Truth of a Hopi by Edmund Nequatewa
HOW THE MOCKING BIRD GAVE THE PEOPLE MANY LANGUAGES
AFTER awhile the chief said that they must move away from the kiva for fear that some of his people might become discouraged in some way, or lose courage and want to go back. They might die or want to die, so he didn't like to be near the kiva for fear the people might be going back and looking down toward their old home.
Even though the Chief had decided to move the people away from the kiva he was very much troubled and wondered how the kiva should be regarded by them, whether it should be thought of with apprehension and fear. So the chief called his wise men together to consult them on his ideas regarding this matter, but none of these men could give him any help or find him an answer. They could only ask him what he had in mind, saying that whatever the chief wished, their gods may consent to fulfill. "Very well," said their chief, "let us make some pahos and with these offerings we will ask the big waters to come and cover up the kiva and that will make it impossible for anyone to go back there."
When all these were made the young men were asked to take them to the southwest, toward Patuwakachi (the ocean) and at a good distance away from the kiva these pahos were set with the wishes and prayers of the chief that the waters may only come as far as the spot where the offerings were placed. Now every day, for four days the young men were sent back to this place where they had put these pahos to see if there were any signs of moisture or the coming of Paso (the roaring waters). Now every day the water was seen to be creeping up on these pahos and at the end of the fourth day the people began to feel the damp air. Then the big wind came and it kept up for many days and at last Paso had come and it had covered up all the land around the kiva so that no one could reach it. This was, of course, a very fearful thing to all the people. 12
Of course, no one knows how long they lived around that place, but after a great many years they increased and they started to have more trouble among themselves. The chief was afraid that something might happen again so
he had a council with his men once more, and he asked them what should be done. One of the men said that the only thing that he thought of was, if they only could speak different languages and learn to eat different kinds of food from one another, they might start away or become parted in many divisions.
"Why," said the chief, "how could we do this?"
Someone said, "Well, don't we have the mocking bird who knows many songs and why shouldn't he give us many different languages?"
"Well," said the chief, "I think that is a very good idea."
Then he asked the men to come the next day so that they could make their prayer offerings for the mocking bird. So the next day the men came over with their trays and some materials with which to make their prayer offerings. They started work that morning and kept on until late in the afternoon. When all their prayer offerings were finished, the crier called out for the men to bring him their presents of food for them all to eat. After they finished their meal they started singing the calling songs for the mocking bird, and at the end of four songs the mocking bird came.
When he came he asked them why he was being so anxiously called. The chief answered him and said, "It is because we are in trouble and we wish to have some changes made, if it would be possible." Then the mocking bird asked what kind of changes.
"Well," said the chief, "would it be possible that we, living here as one people, could be given different languages'?"
The mocking bird said, "It can be done."
The chief asked, "How soon can you do it?"
The mocking bird said that it would take overnight to give them different languages. The mocking bird asked the chief if he would like to speak some other different language, but the chief said he would rather keep his own language.
Well, that night it was only the chief and the mocking bird who stayed up to see how this thing would work out. During the night the mocking bird went from camp to camp and at each camp he would take something out of the fireplace and then turn right around and bury something in the fireplace again. He had a sort of buckskin pouch and whatever he took out of the fireplace he put into this pouch and he was holding on tight to this pouch for fear that something would escape out of there. Just about
dawn the mocking bird finished his job. He took his buckskin pouch to the chief and told the chief to dig a hole in the ground. The chief did this and the mocking bird told him to put the pouch in the hole and bury it there and build a fire over it. Now when the morning came, the people woke up with different languages and they couldn't understand one another.
They were very much troubled because they couldn't understand one another and they came up to the chief and the chief couldn't make them understand. The mocking bird was the only one that could understand, so he was the interpreter.
"Well," said the chief, "you are a pretty wise bird. Now you and I will travel the same direction toward the rising sun and the sun may be our god, 13 great and wise. With its light we can see and walk. Wherever this place is where the sun rises, I would like to see who will get there first for there we may learn who is our true god. If not, the sun itself is our god for there must be some spirit, somewhere, that really does look after us. If either you or I should get to the sun first, the great star will appear and many other stars will fall from the heavens, by which those who are still on the journey will know that one of us has reached the journey's end. Then the one who has arrived with his people must settle down and look forward to meeting his brother when he comes with wisdom and truth that he may teach the true religion of god."
Next: Chapter IV. The Hopi Decide to Seek a New Home. How Certain Clans Received Their Names