The Traditions of the Hopi by H. R. Voth
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90. THE MICE, THE OWL, AND THE HAWK. 1
A long time ago a little Mouse (Hómihtci) lived south of the village of Oraíbi at Scent Hill (Hovakapchomo), because a certain herb called hovákpi 2--that which has an odor--was growing there in great abundance. Near by, on top of the rocks south of Oraíbi, lived a big Owl that seemed to be determined to kill the little Mouse. The Owl would frequently be flying around the hole of the Mouse, sometimes when the latter was outside darting towards it, so that the Mouse often had a narrow escape from death. The latter made various plans to protect itself. Finally it went to get a. number of sticks from a weed called Tâve. 3 These the Mouse pointed at the end and placed in the ground all around the hole, so that the points were protruding from the earth. One night the Owl again swiftly flew down towards the hole trying to catch the little Mouse, which was running about between the stakes. One of the sticks pierced the Owl's breast and killed it. The Mouse at once went to work and pulled out all the Owl's feathers and carried them into its hole, tying some of them into little bunches. "But what shall I do with all these feathers?" it asked itself. "I am going to get my neighbors together and arrange a dance."
So after dark the Mouse went out and called out: "You, my neighbors who live here, come here to my house quickly." So a great many Mice at once assembled in the house of the one who had invited them and asked: "Why do you want us here?" "Yes," the Mouse answered, "I have killed this Owl here and do not know what to do with all the feathers, so I thought we would have a dance and dress up in these feathers, and that is the reason why I called you in." Hereupon it distributed all the feathers and all made little bunches of them and tied them on their heads. They concluded that early in the morning they would have a dance, and one they requested to make a song (yâ'waata). The following song was soon prepared, and then all practiced it so that they might be acquainted with it in the dance:
Tuhuckan chohona, tuhuckan chohona;
Dancing busily, dancing busily;
To be busy again.
The meaning is that they dance in order to bring about an opportunity to get at some seeds and kernels again.
By this time it was morning and a number of them were sent after some more sticks, which were again pointed and thrust into the ground in the same manner as the first sticks had been put in, only somewhat farther away from the house (hole) of the Mouse. This was done for protection in case any more Owls should be around while they were dancing. They then tied the larger feathers of the dead Owl in a large bunch and set it in the center of the inclosure. This was to serve to them as a típoni, around which they were going to perform their dance. They then got ready for the dance, Though they were only small they had large bunches of feathers (nákwas) on their heads. The leader held a little bow with some tiny arrows.
The dance that they were performing was an imitation of the dance of the Mómchitû Fraternity. They were very careful to keep within the limits of the sticks that they had put in last. While this dance was going on, a large Hawk was sitting on a rock south of Oraíbi. "Aha," he said, "there is something going on somewhere. The Mice are enjoying themselves." He at once swooped down on them, ignoring the pointed sticks, as he was very strong, and killed a great number of Mice, taking one in each talon. These he carried to Ishmovala, a rock west of Oraíbi, on the top of which he devoured them.
Those that had not been killed rushed away into their houses.
229:1 Told by Qöyáwaima (Oraíbi).
229:2 Artemisia filifolia Torrey.
229:3 Sarcobatus vermiculatus Torrey.
Next: 91. The Sparrow-hawk and the Hâ'kwâ