A typical Navajo woman
and her baby.

The First World (The Black World)
the Male Being or Substance. He was the Dawn, the Light Which Awakens, of
the First World.

In the East, at the place where the Black Cloud and the White Cloud met, First
Man, was formed; and with him was formed the white corn, perfect in shape,
with kernels covering the whole ear. Dohonotini is the name of this first seed
corn,  and it is also the name of the place where the Black Cloud and the White
Cloud met.

The First World was small in size, a floating island in mist or water.

On it there grew one tree, a pine tree, which was later brought to the present
world for firewood.

Man was not, however, in his present form. The conception was of a male and a
female being who were to become man and woman.

The creatures of the First World are thought of as the Mist People they had no
definite form, but were to change to men, beasts, birds, and reptiles of this world.

Read more....
Quiz #454 Results
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Answers to Quiz #454 - November 9, 2014
1. What legend does this symbolize?
2. What culture does it belong to?
3. Describe another legend from this culture.
Comments from Our Readers
My wife (Mandi) helped out lots on this one as I got her interested in these

Thanks again for an interesting quiz this week. As always, we or at least I will
be trying to keep up. Much fun.
Daniel and Mandi Dean
Another legend from the Navajo culture is that of the Navajo Skinwalker. According
to Navajo legend, a skinwalker is a person who has attained the highest level of
priesthood in the tribe, but chose to use his or her power for evil by taking the form
of an animal to inflict pain and suffering on others.
Grace Hertz and Mary Turner
The Fabulous Flecthers
Your Genesis recap just reminded me of Haydn's Creation (the intro has a little
chorus at the end with those words, one of my favorite parts). Funny thing is that
even the Big Bang theory is extremely similar (there was nothing and then the
matter was so compressed in the middle of that nothing that started expanding at
exponential speeds and within a few millions of years, the stars were created......)
Ida Sanchez
it is interesting to note the similarities: creation proceeding from chaos to order, the
dark to light, the first man, first woman, good and evil, etc.
Cynthia Costigan
Let's face it, skinwalkers are really interesting.
Janice Sellers
Have you read the Hopi creation myth? It's incredibly similar to Genesis, right down
to the flood (well, it wasn't a flood, but the world was destroyed and remade). I
agree, I have also found it really interesting how similar so many of the stories are;
it makes one wonder if they all developed in one place and were spread very early,
then morphed each into their own. I wonder if anthropologists have made any
connection between creation myths and migration patterns.

I also have found it somewhat surprising that essentially every culture has one. I
guess it's pretty hard to imagine, when you know nothing of how the universe is
structured, any creation other than some external living creating force.

That whole area of the country is really beautiful. A few years back we visited
Bandelier N.M. near Albuquerque, an old Anasazi settlement, then eventually Mesa
Verde and Four Corners; we drove west out through Navajo country and
Monument Valley to the Grand Canyon. Just beautiful, and still completely empty,
Roger Lipsett
When I first saw this, I thought it was from the Navajo creation stories, thanks to
Tony Hillerman's mystery novels. It was fun to search for the image and read the
Rebecca Bare

Congratulations to Our Winners

Daniel and Mandi Dean
Ida Sanchez                Dianne Abbott
Gus Marsh                Janice M. Sellers
Marcelle Comeau                Cynthia Costigan
Roger Lipsett                Margaret Paxton
Tynan Peterson                Margaret Lanoue
Stephanie Shaw                Lorraine Wright
Rebecca Bare

Grace Hertz and Mary Turner
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At first, I saw the corn, and I immediately thought it was a
pre-hispanic nation. Being Mexican, of course, I thought about
aztecs, but the drawings did not resemble aztecs or any other
mezoamerican culture that I could recall.  Since corn is tied to life
this symbol was in a circle, I thought was a legend about origin.
Googling "pre-hispanic legends origin" gave me the image. Finding a
complete Navajo legend that was not related to the 4 worlds was a
little tougher and required some scrolling through several pages in
google, but finally I found this one:

Ida Sanchez
How Ida Solved the Puzzle
My favorite Coyote story is about how the
constellations came to be.  After the Great
Spirit created the Earth, Moon and Sun
and all the plants and animals, He and the
animals sat down to watch the Sun move
across the sky and the Moon come up.  
Some of the animals remarked at how
lonely the Moon looked.  Others pointed
out some bits of light scattered on the
ground, probably pieces that fell out of the
Great Spirit’s bag when He was making
the Sun and Moon.  The Badger suggested
they collect the pieces of light and put
them up in the sky to shine with the moon.
“We could make pictures of ourselves!”
said the Bear.  The Great Spirit told the
animals to pick up all the light and said that in the morning they would all climb the
mountain to the sky and make their pictures.  The light collected and safely in the bag,
everyone went to sleep.

