From the Navaho Age of Gods


In the Age of Gods: The next morning the Elder Brother asked his mother and grandmother where the big Rolling Rock could be found. They said: "It can be found at a place called Betchil gai, the Shining Rock. But the Rolling Rock is dangerous. It runs after a person and rolls over him. It is very dangerous." But the Elder Brother said: "There is no such place as dangerous on the earth."

He gathered together all his knives and started out for the Shining Rock. When he came near it he took out his black knives and crossed them and planted them. A little farther on he planted the two blue knives, crosswise. On beyond he planted the two yellow knives, also crosswise. The last to be planted were the two knives with the serrated edges. These, also, he planted crosswise. He came out now in sight of the Rolling Rock. The Rock started for him; and he ran and jumped over the serrated knives. When the great Rock rolled over them a huge piece of it broke away. The Elder Brother jumped over the yellow knives, and when the Rock rolled over them again a big piece broke away. He jumped over the blue knives, and the Rock rolled after him, and another piece broke off. He jumped over the black knives, and when the Rock rolled over them there was only a little piece of it left, and it had very little life in it.

note: All the little birds were created at this time: Juncos, nuthatches, titmice, etc. They were called naat'a'gi.

note: There comes a little chuckle in the narrative whenever the old ones know more than the younger ones.

The Elder Brother chased this remaining piece of the Rock westward into the San Juan River. He got a piece of the rock that had been broken off the Rolling Rock and he sat down and told it that the thoughts of the great Rolling Rock had left it and would never again enter it. "The tribe called the Dîné will use you," he said. "They will use you for flint to strike fire from."

The Elder Brother carried the small piece of the Rolling Rock to his home. He left it outside and entered the hogan. He said: "Mother, Grandmother, Grandfather, I have killed the great Rolling Rock." They all answered: "No one has the power to kill the great Rolling Rock." The Elder Brother said: "But you can find a piece of it outside." So First Woman went out and taking up the stone she danced around four times, saying: "It was because of this that I was made to live alone."

So far, four kinds of monsters had been killed.


In the Age of Gods: The morning after the Elder Brother returned with the fragment of the Rolling Rock he said: "Mother, Grandmother, where can I find the Twelve Antelope who devour people?" Now these antelope were to be found on the plain surrounding Shiprock. The women said: "They are to be found at a place called Hale gai' e dinla'."

First he made a torch out of bark and then he started for the plain. When the Twelve Antelope saw him coming they all ran for him, but he lit the torch and touched off the dry grass. The antelope circled the fire and the rising smoke, and with his weapons he was able to kill eleven of them. He caught just one. He talked to the antelope and said: "All the thoughts and spirits of your comrades have departed from you. Those thoughts will never enter you again. People will use your flesh for meat. Your head, also, will be used by the people."

He let the antelope go. "Your home will be on the plains," he said. "Later the people will use the antelope head, called bea da', when they go hunting."

After the Elder Brother had sent the antelope away he cut off the head of one of the animals that he had killed and turned toward his home. Stepping inside the hogan he said: "Mother, Grandmother, Grandfather, I have killed the antelope." They all said: "No one has ever killed one of them. They are dangerous." But he answered: "But the head of one of the antelope is outside." And again the old woman went out, and taking up the head, she danced around four times, saying: "It was for this that I was made to live alone."


In the Age of Gods: The morning after the Elder Brother returned from killing the antelope he asked: "Mother, Grandmother, where do I find the being called Tse'tahotsilta'li, the Kicker?" Now he was a monster in human form who lay in wait near the edge of a cliff and kicked anyone passing by over the cliff to where his children could reach him and eat him, for they were cannibals. This being lived on Wild Horse Mesa now in the Mesa Verde area. The Kicker could be found on a little neck of the mesa above Ute Canyon. The White Bead Woman and First Woman told the Elder Brother that this being was dangerous, that he kicked people off cliffs, but he said: "There is no place dangerous on earth."

The Elder Brother left his home and journeyed to the top of Wild Horse Mesa. All of a sudden he saw a man lying on his back, his arm doubled under his head. He stopped and said: "Grandfather, is it all right to pass through here?" This person answered: "Yes Grandson, people pass back and forth through here." The Elder Brother pretended to take a quick step forward, but he stepped back instead. The being had kicked. The young man said: "What does this mean, Grandfather?" The being said: "Oh, I had a bad cramp in my leg." The same thing happened four times. Then the Elder Brother hit the being with his long knife and killed him.

The Elder Brother threw the being down over the cliff where his own children were waiting. There was a great shouting below.

note: The tongues of the antelope are black because once upon a time they ate human beings.

note: Here there are chants, as there are chants of all the killings of monsters.

note: He discovered that the being's long hair grew, like roots of cedar, into a cleft in the rock. He cut the hair and the body tumbled down out of sight."

