“Always assume your guest is tired, cold,
and hungry and act accordingly.
There is nothing as eloquent
as a rattlesnake’s tail.”
“They came with the Bible in one hand
and the gun in the other.
First they stole gold.
Then they stole the land.
Then they stole our souls.”
Ginger Hills, Navajo
Long, long ago when First Woman the Goddess was created, she became fully grown in four days. It seemed that every Dine (Navajo) Indian tribesman wanted her for his wife.
She did not love any of them, but she did like the handsome ones. Of all the men, however, she thought the most attractive was the Sun-God. Of course, she thought he could never be her husband.
To her surprise, one day Sun-God came up behind her and gently tickled her neck with a feathery plume. She was engulfed with warm sunshine, and in a magical way the Goddess became the wife of Sun-God. He fathered her firstborn, a son.
Not long thereafter, the Goddess was resting beneath an overhanging cliff when some drops of water fell upon her. Soon the Goddess gave birth to a second son, fathered by Water-God. Because the two boys were so close in age, they became known as the Twins of the Goddess.
They lived in a beautiful canyon that later became a part of Dine (Navajo) land. About that time, a Great Giant roamed over the country and ate every human he could catch. He discovered the Goddess but did not want to kill her, because at first sight he fell in love with her beauty.
The Goddess knew of the Great Giant’s evil ways and would have nothing to do with him. He became very jealous of her when he saw footprints of the Twins outside her Hogan.
She saw Great Giant approaching, so she quickly dug a hole in the centre of her floor and there hid her two children, whom she dearly loved. She covered the opening with a flat sandstone rock, spreading dirt over it to prevent the Great Giant from finding her Twins.
Another day, Great Giant saw the children’s tracks.
“Where did these children come from?” he asked the Goddess.
“I have no children.” she replied, because she knew that he would try to kill them if he found the Twins.
“You are not telling me the truth,” he said. “I see children’s footprints in the dirt, right here.”
The Goddess laughed heartily and said “Those are only my hand prints. I am very lonesome for children, so I only pretend by making tracks with the heels of my hand and the tips of my fingers, like this. These are the tracks of my children.”
“Now I believe you,” he replied.
As the Twins grew larger, their mother could not hide them any longer. She was alarmed for their safety because of the Great Giant, who saw them one day and tried to catch them. But the Twins were too quick and got away.
The Spirit who made the Goddess appeared with a bow made of cedar wood for Sun-Child.
“It is time for you to learn to hunt,” she said to him.
“We must now make some arrows and another bow for your brother,” said the Goddess to Sun-Child.
“Mostly, we want to hunt for our father,” said Sun-Child. “Mother, who is our father and where does he live?”
“Your father is the Sun-God, but he lives far away in the East,” replied the Goddess.
Another bow was made for Water-Child and many arrows for both Twins. They began their journey to the East and travelled as far as they could, but without success in finding Sun-God. When they returned they asked, “Mother, have you lied to us? In the East, we looked everywhere and we could not find our father, the Sun- God.”
“He must have gone to the South,” she said. Again the Twins set out on another journey, this time to the South, returning without success.
“Please try the West and then the North, if at first you do not find your father in the West,” said the Goddess.
She sent the Twins again on their hunting journey, anxious to keep them away and out of sight of the Great Giant. Many moons later, the Twins came back and said, “Mother, have you lied to us four times? Our father was neither in the North nor the West.”
“Now I will tell you the truth, my sons,” said the Goddess. “Your fathers, the Sun-God and Water-God, live far away in the middle of the great Western Water. Between here and there are great canyons where the walls of the cliffs clap together and would crush you.
“Even if you should succeed in getting through the canyons, there are the terrible reeds that you must cross. Their long knife-like sharp leaves will cut you into pieces.
“If you should escape the reeds, you can never cross the Grand Canyon, which comes first before you can reach the Great Water. You can never, never cross the water where your father’s house is in the middle of the Great Water, the Western Ocean.”
“But, Mother, we want to go and try to find our fathers,” said the Twins.
The Goddess taught the Twins a song of protection for their next journey:
“We are travelling in an Invisible Way to seek our fathers, the Sun-God and the Water-God.”
This song she taught them to sing four times, the magic number. Day after day as they travelled along, they sang their song for protection.
One day, as they passed a little spider hole in the ground, they heard a voice say, “Ssh!” four times. The Twins looked into the hole and saw Spider Woman.
“Do not be afraid of me, I am your Grandmother. Come down into my lodge,” she said four times.
“We cannot enter your lodge, because your doorway is too small,” said the Twins.
“Please blow toward the Eastwind, Southwind, Westwind, and Northwind,” Spider Woman called out.
The Twins blew in the four directions and the entrance enlarged enough for them to go through. Inside and to their amazement, they saw the lodge walls covered with bundles of bones wrapped in spider webs, exactly the way spiders wrap flies in a web.
“Do not be afraid, my grandsons,” said Spider Woman. “These are the bones of bad men whom I killed.”
Spider Woman talked with the Twins about encounters they might have on their trip. She taught them songs for their protection and explained what they could do to overcome obstacles they might meet on their way. “I will give each of you a magic Feather- Plume. Hold it before you as you travel, straight up or sideways to carry you safely forward,” she said to the Twins.
“Be on the look out for a little man with a red head and a striped back. He will resemble a sand-scorpion, only a little larger–about the size of a Jerusalem cricket,” she explained.
“Thank you, Grandmother, we’ll be on our way,” said the Twins.
Many days later, the Twins heard a voice from the ground. It was from the little man with the red head.
“Do not scorn me because I am so small,” he said. “I can and want to help you. Put your hands down on the ground and spit into them four times. Now close your fists, saving the spit until you come to the Big Water. There you can wash off the spit.”
The Twins did exactly as they were told, and after thanking the little man with the red head, they again began their travel. Soon the canyon walls that smashed together loomed ahead of them.
They repeated Spider Woman’s prayers, holding the Feather-Plumes sideways. As they moved forward the clapping walls stopped long enough to allow the Twins to walk through safely.
When they came to the jungle of sharp reeds, again they sang the song Spider Woman taught them, touching the tops of the reeds with their magical Feather-Plumes. Behold! The reeds turned into cattails, which pleased the reeds so much that they quickly opened a wide path for the Twins to pass through. A puzzling encounter for the Twins was the giant cliff. They walked around and around its rim, making a complete circle and finally returning to their starting place.
They were making no forward progress, so they sang songs taught them by their mother and Spider Woman. They prayed over and over again. When they opened their eyes, a beautiful Rainbow appeared, creating a large bridge for them to cross over the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River.
After this spectacular adventure, the Twins continued West for a long time, until they saw the Great Water before them. The Water spread so far, they wondered, “How can we ever reach the Turquoise House of Sun-God, which we know is in the middle of the Great Water?”
