Truth of a Hopi by Edmund Nequatewa
THE HOPI DECIDE TO SEEK A NEW HOME. HOW CERTAIN CLANS RECEIVED THEIR NAMES
ALL THIS time while the people were together, they learned to eat some of the wild seeds besides corn and different kinds of fruit and wheat. The mocking bird asked the chief to get all the different kinds of foodstuffs together and call the people to come and gather there, and decide and choose their food, or the chief food, that they wished to live on as they traveled along. Of course in those days the chief had charge of all the foodstuffs.
So he asked the people to gather all this food together and when they had gotten all they could collect he sent word out for no more people to come. When everything was gathered in, the chief sent word for the people to come together. Of course, all this time the mocking bird was still with them, because they could not go without him.
When the people came the chief asked them to look this foodstuff over and choose what they would like to take along in case they wanted to separate and travel along in different directions. Now that the mocking bird had given the people different languages and they couldn't understand each other they thought it would be best to separate.
After he had said all this the men shook hands to show that they were brothers and they started out on the race for the same point, as they were both anxious to learn and to find out who is the true God. Before they parted they said they would start out on their journey on the fourth day from that time, but during these three days the people of these two men and the women folk were getting ready the foodstuff for them to take along. Of course each of them had quite a number of people besides just their families.
On the fourth day all the tribes came together--Navajo, Supai, Paiute, Apache, Zuni, Utes and the Bahana. 14 When they came up, the chief had all the different kinds of seeds of corn and grain, of melon and fruit, laid out for them to choose. Then he asked the different tribes to step forward and take their choice.
The Navajo slipped forward hurriedly and picked out the largest ear of corn, which he thought was the wise
thing to do. But the chief and the others knew that the long ear of corn could not last long and was not easily raised. Afterward the rest of the tribes took their choice in turn.
The Hopi took the shortest ear of corn and also squash and beans. The Apache didn't take any, for they said they would rather live on game. Supai took some peaches--he preferred the fruit most. The Zuni took corn and wheat. Paiute didn't take any, he too said he would rather live on wild game and fruit. Utes didn't take any either. The Bahana (White man) took his choice last and was rather slow and considered well and finally he took some wheat which was not so heavy and he could carry more of it than the corn.
When they started out, for a few days they were kind of looking out for one another and keeping track of the time. They travelled on for many days and it got so that it was rather discouraging for they never had thought that the sun rose so far away; they thought that the sun rose only a short distance off. Finally they got so they didn't count the days any more.
As they traveled along, the first party came on a dead bear. They thought that they would name themselves the "Bear Clan" (Hona-wunga) and by this they could be recognized. They took the paws off the bear and took the flesh and bones out of them and stuffed them up with grass.
The second band came along and they too, found the dead bear. They had so many things to carry that they thought they needed some straps, so they took the hide off the bear and made straps of it. Then they thought they would take the name of "Strap Clan" (Biaquoiswungwa) by which they would be known.
Then it was many days before the third band came along. When they came to the dead bear it was all bones and the ribs were sticking up in the air and the bluebirds were sitting on them. Well, seeing the bluebirds there they thought they would call themselves the "Bluebird Clan", Chosh-wunga, by which name they would recognize each other. Then they went on, following the rest who were ahead of them. They must have known in some way that the two other clans were ahead of them.
Not very long after the "Bluebird Clan" had left this place, another band came along and they too found the dead bear. Inside of the skeleton of the bear was a spider web. Seeing the spider, they thought they would call
themselves the "Spider Clan", Koking-wungwa.
Then the next band came along not very far behind them, and they too came to the same spot. They found gopher mounds around the skeleton of the bear so they thought they would call themselves the "Gopher Clan", Mui-wunga.
Maybe a few years later, another band came up and they too came to the same place and found that the skeleton of the bear was all in pieces. They found the skull with the greasy eye cavities, and they thought they would call themselves the Wikurswungwa Clan, "The greasy eye cavities of the skull." (Clan now extinct.)
