Sacred-Texts Native American Navajo Index Previous Next
Times were hard in the world. Everywhere there were beings who were eating people. One day a dark rain cloud was seen resting on the top of tc’ol’i.2 The next day the rain was seen to be falling nearly to the middle of the mountain. The third day it reached well beyond the middle and the fourth day the rain enveloped the entire mountain and was falling at its base.
First Man, observing this from the top of dzıłna’odıłi, addressing First Woman said, “Old woman, four days ago there was a dark rain cloud on the top of tc’ol’i and now the entire mountain is covered with rain. Something unusual has happened. I am going to see what it is.” “There are things to be feared there. The devouring ones are many. Why do you go?” First Woman replied. “Nothing untoward will happen,” First Man said and started away on a run. When he had run some distance he began to sing:—
|“I am approaching, close I am approaching.|
I being associated with the dawn, First Man I am.
Now the mountain Tc’ol’i I am approaching.
Where it is black with rain clouds I am approaching.
Where the zigzag lightning lies above I am approaching.
Where the rainbow lies above I am approaching.
Where it is murky with the rebounding water I am approaching.
Possessed of long life and good fortune I am approaching.
With good fortune before me,
With good fortune behind me,
With good fortune under me I come to it.
With good fortune above me I come to it.
With good fortune all around me I come to it.
With good fortune proceeding from my mouth I come to it.
Having arrived at the base of the mountain with this song he climbed the mountain with a similar one, but with the refrain, “I am climbing.” When he was ready to return the song had for a refrain, “I start home.” On the way back he sang a similar song saying, “I am traveling home.” This was followed by one with the refrain, “I have returned.” The final song has for a refrain, “I sit down again.”3
When First Man came to the top of the mountain he heard a baby crying. The lightning striking all about and murk caused by the hard rain p. 149 made it difficult to see anything. He discovered the baby lying there with its head toward the west and its feet toward the east. Its cradle consisted of two short rainbows which lay longitudinally under it. Crosswise, at its chest and feet, lay red rays of the rising sun. Arched over its face was a rainbow. The baby was wrapped in four blankets; dark cloud, blue cloud, yellow cloud, and white cloud. Along either side was a row of loops made of lightning and through these a sunbeam was laced back and forth.
First Man, not knowing how to undo the fastenings, took up the baby, cradle and all, and started home with the songs mentioned above. When he arrived he called out. “Old woman, it is a baby, I found it there where it is black night with rain clouds.”1 “Ee,” First Woman exclaimed. They heard immediately xawu‛, xawu‛, xawu‛, the call of Mirage xactc’εxti. This was followed by xuuuxu Xuuuxu Xuuuxu wuwuoo, the cry of his companion Mirage xactc’εoγan. The two gods came in with xactc’εxti in the lead who clapped his hand over his mouth and then struck them together, crying, “Something great has happened, my grandchildren. This is the one we have been talking about. Hereafter her mind will be the ruling power.” He put the baby on the ground back of the fire, pulled the string and the lacing came free in both directions.
“The cradle shall be like this. Thin pieces of wood shall be placed underneath. There will be a row of loops on either side made of string. The bark of the cliff rose, shredded and rubbed fine will be used under the child for a bed.”2 It was a girl.
“Ee,” said First Woman, “citc’ε (my daughter, woman speaking) she shall be.” First Man said, “She will be sitsi’ ” (my daughter, man speaking).
A day was the same as a year. The second day the baby sat up and when two days had passed she looked around. She was then dressed.
|Well, White Shell woman gazed about.|
With moccasins of white shell, their borders embroidered with black she gazed about.
Her shoe laces of white shell she gazed about.
Her leggings of white shell she gazed about.
Her legging pendants of white shell she gazed about.
Her skirt of white shell she gazed about.
Her belt of white shell she gazed about.
Her shirt of white shell she gazed about.
p. 150 Her face of white shell she gazed about.