The Twins walked down to the beach to the edge of the water and washed the spit off their hands, singing and praying at the same time.
Behold! The Rainbow appeared again! A long Rainbow Bridge stretched before them from the beach to the Turquoise House.
Onto the Rainbow Bridge the Twins raced happily, find their two fathers, the Sun-God and the Water-God, who welcomed them in the Turquoise House at the end of the Rainbow Bridge.
Changing Woman comes closest to being the personification of the earth and of the natural order of the universe as to any other brief way of describing her. She represents the cyclical path of the seasons, birth (spring), maturing (summer), growing old (fall) and dying (winter), only to be reborn again in the spring.
The birth of Changing Woman was planned by First Man and First Woman. First Man repeatedly held up his medicine bundle toward Gobernador Knob at dawn. Somehow from this action Changing Woman [Asdza nádleehé] was born and found lying on top of Gobernador Knob. She was found by Talking God who was sent to investigate. First Man then presented her to the diyinii, saying that you could see that this is the child of the young man and young woman of exceeding beauty who themselves had arisen from the same medicine bundle to become the inner form of the earth.
First Man [Áltsé hastiin] raises and teaches Changing Woman. She grew from infancy to puberty in four days, thus acquiring the name Changing Woman. This occasioned the first puberty ceremony. The Holy People were called for and Talking God officiated at the ceremony. Changing Woman was dressed in jewels (white shell, turquoise, abalone and jet), blessed with pollen [tádídíín] from the dawn and from twilight, and with “pollen” from many jewels and soft fabrics, symbolizing her control over these articles. After this blessing, her hair was bathed with dews and she was instructed to run toward the dawn as far as she could see and then to return. As she ran, her dress of jewels jingled. She repeated this for four nights. On these days, when not involved in ceremonies, she occupied herself with planning for the future of the earth [nahasdzáán]. By the end of the ceremony she had made millstones [tsédaashjéé and tsédaashch’íní], a whisk broom, pots and stirring sticks. The songs that were sung for Changing Woman as she ran are sung today for young women at their puberty ceremonies.
At Changing Woman’s next menstration another puberty ceremony was held, similar to the first. But at this ceremony other procedures for the future were defined. These decree that no menstrating woman shall be present at any ceremonial. The order of songs at future Blessingway ceremonies was thus determined.
After this ceremony Changing Woman would go outside and walk on the trail which had been prepared for her. One day at noon a strange man walked up to her and spoke to her. He said “Prepare yourself for something that is going to happen, after a while I will visit you.” This stranger was so dazzling that Changing Woman had to look away. When she turned back, he was gone. She returned home and reported this encounter to First Woman and First Man. It seems that First Man was expecting this occurence, which happened twice again. On the third time Changing Woman was told to fix her bed outside, with her head to the east. When she fell asleep a young man came and lay beside her. This happened again and she asked who he was. He replied, “Don’t you know me? Didn’t you ever see me? Don’t you know that you see me all the time? It is I that takes care of all things, whatever there is on earth. I am the Sun’s inner form. In my very presence you came into being, in my presence you were put into shape, even I was among them!” He then indicated that First Man had directed him to do this. The next day she decided to bathe because the young man might visit her again. While bathing the young man appeared again and with the collaboration of the dripping water impregnated Changing Woman. In nine days, twins were born to Changing Woman. These twins were to become Monster Slayer and Born for Water. These two also grew in four day periods and in twelve days they were grown young men.
At this point Changing Woman asked for and receives the medicine bundle that First Man had brought up from the previous worlds. She moves to a hooghan that was built for her at the base of Huerfano Mountain. Here she conducted the first wedding ceremony, the mating of corn. After this ceremony Changing Woman leaves for the house that her sons have built for her, at the direction of their father, the Sun, in the west, at or on the Pacific Ocean. Here Changing Woman grew lonely and created the Navajo People from skin rubbed off various parts of her body. The four pairs of people created at this time are the ancestors of all Navajo today.
Changing Woman also caused the abduction of the two children of Rock Crystal Talking God. They were taken to her house in the west by way of a rainbow and a sunbeam. Here they were taught the Blessingway ceremony. They returned home to teach the ceremony to all of their people (the original Navajos saw the ceremony being taught to these children). The diyinii all gathered to learn the ceremony and to construct the original Mountain Soil bundle, containing soil from each of the sacred mountains, with which the ceremony is still conducted. The Holy People then said that, after their departure from this ceremony, they would never be seen in person again but that their presence would be manifest in the sound of the wind [níyol], the feathers [ats’os] of an eagle [‘atsá], in various birds [naat’a’gii], the growth of the corn and other aspects of the world surrounding the earth surface people. The two children who had been taught the Blessingway ceremony then departed to live with the Holy People.
Coyote was walking one day when he met Old Woman. She greeted him and asked where he was headed.
“Just roaming around,” said Coyote.
“You better stop going that way, or you’ll meet a giant who kills everybody.”
“Oh, giants don’t frighten me,” said Coyote (who had never met one). “I always kill them. I’ll fight this one too, and make an end of him.”
“He’s bigger and closer than you think,” said Old Woman.
“I don’t care,” said Coyote, deciding that a giant would be about as big as a bull moose and calculating that he could kill one easily.
So Coyote said good-bye to Old Woman and went ahead, whistling a tune. On his way he saw a large fallen branch that looked like a club. Picking it up, he said to himself, “I’ll hit the giant over the head with this. It’s big enough and heavy enough to kill him.” He walked on and came to a huge cave right in the middle of the path. Whistling merrily, he went in.
Suddenly Coyote met a woman who was crawling along on the ground.
“What’s the matter?” he asked.
“I’m starving,” she said, “and too weak to walk. What are you doing with that stick?”
“I’m going to kill the giant with it,” said Coyote, and he asked if she knew where he was hiding.
Feeble as she was, the woman laughed. “You’re already in the giant’s belly.”
“How can I be in his belly?” asked Coyote. “I haven’t even met him.”
“You probably thought it was a cave when you walked into his mouth,” the woman said, and sighed. “It’s easy to walk in, but nobody ever walks out. This giant is so big you can’t take him in with your eyes. His belly fills a whole valley.”
Coyote threw his stick away and kept on walking. What else could he do?
Soon he came across some more people lying around half dead. “Are you sick?” he asked.
“No,” they said, “just starving to death. We’re trapped inside the giant.”
“You’re foolish,” said Coyote. “If we’re really inside this giant, then the cave walls must be the inside of his stomach. We can just cut some meat and fat from him.”
“We never thought of that,” they said.
“You’re not as smart as I am,” said Coyote.
