Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Good Spirit: Grey Robe

The stories about Grey Robe and why the Navajo’s believe in him were highlighted in the May 1969 edition of Frontier Times in an article written by John R. Winslowe.

In Robert F. Turpin’s 2014 book, Old West Ghost Legends he includes a chapter on stories that have been told about encounters with Grey Robe.

In more recent times Navajos have referred to Grey Robe as a “good spirit.” But traditionally, he was never referred to as what other cultures call a ghost.

Instead, the Navajo considered him merely a mysterious entity or benefactor that saved many Native American lives.

All the sightings of him occurred in the Red Valley near Tuba City in Arizona.

Descriptions of Grey Robe state he glides instead of walking, his facial features are rarely seen and some accounts state his form when seen was surrounded by a grey mist or fog.

He is seen wearing a grey robe tied at the waist with a cord—hence his name. Witnesses state he never talks he points or gestures instead.

This entity was first seen in the early 1800s and reports of encounters continued into the late 1940s.

He is credited with saving lost children, an isolated crippled woman who had fallen and a boy that broke his leg on a remote ridge.

It also is stated Grey Robe warned many people of impending dangers—such as washed-out roads and flood waters heading their way.

It is said he led a sheepherder to water during a drought, so he would not lose his flock.

Black Hat’s Encounter

One Navajo named Black Hat, who was new to the Red Valley in north-central Arizona, had never heard the stories about the mysterious Grey Robe when he encountered him.

He was traveling through the valley when his horse slowed down and perked up his ears. He saw a grey figure up ahead, standing near the trail he traveled.

The figure was wrapped in a robe, and a grey mist or grey smoke seemed to surround him. Black Hat stopped his horse and asked, “Who are you?”

The shadowy figure did not speak but instead motioned for him to follow him. Black Hat noticed the figure made no sound as he moved through the sagebrush—his body appeared to float instead of walk.

Several hundred yards further down the trail, the figure stopped and turned toward Black Hat. It then pointed toward a rocky ridge in the distance.

As Black Hat turned back he saw the figure slowly fade away. He realized this encounter had not scared him, but instead, he felt a feeling of serene kindness settle over him.

Black Hat headed to the rocky ridge where he found an unconscious Indian boy. He saw that the boy’s leg was broken in several places.

He gathered dry brush and made a signal fire. It wasn’t long before a party of Navajos rode in. They lived nearby and had seen the light.

It was discovered later that the boy had been thrown from his pony when a rattlesnake frightened it.

If Black Hat had not found the boy, he would have died. The other Indians asked him how he had happened upon the boy since the ridge was quite a distance from the trail he traveled.

Black Hat hesitated and then told then about the grey figure. The others seemed not to be surprised by his description—especially the part where he stated the figure wore a grey robe and was faceless.

The elder of the group nodded and said. “It was Grey Robe.” He then told Black Hat about the friendly spirit that helps the Navajo people.

This legend is not lost today, for the Navajos remember the stories about Grey Robe fondly.

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