Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Navajo Indian Ceremony

While I was at Canyon de Chelly, the campground was very sparsely populated probably because of the July 4th weekend. I was glad I found a quiet spot where I could wait until all the traffic madness and fireworks were over. The campground was in the National Park, but is run by the Navajo Indians.

One evening, there was a knock on my door while I was fixing dinner. One of the Park Rangers was there to let me know about a program that evening in a nearby ampitheater. I have been to other National Parks and attended their evening programs and found them to be interesting, so I told her I'd be over to attend.

When I got there, the female Park Ranger and I were the first to arrive. Shortly a couple Navajo women from town arrived, one knew the Ranger. The program was loosely structured because of the small group and the fact that the majority were Navajo. During the course of conversation, one of the women from town started discussing the small patch of corn and squash plants that the Ranger had planted for demonstration near the Visitor Center of the Park. She asked if the crop had been blessed  and since it hadn't, they decided to do it that evening after the program.

When the program ended and we all got up to leave, they invited me to join in the ceremony to bless the crops. OK, sounds like it could be interesting, - I'd never seen any kind of Indian ceremony, so I told them I'd love to go. We walked the path to the Visitor Center and the little gated farm.

When we got there, the woman from town brought out a hand-rolled cigarette that she said was a mixture of farmed and wild tobacco grown on the reservation. She lit it and puffed it to life and she started walking down each short row of plants and blowing smoke into them, praying for them. When she finished, she passed the cigarette to the next woman who did the same thing and then on to the third woman. It was offered to me, but since I have never smoked, I didn't think it would be good to have a coughing fit over their crop, so I declined.

It was a simple ceremony, but I was pleased to be a witness to it, to get an insight to how these people have lived for years. They all seem to be quiet and soft spoken and have a respect for nature, since most of their sustenance comes from the earth in one way or another.


1 comment:

  1. Thank you, I've been to canyon de Chelly a couple of time. I had never heard of this ceremony for blessing the crop with tobacco smoke, thank you for the description.