The Great Horned Beast

(Image: Hawk 25)

The Great Horned Beast is a Navajo legend, passed down through the generations as an oral tale. The gigantic creature had two horns on its forehead and one on its nose, as well as armored plates similar to a turtle’s shell to protect its body, with thick fur underneath. The beast caused earthquakes when it stomped and could spear large animals with its horns, terrorizing nearby humans. However, the Horned Beast was ignorant of its weaknesses, allowing a gopher to dig a large hole below the beast’s resting place and letting the famous hero twins of Navajo tales sneak up on the monster and attack it through the hole. When the beast was attacked by the twins, it flew into a rage and dug its horns into the ground, creating deep chasms (Teller 45:00-58:50).

The beast’s horns and turtle-like shell show that it is impossibly powerful, as a hybrid that takes the best attributes of several animals. Its stomping and the earthquakes that follow are an explanation for natural disasters. Finally, the way the beast dug its horns into the ground is a way to explain the formation of canyons.


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