THE STORY OF THE YOUNGER SISTER
From the Navaho, The Wanderings
The younger sister reached a people called Nat at tsele, and there were some members of the Big Snake People living with them who called out: "Where are you going, sister-in-law?" Hearing this the girl left them and fled to the Lukaichukai Mountains. But members of the Big Snake family lived there also, and they called after her as before.
By this time the younger sister was very tired. Her moccasins were worn and her garments nothing but rags. She could see the smoke from the Great Snake's cigarette close behind her. She went on to a place called Tsel tiel, Sage Canyon. She was running along when she saw a slender young man lying on a rock. The young man's face was painted with a bluish paint called tlish dot chee. Now this young man was the racer snake, and he asked her where she was going. She said: "I am being chased by the Big Snake." "No big snake comes here," said the young man. "Take off your clothing and come with me." So she took off her clothing and put it behind a rock, and she went to the young man naked. In the rocks there was a tiny hole. The young man blew into the hole four times, and it was large enough for the young woman to enter. When the Big Snake came to the place he grabbed her clothing and said: "Oh, my wife!"
By his power the young man sent the Big Snake away. After he had departed the two young people started out. They passed through great fields of corn. The young woman had her monthly period, so she made an apron out of the corn husks. That is why some husks are red.
Soon they came to the home of the young man. The maidens there were dressed beautifully. That night the young man was dressed in a beautiful dress, the skin of a snake. But that night the younger sister wished to go out. She started to go forward but there was a throng of snakes ahead of her. She tried again, but there were snakes on all sides of her, so she threw herself on the ground. The next morning the snake people told what she had done when they had coiled and stretched. One snake said: "The sister-in-law is not kind. She stepped on my neck." Another said: "She stepped on my leg." Another complained of his arm, and still another said that she had crossed his body.
Later she had a pain in her abdomen. They gave her medicine and she was quiet. Then came her children. The boy was called Bits is'yenagha'i, male snake, and the girl was called Bits is'quadidin', female snake.
And so whenever the Navaho see these snakes they call them by their names and send them away. They do not kill snakes.
There is a 9-day ceremony held called Hojone hatal', the Snake Ceremony. Rattles are used. There are many sand paintings and many prayer plumes or medicine sticks.