House Made of Dawn by Helen Jaskoski

By Helen Jaskoski

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Sand paintings are constructed depicting the Holy People; these paintings are considered to contain some of the power of the sacred personage, and the patient will enter the painting (thus destroying it) as part of the invocation to the spirits to enter and cleanse the patient. The Yeí bichai also take part, represented by dancers in costume and body paint, in the culminating dance of the final evening. Witchcraft Witchcraft is important to the plot of House Made of Dawn, although the theme is not explored in detail.

Two days later, Angela visited Abel in the hospital. She chatted about her son, the child she was carrying when she and Abel had been together in New Mexico. She told a story that she liked to tell her son, about a young man who was the child of a woman and a bear and who grew up to be a hero and savior of his people. Benally is shocked that Angela has invented a story so similar to one of the most powerful Navajo myths, the story of Changing Bear Maiden. After Benally's introduction of the Navajo Bear Maiden story, the narration includes a passage set off typographically with slightly smaller print; the font is similar to that used for printing Father Olguin's tale of Santiago and the two poetic translations from ceremonials.

The elder marries the bear man, and when she realizes what she has done, she runs away to a mountaintop, where she eventually encounters the Yeí bichai, the Holy People, or semi-divinities of the Navajo religion. She gives birth to two children, a daughter and a son; the son eventually becomes a man of high position and weds the elder daughter of a chief. However, after he sleeps with his wife's younger sister, she has a child that she abandons; this child is, in turn, found by the bear. Benally's retelling of the story is followed by the last four lines of the House Made of Dawn prayer, invoking beauty all around the speaker.

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