For the Busy Business-Parent
Whimsical Bedtime Stories for Children of All Ages
Special Section: Native American Bedtime-Stories
Navajo: At The Rainbow's End
Long, long ago when First Woman the Goddess was created, she became fully grown in four days. It seemed that every Dine (Navajo) Indian tribesman wanted her for his wife.
She did not love any of them, but she did like the handsome ones. Of all the men, however, she thought the most attractive was the Sun-God. Of course, she thought he could never be her husband.
To her surprise, one day Sun-God came up behind her and gently tickled her neck with a feathery plume. She was engulfed with warm sunshine, and in a magical way the Goddess became the wife of Sun-God. He fathered her firstborn, a son.
Not long thereafter, the Goddess was resting beneath an overhanging cliff when some drops of water fell upon her. Soon the Goddess gave birth to a second son, fathered by Water-God. Because the two boys were so close in age, they became known as the Twins of the Goddess.
They lived in a beautiful canyon that later became a part of Dine (Navajo) land. About that time, a Great Giant roamed over the country and ate every human he could catch. He discovered the Goddess but did not want to kill her, because at first sight he fell in love with her beauty.
The Goddess knew of the Great Giant's evil ways and would have nothing to do with him. He became very jealous of her when he saw footprints of the Twins outside her Hogan.
She saw Great Giant approaching, so she quickly dug a hole in the centre of her floor and there hid her two children, whom she dearly loved. She covered the opening with a flat sandstone rock, spreading dirt over it to prevent the Great Giant from finding her Twins.
Another day, Great Giant saw the children's tracks.
"Where did these children come from?" he asked the Goddess.
"I have no children." she replied, because she knew that he would try to kill them if he found the Twins.
"You are not telling me the truth," he said. "I see children's footprints in the dirt, right here."
The Goddess laughed heartily and said "Those are only my hand prints. I am very lonesome for children, so I only pretend by making tracks with the heels of my hand and the tips of my fingers, like this. These are the tracks of my children."
"Now I believe you," he replied.
As the Twins grew larger, their mother could not hide them any longer. She was alarmed for their safety because of the Great Giant, who saw them one day and tried to catch them. But the Twins were too quick and got away.
The Spirit who made the Goddess appeared with a bow made of cedar wood for Sun-Child.
"It is time for you to learn to hunt," she said to him.
"We must now make some arrows and another bow for your brother," said the Goddess to Sun-Child.
"Mostly, we want to hunt for our father," said Sun-Child. "Mother, who is our father and where does he live?"
"Your father is the Sun-God, but he lives far away in the East," replied the Goddess.
Another bow was made for Water-Child and many arrows for both Twins. They began their journey to the East and travelled as far as they could, but without success in finding Sun-God. When they returned they asked, "Mother, have you lied to us? In the East, we looked everywhere and we could not find our father, the Sun- God."
"He must have gone to the South," she said. Again the Twins set out on another journey, this time to the South, returning without success.
"Please try the West and then the North, if at first you do not find your father in the West," said the Goddess.
She sent the Twins again on their hunting journey, anxious to keep them away and out of sight of the Great Giant. Many moons later, the Twins came back and said, "Mother, have you lied to us four times? Our father was neither in the North nor the West."
"Now I will tell you the truth, my sons," said the Goddess. "Your fathers, the Sun-God and Water-God, live far away in the middle of the great Western Water. Between here and there are great canyons where the walls of the cliffs clap together and would crush you.
"Even if you should succeed in getting through the canyons, there are the terrible reeds that you must cross. Their long knife-like sharp leaves will cut you into pieces.
"If you should escape the reeds, you can never cross the Grand Canyon, which comes first before you can reach the Great Water. You can never, never cross the water where your father's house is in the middle of the Great Water, the Western Ocean."
"But, Mother, we want to go and try to find our fathers," said the Twins.
The Goddess taught the Twins a song of protection for their next journey:
"We are travelling in an Invisible Way to seek our fathers, the Sun-God and the Water-God."
This song she taught them to sing four times, the magic number. Day after day as they travelled along, they sang their song for protection.
One day, as they passed a little spider hole in the ground, they heard a voice say, "Ssh!" four times. The Twins looked into the hole and saw Spider Woman.
"Do not be afraid of me, I am your Grandmother. Come down into my lodge," she said four times.
"We cannot enter your lodge, because your doorway is too small," said the Twins.
"Please blow toward the Eastwind, Southwind, Westwind, and Northwind," Spider Woman called out.
The Twins blew in the four directions and the entrance enlarged enough for them to go through. Inside and to their amazement, they saw the lodge walls covered with bundles of bones wrapped in spider webs, exactly the way spiders wrap flies in a web.