Her mind of white shell she gazed about.
Her soft feather1 of white shell she gazed about.
Having on the crown of her head a bluebird with a white stripe across its mouth and a nice voice.
Having long life and good fortune she gazed about.
Good fortune ahead of her.
Good fortune behind her she gazed about.
Good fortune below her she gazed about.
Good fortune all around her she gazed about.
Good fortune proceeding from her mouth she gazed about.
When she was two days old she walked and when three days had passed she danced. Four days after she was found she ran some distance. When the fifth and sixth days had passed First Woman walked with her, calling her daughter. The seventh, eighth, and ninth days passed and on the tenth at dawn she was named yołkai esdzą, “White Shell Woman.” Eleven days passed and on the thirteenth day, when the sun reached the exact place in the sky where it was when the girl was found, she was discovered to be menstruating.
“Mother, something is passing from me,” she said. “That, my daughter, is called tsidεsdla.2 A girl will reach puberty at thirteen years of age.” When all had passed she washed in a white shell basket, in a turquoise basket, in an abalone shell basket, and finally in a jet basket.
|Then he dressed his child.|
Now First Man dressed white shell girl.
Back from the center of his house I dress her.
Her moccasins being of white shell he dressed her.
Her white shell moccasins having a black border he dressed her.
Their strings being of white shell he dressed her.
Her leggings being of white shell he dressed her.
Their pendants being of white shell he dressed her.
Her skirt being of white shell he dressed her.
Her belt being of white shell he dressed her.
Her shirt being of white shell he dressed her.
Her face being of white shell he dressed her.
Her mind being of white shell he dressed her.
Her soft feather being of white shell he dressed her.
All kinds of clothing going to her I dress them.
All kinds of quadrupeds going to her I dress them.
All kinds of plants going to her I dress them.
Male ram going to her I dress him
Female ram going to her I dress her.
Bluebirds calling in front of her I dress them
p. 151 Being a girl of long life and good fortune I dress her.
Good fortune being in front of her I dress her.
Good fortune being behind her I dress her.
Good fortune being below her I dress her.
Good fortune above her I dress her.
Good fortune being all around her I dress her.
Her speech being fortunate I dress her.
She was dressed and then a bed was spread for her with a white buckskin at the bottom, and on it a blanket of white cotton, third, an embroidered black one, and fourth, a white coyote skin blanket. The girl lay face down on this bed stretched out.1
“From here one runs in a sunwise circuit and then one should jump over to the place behind the fire. There you have finished running. With soft goods you finish running, my daughter. With white shell you finish running, my daughter.” First Woman said. “When three days have passed.” “Let all the holy ones come where we are living,” said First Man. “You are appointed the leaders, Mirage xactc’εłti and Mirage xactc’εoγan.”
He drew twelve lines one after the other on dziłna’odiłi. “There,” he said, “will be house spread out, house iridescent.” When the sun set they come together at the house called spread out and iridescent. First, came the Mirage xactc’εłti who formed a line at the back and then Mirage xactc’εoγan made the second line. Third were xactc’εłti people and fourth xactc’εoγan; fifth were the holy people who live in mountains; sixth were the hunchback people, seventh were xactc’εłti people, eighth grasshopper people.
“Now it will be,” he said. Then it happened; the curtain was raised and someone said, “Why were we not notified?” “Your fee will be provided,” he replied. “They will make a long line,” he said. White shells came in, one after the other, in pairs. Turquoise came in one after the other, in pairs. Rings of haliotis came in one after the other, in pairs. Woven beads came in one after the other, in pairs. Then red shells were, and braided beads, white coyote blankets, black fabrics, figured fabric. These formed twelve lines one behind the other.
“Now we will begin xojondji,” he said and drew out a sack of pollen. “Paint the house with it,” he directed. Then in a sunwise circuit four timbers, one after the other, were made yellow with pollen. He called, “wεxε,” to Mirage xactc’εłti, being in the last row. Then their leader began to sing. He intoned as follows:—
|Here hogans stand, good hogans. At the east good hogans, the hogans of xactc’εłti stand.|
Dawn their hogans made of stand,
White corn made of their hogans stand.
