The Importance Of Female Characters In The Navajo Creation Story

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In the beginning the only way for people to pass down their history, their philosophy and their culture was the spoken word. This is especially true when it comes to the Native American of North America as they had no written language. Their history was passed from generation to generation by way of storytelling also known as oral narratives, not only did these narratives tell the history of the people, but they also helped to shape the culture. These myths were the Native American’s way of making sense of their world. Marcella Joy states in Native American Ethnophilosophy And Worldview, “The ethnophilosophy, or worldview, of any culture is a description of how that culture explains the structure and workings of the world in which it lives. …show more content…
In the Iroquois story, these is the pregnant women who is taken down into the second world, the world of darkness, and her prodigy becomes the twin boys who represent good and evil. She expires as the twins enter the dark world by compulsion. That is the end of her. The portrayal of this woman is more of a catalyst to the birth of the twins whereas, the female character in the Navajo creation story is more of a central player. In the Navajo tale, the woman is known as Changing Woman and she doesn’t die after the birth of her children. The Sun asked Changing Woman to marry and she finally acquiesces after he promises her that she does not have to leave her people forever. She then marries the Sun and makes more people by rubbing the skin from under her arms and from under her breast. Changing Woman is a considerably more complex character than the woman in the Iroquois story on the surface, but both characterizations depict these women as a vital part in the creation of not only the world but also a creator of the peoples of the tribes. Of course, these are not the only female characters in these two creation stories, but they do give one insight into how these two cultures value women or at least how they value the role of women in their cultures. There are other versions of the Iroquois creation story where the “lead” female character doesn’t die, so one shouldn’t take this version as the definitive role of women within the Iroquois tribe. Merritt Johnson, an artist who is of mixed ancestry, including Mohawk, Blackfoot and non-Indigenous, relates a different version of the Iroquois tale in an article she wrote for an issue of Antennae. She writes, “The woman put the bits of roots from the Sky Tree in the mud on Turtle’s back and she began to walk around, some people say she danced. Every day she went dancing or walking. The land grew larger until it became the land we are on

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