway.
I guess I should explain in more detail. She's Japanese, her entire family is in Japan, my entire family is in the U.S. It isn't realistic to have either family travel to either country, hence the need for two ceremonies. The Navajo ceremony would be the larger of the two weddings by far.

Yes, I am literally marrying into her family, I am literally being "adopted" by the family and required to take her family name. This is due of the unusual circumstances where she is taking over as head priestess at the family temple. Normally this responsibility is passed on to the eldest male heir however she is the eldest in her family and her younger brothers are not interested in nor accredited to do so. This being said, her family doesn't have any specific wedding tradition and many have avoided a ceremony all together. To be frank, her father would actually like to avoid a ceremony with us as well but her mother and mother's relatives were very upset about that and we've come to a compromise that made them both happy, a very small ceremony at her temple with only our immediate family and dinner/drinks with the rest of the family and friends afterward. (which is actually how it used to be done here until it became more fashionable to hire any white guy available to throw on a Christian priest uniform and spend 30K to rent a faux chapel so their wedding dress doesn't look out of place) Her parents also recognized the need for a ceremony that the rest of my family and friends could attend so they are on board with the Navajo ceremony and gathering at my parents home in California. (contrary popular belief, Buddhism isn't a religion, it's a philosophy...and part of that philosophy is acceptance/respect of other cultures, traditions, etc.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ta'neeszahnii Techno View Post
the ceremony is simple and short as it is.

i still don't understand why you need a medicine man. normally, one of the bride's uncles would have the honors mainly because you are marrying into her family. her family hosts the ceremony and provide the basket and the corn mush.

under her uncle's direction, the basket is turned one way or another depending on her family's upbringing. that way, you can't blame an outside medicine man for any misfortunes that you may encounter later in life.
While I totally understand what you're saying, with her side of the family ruled out and nobody experienced with the ceremony alive on my side of the family, (if they had their way, I'd be having a catholic wedding)I'd like to use a trusted outside party with experience. I'm somewhat aware of the superstitions you're referring to regarding future misfortunes but I don't fear them.

Last edited by Matsuki101; 08-22-2013 at 11:55 PM..
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Old 08-23-2013, 12:34 AM   #8
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Fair enough.

Well, I wish you a lot of luck and hope that you get what you are searching for. I give you credit for trying to make it work in spite of all obstacles.

I've witnessed many forms of wedding ceremonies, but I love the full traditional version of the Navajo.

I always thought I would do that way, but at my age, it probably won't ever happen. In the old days, old men were allowed to marry young maidens as soon as they were of age.
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Old 08-23-2013, 01:20 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ta'neeszahnii Techno View Post
Fair enough.

Well, I wish you a lot of luck and hope that you get what you are searching for. I give you credit for trying to make it work in spite of all obstacles.
Thank you, I truly appreciate the sentiment. Obstacles and exceptions seem to be my way of life, but I've made it work so far.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ta'neeszahnii Techno View Post
I've witnessed many forms of wedding ceremonies, but I love the full traditional version of the Navajo.
That's pretty much my point of view as well but I just didn't see a full traditional version as realistic in my position. (then again, I didn't see me moving to Japan or marrying a Buddhist priest either...I already feel sorry for my children, knowing the confusion that will ensue when people ask them "what are you?"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ta'neeszahnii Techno View Post
I always thought I would do that way, but at my age, it probably won't ever happen. In the old days, old men were allowed to marry young maidens as soon as they were of age.
hahahaha, don't forget you could have more than one as well! Times may change but we sure don't
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Old 08-23-2013, 03:02 PM   #10
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if you google "navajo wedding", you get all kinds of people who post what they think it is. some even post pictures that look like they are specifically for show. i guess everything can have a twist to make it more dramatic and romantic these days.

@Matsuki10, post some pics!
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