A Story from the Dineh (the Navajo People)

Navajo sand painting

As I understand it. this is a story told by the Navajo who call themselves the Dineh which means "the People." They call their land the Dinetah, "the land of the People."

Before the Dineh came up through the reed from the third world to the Dinetah, the land bounded by the four sacred mountains, the Hero Twins, Born for Water and Monster Slayer, were sent to see that the land was fit and safe for the People. They stole the lightning bolts they would need from their father the Sun and then, after they had done their work slaying, one by one, each of the monsters which were encountered and preparing the land so that they could be certain that the Dinetah was safe and fit to support the People, they started back to report of their successes and their findings.

Along their way they accidentally discovered Death from Old Age who had been hiding in a hole just off the path. Immediately, the Hero Twins jumped, ready to slay it, but Death from Old Age spoke to them telling them that they had, indeed, caught it and it was now at their mercy. They now knew where it was hiding and that there was no way for it to escape, as they could clearly see, and that it would be a simple matter to kill Death. But Death from Old Age then said that they should take just a moment to think about the ramifications of such an act, telling them to consider the unborn generations, and the suffering of the old ones. And Death from Old Age said that, since it could not hide from them any longer, they ought to go back and talk it over with the People and decide together what was to be done.

So, assured that Death from Old Age could no longer hide from them and could not escape, Monster Slayer and Born for Water did go back and they discussed with the Dineh what was to be done about Death from Old Age. At length, it was decided that Death from Old Age should be allowed to survive.

Please send comments, suggestions and criticisms to Maury Merkin.
Created: Tue Aug 8 12:18:52 EDT 2000
Last modified: Tue Jul 14 20:02:51 EDT 2009
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