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A covenant based upon respect for these unseen powers, coupled with an intimate knowledge of the land, motivated the People to live within the guidance given them during the time of the myths.

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In order to understand how these Native American practices began, one must return to the creative period of time, when the earth was "soft" and creatures talked and acted like humans.

The gods were close, visible, and involved, establishing the laws and forming the world for the People--the term many different groups used to identify themselves, using, of course, the appropriate word in their own language.

Calvin Martin, a noted Indian historian, put it this way: "We presume to document and interpret the history of a people whose perception of the world for the most part eludes us, whose behavior, as a result, is enigmatic...

To ignore the Indian thoughtworld is to continue writing about ourselves to ourselves"1 This has been especially true until recently.

Before leaving for the hunt, men participated in a sweat bath to purify themselves and to encourage the holy beings to give them the best meat.

Ritualized behavior circumscribed the hunt, making the act of killing a deer a sacred event recognized as good by both the animal and the gods.To the Navajo, deer were animals treated and hunted with respect.They were controlled by certain gods who made them available for man's use. Mc Pherson The writing of Native American history can be said to have started when Christopher Columbus first waded ashore on San Salvador Island in the Caribbean. What preceded his arrival--the prehistoric phase of Native Americans--has generally been left to archaeologists and anthropologists to decipher and explain from physical remains.The initial contact, post-contact, and contemporary phases are the realm of historians, who write in keeping with longstanding conventions of their own trade.Because deer lived in the mountains, they were protected by thunder and lightning; their antlers were not brought home since they attracted electrical storms; and, because they fed on sacred, medicinal plants, to eat their meat was to ingest medicine.4 This type of thinking and practice is pervasive throughout traditional Native American life.

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