The Traditions of the Hopi by H. R. Voth
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35. THE WHITE CORN-EAR MAIDEN AND THE SORCERERS. 1
A long time ago when there were a great many people living in Oraíbi there lived a beautiful maiden in the village by the name of White Corn-Ear Maiden (Qötcá-Awats-Mana). This maiden persistently refused all offers that were made to her by various young men to marry her. The inhabitants of the Wíkolapi kiva at that time were sorcerers (Pópwaktu), and being angry at that maiden they decided to destroy her. One day they agreed that in the night they would meet in the sorcerers' house at Skeleton Gulch (Máspösöve), so called, it is said, because at one time a great many people of the Badger clan were killed there by the Oraíbi, and their corpses thrown into the gulch. At this meeting they decided that the next day they would make a wheel, such as are still used by the children for a certain play, and also a number of feathered arrows, and that one of these arrows should be poisoned with rattlesnake poison. With this latter the maiden should be hurt, and after her death, which was expected as a matter of course, she was to 'be taken to the sorcerers' house, where they were assembled. So this was done, and the sorcerers wrapped into the wheel the breath of that maiden, but just in what manner that was obtained is not known.
When the wheel and the arrows were completed, a number of young men played with them on the street in front of the maiden's house, and when one time she came down the ladder and passed the players to go on an errand, the man holding the poisoned arrow pretended to shoot at the wheel, but wounded her foot with it. When she returned after a short time her foot was badly swollen and she related to her parents what had happened to her. During the night she died. The sorcerers upon hearing that the maiden had died, again repaired to their place at the Skeleton Gulch and there changed themselves into coyotes, wolves, foxes, etc., whereupon they waited until the maiden had been buried and her friends who had
buried her had returned to the village. Then they approached the graveyard from different places, imitating at different times the sounds of those animals.
The brother of the deceased maiden being very deeply grieved at the death of his sister, sat at the edge of the mesa watching the grave and thus saw what happened. When he beheld these animals approaching the grave his first impulse was to shoot at them, but when he got his bow and arrow ready he heard some of them speak, and at once knew that they were not animals but Hopi sorcerers; so he desisted, and heard one of them say that those who had brought old wrappings with them should now tear them all to small pieces, so that the people in the village should think and believe that coyotes had eaten the corpse and that the pieces were remnants of the wrappings of the body. So this was done and then the body itself disinterred. One of the sorcerers that had changed himself into a grey wolf swung the body upon his back and carried it away, being followed by all the others.
The young man immediately followed them at some distance to their place of meeting, which they reached in a roundabout way. He saw the body lying north of the fireplace, and heard one of them say that they should hurry up: whereupon he immediately ran back to the village, thinking to whom he might appeal for help, who would be strong enough and have courage enough to rescue the body of his sister. So he went to the war chief. Arriving at his house he announced his presence. The war chief's wife first heard him and replied to his call. She then awoke her husband, saving, "Some one is calling outside." They invited him in, made a fire, and then he told them his story, asking the old war chief to assist him, and expressing his determination to go right back and try to rescue the body of his sister. The war chief at once promised assistance. He took down two war costumes, shields, weapons, etc., and gave one to the young man, putting the other one on himself. The young man was impatient and urged that they depart, but the old war chief asked him to wait a little, took a bone whistle, went outside and whistled upwards, whereupon immediately a great noise was heard and a small man entered the room. This was Cótukvnangwuu, the Star and Cloud deity, living in the sky. ''Why do you want me so quickly?" he asked. "Yes," the old man said, ''this young man wants you." And he then told him the facts and asked whether he would assist them. The deity at once promised assistance. "Wait a little," the old war chief said, "I am going to call some one else." So he whistled again and immediately the Hawk came flying down into the
room. ''Why do you want me so quickly?'' he asked. "Yes," the, old warrior said, "This young man needs you," and after telling him the story, asked whether he would assist them. The Hawk also promised to go with them. "Wait a little," the old warrior said for the third time, "I shall call some one else." Whereupon he spit into his left hand, whistled again, and then a great many skeleton flies (mástotovi) came and drank his spittle, whereupon he closed the hand upon them. Then they all departed, going to the place of the assembled sorcerers, which resembled a Hopi kiva. They at once entered the kiva without being noticed, however, by the sorcerers. These were just busy resuscitating the maiden. They had taken off the wrappings from the body, had covered the body with a native cloth (möchápu), and were singing a song.
The wheel containing the breath of the mána, and with which they had been playing, the sorcerers had brought with them. One of the oldest of the sorcerers took out the breath that had been wrapped up in the wheel, put it back into the body again, whereupon the mána revived. Her first expression was, "Ahá," whereupon she threw aside the cover and said, "It is hot here, I am very hot." "Undoubtedly you are," the old man said to her. She then looked around and when she saw that she was among the sorcerers she began to cry bitterly. All present had by this time reassumed their forms as Hopi again. An old woman then washed the face of the maiden, rubbed corn meal on it, combed her hair and tied it up in whorls and dressed her up nicely. In the meanwhile a bed had been prepared for her and she was told to retire and lie down on the bed. 1 She was still crying bitterly. When she had seated herself on the couch the old man approached her, but just then the old warrior liberated one of the skeleton flies and immediately the humming of the fly arrested the attention of some of those present. They said: "Listen, somebody is in the kiva." Some at once noticed the large fly, others said they could not see anything. The old man, who was then sitting by the side of the mána, looked up and also saw the fly. At this moment the Hawk rushed into the kiva, threw aside the old man, grabbed the mána, swung her on his back and carried her out of the kiva. "Hihih'yá," the old man exclaimed, as he recovered from his astonishment. "What is it?" others asked. "Why the maiden is gone," he said. At this juncture the brother of the maiden spoke up, saying: "Why nothing is the matter," and now those present in the kiva for the first time noticed the presence of their enemies.
