Kinaalda: The Navajo Girls' Puberty Ceremony
On the first morning after her first bleeding
by Sheena Blackhall
The girl bathes.
The girl washes her hair in suds from a yucca root
Now her hair is combed
She is dressed ceremonial garb
Others work her body with their hands
To mould her in the form of Changing Woman.
She runs to the east three times
(dawn, noon, sunset) throughout the first three days
She grinds 100lbs of corn over the ritual time
During the four days of the kinaalda,
The girl stays up all night,
Sitting with her back straight, her legs in front of her,
She must not fall asleep
Throughout each night of prayers.
She digs a firepit in the ground
To cook the mighty ritual corn cake
On the last morning, she runs toward the sunrise
She blesses the cake, which has cooked all night
She offers the first piece of the cake to the Sun,
She serves the rest to her people.
Her people sing the songs of the Navaho tribe
Her hair is combed
Her body is painted with white clay
Special jewellery is placed upon her
Outside her home, her body again is moulded
The ceremony concludes. The girl is a woman