Be’eldííl Dah Sinil – Navajo name for Albuquerque

The Dine’ name for Albuquerque is “the place of buildings with church bells on top.” The early Navajo people gave it that name because they noticed that at the time, it was community with a lot churches and public buildings with bells on the roof. They also could see the bells on top of the church buildings in the distance and used it as a guide to travel to Albuquerque to trade, sell at the market place or to visit a family member in the hospital.

It is now used as a descriptive word to describe a location in conjunction with Albuquerque, such as Old Town, a house or even a hospital in Albuquerque.

 Word Breakdown-  “Be’eldííl”- ringing bells, “Dah”- high up above, “Sinil”- it is placed or positioned.


Sisnaajini – Navajo Word of the Week

Sisnaajini’- translates to Black Belt Mountain. Though the actual Navajo traditional meaning is “white shell mountain.”

The mountain itself is defined in the traditional Navajo culture as “white shell” and “early dawn” mountain. But when you break down the words, “Sis” = belt, “Naajini” = Black Streak. Because from far away, just looking at the mountain itself, it appears to have a black belt around the bottom. So for description purposes if was labeled Sisnaajini’. But the actually representation in the Navajo Culture is different.

The Dine’ people consider Sisnaajini’ the holy mountain of the East, and it is one of the four sacred directional mountains that mark the South boundaries of the Dine’ Land. It is told in the Dine’ creation stories that the Holy People placed this mountain in the South and adorned it with white shell & white beads to keep the Navajo people safe from evil and danger and to promote a positive direction in life.  It also marks the beginning of the circle of life and is the mountain of Spring/Sunrise. Sisnaajini’ is depicted in drawings/sand paintings in the color white to represent purity, dawn, white shell, the beginning and strength. The Dine’ people pray to this mountain for guidance, to create a better understanding within themselves to embrace positive thoughts, strength, courage and to lead a positive lifestyle in achieving goals and overcoming obstacles in daily life. They also offer thanks in prayer & song to Sisnaajini’ for all that it is sanctified.

K’é – Kinship: the basis of the Diné clan system

K’é is the way in which a Diné identifies him or herself to other Diné people. He or she belongs to his or her maternal mother’s clan, and is born for his or her father’s clan. This also includes the maternal and paternal grandfather’s clans. The Diné K’é system is very important because it helps a Navajo to identify himself to others and therefore he knows exactly where he stands in relationship to other Diné. If he is of the same clan as another, he is immediately considered part of the family and addressed as son or daughter, brother, sister, uncle or aunt.

The K’é system serves as a guide for marriage as well. A Diné person belongs to four different clans that are unrelated. He or she is forbidden to marry into any of the related or similar clans. If one is related by marriage (such as an in-law), then the in-law is considered an all-around helper for the wife’s family. And he is usually always teased by the wife’s family – but only light-heartedly – to maintain a peaceful, humorous relationship within the family.

Most importantly this system serves as the basis for Diné relationships, including how to show proper respect, introduce yourself and address others, in order to maintain the balance of a peaceful coexistence. For the Diné people, the K’é system also extends into the spiritual world and deities.