Soft goods of all kinds made of their hogans stand.
Water from all sources made of their hogans stand.
At the west their hogans stand.
The hogans of xactc’εoγan stand.
Hogans made of yellow horizontal light stand.
Hogans made of yellow corn.
Hogans made of hard materials of all kinds stand.
Hogans made of water’s child stand.
When these two songs had been sung the one over whom they were singing said: “Why do you sing thus. Two men are lacking.” The men in the twelve lines said they did not know who were lacking. “There is something you do not know about. With what shall I live forever? With what shall I have good fortune?”
“Very well,” he replied. They added these two, long life and good fortune to the others. Then they began to sing. They sang twelve and then put two songs on top, making fourteen. By that time, day was breaking and grasshoppers began to sing. A woman’s song was heard and when it was finished someone put a head in and said, “Why didn’t you invite us?” “Your fee will provided,” First Man replied. They found it was Dawn who had done this. Then they began to sing.
|They are in line.|
xactc’εłti they are in line.
All dressed in white moccasins they are in line.
All dressed in white leggings they are in line.
All dressed in white buckskins they are in line.
All dressed in white eagle feathers they are in line.
All dressed in bluebirds they are in line.
Singing with their mouth with pleasing voices they are in line.
Possessed of long life and good fortune they are in line.
With good fortune in front of them they are in line.
With good fortune behind them they are in line.
There were six songs all alike which are called dawn songs.
When four days had passed the girl said to her mother, “Something is flowing from me again, mother.” “That is called kindzisda’ ” her p. 153 mother replied. They did the same way again. The holy people came from both sides. “We shall never be seen after this,” xactc’εłti said. They departed in all directions. xactc’εγan spoke: “If anyone says ‘I saw xactc’εγałti I say he shall be killed.’ ” Sun spoke. “They shall not see me, because it would be bad luck if they saw me.” On account of this the assemblage was dismissed. When one day had passed she said, “Something flows from me again.” “That is called tcedji’na’. It ceases after four days have passed. Because of that the flowing of a menstruating woman will cease in four days. She, menstruating, was lustful. She went to the top of a hill called tondiłkons1 and spread her thighs toward the rising sun so that the rays might enter her. Later in the day when the Sun reached the center of the sky where he feeds his horse at noon, she went where the dripping water falls and again spread her thighs to let the water drop into her crotch. She did this repeatedly. Afterward she and her mother went down the mountain toward the south to a place where a grass (Sporobolus cryptandrus) was growing. Before they had finished preparing the seed they started back, leaving some still in a heap. It was early noon when they hastily returned.
“I will run back for that remaining in the pile,” the girl said. “No, do not do that, my daughter.” First Woman replied. “I will run and be back quickly,” the girl said. “There are dangers there, many of those who eat people run about,” her mother warned her. “No, mother, I will come back quickly with the threshed seeds. I also am not entirely ignorant.2 I will be wary,” the girl said. “All right then, go on, daughter,” her mother replied.
The girl went for the seed and when she had threshed it all and was hanging her load she was surprised to find a white horse standing there. The bridle of the horse was white. The moccasins of the rider and all his clothing were white. The horse was standing on the air some two feet above the ground. The rider addressed her saying, “You will not accomplish it. Over there, when I rise spread out your thighs toward me. When I come up to the summit of the sky and arrive at (?) spread your legs at tondilkons that the water may drop into your crotch. You will accomplish nothing by those means. Let your father make a brush house toward the east and see what will happen.” She was surprised to find it was Sun who had done this. While her head was turned he vanished.
