Native American Legends
Monster Slayer and Yť'iitsoh
A Navajo Legend
Changing Woman's twin sons had been born for the purpose of ridding
the earth of the Monsters who were killing all the people. When
the boys were grown, a matter of 12 days, they told their mother
that they wanted to visit their father.
Changing Woman tried to discourage them, not properly identifying
their father, and when that failed, telling them how dangerous this
trip would be, how many guardians there were at his house, and how
he was without mercy.
But they also got advice from others, such as the Arrow People,
and Wind's Child has been placed at their ear folds to advise them
at all times. They overcame many hazards on their trip to their
father's house and were given a white shell prayer plume by dawn
to use to protect themselves when they were in the Sun's house.
They also received advice from Father Sky, Hornworm, Water Sprinkler
and Spider Man. The twins then moved along the top of a rainbow
to the house of their father, the Sun.
In the Sun's house, they underwent many trials to prove to the
Sun that they were indeed his sons. The white shell prayer plume
was essential for their survival during these tests. But, in the
end, the Sun accepted them as his sons, clothed the older in turquoise
and the younger in white shell, and inquired of them why it was
they came to see him.
He opened doors in each of the cardinal directions, doors of turquoise,
white shell, abalone, and jet, offering the boys jewels, livestock
and game, plants and beautiful flowers, rain and rainbows.
But Wind's Child at their ear folds, advised them to answer each
time, "We did not come for that, my father; that is not our
purpose in being here." Then Wind's Child told them to say,
"We two came for the pair of zigzag lightning that lie up there,
and flint shoes, flint clubs, flint leggings, flint garnets, flint
headgear, flint wrist guards, these we two came for. On account
of the monsters there is just about one person left."
The Sun answered them slowly, telling them that they are brothers
to the monsters they wish to kill, but that is apparently no more.
He then placed agate in them, making them immune to injury and gave
them the garments and weapons they had asked for; the older got
dark flint and the younger blue flint garments.
The Sun gave them prayer-sticks and then told them that the younger
of the two, Born for Water, would sit watching these prayer-sticks
while the older, Monster Slayer, went out to kill the monsters.
If these prayer-sticks began to burn, this would signal that his
brother was in danger and that he should go to him to help.
He then took them to the sky opening, just over Mt. Taylor, and
told them where to find Big God. Wind's Child then took word over
to Hesperus Peak, to Yellow Wind, to spread the word that they were
returning. The Sun placed the older one at the tip of a zigzag lightning
and shot him to the center of Hot Spring, the home of Yé'iitsoh.
He placed the younger on the tip of straight lightning and shot
him to the center of Hot Spring. There they waited for Yé'iitsoh
to come for water, as he did everyday, exactly at noon. Each day
he drank all of the water. When Yé'iitsoh arrived, he approached
from each direction, a little closer each time, inspecting the vicinity
of the spring. He saw no one as the twins were concealed by a dark
After the fourth time he came all the way to the spring and began
to drink. When almost all of the water was gone, when Yé'iitsoh
was drinking for the fourth time, Wind's Childs told them to step
out and make themselves known.
They left the dark cloud and walked into plain sight where Yé'iitsoh
saw them when he looked up. Then they exchanged taunts. Yé'iitsoh
threw flint clubs at them, missing each time because Wind's Child
was whispering advice in their ears. The spinning club he threw
cut a path through the trees and stones, making a barren strip.
Then Yé'iitsoh had no more weapons. At that point a big
storm began and Yé'iitsoh was wrapped in zigzag lightning.
This lightning stripped off his flint armor. Wind's Child told the
twins that this was their time now and to shoot into the sole of
Monster Slayer used one of his zigzag lightning arrows to do this.
He then shot a straight lightning into Yé'iitsoh's hip, which
brought Yé'iitsoh to his knees, but he rose. Monster Slayer
then shot a zigzag lightning into the small of Yé'iitsoh's
He fell to his knees but rose yet again.
Then Monster Slayer shot a straight lightning arrow into the back
of Yé'iitsoh's head. This time Yé'iitsoh fell. At
some distance away, from a place called Open-Mouth Bear, blood came
pouring out. Yé'iitsoh had hidden his heart, nerves and breath
there. The blood from the body and from the distant place moved
toward each other.
Wind's Childs pointed out that, should these streams meet, Yé'iitsoh
would come to life again.
Monster Slayer immediately drew a zigzag line with his club between
the streams, while giving his call, "ha ha."
Born for Water drew a straight line between the streams with his
club while giving his call, "ha ha ha."
Then they repeated these actions and the blood stopped flowing
there. The earth trembled and sounds filled the sky. The blood turned
to the lava seen around Mt. Taylor today.
Monster Slayer removed the scalp of Yé'iitsoh and the two
were overcome by the vapors from the body. They helped each other
stagger over to a juniper where they recovered by chewing some of
When they returned home, after an absence of only four days, they
needed to convince their mother, Changing Woman, that they had actually
been successful in killing Yé'iitsoh. She then danced outside
with Yé'iitsoh's scalp between her teeth.
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