every aspect of nature has its holy people . . . . even the stinkbug. Sometimes
you can see them, if only for an instant. They are represented, some of them,
by colors: the blue sky, the evening dusk, the night these are holy people and
one prays to them. There are iron people, crystal people, then the other rocks
" and such people." There are dawn people, twilight people, air, thunder,
and cloud people. One does not talk about such things in nature when they and
their holy people are present.
When a point (arrowhead) is found, the person inhales the air around it four times
and asks for protection from the spirit accompanying it. Although some believe
that arrowheads are made by horned toads that blow on a rock and chip it into
a form with its breath.
Head shape symbolizes the male-female distinction: male figures tend to have round
heads while females have square heads. In some cases this reflects a sexual distinction,
but at other times, where both round and square heads are used indiscriminately
of both genders, the round-headed figures represent deities with dominant power,
a male characteristic. In still other sandpaintings, however, such as those of
the Mountainway, the association of power and head shape does not hold. Lightning
marks, arrows, and snakes may also indicate gender. Crooked lightning on the legs,
arms, and body of a figure indicates that it is male while the straight form indicates
a female bearer. Male/female color symbolism is complicated in Navajo sandpainting,
and many exceptions exist for a discussion of possible color combinations and
their meanings). This is because sex pairing that is, the powers that are dominant
(male) and secondary or weaker (female) vary from chant to chant. Usually, however,
black or yellow symbolizes male figures in sandpaintings and blue or white symbolizes
female figures; this holds true for the following chants: Big Starway, Nightway,
Big Godway, Navajo Windway, Hand Tremblingway, Beadway, and half the paintings
in Plumeway. Another common arrangement, seen in the Shootingway and Beautyway,
is black and blue for males, white and yellow for females.
Navajos who have seen Holy People will offer proof of this in the appearance of
a single footprint in the sand. Pg. 62
The rainbow is the path of the Holy People, or Yei, and is depicted in sand paintings.
During the stormy summer months, rainbows are an almost constant phenomenon, stretching
very clear and bright across the vast sky, sometimes two or three rainbows appearing
at the same time. Pg. 62
on the Blue-Eyed Bear, Navajo Myths and Legends; 1975, Gerald Hausman.
might expect, the origin and transformation of the present Navaho world are
more fully described than any of the nether regions; it will be discussed below.
Two higher realms of the universe are depicted in broad lines, and conceivably
there are other wolds above those. The sky is a world just like this one; in
it Sun, Moon, and stars are visible to us as they move through the space between
the world hemispheres. Above the stratum into which we look, the heavely bodies
have their homes, living much like the people here on earth. The better-known
Thunders also live in the sky realm.
The Land-beyond-the-sky is inhabited by extra-powerful storm elements Winter,
Pink and Spotted Thunders, Big Winds, and Whirlwinds. They run a school for
novices learning the ritual of the Male Shooting, Hail, Water, and Feather chants;
the pupils are conducted thither and back by other gods.
Dawn, Dawn People (yikaih, yikaih dine'e) (P) are referred to incidentally in
relation to Sun's sky wife. They are manifestations of the Holy People and there
may be a chant in which they are leading characters.
A group of people killed at Taos were Sun's children. The two chief ones, girls
dressed in spiral strings of jewels, were called Two-dawns-arrive (Haile 1938b,
p. 163; Goddard, pp. 139-40).
Female Gods (xa'ctce' ba'a'd, yei' ba'a'd) (P) are described by Matthews as
female representations of the more familiar gods. The masks and dress of Female
Gods differ from those of their male partners. I am not sure whether they are
always the same or are modified according to the males with which they are paired.
They function only weakly in the chants with which I have dealt most (Matthews
1902, pp.16-9, PI. III, D; Curtis, p.110).
Fringed Mouth (zaxado'liai, zaxa'do'liai) (P) is a major character of the Night
Chant, whose costume and properties are conceived in great detail. It is, however,
difficult to get a clear idea of his function. The name is taken from the mask,
which has fringe around the eyes and mouth. There are two kinds of Fringed Mouths,
Land Fringed Mouths (tsentci' zaxado'ltsa') and Water Fringed Mouths (ta'tla'dii
zaxado'lia'i). The few references indicate that they are the lifting force of
When the log containing Self Teacher was stuck at a falls in the San Juan River,
the gods labored in vain to release it until the Water Fringed Mouths roped
the log with the lightning onto their bodies, and lifted it.
