Navajo Legends: Stories of the Diné People

Stories of the Diné People

By: Zione Begay

   Stories that are passed down from generation to generation, the family of one of our school journalists interviews her family. She asked them about their cultural beliefs, stories of certain encounters, and their traditional stories. Her aunt talked about the Holy People and how they listen to your prayers. The Diné people have a strong belief in all these things. Such things as warning signs or dark evil people that want to hurt you.  There are many legends and cultural beliefs the native people do believe in, but mostly the older generation really do believe in it.

   In an interview, Francine Tsosie, a Diné (navajo) descendant, answered a few questions about her culture. In the interview, Francine was asked about her childhood about how she grew up being told about her traditional beliefs. To the Diné, these beliefs are apart of their lives. Most of the younger generation doesn’t really go by the traditional beliefs. There isn’t really a reason but it seems that younger generations don’t see the big issue or have a belief about it. She talked about how certain animals or events have a big meaning behind them. She said “the sighting of an owl or a coyote crossing your path” are like warning signs and you should say a prayer.

   The interviewer also interviewed her grandfather, who is a veteran who served in Vietnam. He was asked about the Four Sacred Mountains, which is believed to protect the native people of the land that is in between all four mountains. He listed the mountains down along with their names and reasoning for why they were given them. The first mountain which is located on the East is Blanca Peak or Sisnaajiní in Navajo meaning “the dawn” or “white shell” The reasoning for the name is because of the White color it has. The second mountain that is located on the South is Mount Taylor or Tsoodziił in Navajo meaning “turquoise mountain” or “blue bead”. The reasoning for this is because of the blue hue it has. The third mountain that is located on the West is San Francisco Peak or Dook’o’oosłííd in navajo meaning “the summit which never melts” or “abalone shell mountain”. The reasoning for the name is because of its yellow color.  The last mountain  is located North is Hesperus Mountain or Dibé Nitsaa in Navajo meaning “big sheep” which is given its name due to the black color. The color does not have an actual meaning but does give inspiration to the names.

   The native people believe that there are evil spirits and people that want to hurt others. Francine Tsosie talked about skinwalkers, which are evil people who can transform into animals as well as humans. She mentions that “They are very cruel people that try to hurt you, mentally and physically, because they are jealous and hateful.” She also mentioned about how even to this day this is still going on. Along with snakes which are very closely related to skinwalkers. The interviewer’s aunt, Francine, mentioned, “snakes to us are just evil, just like skinwalkers are evil people, they are just bad. They can cause illness in people and confuse you.”

   The traditional beliefs and stories that are told, the native people have such a strong belief for these things. From prayers to the evil bad people. The younger generation should take in the warnings just like the older generation has taught. These are the stories and cultural beliefs of the Diné people.

“We are all made of stories” quote on a wall