She walked back and when she had returned she said, “Mother, I saw something. He was entirely white and his horse was all white. ‘You will accomplish nothing that way. You have been spreading your thighs toward me there where I rise. When I have reached the middle of the sky where I lunch you spread your legs under the dripping water,’ he said to me,” she said. “Have you really been doing that?” First Woman asked. “I really did that,” she replied.
First Man came home. “It seems your daughter saw someone,” First Woman said to him. “The one she saw was dressed entirely in white, sitting a horse standing right up here, not on the ground, so your daughter said. ‘You will accomplish nothing the way you are doing. You have been spreading your thighs toward me here where I come up. When I come to the middle of the sky you spread your thighs under the dripping water,’ he said to her. ‘I really do that,’ your daughter says. ‘Let your father build a brush shelter to the east before the door of the hogan. Let him rake up the ground. Let him put the chips in a pile. Put some boiled rush grass seeds in a vessel.’ This is what your daughter says.” “The holy ones have all gone away. They said no one would see them again,” he replied. “Oh you are saying that for some reason,” she retorted. “Build a brush shelter there, Old Man.”
He built a brush shelter and swept the ground in front of the hogan door. He also made a pile of the bits of wood which were lying about. The sun set and it grew dark. He spread down a white blanket and put down a vessel of boiled food on one side of it. The girl sat on the right side and First Man on the left. The cooked food stood there in a vessel. When it was quite dark1 First Man went away, but yołgaiałεd passed the night there. When it was daylight footprints were seen from the doorway on the right side. One (vessel) of the cooked food was gone. First Man returned saying, “How is it, my daughter?” “Father, there is one footprint on the right side in the doorway. The one vessel of the cooked food is gone too.” When it was getting dark toward the east they two sat there again until it was quite dark. First Man came back saying, “How is it, my daughter? Nobody came. I said you were lying.” “Just as it was light I perceived someone touched me. There are two footprints by the doorway and one dish of the cooked food is gone.”
It was dark the second time and the two of them sat there again. When it was daylight First Man came back again. “How is it, my daughter?” he said. “I told you no one would come. I said you were lying. Why should the holy ones come when we live so poorly.” “Oh, p. 155 do not say that,” she said. “Now let us look,” First Woman said. The food was gone from a dish on the east side. There were footprints. “Go look, father,” she said. “I felt him go away on this side at daybreak.”
When it was night again they two sat there. At midnight First Man went away, He came back in the morning. The food was gone from the north side and there were four footprints. “At dawn someone left me, I didn’t see him but I woke up my crotch being wet.”
On account of this the Navajo do not touch a woman for four nights after they are married. On the fourth night they have intercourse.
Four days passed. “Mother, at dawn something here was pulsating,” she said. “Oh, daughter, you are pregnant. It is the moving of a baby you mean. That is the result of your having intercourse,” her mother said to her. It was at dawn on the fourth day that the baby moved. The days were equivalent to months and because of that the baby moves after four months. Nine days after they had had intercourse the children (twins) were born. Just one day after their birth they two sat up. For other children it will be a year. After two days the two walked about. It will be two years for ordinary children. Ten days after they were born First Man made arrows for them and they hunted birds. Fifteen days after they were born they went to the summit of dzıłna’odıłi. When they were strolling about Large-fly came to them and said, “My son’s sons, why are you walking here? You were not born for anything connected with this place.” He knows everything about this wide world of ours and he told them about it. “You two should go to your father. That one, the sun who moves there, is your father. Ask your mother four times who your father is and then tell her you are going to see your father. Speak to her once.”