When the log containing the Visionary was stuck in an eddy, the Land and Water
Fringed Mouths found out who was responsible and offerings were made to Beaver,
Otter, Fish, and Water Coyote to release it.
The Eagles of the Bead Chant found difficulty in lifting the earth boy, Scavenger.
When they tried, he spun round so that they were not able to rise. Wind took
the news to Land Fringed Mouth, who came with Talking God. The Eagles had wrapped
the boy in a dark cloud attached with lightning and rainbow strings. It was
dark inside; Talking God and Fringed Mouth put a crystal inside to furnish light
and gave him a yellow tube of reed through which to breathe. They placed Fringed
Mouth's headdress on Scavenger's head and a reed wand in his hand. The Eagles
were able to raise him, so prepared, to the sky (Matthews 1897, pp.168, 170,
215; 1902, p. 11ff., 178; Sapir-Hoijer, pp.157, 505; Curtis, p.108; Reichard
Gray God (xa'ctce' lbahi) (P) is specifically envisaged. Though he is not described,
his functions are referred to in the Night Chant. With Talking God and Female
God he performs the ritual of the circular prayersticks; he participates in
the ritual with the Night Chant talisman and he, instead of xactc'e'oyan, may
administer the medicine. He is one of the begging gods.
He conducted the Stricken Twins on a part of their journey. When they came to
the House of Gods, he held up two fox-skins; as he pulled them apart, cloud
curtains rolled back and the twins entered.
According to Sapir (probably through Father Berard), Gray God, Water Sprinkler,
and xactc'e'do'di' are three names for the same deity (Matthews 1902, pp.69,
94, 126, 130, 238; Sapir-Hoijer, p.511, 91n).
Hard-flint-people (be'c ntlizi') (P) seem to be a personification of flint and
are probably the mythological prototype of the Black Dancers of the War Ceremony.
Their noisy behavior was shocking to Monster Slayer, but it was not dangerous
because their leader, a woman, had medicine in her quiver which would prevent
the enemy from hearing the noise. An unexplained remark doubtless refers to
the fearsome flashing of flint- 'reddish light shone through her leg tendons.'
Flint People were dressed in flint and protected by lightning, sunrays, and
rainbows. They had arrows of heat and cold; they stole food from the gardens
of the enemy. Monster Slayer had to admit that their power was greater than
his (Ch. 12, Red; Haile 1938b, pp. 159-62).
Male God (xa'ctce' baka', yei' baka') (P) perhaps means 'some male god or other.'
He doubtless has different specific aspects and functions in the various ceremonies
in which he appears. So far as I know, he is not a part of any of the chants
to which the Shooting chants are most closely related.
Male God, paired with Talking God, is a part of a corn-planting rite of the
Night Chant, probably another manifestation of Talking God (Matthews 1902, pp.
Pollen Boy (ta'didi'n 'acki') (P), symbol of the male generative element, is
of prime importance in blessing and protective rites. He is paired with Cornbeetle
Girl, one of the group, otherwise composed of birds, that brings and accompanies
happiness. The names of both occur in all the formulas I have found (Newcomb-Reichard,
Fig. 10, PI. II, B, D, XXI, XXII; Wheelwright 1942, Set II, 4).
Racing Gods (ta' dza'sti'n, 'He-simply-lies,' and 'acki' nde'sgai, 'Boy-radiating-white-streaks')
(P) are vivid examples of the 'Dirty Boy' theme. They were treated as inferior
creatures to be despised and mocked. The one is described with some detail;
the other is said to be like his brother. The office of the meal sprinkler in
the Fire Dance is one of great honor. Two are chosen, carefully decorated, and
given wands and fawnskin bags containing meal. Since these couriers have to
cover a great deal of ground in order to invite people, even strangers, the
office requires speed and endurance for which only exceptional persons can qualify.
The fullest version of the mythical couriers is in the myth of the Mountain
When those having charge of the chant sung over Reared-in-the-mountain on the
fifth day asked for volunteers to carry out the meal-scattering, no one responded,
and even though the young men were coaxed, all refused to go. At night an old
woman entered the hogan where the elders were arranging the ceremony and announced,
without preliminaries, "I will send my grandson as a meal sprinkler."
