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From My Words

Tag Archives: Changing Woman

The First Four


In the Navajo Tradition, there are many ways we identify ourselves. One was is the complex clan system. Take mine for example, Tábąąhá nishlį́ dóó Haltsoí bááshishchį́į́n. I am Water’s Edge People Born for the Meadow People. We can further expand on this adding our grandfather’s clan from both maternal and paternal sides. These tell our relations. It gets more complex than that, I won’t go into details. But some people have often wondered how the clans started.

It was the result of Changing Woman and the first people. After Changing Woman had moved to an island in the western ocean the sun had created for her, some of the first beings followed her. After the first beings became lonely, they moved back to their original home. At this point, Changing Woman thought that there should be more people and thus the first clans were born.

Changing Woman rubbed the skin from her breast, her back, and under her arms to create more human beings. The people from her breast were named Kiiyaa’ą́ąnii or  Kinyaa’ą́ąnii (Towering House). The people from her back were called Honágháahnii (One Who Walks Around). The People from under her left arm were called Hashtł’ishnii (Mud people) and from her right were called Tódích’íí’nii (Bitter Water).

Each of these original clans were given a protective animal guardian. Kiiyaa’ą́ąnii was given Shash (Bear). Honágháahnii was given Náshdóí (Cougar). Tódích’íínii was given Tł’iish Tsoh (Bull Snake). Hashtł’ishnii was given Dahsání (Porcupine).

This is the origin of the first four clans.

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