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Brian Cate

English 120
March 23,2016
Kinaald
The Kinaald is a special ritual for a young woman. It is the introduction for a girl into
womanhood. Kinaald is done when a girl gets her first menstrual. It is a sacred ceremony that
lasts over the span of four days. It allows the Navajo people and the girl involved to have a deep
and strong connection with the Holy People and the Changing Woman.
The Navajo culture have their own Navajo religion. The Navajo believe there are multiple
beings or figures that comprise our creator. The Navajo mythology is enormously rich and
poetically expressive. To the people of Navajo nation, all of existence is divided between the
Holy People, who are the supernatural deities, and the Earth Surface People. Most of the deities
can be either beneficial or harmful to the Earth Surface People depending on how they are
approached. Most important to the Navajo religion are the Holy People. These people created the
First Man and First Woman. The First Man and First Woman are the ancestors of all the Earth
Surface People. From the First Man and the First woman, the deity of the Changing Woman
came about. There is an ancient myth about how the Changing Woman came about. To the
Navajo people, the myth began with the First Man and First Woman heard a baby crying and
began to search for the baby. When the baby was found, Talking God, the leader of the Holy
People, decided that the baby would be raised by the First Man and First Woman. The baby
would be named Asdzaan Nagleeii or Changing Woman because she grew fast; for every day the
baby grew one year. So when Changing Woman got her first menstrual, the Kinaald came about

which included making a Navajo cake which would have the center especially for the sun
because the sun created day and night. A major aspect of the Kinaald and the Navajo people is
the Medicine Man.

(Navajo medicine man performing a


ritual with eagle feathers)
The medicine men were termed singers or hatli. Their overall purpose is to become versed in
the mysteries of religion and are ever prone to cultivate in the minds of the people the belief that
they are powerful not only in curing disease of mind and body but of preventing it by their
incantations. The Medicine Man assists with the special coming of age ceremony for the Navajo
people.
The Kinaald is a very special ceremony to the young woman and to the Navajo tribe. The
Kinaald is performed when a girl receives her first menstrual. This ceremony is a coming of age
ceremony that introduces a young woman into womanhood. The overall ceremony is over the
span of four days. The girl throughout the day is kept busy with cooking and other aspects
around the tribe. She is also dressed in special clothing and her hair is made in a unique way. She
does all the cooking and other ritualistic aspects of the ceremony in the traditional ways of the
Navajo. The ritual represents the woman being an overall strong individual. She is assured

throughout the four day ritual of continuing to be strong, lithe, and active throughout
womanhood. The ceremony also marks the transformation that occurred in the Changing
Womans body which allowed her to bear children. The young woman is being introduced to the
belief that she is one with the Changing Woman. How she herself is a strong powerful woman
and that she is preparing herself to welcome the major changes to come in her life. There are
many coming- of age ceremonies that are similar in significance to the Kinaald in many
different cultures.
There are many similar coming of age ceremonies in the Apache, Filipino, and Jewish
traditions. In the Filipino culture, the girls coming of age ceremony is called a Debut. This
celebration is held at the age of 18. It is fairly similar to a Quinceaera because the Filipino
culture was heavily influenced by Spanish culture. In the ceremony, there are several traditions
that are followed like the kinaalda. In the Debut, there is the 18 roses and 18 candles.

(Ma. Patrisha Veronica Sta. Cruz Mendoza and the men who presented her 18 roses.)
So the debutant has family and friends, with 18 women and 18 men, give the debutant a rose or
a candle along with a heartfelt speech about the girl. In a way, the whole party of the debut is
similar in size to an American girls sweet sixteen. There is lots of dancing with her court, or her

escorts, and the greeting of family at the party which is similar to Kinaald where she greets
everyone in the tribe. The Debut today is a lot more modern than the Kinaald though. Instead of
a four day ceremony, it is celebrated on one day which is usually the girls birthday. Yet another
similarity is that there is a lot of preparation beforehand like the girl in the Kinaald. The
debutant and her court has to practice their dance that is performed during the Debut. In the
Jewish religion, the coming of age ceremony is called a Bar or Bat mitzvah. This religious
coming of age ceremony is held at the age of 13 for boys and the age of 12 for girls. The
meaning of the name means son and daughter of the commandment. Like the Kinaald, it is a
symbolic entry into adulthood. Another similar aspect is that at a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, sometimes
the entire Jewish community is invited to the celebration. In the Kinaald, the entire Navajo tribe
attends the special celebration on the fourth day. In another aspect that is similar, the boy or girl
may conduct all parts of the service like the girls in a Kinaald. In the Apache culture, their
coming of age ceremony is very similar to the Navajo coming of age ceremony. The Apache
ceremony is called the Sunrise ceremony. It is a four day ceremony that is held after the girls
first menstruation. The girl becomes instilled with the spiritual power of White Painted Woman
and embraces the role of woman in the Apache nation. Throughout the ceremony, she sings
songs, dances, and has to run all four directions which is similar to the Navajo tradition of
running to the east every morning. In the Sunrise ceremony, the girls participate and conduct
rituals.

