Native American Legends
The Third World
A Navajo Legend
The bluebird was the first to reach the Third or Yellow World.
After him came the First Four and all the others.
A great river crossed this land from north to south. It was the
Female River. There was another river crossing it from east to West,
it was the Male River. This Male River flowed through the Female
River and on; and the name of this place is tqo alna'osdli, the
Crossing of the waters. There were six mountains in the Third World.
In the East was Sis na' jin, the Standing Black Sash. Its ceremonial
name is Yol gai'dzil, the Dawn or White Shell Mountain.
In the South stood Tso'dzil, the Great Mountain, also called Mountain
Tongue. Its ceremonial name is Yodolt i'zhi dzil, the Blue Bead
or Turquoise Mountain.
In the West stood Dook'oslid, and the meaning of this name is forgotten.
Its ceremonial name is Dichi'li dzil, the Abalone Shell Mountain.
In the North stood Debe'ntsa, Many Sheep Mountain. Its ceremonial
name is Bash'zhini dzil, Obsidian Mountain.
Then there was Dzil na'odili, the Upper Mountain. It was very sacred;
and its name means also the Center Place, and the people moved around
it. Its ceremonial name is Ntl'is dzil, Precious Stone or Banded
There was still another mountain called Chol'i'i or Dzil na'odili
choli, and it was also a sacred mountain.
There was no sun in this land, only the two rivers and the six
mountains. And these rivers and mountains were not in their present
form, but rather the substance of mountains and rivers as were First
Man, First Woman, and the others.
Now beyond Sis na' jin, in the east, there lived the Turquoise
Hermaphrodite, Ashton nutli. He was also known as the Turquoise
Boy. And near this person grew the male reed. Beyond, still farther
in the east, there lived a people called the Hadahuneya'nigi, the
Mirage or Agate People. Still farther in the east there lived twelve
beings called the Naaskiddi.
And beyond the home of these beings there lived four others--the
Holy Man, the Holy Woman, the Holy Boy, and the Holy Girl.
In the West there lived the White Shell Hermaphrodite or Girl,
and with her was the big female reed which grew at the water's edge.
It had no tassel. Beyond her in the West there lived another stone
people called the Hadahunes'tqin, the Ground Heat People. Still
farther on there lived another twelve beings, but these were all
females. And again, in the Far West, there lived four Holy Ones.
Within this land there lived the Kisa'ni, the ancients of the Pueblo
People. On the six mountains there lived the Cave Dwellers or Great
Swallow People. On the mountains lived also the light and dark squirrels,
chipmunks, mice, rats, the turkey people, the deer and cat people,
the spider people, and the lizards and snakes. The beaver people
lived along the rivers, and the frogs and turtles and all the underwater
people in the water.
So far all the people were similar. They had no definite form,
but they had been given different names because of different characteristics.
Now the plan was to plant.
First Man called the people together. He brought forth the white
corn which had been formed with him. First Woman brought the yellow
corn. They laid the perfect ears side by side; then they asked one
person from among the many to come and help them. The Turkey stepped
forward. They asked him where he had come from, and he said that
he had come from the Gray Mountain.
He danced back and forth four times, then he shook his feather
coat and there dropped from his clothing four kernels of corn, one
gray, one blue, one black, and one red. Another person was asked
to help in the plan of the planting. The Big Snake came forward.
He likewise brought forth four seeds, the pumpkin, the watermelon,
the cantaloupe, and the muskmelon. His plants all crawl on the ground.
They planted the seeds, and their harvest was great.
After the harvest the Turquoise Boy from the East came and visited
First Woman. When First Man returned to his home he found his wife
with this boy. First Woman told her husband that Ashon nutli' was
of her flesh and not of his flesh. She said that she had used her
own fire, the turquoise, and had ground her own yellow corn into
meal. This corn she had planted and cared for herself.
Now at that time there were four chiefs: Big Snake, Mountain Lion,
Otter, and Bear. And it was the custom when the black cloud rose
in the morning for First Man to come out of his dwelling and speak
to the people. After First Man had spoken the four chief s told
them what they should do that day. They also spoke of the past and
of the future.
But after First Man found his wife with another he would not come
out to speak to the people. The black cloud rose higher, but First
Man would not leave his dwelling; neither would he eat or drink.
No one spoke to the people for 4 days. All during this time First
Man remained silent, and would not touch food or water.
Four times the white cloud rose. Then the four chiefs went to First
Man and demanded to know why he would not speak to the people. The
chiefs asked this question three times, and a fourth, before First
Man would answer them.
He told them to bring him an emetic. This he took and purified
himself. First Man then asked them to send the hermaphrodite to
him. When he came First Man asked him if the metate and brush were
He said that they were.
First Man asked him if he could cook and prepare food like a woman,
if he could weave, and brush the hair. And when he had assured First
Man that he could do all manner of woman's work, First Man said:
"Go and prepare food and bring it to me." After he had
eaten, First Man told the four chiefs what he had seen, and what
his wife had said.
