The hero waits
outside while his wives try to persuade their father to receive their earth surface
husband; their mother finally felieves their petition and offers to depart, thus
instituting the mother-in-law taboo as a means of showing respect. Pg. 206, Flint
Chantway Myths, 1957; Katherine Spencer.
sons-in-law were in a particular class for they could not, like Tuli, Dezba's
son, communicate with her directly, but had to learn her wished through their
wives, or through Silversmith, their father-in-law. This was because from time
immemorial Navajo women have had the custom of avoiding their son-in-law. They
must not "see each other, although each always holds himself in readiness
to help the other. The avoidance and helpfulness build up a special kind of
respect which is incredibly effective, although the means by which this respect
is established often create awkward and amusing situations. However, if any
of her sons-in-law had failed to cooperate in the avoidance, of if one had been
bold enough to address her of look at her, Dezba would not only have felt deeply
hurt, but she would have feared that either she or her insulting son-in-law
would become ill or even insane. Pgs. 5-6
Woman of the Desert; 1939, Gladys A. Reichard.
have no interference form their mother-in-laws, called do-yo-ini or she-may-not-be-seen.
according to Navajo tradition, if a mother-in-law speaks directly to her son-in-law,
she will become blind. she must convey her messages or desires to him through
a third party. If it becomes absolutely necessary for her to speak to him, they
will have to sit back to back, far apart, with a third person who stands midway
between the two and relays the messages back and forth. She may, however, visit
he daughter occasionally when her son-in-law is absent from home. Pgs. 1179-180
Gods, Tom-toms; By S.H. Babington, 1950.
the two Na'hookos, the Male and Female Ones Who Revolve (the Big Dipper and
Cassiopeia), represented a married couple that encircled Polaris, the fire in
the center of their hogan; these two constellations, along with Polaris, represented
laws against two couples living in the same hogan or doing their cooking over
the same fire, as well as the mother-in-law avoidance law to be followed by
is my Mother, Sky is my Father: Space, Time, and Astronomy in Navajo Sandpainting;
1992, Trudy Griffen-Pierce.
happen if a man looked at his mother-in-law, the invarialble answer is; "He
wouldn't feel good. He would go crazy and act like a moth at the fire."