"Do not be afraid, my grandsons," said Spider Woman. "These are the bones of bad men whom I killed."
Spider Woman talked with the Twins about encounters they might have on their trip. She taught them songs for their protection and explained what they could do to overcome obstacles they might meet on their way. "I will give each of you a magic Feather- Plume. Hold it before you as you travel, straight up or sideways to carry you safely forward," she said to the Twins.
"Be on the look out for a little man with a red head and a striped back. He will resemble a sand-scorpion, only a little larger--about the size of a Jerusalem cricket," she explained.
"Thank you, Grandmother, we'll be on our way," said the Twins.
Many days later, the Twins heard a voice from the ground. It was from the little man with the red head.
"Do not scorn me because I am so small," he said. "I can and want to help you. Put your hands down on the ground and spit into them four times. Now close your fists, saving the spit until you come to the Big Water. There you can wash off the spit."
The Twins did exactly as they were told, and after thanking the little man with the red head, they again began their travel. Soon the canyon walls that smashed together loomed ahead of them.
They repeated Spider Woman's prayers, holding the Feather-Plumes sideways. As they moved forward the clapping walls stopped long enough to allow the Twins to walk through safely.
When they came to the jungle of sharp reeds, again they sang the song Spider Woman taught them, touching the tops of the reeds with their magical Feather-Plumes. Behold! The reeds turned into cattails, which pleased the reeds so much that they quickly opened a wide path for the Twins to pass through. A puzzling encounter for the Twins was the giant cliff. They walked around and around its rim, making a complete circle and finally returning to their starting place.
They were making no forward progress, so they sang songs taught them by their mother and Spider Woman. They prayed over and over again. When they opened their eyes, a beautiful Rainbow appeared, creating a large bridge for them to cross over the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River.
After this spectacular adventure, the Twins continued West for a long time, until they saw the Great Water before them. The Water spread so far, they wondered, "How can we ever reach the Turquoise House of Sun-God, which we know is in the middle of the Great Water?"
The Twins walked down to the beach to the edge of the water and washed the spit off their hands, singing and praying at the same time.
Behold! The Rainbow appeared again! A long Rainbow Bridge stretched before them from the beach to the Turquoise House.
Onto the Rainbow Bridge the Twins raced
happily, and found their two fathers, the Sun-God and the Water-God, who welcomed
them in the Turquoise House at the end of the Rainbow Bridge.
Navajo: At The Rainbow's End
As Contributed By Glenn Welker
|A NATIVE AMERICAN INDIAN FACTOID: In the traditional Navajo view, life is a constant cycle of growth, death and new life, that flows in a circular motion - all things must begin and end at the same point. For instance, a person's umbilical cord is buried at birth and when that person passes away he is return to the Earth the same way. The religious teachings offer a guide for daily living that flows with the cycles of the days and seasons. The teachings say that each quadrant of the day, as well as each season of the year, hold in them specific lessons for living a complete and whole life. Many of the elders continue to live with this ideal in mind. They rise at dawn and offer prayers and corn pollen to the spirits in return for clear thoughts and guidance in the days events. The rest of the day-light hours are intended to be time for building work ethics and responsibility so that one can both take care of their livestock, provide for the family and in turn build self- reliance. They reserve the evening hours for enjoying the fruits of the day's labor and for gathering the family together to strengthen familial bonds. The darkness of night is a time for rest and contemplation of the spiritual realm and the natural order of the universe which humans should strive to imitate. The seasons of the year continue this cycle on a larger scale, as do the phases of one's life. - (Roman Bitsuie - NATURAL LAW and NAVAJO RELIGION/WAY OF LIFE - April, 1995)|
About the Contributor - A Senior Systems Analyst with a sixteen year background in computers, Glenn Welker has also enjoyed a thirty year love of Music, particularly ethnomusicology, the music of many cultures. A graduate of Austin Peay StateUniversity/University of Nebraska who majored in Music/Library Science, Glenn put his Library training to work, compiling contemporary (and highly readable versions) of Native American tales. His work permits today's young readers to enjoy the wisdom and humor woven into ancient stories, which might otherwise have been lost to them. A full-time employee of a Maryland software engineering company, Glenn maintains the web site for the American Indian Heritage Association, where a wealth of historical information may be found. Particularly notable in his collection are written portraits of Native American Chiefs of the Lakota/Dakota/Nakota (Sioux) tribes, providing intimate glimpses into the lives and characters of these complex and fascinating individuals. Of Chief Crazy Horse, perhaps best known for being the victor in Custer's Last Stand, we find the comment, "...it is only fair to judge a man by the estimate of his own people, rather than that of his enemies." You may write to Glenn Welker, at email@example.com.