These groups were all going eastward, toward the rising sun and of course, the man who was to be the Bahana, went on and got ahead.
As they were following one another, of course they all had it in mind to see the Eastern Star. Their brother, Bahana, had gone on and they thought he might be held up somewhere and they hoped to get ahead of him for they all hoped they would reach the rising sun first. Of course, out of all these clans the Bear Clan was ahead. Each clan wished to get ahead. One day the Spider Clan came upon a spider lying outside of its hole, and of course the leaders stopped and wondered if this spider could speak to them. So the chief called his people and they all gathered around the spider, wondering at it. Finally the Spider Woman spoke to them.
She called them her children and grandchildren. Then she said that if they needed to be helped she could help them. They said they would like to be helped, because they rather thought they were getting away behind the rest of the people. So the Spider Woman said that they would have to stay with her a few days and that she would get them something to travel with so they could go on faster. They said they would like to travel faster because on account of the children they were getting behind. So the Spider Woman asked them if they would like something to ride on so they wouldn't have to travel on foot, and they said they would.
"Well," she said, "I can make you a tame animal" that would carry your stuff and probably you can have him pack your things and you can walk behind him. If you don't carry any thing on your back you might travel faster."
"Well," the man said, "what could you make it of?"
The Spider Woman said "It has to be a part of you, so
you go to that little room with the jar of water and take a bath and whatever rolls off your body--all that dirt--you gather it up and bring it to me."
So this man took a jar of water and went into a little room and started to take a bath. Of course, you know, having travelled many days thinking that he would get to the rising sun, why he never did stop to think about taking a bath and he was awful dirty. All afternoon he spent rubbing himself and all that dirt began to roll off of him. When he got through and gathered it up he almost had a handful. He came out and handed this to the Spider Woman and wondered what sort of an animal it would make and how big it would be, because he thought the dirt that rolled off himself wasn't big enough to make an animal of any kind.
Then the Spider Woman went to work and she brought out a little white robe. She laid this down and put the lump of dirt on it and covered it up with the robe and folded it over. Then she sang the magic songs. Every once in a while she would peek in under this cover and see if it was coming to life, and finally the thing started to move. The Spider Woman finished her songs. She took the little cover off and there was a little gray burro. Well, the Spider Woman told these people that they would have to stay there four days because in four days this little animal would then be strong enough to travel.
Every day the Spider Woman would feed this little animal something and wrap him up. Being a wise old woman, she would feed it some of her medicine--magic stuff--rubbing its legs to give it strength. Finally, in four days, the animal was ready to travel. The people packed up the burro with their stuff and they went on. Well, they found it was much easier to have something packing their stuff than to be packed up themselves.
Having made a burro for these people, this same Spider Woman made a man with knowledge and instructed him to go after these people and help them along, to train animals for them that they might catch up with brother Bahana. But not following the Spider Woman's instructions, this man stole the little burro and went on himself, thinking that he would get ahead of the Bahana and reach the point of the rising sun first. So one day these poor Hopis could not find their animal and they looked for many days. Finally, they found somebody's tracks driving the burro. He had funny shoes and whoever he was, he had slipped up on them and stolen their animal. Now they were made sad because they had to pack their own stuff
again. Later, they came upon another Spider Woman who told them that this man was a Castilian who had stolen their burro.
By this time these people had almost forgotten about the rest of the Hopi and they hadn't heard of where they were all this time. They were traveling away behind and they were rather slow because they would stop to cultivate the land and raise corn to supply them for a few years. They thought that they would build houses and make pottery by which they would mark this land as they went along, because they believed the day would come when their brother would find the rising sun and that they would all come back this way with more power and more knowledge. Of course, they would be true to their brother, but there may be others who would come back with him and they would be the ones who would try to cheat him out of the land, so in order to have some kind of mark in this country they built homes and made pottery.
Next: Chapter V. How the Hopi Selected Shung-opovi For Their Home