Some one said: "Mine is the head." Another said: "Mine is the heart." And so on, for they wanted different parts of the body. But when the body reached the ground they all stepped back. "This is the body of our father!" They cried. But the mother told them to go ahead and eat.

When the Elder Brother reached them he saw that they were ugly and dirty. First, he told them to eat if they wanted the head and the heart of the monster. Then he talked to the wife and the children. He said that they must all travel to the West. He told them that the thoughts and the spirit of the father had departed from them, that they would no longer think nor act as he had done. But because of the evil that their father had committed they would always be a poor people; they would not have the beads and turquoise as had the other tribes. He sent them toward the west to Natsisa'an, Navaho Mountain. Some later became the Paiutes but others journeyed still farther westward. They were barefoot and the soles of their feet turned black.

After the wife and children had departed the Elder Brother cut off the Kicker's scalp and went home. Stepping inside the house he said: "Mother, Grandmother, I have killed the Great Kicker." They said: "No. No one could kill him." He said: "But, Grandmother, his scalp is outside." So First Woman went outside the home and taking up the scalp she danced about four times, chanting: "It was for this that I was made to live alone."


In the Age of Gods: The next morning the Elder Brother asked: "Now where are the Slashing Reeds to be found?" They told him that they were to be found at a place called Tse'nee'tlene near the mouth of La Plata River. They told him that they were dangerous reeds, that they cut people to pieces.

The Elder Brother made himself flint armor and started out for the place. When he arrived near them the reeds began to slash about in different directions, but they could not harm him because of his "knife" armor. He lit a torch, which he had brought with him, and burned the reeds. He burned all but one, which he saved, and to this one he spoke. "All the evil actions of the Slashing Reeds you must forget. People will use you. You will be used in the cutting medicine stick, which will be given as a gift to the Sacred People, and also, for the stick itself." Then he waved the reed all around him and planted it in the ground, and reeds sprang up in quantity. He carried one of these home with him.

note: They went to Natsisaan, Navaho Mountain, and became the progenitors of the Pahutes.

note: It is sometimes said that these creatures were turned into birds of prey.

He stepped inside the hogan and said: "Mother, Grandmother, I have destroyed the Slashing Reeds." They told him that no one who had gotten among them had come out alive. "But look, Grandmother," he said, "one of them is outside."

First Woman went outside and danced and chanted four times with the reed in her hand. She said: "It was for this that I was made to live alone."


In the Age of Gods: There remained the great Swallow People in the Mancos Canyon and beyond. They had been at war ever since the killing of the Coyote.

The Elder Brother said: "Mother, Grandmother, Grandfather, where are the Swallow People to be found?" They told him that they were to be found at a, place called Tqo tzosko, Water in the Narrow Canyon. So he started out and traveled to Jackson Canyon.

There were thousands and thousands of Swallow People and he killed them right and left. He killed and killed, and he worked his way to the mouth of Mancos Canyon. Then he began running. He was tired and there were still thousands to be killed. When he reached the second rock near the San Juan River he was very tired. At home, in the hogan, all the medicine sticks were seen burning. The Younger Brother said: "Look, Grandmother, all the medicine sticks are burning." First Woman said: "Hurry and do as your brother told you to do." So the Younger Brother took the smoke from the first stick and blew it on the hailstone next to it, and so on for all four. Then he blew the smoke in the four directions.

A big, black cloud shot out of the sky over the place where the Elder Brother was resting. A great storm broke, thunder, lightning, rain, and hail. This hail destroyed the remaining Swallow People and all the lesser giants who lived in the mesa country.

note: Probably the sour cactus. But the plants used in the ceremony called be'e kanze, or, be e ganze, for the "itching disease" are: tsil'jin, or, tsil chin, a shrub whose leaves resemble sumac; dit joli, leechee e', and, dit tse de koshi (these are unidentified). The roots of these four plants are boiled and the juice is used.

note: This ceremony has a chant and medicine sticks, with offerings. The sickness is called dit chit. It is not syphilis. There is a story that tells of one of the Twin Brothers contracting syphilis from a woman. The cure was a plant found on Mesa Verde.

note: This plant was identified as Oregon grape, one of the barberries. Oregon grape is gathered; an infusion with salt added is taken. There is also the sweat bath and bathing with the infusion.

note: The Swallow People, the people who live In the cliffs, appear in the myths of the Zuñi and Hopi as well as the Navaho.

The Elder Brother caught just one of the Swallow People and he told him that from now on he would be of very little use. "You will be harmless from now on," he said. And he let him go. But he took the scalp of one of the dead Swallow People and started for his home.

On his way someone ran after him. It was Mother Earth, herself. She said: "Grandson, you suffered greatly that time, didn't you?" He said: "Yes, Grandmother, I surely did." And she said: "You are in a hurry; but let me sing you this chant." She sang the two chants for the Twin Brothers.

When the Elder Brother returned to his home with the scalp, the Grandmother danced and chanted four times as before.