Everyone, except Coyote.  Coyote was very excited at the idea of making pictures in
the sky, but he thought that bears and badgers and eagles would be too pedestrian.  
What the sky really needed was the word “COYOTE” spread across the sky.  He
planned to steal the bag of light and go up the mountain alone, but he too fell asleep and
was still asleep when dawn came.  When he awoke it was almost noon.  Panicked, he
raced to the mountain only to meet the animals coming down.  There were only a few
crumbs of light left. Desperately Coyote snatched the bag, making a little tear in its
side.  As Coyote raced across the sky trying to spell his name, the crumbs of light fell
out.  You can see them still, a broad swath of little lights across the night sky.  White
people call it the Milky Way, but we know that it was Coyote writing his name.  That’s
why the coyotes howl at night.  They look up and see what might have been.

I love that story.

Margaret Paxton
Navajo origin stories begin with a First World
of darkness (Nihodilhil). From this Dark World
the Dine began a journey of emergence into
the world of the present.

It had four corners, and over these appeared
four clouds. These four clouds contained within
themselves the elements of the First World.
They were in color, black, white, blue, and

The Black Cloud represented the Female Being
or Substance. For as a child sleeps when being
nursed, so life slept in the darkness of the
Female Being. The White Cloud represented
1.  The creation of the earth.
2. Navajo
3. Skinwalkers, The Lizards and the Coyote,
the Creation of the Constellations and more.  See below.
The Navajo skinwalker legend is one of
the more complex and terrifying stories,
steeped in mystery and evil intent.

navajo skinwalker legend Many Navajos
believe firmly in the existence of
skinwalkers and refuse to discuss them
publicly for fear of retribution. They
believe skinwalkers walk freely among
the tribe and secretly transform under the
cover of night.

The term yee naaldooshii literally
translates to “with it, he goes on all
fours.” According to Navajo legend, a
The Skinwalkers (yee naaldlooshi)
Navajos of the past were able to measure the months by the phases
of the moon. Very few of our elders still living are still able to do this
today. A very simplistic chart is shown below of the Navajo names of
a few moon phases. More names exist for names between each of
the phases shown. The moon itself is either called "T'éhonaa'éí" or

The moon along with certain constellations were used to measure the
coming of seasons, to signal when to plant, to harvest, when certain
weather patterns were expected, and when certain ceremonies should
occur. My relatives say that my great-grandfather, Dzitahnii Ray, was
an expert at using the moon to tell when babies would be born. He
used to be accurate to the day, dajiní (they say).

The first day of the month begins with the moon phase "Dahiitá",
which is shown to the right, and ends with "Yi Deezh'áázh", which a
complete disappearance of the moon. Yi Deezh'áázh literally means
"traveling together." During this time (dah néítííh góne'), the moon is
said to be visiting the sun, just as the sky visits the earth in the form
of a fog. Click here to read the Navajo story of how the sun, moon,
and stars were set by the Holy People.

A figure of the moon phases are shown below, followed by a table of
their English translations.

The coming and going of years is also measured by the moon. Navajo
"New Year" is marked with the start of October and the year ends
with September. Planting was determined by both the position of the
moon, along with the appearance of certain constellations.
Moon Phase
Navajo Name
New Moon
Waxing Crescent
T'áá' Nábiyookáá
It's moving back
First Quarter   
Hanííbáázji' Aíínábíiská
It's halfway
Full Moon
Waxing Gibbons
Niteel Náádlee
It's returning to it's
wider state
Full Moon
Full Moon
Waning Gibbons
Bik'ízí Náádlee  
It's returning to its
half state
Last Quarter
Dahiitíihji' Aíínábíiská
It's halfway
towards New Moon
Waning Crescent
It's disappearing
New Moon
Yi Deezh'áázh
Traveling Together

The Third World (The Yellow World)
River and on  and the name of this place is tqoalna’osdli, the Crossing of the waters.

In this world there were six mountains. These are the mountains that are important to
Navajos today.

The Four Sacred Mountains

In the East was  Blanco Peak  Sisnaajinii, the Standing Black Sash. Its ceremonial name
is Yolgaidzil, the Dawn or White Shell Mountain.

In the South stood Mount Taylor Tsoodzil, the Great Mountain, also called Mountain
Tongue. Its ceremonial name is Yodoltizhidzil, the Blue Bead or Turquoise Mountain.

In the West stood the San Francisco Peaks  Dook’oslid,  Its ceremonial name is Dichi’li
dzil, the Abalone Shell Mountain.

In the North stood the La Plata Mountains Debe’ntsa, Many Sheep Mountain.
Its ceremonial name is Bash’zliinidzil. Obsidian Mountain.

Other Sacred Mountains

ln the middle was Huerfano Mesa.  Dzilna’odili, the Upper Mountain. It was very
sacred, and its name means also the Center Place, and the people moved around it. Its
ceremonial name is Ntl’isdzil. Precious Stone or Banded Rock Mountain.

Near this was a cone-shaped mountain called Gobernador Knob,  called Chori’i or Dzil
na’odilicholi, and it was also a sacred mountain.

Different animals lived around these mountains. Squirrel, Chipmunk, Turkey, Deer,
Snake and Lizard lived there. But these animals looked different from animals we see
today. They were spirit beings.

