Foundation of the Sacred Mountains

by Wilson Aronilth, Jr.

This writing is taken from the book, “Foundation of Navajo Culture”, by Wilson Aronilth, Jr., 1992, and used here by permission from Mr. Aronilth.

According to our forefathers’ teachings, there are four sacred mountains, there are six sacred mountains and there are twelve sacred mountains. These sacred mountains are our thinking, our knowledge, and our ways of life (Iina).
We as the Diné can use our psychological mind and common sense to see these sacred mountains, lands, valleys, rivers, trees, old hogans, old trails, to understand our stories of the past, present and even the future.
The sacred mountains and our land hold the sacred stories of those who lived here first and all those who walked on our Mother Earth. The sacred mountains knew people of different tribes and different races who have come and gone. A new generation has come to exist today.
Even though many things have happened, our sacred mountains, our land and our Mother Earth will always remember who was here, who has gone and who is still here. Even today we can still see some things that people left behind.
Echoes of their happy voices and way cries remain with the sacred mountains and canyons where they once lived.

The twelve Holy People formed our sacred mountains in the Fourth World. When the sacred mountains were first formed, prayers and songs were sung for positive thinking and understanding by the twelve Holy People. Talking God and Second Talking God are the spirits that are within these sacred mountains. It is said that these two Holy People went to these mountains to see to our blessings and our needs and wants. Talking God and Second Talking God were also made to stand on top of our sacred mountains to be the guides for our lives. This is how these two Holy People and our sacred mountains were made to carry out our feelings, thoughts, plans, values, good fortune, hopes, faith and love in our every day walks of life.
When the sacred mountain songs were first sung and when the sacred mountain prayers were first used, it was for positive self awareness of understanding.
Mountains songs and prayers were made to go clockwise from East to North and back to the East.

When a Navajo prayer or song is used, addressing the sacred mountains with respect and love, one must use one’s corn pollen and pray. Corn pollen is taken and then sprinkled towards each mountain, clockwise, starting from the East mountain to the South, then to the West, then to the North mountain. This is done because good fortunes and good values are in the sacred mountains.
The mountain songs and prayers are used in different Navajo ceremonies with a sincere purpose. The mountain songs can be learned and sung by the Diné if he wishes to learn them. Also the mountain songs and the Mother Earth song will sometimes go together.
If one goes near or on any of the sacred mountains to sing or pray, one must use one’s corn pollen. One must say the sacred mountain names in order, for positive direction of life. It is not, however, necessary to be on a mountain to pray or sing, you can be at home or some other special place to pray.

Our Navajo spiritual and social laws are represented by the sacred mountains, as well as the four seasons and the four parts of the day. The foundations of our rules and laws for our lives are within our sacred mountains, the four seasons and the four part of the day. The sacred mountains were placed here to give us the understanding of our strength and courage. They shield us from evil, harm, and danger.

Here are our sacred mountain names:

1.  Sisnaajiní - EAST  (was adorned with white shell)
2.  Tsoodził - SOUTH  (was adorned with turquoise)
3.  Dook’o’oosłiid - WEST  (was adorned with abalone shell)
4.  Dibé Nitsaa - NORTH    (was adorned with black jet)
5.  Dziłná’oodiłii - DOORWAY   (was adorned with soft goods)
6.  Ch’óol’í’í - CHIMNEY  (was adorned with hard goods)

These sacred mountains were placed here for us. We think of them as our home, as the foundation of our Hogan and our life. There is life inside these mountains and there is life on them. This is how the sacred mountains sit for us and we adorn ourselves just as they do, with white shell, turquoise, abalone shell, black jet and other precious jewels. Our sacred mountains have always blessed us with values of good things of life. This is how they regulated our lives from the beginning. These mountains keep us healthy and strong. Because of them we grow and we have prospered. They gave us water to drink and food to eat. They gave us a home, shelter, and they dress us. This is our belief and understanding as a Diné.
According to our Forefathers’ understanding and beliefs, the sacred mountains were replanted by the Holy People using the sacred soil that First Man brought up from the lower worlds. The sacred soil is called Dził łeezh.

1.  Blanca Peak -   EAST  


When the Holy People had assembled the things with which to dress the East mountain, they traveled by way of a sunbeam and rainbow beam to decorate Sisnaajiní. The Holy People dressed Sisnaajiní with a perfect white shell for positive thoughts and thinking. Then the Holy People ran a bolt of lighting through a sacred mountain to fasten the East mountain to our Mother Earth. These are the Holy People that were told to live in this sacred mountain:
1.  Dawn Boy and Girl
2.  White Bead Boy and Girl
3.  White Corn and Male Rain
4.  Rock Crystal Boy and Girl and Birds
5.  Spotted White Corn for vegetation symbols
6.  White Wind, Spotted Wind gave life to this mountain

2.  Mt. Taylor -   SOUTH  


The same Holy People replanted the South mountain in the Fourth World. The Holy People called the South mountain Tsoodził. Again the Holy People used the same transportation to replant this mountain. Tsoodził was used by decorate this mountain for health plans, learning and positive, clear goals of life. A stone knife was thrust through the sacred mountain from top to bottom to fasten it to the earth. These are the Holy People that were told to live in this mountain:
1.  Blue Twilight Boy and Girl
2.  Turquoise Boy and Girl
3.  Blue Corn, the spirit of a boy and girl who carries a corn kernel
4.  Blue birds and blue swallows
5.  Spotted Blue Corn for plant symbols
6.  Blue Wind was made to give life to the mountain

3.  Mt. Taylor -   SOUTH  


The same Holy People replanted Dook’o’oosłiid in the Fourth World the same as the East and South mountain except that they dressed and decorated this mountain with abalone shell to create understanding of our social unity and life (Iina). Dook’o’oosłiid was tied down to the earth with a sunbeam by the Holy People. These are the Holy People that were told to live in this mountain:
1.  Yellow Evening Boy and Girl
2.  Abalone Shell Boy and Girl
3.  Yellow Corn Boy and Girl
4.  All kinds of yellow birds
5.  Mixture of water and plants
6.  Yellow wind was made to give life to this mountain

4.  Mt. Hesperus -  NORTH  

Dibé Nitsaa

The same Holy People replanted the North mountain, Dibé Nitsaa. The Holy People traveled by way of a sunbeam and a rainbow beam. They assembled the North mountain with beautiful black jet for positive self awareness to protect us from danger and evil. Then the Holy People fastened down the sacred mountain with a rainbow beam for peace and harmony. These are the Holy People that were told to live in this mountain:
1.  Folding Darkness Boy and Girl
2.  Black Jet Boy and Girl
3.  Black Jet Boy and Girl
4.  Black Corn Boy and Girl and cold seasons
5.  Bird symbol is black birds and corn beetle birds
6.  Sacred Black Wind gave life to this mountain and Monster Slayer is the protector of this mountain

1.  My child, I will feed you, give you good health, and I will give you strength and courage.
2.  My child, I will give you clean air and clean water to drink. I am your life.
3.  My child, get ready now and educate yourself. Improve yourself and don’t ever forget who you are.
4.  My child, what I am dressed with, is what you are dressed with. I am your home and you mother and father.