The people were so astounded that they thought the offer a great joke. The old
woman lived near by and whenever anyone visited her hogan, her grandson lay
on the ground asleep. He never went out to hunt, and the people concluded he
was lazy and worthless. His hair was unkempt, short, and matted; he was dirty,
lean, and bent. Because of their low opinion of the boy, the people did not
reply to the old woman's offer except with laughter, significant looks, or silence.
After the fourth offer, the leader told her to bring in the grandson to show
him off. The old woman waited until morning.
When in the morning the boy appeared among the group of singers, he was the
ideal Navaho youth. His hair was thick, glossy, and so long that it fell below
his knees; his legs were strong and firm; he held his head erect and walked
with poise and self-confidence. His brother, no less handsome, came in and sat
opposite him. The men in charge were so astonished that, without a word, they
began to prepare the youths for the journey.
After careful instructions the boys walked slowly away from the hogan. Those
left behind gave way once more to misgivings, saying that the young men would
never accomplish their mission. The lads went out of sight just as the sun rose.
Those left behind continued to make fun of the runners as, waiting, they played
games. About the middle of the afternoon-ordinarily the runners do not return
until night-the two couriers were seen returning, one from the north and one
from the south. The people said they must have forgotten something and were
coming back for it, meaning they had not even got started.
The boys entered, handed their bags to the chanter, and sat down. One pouch
contained some corncakes baked in ashes that were still warm, the other some
maguey jelly, proving that the couriers had reached their respective destinations,
had sprinkled the meal, and received tokens of acceptance from those invited.
Not until night did they tell the story of their trip, for they waited until
the people who 'had no sense' had gone out. This time they wore valuable jewelry
and embroidered blankets such as the gods once wore but which man no longer
Later in the evening when the guests had all arrived, a chief went among the
crowd and found the old grandmother sitting humbly apart. He spoke to her: "Your
grandsons have done a great honor to us. . . . Tell me, won't you, how they
accomplished this wonderful deed."
The old woman explained, "They are Holy People. For many years my grandson
has risen early every morning and run clear around Mt. Taylor time and again
before sunrise. That is the reason people have not seen him in the daytime;
he has been asleep. At the base of Mt. Taylor are numerous rockpiles, all made
by my grandson, who dropped a rock every time he ran around the mountain."
The well-dressed young men, after reporting to the singers, went about the camp
visiting and flirting with the wives and sweethearts of those who had mocked,
and everywhere the woman fell for their blandishments. There was nothing for
the men to do but sulk.
In the myth of the Stricken Twins, the Holy Ones from Red-rock-projects were
said to be the best runners and acted as couriers to carry the news of the success
of the boys in their attack on Awatobi. The names are not given; these may have
been Red Gods (Matthews 1887, pp. 411-5; 1902, pp. 25, 256; Reichard 1944d,
pp. 89-93; Haile 1943a, p. 31).
Red God (xa'ctce' ltci") (P) seems to be a particular manifestation of
Red gods were dispatched to find the hero of the Night Chant after he had been
gone unduly long.
At their home, Where-red-rock-stands-up, Red gods refused to help the Stricken
Twins: "It is not our province to cure. We are the bearers of the whip,
the Racing People. It is our duty to punish the runners who lose in the race"
(Matthews 1902, pp. 194, 223).
Round Darkness (tcaxalxe'I didjoli') (H) and Round Wind were called by First
Man to celebrate The Twins' victory over Big Monster. They sang and danced with
much spirit. Round Darkness was said to have been a dwarf (Haile 1938b, pp.113,
Round Wind (n'ltc'i didjoli') (H) informed Monster Slayer about the fierceness
of Burrowing Monster (Haile 1938b, p.113).
Shooting God (xa'ctce'oltohi) (P) succeeded in persuading Changing Woman to
move to the west when other armored gods had failed.
In the Night Chant, a man wearing a female costume is called Shooting God. According
to Stephen's manuscript, Shooting God was a berdache. One lived at each of the
sacred mountains with Talking God and xactc'e'oyan (Newcomb-Reichard, pp. 34-5,
Fig. 4, PI. XVI; Matthews 1902, pp. 24-5).
