Indigenous Peoples' Literature
"Always assume your guest is tired, cold, and hungry and act accordingly.
There is nothing as eloquent as a rattlesnake's tail."
"They came with the Bible in one hand and the gun in the other.
First they stole gold. Then they stole the land. Then they stole souls."
Ginger Hills, Navajo
At The Rainbow's End
Changing Woman [Asdz nádleehé]
Coyote Kills a Giant
Diyin Dine'e (Holy People-Navajo)
Holy and Natural Law
Legend of the Night Chant
Monster Slayer and Yé'iitsoh
Prayer of the Night Chant
Rock Monster Eagle and Monster Slayer
Song of the Horses
Story of the Two Brother-Cousins
The Dine (Navajo), together with the Apache, constitute the southern
branch of the Athapascan linguistic family, living in New Mexico, Arizona,
western Texas, southeastern Colorado, Utah, and in northern Mexico. The
earliest recorded mention of the Dine (Navajo) is in 1629, when white settlers
from Mexico moved among them. A revolution in the Dine economy occurred
with the introduction of sheep, raised for food, clothing, and commerce.
Peace treaties with the white man in 1846 and 1849 were not observed and
Colonel Kit Carson invaded Dine territory in 1863 to stop Dine incursions.
He killed large numbers of their sheep and also captured the greater part
of the tribe as prisoners and sent them to Fort Sumner and Redondo on the
Rio Pecos in New Mexico. In 1867, after the Civil War, the Dine nation
was restored to its homeland. They continue to live in peace and prosperity
with the growth of their flocks and income from the sale of their famous
Dine (Navajo) blankets. In addition, the Dine tribe has attracted great
attention from writers, artists, sculptors and choreographers because of
their colourful culture.
"The Dine (Navajos) are intensely religious," wrote Edward
S. Curtis, whose twenty-volume study of The North American Indian was published
between 1907 and 1930. Colorful expressions of their religious life are
found in the many ceremonies performed by their medicine men.
Dine (Navajo) Wind Prayer by Wolfeyes
Oh, Great Spirit, Oh Grandfathers,
How lucky can one be to know such beauty?
One can search the world over and not find this much loveliness.
Her heart is pure, and radiates love and warmth.
Oh, Mother Earth, It is from your womb that she does come.
It has to be, for she reflects your beauty that I see all around me.
Oh, Navajo Wind, blow softly upon this desert rose.
Embrace her always with your warm gentle breezes.
Fill her heart with the pride and happiness
From a proud and noble people that she does come.
Whisper soft reminders in her ear,
Oh, Father, the Navajo Sun,
Shine brightly down upon her path,
Allow her to see the beauty in herself as well as in others.
Protect her and keep her warm.
Hide her in your absence from the despares of this life.
Allow her always to walk in beauty.
Oh, Woman who walks in beauty like the night,
I am a friend who is distant and silent.
I will care for you always.
About 1966 or so, a NASA team doing work for the Apollo moon mission took the
astronauts near Tuba City. There the terrain of the Navajo Reservation looks very much
like the lunar surface. Among all the trucks and large vehicles were two large figures that
were dressed in full lunar spacesuits.
Nearby a Navajo sheep herder and his son were watching the strange creatures walk
about, occasionally being tended by other NASA personnel. The two Navajo people were
noticed and approached by the NASA personnel. Since the man did not know English, his
son asked him who the strange creatures were. The NASA people told them that they
were just men that were getting ready to go to the moon. The man became very excited and
asked if he could send a message to the moon with the astronauts.
The NASA personnel thought this was a great idea so they rustled up a tape recorder.
After the man gave them his message, they asked his son to translate. His son would not.
Later, they tried a few more people on the reservation to translate and every person they
asked would chuckle and then refuse to translate. Finally, with cash in hand someone
translated the message,
"Watch out for these guys, they come to take your land."
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The Indigenous Peoples' Literature pages were researched and organized by Glenn Welker.