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 – “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.

Chʼil gohwéhí – Navajo Wild Tea

The Chʼil gohwéhí is a soothing orange-yellow tea plant that the Dine’ people harvest in early June to late August. Before the herbal tea is harvested, a prayer is done to give thanks for its usage and to explain to the plant/mother earth why it is being taken. After the prayers are done, the plant is picked and tied into small bundles to be left to dry for later use or it can be used right after picking. One bundle of Chʼil gohwéhí makes 10-12 cups of tea after boiling for 5 minutes. This tea can be served with honey & sugar to sweeten the taste. It is also used as a medical tea to treat toothaches, remedy colds and stomach aches and can even be used to dye wool.

Chʼil gohwéhí is enjoyed by Dine’ families as a form of warm greeting to visitors,  as a beverage with a meal or as a ceremonial drink during winter story telling. Chʼil gohwéhí is an important part of Dine’ hospitality because it reunites the current with the past and it is said to be the blessing plant to reunite families with loved ones.