|THE DÃŽNÃ ORIGIN MYTHS OF THE NAVAHO INDIANS
By AILEEN O'BRYAN
THE CREATION OR AGE OF BEGINNING
THE FIRST WORLD
Return to Living in the Light
Burlington UFO and Paranormal Research and Education Center
These stories were told to Sandoval, Hastin Tlo'tsi hee, by his grandmother, Esdzan Hosh kige. Her ancestor
was Esdzan at a', the medicine woman who had the Calendar Stone in her keeping. Here are the stories of the
Four Worlds that had no sun, and of the Fifth, the world we live in, which some call the Changeable World.
The First World, Ni'hodilqil, was black as black wool. 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 yellow.
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 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, Atse'hastqin was
formed; and with him was formed the white corn, perfect in shape, with kernels covering the whole ear. Dolionot
i'ni 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.
[1. Informant's note: Five names were given to this First World in Its relation to First man. It was called Dark
Earth, Ni'hodilqil; Red Earth, Ni'halchi; One Speech, Sada hat lai; Floating Land, Ni'ta na elth; and One Tree,
De east'da eith.
Matthews (1897, p. 65): The First World was red. Franciscan Fathers (1912, p. 140): ni' the world or earth; ni'
hodilqil, the dark or lowest of the underworlds; (p. 111) lai, one, or first. Franciscan Fathers (1910, p. 81): sad,
a word, a language; Sad lai, First Speech.
2. Franciscan Fathers (1912, p. 93): Atse'hastqin, First Man.
3. Informant's note: Where much corn is raised one or two ears are found perfect. These are always kept for
Franciscan Fathers (1912, p. 85): do honot'i ni, the name of a full ear, or seed corn.]
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.
Now on the western side of the First World, in a place that later was to become the Land of Sunset, there
appeared the Blue Cloud, and opposite it there appeared the Yellow Cloud. Where they came together First
Woman was formed, and with her the yellow corn. This ear of corn was also perfect. With First Woman there
came the white shell and the turquoise and the yucca.
First Man stood on the eastern side of the First World. He represented the Dawn and was the Life Giver. First
Woman stood opposite in the West. She represented Darkness and Death.
First Man burned a crystal for a fire. The crystal belonged to the male and was the symbol of the mind and of
clear seeing. When First Man burned it, it was the mind's awakening. First Woman burned her turquoise for a
fire. They saw each other's lights in the distance. When the Black Cloud and the White Cloud rose higher in the
sky First Map. set out to find the turquoise light. He went twice without success, and again a third time; then he
broke a forked branch from his tree, and, looking through the fork, he marked the place where the light burned.
And the fourth time he walked to it and found smoke coming from a home.
"Here is the home I could not find," First Man said.
First Woman answered: "Oh, it is you. I saw you walking around and I wondered why you did not come."
Again the same thing happened when the Blue Cloud and the Yellow Cloud rose higher in the sky. First Woman
saw a light and she went out to find it. Three times she was unsuccessful, but the fourth time she saw the
smoke and she found the home of First Man.
"I wondered what this thing could be," she said.
"I saw you walking and I wondered why you did not come to me," First Man answered.
[4. Informant's note: The Navaho people have always believed In evolution.
5. Informant's note: Five names were given also to the First World in Its relation to First Woman: White Bead
Standing, Yolgai'na ziha; Turquoise Standing, Dolt i'zhi na ziha; White Bead Floating Place, Yolgai'dana elth
gal; Turquoise Floating Place, Dolt i'zhi na elth gai; and Yucca Standing, Tasas y ah gal. Yucca represents
cleanliness and things ceremonial.
Franciscan Fathers (1912, p. 181): Tsa'zi ntqe'li, Yucca baccata, wide leaf yucca or Spanish bayonet. The
roots of this species furnish a rich lather; the plant is frequently referred to as tqalawhush, soap.]
First Woman saw that First Man had a crystal for a fire, and she saw that it was stronger than her turquoise fire.
And as she was thinking, First Man spoke to her. "Why do you not come with your fire and we will live together."
