Horned Toad and Arrowheads, detail, 1995, Lorraine Black, ET513.E-13 Photo:  Kirstin Roper, © NHMU

Horned Toad Symbolism

Na’ashǫ́’ii dich’ízhii (horned toad) is called Cheii (Grandfather) by the Diné (Navajo). Grandfather Horned Toad possesses great spiritual power that enabled him to triumph in a contest with lightning, an incredibly powerful force. The Diné use his songs and prayer for protection from the dangers of the world and the evil intentions of other people. They are instructed, “if you see one, pick it up and rub it on your chest and say ‘I will be in good health and harmony.’ If you have corn pollen, sprinkle it as an offering and then let the horned lizard loose where you found it. You will then have good health and harmony.” Grandfather Horned Toad is dressed in armor composed of arrowhead represented by the spiky horns on his body. It is said he can shoot forth arrowheads with his breath so that the Diné can use them for their protection as well.