Coyote took his hunting knife and started cutting chunks out of the cave walls. As he had guessed, they were indeed the giant’s fat and meat, and he used it to feed the starving people. He even went back and gave some meat to the woman he had met first. Then all the people imprisoned in the giant’s belly started to feel stronger and happier, but not completely happy. “You’ve fed us,” they said, “and thanks. But how are we going to get out of here?”
“Don’t worry,” said Coyote. “I’ll kill the giant by stabbing him in the heart. Where is his heart? It must be around here someplace.”
“Look at the volcano puffing and beating over there,” someone said.
“Maybe it’s the heart.”
“So it is, friend,” said Coyote, and began to cut at this mountain.
Then the giant spoke up. “Is that you, Coyote? I’ve heard of you. Stop this stabbing and cutting and let me alone. You can leave through my mouth; I’ll open it for you.”
“I’ll leave, but not quite yet,” said Coyote, hacking at the heart. He told the others to get ready. “As soon as I have him in his death throes, there will be an earthquake. He’ll open his jaw to take a last breath, and then his mouth will close forever. So be ready to run out fast!”
Coyote cut a deep hole in the giant’s heart, and lava started to flow out. It was the giant’s blood. The giant groaned, and the ground under the people’s feet trembled.
“Quick, now!” shouted Coyote. The giant’s mouth opened and they all ran out. The last one was the wood tick. The giant’s teeth were closing on him, but Coyote managed to pull him through at the last moment.
“Look at me,” cried the wood tick, “I’m all flat!”
“It happened when I pulled you through,” said Coyote. “You’ll always be flat from now on. Be glad you’re alive.”
“I guess I’ll get used to it,” said the wood tick, and he did.
by Roman Bitsuie
NATURAL LAW and NAVAJO RELIGION/WAY OF LIFE
April 21, 1995
For the past two decades a group of Navajo families have been resisting an act of Congress to relocate them from their homes in the center of the Navajo reservation pursuant to the Navajo/Hopi Land Settlement Act. (P.L. 93-531). They have always maintained that moving away from their land would prevent them from practicing their traditional religion and eventually lead to the dissolution of their culture. In 1988, the families who are resisting relocation initiated legal action through Manybeads, et al v. the United States of America, arguing that forced relocation violates their right to the free practice of religion. Because of the inextricable ties that link traditional Navajo religion to the land, it can be argued that forcibly moving these families is outright religious persecution. The challenge that Congress and other officials have faced when dealing with the “land dispute” between the Hopi and Navajo people is the problematic role of religion. In order to understand why so many people do and will continue to resist relocation after more than twenty years of constant pressure, we must come to an understanding of what their religion is.
There is no word in the Navajo language for what we refer to as “religion,” defined by Webster’s Dictionary as “man’s expression of his acknowledgment of the divine.” The reason why this word does not exist in their language is simple. their way of expressing acknowledgment of the divine is a way of living. Traditional Navajo religion is not something that can be abstracted from or examined apart from traditional life in general. When traditional life is dissected by Western methods of categorization usually only the rituals and ceremonies are labeled ‘religion.’ These moments of sacred time, however, are but portion of the all-encompassing world view and philosophy of life that constitute the Navajo idea of ‘religion.’ The rituals and ceremonies carried out by traditional people are such an integral part of their daily routine that they themselves describe their religion as life itself. Even today, in these modern times, there are many Navajo people who still live in accordance with the traditional religious teachings. This is particularly true for those people living on the “disputed lands” of Black Mesa. These people, who live without many of the conveniences we take for granted (i.e. running water, electricity, paved roads) continue to survive in the harsh desert climate by following the teachings their ancestors have passed down from time immemorial. These teachings, the world view that emerges from them, the ceremonials, and living according to teachings are all what they consider to be ‘religion.”
While all of the particulars about traditional Navajo religion are so complex that many different anthropologists have written immense volumes on the subject there are a few basic ideas that may seem foreign to our Western, Judeo-Christian way of thinking, yet only require a willingness to understand to recognize their validity. It is natural for us, based on Western rules categorization, to think of religion as something that we can reserve for particular days or places. We tend to divide time and place into spaces that are either sacred or secular. The other division is western religion is based on a system of thought where divine actions take place not according to rules but according to the desire of a Supreme Being. This Supreme Being is essentially unknowable by human beings, who cannot predict or influence what He does. This sets western religion apart from day-to-day life, science, and cause-and-effect reasoning. The traditional Navajo viewpoint, in contrast, does not make such clear cut distinctions as it sees the earth and all that exists in the natural world as manifestations of the sacred.
The traditional teachings explain that the material world is replete with spiritual meaning and significance. This holistic approach to the world implies that all things in life are connected to one another and interact according to a natural order. Navajo religion dictates not only observing this order, but living in accordance with it based on a premise similar to the law we learn in high school physics which states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. That is to say, that the people believe that any disruption they make in the natural order will eventually result in irreparable damage to their environment and themselves. Failing to observe and imitate this universal order is an infraction of natural law, resulting in mental and physical illness for the individual and their family and will ultimately lead to the world’s demise. Maintaining this equilibrium is a religious obligation they must meet by living a life that is in balance and harmonious with creation. Thus, the people who live according to the teachings are not so much concerned with a hereafter, but with the here and now, and with keeping themselves and the world in balance for future generations. They truly believe that if they abandon the practice of their religion the Hopi, the Diné and all the world is in danger of destruction perhaps by fire.
In the traditional Navajo view, life is a constant cycle of growth, death and new life, that flows in a circular motion – all things must begin and end at the same point. For instance, a person’s umbilical cord is buried at birth and when that person passes away he is return to the Earth the same way. The religious teachings offer a guide for daily living that flows with the cycles of the days and seasons. The teachings say that each quadrant of the day, as well as each season of the year, hold in them specific lessons for living a complete and whole life. Many of the elders continue to live with this ideal in mind. They rise at dawn and offer prayers and corn pollen to the spirits in return for clear thoughts and guidance in the days events. The rest of the day-light hours are intended to be time for building work ethics and responsibility so that one can both take care of their livestock, provide for the family and in turn build self- reliance. They reserve the evening hours for enjoying the fruits of the day’s labor and for gathering the family together to strengthen familial bonds. The darkness of night is a time for rest and contemplation of the spiritual realm and the natural order of the universe which humans should strive to imitate. The seasons of the year continue this cycle on a larger scale, as do the phases of one’s life.
In addition to the mandate of living in accordance with natural law, Navajo religion is “site-specific” – that is to say the people have particular places which serve as the foci of religious activity. There are sites, including the whole of Navajo territory, that are significant to the entire Nation, as well as to individual clans (extended families). These are places where: an event in sacred history (such as those mentioned in the creation story) took place; people can communicate with the supernatural to ask for protection or healing; medicinal plants or ceremonial materials can be gathered or places where something supernatural occurred. It is because of the ties to these religiously significant places that these families are unable to move to another location with the same kind of ease as nontraditional people.
