The Navajo Demon (Alternate title: The Navajo Witch) [1938]

Summary: 
Fictional (and questionable) narrative about a 12-year-old boy who captures a Great Horned Owl and attempts to tame it. He brings it home to his parents and grandparents. Some images of daily life.
Cultural Narrative: 

Narration #1 by Lorencita and Tyrell Willie. Facilitated by Rhiannon Sorrell, Instructor and librarian at Diné College.

Language of narration primarily English.

 

Narration #2 by Alex Mitchell, cultural consultant, Diné College Museum. Facilitated by Rhiannon Sorrell, Instructor and librarian at Diné College.

Language of narration primarily English.

Description: 

Opening credits and introductory text over images of sky and medium shot of a Joshua tree "The wild life (sic) and creatures in these pictures were taken with a sympathetic understanding of our great outdoors --- "; series of wide shots of Painted Desert; wide shot with hogan in the center, girl on horse ride towards it, woman working hunched over; medium wide shot of rider approaching hogan and closer shot of her dismounting and entering the house; medium interior shot of a woman removing the ties from around a baby on a cradleboard as a man to her left looks on; he then reaches over and picks up the baby (a boy?) in a shirt and no pants, bouncing him on his lap; closer view of baby, all smiling; the man hands the baby back to the woman who begins to breastfeed him; woman stands up baby and man returns with a bowl of water he places on the ground before her; she removes the baby's shirt and the man lifts him, standing, into the bowl as the woman him and picks him up; close up of white woolen blanket and ties; man puts shirt back on baby who smiles at the camera; woman places baby back on the cradleboard and they proceed to cover him with the blanket and tie him back into the cradle; close-up of the tying procedure; woman stands up completed bundle and hands baby in cradle to man; he holds and bounces the baby as the girl sits in front of the woman who begins to brush the girl's hair with a bundle of stiff grass (be’ezo or bé’ézhóó’); wide shot of desert flats, pans over to a boy on a horse; closer shot of same boy wearing breechcloth and carrying bow and arrow, shades his eyes and he surveys landscape, rides off; medium shot of older man sleeping on ground in sun shelter (Chaha’oh), head propped against low wall, stuff strewn about; back to wide shot of boy riding horse through desert landscape; coyote in foreground running up towards rocky cliffs, trees and mountains in background; medium close shot of coyote looking out from perch; wide shot of goats walking through desert; close up of coyote looking into camera panting and lipping lips; back to shot of goats now running; boy on top of rocky formation readies his bow and arrow and shoots; coyote runs off through canyon floor; wide shot of boy herding goats into a corral of branches and wire; closer shots of boy carrying a black baby goat into the corral, grabbing a large white goat by the whiskers and keeping her still while the baby eats; boy pulls baby away and struggles to keep the mother goat in place, grabbing her leg; the boy milks her a little into a container and she runs away, leaving the boy sitting there; wide shot of cliff top and cave from below; wide shot of boy climbing the rocky hillside below; close-up of a Great Horned Owl/Néʼéshjaatsoh walking and then facing the camera; back to boy climbing; close-up of owl in a small shelter between some rocks; medium wide shot from below of boy reaching the owl's shelter; close up of boy's hand reaching in and owl pecking at it; back to medium wide shot of boy picking up the owl by the base of it's wings and carrying it and his bow and arrow down the incline; wide shot of a man in a hat riding a donkey between two brush and stops; medium shot of boy bringing owl to same old man wearing a striped shirt as well as hat, man takes owl and boy reaches up to speak closer to his ear; close-up in profile of the old man; boy grabs the reigns of the donkey and they walk towards camera; medium wide shot of a branch-covered sun shelters and a hogan; interior shot of shelter where an old woman tends a fire, a girl sits next to a hanging rug and a boy looks out; the from last scene comes in holding the old man's hand and carrying the owl, they sit down; the older women grabs the coffee pot; closer view of her rolling a piece dough between her hands; while the boy and man inspect the owl; closer shot of her hands working with the dough, rolling a second ball; back to wider shot of her working, owl tries to escape the boy's clutches; the woman places the dough directly onto metal wire structure over the fire; other food stuffs next to fire; medium wide shot of girl leaving the shelter holding the little boy's hand and enters hogan, followed by the rest and the owl; medium shot of group, older lady in front who lights a cigarette, then hands the match to the old man to light his; medium shot of little boy sitting next to girl seated at a loom (dah iistłʼǫ́) with rug underway; the owl runs over and pecks the boy and she grabs him into her lap; medium shot of the old man trying to contain the owl as the older boy laughs beside him, owl then jumps onto the older lady's neck; closer shot of the boy handling the struggling bird as the littler boy looks on; back to old woman spinning wool/aghaaʼ by hand as the man speaks to her and gestures; close-up of older man doing same, smokes; close-up of woman speaking into his ear, their heads together and then looking at each other; medium shot of boy playing with the owl, pulling up its wings, next to old man; back to close-up of man, and medium shot of the woman speaking into his ear; medium shot of the boys listening; close-up of woman biting her nails; medium shot of the boy, with his bow and arrow in hand, outside next to brush sitting down with the owl on his lap; closer view of him putting a bandanna around his forehead, gets up; wides shot of area; medium close shot of a younger woman (from the baby scene?) sleeping on a kind of mattress and blanket next to the boys and the old man next to them; the younger boy hides his face; wide shots of landscape with brush and sky; end credit with mountains behind.

(Likely) fictionalized names: Ma and Pa Whiskers; Chee (baby); Nishá (12 year old boy overlooking his land and flock); Joe Shavehead (father of Nishá); Old Chief Charlie High-Hat (grandfather); Old Mother Wrinkles (grandmother).

Navajo Nation