Native American Legends
Glacier song of the Horses
A Navajo Legend
Before the Spaniards brought horses to the Dine (Navajo), they
told about the Sun-God's walking across the heavens, carrying the
sun on his back. When he reached the west, he hung the sun on a
peg, so that it could cool off. He spent the evening with his family,
resting after his long journey.
After he was rested, he removed the sun from its peg, apparently
hid it in some way as he retraced his steps, and returned in the
darkness. In the morning, he started on his westward trip again.
Of course, the ancient story continued to be told long after the
following one was created.
The Sun-God, Johano-ai, starts each morning from his home in the
east and rides across the skies to his home in the west. He carries
with him his shining gold disk, the sun. He has five horses--a horse
of turquoise, one of white shell, one of pearly shell, one of red
shell, and one of coal.
The skies are blue and the weather is fair, the Sun-God rides his
horse of turquoise, or the one of white shell, or the one of pearly
shell. But when the heavens are dark with storm, he mounts the red
horse or the horse of coal.
Beneath the hoofs of the horses are spread precious hides of all
kinds and also beautiful blankets, carefully woven and richly decorated.
In the days gone by, the Dine (Navajo) wove rich blankets, said
to have been found first in the home of the Sun-God. He lets his
horses graze on flower blossoms, and drink from mingled waters.
These are holy waters of all kinds--spring water, snow water, hail
water, water from the four corners of the world. The Dine (Navajo)
use such waters in their ceremonies.
When any horse of the Sun-God trots or runs, he raises not dust,
but pitistchi. It is glittering grains of mineral, such as are used
in religious ceremonies. When a horse rolls and shakes himself,
shining grains of sand fly from him. When he runs, not dust, but
the sacred pollen offered to the Sun-God is all about him. Then
he looks like a mist. The Dine (Navajo) say that the mist on the
horizon is the pollen that has been offered to the gods.
A Navaho man sings about the horses of the Sun-God in order that
he, too, may have beautiful horses. Standing among his herd, he
scatters holy pollen and sings this song for the blessing and the
protection of his animals:
How joyous his neigh!
Lo, the Turquoise Horse of Johano-ai,
How joyous his neigh,
There on precious hides outspread, standeth he; How joyous his neigh,
There of mingled waters holy, drinketh he; How joyous his neigh,
There in mist of sacred pollen hidden, all hidden he; How joyous
These his offspring may grow and thrive forevermore; How joyous
Native American Legends
Back to Top
Other Native American Legends