Eclipse has traditional Native Americans heading indoors

Devin Neeley
August 18, 2017 05:39 PM

FARMINGTON, N.M. — Across the country, many people have their solar-viewing glasses and know exactly where they’ll be watching Monday’s total solar eclipse.

But for Native Americans, a traditional belief will keep some indoors.

“In the Navajo beliefs, in the creation stories, the moon and sun were both given spirits when those come together. Those are magnified, so that means our Navajo people are expected to observe it in ways that will respect those spirits,” Byron Tsabetsaye with San Juan College Native American Center said.

Eclipse has traditional Native Americans heading indoors
“I think it’s important for people to understand that mainstream society is going to watch the eclipse. There are some of us that will choose to do the opposite and not look at the eclipse and be outdoors.”

Observation, though, means strictly not seeing the eclipse — not even being outside. Monday will be a day to set aside daily tasks and other activities.

“The eclipse is a renewal process. It is a rebirth,” Tsabetsaye said. “So for people to be respectful, they shouldn’t be doing activities like drinking, eating, sleeping — even really encouraged to be in the most peaceful state they can be in. Some sing songs or practice meditation.”

To accommodate those beliefs, San Juan College will offer excused absences, even though it is the first day of school. Farmington Municipal Schools offers the same, and Central Consolidated Schools and Navajo Nation employees will all be off.

“It’s important to understand the diversity that exists and the cultural and traditional beliefs of other people,” Tsabetsaye said.


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