The woman agreed to this. So instead of the man going to the woman, as is the custom now, the woman went to
About this time there came another person, the Great-Coyote-Who-Was-Formed-in-the-Water, and he was
in the form of a male being. He told the two that he had been hatched from an egg. He knew all that was under
the water and all that was in the skies. First Man placed this person ahead of himself in all things. The three
began to plan what was to come to pass; and while they were thus occupied another being came to them. He
also had the form of a man, but he wore a hairy coat, lined with white fur, that fell to his knees and was belted in
at the waist. His name was Atse'hashke', First Angry or Coyote. He said to the three: "You believe that you
were the first persons. You are mistaken. I was living when you were formed."
Then four beings came together. They were yellow in color and were called the tsts'na. or wasp people. They
knew the secret of shooting evil and could harm others. They were very powerful.
This made eight people.
Four more beings came. They were small in size and wore red shirts and had little black eyes. They were the
naazo'zi or spider ants. They knew how to sting, and were a great people.
After these came a whole crowd of beings. Dark colored they were, with thick lips and dark, protruding eyes.
They were the wolazhi'ni, the black ants. They also knew the secret of shooting evil and were powerful; but they
killed each other steadily.
By this time there were many people. Then came a multitude of little creatures. They were peaceful and
harmless, but the odor from them was unpleasant. They were called the wolazhi'ni nlchu nigi, meaning that
which emits an odor.
And after the wasps and the different ant people there came the beetles, dragonflies, bat people, the Spider
Man and Woman, and the Salt Man and Woman, and others that rightfully had no definite
[6. Informant's note: The Great Coyote who was formed in the water, Mat tqo y elth chili. Franciscan Fathers
(1912, p. 117): ma'ists, wolf (big roamer); and ma'ists o'si, Coyote (slender roamer).
7. Informant's note: Some medicine men claim that witchcraft came with First Man and First Woman, others
Insist that devil conception or witchcraft originated with the Coyote called First Angry.
Franciscan Fathers (1912, pp. 140, 175, 351).
8. Informant's note: No English name given this insect. Ants cause trouble, as also do wasps and other insects,
If their homes are harmed.
Franciscan Fathers (1910 p. 346): Much evil, disease and bodily Injury is due also to secret agents of evil, In
consequence of which the belief . . . . shooting of evil (sting) is widely spread.
9. Informant's note: Beetle, ntisa'go; Dragonfly, tqanil at'; Bat people, ja aba'ni: Spider Man, nashjei hastqin;
Spider Woman, nashjei esdza; Salt Man, ashi hastqin; Salt Woman, ashi esdza.]
form but were among those people who peopled the First World. And this world, being small in size, became
crowded, and the people quarreled and fought among themselves, and in all ways made living very unhappy.
THE SECOND WORLD
Because of the strife in the First World, First Man, First Woman, the Great-Coyote-Who-Was-Formed-in-the-
Water, 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 World.
They found a number of people already living there: blue birds, blue hawks, blue jays, blue herons, and all the
blue-feathered beings. 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 First Four found an opening in the World of Blue Haze; and they climbed through this and led the people
up into the Third or Yellow world.
THE THIRD WORLD
The bluebird was the first to reach the Third or Yellow World. After him came the First Four and all the others.
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 River and on; and the
name of this place is tqo alna'osdli, the Crossing of the waters.
There were six mountains in the Third World. In the East was Sis na' jin, the Standing Black Sash. Its
ceremonial name is Yol
[10. Matthews (1897, p. 65); Stevenson (1891, pp. 275-285); Alexander (1916, vol. 10, ch. 8, p. 159);
Franciscan Fathers (1910, pp. 346-349); Kiah-Wheelwright (1942, pp. 39-41); Haile and Wheelwright (1949,
11. Informant's note: The Second World was the Blue World, Ni'hodotl'ish.
Alexander (1916, vol. 10, ch. 8, pp. 159-160).
12. Informant's note: The names of the blue birds are: bluebird, do'le; blue hawk, gi'ni tso dolt ish; blue Jay, jozh
ghae'gi; and blue heron, tqualti a'gaale.
13. Informant's note: The swallow is called tqash ji'zhi.
Matthews (1897, pp. 65-66): the swallow people, bast sosidine. Franciscan Fathers (1910, p. 349): The Blue
World. Klah-Wheelwright (1942, pp. 41-43).
