Navaho Material Culture was conceived in the 1940s when the noted anthropologist Clyde Kluckhohn began to collect data for a reference work on Navaho objects. The unique work he began was concluded by W. W. Hill and Lucy Wales Kluckhohn, who incorporated unpublished data collected by more than twenty research workers among the Navaho for varying periods over four decades.
The beautifully illustrated collection of material culture traits is organized into five major categories: subsistence, shelter, clothing, ritual, and recreation. Information about the 263 traits includes description of manufacture and use, Navaho knowledge and belief associated with the product, and pertinent material from the anthropological literature.
The authors analyze the distribution of traits according to area and through time, and discuss the broader issues of culture change, obsolescence, differential acculturation, and cultural homogeneity. Navaho Material Culture is the first such study to include all these diverse elements; in fact, it is the first such study made of the Navaho or any Southwestern tribe. Because many of the traits are obsolete and others are no longer remembered, much of the information presented here can no longer be obtained.