Earth Is My Mother, Sky Is My Father: Space, Time, and Astronomy in Navajo Sandpainting

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UNM Press, 1995 - History - 240 pages
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To the Navajo, sandpaintings are sacred, living entities that reflect the interconnectedness of all living beings - humans, plants, stars, animals, and mountains. This book explores the circularity of Navajo thought in analyses of sandpaintings, Navajo chantway myths, and stories reflected in the celestial constellations. Beginning with an introduction to Navajo history and ethnography, the author explores the spiritual world of the Navajo, their ceremonial practices, and their conceptions of time and stellar motion. The Navajo depict the heavens in a group of sacred sandpaintings, and Griffin-Pierce shows how these images not only communicate the temporal and spatial dimensions of the Navajo universe but also present, in visual form, Navajo ideas about relationships among nature, self, and society. Beautifully illustrated by the author, this well-documented book is based on six years of fieldwork with Navajo chanters and on the author's twenty-year friendship with a Navajo family. Earth Is My Mother, Sky Is My Father is an engaging study for anyone who wants to better understand modern Navajo philosophy and sacred practices.
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
The Roots of Navajo Culture
10
for Navajo Philosophy and Life
63
The Navajo Heavens in Visual Image
98
The Constellations as a Cultural Text
142
Mother Earth Father Sky
174
Field Procedures
201
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About the author (1995)

Trudy Griffin-Pierce (1949-2009) was an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Arizona. She was the author of several books on American Indian cosmology.

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