Tag Archives: myths can be new

Nations of the World: Navajo

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Today I read about the Black Mesa Water Coalition, and you should, too. The short version is that coal mining and uranium mining was developed in the region with the promise of developing the economy. Instead it left the region and the Navajo people with polluted air, a depleted aquifer, and a ruined economy.  Now local activists are working to replace the defunct coal mines with solar energy, turning polluted, damaged land into something that can produce real value to the region. (Click the link above to learn more or donate.)

The Navajo live in the Four Corners region in Arizona, Utah and New Mexico, having moved into the region about 600 years ago. The nation has over 300,000 enrolled tribal members – about the same number of people as Iceland.

Navajo mythology contains one of my favorite mythical characters of any time or place: Coyote, the trickster. But, I stumbled across this legend that’s more modern, and worth a quick read (and a thoughtful chuckle): The Navajo and the Astronaut.

The Navajo nation, contrary to what your high school history book may have lead you to believe, is not defunct. They are struggling with economic hardships, poor high school graduation rates, and high levels of cancer and diabetes. But they are still telling stories, and they are still developing their land to make a home for their families.

Traditional Navajo houses are always built facing East to welcome the morning sun, the way Coyote taught them. I can’t think of a better metaphor for hope.