The Navajo Concept of Wind
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Wind – in Navajo language – is most commonly referred to as nilch’i. In simple terms, nilch’i may be translated as “the wind,” or as “holy wind.” But that simple translation does not capture the word’s full meaning. For the Navajo, nilch’i is considered the means of life. It represents not only a god, or holy person, but also a means of communication, the act of breathing, and every Navajo’s soul. Wind is present in virtually all aspects of Navajo culture. For this conference paper I will be focusing on three key topics: birth, the inner-wind soul, and religion. By understanding how wind fits into each of these themes, one can better understand the complexity and importance of this abstract concept of Wind – for which there is no equivalent in non-Native American Indian cultures of America. My paper will contribute a more complete grasp of the concept of Navajo Wind.