14. Haile and Wheelwright (1949, pp. 3-5).
15. Informant's note: The Introduction of generation.
16. Matthews (1897, p. 63): To'bil haski'di, Place Where the Waters Crossed.
17. Informant's note: Sis na' jin, Mount Baldy near Alamos, Colo.; Tso'dzil, Mount Taylor, N. Mex.; Dook'oslid,
San Francisco Mountain, Ariz.; Debe'ntsa, San Juan Mountains, Colo.; Dzil na'odili, El Huerfano Peak, N. Mex.;
and Choli, also given as El Huerfano or El Huerfanito Peak, N. Mex. These mountains of the Third World were
not in their true form, but rather the substance of the mountains.
Matthews (1897, p. 71): The Third World, the mountains. The four mountains named by the First Man:
Tsisnadzi'ne, East; Tso'tsil, South; Do koslid, West; Debe'ntsa, North. Also, note 51, pp. 220-221, version A
and version B; notes 52, 53, 54, 56, p. 221; and notes 58, 60, 62, 65, p. 222.
Franciscan Fathers (1910, Pp. 56, 136), Sisnajin', Pelado Peak; p. 137); Amsden (1934, p. 123).
Recorders note: Although both Matthews and the Franciscan Fathers give Sisnajin as Pelado Peak, Sam
Ahkeah, the Interpreter, after checking, Identified it as Mount Baldy near Alamosa, Colo. Also, although the
Franciscan Fathers give Dzil na odili choli as Huerfanito Peak, Sam Ahkeah says that it is the Mother Mountain
gai'dzil, the Dawn or White Shell Mountain. In the South stood Tso'dzil, the Great Mountain, also called
Mountain Tongue. Its ceremonial name is Yodolt i'zhi dzil, the Blue Bead or Turquoise Mountain. In the West
stood Dook'oslid, and the meaning of this name is forgotten. Its ceremonial name is Dichi'li dzil, the Abalone
Shell Mountain. In the North stood Debe'ntsa, Many Sheep Mountain. Its ceremonial name is Bash'zhini dzil,
Obsidian Mountain. Then there was Dzil na'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'is dzil, Precious Stone or
Banded Rock Mountain. There was still another mountain called Chol'i'i or Dzil na'odili choli, and it was also a
There was no sun in this land, only the two rivers and the six mountains. And these rivers and mountains were
not in their present form, but rather the substance of mountains and rivers as were First Man, First Woman,
and the others.
Now beyond Sis na' jin, in the east, there lived the Turquoise Hermaphrodite, Ashton nutli. He was also
known as the Turquoise Boy. And near this person grew the male reed. Beyond, still farther in the east, there
lived a people called the Hadahuneya'nigi, the Mirage or Agate People. Still farther in the east there lived
twelve beings called the Naaskiddi. And beyond the home of these beings there lived four others--the Holy
Man, the Holy Woman, the Holy Boy, and the Holy Girl.
In the West there lived the White Shell Hermaphrodite or Girl, and with her was the big female reed which
grew at the water's edge. It had no tassel. Beyond her in the West there lived another stone people called the
Hadahunes'tqin, the Ground Heat People. Still
[28. Informant's note: Ashon nutli', the Turquoise Hermaphrodite, later became masculine and was known as
the Sun Bearer, Jo hona'ai.
29. Informant's note: The Hadahuneya'nigi are the Stone people who live where there is a mirage on the desert.
Interpreter's note: These Stone People came from the East.
Morris (1921), p. 115): p. 127, this bulletin; Stevenson (1891, p. 275). Matthews (1897, p. 63): To the East
there was a place called Tau (corn), to the South, a place called Nahodoo'la, and to the West a place called
Lokatsos akad (Standing Reed). Again to the East there was a place called Essal'ai (One Pot), to the South a
place called To'hadzitil (They came often for water), and to the West a place called Dsilitsibe hogan (House
made of Red Mountain). Then again to the East there was a place called Ley a hogan (Underground house),
and to the South a place called Tsil st'ntha (Among aromatic sumac), and to the West a place called Tse'lits ibe
hogan (House made of red rock).
20. Informant's note: The Naaskiddi or Gha'askidi are the hunchback figures connected with seeds, fertility, and
phallus worship. They are said to have come from the mountain called Chol'i'i.