The beings were happy in the Yellow World. Then one day something happened.
Coyote took Water Monster’s baby. Water Monster was very angry. He was so angry
that he decided to make it rain. lt rained and rained. The water rose higher and higher.

Then the water began to flood. The beings did not know where to go to escape the
flood. First Man tried to help them. He told them to come to Blanco Peak. But the water
kept rising. It rose higher than the mountain.


The Second World (The Blue World)
The powerful swallow people lived there also, and these people made the Second
World unpleasant for those who had come from the First World. There was
fighting and killing.

The animals of the Blue World were at war with each other. First Man knew
this, and he killed some of them. For doing this, First Man received certain
songs and prayers. He said the prayers and sang the songs. When he did, the
animals came to life again.
Coyote also lived in the Blue World. Coyote traveled all over. He went to all four
directions. On his trips, he saw that the beings were not happy. They wanted to
leave the Blue World.

When First Man heard this, he tried to help them leave. He smoked some sacred
tobacco. He blew the smoke in the four directions. This made the insects feel
better, but all the beings still wanted to leave. First Man tried again to help
them. He tried many things, but he could not find a way for them to leave.

Read more.....
Because of the strife in the First World, First
Man (Atse Hastin), First Woman  (Atse Estsan)  
, and the Coyote called First Angry, followed by
all the others, climbed up from the World of
Darkness and Dampness to the Second or Blue

Many beings lived in the Blue World. There was
Blue Bird, Blue Hawk, Blue Jay and Blue Heron.
Big insects also lived there. Wolves lived in a
white house in the east. Wildcats lived in a blue
house in the south. Kit foxes lived in a yellow
house to the west. Mountain lions lived in a
black house in the north.
On the wands, the beings passed into the
Third World. Blue Bird was the first to
come through. He found the world was
yellow. After Blue Bird, First Man, First
Woman, Coyote and one of the insects
came. After that, the other beings entered
the Yellow World.

The Yellow World was large. Many new
things were there. A great river crossed
this land from north to south. It was the
Female River.
There was another river crossing it from
east to west, it was the Male River. This
Male River flowed through the Female
The Fourth World (The Glittering or White World)
The Locust,  was the first to reach the next world. He
looked around, and saw that the world was covered with
water that  glittered and everything looked white. This is
why they call it the Glittering World or White World.

The other beings followed Locust, and everyone came
into the White World. The place where they came is
called Hajinei. Many people say this place is somewhere in
the La Plata Mountains, in Colorado.  Note:(Locust also
means grasshopper, cicada).

Even though they escaped the water in the Third World,
the beings were not safe. The water kept rising up after
First Man asked the Water Buffalo why she had come and why she had sent the flood.
She said nothing. Then the Coyote drew the two babies from his coat and said that it
was, perhaps, because of them.

The Turquoise Boy took a basket and filled it with turquoise. On top of the turquoise he
placed the blue pollen,  from the blue flowers,and the yellow pollen from the corn; and
on top of these he placed the pollen from the water flags,  and again on top of these he
placed the crystal, which is river pollen.

This basket he gave to the Coyote who put it between the horns of the Water Buffalo.
The Coyote said that with this sacred offering he would give back the male child. He
said that the male child would be known as the Black Cloud or Male Rain, and that he
would bring the thunder and lightning. The female child he would keep.

She would be known as the Blue, Yellow, and White Clouds or Female Rain. She would
be the gentle rain that would moisten the earth and help them to live. So he kept the
female child, and he placed the male child on the sacred basket between the horns of
the Water Buffalo. And the Water Buffalo disappeared, and the waters with her.

Soon, First Man and First Woman began to make things the way they were supposed
to be. The Holy People helped them. Their first job was to rebuild the mountains. They
had brought soil from the Yellow World. With this they made mountains in all four

The Creation of the Stars and the Constellations
skinwalker is a medicine man or which who has attained the highest level of priesthood
in the tribe, but chose to use his or her power for evil by taking the form of an animal
to inflict pain and suffering on others.

To become a skinwalker requires the most evil of deeds, the killing of a close family
member. They literally become humans who have acquired immense supernatural
power, including the ability to transform into animals and other people.

According to the Navajo skinwalker legend, these evil witches are typically seen in the
form of a coyote, owl, fox, wolf or crow – although they do have the ability to turn
into any animal they choose.

Because it is believed that skinwalkers wear the skins of the animals they transform
into, it is considered taboo to wear the pelt of any animal. In fact, the Navajo are only
known to wear two hides, sheepskin and buckskin, both of which are only used for
ceremonial purposes.

Those who have talked of their encounters with these evil beings describe a number of
ways in which a skinwalker will try to inflict harm. Some describe hearing knocks on
the window or banging on the walls.

Others have spotted an animal-like figure peering in through a window. According to
Navajo skinwalker legend, they are seldom caught. Those who do track a skinwalker
and learn of their true identity must pronounce the name of the evil one in full. Once
this happens, the skinwalker will get sick or die for the wrongs they have inflicted
against others.