The land in which the Navajo Nation lives is defined and bound by four sacred mountains and four rivers. Their land within these boundaries is the place they call “Diné Be keyah,” meaning “Navajo land.” (the Navajos call themselves the Diné, “the people”.) These boundary mountains and everything on the land between them are sacred. According to the traditional teachings, it is only on this land that the creator intended the Diné to live and all that they need to survive would be provided for within its borders. It is here that the people known to us as the Navajos developed the unique culture which defines who they are today. Here is where their history as the Diné began, long before they became the Navajos. Here is where all of the stories of their religious lore took place. This land within the four sacred mountains is their Jerusalem, Mecca or Bethlehem. Din’e Be keyah, like these great religious centers, is truly beloved by the people, yet it is not sufficient for the Navajos to make an occasional pilgrimage to it. Their teachings dictate that they must live on this land and care for it, as well as the plants and animals which were bestowed upon them as gifts from the creator and other the other holy beings.
The story of their genesis, passed down verbally from generation to generation, is at the heart of their religious teachings. The creation story tells of the people’s spiritual journey through several ‘lower worlds,” to emerge onto the site where they now live. Along the way, the people were confronted with disasters resulting from their own wrongdoings such as adultery, corruption and fighting. The effects of these past mistakes were no small disasters. The end result each time was the total destruction of that world. The people had to learn from each mistake and develop methods of cooperation with each other and their neighbors (including members of other nations, such as the Hopi). They also had to learn to make contributions to the community in order to continue their survival as a group. They had to learn to achieve a level of balance within the human society between men and women, just as they perceive the natural order of the universe to be one of balance between the male and female forces of nature. They were offered guidance through this journey by spirit-beings called the Holy People. Those Holy People who aided the people in those early days continue to reside in specific locations around Din’e Be keyah, and are available to aid those who know how and where to communicate with them. These Holy People are not omnipotent deities to be feared or awed, but to be respected and honored because they embody the essence of the natural order, and can help the people to achieve this equilibrium within themselves.
In addition to describing how the Navajo’s forebears came to be, the story also explains the methods by which individuals (and families) who have fallen out of balance can return to equilibrium through various ceremonials and rituals. More importantly, however, the teachings explain how not to fall out of balance by respecting all of creation and living with it, rather than in opposition to it or vying for dominion over it, and by respecting the four elements of life and destruction; earth, wind, fire and water. They people also learn that by making daily offerings of corn pollen and prayers to the Holy People at the places where they reside they can continue to maintain balance and harmony.
One of the greatest difficulties for those involved in making the legal decision on this “dispute” has been recognizing that, based on their religious teaching, the traditional Navajo have a very different view of the earth itself from the dominant culture. They believe that the earth, as the source from which all life comes, is the mother of all people and a living being herself. She, like any other person, has organs, which are various geological formations and veins and arteries, which are rivers and streams. If too much of her insides such as water, coal, and other mineral, are removed then she will eventually, yet assuredly, die as would any human whose had their vital organs removed. If, however, the land is cared for and respected properly, it will continue to provide for the people.
With the earth as a spiritual mother, the traditional people see their family as a complicated network that includes the Holy People, the livestock and certain other animals in addition to their human relatives. A Navajo child is incorporated into this network even before birth through a Blessing Way ceremony. After the child is born, the umbilical cord and afterbirth are returned to the earth in a special place around the home site to ensure that the child will nurtured by their spiritual mother for the rest of his or her life. That spot will always be sacred to that child. As that child matures, each phase of his or her growth – the first laugh, the first steps on the earth, puberty and marriage – will all be celebrated through ceremony. Each ceremony prepares them for their role in the community and renews their connections to the family and to the land.
Just as Din’e Be keyah is sacred to the whole of the Navajo Nation, each family’s home site and certain areas around the home are sacred. These are places where events in that family’s own beginning took place. These are places where the umbilical cords of every child in the family and the bones of every ancestor have been buried for generations. The elders know the places where they can acquire the necessary materials for healing ceremonies and make prayers and offerings to the Holy People. If the people are forced to move away from their land, and thereby denied daily access to the sacred places around their home sites they simply cannot practice their religion freely. If they cannot make the offerings to the holy people on a daily basis, or even in times of dire need, they will be denied the clarity and peace of mind necessary to live out the day. If they cannot ensure the protection of their ancestors bones and their own umbilical cords their connection to their history and familial ties will collapse.
Everything about the way the traditional people live strives to recognize and repeat the order they see in the universe. All of the people, for example once lived in the circular structures now generally reserved for ceremonies. Called a hogan (meaning house) these structures replicate Din’e Be keyah in it’s entirety. Just as Diné’tah has four mountains, one in each of the cardinal directions, the hogan has four main post to correspond with each mountain. The door to the hogan faces east, where things begin, and has a fire place in the center, from which life emerges. Safely hidden in each hogan is a ‘medicine bundle’ containing soil and the sacred minerals from the four boundary mountains. All ceremonies require the use of this re-creation of the Navajo world. Because the families live in widely dispersed unites, ceremonies are crucial for maintaining family bounds. When people are relocated, usually there is no room for, or permits granted to build a hogan. When the ancestral lands are lost, so is the family ‘church,’ and with it is lost their sense of hope for their own future for that their descendants.
The sheep and livestock hold a central role in traditional Navajo life, and the religious teachings explain that they are gifts from the Holy People that need to be cared for in return for sustenance. The people include the livestock in their thoughts and prayers for their family. The people’s relationship with the animals is one of reciprocation, where the animals will provide wealth and sustenance in return for care and protection. The loss of these animals, as with the loss of land, damages the people’s sense of pride in themselves and their ability to provide for their families on their own.
In brief, the traditional religion of the Diné’, the Navajo people, places everything in an orderly, but complex web of existence. Every aspect has purposes and meaning. Every effect has a cause and every cause has an effect. They see their world as bound by natural markers, and all that exists within these boundaries is intimately related to one another. All life and geological formations are animated and connected by means of life giving holy winds. The same winds that bring life to humans give life to the four sacred mountains and surround each home site. The holy wind like everything else in Din’e Be keyah obeys natural law. For instance when the BIA erected fences on Star Mountain, it resulted in a weakening of a holy wind which originates at that point. The fences cause certain adverse forces to enter the sacred mountain from the north, east and south, literally pinching the source of the holy wind. It was to prevent the disturbance of this holy wind at Star Mountain that a Din’e medicine man attempted to block the fencing with his body, and spent time in jail for his act. All of the animals have their place in the order of the world and have been placed there to serve a purpose explained in the sacred mythology. It is the people’s role of to be the stewards of the land and to live in balance with the rest of the creation.
