Stinging Insects

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On the following days, in defiance of warnings, he visits the eagles and hawks, helping them in successive encounters with bees, wasps, rock wrens, and prickly plants. Each time the birds are forced to retreat; them the hero advances among the enemy and kills them with his medicine. He heals the injured birds, takes some of their downy feathers for his medicine, and brings back from each encounter in turn a bee, wasp, stone, and prickly plant as a trophy. He shows his bird friends that each of these is now harmless. The bee and wasp he sends to earth with instructions to be useful to men in ceremonies. The prickly plant he burns before the eagles to prove his conquest. The hero advises the birds not to attack these people any more; the rock wren has claimed, "It is because I am attacked that I am fierce." Pg. 125, Big Star Way

The eagles have been unsuccessful in driving out a swarm of bees from a nearby field. The hero sprinkles medicine to blind them and then kills them with willow whips. On the the promise of an old bee woman to be friendly, he leaves some for honey and for their wax, which will take away pain and heal wounds made by eagles' claws. Pg. 193, Eagle Way.


Navajo Chantway Myths, 1957; Katherine Spencer.

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. 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. Pg. 3

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. Pg. 3

The Dine' : Origin Myths of the Navajo Indians, 1956; Aileen O'Bryan.

Don't urinate on an ant hill. You'll have trouble going to the bathroom. Pg. 81

Don't burn ants. Red spots will appear on your body rash.

Don't kill moths. You'll jump in the fire. Pg. 82

Don't count the number of legs on a centipede. The number you count will be the number of years you have left to live. Pg. 82

Don't kill a bald headed insect and spider. You'll go bald. Pg. 82

Navajo Taboos; 1991, Ernie Bulow.

The eagles have been unsuccessful in driving out a swarm of bees from a nearby field. The hero sprinkles medicine to blind them and then kills them with willow whips. On the the promise of an old bee woman to be friendly, he leaves some for honey and for their wax, which will take away pain and heal wounds made by eagles' claws. Pg. 193, Eagle Way.

Navajo Chantway Myths, 1957; Katherine Spencer.

Don't burn bees. You'll have a rash. Pg. 81

Navajo Taboos; 1991, Ernie Bulow.

When the Black Thunder people came to Tseh-yahteh-ih (Standing Rock), a place about nineteen miles east of Naschiddy, the leader of the Black Thunder people looked back at the long line of his people, and far off in the distance he saw a boy throwing dust and dirt high into the air. Black Thunder went on again and then a little later stopped once more and looked back, and again saw the boy throwing dust and dirt into the air. This happened four times and the leaders wondered what it meant. Finally they stopped and talked it over and at last, becoming very curious, they decided to send someone back to see what the boy was doing, so Black Thunder told some people to run back and find out, and when they arrived at the place where the boy had last been seen, they could find nothing there but a yellow worm about three inches long. The people all crowded together to look at it, and as nothing else was to be seen there they said it must be the boy. The leader told one of the men to pick up the worm, and as he reached down the worm leaped high in the air, as high as the men standing about. They were frightened at this and stepped back, and the worm jumped again and again until it had jumped four times, and at the fourth jump it turned into a man, and quantities of bees poured out of his mouth and lighted on all the people, getting into their hair, eyes, and ears, and stinging and frightening them badly. They begged the man to stop sending these bees to torment them, but he did nothing but laugh and laugh, and sent forth more bees in swarms until the people were in great agony. At last they gave the man a Yellow Kehtahn and he drew in his breath and sucked all the bees back into his mouth. This was the first time that any of the people had seen bees, and there were all kinds, honeybees, hornets, and bumblebees, and every kind of bee, big and little. Then they saw that the man was Begochiddy, and were greatly amazed. The Kehtahn which they gave him was filled with tobacco and the end stuffed with sacred pollen, and this has been Begochiddy's Kehtahn ever since. Begochiddy told the people that he would go with them and watch over them, and the people were glad and went on their way, when suddenly Begochiddy disappeared from their midst and they did not see him go, so they knew that he had gone up into the sky. Pgs. 15-16

Begochiddy releases bees from his mouth as a demonstration of his cosmic place, for bees, which occur elsewhere in Navajo mythology, are almost certainly the host of stars, and Begochiddy, as Polaris, is Lord of Hosts.

Haile Chant and Water Chant; 1946, Mary C. Wheelwright.

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