1. The legends contained in this book are those of the Navaho1 Indians, a tribe living in the southwestern portion of the United States; mostly in the Territories of New Mexico and Arizona, but partly in the States of Colorado and Utah. A definite reservation of over 12,000 square miles has been set apart for them; but in every direction, beyond the borders of this reservation, isolated families and small bands may be found dwelling, either temporarily or permanently, in localities where there are springs, streams, pools, or artificial reservoirs of water. Some have taken up homesteads—or have otherwise acquired a legal title to lands beyond the borders of the reservation; others are merely squatters. A brief description of these Indians—their arts, religion, ceremonies, etc.—is included in this introduction, in the belief that, if the reader possesses some knowledge of the Navaho before he begins to read the tales, he may have a better understanding of the latter. But much more information, of interest to the ethnographer, will be found in notes. Some items in the introduction could not properly have appeared in the notes, as there was nothing in the tales to suggest them. Other items might perhaps as well have been transferred to the notes; the decision to put them in the introduction was often arbitrary.
2. Title of Book.—In selecting a title for this book, the word Legends was chosen, rather than Myths, for the reason that the tales contained herein, though mostly mythical, are not altogether such. In the Origin Legend, the last chapter, “The Growth of the Navaho Nation,” is in part traditional or historical, and it is even approximately correct in many of its dates, as has been shown by Frederick Webb Hodge in his paper on the “Early Navaho and Apache.