They ran back and asked, “Who is our father?” “Oh you are everybody’s kin,” she replied. After a while they said again, “Who is our father?” “Barrel-cactus was your father.1 That is why your heads are bushy.” When some time had again passed they asked the same question again. “Sitting-cactus was your father.” When some time had passed again they said, “What were you saying? You are everybody’s kin. You had no father. Barrel-cactus was your father. He had no father. Sitting-cactus was your father. He had no father. Now we will start away to visit our father. Sun is our father. Mother, grandmother, grandfather, we will come back to you in four days.” They started away. When they were a short distance in front of the door they discovered a p. 156 white rainbow. They stepped on that and traveled with it. When they arrived their bodies were moulded, their faces made white. “Now they will be given names,” he said. They invited Mirage xactc’εłti, Mirage xactc’εoγan, xactc’εłti, xactc’’εoγan, and, from the place called black hole in the rock, they invited xactc’εcjinnε. Sun came down. The two who were to be named stood in front. The elder he addressed as naiyε’nezγani and the younger as tobadj’ictcini. “Now make names for them,” he said to them.
“Now you give a name,” he said to xactc’εcjinnε. “What you do he doesn’t know (?),” he said. “He killed all the monsters. The elder will be named naiyε’nezγani, the second because of what his mother did will be named tobadj’ictcini. Where will you two go?” he asked them. With a coal of the dark sky he made him black. With white clay he drew signs of a bow on him. This will ward off danger. He made tobadj’ictcini red with red earth and put on wide hair frame signs with white clay. By means of these they will be protected. “They will go where the rivers join,” Sun said. “They will live at the center of the earth where there is a meadow. First Man and First Woman will live here where I rise, beyond where it is called ‘narrow water’. yołgaiesdzan will go over here where I sit. She will live there.” Sun said this and added, “She will take everything with her and be accompanied by all the people. She will give her attention to her children and to providing their food. It will be that way. Everywhere I go over the earth she will have charge of female rain. I myself will control the male rain. She will be in control of vegetation everywhere for the benefit of the people of the earth.”
Water Coyote ran about over there on the other side. He stepped out first. After him came First Man and then First Woman. After came First Warrior.1 They started toward the east and First Woman began to speak, saying bad things. “When I think of anything, something bad will happen. There will be coughs when I think of something. I will cause different things by thinking badly. Coyote will know about it.” She always was saying bad things.
“First Woman, you shall not talk. You shall not live. We have decided upon that,” said Mirage xactc’εłti and Mirage xactc’εoγan. “You must not talk for we will know about it,” xactc’εłti said.
“Now get ready yołgaiesdzan.” They decorated her and she started away, accompanied by her twelve attendants. In front, went the males and behind them the females. Ahead of her was male rain and p. 157 behind her female rain; in front dark cloud and behind dark mist; before her yellow cloud and behind her yellow mist; before her white cloud and behind her white mist.
She was decorated with all kinds of herbage and flowers wherever they grow. She went away with a white shell basket, a turquoise basket, an abalone basket, and jet basket. She rose up with everything. She went with them to the place called black water and is living there now.
When she had arrived she thought horses should exist for people.
I am yołgaiesdzan. I am thinking of clothing spread out on there. A white shell horse lies in a white shell basket. I am thinking about. They lie in the pollen of flowers. Those who come to me will increase. Those that will not die lie in it.
1 First Man and First Woman were living on the mountain which the Navajo call dzıłna’odıłi. It has been identified with Huerfano Mountain in San Juan County, New Mexico, but verification should be made.
2 A mountain peak about twenty miles east of dzıłna’odıłi. The relative positions were shown by a drawing on the sand.
3 There are no doubt eight songs, the first being, “I set out.” When songs of this character, that is of magical power, are given incidentally, sometimes one song is withheld preventing the transfer of the power.
1 Matthews recorded a version in which First Woman made the journey and found the baby, Legends, p. 230.
2 It was explained that xackc’εłti took the supernatural cradle away.
1 Tied to the crown of her head.
2 Seems to refer to the footrace which is a feature of the first menstruation.
1 While one lies in this position she is kneaded and stretehed into a beautiful shape.
1 This is a place so named on the east side of dzılna’odıłi.
2 Meaning of magical protection.
1 Ten o’clock was mentioned as the time.
1 Past tense is indicated by a suffix on the subject indicating he (Barrel-cactus) was dead.