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.

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.

Tsoodził- Turquoise Mountain

DMA Dine’ Word of the week “Tsoodził” (Mt Taylor) –meaning Turquoise Mountain. It is the sacred mountain of the South in Dine’ culture because it is considered the home of all animals/birds, female rain (soft rain) and is the origin for the Navajo blessing way ceremony (Highest blessing for the Dine’ people). The Mountain itself is said to be decorated in turquoise at early morning dawn. It also holds a special meaning in the Dine’ history because when the Navajo returned from Bosque Redondo, where they were imprisoned for four years after the “Long Walk,” the Dine’ people were so happy and overcome with emotion that they fell to their knees and cried tears of joy at the site of this mountain, because it meant they were safe at home again. Therefore the mountain itself is also a symbol of perseverance.

Mt Taylor is located northeast of Grants New Mexico and is the highest point in the Cibola National Forest.