By Gerald Hausman
Santa Fe, NM, USA

For over fifty years I have been friends with this amazing man. His name is Bluejay, Joogii, in Navajo. The other day I found a poem he wrote:

He can serenade with Coyote
And Dance with the moon, stars
upon clouds, and his pet bird
Not only talks to him,
They argue.

“Who is he talking about?” I asked my wife.

She said, “You, silly.”

Gerald Hausman

Over the years, we have done a lot together, Jay and I. Some real ventures and also a few misadventures.

Not long ago, Jay gave a traditional blessing to the place where we were living, my cousin Peter’s second-story apartment out in Tesuque, New Mexico. We’d traveled across country in our F150 Ford truck crossing swamplands and desert spaces and we brought with us a blind dachshund with diabetes, a mad pirate’s parrot named George, and the two of us.

And now, my old Navajo friend Joogii was blessing the upstairs apartment where we were living, all of us, including a tribe of mice that lived in the walls of the shop’s attic. So, I was listening to the soft human consonants and vowels, the quiet windswept words of Jay DeGroat, Joogii, Jay, Bluejay, the medicine man’s son. His murmurs were some of the most beautiful words I ever heard.

I could make some of them out. Hozhoni, for example, the Navajo word for harmony, and probably the most important word in their cosmography.

Joogii was saying that all was safe up here, above ground, and close to the Sun Father.

Official Flag of the Navajo Nation - designed by Jay DeGroat (1968)

It had snowed a few days before and the earth was still sparkling. I looked out and felt the words raise me above the shop.

“You are safe here,” he was saying, blessed by Sun Father and Mother Earth, and the star people. The sibilant words came out of Joogii’s mouth. Words that originated in his throat not his diaphragm. If you ever try out some Navajo words you will find out that they come from the region of the Adam’s apple.

My other Navajo roommate from long ago used to teach me how to say ayoninshna, which, roughly, means I love all that surrounds you, all that is above you and below you. I was writing a Valentine to Lorry and Ray Brown was helping me, just as Joogii was helping to bless our sky house above the wind-warped juniper trees.

I studied Joogii as he sang the protection song that kept the gods of earth and sky together, and kept us safe from harm. I saw, looking at him, that the years had not lined his gold-brown skin, but a horse had kicked out his front teeth, which accounted for the sibilant song he made along with the sandpaper words of Navajo. His black cowboy hat, a sacred one, was firmly in place but around the edges you could see that Nuthatch had visited his head underneath the hat. Nuthatch, in ancient Navajo lore, was the bringer of gray hair just as gopher was the giver of toothache. Joogii had visits from both.

“We must keep on,” Joogii said in English, and looking me in the eye. “We must keep on telling our stories.” Then he added, “You know, the Hero Twins, the ones who belonged to Sun Father …”

I knew whom he meant, the boys who rode Sun Father’s horse to Earth, they were two sons of the same father, with different mothers. “Joseph Campbell got that wrong,” Joogii explained. “So, the sons of the Sun were brothers but, as we think of them, twins.”

“So why do we call them twins?” I asked. Joogii chuckled. “Campbell got that wrong. He was learning from my grandfather, and he made a little mistake, that’s all.”

I laughed. Campbell was a great man, a terrific explainer. But he made some mistakes sometimes.

Joogii smiled. “Other people got other things wrong. Like, for instance, Spider Woman. She wasn’t a spider. She was simply a woman who wove.” He then added with a broad no teeth smile, “There are many threads to what we call myths of The People.”

For a while he was quiet. We heard only the winds in the pines. Then a far distant coyote doing that unmistakable yodel.

“There’s no need to wonder at the passage of time,” Joogii went on. “Our journey ventures beyond the clouds.”

Again, he was quiet.

Then, “One day only the wind will grieve for the lost songs of sacredness.”

And, as he said this, the wind, hearing his words, picked up and it started to snow.



Gerald Hausman is an award-winning, bestselling author and storyteller.  His new book, Mystical Times at Noel Coward's - Nights and Days in Jamaicawill be released in the summer of 2020.

All opinions expressed are solely those of its author and do not reflect the opinions of Stay Thirsty Media, Inc.