21. Informant's note: The White Shell Hermaphrodite or Girl later entered the Moon and became the Moon
Bearer. She is connected with Esdzanadle, the Woman-Who Changes, or Yolgai esdzan, the White Shell
farther on there lived another twelve beings, but these were all females. And again, in the Far West, there
lived four Holy Ones.
Within this land there lived the Kisa'ni, the ancients of the Pueblo People. On the six mountains there lived the
Cave Dwellers or Great Swallow People. On the mountains lived also the light and dark squirrels,
chipmunks, mice, rats, the turkey people, the deer and cat people, the spider people, and the lizards and
snakes. The beaver people lived along the rivers, and the frogs and turtles and all the underwater people in
the water. So far all the people were similar. They had no definite form, but they had been given different
names because of different characteristics.
Now the plan was to plant.
First Man called the people together. He brought forth the white corn which had been formed with him. First
Woman brought the yellow corn. They laid the perfect ears side by side; then they asked one person from
among the many to come and help them. The Turkey stepped forward. They asked him where he had come
from, and he said that he had come from the Gray Mountain. He danced back and forth four times, then he
shook his feather coat and there dropped from his clothing four kernels of corn, one gray, one blue, one black,
and one red. Another person was asked to help in the plan of the planting. The Big Snake came forward. He
likewise brought forth four seeds, the pumpkin, the watermelon, the cantaloup, and the muskmelon. His plants
all crawl on the ground.
They planted the seeds, and their harvest was great.
After the harvest the Turquoise Boy from the East came and visited First Woman. When First Man returned to
his home he found his wife with this boy. First Woman told her husband that Ashon nutli' was of her flesh and
not of his flesh. She said that she had used her own fire, the turquoise, and had ground her own yellow
corn into meal. This corn she had planted and cared for herself.
Now at that time there were four chiefs: Big Snake, Mountain Lion, Otter, and Bear. And it was the custom
when the black cloud rose
[22 Informant's note: The Corn Maidens are deities of fertility.
23. Informant's note: The Great Swallow People, Tqashji'zhi ndilk'si, lived in rough houses of mud and sticks.
They entered them from holes in the roof.
24. Informant's note: The Gray Mountain is the home of the Gray Yei, Hasch ei'ba'i, whose other name is Water
Sprinkler. The turkey is connected with water and rain.
Interpreter's note: Gray Mountain is San Francisco Mountain, Ariz. Tqo'neinili, the Water Sprinkler, whose color
is gray, lives there. He is also called the Gray God, Hasch e'lbai, and the Clown whose call is "do do," and
whose name is Hasch e'dodi.
25. Informant's note: First Woman and the Turquoise Hermaphrodite represented the female principle. Later he
said: There is confusion among medicine men regarding this. Some say that the Turquoise Boy was Ashon
nutli'; some say the Mirage Man, some contend that "It" was another "Turquoise Boy."
26. Informant's note: Some medicine men call them the chiefs of the Four Directions.]
in the morning for First Man to come out of his dwelling and speak to the people. After First Man had
spoken the four chief s told them what they should do that day. They also spoke of the past and of the future.
But after First Man found his wife with another he would not come out to speak to the people. The black cloud
rose higher, but First Man would not leave his dwelling; neither would he eat or drink. No one spoke to the
people for 4 days. All during this time First Man remained silent, and would not touch food or water. Four times
the white cloud rose. Then the four chiefs went to First Man and demanded to know why he would not speak to
the people. The chiefs asked this question three times, and a fourth, before First Man would answer them.
He told them to bring him an emetic. This he took and purified himself. First Man then asked them to send
the hermaphrodite to him. When he came First Man asked him if the metate and brush were his. He said
that they were. First Man asked him if he could cook and prepare food like a woman, if he could weave, and
brush the hair. And when he had assured First Man that he could do all manner of woman's work, First Man
said: "Go and prepare food and bring it to me." After he had eaten, First Man told the four chiefs what he had
seen, and what his wife had said.
At this time the Great-Coyote-Who-Was-Formed-in-the-Water came to First Man and told him to cross the river.
They made a big raft and crossed at the place where the Male River followed through the Female River. And all
the male beings left the female beings on the river bank; and as they rowed across the river they looked back
and saw that First Woman and the female beings were laughing. They were also behaving very wickedly.
