From the Navaho, The Wanderings

There was once a young man captured by a people whose descendants are the Utes. The peoples were at war and the people of the North carried the young man to their country. They crossed a big body of water. There many gathered and they held a dance. They planned to kill the young man, but Hasjelti and Hasjohon had not forgotten him. They followed their captured grandson.

Now the Northern Indians had tied the young man inside a tepee. He was sitting there when the two Holy Beings appeared to him. They told him not to be frightened, that he would not be harmed. They made known to him that they wanted gifts. If he made these gifts to them he would be saved. They wanted moccasins trimmed with porcupine quills, leggings and shirts of buckskin, fringed, and a headdress with 12 eagle feathers. Hasjelti wanted these. Hasjohon wanted the same clothing, all decorated and fringed, but he wanted his headdress to have 12 yellow tail feathers. So the young man, having been untied, went out and found these things and carefully laid them away.

note: A low mountain range beyond Kayante near Chin Lee.

note: The great First Wind is the cyclone. He who travels around, but not the whirlwind. He is very great. The great coil above Square Tower House Ruin, Mesa Verde National Park, is an example of him.

The plan was to kill him the next morning. Before they left him (and before he had collected the gifts) the two Holy Beings told him that he must not sleep on that night. But it was too difficult for him and he dozed. Toward dawn the two Yei awakened him and said: "Grandson, why did you go to sleep?" He could not explain, but he presented the gifts to them. Hasjelti took time to dress, and then Hasjohon dressed. The young man was fearful that the enemies would come and that he would be caught. He told the Yei: "Why, it is day now!" But the two simply took their time dressing and said: "Do not worry, my child, all will be well." Then the three went to the creek near by and it was daylight. When the three reached the water it lifted, and the young man went under it to the home of the otter. The otter said: "The enemy will not come here. You are safe."

The enemy searched the country for their captive but they could not find him, Later he left the home of the otter and set out for his own land. He traveled a great distance, but he went in a circle and he found that he had returned to the place he had started from, and again the enemy had found his track. He ran along, and he cried as be went. Someone called to him from a tree. It was the owl. The owl asked him why he was weeping, and the young man said: "Oh, the enemy is after me. They are after my scalp." The owl said: "Come up here, Grandchild. They do not come up here." The young man climbed the tree, and the owl circled the tree four times; and he used his medicine, schan'dine, which is the rays of the sun, the rays which one cannot see through. The Northern Indians hunted around and around this tree; then they went away.

The young man set out again toward his own country. He traveled very far, but finally enemy Indians were near him, and he found that for a third time he had traveled in a circle. He was running along with tears in his eyes when someone spoke to him. It was the whitish ground squirrel, hasjel'kaeye. This ground squirrel pulled up a greasewood bush and blew four times under it. He went down into the hole and called to the young man to follow him. He held the greasewood bush on top of them, and they remained hidden until the enemy went away. Then the young man came out of the hole and started off again. He traveled for a long time, when, to his surprise, he found that for the fourth time he had lost his way and become turned about. He was running along weeping when a mountain rat called to him and asked him why he was distressed. He said: "The enemy is after my scalp." The mountain rat said: "Never mind. They never enter my house." He quickly opened his home under the rocks, and after the young man had passed, he sealed the rocks in place. Again the Indians of the North searched all about, but they did not find him.

note: shandin, sunlight. hazai, or, taiditi'ni, squirrel or ground squirrel.

After the enemies had left the young man again started for his home. He traveled far, living on berries. He reached the San Juan River and the river was high. He walked along the river bank, and he ate the fruit from the little bushes that grew there. He heard someone behind him. He looked around and saw a man of dark color standing there. The man said: "My grandson, what are you doing here?" The young man said: "I have come this far from the country of the enemy. I am trying to reach my home, but the river is high and I cannot cross." The man said: "Shall I take you across?" So the young man climbed on the dark man's back.

A chant begins here:

I went on top,
I went on top,
With the black basket
Now we cross the big canyon with water in it.

I went on top,
I went on top,
With the black basket
Now we travel across.

I went on top,
I went on top,
With the black basket
Now we settle down on the shore.

Now the two had crossed the river. After he had put the young man down safely the dark man became a black rock hill near the San Juan. He grew and grew and his arms became great wings. He is still there, and is called Tse bit i'ie, the Rock with Wings, Shiprock.

All during this time a ceremony was taking place in the young man's home. A footprint pointing away was made in a basket. When the young man started toward home the footprint was turned. This ceremony that w as taking place was the Mountain Chant. And the place was the Beautiful Mountain, Lukachugai. A rock on a peak was the hogan and the rocks around were the bushes. The ceremony was held for the young man's safe return.

The chant sung by the young man who crossed the river on the dark man's back is continued. It is sung as the young man approaches his home. The words of the chant are the same as the preceding chant except for the last line.

. . . . . . . . .
Now his head comes in sight.

. . . . . . . . .
Now he is standing in sight.

