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

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 in 2019. 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, in 2019. Facilitated by Rhiannon Sorrell, Instructor and librarian at Diné College.

Language of narration primarily English.


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/Né'éshjaá) 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).

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