In the beginning the women did not mind being alone. They cleared and planted a small field. On the other side
of the river First Man and the chiefs hunted and planted their seeds. They had a good harvest. Nadle
ground the corn and cooked the food. Four seasons passed. The men continued to have plenty and were
happy; but the women became lazy, and only weeds grew on their land. The women wanted fresh meat. Some
of them tried to join the men and were drowned in the river.
[27. Informant's note: These are not the Black and White Clouds of the First World. As there was no sun, and
no true division of night and day, time was counted by the black cloud rising and the white cloud rising.
Stevenson (1891, pp. 284-285); Matthews (1897, p. 67); Whitman (1925, p. 13); Alexander (1916, pp. 160-
28. Informant's note (with recorder's): The emetic was believed to be either Babia woodhousei Gray, of the
thistle family, or the root of the wild cherry. In either case, after a hot brew is drunk, copious vomiting ensues.
29. Informant's note: The metata and brush are symbolic of woman's implements.
30. Informant's note: Nadle means that which changes. Ashon nutli', or nadle, the Turquoise Hermaphrodite,
was the first man to change, or become, as a woman.]
First Woman made a plan. As the women had no way to satisfy their passions, some fashioned long narrow
rocks, some used the feathers of the turkey, and some used strange plants (cactus). First Woman told them to
use these things. One woman brought forth a big stone. This stone-child was later the Great Stone that rolled
over the earth killing men. Another woman brought forth the Big Birds of Tsa bida'hi; and others gave birth to
the giants and monsters who later destroyed many people.
On the opposite side of the river the same condition existed. The men, wishing to satisfy their passions, killed
the females of mountain sheep, lion, and antelope. Lightning struck these men. When First Man learned of this
he warned his men that they would all be killed. He told them that they were indulging in a dangerous practice.
Then the second chief spoke: he said that life was hard and that it was a pity to see women drowned. He asked
why they should not bring the women across the river and all live together again.
"Now we can see for ourselves what comes from our wrong doing," he said. "We will know how to act in the
future." The three other chiefs of the animals agreed with him, so First Man told them to go and bring the
After the women had been brought over the river First Man spoke: "We must be purified," he said. "Everyone
must bathe. The men must dry themselves with white corn meal, and the women, with yellow."
This they did, living apart for 4 days. After the fourth day First Woman came and threw her right arm around
her husband. She spoke to the others and said that she could see her mistakes, but with her husband's help
she would henceforth lead a good life. Then all the male and female beings came and lived with each other
The people moved to different parts of the land. Some time passed; then First Woman became troubled by the
monotony of life. She made a plan. She went to Atse'hashke, the Coyote called First Angry, and giving him the
rainbow she said: "I have suffered greatly in the past. I have suffered from want of meat and corn and clothing.
Many of my maidens have died. I have suffered many things. Take the rainbow and go to the place where the
rivers cross. Bring me the two pretty children of Tqo holt sodi, the Water Buffalo, a boy and a girl.
The Coyote agreed to do this. He walked over the rainbow. He entered the home of the Water Buffalo and stole
the two children; and these he hid in his big skin coat with the white fur lining. And when he returned he refused
to take off his coat, but pulled it around himself and looked very wise,
[31. Franciscan Fathers (1910, p. 157): Tqo holt sodi, water buffalo, water ox, or water monster. Alexander
(1916, p. 161, and note 9, p. 274).]
After this happened the people saw white light in the East and in the South and West and North. One of the
deer people ran to the East, and returning, said that the white light was a great sheet of water. The sparrow
hawk flew to the South, the great hawk to the West, and the kingfisher to the North. They returned and said that
a flood was coming. The kingfisher said that the water was greater in the North, and that it was near.
The flood was coming and the Earth was sinking. And all this happened because the Coyote had stolen the two
children of the Water Buffalo, and only First Woman and the Coyote knew the truth.
When First Man learned of the coming of the water he sent word to all the people, and he told them to come to
the mountain called Sis na'jin. He told them to bring with them all of the seeds of the plants used for food. All
living beings were to gather on the top of Sis na'jin. First Man traveled to the six sacred mountains, and,
gathering earth from them, he put it in his medicine bag.
