Southwest Indians - Navajo Religion Illustration

Daily Life in Olden Times
for Kids

Southwest Navajo Indians


Holy People: The Navajo believed in good and evil. They believed that everything in the universe had a purpose - be it good or evil. It was important that the universe remained in balance. If not, evil could take over. Their ceremonies were designed to restore harmony.

Their Holy People were supernatural beings with the power to hurt or help the Navajo people.

Some of the Holy People were named Talking God, Changing Woman, Bear, Ant, and Corn People.

A Sing: A sing was a ceremony conducted by a medicine man that was designed to restore balance. The dance steps and the song were very old and complicated.

A medicine man might perform a sing to cure the sick, protect a family, cleanse a home, encourage crop growth, or protect the herds.

Each sing was a prayer to the Holy People, the supernatural beings that the Navajo believed watched over life.

Blessingways: Blessingways were ceremonies that requested something from the gods. A Blessingway ceremony might be conducted to ask the gods to bless a new marriage or the birth of a baby, or to protect a warrior from his enemies. Some ceremonies lasted several days.

It was important to conduct ceremonies in the exact and right manner. If the Holy People were happy with the ceremony, they would restore the balance between good and evil, and grant the request. But, if the Holy People were not happy with the ceremony, your request might backfire on you - the evil spirits would have a chance to take over and hurt the marriage or the baby or the warrior.

Sand Paintings: Navaho sand paintings were part of a healing ceremony. They were made as part of a sing or a blessingway.

Paintings were made on the floor of a hut or on clean sand. Some measured ten feet by twelve feet. The paintings were made with colored sand, sifted carefully between the second and third finger.

These special paintings told a story of a magical event. Sand paintings that were made to heal someone were destroyed before dark.

Funeral Practices: In olden times, when someone died, their body was buried and their hogan burned down. People who attended the funeral took a zigzag route home so that no evil ghost could follow them.

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