For those who are resisting relocation, leaving the place designated as their home by the creator would also mean that they could not fulfill their duties as caretakers of the land and of their mother earth. Care- taking of the earth is both an obligation to reciprocate the earth’s nurturing of the people and a way to maintain the balance of the universal order and the forces that generate and re-generate life. This balance cannot be maintained if they allow the earth’s natural state to be disrupted. Not only would they suffer but the continuation of the life process in general would be hindered.
The traditional Navajo religion, like all religions, provides meaning and ascribes value to the lives its adherents. It is their religious teachings that have enabled them to survive in the arid desert land and will, if allowed, will be their path into the future. Their religious obligations to the earth and to their family and community is their purpose of life. All of these things that are important to them spiral back to the land itself. The land is the center of their orientation in experience and the base of their sense of reality and identify. To separate them from it would cause them to lose contact with all that is sacred and holy to them. To force people to live such a life or meaninglessness is religious persecution and a condemnation to a slow death, for believing in and practicing their religion is living. When we recognize the religious persecution is, by definition, the infliction of pain and suffering on a group of people because of their religious beliefs, then there is no doubt that forced relocation is indeed this.
Medicine men are believed to be powerful not only in curing disease of body and mind, but also in preventing disease by their ceremonies. These are referred to as “medicine ceremonies,” but they are really “ritualistic prayers,” of their tradition.
There are many of these ceremonies, each of them having many ritual prayers. Some of the ceremonies last only a day. Some last four days, each with its own sand paintings, as they are usually called today. The principal ceremonies last nine consecutive days and nights. Each of these is based on a story or legend.
The Dine (Navajo) consider the Kieje Hatal (Night Chant) one of the most important chants. It is based on this legend.
Long, long ago, three brothers lived among their people, who are known as the Dine or Dinneh, meaning “people.” The oldest brother was rich. The second was a wayward, roving gambler. The youngest was a growing boy. Their only sister was married and lived with her husband a little distance from her brothers.
The second brother often took property belonging to his brothers and then went to distant corners of the earth to gamble. Upon his return, he never failed to relate a story about the wonders he had seen and the Holy People who had revealed many interesting things to him. His brothers never believed him. They called him Bith Ahatini, “The Dreamer.”
One day they wished to go hunting, but did not want The Dreamer to go with them. Without telling him, they asked their brother- in-law to accompany them. Near the end of their fourth day away from home, The Dreamer suddenly realized that he had been tricked. Immediately he started in search of the hunters. He hoped to meet them and to help them carry their game–and also to be rewarded by a pelt or two.
He travelled far, but he had not seen them when the sun passed behind the hills in the distance. Near him was a deep, rock- walled canyon, from the depths of which came the sound of many voices. The Dreamer walked to its edge and peered over. Back and forth, from one side to the other, flew countless crows. They passed in and out of holes in opposite walls.
When darkness had covered everything, The Dreamer heard a human voice call from below in loud tones, “They say! They say! They say!”
From the far side came the answer: “Yes, yes! What’s the matter now?
“Two people were killed today,” the voice replied.
“Who were they? Who were they?”
The first voice answered, “Ana-hail-ihi, killed at sunrise; and Igak-izhi, killed at dusk, by the People of the Earth. They went in search of meat, and hunters shot arrows into them. We are sorry, but they were told to be careful and did not heed. It is too late to help them now; let us go on with the chant.”
In the darkness, The Dreamer had become very frightened, but he stayed to listen and to watch. Muffled strains of song came from deep recesses in each canyon wall–the gods are singing! And just within the openings, visible in the glow of a fire, many dancers are performing in unison as they kept time with rattles.
Throughout the night, firelight flickered from wall to wall. and singing and dancing continued. At daylight, the dancers departed, and The Dreamer began again his search for the hunters.
After a short time, he reached his brothers. They are resting from their journey with heavy packs of game.
“Here comes The Dreamer,” said his older brother. “I will wager that he has something marvellous to tell us!”
The Dreamer was greeted first by his brother-in-law. “You must have slept near here last night, for you are too far from home to have travelled this distance since daylight.”
“I slept near a canyon that is surely holy,” replied The Dreamer. “Many people had gathered to dance, the gods sang, and–“
“There! I told you that he’d have some lie to tell,” interrupted the oldest brother. He picked up his pack and started on.
“Go ahead,” urged the brother-in-law. “Tell me the rest.”
The younger brother, also not believing, took up his pack and walked on. As the brother-in-law looked interested, The Dreamer related all that he had seen and heard. “You or my brothers must have killed the people they spoke about,” said The Dreamer, as he ended the story.
“Oh, no! It was none of us,” his brother-in-law protested. “We have killed no people. Yesterday morning one of us shot a crow and last night we killed a magpie. But there was no harm done.”
“I fear there was,” said The Dreamer. “They are hunters like you, in search of meat for the Holy People. At the time, they were disguised as birds,” The Dreamer explained.
Then the two men overtook the others, the youngest brother asked his brother-in-law, “Did you hear a fine story?”
“It was not a lie,” he retorted. “We killed a crow and a magpie yesterday, and the Holy People talked about it in the canyon last night. Look! Here come four mountain sheep. Hurry!” he said to The Dreamer. “Hurry and head them off!”
They had reached the canyon where strange voices had been heard. Four sheep, along large boulders, were carefully threading their way out of the canyon. As the three hunters dropped back, The Dreamer ran ahead and hid himself near the top of the trail.
As the sheep approached, he drew his bow and aimed for the leader’s heart. But his fingers would not release their grip upon the arrow, and the sheep passed unharmed. He scrambled up over the rim of the canyon and ran to get ahead of them again. But when the sheep were passing him, the bowstring would not leave his fingers. A third effort to kill them failed, and a fourth effort failed.
He cursed himself and the sheep, but suddenly became quiet. Whom did he see but four gods, the four who had transformed themselves into sheep!
The man in the lead ran up to him and dropped his balil–a rectangular, four-piece, folding wand–over The Dreamer as he sat. Then the man in the lead uttered a peculiar cry. Immediately three other gods appeared behind him. All wore masks.
“Whence came you?” The Dreamer asked them.
“From Kinni-nikai,” the Leader replied.
“Whither are you going?”
“To Taegyil, to hold another chant four days from now. Won’t you come along?”
“No, I couldn’t travel so far in four days.”
But after a little persuasion, The Dreamer agreed to go. He was told to disrobe. While he was obeying the order, the Leader breathed upon him, and his raiment became the same as that of the four gods. Then all took four steps eastward, changed into sheep, and bounded away along the canyon’s rim.
The hunters in hiding became restless because The Dreamer did not return. So they ventured out to where they could see the trail on which they had last seen him. No one was in sight. One of them went to the rock where The Dreamer first hid near the sheep. He followed the tracks from hiding place to hiding place until he reached the fourth and last one.