Sky (ya' dilxil) (P) is paired with Earth as the origin of all things. It is
black, with the chief heavenly bodies depicted on its body, the stars and constellations
and their positions differing at various times of the year (Newcomb-Reichard,
Sky Pillars (yaya' nzini) (H), 'Those-who-stand-under-the-sky,' had their origin
in the difficulties of getting the sun into the sky. Changing Woman lit a turquoise
disk with a crystal (even though up to this time there had been neither light
nor heat!) and it became heat incarnate. The heavens were so close to the 'people'
that they could hardly stand upright. When the people looked up, they saw two
rainbows crossed. There was so little space between the earth and sky that the
heads and feet of the rainbows almost touched the heads of the people. As the
people were vainly trying to raise the sun, First Man and First Woman suddenly
appeared. The First Pair raised the sun somewhat by means of a sunbeam, a crystal,
and a rainbow, but their power gave out before the heat was ameliorated.
Then they made two poles of turquoise and two of white-shell, and with the four
poles the twelve men at each of the four cardinal points raised the sun still
higher. Even this was not sufficient to prevent burning, and the men were driven
to stretching the earth by blowing, a device that finally succeeded in getting
the sun into a place that allows for a satisfactory temperature. Earth's position
depends upon the support of the Sky People, assigned their duty by Changing
Woman. When The Twins visited Sun, he led them out to the edge of the world
where the sky and earth come close together and beyond which there is nothing.
Here sixteen poles-four of whiteshell, four of turquoise, four of abalone, and
four of redshell-reached from earth to sky. A deep stream flowed between the
party and the poles. When asked on which ones they would ascend, The Twins,
prompted by Wind, chose the red poles, since they stood for war.
The earth's center (xadji'na'i, ni' alni") is a holy place, indicating
the Place-of-emergence, which has various geographical locations, none actually
fitting the description. The corresponding point in the sky is the Skyhole,
the place to which Sun led The Twins when giving them their geography test of
the world. It was edged with four smooth, steep, shiny cliffs of the same precious
stones as the poles that supported the sky. Sun sat at the west side of the
hole, the boys at the east. Even keeping their places would have been impossible,
had not Wind blown up through the hole and kept the youths from slipping down
The number of Sky Pillars varies.
One time First Man ground rock and broadcast it; rocks stood up in a line. Then
the four People-who-stand-under-the-earth began to sing and, moving away from
each other, stretched out the earth.
These supporting people are pictured in a sandpainting of the Hail Chant with
the explanation that the twelve people, six males at the north, six females
at the south, hold up the earth. Their names are ni' yo'tso, 'Earth-big-whiteshell,'
and yaya' nzini, 'Those-who-stand-under-the-sky.' The same kind of pillars-of
reed or precious stones-hold up earth and sky.
The Wheelwright creation story describes the Earth Columns as twelve Big Winds
in each direction, explaining that all kinds of winds were sent to support the
sky and the stars (Stevenson, pp. 276-7; Matthews 1897, p. 113; Goddard, p.
137; Reichard 1944d, p. 103; Wheelwright 1942, pp. 66-7; 1946, p. 192).
Superior God (xactc'e' 'ayoi) (P) is mischievous and only incidentally helpful.
In one myth he seems to be identified with the Visionary of the Night Chant.
His offerings are described. He made a device to hinder the progress of the
whirling log of the Night Chant, pretended to be friends of the Holy Ones concerned
with its progress, but did not help them.
In two myths of the Night Chant, Superior God kidnaped co, the hero.
Superior God, accompanied by Talking God, met the Stricken Twins at a crater
in the vicinity of Mt. Taylor and told them that anyone trespassing on the territory
of Superior Gods would be whipped and would never again return to his own people
(Matthews 1902, pp. 162, 181, 204, 237).
The Brothers (dine na'kitsa'da) (P), 'the twelve people,' are idealized individuals
who control rare game and game lore. According to Matthews, there were eleven,
who lived with and provided well for their only sister; according to my version,
there were twelve. Both stories concern The Youngest Brother more than the others;
the life of the older ones is suggested rather than revealed. One was named
Reared-in-the-earth by the Holy Ones because they had hidden him in the earth
to spy upon his sister. This name, which was given also to a counterpart of
Monster Slayer for other reasons, suggests that The Brothers may be duplicates
of The Twins. There is reason to conclude that all are children of Sun and Changing
In my version of the myth, The Brothers fear Coyote; in Matthews' version, they
openly flaunt him. Although they were destroyed in the contest with Coyote,
Changing Woman restored them; their remark puts them in the class of intermediaries:
"We do not visit the people, but we stand on the mountains and watch them."
