Women/Taboos

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The travelors were told that women that are going to have babies must not see people that are hurt, or dead people, or animals, and this was the first time that men knew this. Water Way; Pg. 112

Instructions are given that prayersticks will not be acceptable to the gods if a menstruating woman enters when there is a ceremony. Pg. 160, Visionary.

Navajo Chantway Myths, 1957; Katherine Spencer.

It is understandable that the superficial white observer concludes that the Navaho woman is little better than a chattel of her husband. She may be seen walking when her husband is on horseback; the casual white visitor does not realize that the reverse is also true, depending on which of them has a horse available, for horses are individually owned and there is no conception of joint property between husband and wife. The white ham sees the men of the Navaho family riding in comfort in the front of a pickup, with women exposed to cold winds in the open truck behind. He notices a Navaho wife trailing with apparent meekness behind her husband as the pair walk the streets of Gallup. He marks the absence of small courtesies and differences that with men normally show to their wives. A Navaho husband never, for example, assists his wife in alighting from a wagon or automobile. Despite the absence of the symbols which whites associate with high status of women, however, there can be no doubt that the position of women among The People is very good. Their ownership of property, the system of tracing lineage through the female, the prevailing pattern of residence with the wife's people, the fact that more women than men have a ready and continual source of extra income (through their weaving), all give women a strategic advantage. Such situational circumstances are reinforced by mythology and folklore. The oft-repeated songs of Blessing Way drum in the conception that woman is supreme in the hogan. The east pole is that of Earth Woman, the south that of Mountain Woman, the west that of Water Woman, and the north that of Corn Woman. The fact that some of the most powerful and important divinities (Changing Woman, Spider Woman, Salt Woman) are female speaks volumes for the high place of women in the traditional conceptions of The People. Pgs. 55-56


The Navaho; 1946, Clyde Kluckhohn and Dorothea Leighton.

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