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They were one of the last people in Africa to lose their independence and come under French rule.
The Dogon people with whom the French anthropologists Griaule and Germaine Dieterlen worked with during the 1930s and 40s had a system of signs which ran into the thousands, including "their own systems of astronomy and calendrical measurements, methods of calculation and extensive anatomical and physiological knowledge, as well as a systematic pharmacopoeia." associate with an African Traditional Religion.
Dogon sculptures are not made to be seen publicly, and are commonly hidden from the public eye within the houses of families, sanctuaries, or kept with the Hogon (Laude, 20).
It is often difficult to distinguish between pre-Muslim practices and later practices, though Islamic law classified them and many other ethnicities of the region, (Mossi, Gurma, Bobo, Busa and the Yoruba) as being within the non-canon dar al-harb and consequently fair game for slave raids organized by merchants.Dogon insecurity in the face of these historical pressures caused them to locate their villages in defensible positions along the walls of the escarpment.The other factor influencing their choice of settlement location is water.It was the problem of "twin births" versus "single births," or androgyny versus single-sexed beings, that contributed to a disorder at the beginning of time.This theme became a significant basis of the Dogon religion.