Creation of Man
began to make Man, They made his feet and his toe nails and his ankles of soil
of the earth, his legs of lightning, his knees of white shell and his body of
white corn and yellow corn. His veins were of striped corn and blue corn, the
calico corn made the hair on his arms and body, the black corn made his eyebrows,
and the red corn was his blood. His heart was of obsidian, and his breath was
the white wind; his ear was made of white shell and the ear drum of mica. They
took all the flesh of all the different animals to make his body, and also all
other kinds of flower pollen. They made him of all kinds of water: rains, springs,
lakes, rivers and ponds, also of the black cloud and the male rain, and the sky,
and the female rain, and they made his arms of the rainbow. His hair was made
of darkness, his skull of the sun, his whiskers of darkness and his face of daybreak.
His nose was made of Yoh-lachee (red beads), his eyes of the Suns, his teeth of
white corn and his speech of thunder, his tongue of straight lightning, and the
little whirlwind was what kept his nerves moving. The movement of his finger was
the air, his saliva was the little rain, and the water of his nose and his tears
were the medium rain; and his food was of white and yellow corn. And the name
of the new kind of human being was Anlthtahn-nah-olyah, Meaning Created-from-everything.
Creation Myth, The Story of the Emergence: By Hasteen Klah, Recorded by Mary
C. Wheel wright; Navajo Relegion Series, volume 1
not, however, in his present form. The conception was of a male and female being
who were to become man and Women. 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. Pg. 2
4- Informant's note: The Navajo people have always believed in evolution. Pg.
2After the bow and arrows of lightning were returned to the Sun, Hasjelti and
Hasjohon came to First Man and First Woman and asked them what they thought
about all that had happened. "What will take place now will be your plan,"
they said. "Yes," answered First Man and First Woman, "Now it
must be our plan. We will think about it." The Sun brought a turquoise
man fetish and gave it to Yol gai esdzan, the White Bead Woman. She ground white
beads into a powder and made a paste with which she molded a fetish like the
one the sun had given her, but it was a woman. When it was finished they laid
the two side by side. Then they took the white corn which was brought up from
the Dark World where the First Man was formed and they laid it beside the Turquoise
man fetish. And the yellow corn from the Dark World, which was formed with First
Woman, was laid by the side of the White Bead Woman fetish. Here the chanting
begins. 6 It covers the two fetishes and the two ears of corn and the four clouds
and the four vapors. There are many chants sung here. They were sung before
the fetishes could move. Then the two fetishes, the Turquoise Man and the White
Bead Woman, and also, the two ears of corn, white and yellow, moved. 7 When
they began to move the Coyote came. He jumped on the bodies and put something
first up one nostril and then up the other nostril. He said to the first nostril:
"You shall be saved by this." To the second nostril he said: "This
shall be your shield." The first turned out to be the trickery of men;
the second, the lies that they tell. But once in a while they are saved by their
own lies. That was what the Coyote had in mind. The fetishes and the ears of
corn moved but they were not able to rise. So word was sent to all the Holy
Beings and to the Upper World where the Five Chiefs of the Wind dwelt. Gifts
were offered to the Winds and they accepted them. they sent the Little Breeze
down, and it entered the bodies of the two fetishes and the two ears of corn.
Little, fine hairs appeared over the bodies, for it is through these that air
comes out of the body. It was after that, that the four, the two fetishes and
the two ears of corn. became human beings.
6- Informant's note: A ceremony called na tdan'y analia took place so that the
people would multiply. The subject being: how to increase human beings upon
the earth after the monsters had been destroyed.
7- Informant's note: Rarely is much white or yellow corn planted at one time
because it is the most sacred. Pg. 103
Origin Myths of the Navajo Indians, 1956; Aileen O'Bryan.
the gods, they repeated their visit four days in a row. But on the fourth day,
Bits' iis lizhin the Black Body remained after the other three departed. And
when he was alone with the onlookers, he spoke to them in their own language.
This is what he said:
"You do not seem to understand the Holy People," he said.
"So I will explain what they want you to know."
"They want more people to be created in this world. But they want intelligent
people, created in their likeness, not in yours." "You have bodies
like theirs, true enough." "But you have the teeth of beasts! You
have the mouths of beasts! You have the feet of beasts! You have the claws of
"The new creatures are to have hands like ours. They are to have feet like
ours. They are to have mouths like ours and teeth like ours. They must learn
to think ahead, as we do." "What is more, you are unclean!" "You
smell bad." "So you are instructed to cleanse yourselves before we
return twelve days from now."
That is what Bits' iis lizhin the Black Body said to the insect people who had
emerged from the first world to the second, from the second world to the third,
and from the third world to the fourth world where they now lived. Accordingly,
on the morning of the twelfth day the people bathed carefully. The women dried
themselves with yellow corn meal. The men dried themselves with white corn meal.
Soon after they had bathed, they again heard the distant voice coming from the
east. They listened and waited as before, listened and waited. Until soon they
heard the voice as before, nearer and louder this time. They continued to listen
and wait, listen and wait, until they heard the voice a third time as before,
all the nearer and all the louder. Continuing to listen as before, they heard
the voice again, even louder than the last time, and so close now that it seemed
directly upon them, exactly as it had seemed before. And as before they found
themselves standing among the same four Haashch eeh dine'e, or Holy People as
Bilagaana the White Man might wish to call them. Bits' iis dootl izh the Blue
Body and Bits iis lizhin the Black Body each carried a sacred buckskin. Bits
iis ligaii the White Body carried two ears of corn. One ear of corn was yellow.
The other ear was white. Each ear was completely covered at the end with grains,
just as sacred ears of corn are covered in our own world now. Proceeding silently,
the gods laid one buckskin on the ground, careful that its head faced the west.
