Collage, detail, 2001, Peggy Black, ET513.F-9
Photo: Kirstin Roper, © NHMU

Navajo Stories

The Diné (Navajo) culture is rich with stories passed down through countless generations. The stories tell of the creation of the world, the sky, the land, the animals, and the people. They are informed by the personal experiences of each storyteller and their interpretation can vary over time and space. Establishing a single, definitive version of a story is not as valued as sharing and learning from multiple versions of the story that reflect different emphases. In Diné culture, medicine men play a particularly important role in the transmission of traditional knowledge. As they recount the stories with each ceremony, they remind participants to maintain balance in a world of both chaos and order where positive and negative forces are always at play. As basket weavers incorporate representations of stories in their designs, they carry these traditions forward in a new way.