First Songs

Encyclopedia Article


In the Navajo healing tradition, the First Songs are a group of four songs ('acáłe) that are sung on the very last morning of the Enemyway ceremonial. The Enemyway is sung in order to protect Navajos from harmful ghosts of slain warriors, or in more contemporary parlance, to protect Navajos from the deleterious effects of non-Native influences. Here, at the end of the Enemyway, the individual known as the Stick-Receiver, who has been responsible for procuring and protection a symbolic enemy talisman throughout the ceremony, leads a group of singers into the hogan where the ceremony is being conducted. The Stick-Receiver then sings the First Songs. This closes out the ceremonial. According to Father Berard Haile, these are the First Songs of Coyote.

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