KAYENTA-Teddy Begay takes an intriguing look into mythical and modern day worlds of two Navajo American Indian women and the challenges they face as they contemplate life and culture in his new novel, "Beyond the Myth."
Two parallel stories that take place in two different worlds and time, one of mythical lore and another of modern reality, are intertwined within this book. Although placed in juxtaposition, similarities that emerge in the lives of two women reveal a deep truth about the future survival of Navajo culture.
"The story goes as far back as origins of consideration, communication and memory," Begay says. "Mythology kept a group of people together, handed down for generations by a language of the Athabasicans."
In the world of mythology, Changing Woman knows that she is destined to become a Great Spirit and matriarch of the Navajo people. Tinalaaya "Taneia" Singer Brown Bradley exists in today's world and has inherited a rich Navajo legacy. While Changing Woman experiences the confusing times of growing through life from puberty to maturity to old age as White Shell Woman and finally Great Spirit, Taneia also encounters growing pains. Thrust into a dichotomous world of changing cultural environments, Taneia struggles to find a balance in her life.
After marrying a white man of Irish ancestry, Taneia studies and become a professor. She dives into understanding her cultures and is blessed with a new sense of belonging. "She uses the past to understand, to help shape the future," says Begay. "Her belief is that we have a greater insurmountable challenge to come together as one people to overcome our own destruction as creatures of habit and the planet we live on." But, regardless of how much she uncovers, she is still faced with the uncertainty of the next steps of where to go next as she continues on her quest for knowledge.
"The realism of their two fates brings them together almost as the same person, trying to align their relationship to the universe and the world around them by keeping their linage alive and well," Begay says about his characters. He says the book will appeal to people who want to take a deeper look to understand and be aware of merging cultural dynamics, including their own.
Born in 1950 in Chilchinbeto on the western Navajo reservation, Begay learned to speak Navajo as his first language. While growing up, he listened to stories told by his grandfather. After graduating from high school, he went to college, but left to begin a family with his wife, Carmen Lita Rocha Begay, with whom he has now enjoyed 38 years of marriage. "Beyond the Myth" is his first book. Visit www.tinalaayasjourney.com for more information.
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