THE STORY OF NAVAJO CREATION
It is said that the Creator had a thought that was Light in the East. The thought went South and created Water, West and created Air, then North and created Pollen from emptiness. Pollen became the Earth.
Light, air, water, and earth is part of everything in nature which is interconnected and equal. When all of the elements mixed together, the first thing created were the Holy People. The Holy People were responsible for teaching what is right and wrong. When the Holy people were given the original laws, they created the earth and human beings.
The Creator and the Holy People created the Natural World including humans, birds, and all animals. This Natural World was put in Hozjo (BALANCE). Hozjo (harmony, balance, and peace) only occurs when there is interconnectedness. All members of the Natural World depend on each other.
The emergence of highest level of Navajo Hozjo was Xajiinai, a hole in the La Plata mountains of SW Colorado. The Holy People have the power to hurt or help, and centuries ago taught Dine (The People) how to live in harmony with Mother Earth, Father Sky and the other elements: man, animals, plants, insects. The Dine believe that when the ceremonies cease the world will cease.
Navajo Nation refers to a sovereign Native American Nation established by Dine. Dine means "The People".
The Navajo Indian Reservation covers about 27,000 square miles of land, occupying all of northeastern Arizona, and extending into Utah and New Mexico. It is the largest land area assigned primarily to a Native American jurisdiction within the United States.
In 2000, there were 298,215 Navajos living in the United States; 173,987 living in the Navajo Nation.
Members of the nation are often known as Navajo, also spelled Navaho. Navajo call themselves Diné, a term from the Navajo language that means "The People". The Navajo are closely related to the Apache, and the Navajo language along with other Apache languages make up the Southern Athabaskan language family.
The US Congress established a Hopi reservation within the Navajo Nation's reservation at a site where where Hopi history predates that of Diné.
The Navajo Nation stretches from the Four Corners Monument landmark across the Colorado Plateau into Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico. Located within the Navajo Nation are Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Monument Valley, Rainbow Bridge National Monument, the Hopi Indian Reservation, and the Shiprock landmark. The seat of government is located at the town of Window Rock, Arizona.
The number four is sacred to many Native Americans. There are four sacred mountains, four directions, four colors, four worlds, four sacred plants, and four times of day.
Time and space are defined by the four cardinal light phenomena: Dawn (white, east); Midday (blue, south); Evening Twilight (yellow, west), and Night (black, north).
The four cardinal light phenomena are results of the sun's apparent daily motion. These phenomena are a composite of the four directions, the four times of day, and the four sacred colors linked with them.
A Navajo thinks of the east, Dawn, and the white color of the sky at the beginning of the day. This is the thinking direction.
At midday, the association is with the south which is usually "horizon blue" or "blue haze" in reference to the band of relatively darker blue that lies on the horizon at midday. This is the planning direction.
Darkness is associated with the north and with the blackness of the night sky. This is the direction of change.
THE FOUR WORLDS OF THE NAVAJO
The beginning of time. In the First World, there lived various spiritual beings. They were given Navajo names describing certain insects and animals. Altse Hastiin (First Man) and Altse Asdzaa (First Woman) were created. The beings couldn't get along with one another so they decided to leave through an opening in the east into the Second World.
This world was already occupied by the Blue Birds, animals and other beings who were in disagreement and couldn't get along with one another. There was severe hardship so they decided to leave this world. First Man made a want of white shell, turquoise, abalone, and jet. This wand carried everyone through an opening in the south into the Third World.
This world was entered first by Bluebird, First Man, First Woman, Coyote, and other beings. This land had great rivers crossing from east to west and north to south. One day, Coyote stole Water Baby from the river, causing a great flood. First Man ordered everyone to climb into the reed to escape the rising waters. As the beings climbed out of the reed into the Fourth World, the people discovered Coyote was the one who had stole Water Baby. Coyote took the Water Baby back to its mother and the flooded waters began to recede.
Locust was the first to enter the fourth world. He saw water everywhere and other beings living there. The beings in the Fourth World would not let the beings from the Third World to enter unless the Locust passed certain tests. Locust passed all the tests and the people entered into the Fourth World. Later, First Man and First Woman formed the four sacred mountains. The sacred dirt was brought from the First World to form these mountains.
Navajo legend says that Dine had to pass through three different worlds before emerging into the present world - the Fourth World or Glittering World. So, the Holy People put four sacred mountains in four different directions. Mt. Blanca in the east. Mt. Taylor in the south, San Francisco Peaks in the west, and Mt. Hesperus in the north, thus creating the boundaries of Navajoland.
The Navajo (Diné) and Apache tribal groups of the American Southwest speak dialects of the language family referred to as Athabaskan. The Navajo people are very dynamic and creative people who strongly believe in the power of the mind to think and create; finding expression in the myriad symbolic creations of the Navajo language, art and ritual ceremonies.
Aside from being the mother tongue of the Navajo Nation, the Navajo language also has played a highly significant role in helping the entire nation. During World War II, the Navajo language was used as a code to confuse the enemy. Navajo bravery and patriotism is unequaled. Navajos were inducted and trained in the U.S. Marine Corps to become "code talkers" on the front-line. Shrouded in secrecy at the time, these men are known today as the famed Navajo Code Talkers, proved to be the only code that could not be broken during World War II.
Family is very important to the Navajos. There is the immediate family, and the extended family. The extended family is broken up into clans, which were created by the Holy Ones. The four original clans are 'Towering House', 'Bitterwater', 'Big Water' and' One-who-walks-around'.
Today there are about 130 clans. When one Navajo meets another for the first time they tell each other what clan they are from.
A Navaho house is called a "hogan" and is made of logs, brush, and earth. Summer houses are also utilized and made of brush with a windbreak.
Each symbol has specific meaning with its own story.
© 2008 Cherry Hill