Panhandlers and Stereotypes

By Bill Donovan and George Joe

If you plan to spend any time on the reservation, you are bound to be approached by someone asking for money, especially in many of the communities with large population. Be aware that most of these requests will come from people wanting to use it to buy liquor.

The tribe frowns on this but can’t stop it. And for the most part, if you say no, they will just go and find someone else to ask, but there have been cases where the person will keep asking so you would be wise in those cases just to leave and not argue.

If you don’t want a problem, you can give them your change and they will go away.

No matter what you have seen on television or in the movies, Navajos do not live in teepees. They live in hogans, an eight-sided structure with the front door facing east, or in regular housing.

Almost all Navajos speak English, although there are some elderly, especially in the more remote parts of the reservation, who are more comfortable speaking in Navajo than English. In those cases, you would have to get an interpreter. Anyone who deals with the public will speak English. Today, about 99% of children entering the first grade do not speak Navajo.