Peace or Violence: Differences Between the Navajo and Babylonian Creation Myths
"The study of world history is an exhilarating project that offers unparallel opportunity to understand oneself and one's own society in relation to the larger world" (Bently xvii). Indeed, world history is an exciting and interesting topic. The textbooks seem to get more in depth and detailed with every new year. But how exactly do historians get all of the material to make these textbooks? What do they base their facts on? In order to learn new information and facts about the societies in textbooks, historians must literally "go back to the source." Primary sources from ancient civilizations and societies such as creation myths, stone tablets, wall carvings, and other artifacts are the only way historians can truly learn more about our ancient ancestors. Creation myths are a very valuable resource for historians because almost every major society or civilization has one. Two myths in particular, the Navajo Story of Emergence and the Babylonian's Enuma Elish, give historians numerous historical insights about these two ancient societies. The Navajo myth was created between 1000 and 1500 AD in the southwest United States, and the Babylonian myth is believed to have taken shape sometime in the twelfth century BC. But, the most important historical insight about the Babylonians that we can gather from their myth is how greedy and warlike they were, and it's almost the opposite for the Navajo myth, as they look to be a peaceful people at one with their natural surroundings.
From reading the Navajo creation myth one can see that they valued the natural world and their land. At the very beginning of the myth there are immediately references to objects in
nature. "At To'bilhaski water flowed out from a central source" (Long 44). Probably the most convincing references to nature are the names of the different people and places in the myth. "Tan (Corn), Lokatsosakad (Standing Reed), Holatsi Dilyile (dark ants), Holasti Litsi (red ants), Tanilai (dragon flies), Maitsan (dung beetles), Wonisttsidikai (white locusts), Thaltlahale (Blue Heron), Tsal (Frog), Grasshopper People, and Locusts" (Long 44-50). These are only a few of the references to insects, animals, and land that are supposed to represent people and places in the myth. Just by reading the myth one time it is easy to see that the Navajo appreciated and were at one with their natural surroundings. In "every way, here (they) are connected to the land." Their people "would not be in balance with Mother Earth and Sky Father and the spiritual people (without land)," claimed Mary T Begay, a Navajo Elder, about how the white man is forcing her people to reservations. "We are part of Mother Earth's heart." said another Navajo Elder (Navajo Religion). So, the most important thing we can learn from the Navajo Myth is how their society valued the land and their...