Separation of the Sexes, detail, 1996, Agnes Gray, ET513.45
Photo: Kirstin Roper, © NHMU

Separation of the Sexes Story

Áłtsé Hastiin (First Man) and Áłtsé Asdzą́ą́ (First Woman) argued about who was most useful within the community. First Woman said, “We could live happily without men. We are the ones who gather food and till the fields.” First man grew angry and called the men together. He told them, “The women think they can live without us. Let’s see if that is true.” The men crossed to the north side of the river and the women stayed on the south. For four years they lived apart, becoming hungry for food and each other’s company. During this time of discord and imbalance, the men and women’s actions created the Naayéé’ (Alien Monsters) that later terrorized the Diné (Navajo). Finally, First Man regretted his anger and called to First Woman saying, “Do you still think you can live alone?” She replied, “I no longer believe I can. I’m sorry I let the things you said make me angry.” The men sent a raft to bring the woman across the river and they resumed their lives together.