The water rose steadily.
When all the people were halfway up Sis na' jin, First Man discovered that he had forgotten his medicine bag.
Now this bag contained not only the earth from the six sacred mountains, but his magic, the medicine he used
to call the rain down upon the earth and to make things grow. He could not live without his medicine bag, and
be wished to jump into the rising water; but the others begged him not to do this. They went to the kingfisher
and asked him to dive into the water and recover the bag. This the bird did. When First Man had his medicine
bag again in his possession he breathed on it four times and thanked his people.
When they had all arrived it was found that the Turquoise Boy had brought with him the big Male Reed; and
the White Shell Girl had brought with her the big Female Reed. Another person brought poison ivy; and
another, cotton, which was later used for cloth. This person was the spider. First Man had with him his spruce
tree which he planted on the top of Sis na'jin. He used his fox medicine to make it grow; but the spruce
tree began to send out branches and to taper at the top, so First Man planted the big Male Reed. All the
people blew on it, and it grew and grow until it reached
[32. Informant's note: Here, and following, magic is associated with First Man.
Recorder's note: The magic of First Man was considered white magic, reason, logos.
33. Informant's note: The big male reed is called luka'tso. It grows near Santo Domingo Pueblo, not far from the
home of the Turquoise Boy, the little turquoise mountain south Of Santa Fe, N. Mex.
34. Informant's note: The big female reed is thought to be the joint cane which grows along the Colorado River.
This was near the home of the White Shell Girl.
35. Recorder's note: That the tree is here called a spruce and on page 2 a pine is not explained.
36. First Man's name, Atse'hastqin, corresponds to the sacred name of the kit fox.]
the canopy of the sky. They tried to blow inside the reed, but it was solid. They asked the woodpecker to drill
out the hard heart. Soon they were able to peek through the opening, but they had to blow and blow before it
was large enough to climb through. They climbed up inside the big male reed, and after them the water
continued to rise.
THE FOURTH WORLD
When the people reached the Fourth World they saw that it was not a very large place. Some say that it was
called the White World; but not all medicine men agree that this is so.
The last person to crawl through the reed was the turkey from Gray Mountain. His feather coat was flecked with
foam, for after him came the water. And with the water came the female Water Buffalo who pushed her head
through the opening in the reed. She had a great quantity of curly hair which floated on the water, and she had
two horns, half black and half yellow. From the tips of the horns the lightning flashed.
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,
tha'di'thee do tlij, from the blue flowers, and the yellow pollen from the corn; and on top of these he placed
the pollen from the water flags, tquel aqa'di din; 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..
After the water sank there appeared another person. They did not know him, and they asked him where he had
come from. He told them that he was the badger, nahashch'id, and that he had been formed
[37. The Third or Yellow World: Matthews (1897, p. 66); Whitman (1925, pp. 7-9); Alexander (1916, p. 161);
Parsons (1923, p. 161); Cushing (1923, p. 166).
18. Recorder's note: This blue pollen, tha'di'thee do tlij, is thought to be Delphinium scaposum Green.]
where the Yellow Cloud had touched the Earth. Afterward this Yellow Cloud turned out to be a sunbeam.
THE FIFTH WORLD
First Man was not satisfied with the Fourth World. It was a small barren land; and the great water had soaked
the earth and made the sowing of seeds impossible. He planted the big Female Reed and it grew up to the
vaulted roof of this Fourth World. First Man sent the newcomer, the badger, up inside the reed, but before he
reached the upper world water began to drip, so he returned and said that he was frightened.
At this time there came another strange being. First Man asked him where he had been formed, and he told
him that he had come from the Earth itself. This was the locust. He said that it was now his turn to do
something, and he offered to climb up the reed.
The locust made a headband of a little reed, and on his forehead he crossed two arrows. These arrows were
dressed with yellow tail feathers. With this sacred headdress and the help of all the Holy Beings the locust
climbed up to the Fifth World. He dug his way through the reed as he digs in the earth now. He then pushed
through mud until he came to water. When he emerged he saw a black water bird swimming toward him. He
had arrows crossed on the back of his head and big eyes.
The bird said: "What are you doing here? This is not your country." And continuing, he told the locust that
unless he could make magic be would not allow him to remain.
