The Traditions of the Hopi by H. R. Voth
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30. SKELETON WOMAN AND THE HUNTER. 1
Alíksai! A long time ago the people were living in Mishóngnovi, where now are the old ruins of the ancient village of Mishóngnovi. In the village lived a very poor youth by the name of Kochóilap Tiyo (Fire-Keeping-Up-Youth), though just why he was called that way the tale does not say. He would usually sit in a corner of the kiva. When the people were spinning they would throw away the little pieces of impure wool that they picked from their piles of wool, and of these the youth mentioned had finally made himself a bed, on which he would sleep.
One time when it was winter and very cold, there was snow on the ground. The young men of the village were on the hunt, while the older men were in the kiva. They asked the youth why he had not gone along on the hunt. "Yes," he said, "I have no moccasins." "Well, you ought to be with them on the hunt," they said. "But I have no moccasins here," he replied again. The old men said, "You go into the houses and perhaps you will find a sheep pelt hanging before an opening. Bring that here." So he went and found one and brought it into the kiva. They soaked it in water and made him a pair of moccasins, They then sent the youth to find an old piece of blanket (nö'mö), of which they made him some leggings or socks. After he had wrapped up his feet and had put on his moccasins they gave him an old patched blanket, which he also put on and tied a string around the blanket for a belt. They then gave him a bow and arrows and some throwing sticks. Hereupon they explained to him all about the difference between the rabbit tracks and those of other animals, as he had never been on the hunt before.
So he left the village and commenced to hunt. By and by he could hear the shoutings of the other hunters and he went in their direction. Soon he saw tracks in the snow and began to think that perhaps this is a rabbit track. He saw where the rabbit had been sitting and so he finally concluded that he had discovered the tracks of the rabbit and followed them for a long distance. Some of the hunters who had found something began to return home, but he followed the tracks. Finally he came upon a jack-rabbit who was very tired. Him he killed and he was so happy over his first game that he stroked the rabbit for quite a while. He then tied a string to its legs, and taking it on his back he thought of returning. It was getting dark and it commenced to rain. He started back, and after
having traveled for some distance it was very dark and he came to a bluff where there was a place called Kawáylöva. 1 Here he saw a light, and coming nearer he found a kiva and looking in he noticed
a pretty woman in the kiva. He was by this time wet and very cold. She invited him to come in, so he went in.
He sat down at the fireplace and warmed himself. She then gave him some píkami and öongáwa to eat, but he discovered that the first was prepared of the brain of corpses and the other of flies, so although he was very hungry he did not eat anything. While he pretended to eat something he dropped the food in front of himself before he put it into his mouth. His rabbit he had left outside. He went and got it and handed it to the woman, who was Skeleton Woman. She was very happy over it and thanked him for it. She then said to him: "I am going to dance, and when I am through dancing we shall go to sleep together. You keep up the fire for me while I am dancing." Hereupon she went into another chamber of the kiva. While the young man was sitting at the fireplace he looked up and saw that the opening of the kiva was closed with many threads that were stretched across the opening in every direction. "How shall I get out of this?" he thought to himself, but just then he happened to think that he had a very small knife with him. This he drew out and began to sharpen it, Then the woman came out again and danced, singing the following song:
The maidens, the maidens.
Mucunkuy amuyu [Archaic].
but she was no longer the handsome woman, she now was a skeleton with exposed teeth and thin, bony legs.
When she turned around, while dancing, the youth jumped up, ran up the ladder, cut the strings with which the opening was closed, and ran away, the woman shouting after him, "Oh, my husband!" After running a distance the youth again came to a bluff called Citúhoilawhka. Here he again saw a light and approaching it he found another kiva. Looking in he saw a lively dance in progress. "Come in," some one said to him, so he entered. "Hide me quickly," he said to the dancers, "somebody is pursuing me," for the Skeleton Woman had followed him. "All right," they said, "come in quickly, dress up and dance with us," These were the crickets (nanákanchorzhtu). 2 They took some soaked clay, rubbed it over his body,
and prepared him as one of the dancers. So he was dancing along and they were singing the following song as they danced:
All at once Skeleton Woman arrived at the entrance, and looking in, shouted: "How, how, is my husband not here?" but they danced on, pretending not to hear her. "He certainly must be here," she said. "I am going to come in." So she entered and examined the dancers and going through the crowd, hunted for the youth. While she was hunting one of the dancers whispered to the youth to run out now. This he did, running towards the village. The Skeleton Woman again followed him but failed to overtake him. He was very much frightened when he arrived at the village. For a long time he said very little, but was sitting quietly at his place in the kiva.
120:1 Told by Sik'áhpik'i (Shupaúlavi).
121:1 Horse-vulva, from the peculiar shape of the rock which somewhat resembled that organ.
121:2 Sing: Naka'nchoro.
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