On the way back from the Canyons, our guide told us a little about the Navajo way of life; their traditions and beliefs. As I heard her speak, a thought formed in my mind ” Indians are Indians, Native American or Asian.” Did you know that in Navajos, children of siblings are considered siblings. This has given rise to using terms like “cousin-brother” and “cousin-sister” to define relationships in English and that the literal translation for your mother’s sister is “little Mother.” Another thing that is common with Hindu Asian Indians is that tradition dictates that Navajos do not eat when there is an eclipse.
A very interesting titbit about the Navajos that I read online is that the Navajo language lacks a direct method of commanding another person and traditional Navajo consider it extremely poor manners to tell or order another person to do something.
Our guide told us how her people wake up at the crack of dawn and end their day with the last rays of the sun; how they led their lives without electricity or running water; how she wasn’t allowed to wear make-up growing up. I can almost hear my mother ( grandmothers and aunts) saying, “Makeup is for grown ups who want to look younger. You are young. You don’t need makeup.” ” If you use makeup, your skin will get used to it and a day will come when you will look so haggard without it. You will then be forced to use makeup.” Our guide told us how her children hate it when she sends them to the reservation every summer to spend time with her family, and how they hate it when it is time to come back home. All those vacation we were forced to spend in Chennai come flooding back.
Her words provided me insight into how at least a section of the Navajos felt about the “white man”. While the older generation was distrustful, the newer lot are more determined to reclaim their heritage. I must add here, that our guide at the lower canyon was much younger and didn’t seem to feel as strongly about the Navajo way of life.