NAVAJO: Dine (The People)

Navajo are of the the Athabascan language group and their relationship and travels are told of on that page. The People have other versions.

Origin Some History Blessingway Shoe Game Religion
Legend of Spider Rock Weaving


First man and first woman were created by the Holy People (basketmakers), and brought to the surface through a series of underworlds. The Navajo story of their origin is long and complicated with many versions varying to as having come through twelve underworlds grouped by fours into three layers, or "rooms" which are also called worlds. We will find this story.
And we did. Here is a short version:

Navajo Creation Story

Only the Creator knows where the beginning is. The Creator had a thought that created Light in the East. Then the thought went South to create Water, West to create Air, and North to create Pollen from emptiness. This Pollen became Earth.

Light, air, water, and earth is contained in everything within nature; all of the natural world is interconnected and equal.

All of these elements mixed together, and the first thing created were the Holy People. These Holy People were given the job and responsibility of teaching what is right and wrong. Holy people were given the original laws, then they created the earth and human beings.

The Creator with the help of the Holy People created the Natural World. They created humans, birds, and all of the Natural World was put in Hozjo (BALANCE). This Hozjo (harmony, balance, and peace) is dependent on interconnectedness. All of the Natural World depends on another. The Navajo say they are glued together with respect, and together they work in harmony. To the Navajo this present world is the fifth.

The place of emergence into this level 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 the Dineh how to live in harmony with Mother Earth, Father Sky and the other elements: man, animals, plants, insects.The Dineh believe that when the ceremonies cease the world will cease.


The Navajo land is defined as enclosed by four sacred mountains:

In 1863-64 the Navajo endured the
Long Walk to eastern NM, were returned in 1868, and a reservation of 17 million acres was established in 1878.

SEE: map of reservation.

The Navajo Reservation is roughly the size of West Virginia and they are the largest tribe in the U.S. with a population now of 1/4 million. Though current estimates are a capital of one billion dollars, the average income of a Navajo is $750 a year. The reservation in New Mexico is on the south bluff of the Animas River, and looks down on the City of Farmington.

Navajo are famous for weaving of rugs and blankets, and beautiful silver work. Also see articles relating to the Churro sheep, and the Navajo Churro Sheep Project.


Blessingway, Hozhoogi, is life to the Navajo. From birth onward this is the center and foundation of all ceremonies. The hogan, which is considered to be female, is the beginning of life and is the symbol of the maternal clan.

There is a fuller study of BlessingWay at the University of Massachussetts.

Navajo Shoe Game

The Shoe Game, Keshjee', is centuries old and is not a game. This sacred Navajo ceremony tells and shows the story of how the cycle of day and night came to be.

Long ago, in ancient days, the night creatures and the day creatures did not understand the importance of the cycles of the universe. Each group wanted it to be either day or night all the time. A contest was held to see which group had the most power and this was the first Shoe Game.

The two teams played through the night, trying to guess in which of four shoes the ball made of yucca root was hidden. As the game went on each team would gain or lose 102 yucca stems. At sunrise there was no winner and the animals had learned that all seasons and cycles are part of the grand plan.

Keshjee', as a game of choices, represents life and the fact that the natural order of things cannot be changed. Not every choice can be correct, but the lessons are learned and experience is gained. Neither lying or cheating can change the outcome and the payment of a fee of yucca stems is still required.


Though of a different language than the Hopi, both tribes have these beliefs in common:

There was a visitation by Tribal Gods at Big Mountain
on the Navajo/Hopi Partitioned Land on May 5, 1996.

Sheep Cloning

A prediction of impending disaster comes from the Navajo. Sheep are a sacred symbol to these people, for they were given by White Bead, a much-loved deity of the Navajo, to make their lives easier. Other than the economic benefits, sheep are revered when praying for health.

The Navajo say that sheep have only one life and one soul, and that the unnatural interference by cloning can only come to no good. This ties in with a Hopi prophecy.

The Yei Bei Chei dances in Shiprock in late September or early October present Night Chants, Mountain Chants, and "Squaw Dances."

Note added May 15, 1999:
The use of the word "squaw" is a serious offense. When I first wrote this article it was from common information and usage of the word throughout the Southwest.

Since then I have become aware of the insult this word is to the Navajo and all women. The first following article was the beginning of my understanding: Change the Signs.

And then the whole thing fell in on me. See the further developments at The S Word

Navajoland Tourism Dept.
P.O. Box 663,
Window Rock, AZ 86515
(520) 871-6436 or 7371 or 6659.

Farmington information: 1-800-448-1240.

See the Four Corners Clamor: Main Index for more recent discoveries
and events concerning Native American Indians.
For beautiful authentic scenes of these early peoples see the
Mark Silversmith Gallery.
Mark researches the tribes and portrays their lives of then and now.
We encourage traditional Native American Indian and Multicultural arts,
crafts, and enterprises. For quality creations by our select artisans see the
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© Copyright 1998 by L. Michael Smith. Fair use granted.