Navajo Legend of Arizona’s Monument Valley

Modern geologists like to say this vast land of dramatic salmon-hued sandstone spires was once buried 3,000 feet beneath ancient seas. Over millions of years, layer after layer of sediments were deposited then hardened, followed by an uplifting of the land. It’s difficult to imagine, but the tops of these mountains and spires were at one time even with ground level. As the land continued to rise and the sea abated, the forces of nature created, etched and sculpted the spectacular sandstone monoliths located in the magnificent expanse of Arizona real estate that we call Monument Valley.  

However, Navajo legends tell the story a little differently. According to a condensed version of these legends, First Man and First Woman were created in the mythological First World. Unfortunately, the Beings began quarreling and began casting evil spells upon one another, so First Man and First Woman left and moved up into the Second World.   Here they found other people and warring animals including badgers, wolves and cougars. To add to the chaos, Evil Beings from First World had also emerged into Second World. The cunning coyote persuaded the people to leave and move to Third World. First Woman was not happy with Third World and wanted the people to move on to Fourth World so she encouraged Coyote to steal Water Monster’s baby knowing it would anger Water Monster. Water Monster, as expected, caused a great flood. All the people and animals then descended into Fourth World.  

In Fourth World, deities taught the people how to live peacefully. One day, First Man and First Woman found a baby girl who grew into the beautiful Changing Woman representing nature and the seasons. Changing Woman mated with the Sun and gave birth to The Twins. Because Fourth World was infested with terrible monsters, Changing Woman feared The Twins would be harmed, so she hid them deep underground; it was here that The Twins found Spider Woman.  

Spider Woman protected The Twins from the Monsters by teaching them special prayers and chants, and the Twins returned to Changing Woman and told her of the great powers given them by Spider Woman. Having no reason now to fear the monsters, Changing Woman and The Twins cast a spell on the huge beasts, turning them to stone.   And that is how, according to Navajo legends, these massive monsters were frozen in time creating what we now know as Monument Valley.  rl0z1

Source: www.ArizonaOddities.com;  used with permission

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