. . . . . . . . .
Now he is ready to be washed.

He is bathed before he is allowed to enter the hogan with the others. They then sing the last verse:

. . . . . . . . .
Now he comes inside the hogan.

After he enters the hogan the young man tells all that has happened to him from the time he was taken captive until his return. He is now called the Holy Young Man and there are a great many chants sung here. This is when the medicine men grow the yucca; they grow the cherry; they wash their hands with burning pitch; they swallow the arrow; and they hold the Fire Dance. This dance is a part of the Mountain Chant. This ceremony is the Earth's medicine, and this ceremony was taken over by the tribe called Dîné

Now after the Holy Young Man was bathed and entered the hogan, and after he told all that had happened to him, they sang the songs of the Night Chant all the night long. There were a great many songs sung, and toward dawn the chants of the Great Gambler were used.

After that they went to the mountains and gathered the herbs for medicine and the plants whose berries are used for food. They brought them back and ground them together and they boiled them. The Holy Young Man drank the beverage before he was put through the Heat Fire Ceremony. He vomited all that he had eaten among the enemies. This treatment was repeated inside the hogan on four mornings.

After the Fire Ceremony was over they held another Night Chant in which they sang a certain number of chants called One Night Chants. In these they tap a basket with a yucca stick.

They bathed Hashkil zas kaeye, the White Snow Warrior, the Holy Young Man, and washed his hair and dressed him. Feather medicine was tied to his arms above his elbows and on his moccasins. He was given one of two bags made of twin fawn skins to carry. They contained cornmeal. He took this cornmeal to the mountain called Sis na'jin; and, also, he took it to the mountain called Tso dzil. He visited the sacred people living there. He sprinkled cornmeal over them and said: "I have come for your power."

Now another young man was sent Out as a messenger. Tla testine'e was his name. He was dressed exactly like the Holy Young Man. He was sent to Dook'oslide and Debe'ntsa. He went to the sacred people and he told them that he had come for their power. He was never to jump over a stream, but always to go to the head of it.

When they started out the first young man went to the East, and the second young man to the West. One carried one fawn skin filled with cornmeal, and the other took the other one. When they returned, they arrived at the same time.

In these days they dress two young men as the messengers and they send them to two medicine men whom they wish to take part in the Fire Ceremony. The Holy Beings that the first two young men carried the cornmeal to, as an invitation, were to come and take part in the Fire Ceremony on the last night.

The making of the sand paintings took 3 days. These were made before the last day. On the evening of the next to the last day, the two men (who followed the young man) went to a cleared place; and one of them took corn pollen and sprinkled it around in a large circle. This marked the place where the big brush corral was to be built. When he finished the marking, the corral was built. All the people who came to take part in the ceremony, and to look on, went inside.

On the night of the last day of the ceremony two dancers entered the circle, as the sound of the basket tapping was heard. They began to chant. Six more dancers entered, and with the first two, they danced the first dance. These eight people were considered the same as the four who danced in the other ceremony which is called Atsel tle. After them came the dancers who danced around a great fire. They held feathers in their hands. They burned them, then spit upon them and they were whole again. This they did, and then they went out. This is called ne'gaeye. Later they grew the yucca and performed much magic. The two medicine men who return with the messengers (in these days) perform different tricks of magic. Some grow yucca, some wash their hands with pitch, and so on. The last dance is at dawn. The dancers carry little spruce trees in their hands.

The Fire dancers sing first in a circle. While they chant they chew on a medicine which protects them against fire. This is their chant:

Right where the people come out
There it fell on me.
The Big Blue Star fell on me without harm.
I am tried with the same,
So it fell on me without harm.

note: Deben'tsa, San Juan Mountains. The sacred Mountains of the West and North. Atsel'tle, the dance of the Night Chant, is called Yelbitchi. The word ne'gai means local pain.

They first made four torches of cedar bark, from a tree struck by lightning. When the dancers entered for the first time they spat the medicine on the first torch and threw it to the East. This is done in order to spread the medicine. They repeat this for the four different directions. They make a strange buzzing noise as they throw the torch. They dance with other torches in their hands. They posture, they circle the great fire, and they put the burning torches under each other. They have the medicine and they are not hurt by the fire. When they end the dance and retire, the people rush in and gather up the medicine (the ashes fallen from the dancers' torches), which is used when children are burned.

In the beginning, when the dance was over and finished for the Holy Young Man captured by the Northern People, and it was morning, the mother frog and the mother turtle and the mother fish and the mother duck all placed a complaint. "Our babies have been crushed in the dance," they said. So all the people returned and the four babies were restored to life and made whole. The four mothers went away satisfied. A powerful medicine was used. Medicine men can cure animals of certain ailments. But an expectant mother must not see a sandpainting, for it harms the baby after it is born.

This ceremony and the Baby Ceremony were made for the tribe called Dîné. The Baby Ceremony is a very small one; but Mountain Chant, the Night Chant, the Yeibitchai, and others are great chants. They were given to the Navaho People.