There he found his brother’s clothes, with his bow and arrows upon them. He traced the four human footsteps to the east and found that they merged into the trail of five mountain sheep. The oldest brother cried in his remorse. He had always treated The Dreamer with scorn, but he now realized that he had been wrong.
The gods and The Dreamer, transformed into mountain sheep, travelled very far during their four days’ journey. On the fourth day they came to a large hogan, which is an earth-covered lodge of the Dine (Navajo). Inside are numerous Holy People, both gods and men.
When The Dreamer entered the hogan with his four holy companions, a complaint at once arose from those inside a complaint about an earthly odour. The Leader of the five who had just arrived took The Dreamer outside and had him washed with yucca-root suds.
Inside the hogan stood four large jewel posts, upon which the gods hung their masks. The eastern post was of white shell, the southern of turquoise, the western of abalone, and the northern of jet. Two jewel pipes lay beside a god sitting on the western side of the hogan. He filled both pipes with tobacco and lighted them, passing one to his right and one to his left.
All in the hogan smoked, the last to receive the pipes being two large Owls sitting on each side of the entrance at the east. Each smoker drew in deep draughts of smoke and puffed them out violently. While the smoking continued, people came in from all directions.
At midnight, lightning flashed, followed by heavy thunder and rain. All were sent by Water Sprinkler, who was angered because he had not been told about the dance before it began. But a smoke with the Holy People quickly appeased him. In a short time, the chant began and lasted until morning.
Some of the gods had beautiful paintings on white deerskins, resembling those the Dine (Navajo) now make with coloured sands. These paintings they unfolded on the floor of the hogan during the successive days of the chant.
The last day of the dance was well attended, with people coming from all directions. Throughout the performance, The Dreamer paid careful attention to all the songs, prayers, paintings, and dance movements. He studied closely every sacred apparatus used in the dance–its form, its color, its size. When the chant was over, he had learned all the details of the ceremony–of Kieje Hatal, the “Night Chant.”
The gods permitted him to return to his people long enough to perform the chant with his younger brother and to conduct it for people afflicted with illness or with wickedness. They spent nine days in its performance.
Then he returned to the gods at Taegyil, where he now lives. His younger brother taught the ceremony to his earthly brothers, the Dine (Navajo). They conduct it under the name Kieje Hatal, “Night Chant,” or Yebichai Hatal, “The Chant of Paternal Gods.”
Before the Spaniards brought horses to the Dine (Navajo), they told about the Sun-God’s walking across the heavens, carrying the sun on his back. When he reached the west, he hung the sun on a peg, so that it could cool off. He spent the evening with his family, resting after his long journey.
Of course, the ancient story continued to be told long after the following one was created.
The Sun-God, Johano-ai, starts each morning from his home in the east and rides across the skies to his home in the west. He carries with him his shining gold disk, the sun. He has five horses–a horse of turquoise, one of white shell, one of pearly shell, one of red shell, and one of coal.
The skies are blue and the weather is fair, the Sun-God rides his horse of turquoise, or the one of white shell, or the one of pearly shell. But when the heavens are dark with storm, he mounts the red horse or the horse of coal.
Beneath the hoofs of the horses are spread precious hides of all kinds and also beautiful blankets, carefully woven and richly decorated. In the days gone by, the Dine (Navajo) wove rich blankets, said to have been found first in the home of the Sun-God.
He lets his horses graze on flower blossoms, and drink from mingled waters. These are holy waters of all kinds–spring water, snow water, hail water, water from the four corners of the world. The Dine (Navajo) use such waters in their ceremonies.
When any horse of the Sun-God trots or runs, he raises not dust, but pitistchi. It is glittering grains of mineral, such as are used in religious ceremonies. When a horse rolls and shakes himself, shining grains of sand fly from him. When he runs, not dust, but the sacred pollen offered to the Sun-God is all about him. Then he looks like a mist. The Dine (Navajo) say that the mist on the horizon is the pollen that has been offered to the gods.
A Navaho man sings about the horses of the Sun-God in order that he, too, may have beautiful horses. Standing among his herd, he scatters holy pollen and sings this song for the blessing and the protection of his animals:
How joyous his neigh!
Lo, the Turquoise Horse of Johano-ai,
How joyous his neigh,
There on precious hides outspread, standeth he;
How joyous his neigh,
There of mingled waters holy, drinketh he;
How joyous his neigh,
There in mist of sacred pollen hidden, all hidden he;
How joyous his neigh,
These his offspring may grow and thrive forevermore;
How joyous his neigh!
Wonderful Woven Art by Roy Kady, 4th generation Master Weaver
The Sun’s Horses has a Multi-Patterned background, similar to the Chief’s Blanket designs. These blankets are the earliest weaving style known to have come from the Dine’ (Navajo) People.
Spider Rock stands with awesome dignity and beauty over 800 feet high in Arizona’s colourful Canyon de Chelly National Park (pronounced da Shay). Geologists of the National Park Service say that “the formation began 230 million years ago.
Windblown sand swirled and compressed with time created the spectacular red sandstone monolith. Long ago, the Dine (Navajo) Indian tribe named it Spider Rock.
Stratified, multicolored cliff walls surround the canyon. For many, many centuries the Dine (Navajo) built caves and lived in these cliffs. Most of the caves were located high above the canyon floor, protecting them from enemies and flash floods.
Spider Woman possessed supernatural power at the time of creation, when Dine (Navajo) emerged from the third world into this fourth world.
At that time, monsters roamed the land and killed many people. Since Spider Woman loved the people, she gave power for Monster- Slayer and Child-Born-of-Water to search for the Sun-God who was their father. When they found him, Sun-God showed them how to destroy all the monsters on land and in the water.
Because she preserved their people, Dine (Navajo) established Spider Woman among their most important and honoured Deities.
She chose the top of Spider Rock for her home. It was Spider Woman who taught Dine (Navajo) ancestors of long ago the art of weaving upon a loom. She told them, “My husband, Spider Man, constructed the weaving loom making the cross poles of sky and earth cords to support the structure; the warp sticks of sun rays, lengthwise to cross the woof; the healds of rock crystal and sheet lightning, to maintain original condition of fibres. For the batten, he chose a sun halo to seal joints, and for the comb he chose a white shell to clean strands in a combing manner.” Through many generations, the Dine (Navajo) have always been accomplished weavers.
From their elders, Dine (Navajo) children heard warnings that if they did not behave themselves, Spider Woman would let down her web- ladder and carry them up to her home and devour them!
The children also heard that the top of Spider Rock was white from the sun-bleached bones of Dine (Navajo) children who did not behave themselves!
