What are the major components of Navajo religion?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Navajo religion in its current form dates to the fifteenth century, as its specific geographical form changed when the Navajos migrated from the regions of Canada to the United States southwest. Because Navajo religion was grounded in oral tradition, there are no sacred "texts" per se. Geographically, the four sacred mountains delimit the Navajo lands which themselves have religious significance, appearing at the beginning of the emergence story:


On the dark earth Begochiddy built in the east a white mountain; in the south a blue mountain, in the west a yellow mountain, and in the north a black mountain, and he also made mountains surrounding all the dark earth and the colored mountains, and these were called Tsilth-nah-nā€™ deel-doi, which means colored mountains which appear and disappear; and in the center of the world Begochiddy made a red mountain.


The hogans, rectangular dwellings, are imbued with ritual significance as microcosms of the land. Each Navajo is responsible for maintaining a sacred relationships to the land and placing offerings and performing other rituals. Medicine men performs ceremonies involving singing and creating sand paintings to maintain harmony among people and the gods. The belief system is polytheistic, with a variety of creation stories and a variety of stories about theriomorphic and anthropomorphic deities, which have now been transcribed from oral performances. It should be noted that the oral ritual performances are sacred and the transcriptions are not "sacred texts" but simply historical records of performances.

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