Marcia L. Gerencser
FOUR WORLDS: THE DINE (NAVAJO) STORY OF CREATION
SOUTHWEST- NAVAJO TRIBE
There was once a First World below the World as we know it. Everything was black and it had in it only six beings. They were First Man, the Son of Night and the Blue Sky over Sunset; First Woman, the Daughter of Day Break and the Yellow Sky of Sunset; Salt Woman; Fire God; Coyote and Begochiddy. Begochiddy had blue eyes and golden hair and was both man and woman.
Begochiddy made the plants because there were none. Then a white mountain was made to the east, a blue one to the south, a yellow one to the west and to the north a black mountain. Then Begochiddy made the insects and the ants. Fire God became very jealous and began to bum everything that was made. Begochiddy told First Man to gather everything up that was made and they went to the red mountain that Begochiddy made in the center of the earth. There Begochiddy created the Big Reed that was hollow. They all got inside and up and up it grew until it reached the Second World. The color of Second World was blue. In it Begochiddy created plants, clouds and mountains. In Second World there were also Swallow People and Cat People. Everyone was happy for a time but then things started going wrong. Again Begochiddy planted Big Reed. They all got inside and up and up it grew until it reached Third World which was yellow. The mountains gave the light because there was not a moon or stars. Begochiddy made rivers, water animals, trees, birds and lightening. Then all kinds of human beings were created. Everyone spoke the same language and everyone was happy. All of a sudden, red streaks went across the sky and they represented disease that would come to the people through evil magic. They were put there by First Man.
After a while, Coyote went to Begochiddy and told how unhappy everyone was and how the men and women were fighting each other. Begochiddy separated them by a river. But soon they began to miss each other. Begochiddy told them that they could live together but it there was any more fighting a great flood would come and destroy the Third World.
Coyote was roaming around Third World and heard Salt Woman say that she had seen a baby with long black hair in the river. Coyote quickly went to the river, got the baby, hid it under his coat and told no one. Four days later a black storm came from the east and a great noise was heard around Third World. Then, from the west came a yellow storm, and a white one came from the north. Begochiddy gathered all things that were made. Big Reed again was planted. They put in all things that were made and all human beings. Again it began to grow up away from the rising waters.
This time there was a problem with Big Reed. It stopped growing before it reached Fourth World, The Spider People tried to spin a web that would connect it to Fourth World. That didn’t work. The Ant People tried to dig into Fourth World but that didn’t work because the World was too hard. Finally, the Locust with his hard head broke through and everyone and everything climbed through the hole that he had made. Begochiddy saw water all around and saw Four Great Powers. When Begochiddy waved to them they let the water recede. Begochiddy went back and told them that the water receded but that they needed someone to walk up there to see if it was dry enough. The Badger offered to go. When he walked on Fourth World his feet became black with mud and that is how he got black feet. Begochiddy knew that the Fourth World needed to be dried out. So the winds, the cyclones and the dust devils were called upon. They swirled around and around and dried up the Fourth World. All created things and people followed. When Begochiddy looked down to the Third World and saw the water still rising a question came into mind. Who had angered the Water Monster so? Coyote tightened the blanket around him and Begochiddy knew it was he. He was told to give the Water Monster back the baby so the waters would recede.
Now Begochiddy prepared the Fourth World. Everything was placed in order: The mountains, the plants, the animals, the Sun, the Moon and the Stars were placed in the Sky. Fire God wanted to keep the fire all to himself but Coyote stole some of it. He gave it to the people to cook with and to keep them warm. Begochiddy gave the people different languages and scattered them around the world. They also learned from Begochiddy the right way to live, give thanks, and care for the fruits of the Earth.
It was at this time that Changing Woman came to be. She helped all people, became their friend and destroyed monsters that threatened the people. This is how the Fourth World came to be. But just as the other worlds were destroyed so will this world if people did not live a proper life. That is what the Navajo say to this day ‘.
Cultural differences most likely led to the differences in the above two myths. So many tribes began as a result of breaking away from a regional tribe. They often traveled and established their own land areas. However, they brought with them the idea of the myth and often created their own myth or altered what they already had. In the above two myths, creation took place either from a hole in the sky or from a hole in the earth.
The following questions could be used for discussion.
The Fire God was ‘jealous and started to bum everything that Begochiddy made in the First World. Begochiddy decided to gather all living things and go to the Second World. Is there another way that Begochiddy could have handled the situation?
2. First Man was good and helped Begochiddy prepare to leave the First World. Why do you think he brought disease to the Second World?
3. Coyote stole fire from the Fire God to give to the people to cook with and keep them warm. Do you think Coyote had the right to steal to help the people? Why or why not?
Begochiddy and Changing Woman were good. Which character do you think was more important to the people? Explain.