Salt Woman


Salt Woman ('a'cj' 'asdza') (P) originated in a lower world when First Man rubbed some skin from under his arm. She is said to live now at a salt lake south of Zuni. When the various creatures of the lower world turned against First Man, Salt Woman gave Water Sprinkler a double handful of salt which was supposed to explode when thrown upon the fire. The salt proved to be harmless because Black God, who had made the fire, had more power than Salt Woman and Water Sprinkler. However, the salt later given by Salt Woman to The Twins exploded with such force that it destroyed the Eye Killers.
According to Gray Eyes, Salt Woman was the sole companion of Changing Woman, her younger sister, before there were people on the earth. Salt Woman prepared rabbit broth, stirring it with her whole hand. Since it was too salty for the baby Twins, Bear Man and Big-snake-man gave them milder food, mountain and flower pollen moistened with dew. After four days the boys had grown so strong that they could eat the broth no matter how salty.

The Shooting Chant story has it that Salt Woman was glad to stay deep in the center of the earth so as to be near her children. There she has her winter home on a male mountain; she spends the summer on a female mountain.

According to tIa'h, she went to a place near Crystal, but, since she did not like it there, wandered until she came near Zuni. The Zuni did not like her much, yet they did not want her to leave. Eventually, she went to the salt lake near Zuni, where she told the different Indian tribes to visit her to get salt. They were supposed to dress like gods and sing either her song or that of Changing Woman. If they did, the salt would become liquid so that the people could easily reach it (Stephen 1930, pp.88, 91-2; Reichard, Shooting Chant ms.; Wheelwright 1942, p.113; Matthews 1897, pp. 123, 236).

Navajo Religion, Vol II; Gladys A. Reichard, 1950