The Traditions of the Hopi by H. R. Voth
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51. MÚYINGWA, TWO CHILDREN, AND THE HUMMING-BIRD 1
A long time ago the Oraíbi had nothing to eat as it did not rain for about four or five years. The first year the corn became large enough so that some corn-ears just began to ripen, then the frost came and killed it. The next year the ears were just forming when the frost again killed the corn. The third year the ears did not even begin to form when the stalks were killed by frost. The fourth year it remained very small. The people by this time had eaten all the corn they had saved from previous years and some began to move away. Some of them, however, still planted some the fifth year, but the drought was so great that the corn withered soon after it had come out of the ground.
They all left then, trying to find something to eat with other people. Only a little boy and his sister were left in the village. One time the little brother made a little bird for his sister from the pith of the sunflower stalk and gave it to her to play with. While he went away to hunt something else for her she played with the little bird, throwing it upwards several times, and all at once it became a living Humming-bird and flew away. When the boy returned he asked her what she had done with her little bird. She told him that it had flown away, at which he was very much surprised. The children had hardly anything to eat. The next morning the little bird came back, flew into the house where the children stayed and entered an opening in one of the walls. "My little bird has come back!" the little girl said. "Where is it?" the boy asked. "Why, it went into that opening there." The boy put his hand into the opening and found that it seemed to be very large. The bird he could not find, but he found a little corn-ear which the bird had apparently placed there. At this the children were very glad. They broke it in two, roasted it, and ate it. Soon the bird came out of the opening and flew away again. The next day it returned with a larger corn-ear which the children ate, and so it returned for four days, always bringing a larger corn-ear for the children. On the fifth day it came back but did not bring any corn with it. When the boy reached into the opening he drew forth the little bird, but in the form in which he had made it. He held it in his hand and said: "You are
something living. You go and hunt our parents, they have left us here and you will perhaps find them, and you bring us something to eat. You go south here and look for our father and mother. "
Hereupon the boy asked his sister how she had caused the bird to fly. She took the little bird by the wings and said: "This is the way I did it," throwing it upward, whereupon the bird was alive again and flew away. Sitting upon a rock south of the village the little bird looked southward and all at once detected at Tü'wanashabe, 1 a cactus plant with a single red blossom. The bird at once flew towards this plant and removing it found an opening under it. Entering this opening it found itself in a kiva where some grass and herbs were growing. At the north end of this kiva was another opening. Passing through this one, the little bird found itself in a second kiva. Here it found some corn with some pollen on it, and ate some of it. At the north end of this kiva there was also an opening leading into a third kiva. Entering this kiva the bird found grass, herbs, and corn of all kinds, and here also lived Mû'yingwa, the God of Growth and Germination. 2
There were also all kinds of birds in this last kiva, but it was the Humming-birds that first noticed the little intruder and told Mû'yingwa about it. "Somebody has come in," they said. "Who is it?" he asked, "and where is he? Let him come here." So the little bird flew on Mû'yingwa's arm and waited. "Why are you going about here?" Mû'yingwa asked. "Yes," the bird said, "what are you doing here? Why have you listened to the wishes of the bad people who wanted you to retire here to this place and not concern yourself about the people up there? Why have you complied with their wishes? Your fields up there look very bad. It has not rained there and nothing is growing. The people have all left except two poor little children who are the only ones left in Oraíbi. You come out here and look after things up there." "All right," Mû'yingwa answered, "I am thinking about the matter. "
Hereupon the bird asked for something to eat and also for something to bring to those children, saying that they had not had anything that day, and that they were hungry. Mû'yingwa told the bird to take just what it wanted and bring it to the children. So the bird broke off a nice roasting corn-ear to take along. Arriving at the house it flew into the same opening again, disposing of the corn-ear there. The boy reached into the opening and drew forth the corn-ear. The children were very happy over it and talked to the
bird, which was still in the opening, and said: "Thank you that you have pitied us, thank you that you have brought us something to eat again. On your account we live here now. Through you we can satisfy our hunger. We are very happy over it. You must not leave us now." The bird answered: "Yes, I have pity on you and for that reason I have come again. I shall now live close by here, at Tü'wanashabe."
The children then asked the bird to hunt for their parents, and so the bird flew away to hunt for them. Flying over the fields west of Oraíbi it proceeded towards the north, and at a place called Tóho (from a black shale or paint gotten from there by the Hopi to this day), it found the father and the mother of these children. They were living upon some cactus that was growing there, but were very much emaciated. When the Humming-bird flew by them the man said: "Something is passing by here," but looking around they could not see anything, so the bird came back and was then detected by the man and his wife. The man at once went towards the bird, saying: "Who are you, flying about here?" The bird stopped in its flight, though keeping its wings in motion and listened to what the man had to say. He asked the little bird to pity them and procure them some food. There was no living being in that part of the country at that time, and so from the fact that this bird was flying about there the people concluded that it must know some place where it found something to eat. The bird did not answer anything, but flew away. Arriving at the opening in the children's house, the boy asked: "Did you find our parents?" "Yes," the Humming-bird answered," away up north I found them." "Both of them?" the children asked. "Yes, both of them," the bird replied; "but alas, they have very little to eat. They are hungry and they are very much emaciated."
The children then begged the bird to bring them something to eat, whereupon it flew away. Mû'yingwa had in the meanwhile concluded to go up into the world and look after things there. He first ascended to the first kiva above him, where he staved four days. During this time it rained a little about Oraíbi. After four days he ascended into the next kiva above him when it rained again on the earth. He then ascended into the third kiva, whereupon it rained considerably in and around Oraíbi, and when he after four more days emerged from the last kiva he found that the grasses and herbs were growing nicely.
The parents of the children had seen from the distance the clouds and rain about Oraíbi, and concluded to return to the village, not
knowing that their children were still living. Others of the inhabitants of Oraíbi who had not yet perished, also heard that it was now raining at their village and so they also returned. When these children grew up they, and after them their descendants, became the village chiefs and owners of the village of Oraíbi.
(The informant says that this tale is not complete. He says that he knows it is longer, but he has forgotten some of the details about it.)
169:1 Told by Qöyáwaima (Oraíbi).
170:1 A place about three miles south of Oraíbi.
170:2 Those who speak of three kivas under the earth consider the kivas in the village as the first kiva, making only four. According to others, there are four kivas besides those in the village.
Next: 52. The Kalátötö Who Wished To Have Hair On His Head