Shicheii

Shicheii is my mother’s father, or my grandfather (aka maternal grandfather).

In the Navajo way, shicheii is also my grandson by my daughter (a kind of nickname or recognition). In the clanship way, shicheii’s first clan is my “dashicheii” clan, which often is the third to be listed after my father’s clan (“báshíshchíín”).

The horned toad (or ‘horny toad’*) is also referred to as “shicheii”, and as young Navajo we are told not to kill or harm our grandfathers. In the same vein, we are told not to be afraid of them, either.

There are a few characteristics drawn from the horned toad that can dictate the interaction between a Navajo elder and his grandson. The tough and fierce exterior of the horned toad is intimidating and sometimes scary. But underneath he has a soft belly.

*As children this English pronunciation is easier and is semantically identical to ‘horned toad’ in this case.