The Traditions of the Hopi by H. R. Voth

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A long time ago there lived some people north of Oraíbi close to the north of the place where the Oraíbi at present dry their peaches. They were called Yáyaponchatu. There was only one village of them, probably only a small one. The villages of Pivánhonkapi, about four miles northwest of Oraíbi, and Hû'ckovi, about two miles northwest of Oraíbi, which have been in ruins long ago, were then, too, still inhabited. The people in Pivánhonkapi seemed to have been very much degenerated. The village chief of that village was much worried over it, especially over the fact that the women of that village would even participate in the games of chance, especially that of totólocpi, in the kivas; even the chief's wife was no exception. It is stated that she would even neglect her children when she was gambling in the kivas. Sometimes he would say to her, in order to get her out of the kiva, that she should go and nurse their little child that was crying outside. The chief finally became concerned and angry over the condition of affairs to such a degree that he decided to adopt severe measures. So he went to the village of the Yáyaponchatu, who were known to have special influence over and with storms and fire, and who, in fact, were looked upon as being in league with supernatural forces. "I have come to you," he said. "For what purpose?" they asked him. "My people," he said, "are dark hearted; they are bad. They will not listen to me. The women are gambling to such an extent that they are even neglecting their duties and their children. I want you to punish my people." They said that he should choose the element with which they were to exercise judgment, either the fire or the storm. He chose the fire and went home, telling them, however, that in four days they were going to have a dance in his village, and invited them to participate in the celebration. On his way home he stopped at the village of Hû'ckovi, telling his friend, the chief of this village, to come and see him in the evening and to bring his friend, his assistant, whose name is not known, with him. When meeting in the evening, in the house of the chief of Pivánhonkapi, the latter told his two friends all about the matter, also that in four days they were going to have a dance in his village and inviting them also to come and take part in the dance, which they promised to do. So

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these three 'People were the only ones in possession of the secret. On the fourth day they had a series of dances. During the day the different kind of Katcina were dancing at each dance, and leaving the village when they had completed their performances. The Yáyaponchatu people performed the last (lance. They were masked like the Hóhe Katcina of the present day, their bodies, however, being decorated like certain personages that appear at the Soyál ceremonies at present, taking from the kiva in which the ceremonies were performed certain prayer-offerings, which they deposited at a large spring west of the village. The Yáyaponchatu were sprinkled with corn-meal the same as all the other Katcinas, whereupon they performed their dance, and while they were dancing they sang the following ominous song, alluding to the judgment that was to befall them:

Ahaha, Ihihi
Pai nû'vûpi yepee.
Why, at last here
Uni uh kiyu
You your houses
Palaomawuy akwa
Red cloud with
When enveloped
Hakami yang
Somewhere over there
Pamöci conako
The mist through
Carrying one another
Kiihkiihki nawitaha
Villages along
Ahaha, Ihihi.

Some of the spectators, watching the dances from the house-tops, when they heard the song became somewhat alarmed and began to think and talk of the matter. Nobody, of course, fully understood the meaning of the song and of the presence of these strange neighbors. Four of these last named dancers carried certain prayer-offerings the same as are now being deposited during the Soyál ceremony by the aforesaid messengers. These prayer-offerings consisted of sacred meal piled up in small trays. Into these trays are placed a number of little

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husk packets, which are supposed to contain sacred meal mixed with honey. These little packets are fastened to nakwákwosis. But the prayer-offerings carried by the four dancers on that occasion also had a little spark of fire over each one of these packets. At the conclusion of the dance one of these was handed to the village chief of Pivánhonkapi, the other to the village chief of Hû'ckovi, the third to the latter's assistant and friend, and the fourth was retained by the leader of these last named dancers.

Late in the evening the chief from Hû'ckovi and his friend came to the chief of Pivánhonkapi and all three smoked over the prayer-offerings which they had received from the Yáyaponchatu. Then the chief from Hû'ckovi sent his friend with one of them to the San Francisco Mountains, which are situated about ninety miles to the south-west, to deposit the same there among the trees and high grass. The other two the two chiefs kept, each one hiding his one away in some lower room in his house. Tradition does not mention what the chief of the Yáyaponchatu did with his prayer-offering, beyond the fact that he took it home with him. This was during the night following the dance. The next night the women and some of the men again assembled in the kivas to gamble. Some of the men, however, did not participate. They all at once noticed a light in the San Francisco Mountains and remarked about it, mentioning it also to those in the kiva. The latter ridiculed them, and took no notice of it. The next night the same thing was repeated, only the fire in the mountains appeared to be larger. Those who were outside of the kiva, looking on and watching the gambling, again mentioned the fact to the others, but the latter again showed themselves skeptical. During the day also they had observed smoke at the same place, without, however, taking special notice of it. During the third night the fire became larger, and those who noticed it became somewhat alarmed, but their remarks upon the fact again met deaf ears. On the following day the smoke arising from the San Francisco Mountains seemed to be threatening, and those few that were considered the better class of the people became alarmed. During the fourth night the people again continued their gambling and carousing, those outside watching with great alarm the fire on the San Francisco Mountains, which now began to spread itself towards the Hopi villages. They told the people so and asked them to come out of the kiva and see for themselves. The latter again laughed at them saying: "You only want us to stop our playing. We do not believe what you say." At short intervals their attention was drawn to the approaching fire with more persistence and in more urgent language, but without avail.

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Finally one of the players came out of the kiva to see for himself, and when he saw the air full of smoke and the fire rolling towards the villages, he cried out in despair to those in the kiva that the reports about the approaching disaster were only too true. When the latter also saw the smoke they rushed out of the kiva and to their houses, trying to gather some of their effects before fleeing. But the fire was now upon them and most of those who had procrastinated were either suffocated or burned to death. Only a very few escaped from the two villages. These, it is said, left that part of the country. They lived at certain places for a little while and then moved on. It is said that some of the small ruins in these parts of the country mark the sites of the temporary houses of these former inhabitants of Pivánhonkapi and Hû'ckovi.

The village chief of Oraíbi, when becoming aware of the approaching danger, became very much worried. "My children are dear to me," he said, "and I do not want to have them destroyed." So he quickly proceeded to the house of Spider Woman, which is situated South of the village, half-way down the mesa. She advised him to at once make two arrows, using on the shafts the feathers of the bluebird and wuríñawuu. This he did. When he was done he sent out a messenger with one arrow, instructing him to thrust it into the ground west of the village at the foot of the mesa. The other one he took to the shrine of Achámali, north of the village, where he thrust it into the ground in front of the shrine. Spider Woman then wove a network of web between the two arrows which she moistened with water. When the fire reached this protecting network of moist spider-web its force was broken and the village of Oraíbi saved from destruction.


241:1 Told by Qöyáwaima (Oraíbi).

Next: 102. The Destruction of Sikyátki


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