At this time the Great-Coyote-Who-Was-Formed-in-the-Water came
to First Man and told him to cross the river. They made a big raft
and crossed at the place where the Male River followed through the
Female River. And all the male beings left the female beings on
the river bank; and as they rowed across the river they looked back
and saw that First Woman and the female beings were laughing. They
were also behaving very wickedly.
In the beginning the women did not mind being alone. They cleared
and planted a small field. On the other side of the river First
Man and the chiefs hunted and planted their seeds. They had a good
harvest. Nadle ground the corn and cooked the food. Four seasons
passed. The men continued to have plenty and were happy; but the
women became lazy, and only weeds grew on their land. The women
wanted fresh meat. Some of them tried to join the men and were drowned
in the river.
First Woman made a plan. As the women had no way to satisfy their
passions, some fashioned long narrow rocks, some used the feathers
of the turkey, and some used strange plants (cactus). First Woman
told them to use these things. One woman brought forth a big stone.
This stone-child was later the Great Stone that rolled over the
earth killing men. Another woman brought forth the Big Birds of
Tsa bida'hi; and others gave birth to the giants and monsters who
later destroyed many people.
On the opposite side of the river the same condition existed. The
men, wishing to satisfy their passions, killed the females of mountain
sheep, lion, and antelope. Lightning struck these men. When First
Man learned of this he warned his men that they would all be killed.
He told them that they were indulging in a dangerous practice. Then
the second chief spoke: he said that life was hard and that it was
a pity to see women drowned. He asked why they should not bring
the women across the river and all live together again.
"Now we can see for ourselves what comes from our wrong doing,"
he said. "We will know how to act in the future." The
three other chiefs of the animals agreed with him, so First Man
told them to go and bring the women.
After the women had been brought over the river First Man spoke:
"We must be purified," he said. "Everyone must bathe.
The men must dry themselves with white corn meal, and the women,
This they did, living apart for 4 days. After the fourth day First
Woman came and threw her right arm around her husband. She spoke
to the others and said that she could see her mistakes, but with
her husband's help she would henceforth lead a good life. Then all
the male and female beings came and lived with each other again.
The people moved to different parts of the land. Some time passed;
then First Woman became troubled by the monotony of life. She made
a plan. She went to Atse'hashke, the Coyote called First Angry,
and giving him the rainbow she said: "I have suffered greatly
in the past. I have suffered from want of meat and corn and clothing.
Many of my maidens have died. I have suffered many things. Take
the rainbow and go to the place where the rivers cross. Bring me
the two pretty children of Tqo holt sodi, the Water Buffalo, a boy
and a girl.
The Coyote agreed to do this. He walked over the rainbow. He entered
the home of the Water Buffalo and stole the two children; and these
he hid in his big skin coat with the white fur lining. And when
he returned he refused to take off his coat, but pulled it around
himself and looked very wise.
After this happened the people saw white light in the East and
in the South and West and North. One of the deer people ran to the
East, and returning, said that the white light was a great sheet
of water. The sparrow hawk flew to the South, the great hawk to
the West, and the kingfisher to the North. They returned and said
that a flood was coming. The kingfisher said that the water was
greater in the North, and that it was near.
The flood was coming and the Earth was sinking. And all this happened
because the Coyote had stolen the two children of the Water Buffalo,
and only First Woman and the Coyote knew the truth.
When First Man learned of the coming of the water he sent word
to all the people, and he told them to come to the mountain called
Sis na'jin. He told them to bring with them all of the seeds of
the plants used for food. All living beings were to gather on the
top of Sis na'jin. First Man traveled to the six sacred mountains,
and, gathering earth from them, he put it in his medicine bag.
The water rose steadily.
When all the people were halfway up Sis na' jin, First Man discovered
that he had forgotten his medicine bag. Now this bag contained not
only the earth from the six sacred mountains, but his magic, the
medicine he used to call the rain down upon the earth and to make
things grow. He could not live without his medicine bag, and be
wished to jump into the rising water; but the others begged him
not to do this. They went to the kingfisher and asked him to dive
into the water and recover the bag. This the bird did. When First
Man had his medicine bag again in his possession he breathed on
it four times and thanked his people.
When they had all arrived it was found that the Turquoise Boy had
brought with him the big Male Reed; and the White Shell Girl had
brought with her the big Female Reed.
Another person brought poison ivy; and another, cotton, which was
later used for cloth. This person was the spider. First Man had
with him his spruce tree which he planted on the top of Sis na'jin.
He used his fox medicine to make it grow; but the spruce tree began
to send out branches and to taper at the top, so First Man planted
the big Male Reed. All the people blew on it, and it grew and grow
until it reached the canopy of the sky.
They tried to blow inside the reed, but it was solid. They asked
the woodpecker to drill out the hard heart. Soon they were able
to peek through the opening, but they had to blow and blow before
it was large enough to climb through. They climbed up inside the
big male reed, and after them the water continued to rise.
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