The Native (The Legacy Series Book 6)

By: Sheritta Bitikofer
Terms to Know

Navajo – A Native American tribe in southwest America. The name given to this tribe comes from the Tewa word, “Navahu” which means large areas of cultivated land. Later, the Spanish regarded them as the “Navajo”, but this is not the name the natives call themselves. Today, there are over 300,000 registered Navajo natives across Arizona, New Mexico, and some parts of California. The Navajo were some of the first horsemen after the Mexicans and Spanish brought their horses from the south. They are also known for their woven wool blankets and rugs, and jewelry craftsmanship. Primarily a agricultural and hunting society, they raised sheep and grew crops to sustain them.

Diné – (Din-ay) The literal translation is “The People” and this is what the Navajo call themselves.

Hogan – (Ho-gahn) The traditional Navajo house, which is constructed much like a hollow earthen mound with a spacious interior held up by a network of timber and a hole in the top for smoke to escape through. Their doors are always facing the east.

Ute – (Yoo-t) Another Southwest American tribe that resides predominately in Utah and Colorado.

Navajo Names – There are various ways to develop a Navajo name. Often, they are given names at birth that are meant to speak success and greatness over the baby by calling them a warrior or raider of something. However, nicknames can develop overtime, deriving from physical characteristics, personality traits, great deeds, or familial or locational ties.

Skinwalker or Yeahnáglóshi– A Navajo shapeshifter legend about a mystic who can transform themselves into a wolf, crow, or coyote. Literal translation is “one who walks on all fours”. Their purpose is to torment and cause harm to the Navajo people who displease them. To become a skinwalker, they must commit some taboo such as killing a loved one or have an incestuous relationship. Illnesses and bad luck caused by a skinwalker are remedied by rituals that the medicine men specialize in. To get rid of a skinwalker, someone must confront them and call them by their given name. Then, all the harm they inflicted on others will be paid back to them, ideally leading to death.

The Holy People (or) Diyin Diné – Spiritual beings within the Navajo religion that are accredited in the creation story. Balance and good relationship is sought between the Navajo and Holy People, and are supplicated to during healing ceremonies. Being out of balance with the Holy People can bring about illness.

Tó Dích’įį’nii - Bitter Water Clan –Though the Navajo have many clans, this is traditionally considered one of first four that were classified by the Changing Woman. They were given the abalone shell and became known as educators and philosophers who shared their knowledge with others. The name for the Bitter Water Clan was said to come from the bitter water that sprung up from a hole dug by a spiritual man. The Changing Woman gave them the protectors of the wolf and the bullsnake. The wolf howl is considered a sign that a hunting party should turn back.

Navajo Clans – There were originally four clans that further branched off to create dozens. The Navajo people formally introduce themselves by their name and then by the clans of which their family belongs to. Clan identities are passed down through the maternal side and particular attention is paid to one’s clan association when marriage and courtship are considered.

Changing Woman or Asdzáá nádleehé – In the Navajo religion, she is considered to be the adopted daughter of First Man and First Woman from their creation story and is an integral player in the creation of the Navajo People. From her, came the first four clans of the Navajo.

Nagual – A Mesoamerican shapeshifter that can take the form of a jaguar, wolf, coyote, donkey, puma, dog, or even a bird.

Hataałii or Medicine Man – The Navajo medicine man is called upon to perform healing rituals and ceremonies. During their lifetime, a medicine man may perfect only a few chants and songs. They rely heavily on calling upon the Holy People to restore balance and harmony with their patients. Some practices include different ceremonies. The Blessing Way is to call for blessings and good things for the patient, perhaps a newly married couple or a pregnant woman. The Enemy Way is intended to exorcise evil from a sick body. The Night Way involves certain rituals such as sand painting, exorcisms, and cleansing sweat baths to expel evil and negative energy. It’s much like the Enemy Way, but a more extensive treatment process. The medicine men have their own segregated hogan reserved for these ceremonies. They may also utilize special teas, herbs, and incense to cure diseases.

Santa Fe, New Mexico – Founded in 1610 by the Spanish, it remains the oldest state capitol in American history. The town was part of the Pueblo Revolt in 1680 where that native Pueblo people tried to push back the Spanish invasion upon their land. It was under Spanish control until the Mexican War for Independence in 1810.

Presidio – A Spanish/Mexican garrison or fortification, designed with the purpose of protecting settlers and traders from outside threats such as natives and other raiders. These were military forts, housing dozens of soldiers at any given time where they conducted drills.

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