Black Dancers

Encyclopedia Article


A group of dancers who are covered in mud and perform in the Enemyway ceremonial. This portion of the ceremony is only performed at a request of the patient and is not a part of all Enemyway ceremonies. During this portion of the ceremony only those being treated are allowed to be in the presence of the dancers.

The Black Dancers represent the Hard Flint Boys (the constellation Pleiades) who were brought to an Enemyway ceremony by their grandmother Hard Flint Woman. During the ceremony, they brought cornmeal with them that had been taken from the first war with Taos. To this day, corn from Taos/Oraibi is used to signify the plunder taken from a defeated enemy.

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. This ceremonial can be used for returning military personnel to rid them of the harmful effects of evil spirits, or chindi, of the slain, as well as the associated harmful effects of modernity both on and off the reservation.

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