Navajo Mythology Twins – Monster Slayer

Two of the most important characters in Navajo mythology are twin miracle-performing sons of White-Shell Woman, Ylkaists¡n, chief goddess. This plate pictures the leader of the two the first conceived and the first-born, whose father is the sun. His name means “Slayer of Alien Gods,” from an, alien; ye, gods; to kill. By him, with the assistance of Tobadz­schin, his twin brother, were killed numerous bird, animal, rock, and human monsters, typifying evils, who wantonly destroyed human life.

Navajo Hero Twins Poster

Naayéé’neizghání (Slayer of Monsters) and Tóbájíshchíní (Born for Water) are the Navajo Hero Twins.

Navajo Hero Twins Poster

When the Spirit People came upon this earth from below they made six sacred mountains, four on the distant horizon at the cardinal points and two in the centre, Chaa­li and Tza­lhnahodaa­hla­. On the eastern slope of Chin­li, brought forth as the daughter of Earth and Sky, was born Ylkaiestsan, White-Shell Woman. First Man took her to his home near Tza­lhnahoda­hla, where she matured in twelve days into a beautiful woman with supernatural powers. Later she lived in a home of her own at the foot of this mountain. It was while there that she gave birth to twin boys who became saviours of their people, slaying alien gods who were fast depopulating the earth.

Monster Slayer - Tóbájíshchíní ­ - Navajo

Monster Slayer – Tóbájíshchíní – Navajo

Yalkai Estsa¡n would often lie on the eastern slope of the mountain as the sun rose through the morning, and when the day grew warm would seek the shade of jutting rocks from which trickled shining drops of water. Quite unknown to herself she had conceived one day from the sunbeams and the dripping water. When she became aware that she was to become a mother Yalkaiastsa¡n was made very happy, for she did not enjoy living alone. Soon she found herself the proud possessor of twin boys. The first-born and the stronger came to be known in his youth as Nayainazgana­, Slayer of Alien Gods; the other was always known as Tobadza­scha­ina­, Born From Water. Their prenatal life covered a period of only twelve days, and maturity was attained in thirty-two days after passing through eight changes, one of which came every four days.

At that time the earth was infested with great giants, foreign gods, who were rapidly destroying the people. Of these, Ya­tso, Big God, as large as a mountain, was the only one in human form. The others were Man-eating Bird, Rolling Stone, that crushed all in its path, Tracking Bear, and Antelope, who killed without mercy. Fearing lest some of these monsters learn of the presence of her boys, Yólkai Ä”stsán kept them hidden away on the mountain side, but they chafed under confinement, so she made them bows and arrows and let them play about, but admonished them not to stray far from home. The boys promised to obey, but not long afterward, because in reply to their questions their mother told them she did not know who their father was, they became sulky and broke their promise, going off toward the east. They would go and search for someone who knew. When on a small knoll a long way from home they heard a whispered “Sh-h.”

“Are you afraid, my younger brother?” asked Nayaitnazgana­.

“No!” was the quick response.

Four times they heard the whisper, and then two of the Wind People appeared. “We saw you travelling eastward,” said they, “and came to caution you. The land is cursed with alien gods who kill for pleasure; beware of them! Why do you journey thus alone without your father?”

“Our father! Alas, we know nothing of him and are now starting on a search to learn. Do you know who he is?” asked the boys.

“Yes, the Sun is your father; but if you think to find him you will have to travel far eastward and cross the wide, wide waters.”

Nayaitnazgana­ turned to his younger brother and said, “Sa­tsa­la­, let us go.”

The Sun was then overhead. Being in fact of a holy nature, the boys covered distance rapidly and by mid-afternoon had passed well beyond the limits of their homeland. There they came upon an old woman sitting beside a ladder projecting from a hole. She asked them who they were and whither they were going. They told her to the Sun, whose sons they were, but whom they had never seen.

gend of the Navajo Hero Twins cover

The Legend of the Navajo Hero Twins Book 

Navajo creation story

Books and Posters

The Legend of the Navajo Hero Twins Book Review
Changing Woman Protects Her Sons
The Holy Beings Teach the Navajo Twins Poster
Navajo Winter Storytelling Poster
The Navajo Hero Twins Receive Their Weapons – Poster
Tsidil – Navajo Stick Game
Book Review of  ”The Legend of the Horse”
Legend of the Horse Poster
K’é – Diné (Navajo) Kinship System


  1. In some tales of the monster conquest, The Twins go together; in others, Monster Slayer sometimes goes alone while his brother watches over the warning prayerstick at home. This prayerstick was made to glow, burn, or turn blood red when the older hero was in danger and needed help.

  2. The Wind to Monster Slayer. “Each year she freezes the earth. She covers the streams with ice. She kills the plants so that the vines bear no melons and the stalks bear no corn.” “Mother,” demanded

  3. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us here in France. I want to become a grey shaman. Some of my people know I’m a healer and a lot of this knowledge helps me with shamanism path I know choose to follow. I love Native Americans .Please post more!

  4. The caption for the photo (from Curtis) above incorrectly refers to “Monster Slayer – Tóbájíshchíní – Navajo”; whereas, it should not include Tóbájíshchíní. It is a photo of a Navajo as Naayéé’neizghání (Monster Slayer). See Matthews, Navaho Legends, Plate IV (p. 104 ff.) and Note 269 (p. 263).

  5. Georgena Felicia says

    The best book I’ve found to date is Dine’ bahane’ The Navajo Creation Story by Paul G. Zolbrod. It is written as a “myth” story with a TON of detail. I highly recommend for at least a starting point. Also, that books says Changing Woman gave birth first – to Monster Slayer, and her sister White Shell Woman gave birth moments later to twin brother Born For Water. Two mothers, two fathers, on Sun, other Water…yet Twins…

  6. rebecca sampson says

    the story needs a little more to add don’t get me wrong I like it.

  7. where could you get pictures from and the rest of the story?

  8. Where can I find the rest of this story? I’m doing some research and haven’t found any conclusive sites.

  9. wolf craver says

    i have read the story in book form but i dont remember it that well. could some one enlighten me?

  10. i think the story is interesting. its great for our youth today to know where they come from as native american. our teachings are well respected, tell me more…

  11. IndianntheCupboard says

    Also, you should depict the twins together. One alone is not whole.

  12. IndianntheCupboard says

    Dzil Na’oo’dil’ii NOT “Tza­lhnahodaa­hla”

    Choo’l’i’ii NOT “Chaa­li”

    Yoo’l’gai Asdzaa NOT “Yalkai Estsa¡n”

    Ye’ii Tsoh NOT “yatsoh”

    ….aside from this the info i great. Tell me this, have you sat in on a sweat ceremony? Male ceremonies you’ll hear the creation story with this story intrinsically intertwined. Thanks for the site. I’ll be a regular visitor. Ahe’hee.

  13. much more

  14. If you wanna find out, why not just come down to the Navajo Reservation and ask. It’s not that bad

  15. is there more to this story?


  1. […] they’re up against the U.S. Army. There should be lots of horses, big battle scenes and maybe the Monster Slayer Twins come to life and help save some children from godless soldiers, like Legolas from “Lord of the […]