The twelve snakes on each side of the center of the Grinding Snakes' painting
are said to represent the Twelve Brothers, as are twelve Medicine People on
each side of the Hole-of-emergence in an unpublished painting (Matthews 1897,
pp.92-9, 103, 149, 226; Reichard, Endurance Chant ms.; 1939, PI. XV; Newcomb-Reichard,
PI. IX; Huckel ms.).
Turquoise Boy (do'tliji' 'acki') (P) appears in a curious description by Sandoval:
In the third world, at the east side of the eastern mountain, lived Turquoise
Boy, with twelve male companions and the Mirage People. After First Man had
decreed many things about this third world, including the months and seasons,
he said to Turquoise Boy, "Step inside the sun and put the reed flute with
twelve holes under your shirt. Let the Mirage People step inside with you to
keep you invisible to Earth People." Turquoise Boy agreed and said that
whenever he passed by he should be recompensed by the death of a person. Whiteshell
Boy was put into the moon for the same purpose.
There is perhaps some connection between this happening and the gift of the
agate or turquoise 'man' Sun gave The Twins, represented by the pollen ball
in the Shooting Chant (Pollen ball, Con. B; Goddard, pp.128, 135).
Water Horse (te 'Ii") (U), depicted in sandpainting and occasionally referred
to in myth, was said to be Water Monster's pet; the name means literally 'deep-water-pet.'
He was the guardian of Water Monster's home.
When The Twins were about to visit Hanging Cloud, the assembly which was to
consider the matter of originating chants was announced by Water Monster and
Water Horse, and was held at their home (Newcomb-Reichard p. 62, PI. XXIX, XXXIII;
Matthews 1897, p.168; Reichard, Shooting Chant ms.).
Water Monster (te'xo'ltso'di') (U) is said to look much like an otter with fine
fur, but has horns like a buffalo. The young look something like buffalo calves,
but have spots of all colors, yellow hands, and a generally strange appearance.
In sandpaintings Water Monster resembles Thunder, but has an elongated body.
Monster Slayer transformed parts of the subdued Traveling Rock into Water Monster,
who promised to keep mountain springs open and rivers flowing.
Water Monster was a character of the lower worlds.
Spider Woman stole Water Monster's child in the second world and it has been
lost to this day.
Water Monster kept following the people to get back his child. The people made
Spider give it back and Water Monster returned to the world below.
Water Monster is everybody's friend.
After the separated men and women agreed to live together again, a woman and
her two daughters were left behind. The men promised to fetch them the next
morning, but the women were so eager they jumped into the water. The mother
drowned and the daughters were seized by Water Monsters. The people, aided by
White Body (Talking God) and Blue Body (Water Sprinkler), went under the waters
to the home of Water Monster. Coyote sneaked along. The monster refused to return
the girls and Coyote stole two of his children, concealing them under his robe.
He thereby caused the floods that drove people out of the fourth world.
Water Monster represented a large group of Water People who grabbed Self Teacher
as he traveled in the whirling log. He defied Water Sprinkler, who came after
the youth, but gave up to Black God when he set fire to the waters. An incident
of the War Ceremony, in which Coyote and Owl sing, represents the conquest of
Water Monster by Monster Slayer. In another version, Monster Slayer, attacked
on his way to Sun's home, overcame Water Monster with a prayer. When I first
wrote of sandpaintings l called this creature Water Ox, because I thought the
horns distinguished him from Water Horse. The name was unfortunate, for horns
do not characterize, but symbolize, power. The name means 'One-who-grabs-in-deep-water'
(Newcomb-Reichard, p.62; Matthews 1897, pp.73-7, 168-70, 212, 8n; 232, lion;
Wheelwright 1942, p.55; Stephen 1930, pp.100-i; Goddard, p.131; Haile 1938b,
Water Sprinkler (to ninili', to neinili') (P) often accompanies Black God, but
he appears too with Talking God. Water Sprinkler, said to be the 'same' as Blue
Body of the fourth world, is the rain bringer and water-carrier of the gods.
