Kinaalda – Celebrating maturity of girls among the Navajo

The ceremony celebrating maturity of girls among the Navajo is held generally on the fourth night after the first evidence of the maiden’s entrance into womanhood. On the first morning following the moment of this change in life the girl bathes and dresses in her finest clothes.

Kinaalda - Celebrating maturity of girls among the Navajo

Kinaalda – Maturity ceremony for Navajo Girls

Later she stretches herself face downward on a blanket just outside the hogán, with her head toward the door. A sister, aunt, or other female relation, if any happen to be close at hand, or if not, a male relative other than her father, then proceeds symbolically to remould her.

Her arms and legs are straightened, her joints smoothed, and muscles pressed to make her truly shapely. After that the most industrious and energetic of the comely women in the immediate neighborhood is called in to dress the girl’s hair in a particular form of knot and wrap it with deerskin strings, called tsklólh.

Should there be any babies or little tots about the home, the girl goes to them, and, placing a hand under each ear, successively lifts them by the neck, to make them grow faster. Then she darts off toward the east, running out for about a quarter of a mile and back. This she does each morning until after the public ceremony. By so doing she is assured of continuing strong, lithe, and active throughout womanhood.

The four days preceding the night of the ceremony are days of abstinence; only such foods as mush and bread made from corn-meal may be eaten, nor may they contain any salt. To indulge in viands of a richer nature would be to invite laziness and an ugly form at a comparatively early age. The girl must also refrain from scratching her head or body, for marks made by her nails during this period would surely become ill-looking scars.

All the women folk in the hogán begin grinding corn on the first day and continue at irregular intervals until the night of the third, when the meal is mixed into batter for a large corn-cake, which the mother bakes in a sort of bean-hole outside the hogán.

The ceremony proper consists of little more than songs. A medicine-man is called upon to take charge, being compensated for his services with blankets, robes, grain, or other articles of value. Friends and neighbors having been notified, they assemble at the girl’s hogán fairly early in the evening.

When dusk has settled, the medicine-man begins his songs, singing first the twelve “hogán songs” of the Bahózhonchi. After he has finished, anyone present who so desires may sing songs taken from the ritual of the same order. This motley singing and hilarity continue until well toward sunrise, when the mother brings in a bowl of yucca suds and washes the girl’s hair.

Her head and hair are dried with corn-meal, after which the girl takes her last run toward the east, this time followed by many young children, symbolically attesting that she will be a kind mother, whom her children will always follow.

The hatál, or medicine singer, during her absence sings eight songs, generally termed the Racing songs. On her return the great corn-cake is brought in, cut, and divided among the assemblage, when all disperse, and the girl may once more loosen her hair and partake of any food she pleases.

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Comments

  1. Go there pls!!!!!!

  2. call us people!!!!!

  3. dine people thank of your art work………………………….

  4. andrea jordan says:

    I read that the hair style done at the kinaalda is called a ts?klólh. Is this a typo error, or do you have a word in your language that actually uses a ? in it?? Very interesting ceremony. Is it still practiced? I lived with the Yanomamo of South America in the forest and they have a ceremony for their young girls that is in some ways similar.
    Thank you for responding Andrea Jordan

  5. i luv this site it helps so much

  6. @Andrea, yes this ceremony is still practiced. The bun is put in the back of the head, wrapped with deerskin or white yarn. The string is called tsii’t?oo? (hairtie) and the bun is called tsii’yeel. The Navajo language uses the ? mark, the same as English. Google Navajo hair bun to see what it looks like.

  7. Yes this is still practiced today. To prove it, you are currently viewing the comment of a young navajo woman herself. I had my kinaalda done a few years back. But alas I did not do the same 4 day ceremony as my older sister, I had a shorter version of it that took 2 days. Now though i do sincerely wish i had the traditional 4 day ceremony done.

  8. I love this website it helps me with my school social studies work all of the time. it tells you everything about them

  9. I love the way this is all wrote, I remember i went threw all this when i was 13 woaah you people got everything correct, its such a fun experience…But my dad the tied my hair, the running was tireing, staying up all night, boy was i tired…

  10. insanelogic says:

    i have gone through this ceremony and this is an accurate representation of it. for me it was my grandmother who combed my hair and conducted the entire ceremony. this was a pivotal experience for me, and i wish more young women could go through something 1/2 as meaningful. take care.

  11. this doesn’t help me well it does a little so yeah…that’s my comment. Happy? i love jessie the disney channel show! it’s awesome!

  12. Missy Martin says:

    I am currently taking an anthropology class and I have a research project that I have to write on Navajo cultures. I would like to get the correct information from someone who knows the culture. I am writing about beliefs, values, sickness and healing, and social change among the Navajo. I would be eternally greatful for any help you can give. Thank you in advance.

    Sincerely,
    Missy

  13. Harold Carey Jr says:

    you can contact Clarenda Begay
    Museum Curator
    Navajo Nation Museum
    clarenda@navajonationmuseum.org

  14. I really love this site I would like to know where to buy some things please.
    Thank you
    Paula

  15. Harold Carey Jr says:

    Navajo Arts & Crafts Enterprise
    http://www.gonavajo.com/

  16. did you know the dene people of the Canadian far north /north west territory’s sahtu regon speak the same language and have very similar traditions ? any Navaho speaker can translate sahtu to English it means bear lake the largest lake in Canada

  17. Thanks for finally talking about >Kinaalda – Celebrating matudity oof
    girls among the Navajo <Loved it!

  18. From having traveled a little through Navajo Country, but mostly from having had the immense privilege of running with some of you in the Canyon de Chelley all the way past Lady Spider, I want to thank you for sharing your wisdom and traditions. I have been profoundly impressed with your People’s attitude and I yearn to learn more about your culture. This site is a great resource. Until next time, Ya’at’eeh, my friends.

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