Night Yé’ii, detail, 2005, Alicia Nelson, ET513.83
Photo: Kirstin Roper, © NHMU

Night Chant

Tł’éé’jí Hatáál (Night Chant), often called the Yé’ii Bi Cheii ceremony, is a nine-day winter healing ceremony. As in most of the multi-day chants, all of the important holy figures of Diné (Navajo) cosmology are invoked through stories, portrayed in sand paintings, and personified by masked dancers. Night Chant dancers carry rattles to accompany their singing and their masks represent specific gods: Ye’ii Bicheill (Talking God), To Neinilii (Water Sprinkler), and six or more other male Yé’ii (Diné gods). Wearing kilts and moccasins, they cover their bodies with white clay and wear silver belts, fox pelts, and a collar of evergreen boughs. Some groups include six female dancers as well. The Night Chant is performed to purify and heal the afflicted person for whom the ceremony is held. Through the elements of the ceremony, the medicine man asks the Diyin Dine’é (Holy People) to be present so that their power will bring transformation, health, and wellbeing.