One day, a peaceful cave-dwelling Dine (Navajo) youth was hunting in Dead Man’s Canyon, a branch of Canyon de Chelly. Suddenly, he saw an enemy tribesman who chased him deeper into the canyon. As the peaceful Dine (Navajo) ran, he looked quickly from side to side, searching for a place to hide or to escape.
Directly in front of him stood the giant obelisk-like Spider Rock. What could he do? He knew it was too difficult for him to climb. He was near exhaustion. Suddenly, before his eyes he saw a silken cord hanging down from the top of the rock tower.
The Dine (Navajo) youth grasped the magic cord. which seemed strong enough, and quickly tied it around his waist. With its help he climbed the tall tower, escaping from his enemy who then gave up the chase.
When the peaceful Dine (Navajo) reached the top, he stretched out to rest. There he discovered a most pleasant place with eagle’s eggs to eat and the night’s dew to drink.
Imagine his surprise when he learned that his rescuer was Spider Woman! She told him how she had seen him and his predicament. She showed him how she made her strong web-cord and anchored one end of it to a point of rock. She showed him how she let down the rest of her web-cord to help him to climb the rugged Spider Rock.
Later, when the peaceful Dine (Navajo) youth felt assured his enemy was gone, he thanked Spider Woman warmly and he safely descended to the canyon floor by using her magic cord. He ran home as fast as he could run, reporting to his tribe how his life was saved by Spider Woman!
Of all the Divine Ones, none is more revered by the Navahos than She-Who-Changeth. Highly honoured, also, is her younger sister, White-Shell-Woman. She-Who-Changeth was made of the turquoise of the land. White-Shell-Woman was made of the white shell of the ocean. Each of these sisters gave birth to a son. Their father was a god.
At the time they were in the world, many Anaye (Ahn-ah-yee) were unfriendly to our people. The Anaye were evil beings and giants and monsters, all of whom desired to kill the people. When the two young gods were grown, they wanted to slay Anaye in order that their tribesmen might be saved.
The brothers often asked the mothers, “Who is our father?” The mother always answered, “You have none.” At last, the two young men set out to learn the answer to their question. They took a holy trail and journeyed on the sunbeams. It was the Wind that guided them, whispering his counsel in their ears.
Their father was Johano-ai, the Sun-God. His beautiful house was in the East. It was made of turquoise and stood on the shore of Great Waters. There the Sun lived with his wife, White-Shell- Woman, his daughters, and his sons, the Black Thunder and the Blue Thunder. Until the coming of the strange brother-cousins, the wife had not known that her husband had visited goddesses on the earth. Nor would Johano-ai believe that the two gods were his sons until he had proved their powers by making them go through all kinds of trials.
The young men came through each test unharmed. Then the Sun rejoiced that these two handsome youths were indeed his children, and he promised to give them what they asked. They said immediately, “We need weapons with which to slay the Anaye.”
So their father, the Sun, gave them helmets, shirts, leggings, and moccasins, all made of black flint (the power of flint came from Morning Star). When the young men put this armour on, the four lightnings flashed from their different joints. For weapons, the Sun gave each a mighty knife of stone and also arrows of rainbow, of sunbeam, and of lightning.
So after they returned home, the brother-cousins slew the Anaye. After every victory, the mothers rejoiced with them.
Then Johano-ai came to She-Who-Changeth and asked her to make for him a home in the West, where he might rest at evening after his long day’s journey by foot across the skies. He pleaded long with her. At least she yielded and said to him, “I will go and make a home for you if you will do what I ask. You have a beautiful house in the East, I have heard. I must have just such a beautiful house in the West. It must be beyond the shore and floating amid the waters. Around the house all kinds of gems must be planted, so that they may grow and become numerous.”
Johano-ai granted every wish expressed by She-Who-Changeth, and now the Sun-God rests in the evening in the gem-surrounded floating house of Estsan-Natlehi, She-Who-Changeth.
Storytelling from memories Rustywire writes with authority and authenticity because he writes from his memory. Rustywire is a fullblood dine whose father grew up on the reservation. His mother’s family lived off the reservation, making Rustywire’s childhood an interesting blend of cultures.
“Mom really stressed to us that we should read and write and talk English,” he recalled. “My dad took care of taking us to work and taking care of things. That’s just how it was.”
“He has a very special gift.”
Sure Good Shirt
Heading to the big city full of lights and all those cars. I wonder where they all go, how they live and what they do, so many people and each one stays someplace and they have to work somewhere and all I see is them coming and going. It is like driving into a big ant pile. On the way in there is a turnoff and I follow it and it takes me to the thrift store. it is like pawn shops, you never know what it is you need until you see it. You have been looking for it a long time, it sits there at the back of your mind and when you see it you say, ah there it is.
The Dineh (Navajo), together with the Apache, constitute the southern branch of the Athapascan linguistic family, living in New Mexico, Arizona, western Texas, southeastern Colorado, Utah, and in northern Mexico. The earliest recorded mention of the Dineh (Navajo) is in 1629, when white settlers from Mexico moved among them. A revolution in the Dineh economy occurred with the introduction of sheep, raised for food, clothing, and commerce. Peace treaties with the white man in 1846 and 1849 were not observed and Colonel Kit Carson invaded Dine territory in 1863 to stop Dineh incursions. He killed large numbers of their sheep and also captured the greater part of the tribe as prisoners and sent them to Fort Sumner and Redondo on the Rio Pecos in New Mexico. In 1867, after the Civil War, the Dine nation was restored to its homeland. They continue to live in peace and prosperity with the growth of their flocks and income from the sale of their famous Dine (Navajo) blankets. In addition, the Dineh tribe has attracted great attention from writers, artists, sculptors and choreographers because of their colourful culture.
“The Dineh (Navajos) are intensely religious,” wrote Edward S. Curtis, whose twenty-volume study of The North American Indian was published between 1907 and 1930. Colorful expressions of their religious life are found in the many ceremonies performed by their medicine men.
Black Mesa Weavers
Flagstaff Mission To The Navajos
Sur la piste des Indiens Navajo
Traditional Navajo clan practices
Where All the Navajos Go
Dineh (Navajo) Wind Prayer
Oh, Great Spirit, Oh Grandfathers,
How lucky can one be to know such beauty?
One can search the world over
And not find this much loveliness.
Her heart is pure, and radiates love and warmth.
Oh, Mother Earth, It is from your womb that she does come.
It has to be, for she reflects your beauty that I see all around me.
Oh, Navajo Wind, blow softly upon this desert rose.
Embrace her always with your warm gentle breezes.
Fill her heart with the pride and happiness
From a proud and noble people that she does come.
Whisper soft reminders in her ear,
“Never forget… Never forget.”
Oh, Father, the Navajo Sun,
Shine brightly down upon her path,
Allow her to see the beauty in herself as well as in others.
Protect her and keep her warm.