(An Apache girl taking part in the


reenactment of their sacred myth as she is The White Painted Woman.)
Another similar aspect to the Kinaald, the girl receives and gives gifts, blessings, and
experience their own capacity to heal. There are many different kinds of coming of age
ceremonies that have similar aspects to the Kinaald yet each hold them hold a special meaning
to their cultures.
The Kinaald is of great importance to the girl and her tribe. It represents her entering into
womanhood as a strong, hard-working woman. She becomes spiritually connected to the deity,
Changing Woman. The coming-of- age ceremony in any culture is a major stepping stone for
those young women or men. It is a valuable part of their life that gives them their first step into
adulthood.

Works Cited
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WOMANHOOD by Estelle Nora Harwit Amrani." THE KINAALDA CEREMONY - A
DANCE INTO WOMANHOOD by Estelle Nora Harwit Amrani. Vibrani.com, 1988.
Web. 04 Mar. 2016. <http://www.vibrani.com/Kinaalda.htm>.
Dela Cruz, Jamie Lou. "A Cultural Tradition of Filipino People, in Celebrating 18th Birthday
Debut." Fox in Focus. Fox in Focus, 13 May 2014. Web. 20 Mar. 2016.
<http://foxinfocus.ca/2014/05/13/a-cultural-tradition-of-filipino-people-in-celebrating18th-birthday-debut/>.
Grandadam, Sylvain. "Side View, Monument Valley, Utah, USA." Getty Images. Getty Images,
n.d. Web. 25 Mar. 2016. <http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/photo/senior-medicineman-standing-by-hogan-high-res-stock-photography/200513779-001>.
Long, Clayton. "Kinaalda Celebrating Maturity of Girls among the Navajo."Navajo People
Culture History. Navajopeople.org, 16 Dec. 2010. Web. 02 Mar. 2016.
<http://navajopeople.org/blog/kinaalda-celebrating-maturity-of-girls-among-the-navajo/
Long, Clayton. "Navajo Medicine-men (singers,hatli)." Navajo People Culture History. Navajo
People Culture History, 12 Nov. 2009. Web. 20 Mar. 2016.
<http://navajopeople.org/blog/navajo-medicine-men-singers/>.
Marks, Tracy. "Becoming Woman: The Sunrise Ceremony: Apache Female Puberty Ceremonies
in the Apache Tribe." Becoming Woman: The Sunrise Ceremony: Apache Female
Puberty Ceremonies in the Apache Tribe. Webwinds.com, 15 Jan. 2001. Web. 20 Mar.
2016. <http://www.webwinds.com/yupanqui/apachesunrise.htm#What>.

Popovic, Mislav. "Kinaalda." Kinaalda. Traditionsandcustoms.com, 2009-2012. Web. 02 Mar.


2016. <http://traditionscustoms.com/coming-of-age/kinaalda>.
Roessel, Jaclyn. "Origins of the Kinaalda." Grownup Navajo. Grownup Navajo, 23 Oct. 2012.
Web. 02 Mar. 2016. <http://grownupnavajo.com/2012/10/24/origins-of-the-kinaalda/>.
Syme, Daniel B. "Bar and Bat Mitzvah | ReformJudaism.org." Reform Judaism. Reform
Judaism, n.d. Web. 20 Mar. 2016. <http://www.reformjudaism.org/bar-and-bat-mitzvah>.
"Main Menu." Kochhar Online Humanist Education. Kochhar Online Humanist Education, 27
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"Navajo - Religion and Expressive Culture." Religion and Expressive Culture. Countries and
Their Cultures, 2011. Web. 20 Mar. 2016. <http://www.everyculture.com/NorthAmerica/Navajo-Religion-and-Expressive-Culture.html>.
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