Sydney M. Callaway
and Clifford Beck, Jr.
Edited by Broderick H. Johnson
NAVAJO CURRICULUM CENTER PRESS
The Navaho Ceremony for Rain
|Humming Bird came upon the damp earth which Gopher had pushed up from below the surface of the ground.|
Navahos tell a story about a time many generations ago when it did not rain on their land for several years. The earth became very dry. Many plants and animals died of thirst. The people were short of food. They had only rabbits, squirrels, prairie dogs, deer and antelope to eat, and many of those animals were dying. There were no crops for food.
After four years without rain the people became very worried. Gopher who is the go-between among the Earth People and the Water People knew the bad condition of the Earth People.
He wanted to help; so he started digging upward until he reached ground level. There he spread some damp earth which he had pushed up from below the surface.
Humming Bird was the only one who could travel far because the air was thin and there was little water. One day he found the damp earth which Gopher had pushed up to the surface.
Humming Bird pecked the damp earth and began to dig. He found a tunnel leading downward. Under the surface he came upon Frog. Humming Bird told Frog about the bad condition on the earth. Frog said that the Water People planned to take the rain away from the Earth People for twelve years because the Earth People had forgotten to use and respect their sacred things and ceremonies. Frog said the Earth People had become dishonest and were destroying many holy things.
Humming Bird asked Frog to give the rain back to the Earth People. Frog said the Earth People could have the rain back if they would make offerings to the Water People and would send someone to the "Place Where the Rivers Meet" to see Water Ox . [That is where the Los Pinos and San Juan Rivers meet. It is today the site of the Navaho Dam.]
Humming Bird returned to the people, carrying some of the damp earth. He told the Earth People about his visit with Frog. He told the Earth People that they were to gather all their precious stones and make an offering to the Water People. He also told them they should send someone to "Where the Rivers Meet" because that was the home of Water Ox.
The Earth People believed the story of Humming Bird. They gathered four precious stones from the four directions. They got turquoise from the east, abalone from the south, white shell from the west and jet from the north. Corn pollen was sprinkled on these precious stones while prayers were said and songs were sung.
While others started the ceremony, Talking God was sent to the home of Water Ox at "Where the Rivers Meet." He was to ask Water Ox to give the rain back to the Earth People.
|The five people who went to "Where the Rivers Meet" were successful. After riding the rainbow and descending the twelve steps of water, they found Water Ox.|
At the rivers where Water Ox lived, Talking God saw tracks of Coyote coming from the east and going into the water. Other tracks showed Coyote also had come out of the water, gone to the east and had shaken the water off himself. Talking God went to the place where Coyote had shaken himself. Talking God found a seed of white corn there. Wind told him to pick the corn up, which he did. Then he returned to where the others were making an offering to the Water People.
The next day the people again sang the songs and said the prayers of the Rain Ceremony. Talking God again went to the rivers where Water Ox had his home. This time Talking God saw Coyote's tracks coming from the south and going into the water. Other tracks showed that Coyote had gone a short distance to the south and again had shaken himself. Talking God went to the place where Coyote had shaken himself and found two seeds of blue corn. Wind told him to pick the seeds up, which he did. Then he returned again to the homes of the Earth People.
On the third day the people continued the ceremony for rain. Talking God again went to the rivers. This time Coyote had entered the water from the west. As he had left the river area he again had shaken himself. Talking God found three seeds of yellow corn where Coyote had shaken himself. Wind told him to pick up the seeds of corn, which he did. Then he returned to the homes of the Earth People.
On the fourth day the Rain Ceremony was continued. Talking God again went to the rivers. Coyote had entered the water from the north and had left to the north. Before leaving he had shaken himself. Talking God went to the place where Coyote had shaken himself, and he found many different kinds of seeds. Among them were pumpkin, bean, melon, muskmelon, gourd, etc. Wind told Talking God to pick up the seeds; so Talking God picked them up and took them home with him as he had done with the other seeds. Wind also told Talking God that he should plant the seeds, even though the earth was dry.
Before planting the seeds a one-night Blessingway ceremony was performed for the seeds and the precious stones. The people spent the next four days planting the seeds. On the fifth day of planting Wind told them to send some people to "Where the Rivers Meet" and to "White River Falls" to make offerings of precious stones to the Water People there. Five people were sent to each place.
The five who were sent to "White Water Falls" were told by the Water People there that they had no control over the rain and that the Water People at "Where the Rivers Meet" had control of the rain. This was partly because Water Ox lived at "Where the Rivers Meet."
The five who went to "Where the Rivers Meet" were more successful. They made an offering of precious stones to the Water People there. A rainbow appeared by the water. Wind told the five people to get on the rainbow. The people did, and it took them down through the water to twelve steps of water. The people went down the twelve steps. There they found Water Ox.
They asked Water Ox to return the rain to above the earth. Water Ox told the Earth People not to worry. He told them to go home and mend their ways of living. He told them to respect their sacred things and them and ceremonies. He told them not to do things which were wrong and dangerous. He told them to be kind to each other and not to be selfish.
Water Ox also told the five people not to look, for twelve days, at the crops they had planted.
The five people came out of the water on the stairway of twelve steps. They returned to the others and told them about their visit with Water Ox. They said it soon would rain and that the people must start living better. They said no one should look at the crops for twelve days.
|After the people did as Water Ox told them, the rains came and brought a fine harvest.|
The next morning dark clouds covered the sky. It began to rain. It rained hard for four days. Then it just drizzled for eight more days. The people did not look at their crops.
Finally, the twelfth day arrived. The people went to look at their crops. They were very happy at what they saw. The seeds had sprouted and were growing rapidly. The rains continued that year, and the people had a large harvest.
Since that time the Navahos have used the Rain Ceremony when they needed rain badly. This ceremony usually is performed in a person's home with songs and prayers.
The offerings of the four precious stones are placed in springs, ponds, rivers or lakes. The ceremony is performed during the time between the last quarter and the full moon .
This is a very important story and ceremony. All Navaho children should know about it.