Sacred-Texts Native American Navajo
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It has been suggested that it would be interesting to students of Navajo customs to have a list of the major types of ceremonies with the locations on the reservation where they seem to be most often given today. Sometimes the location coincides with the region mentioned in the myth of the ceremony, and where this occurs I will mention it. These notes are merely from my personal observation.
1. TLEJI—NIGHT CHANT, usually called the YEHBECHAI. In Klah’s version of the myth (and he was considered a great expert in this Chant) the myth centered in a canyon north of the Jemez Mountains and also in the Canyon de Chelly. It is now the most popular of the complete ceremonies and is given all over Navajoland, wherever there is a priest who knows it and the people have sufficient wealth to support a nine-day ceremony.
2. TSILTHKEHJI—MOUNTAIN CHANT. The myth begins in the Apache country near Stinking Lake but the present ceremonies are given all over the reservation wherever there is a priest of it and enough wealth to carry through a nine-day ceremony.
3. ATSAH—EAGLE CHANT. The myth is centered on Tsoll-tsilth (Mt. Taylor). If any ceremonies are still given they are probably in that region.
4. YOHE—BEAD CHANT. The myth and most of the ceremonies coincide in location centering in the region near the Chuskai Mountains and along the San Juan River. Not often given.
5. NILTHCHIJI—WIND CHANT. The myth centers in the region between the Chuskai and Jemez Mountains. The many p. 208 forms of ceremonies seem to be mostly given in that region and also north along the San Juan River westward.
6. HOZHONE—BEAUTY CHANT. The myth of this branches off from the Tsilthkehji or Mountain Chant which tells of two sisters, one of whom married the Bear and began the Mountain Chant myth. The other, who married the Snake and started the Beauty Chant, went southward toward the Hopi country where they developed the snake ceremony. The present ceremonies seem to follow the same path from near the north of Chuskai Mountains to the country near Ganado.
7. N’DLOHE—HAIL CHANT. The myth centers on the east slope of the Chuskai Mountains and the last priest of it was Klah who lived at Newcomb in that same region. Ceremony now extinct.
8. TOHE—WATER CHANT. One long myth of this Chant begins in Chaco Canyon and ends along the San Juan River, but may have a mixture in it of Etsosi (Feather Chant). At one point it branches into the Tleji myth and the first sandpainting of the Tleji myth of the whirling logs apparently shows this connection. Another myth is centered farther west near the Hopi country and the only place where it has been given lately is between Keams Canyon and Winslow. Nearly extinct.
9. ETSOSI—FEATHER CHANT. The myth begins at the Pacific Ocean and then goes to a place in the north section of the Navajo country, and at present the ceremonies seem to connect with that region. Nearly extinct.
10. N’DAH—formerly called ANADJI—now popularly called “SQUAW DANCE.” The myth goes back to the scalp dance given by the gods to celebrate the destruction of the monsters who were destroying mankind. The ceremony now given all over the reservation.
11. MAH-IH—COYOTE CHANT. The myth begins at the Pacific Ocean and goes to Canyon de Chelly and farther north. The p. 209 ceremonies now are given near Canyon de Chelly and southwest from there. Nearly extinct.
12. WILLACHEE—RED ANT CHANT. The myth centers in the country near that of the Hopis and the ceremony is given there, but also in other parts of Navajoland.
13. BESHE—KNIFE CHANT. The myth stems from the Tleji. I have never heard of a ceremony though I have seen a rite of it in connection with the Shooting Chant.
14. NAHTOHE—SHOOTING CHANT. The myth begins in a form of the creation story. After the emergence on this earth it centers near the Chuskai Mountains. This is one of the most widespread and popular of the present day ceremonies and has many forms. Given in the form of Tsilthkehji Nahtohe, a combination with the Mountain Chant, it is a nine-day ceremony with a Fire Dance at the end.
15. TSAHA—AWL CHANT. I have no information on this except that it once existed.
16. HANELTHNAYHE. The myth of this form of creation as collected by Father Berard Haile emphasizes the powers of evil. In the many smaller versions there is a similar emphasis against witchcraft. The myth seems to center in the north towards Taos. Ceremony is very short now.
17. HOZHONJI—BLESSING CHANT. This is given as a separate ceremony with sandpaintings all over the reservation. It has decreased in length from a much more important and elaborate ritual to usually not more than a three-day ceremony. Certain parts of the Blessing Chant are used in connection with many other ceremonies.
18. SONTSOJI—BIG STAR CHANT. The myth naturally is much concerned with the sky but begins near the Chuskai Mountains and at present centers mostly on the west slope of these mountains.