In the Age of Gods: Now although the Swallow People were the last of the Great Ills, still there were other dreadful beings that destroyed humans on the earth. Way back in time there was a piece of rock brought up from the underworld; and people were told that at times rocks would hurt them. There was a place called Tse'a haildehe', a narrow place between two cliffs, where, if one started to step over it, it widened or drew apart, and then returned to its first position crushing the person who had fallen into the crevice. This place was beyond Salt Canyon near the head of a canyon having many cracks in the rocks.

The time the Elder Brother went there, there was a distance of about 2 feet between the cliffs. He made as though to step across, but the opposite cliff drew away. When he took a step backward the cliffs drew together. This happened four times. He then placed the Giant Elk's horn across it and it remained in place. He carried a piece of this cliff rock to his home; but before leaving he commanded the cliffs to stay in place and never to move again.


In the Age of Gods: The Elder Brother asked his mother and grandmother about the Evil Eyes, and they told him that they lived to the south of their home.

He walked until he arrived at a Rock with a Black Hole, Tse' ahalizi'ni, where these evil beings lived. When he reached the place he built a fire and after it was burning brightly he stirred it. He had brought a bag of salt with him, and, as soon as the whole family of beings looked at him with their many eyes, he threw the salt on the fire and there was a great smoke which hurt their eyes and tears came and they could not see. So he killed them. From these beings came the trouble of sore eyes among people. The Elder Brother prayed that there should be no more of such beings formed to harm the people of the earth.

note: The same chants are used here as when a party goes to war.


In the Age of Gods: The White Bead Woman and First Woman told the Eldest Brother that the four last ills could be found south of their home.

He traveled southward and he found a ragged old man. He was just a bundle of rags. The Elder Brother was about to kill him when he said: "No, my Grandson, you must not kill me, even though I am Tie en, Poverty, for in six months people will have good clothing, and at the end of that time, called autumn, they will use it for the winter, in order to keep themselves warm." The Elder Brother, knowing that the virtue accompanying poverty is appreciation, let him live.

He walked on and he found an old, old woman. He was about to kill her for she was San, Old Age, but she stopped him and said: "No, no, my Grandson, do not kill me. People will grow old. Know that it will be the old people who will tell the young people what happened in years past. It would not be well if there were only young people on the earth. Every growing thing, including human beings will grow old." The Elder Brother knew that wisdom walked with old age, and he let her live.

Then he traveled on and he found the two E ya a', lice, and he was about to kill them when they said: "No, don't kill us. We shall be seen on animals at different times. When we get on people they will say: 'Sister, there is something on me. Look for it.' Let us live." The Elder Brother let them live, for although they were evils they brought with them compassion.

The fourth ill that the Elder Brother met was a creature of bluish color. "Do not kill me," he said. "I am death, Grandson. Spare me, for if every creature lived there would be no place on earth for youth and laughter." The Elder Brother left him with the others.

He thought great thoughts of the earth and the waters and the sky. If there was no death there could be no new life.

The Elder Brother went to the East and returned. All was well in the East. "There are no more monsters there," he said. And he went to the South and returned. "All is well in the South," he said. Then he went to the West and came back to his home and said: "There are no more monsters in the West. All is well towards the West." Last he went North and he came back from the North and said: "All is well in the North. Mother, Grandmother, Grandfather, there is no longer danger on earth. All is well to the ends of the earth."

The Twins said that now their work was finished. All the monsters who harmed the people of the earth had been slain. Naye'nez gani the Elder Brother, took off his armor and his moccasins and leggings, he laid down his knives and the lightning weapon that the Sun had given him. Then the Sun came and said: "My son, it is all well now. I shall take my weapons back with me. If I leave them with you, people will use them and harm themselves." But before he left the Elder Brother picked up an arrow and drew two crooked lines and one straight one on the shaft. He did this as a reminder of the sacred weapons. The Sun began to gather the sacred weapons together before starting out. He spoke to the Twins. "I want the White Bead Woman, your mother, to live in a beautiful white shell house in the West. A house like the turquoise house in the East." So the White Bead Woman went to the top of Chol'i'i, where she had been found as a baby. And there she made her plan.

Now up to that time all the things that the Sun had planned had not been successful; but all that the Yei Hasjelti and Hasjohon had planned had come out well. The Sun lost, although he had married the maiden which they had left on Chol'i'i. So power went to the two Yei who had formed the White Bead Baby. Some of the power went to the White Bead Woman herself. With this power she was able to make her people, the tribe called Dîné This tribe looks upon her as their mother. The Dîné pray to her as well as to Hasjelti and Hasjohon. So it is partly with the power of Wyol gie san, the White Bead Woman, that the monsters were destroyed, and that the tribe called Dîné came to this country and multiplied.

note: The Twin Brothers are named: Naye'nez ghani, Slayer of Monsters; and Tqo bajish chi'ni, Child of the Water.

And so are the stories of the Twin Brothers in the Navaho Age of Gods.