White Shell Woman

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White Shell Woman

White Shell Woman appears in the creation stories of various Native American tribes, including the Navajo, Zuni, and Apache. In Zuni myth, White Shell Woman is an ancestor of the Sun Father, a creator god and the source of life. She lives with him in the West.

In the Navajo creation story, White Shell Woman (Yoolgai asdzáá) is the sister of the goddess Changing Woman and a wife of Water. Created when the Talking God and the Wind breathed life into two shells, the sisters grew lonely and sought companyChanging Woman with the Sun and White Shell Woman with a mountain stream. Eventually they gave birth to two sons, who grew up to battle the monsters that roamed the earth. In some Navajo tales, White Shell Woman and Changing Woman become the same character.

deity god or goddess

According to the Navajo, when White Shell Woman went to live on her own, the Talking God and other deities came to visit her. They brought ears of corn that they covered with sacred blankets to create a man and a woman. White Shell Woman was overjoyed with this couple, who along with the descendants of Changing Woman became the ancestors of the Navajo people.

See also Changing Woman; Creation Stories; Native American Mythology.

*See Names and Places at the end of this volume for further information.