The Octagon: A Symbol of Native American Identity in Diné Architecture


Getty/ACLS Postdoctoral Fellowships in the History of Art


The Diné 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 able to accommodate modern building technologies while functioning as a distinctive symbol for tribal identity. This book demonstrates that the octagonal "tsin bee hooghan" emerged as a Navajo icon between 1890 and 1950, and that during this period the octagon became characteristic of Diné-inflected architecture. Although the octagon recurs as a theme across the Navajo reservation, the inventiveness of vernacular builders and professional architects has ensured a wide diversity of octagonally-inspired architecture serving to create the most distinctive Native American landscape in the United States.