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Indigenous Peoples' Literature

Story of the Two Brother-Cousins


Of all the Divine Ones, none is more revered by the Navajos than She-Who-Changeth. Highly honoured, also, is her younger sister, White-Shell-Woman. She-Who-Changeth was made of the turquoise of the land. White-Shell-Woman was made of the white shell of the ocean. Each of these sisters gave birth to a son. Their father was a god.

At the time they were in the world, many Anaye (Ahn-ah-yee) were unfriendly to our people. The Anaye were evil beings and giants and monsters, all of whom desired to kill the people. When the two young gods were grown, they wanted to slay Anaye in order that their tribesmen might be saved.

The brothers often asked the mothers, "Who is our father?" The mother always answered, "You have none." At last, the two young men set out to learn the answer to their question. They took a holy trail and journeyed on the sunbeams. It was the Wind that guided them, whispering his counsel in their ears.

Their father was Johano-ai, the Sun-God. His beautiful house was in the East. It was made of turquoise and stood on the shore of Great Waters. There the Sun lived with his wife, White-Shell- Woman, his daughters, and his sons, the Black Thunder and the Blue Thunder. Until the coming of the strange brother-cousins, the wife had not known that her husband had visited goddesses on the earth. Nor would Johano-ai believe that the two gods were his sons until he had proved their powers by making them go through all kinds of trials.

The young men came through each test unharmed. Then the Sun rejoiced that these two handsome youths were indeed his children, and he promised to give them what they asked. They said immediately, "We need weapons with which to slay the Anaye."

So their father, the Sun, gave them helmets, shirts, leggings, and moccasins, all made of black flint (the power of flint came from Morning Star). When the young men put this armour on, the four lightnings flashed from their different joints. For weapons, the Sun gave each a mighty knife of stone and also arrows of rainbow, of sunbeam, and of lightning.

So after they returned home, the brother-cousins slew the Anaye. After every victory, the mothers rejoiced with them.

Then Johano-ai came to She-Who-Changeth and asked her to make for him a home in the West, where he might rest at evening after his long day's journey by foot across the skies. He pleaded long with her. At least she yielded and said to him, "I will go and make a home for you if you will do what I ask. You have a beautiful house in the East, I have heard. I must have just such a beautiful house in the West. It must be beyond the shore and floating amid the waters. Around the house all kinds of gems must be planted, so that they may grow and become numerous."

Johano-ai granted every wish expressed by She-Who-Changeth, and now the Sun-God rests in the evening in the gem-surrounded floating house of Estsan-Natlehi, She-Who-Changeth.




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The Indigenous Peoples' Literature pages were researched and organized by Glenn Welker.


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