Fish


For many generations, the Anasazi were hard taskmasters over the Dine', forcing them to carry wood and corn on their backs for long distances and perform menial acts of service. Eventually, a large and handsome man came from the east, appearing to "rise out of where the sky and earth join together. He carried with him a long rod or staff. When he came amongst the Dine', he saw how they were being treated by the people who dwelt in the stone houses in the cliffs north of the San Juan River and he was very much displeased." He told them to stop this harsh treatment, but they replied they were "the greatest people in the world" and would do as they pleased. The stranger counseled the Dine' that at the next new moon they should prepare a feast of turkeys, rabbits, corn, paper bread, and other delicacies and serve it at places on the south bank of the San Juan and Little Colorado rivers. They sent runners to the cliff dwellers, who were "great gluttons" and responded in large numbers. "They were first to cross from along the north bank of the San Juan River as the feast was spread along the south bank for a distance of four miles, and as the horde of cliff dwellers came forward to take part in the feast, they rushed to cross the river." The stranger waited until they were in the middle of the river, then raised his arm to the level of his chest, twice waved his rod, and uttered some magic words. The Anasazi turned into fish instantly. He then faced westward and southwestward, pointed his rod in each direction, said the same magic words, and all the remaining cliff dwellers were struck with lockjaw and paralysis of the arms and legs. They died within four days. By then, the Dine' had eaten the feast they had prepared. Manuelito did not divulge the name of the stranger because he was yet considered a friend. He did say, however, that this incident explains why traditional Navajos do not eat fish, the descendants of the cliff dwellers. Pg. 91


Sacred Land, Sacred View: Navajo Perceptions of the Four Corners Region; 1992, Robert S. McPherson.