Separation of Clans
the Emergence, the Dine', realizing that they had failed to bring corn from the
fourth world, demanded some from the Kiis'aanii. Following a brief dispute, they
agreed to break an ear of corn in half and allow the Dine' to choose between the
two pieces. Coyote, the trickster, selected the tip of the corn and ran away,
leaving the fuller stem behind, "and this is the reason the Pueblo Indians
have today better crops than the Navahoes. But the Pueblos had become alarmed
at the threats and angry language of their neighbors and moved away from them,
and this is why the Navahoes and Pueblos now live apart from one another."
This incident helps explain the deterioration of relationships in this world,
so that the Dine' now view their companions of the past as estranged. Pg. 82
Land, Sacred View: Navajo Perceptions of the Four Corners Region; 1992, Robert
no law in the Navajo lexicon more rigidly observed than the law against clan
intermarriage. Pg. 5
Klah, Navajo Medicine Man and Sand Painter; 1964, Franc Johnson Newcomb.
Tribe is divided into fifty-eight clans. And when one realizes that each of
the women heading these clans was taken from a different tribe, Athapascan and
others, it becomes evident that the Navajo is of very mixed stock. The stories
told by the Navajos about their origin are very vague. Besides it is very difficult
for white people to understand their legendary tales for some of their expressions
are allegoric. According to one version, eight clans came from a Pacific Ocean
island which tipped over. After that for a while they lived on fish because
they could not raise anything. They began to die from disease, turning white
before death. Then they joined the Apaches and worked on their land for a number
of generations. They raided many villages and were very badly beaten in many
battles. Some of the Navajos said they would rather raise their own corn and
other food, so a tribe of Navajos, consisting also of a mixture of Apaches,
moved to northern Arizona and established the Navajo Tribe. There they formed
a council of their old men. They allowed no marriage among their own people.
If a Navajo married within his own clan, he was killed. So they sent their young
men to nearby pueblos to trade for wives or to capture them. The fifty-eight
clans originated at that time.
It is possible that, as Benavides says , the Navajos came from the south. Of
course, this bears out John Wetherill's assertion that the Navajos know southern
plants and animals , but do not know those of the north. Furthermore, the Navajo
legend of their people having crossed the Pacific Ocean from an island may not
be very far from the truth in the light of some of the newer discoveries about
early migrations of peoples. It has now been established that Polynesians carried
on explorations of our Pacific coast in especially constructed boats long before
Columbus. Another interesting point in this connection is the Polynesian belief,
which is much like the Navajo's , that when a person dies his spirit descends
into the lower worlds. Pg. 160-161.
Gods, Tom-toms; By S.H. Babington, 1950.