1st chap. of a middle-grade hist. fiction about a young Navajo girl.
| Morning Twilight waited impatiently to greet the sunrise. Every Navajo started their day with a morning blessing.She loved this part of each day. With her long powerful legs she pushed up into her favorite spot halfway up the canyon wall. The small ledge faced east and gave her a spectacular view of Spider Rock. Morning Twilight could barely make out the rock’s twin spires against the blue-black of the retreating night sky. Ta Dine, The People, had lived in or around Canyon de Chelly for centuries. It was a land of valleys, mountains, mesas, caves and monuments. Every inch of it was sacred to the Navajo.
The Navajo morning blessing called for her to clear her mind of all the burdens from yesterday and the fears of the new day. She was finding it very difficult to keep her mind from skipping forward in excitement, because this was a very special day for many reasons. This was her 10th birthday and exactly 10 years since Ta Dine had returned to the Canyon,1868, following their release from imprisonment at Bosque Redonde. Although she was too young to remember, most of her clan remembered well and celebrated their freedom on this day. In celebration, she was going to start her very own beeldléí, woven blanket for the first time.
For years Morning Twilight had been obediently learning the many steps and skills necessary for the honored tradition of weaving. Since she was an inquisitive toddler, Morning Twilight had been her mother’s shadow, watching as she created the beautiful blankets. Her Amá,(mother) had learned the craft from her own mother, Morning Twilight’s Amá sání, and together their weaving traded for great value.
The women of her clan created“chief blankets” that were beautiful and highly valued by the Cheyenne to the North. These were brightly colored and designed with the geometric motif carefully positioned for dramatic display across the wearers broad back and shoulders. The Cheyenne Chief would be respected for his wealth and physical stature in the blankets.
While the Navajo had been at Bosque Redonde they had been taught to use the white man’s dyes and cheap colorful fabric from the East. This gave the blankets plenty of garish color and impressed the Cheyenne; Morning Twilight wanted to step out of that tradition. She wanted to tell stories of her people, Ta Dine, and the magnificence around them. Morning Twilight yearned to create a design that showed the subtle colors and dramatic structures of the land.
Morning Twilight had the wool from four ewes. She had tenderly cared for her sheep all winter. Churro sheep with long strong wool fibers that had been used for Navajo weaving for centuries. The four sheep each reflected a color of the Canyon de Chelly. The rich reds of the monument rocks, the deep browns of the Chuska Mountains that rimmed the valleys, the soft tans and grays of the sandy caves.
As Morning Twilight skipped back to the hogan she could sense the family returning from their own morning prayers. It was early May and they had been at their summer hogan, deep in the valley just a few days. She could hear the soft lowing of the sheep as her brothers gently moved among them preparing for the trek up to the pastureland. The air carried the sweet smell of Amá’s fry bread and mutton stew. Shy morning sun rays streaked across the piles of wool that had been sheared just yesterday.
She raised her face to the coming sunrise, and absorbed the pink stripe at the edge of the horizon. Here came a new glorious day and Morning Twilight was ready to pay homage with her first blanket.