"Always assume your guest is tired, cold,
and hungry and act accordingly.
There is nothing as eloquent
as a rattlesnake's tail."
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."
The Rainbow's End
Blessingway - Twelve Word Song
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.
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 [Asdz 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
Man [Átsé 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Kills a Giant
Diyin Dine'e (Holy People-Navajo)
Holy and Natural Law
of First Man
Legend of the Night Chant
Slayer and Yé'iitsoh
Prayer of the Night Chant
Rock Monster Eagle and Monster Slayer
Song of the Horses
Navajo crafts and tradition
Story of the Two Brother-Cousins
Moon and Stars
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
"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
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.
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
"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
(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.
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
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.
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.
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,
out for these guys, they come to take your land."
- Sacred Ways of Knowledge: Sources of Life,
Anna Lee Walters, Peggy V. Beck,
Community College Press.
- The Main Stalk : A Synthesis of Navajo Philosophy,
John R. Farella, Univ of Arizona Press.
- Earth Is My Mother, Sky Is My Father:
Space, Time, and Astronomy in Navajo Sandpainting,
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 Press
- Navaho Folk Tales, Franc Johnson
Newcomb, Paul Zolbrod , Univ. New Mexico Press
- Navaho Legends, Washington Matthews
(Editor), Grace McNeley, Univ. Utah Press
- Sacred Twins and Spider Woman and Other Navajo
Creation Stories (Cassette),
Keams (Navajo), Caedmon Audio Cassette
- The Navajo Atlas: Environments, Resources,
Peoples, and History of the Diné Bikeyah,
M. Goodman, Mary E. Goodman, Univ. Oklahoma Press
- From the Glittering World: A Navajo Story,
Irvin Morris (Navajo), Univ. Oklahoma Press
- Molded in the Image of Changing Woman: Navajo
Views on the Human Body and Personhood,
Trudelle Schwarz, Univ. Arizona Press. (Hardcover)
- The Nightway: A History and a History of
Documentation of a Navajo Ceremonial,
C. Faris, Univ. New Mexico Press
- Navajo 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.
- Through Navajo Eyes: An Exploration in Film
Communication and Anthropology,
Worth, John Adair, Univ. New Mexico Press
- Time Among the Navajo: Traditional Lifeways on
Eckles Hooker, Helen Lau Running (Photographer) , Museum of New Mexico
- Navajo 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 Navajo
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
- Navajo Country : A Geology and Natural History
of the Four Corners Region, Donald Baars, Univ. New Mexico
- 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,
Books on Navajo Rug
- A Burst of Brilliance: Germantown, Pennsylvania,
and Navajo Weaving
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,
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
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
H. Bonar (Editor), Smithsonian Institution Press.
Indigenous Peoples' Literature
Compiled by: Glenn Welker
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