Navajo Word of the Week

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Word of the Week_Nchiil

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Navajo Word of the Week: “Dootł’izhii”

“Dootł’izhii” is one of the scared stones of the Dine’ people and the word refers to the mixed green/blue color of Turquoise. The Navajo people consider this stone to have spiritual and healing properties. It also represents Mt. Taylor, one of the four sacred mountains of the Navajo Nation. The Navajo ceremonial name is “Dootł’izhii” dził (Turquoise Mountain) and the mountain is said to be spiritually adorned with Turquoise.

Turquoise is worn for good luck, protection from evil, and for identity, so that the Navajo deities can recognize the wearer as one of their cherished earth children. The Navajo believe that the stone absorbs all the negativity or evil wishes intended for the wearer. So when a crack appears in the stone it is said that “The stone took it!” meaning the stone shielded the wearer from any harm, causing it to crack. To wear turquoise is to honor one’s self, family and tradition. And in doing so, his or her prayers and ceremonies can be heard by the deities and in return many blessings will be received.

Navajo Word of the Week: “Kélchí”

Navajo: Kélchí  |  English:  “Navajo Moccasin”

Word Breakdown “Ké” = shoes, “lchí” = red. Ké + lchí =red shoe

Kélchí is the name of the traditional moccasin worn by the Dine’ people. To own and wear a pair of Kélchí as a Dine’ shows that you have a deep respect for one’s kinship, life, culture, earth, the cosmos and all the creatures on the planet. It is also a way for the holy ones (Navajo deities) to identify the wearer as one of their own to bestow many blessings and offer protection.

The moccasins come in two styles, men’s and women’s. The men’s moccasin is made with thick deer skin soles and a thin, soft leather top which is made to come up and over about ankle high. The women’s style is also made with thick deerskin rawhide soles, with a soft leather top and long leg wraps knee high. These moccasins were often made with a tie on the side and two to three buttons below it. These moccasins are made to be durable for all weather conditions and long lasting.

All Navajo traditional ceremonies require traditional Navajo attire including Kélchí. The purpose of the Kélchí in Dine’ culture is to provide the wearer with many blessings, protection, and a good long life as long as she or he follows the path of beauty. To wear Kélchí is to honor one’s self and walk/lead a long positive life.

Navajo Word of the Week – “Gad”

Navajo: Gad  |  English: Juniper Tree

There are two types of Navajo Juniper trees:

Gad biką‘ígíí – Male juniper tree and Gad ni’eełii, “Drooping juniper”   

Both types of Juniper tree are sacred to the Dine’ people as they have many positive and beneficial uses in the Dine’ traditional ceremonies. The juniper seeds are often made into bracelets or necklaces to protect the wearer from evil and negative thoughts or any evil thought to follow or torment the wearer. These bracelets are also made for birthing mothers to aid the mother for a smooth birth and to protect the soul of the newborn. The branches from the juniper tree are boiled as tea and served to the mother after birthing to help her in a quick recovery, for purification and to bless her & her child with all the positive elements of the earth. This tea is often used to cure stomach problems & headaches. The juniper berries are also burned to create juniper ashes used for cooking, medicine and various offerings. The tree bark & berries are used in ceremonial blessings for any new structures/hogans, rites, purification & also consumed as a drink or food.

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.