The black water bird drew an arrow from back of his head, and shoving it into his mouth drew it out his nether
extremity. He inserted it underneath his body and drew it out of his mouth.
"That is nothing," said the locust. He took the arrows from his headband and pulled them both ways through his
body, between his shell and his heart. The bird believed that the locust possessed great medicine, and he
swam away to the East, taking the water with him.
Then came the blue water bird from the South, and the yellow water bird from the West, and the white water
bird from the North, and everything happened as before. The locust performed the magic with
[39. Informant's and interpreter's note: The Four Worlds were really 12 worlds, or stages of development; but
different medicine men divide them differently according to the ceremony held. For the narrative they call them
the Four Dark Worlds, and the Fifth World, the one we live in. An old medicine man explained that the Sixth
World would be that of the spirit; and that the one above that would be "cosmic," melting into one.
40. Informant's note: The name of the locust was not given.
Franciscan Fathers (1912, p. 123): locust, nahacha'gi. This also means grasshopper, cicada.
41. Informant's note: The water birds were grebes.
42 Recorder's note: The arrows crossed on the back of the bird's head. See both Navaho and Zuni Arrow
his arrows; and when the last water bird had gone he found himself sitting on land.
The locust returned to the lower world and told the people that the beings above had strong medicine, and that
he had had great difficulty getting the best of them.
Now two dark clouds and two white clouds rose, and this meant that two nights and two days had passed, for
there was still no sun. First Man again sent the badger to the upper world, and he returned covered with mud,
terrible mud. First Man gathered chips of turquoise which he offered to the five Chiefs of the Winds who
lived in the uppermost world of all. They were pleased with the gift, and they sent down the winds and dried the
First Man and his people saw four dark clouds and four white clouds pass, and then they sent the badger up
the reed. This time when the badger returned he said that he had come out on solid earth. So First Man and
First Woman led the people to the Fifth World, which some call the Many Colored Earth and some the
Changeable Earth. They emerged through a lake surrounded by four mountains. The water bubbles in this lake
when anyone goes near.
Now after all the people had emerged from the lower worlds First Man and First Woman dressed the Mountain
Lion with yellow, black, white, and grayish corn and placed him on one side. They dressed the Wolf with white
tail feathers and placed him on the other side. They divided the people into two groups. The first group was told
to choose whichever chief they wished. They made their choice, and, although they thought they had chosen
the Mountain Lion, they found that they had taken the Wolf for their chief. The Mountain Lion was the chief for
the other side. And these people who had the Mountain Lion for their chief turned out to be the people of the
Earth. They were to plant seeds and harvest corn. The followers of the Wolf chief became the animals and
birds; they turned into all the creatures that fly and crawl and run and swim.
And after all the beings were divided, and each had his own form, they went their ways.
[43. The First Chief. Nichi ntla'ie, the Left Course Wind: the Second Chief, Nichi lichi, the Red Wind; the Third
Chief, Nichi shada ji na'laghali, the Wind Turning from the Sun; the Fourth Chief, Nichi qa'hashchi, the Wind
with Many Points; the Fifth Chief, Nichi che do et siedee, the Wind with the Fiery Temper.
44. Informant's note: The place of emergence is said to be near Pagosa Springs, Colo. The white people have
put a wire fence around our Sacred Lake.
Matthews (1897, p. 135): place of emergence. Franciscan Fathers (1910, pp. 347-354): The First or Dark
World: ants, beetles, dragonflies, locusts, bats, frogs. The Second or Blue World: blue heron, swallow people.
They lived in rough, lumpy houses with the entrance in a hole in the top of the roof or in eaves. The Third or
Yellow World: grasshoppers, etc. The Fourth or Larger World was of All Colors: four snow-covered mountains;
the Pueblo People; corn, pumpkins.
Parsons (1933, pp. 611-631); Cushing (1923, p. 164).]
This is the. story of the Four Dark Worlds and the Fifth, the World we live in. Some medicine men tell us that
there are two worlds above us, the first is the World of the Spirits of Living Things, the second is the Place of
Melting into One.
Next Animal Heroes
|Brad and Mary Sutherland
248 Carver Street
Winslow, Illinois 61089
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