One of the primary characters of Navajo mythology and religion is Changing Woman who grows old and young again with the seasons. She represents the power of the earth and of women to create and sustain life. Other Holy Women stand at the four directions: in the East is Earth Woman, in the South is Mountain Woman, in the West is Water Woman, and in the North is Corn Woman.
Changing Woman participated in many mythological events and is the mother of deities first performed for her. As was Changing Woman, a girl becoming a woman is cared for by an elder woman, usually a respected clan relative.
The elder woman combs the girl's hair and massages and molds her, helping to make her graceful and beautiful; thus girls become symbols and sources of beauty and reproduction, like Changing Woman. Among the Navajo becoming a woman is something to be proud of and to announce to the whole community.
When a woman becomes a mother she does another ritual; she buries her child's umbilical cord by her home. Traditionally this is done for all children to remind them of their connection to the land of their birth. Sometimes the umbilical cord is buried outside the sheep corral to remind the child that the livestock as well as the earth sustains the people.
Despite the force and numbers with which missionaries have come to the Navajo success in converting Navajos. In Christianity, Navajos miss Changing Woman and the whole feeling for the position of women embodied in the Navajo religion and culture. The Navajo religion is inseparable from the Navajo land. From almost any place on the Navajo Reservation one can see at least one of the sacred mountains. Even the most miraculous events are placed on some mountain or hilltop which the Navajo can point out; they know even the mesa on which Changing Woman was found, wrapped in many colored light.