The Navajo Creation Story

December 12, 2008
By gerty tsinnie BRONZE, Sanders, Arizona
gerty tsinnie BRONZE, Sanders, Arizona
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

This work, written by, Paul G. Zolbrod tells of the Navajo creation stories and the role they play in the Navajo lifestyle of today. It is the most complete version of the Creation Story to appear in English. The book begins with the basis of traditional creation stories and works its way into the true meaning of everyday activities.

Beginning with the Emergence the book tells of how each of the worlds were created. The people entered three worlds before finally settling in the fourth world. Each world ended with the people having to escape through a hole in the sky. The hole was either positioned in the East, West, South or North in that exact order. In-between chapters it tells of how certain things were created like first man and first woman, and the binding that holds man and woman together and for what reasons the nadleeh, (heterosexual) are important.

Next is the fifth world. There was a great flood caused by the mischievous coyote so everyone had to evacuate the fourth world. They escaped the fourth world in pairs by planting a huge reed that reached to the sky. The locust and badger helped the people escape into the fifth world and for doing so they have special markings. In this world jealousy was created along with bad magic, all of which the coyote are responsible for.

After the fifth world is the Slaying of monsters. There were four monsters and they wreaked havoc upon the Navajo. Therefore making life almost impossible and troubling. Here is where Changing Woman's children, the twins used the powers their father, the sun god, gave them to defeat the monsters. Along the way several animals helped them to defeat the monsters in return the animals either were rewarded or they bear a marking to show their battle scars.

Once again everyone is at peace and living well, except Changing Woman. Changing Woman is feeling very lonesome and wants company. Since she is the mother of the Twins the holy people help her out and make twelve people to keep her company. Changing Woman enjoys these people's company but after a while the holy people ask her to join them in the heavens. She talks about it with the twelve and they encourage her to go. She then becomes a holy person and puts those twelve people on Earth.

From those twelve people comes the first clan which is the next part of the book, the Gathering of Clans. Here the people explore this new world and become acquainted with people from other tribes like the Zuni, Pueblo and Hopi. This can be compared to the theory that anthropologists have about the Athapaskan migrating from Canada or the land bridge.

Basically this book is very informative if you would like to learn more about the Navajo Creation Story. I enjoyed reading this book because I gained a lot of information about my culture that I never knew before. Although some of the stories clash with what I've been taught, I believe and now almost fully understand the reasons for some of the do's and don'ts that my parents and grandparents have established.

What I've also gained is that now I kind of get an idea of where I come from. I am from the rock gap clan and before I never knew what that meant. But now I do, there's a purpose for everything that is created. It wasn't just thought up and put there just because. It was either because of someone's stupidity, clever schemes or because it had moral values.

Last of all I understood what the author was trying to say. Behind every story there was a moral, whether that moral was demeaning or not, made something either good or bad. There were some parts where I didn't fully understand the concept but it still clicked somewhere in my mind. There are also some parts in the book not viewable/readable for audiences under a certain age, which was pretty disturbing so I skipped over it, but as far as I can tell that was the only flaw I had when reading this book.

In conclusion I would fully recommend this book to anyone who would like to learn about the Navajo Creation Story. Well anyone over the age of thirteen at least. The words weren't so hard to understand that I had to have a dictionary by my side so it was easy to grasp the basic idea behind each story. It's translated from Navajo to English but it still retains the social and religious concepts of the original stories. Overall I give this book two thumbs up with an additional five stars.

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