Environment & Science

Navajo members won't watch Sunday's solar eclipse

The world's first partial solar eclipse of 2011 is seen on January 4, 2011. This weekend's eclipse will be seen in Southern California... except within the Navajo Nation.
The world's first partial solar eclipse of 2011 is seen on January 4, 2011. This weekend's eclipse will be seen in Southern California... except within the Navajo Nation.
JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images

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Ziggy Williams of the Navajo Nation dances during the Grand Entry of the Denver March Powwow on March 24, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. In the Navajo tradition it is believed that the
Ziggy Williams of the Navajo Nation dances during the Grand Entry of the Denver March Powwow on March 24, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. In the Navajo tradition it is believed that the "sun dies" during a solar eclipse and that it is an intimate event between the Earth, Sun and Moon.
Jason Connolly/AFP/Getty Images

Editor's note: This story originally ran in 2012. The 2017 eclipse is on Monday, Aug. 21. Read more KPCC coverage of the 2017 eclipse here. 

Not everyone plans to watch the solar eclipse this Sunday, the Fronteras Desk reports. Even though it’ll be in full view over the Navajo Nation in Arizona, traditional tribal members won’t look up while it’s happening.

The Navajo word for eclipse is “eating the sun.” In the Navajo tradition it is believed that the "sun dies" during a solar eclipse and that it is an intimate event between the Earth, Sun and Moon.

People are told to stay inside and keep still during the dark period. There’s no eating, drinking, sleeping, weaving or any other activity. Traditionalists believe that not following this practice could lead to health problems and misfortune to the family.

For Angelenos who do want to see it, the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles and Caltech in Pasadena will host viewings of the solar eclipse on Sunday afternoon.