Native North American Mythologies

Earth Divers and Emergers

What is the Navajo emergence myth?

The Navajo, the largest of the Native American nations, conceive of a series of domed worlds, one on top of another. The first world, deep underground, was an island of sorts in the primal waters of an endless ocean. The people there were the Insect people, who spent most of the time quarreling. They generally ignored their gods and acted inappropriately sexually. The gods sent a great flood to force them to leave the first world for the second. The second world was blue and was populated by the Swallow people. The Insect people got along with the Swallow people until one day an insect sexually assaulted a swallow. Having to flee, the Insect people, led by a locust, flew up to the third world—the Yellow World—where the Grasshopper people lived. But once again they acted inappropriately and were expelled up to the fourth world, which was populated by the Kisani, the Pueblo People. The Insect people got along with the Kisani and learned many things from them. Through ceremonies directed by the gods, they were cleansed and eventually First Man and First Woman came into being. But the people began quarreling and the men and women separated and then came back together. A figure known as Water Monster stole two young girls from the people, and after Coyote stole children belonging to Water Monster, the monster sent a terrible flood. The people—both the Insect People and the Kisani—were saved by hiding in a reed before escaping, again led by Locust, into our world, the fifth world.


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