"So you have watched us," the old man said to the young man. "Yes," the latter said, "I saw you take out the body of my sister and followed you up to the time when you were singing over her body here in the kiva." The old warrior then also spoke and asked them why they had done this; what they wanted with that maiden; they might have known that they would make the heart of her brother sad, etc. The old man replied, "We have nothing to say, but let us measure each other and see who is the stronger, and let us see whether you are brave and whether you understand anything. you let us see what you are first." "No," the warrior said, "we did not bring this about, you wanted this that way and we challenge you to show what you are first." "All right," the old man said, and gave orders to extinguish the fire. Hereupon the warriors took their shields into their hands and immediately the sorcerers shot small dangerous arrows at them, which could be heard flying against their shields at short intervals. The warriors responded with their war cry, Eha-ha-ha. In a short time the old man said, "Kindle the fire again, because they are certainly dead by this time." When the fire was kindled the warriors were all still standing, and said, "We are not dead yet." They were then challenged to show their skill. The fire was again extinguished and the war chief then drew from a pocket a little sack containing live bees. These he liberated and they flew upon the sorcerers, their wives and children and stung them. Soon pitiful cries were heard from all sides and the old man begged that the warriors should desist. The war chief recalled the bees and sent them out of the kiva.
"Do not kindle that fire," Cótukvnangwuu said, "we are not through yet." Hereupon he drew forth a ray of lightning, threw it among them and they were all torn to pieces, the kiva being filled with a bright light. When the lightning had done its work and it had become dark in the kiva the warrior waited until they felt the warm blood of their victims touching their feet. The old warrior then said to their destroyed enemies: "This is what has happened to you. You ought not to be living, because you are dangerous, you are bad. You took away and ill treated this young man's sister; but you are very skillful, you will undoubtedly restore yourselves again," and thereupon they left the kiva and returned to the village.
The old warrior and the young man replaced their war costume in the warrior's house. Cótukvnangwuu ascended to the sky again, where he found the maiden which the Hawk had taken there. In the house where they lived up there the skin of an Eagle Body (Kwatokuu)
was hanging on the north wall, a skin of a Kwáyo and a skin of the Hawk (Kísha) on the east wall. Here the mána stayed for some time grinding the corn meal and preparing food for these great warriors. After some time she was told that they would now take her home again. So the Hawk again took her on his back and swiftly descended to the earth, where he deposited her near the village of Oraíbi, from where she went home. Complying with instructions that she had received from the war chiefs before, she told her parents that she had died, that these chiefs from above had rescued her and that they had told her she should soon come back again, at least for a visit, and that she would soon go back again; but whenever she would die they should not wrap her up and tie her body. She stayed in her home for a while and all at once had disappeared, but in four days returned, saying that she had visited those war chiefs above. After a while she went again and stayed six days. This she repeated a third time, staying ten days the third time. Her mother, now getting used to it, did not worry much about it, but after a while she failed to awake one morning and they found that she had fallen asleep never to awake again. They treated her body the same as bodies of eagles are treated when they are buried. They tied nakwákwosis to her hands and legs, laid a great many nakwákwosis on her breast and folded her garments over her and thus buried her without wrapping her up or tying her body. She was this time buried on the west side of the village. Her brother watched the grave for four days, but this time it was not disturbed.
Important events had in the meanwhile occurred in the house of the sorcerers where the latter had been destroyed. Cótukvnangwuu had descended, entered the kiva, and restored his victims, but as a punishment he had not given back to the different individuals the parts and members that had been torn from their bodies, but had thoroughly mixed up the different parts of the different bodies. Before he left he told them: "You are bad, and this shall be your punishment. You shall be ridiculed by the people." Thereupon he left them. In the morning when it began to become light the poor people observed in great consternation what had happened to them. Here an old man found that he had one of his own legs while the other leg was that of some woman; one arm was of the natural size while the other one was that of a little child; here the head of a woman had been healed to the body of a man, and so on. They were very much discouraged, and the old man suggested at once that they had better not be among the living very long, and he said that when they should come back to the kiva he was going to drop himself from
the ladder and thus kill himself. When they came to the village they at once became the laughing stock of the people.
The wife of one of the men of the village had also been among the sorcerers, and she had had one of her legs substituted by the old, wrinkled leg of an old man. She was ashamed and would not show this to her husband and so kept it carefully covered up. When her husband asked her what was the matter, she said that she had a sore leg. Other similar instances occurred.
The old leader of the sorcerers soon went to the Wíkolapi kiva, and when he was about to descend the ladder his foot slipped and he fell down the ladder. The shaft of the spindle which he held in his hand pierced his throat and thus he died. After that nearly every day one of these poor victims met with some accident and after a comparatively short time they were all dead. When the last one had died the maiden again descended from the sky to the village where she lived for quite a while. When she finally died she went to the sky where she lived with the war chiefs again.
126:1 Told by Qöyáwaima (Oraíbi).
128:1 She was also told that as she had persistently refused to marry one of the young men of the village, all the men present would cohabit with her, which was to be her punishment.
Next: 36. Watermelon-rind Woman (Hölö'kop Wuhti)