Image Credit: Tyrell Descheney
As part of Changing Woman’s puberty ceremony, she was told to run all four directions. She did as she was told. Her hair let completely down, untied,
dressed with jewelry that was provided from Talking God, he made her necklace and belt made of silver. She opened the blanket door and out
the door she ran as Talking God was singing songs. For the next 3 days, she continued running all directions.
On the 4th, last day, she was told to run as far as she could.
Back into the Hogan she ran inside, around the fire and stretched. Throwing her hands to the sky and them reaching down to the ground. All those who ran and followed her did the same. Those who stayed behind were told that as she got closer to the hogan, they would hear a usual noise, and so they did.
When she returned from the east, her dress was adorned in so many white shells.
Returning from the south, her dressed had many stones of turquoise.
From the west she returned with abalone shells on her dress.
Finally, from the north her dress was made up with black jet stones.
Nowadays, the number of times a Navajo girl runs varies among each region and family. Some run only to the east in the morning and west in the evening. Some include running to the south in the afternoon. Some starts off each day with a different direction and only in that direction. Many other ways but it all varies within each Hogan. There is no right or wrong way of doing so, just learning to accept other family’s fire place of doing things. What’s even harder is not making it your way by saying nothing.
Much like how Changing Woman was adorned in such beautiful materialistic item, same hold be done for each individual who is having the ceremony conducted for herself. From head to toe, she’s given jewelry so the Holy People can acknowledge her as their own. In some cases, gifts are welcomed due to the fact that this is a celebration. A celebration in gaining another female leadership to help populate and increase the Navajo people.
Just like how Changing Woman run distances, same goes for the young girl. Every distance must be further than the previous. For her final run on her last day, she’s encouraged to run the longest distance. Family members are allowed to run beside her to help her run further, holding and pulling her arms on both sides. This has to do with the concept that the further you run, the longer you’ll live.
With family members and friends running behind her, they shout with each run from the moment they step out of the hogan until they step back in. Shouting to remind the Holy People of what’s happening and to let others be aware that they gained another female warrior. It also allows the animals of what’s going on because at the time of Changing Woman’s ceremony, the animals brought forth some of their skins for her to sit on during the time of the ceremony. Today we consider that as the fabric material family members bring with them on the final night.
Note: if jewelry or anything attached to her, such as corn pollen bag or arrowhead, is missing, it is the family member’s responsibility to find the item before the Sun sets. Otherwise it is considered to be property of the Sun Bearer.
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