These Americans Will Not Be Watching the Eclipse

Navajo tradition says rare phenomenon is a 'time of renewal'
By Linda Hervieux,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 21, 2017 9:10 AM CDT
These Americans Will Not Be Watching the Eclipse
File photo of a Cherokee dancer. Some Cherokees will dance after the solar eclipse.   (AP Photo/Chattanooga Times Free Press, Alyson Wright)

Not all Americans will be watching Monday's much ballyhooed eclipse. For some Native Americans, the rare phenomenon is an opportunity to stay inside and honor age-old tradition. When the moon passes over the sun, Navajo Bobbieann Baldwin and her children will draw their blinds. "It's time of renewal," the Arizona woman tells the Washington Post. "Kind of like pressing the alt, control, delete button on your computer, resetting everything." That means no eating, drinking, talking, or doing much else. "Some people will be praying. Some will be meditating. Some will be telling the story of the creation of the sun and the moon," Elvin Keeswood of Mesa, Ariz., tells the Arizona Republic. Many Indian school districts will close; Navajo Nation employees have the day off.

The Navajo name for the eclipse is Jóhonaa’éí daaztsá, which means "the sun is dead." It is believed that during an eclipse, the sun god that controls the universe dies, only to be reborn with the help of the moon, a deity that regulates Earth. "Just like you don't watch other humans or animals being intimate with each other, you don't watch the sun and moon during the renewal," Keeswood says. "You’re observing something that should not be observed," Baldwin adds, per the Post. Navajo teachings link viewing an eclipse with digestive problems, migraines, birth defects, and other problems. In a less tranquil tradition, Cherokees will beat drums and fire guns during the eclipse to scare off the giant frog that their lore says will try to swallow the sun. Afterward, they will dance to celebrate the frog's defeat. "It is a great teaching moment for all of us," Keeswood tells the Republic. (More American Indian stories.)

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