The jar of collected waters is his symbol in story and sand-painting, though,
curiously enough, he does not carry it in the masked impersonations. He controls
rain and waters. He causes rain by sprinkling the collected waters in his jar
in the four directions. He can separate and walk through deep or underground
In the Night Chant, he is impersonated as a clown. His clothing is of inferior
quality because he 'might get wet.' He is usually out of step with the other
dancers. He gets in their way, peers about while the others concentrate on song
and steps, moves away to inspect little things among the audience, or sits on
the ground with his hands clasped around his knees and rocks his body to and
fro. Sometimes he dances with the group, concentrating so seriously that he
does not notice they have left the dance place; then discovering that he is
alone, he runs after them as fast as he can go. Sometimes he carries the skin
of a small animal which he drops and pretends not to notice. Suddenly he hunts
everywhere for it in great agitation, although it lies in plain sight. When,
after much tomfoolery, he finds it, he jumps on it as if trying to kill. At
length he lifts it like a heavy burden and carries it away on his back. He is
said to act like this because he is pleased with what is being done in the ceremony.
One of Water Sprinkler's duties, besides separating deep waters, is to extinguish
fire made by Black God; in addition, he is often sent to investigate things
in the water. He went to see what stopped the whirling log at an eddy and found
a dam, but could not find the people who had made it. When the Fringed Mouths
discovered it had been the Flat Tails, he helped to negotiate with them. When
the log stopped again, Water Sprinkler found the people who had made the dam.
Water Sprinkler taught the Visionary of the Night Chant how to prepare and preserve
the products of his garden.
Nearly all the gods officiate in some capacity at the bath rite of novices.
At one of Rainboy's baths, numerous gods participated: the yucca roots had been
pounded on one side and they were supposed to stand upright. Water Sprinkler
volunteered to hold them up. Changing Woman made suds while Talking God sang,
Water Sprinkler poured water into the basket, and Changing Woman removed the
Water Sprinkler lived at Big Willow, a long distance from Talking God's home
in the canyon, but when anything happened that concerned them both, they met
for consultation in between (Matthews 1897, pp. 68, 166, 168, 170; 1902, pp.
29, 175, 178, 180, 189-92, 208; Curtis, p. 106; Reichard 1939, p.31; 1944d,
Water Woman (to 'asdza"n) (P) lives in the water and presides over all
small tributaries. Rain is her child (Stephen ms.).
Water's Child (to biyaji) (H) is said by Father Berard to be spring water and
by Matthews to be the splash of rain falling into a quiet pool (Haile 1938b,
p. 254, 98n; Matthews 1902, p. 311, 22n).
Whirlwind (niyol) (U) is a common phenomenon in the Navaho country. If a person
sees one coming toward him, he may rush toward it and say "s-s-su!"
(the Navaho equivalent of "Scat!") and the whirlwind will turn in
the opposite direction and subside.
Whirlwind and Flint Boy helped Youngest Brother when he was hidden in the fireplace,
watching Changing-bear-maiden and Coyote. They made tunnels for him to hide
in, gave him weapons and the monitors, Wind and Darkness (Matthews 1897, p.
Whistling God, Sucking God, Squeaking God (xactc'e''idiltso'si') (U) is quite
well described by Matthews. He gets his name from the sucking noise which the
Navaho compare with that of a mouse. He has a black face and dwells in a cave
in which there is a white rainbow; he is considered 'bad.'
He joined Superior God in hindering the progress of the whirling log.
Whistling Gods released the cave trap which had caught the Stricken Twins. These
gods moved very fast and carried a four-stranded yucca whip. One of them told
the Stricken Twins that every one who came to their house, even the gods, must
be whipped; naturally they had few visitors.
Offerings are described for Whistling God.
There are some hints that Whistling God may be related to Wind (Sapir-Hoijer,
pp. 177, 185, 224-7, 511, 93n; Matthews 1902, pp.181, 215, 236).
xactce'o'yan, xactc'e'oyan (P) is an untranslatable name of the weaker companion
of the pair dominated by Talking God. Matthews translates it 'House God,' and
strangely, his translation has been followed by all his successors except Goddard.
Sandoval from Shiprock, who worked with Goddard, thought the misconception very
amusing. Tla'h, who was from Newcomb, thought the translation ridiculous, but
was more annoyed than amused by it. The informants at Ganado agreed in not attaching
a meaning to the name.
xactc'e'oyan is minutely described by Matthews. What has been said of Talking
God to the effect that symbols are emphasized, not exclusive, holds for his
companion as well. xactc'e'oyan is represented as having charge of farm songs
and is the god of evening or sunset.
