[Preservation Glossary] Today's Word: Hogan
A few years ago the American Southwest was my home, and I would often admire the rustic red landscape of the area. Throughout that area, I would see the little round huts that dot the land. These huts are called hogans (Navajo spelling is hoogan).
The Oxford Dictionary of Foreign Words and Phrases provides a simple definition of hogan:
A traditional Navajo Indian hut of logs and earth.
In recent decades, hogans have also been built with brick or cement. The hogan shape is used as a design element in more modern houses (e.g. two-story hogans, hogan-type entrance to a modern house). Even with modern developments, traditional log and earth hogans are being preserved throughout the reservation and remain an integral part of Navajo culture.
Word in Use: "When a winter hogan is to be built the site is usually chosen in a secluded or sheltered spot; the choice always being such as will permit the door to face east. The ground is leveled, and then a circle is drawn of the desired size; there being no general rule as to the diameter or height of a hogan." -- Uriah S. Hollister, The Navajo and His Blanket, p. 66.
Editor's note: The photo and text in this post has been updated to further clarify the definition of hogan.