Hide her in your absence from the despares of this life.
Allow her always to walk in beauty.
Oh, Woman who walks in beauty like the night,
I am a friend who is distant and silent.
I will care for you always.
About 1966 or so, a NASA team doing work for the Apollo moon mission took the astronauts near Tuba City. There the terrain of the Navajo Reservation looks very much like the lunar surface. Among all the trucks and large vehicles were two large figures that were dressed in full lunar spacesuits.
Nearby a Navajo sheep herder and his son were watching the strange creatures walk about, occasionally being tended by other NASA personnel. The two Navajo people were noticed and approached by the NASA personnel. Since the man did not know English, his son asked him who the strange creatures were. The NASA people told them that they were just men that were getting ready to go to the moon. The man became very excited and asked if he could send a message to the moon with the astronauts.
The NASA personnel thought this was a great idea so they rustled up a tape recorder. After the man gave them his message, they asked his son to translate. His son would not.
Later, they tried a few more people on the reservation to translate and every person they asked would chuckle and then refuse to translate. Finally, with cash in hand someone translated the message,
“Watch out for these guys, they come to take your land.”
Space, Time, and Astronomy in Navajo Sandpainting,Trudy Griffin-Pierce, Univ of New Mexico Press.Holy Wind in Navajo Philosophy, James Kale McNeley, Univ of Arizona Press.Dine Bahane : The Navajo Creation Story, Paul Zolbrod (Translator),
Univ of New Mexico Press.In the Beginning: The Navajo Genesis, Jerrold E. Levy, Univ. California Press, (Hardcover)Language and Art in the Navajo Universe, Gary Witherspoon, Univ. Michigan PressNavaho Folk Tales, Franc Johnson Newcomb, Paul Zolbrod , Univ. New Mexico PressNavaho Legends, Washington Matthews (Editor), Grace McNeley, Univ. Utah PressSacred Twins and Spider Woman and Other Navajo Creation Stories (Cassette),Geri Keams (Navajo), Caedmon Audio CassetteThe Navajo Atlas: Environments, Resources, Peoples, and History of the Dinï¿½ Bikeyah,James M. Goodman, Mary E. Goodman, Univ. Oklahoma PressFrom the Glittering World: A Navajo Story, Irvin Morris (Navajo), Univ. Oklahoma PressMolded in the Image of Changing Woman: Navajo Views on the Human Body and Personhood,Maureen Trudelle Schwarz, Univ. Arizona Press. (Hardcover)The Nightway: A History and a History of Documentation of a Navajo Ceremonial,James C. Faris, Univ. New Mexico PressNavajo Medicine Man Sandpaintings, Gladys Amanda Reichard, Dover Pub.Sandpaintings of the Navajo Shooting Chant, Franc J. Newcomb, Gladys A. Reichard, Dover Pub.Spider Woman: A Story of Navajo Weavers and Chanters , Gladys Amanda Reichard, Univ.New Mexico PressThrough Navajo Eyes: An Exploration in Film Communication and Anthropology,Sol Worth, John Adair, Univ. New Mexico PressTime Among the Navajo: Traditional Lifeways on the Reservation,Kathy Eckles Hooker, Helen Lau Running (Photographer) , Museum of New Mexico PressNavajo Sacred Places, Klara Bonsack Kelley, Harris Francis, Indiana Univ Press.Native Roads : The Complete Motoring Guide to the Navajo and Hopi Nations,Fran Kosik, George Hardeen, Creative Solutions Pub.Marietta Wetherill : Life With the Navajos in Chaco Canyon, Marietta Wetherill, Kathryn Gabriel (Editor), Univ. New Mexico Press.Wide Ruins: Memories from a Navajo Trading Post, Sallie Wagner, Univ. New Mexico Press.Tales from Wide Ruins: Jean and Bill Cousins, Traders, Jean Cousins, Mary Tate Engels (Editor), Texas Tech. Univ. Press.Talking to the Ground : One Family’s Journey on Horseback Across the Sacred Land of the NavajoDouglas Preston, Univ of New Mexico Press.A Guide Book to Highway 66, Jack D. Rittenhouse, Univ of New Mexico Press.Basin and Range, John McPhee, Noonday Press.Navajo Country : A Geology and Natural History of the Four Corners Region, Donald Baars, Univ. New Mexico Press.The Colorado Plateau : A Geologic History, Donald L. Baars, Univ of New Mexico Press.Roadside Geology of New Mexico, Halka Chronic, Mountain Press.New Mexico Atlas & Gazetteer, DeLorme Publishing.
Books on Navajo Rug Weaving
Dilys Winegrad, Lucy Fowler Williams, Joe Ben Wheat (Contributors),
Univ. of Pennsylvania Press.A Guide to Navajo Weaving, Kent McManis and Robert Jeffries, Treasure Chest.Navajo Pictorial Weaving, 1880-1950, Tyrone Campbell, Joel Kopp, Kate Kopp,
Univ. of New Mexico Press.Navajo Rugs: How to Find, Evaluate, Buy & Care for Them, Don Dedera, Northland.Navajo Textiles : The William Randolph Hearst Collection, Nancy J. Blomberg,
Univ. of Arizona Press.Navajo Weaving: Three Centuries of Change, Kate Kent, School of American Research Press.Navajo Weaving Tradition: 1650 to the Present, Alice Kaufman, Christopher Selser,
Council Oak Distribution.One Hundred Years of Navajo Rugs, Marian E. Rodee, Univ. of New Mexico Press.Reflections of the Weaver’s World: The Gloria F. Ross Collection of Contemporary Navajo Weaving,Ann Lane Hedlund, Denver Art Museum.Rugs and Posts: The Story of Navajo Weaving and Indian Trading, H. L. James, Schiffer Pub.The Song of the Loom: New Traditions in Navajo Weaving, Frederick J. Dockstader,
Hudson Hills Press.Weaving a Navajo Blanket, Gladys Amanda Reichard, Dover Pubs.Weaving a World: Textiles and the Navajo Way of Seeing,Roseann S. Willink and Paul G. Zolbrod, Museum of New Mexico Press.Woven by the Grandmothers:
Nineteenth-Century Navajo Textiles from the National Museum of the American IndianEulalie H. Bonar (Editor), Smithsonian Institution Press.
Books by Luci Tapahonso
- A Breeze Swept Through, Univ. New Mexico Press.
- Sáanii Dahataal Dahataal: The Women Are Singing, Univ. Arizona Press.
- Blue Horses Rush In, Univ. Arizona Press. (Hardcover)
- Children’s Books
- Navajo ABC: A Diné Alphabet Book, Eleanor Schick (Illustrator), Aladdin. (Hardcover)
- Songs of Shiprock Fair, Anthony Chee Emerson (Illustrator), Kiva Pub.
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