Two origins are given for him: Yellow Body stood for xactc'e'oyan in the third
world; he is said to have been created by Whiteshell Woman from a yellow corn
As the gods flocked around the Visionary marveling at his turkey, he explained
every symbol of its body. When he finished, the youth said to xactc'e'oyan,
"That is the way my pet turkey is dressed. Tell me now, how is your pet
turkey dressed?" The god answered, "I have no pet turkey. Things that
belong to the water are mine.
Water Boy is said to be the son of xactc'e'oyan. The young man pitted against
the sometime successful Gambler, the one who finally overcame him, was the son
of xactc'e'oyan, whose name is not given; he was a young married man who had
The god xactc'e'oyan is mentioned as often as Talking God, usually as his companion.
xactc'e'oyan helped the Visionary by negotiating with the Water People, who
impeded the whirling log; he blew upon the rainbow on which the Visionary moved
his crops to start it. xactc'e'oyan was severe to the Stricken Twins until they
had obtained the treasures of Awatobi; later, he was prominent in the ceremony
for their treatment.
xactc'e'oyan is concerned with fees: Sun told his son by Rough Woman, groomed
to beat Gambler, to get the stakes for betting from xactc'e'oyan. After everything
had been prepared and the young man was ready to start off, the god asked about
his fee. When it was promised, xactc'e'oyan advised the party to wait yet another
day in order to make the mind of Gambler 'forked,' that is, to keep him from
concentrating on his games; an additional fee was paid for this information.
When Monster Slayer caught his first eagle, he gave twelve choice tail feathers
to Talking God and twelve tail feathers of the second eagle to xactc'e'oyan;
these may now be seen in their headdresses and as rays of the rising and setting
According to Stephen, xactc'e'oyan lives with Talking God inside La Plata Mountain;
both guard the game animals.
When the gods took co, hero of the Night Chant, on a round of visits to the
gods, they came to the home of one of the xactc'e'oyan (one of these gods was
in the party but the house was not his). It was made of blue sky. On top of
it grew four spruce trees: at the east, a white one with a pigeon on its tip;
at the south a blue spruce with a bluebird; at the west, a yellow spruce with
a pygmy owl; and at the north, a black spruce with a yellow-shouldered blackbird.
During their wanderings the Stricken Twins, with the conivance of Talking God,
came into an assembly led by xactc'e'oyan at Broad Rock. The house was among
the rocks; on its front there was a rainbow of two colors; as soon as the boys
touched the rock,it flew open and they entered an empty chamber. On the opposite
wall they saw an arched door of three rainbow colors, which also flew open.
They continued through three rooms, each of which had one more color in the
arch of the secret door, until they entered the fourth door, over which was
a rainbow of five colors. The door itself was covered with beautiful rock crystals
glittering like stars. When they entered the fourth room, they were confronted
with so many Holy People that the lame boy was abashed and hung his head (Matthews
1897, pp. 68, 82-3, 225; 1902, pp. 10, 16, 179, 192, 208, 218, 263, 316, Pl.
III, B, VI; Stevenson, p. 227; Goddard, pp. 142-3; Newcomb 1940b, pp. 63, 73;
xactc'e'do'di (P) is said to be another name for Water Sprinkler and Gray God.
When the Stricken Twins approached the gods' home, their dog barked. xactc'e'oyan,
sent by Talking God to investigate, led the twins in.
xactc'e'do'di had a blue face and a quiver of puma skin, and accompanied Monster
Slayer and Child-of-the-water in a rite.
When the Stricken Twins returned with the treasures of Awatobi, xactc'e'do'di'
accompanied xactc'e'oyan as he went to meet them.
xactc'e'do'di helped Water Sprinkler to get sand for a sandpainting.
Possibly xactc'e'do'di is identified with Crane (Sapir-Hoijer, p. 511, 91n;
Matthews 1902, pp. 230, 232, 256, 263; cp. Haile 1943a, p. 22).
xa'dactcici' (P), associated with yucca, appears in some forms of the Night
Chant. His home is called Narrow-yucca-spreads; he carries a yucca plant on
his back and a whip of yucca fiber in his hand. Whipping with yucca, believed
to relieve lumbago or headache, is his only power.
xa'dactcici' conducted the Stricken Twins into one of the homes of the gods.
One of the mountain sheep that turned into gods became xa'dactcici' (Matthews
1897, p. 251, 266n; 1902, pp. 14-5, 233; Stevenson, p. 283).
Religion, Vol II; Gladys A. Reichard, 1950
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