Upon this skin they placed the two ears of corn, being just as careful that
the tips of each pointed east. Over the corn they spread the other buckskin,
making sure that its head faced east. Under the white ear they put the feather
of a white eagle. And under the yellow ear they put the feather of a yellow
eagle. Then they told the onlooking people to stand at a distance. So that the
wind could enter. Then from the east Nilch' i ligai the White Wind blew between
the buckskins. And while the wind thus blew, each of the Holy People came and
walked four times around the objects they had placed so carefully on the ground.
As they walked, the eagle feathers, whose tips protruded slightly from between
the two buckskins, moved slightly. Just slightly. So that only those who watched
carefully were able to notice. And when the Holy People had finished walking,
they lifted the topmost buckskin. And lo! The ears of corn had disappeared.
In their place there lay man and there lay a woman. The white ear of corn had
been transformed into our most ancient male ancestor. And the yellow ear of
corn had been transformed into our most ancient female ancestor. It was the
wind that had given them life: the very wind that gives us our breath as we
go about our daily affairs here in the world we ourselves live in! When this
wind ceases to blow inside of us, we become speechless. Then we die. In the
skin at the tips of our fingers we can see the trail of that life - giving wind.
Look carefully at your own fingertips. There you will see where the wind blew
when it created your most ancient ancestors out of two ears of corn, it is said.
Pg. 49, 50, 51
Bahane' , The Navajo Creation Story: 1984; Paul G. Zolbrod.
people had gathered, the Yei'ii approached. Black Yei'ii and Water Sprinkler
(Toneinilii) each brought a sacred unwounded buckskin (doo k'aa'k'ehii). Talking
God (Haashch'eeh yalti) carried the two perfect ears of corn given to First
Man and First Woman in the First World. One of the buckskins was laid down.
On this, Talking God placed the two perfect ears of corn with their tips facing
east. Under the corn, he put a white and a yellow eagle feather. Then he covered
the corn with the other sacred buckskin and told the people to stand back. The
White Wind came from the east; the Yellow Wind, from the west. Both entered
between the blankets. While the wind stirred under the buckskins, eight Mirage
People came and walked around the blankets. As they did so, the tips of the
eagle feathers that struck out past the edges of the blankets began to move.
When the Mirage People had finished walking, the buckskin on the top was removed.
There, instead of two ears of corn, lay a man and a woman, the First-Made Man
and the First-Made Woman. From them came all of the First People. Pg. 5
Ji Nakee' Naahane', A Utah Navajo History; 1982, Clyde Benally with Andrew
O. Wiget, John R. Alley, and Garry Blake.
of man was explained by A as follows. The plant kingdom (representing the soil)
plus wind equals life and the three together equals man. At death man (the symbol
but not the body) returns to the three elements mentioned, in human form, to
the underworld. DS elaborated this as follows. First he told how Changing Woman
scraped cuticle from various parts of her body and wetting it with saliva and
an infusion of four plants fashioned the image of a man, with prayer and song.
Then she put Wind People into him to make him move, telling each Wind how it
should work in the body. In the spirals on the ends of the thumb and fingers
are located the Winds which move the legs and feet, black Wind on the thumb,
blue on the forefinger, yellow on the middle finger, white on the third, spotted
on the little finger. These Winds stay in the body directing its movements until
death and then emerge through the spirals. Then there is one big Wind which
goes through the body and comes out through the hair whorl on the back of the
head (or goes in through the hair whorl and comes out of the mouth). This one
governs speech. This is the good part of a person, it is part of the sun or
dawn and looks like light, and goes back to the sun, etc. (v.s.) at death. It
has two names be' i' na' ni (by means of which there is life) and be' nahidi'
dzhi (by means of which one breaths). This life principle plus the breath factor
makes man. Pg. 14-15
of New Mexico Bulletin, Navajo Eschatology: 1942; Leland C. Wyman, W.W. Hill
and Iva Osnai
and First Woman existed in the lowest mythological world. From the beginning
their purpose was to arrange conditions suitable for the Navajo to people the
earth. The First Pair had some human traits: they could think and talk; they
knew something about sex; they had some inkling of the difference between good
and evil. Their knowledge was imperfect because incomplete and, therefore, uncontrolled;
they thought that the universe was undeveloped rather than chaotic. A notion
of conscious creation, ability to glimpse the future, and the will to control
it set First Man and First Woman apart as supernatural beings.
Although the First Pair were the primary cause of the disasters in the lower
worlds, they formulated a scheme to overcome the results of ignorance. It included
the miraculous appearance of Changing Woman as a baby in a cradleboard, her
careful training, the sanctioned mating with Sun, the birth of The Twins, and
the acquisition of ritual power which enabled them to subdue the monsters. Did
First Man place the wonderful baby on the mountaintop for himself to discover?
Was it another of the supernatural deeds of Sun, who had already fathered the
monsters? Did the baby appear through the efforts of both First Man and Sun?
Or were First Man and Sun different manifestations of the same power? If First
Man was the promoter, he was nonplused by his own creation and was matching
his power against that of Sun. If Sun originated the plan, he was knowingly
storing up sorrow for himself, for he loved his terrible children and did not
want to do away with them; or perhaps he thought his new wife and her remarkable
children would compensate for his grief. Most likely the baby and her protection
of man were brought about by the co-operation of First Man and Sun. Myth leaves
many other questions unanswered. Why should the First Pair or Sun want human
beings on the earth? Why should they care about human welfare once man had appeared?
Man is the mythmaker. His interest is in man, whose development he explains.
first Man and Sun can be made to contribute to his motives. Mythmakers are not
concerned with logic.