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Spider Woman

by Susan Nagoda Bergquist
Spider Man and Spider Woman are Navaho supernaturals or Holy People. They taught the Navaho people how to weave, and established the four warnings of death. Spider Woman is an important mythic being among both the Eastern Pueblos and the Western Pueblos of New Mexico and Arizona.

She probably assimilated into the Navaho religious assemblage, as the Athabasans migrated from their home land in Canada to the southwest, slowly taking on character as they went along from different cultural associations. However, the major influence was from the Pueblo peoples of the southwest, especially during the 1600's and early 1700's, in conjunction with the Pueblo Revolt. At this time there was a very close living association between the Navaho and the Pueblos, at places like Largo Canyon in New Mexico. These stressful times greatly influenced the Navaho religion and thought. In general, Spider, Spider Woman or Spider Man is a beneficial character in the myths and stories of the Plains, Southwestern, and Western American Indians. In some cases a creator (Pima and Zia) and others a trickster ( Dakota groups). Among the Jicarilla Apache, spider is a minor character, but Spider Woman is a very important personage in the myths of the Hopi, especially with the Hero Twins and Culture Heroes. She even takes a part in the Sunset Crater myth, which may well have some Sinagua affiliations


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