Truth of a Hopi by Edmund Nequatewa
HOW THE CROW CLAN BECAME ALSO THE KACHINA CLAN
Originally, the home of the Crow Clan was somewhere in the forest at the foot of the San Francisco Peaks. There were seven families and they were a dark people. Now, often in the night they would hear something moving about far away in the woods, making a strange noise and they wondered who it was. The leader of the village wanted to find out about this strange sound, for he knew that no animal made that kind of a sound, like a deep growling (for in those days this person wore a bell made out of mountain sheep horn, which rattled and could be heard a long distance).
So finally the Chief said he would send out a few boys who were good runners, to spy around and see who this person could be. And so one night he did send out seven of them into the forest. They wandered around and finally, away in the distance, they heard the strange noise, far up at the top of the peaks, coming down from point to point and they were frightened. The noise came on, passed them and came down on the flat and traveled on toward the village. The boys saw that it was someone, but they feared that it might be a man of great power who would kill them and they did not try to catch him.
So this man, or whoever it was, came close to the village again and finally went away up the mountain. Now someone said to the Chief that this person, whoever he was, that came from the peaks must surely live up there, so that it would be well for him to hold the ceremony of the "Paho making." 5 So he called the High Priest and had him make prayer offerings.
After thinking it over the Chief decided to send one of his nephews with the offerings so that. if he found anyone on the peaks and harm should come to the youth, as he was a relative, there would be no trouble.
So he called his nephew and gave him the pahos and told him to go up the mountain and give the pahos to anyone that he might find there. Now they got the youth ready next morning and painted him in reddish clay and tied a prayer plume on his head. Every man who had made a prayer offering went and placed it on a white buckskin and after they were all delivered there, they wrapped them up nicely and gave them to the youth together with a sack
of sacred corn meal. Before the boy started, the Chief told him that if there were supernatural beings up there, to tell them that the Chief had sent them a message. He would like to ask if they were gods or other spirits and if they were, he would like to communicate with them. If they were spirits, then the people would worship them and accept their advice, because he knows himself, who must have control of the weather.
So the youth started out, but before he commenced to ascend he came upon the old Spider Woman. 7 The Spider Woman spoke to the youth, but he could not see her anywhere, so she peeped a little more out of her hole and she said to him, "Come in."
But the youth looked down and said sadly, "How can I, the hole is too small." So she said, "Stick in your foot and wriggle it around a little." He did as she told him and the hole grew larger and he went down into her pithouse.
The wise old Spider Woman said to the youth, "My poor boy, I am sorry for you. You have been sent up there on a difficult journey and I am afraid you are going to have a very hard time. You will have to do the best you can. There are four dangerous places that you must pass, guarded by 'terrible beings.' I will give you a charm which will make these creatures harmless and you can pass in safety." She handed him the root of a plant and told him how to use it. Whenever he came up one of these guards (it might be a mountain lion, a bear, or a terrible snake) the Spider Woman charged him to chew the magic root and spray it out upon the creature and he would immediately become mild and gentle. Then the old woman gave him a little fluffy feather and directed him how to use it, and told him which way to go.
So the youth started out and traveled upward about three quarters of the way when he discerned a very faint trail and it was difficult to follow. All at once he thought of the little feather that the old Spider Woman had given him and how she had told him that it would go before him and show the way. So the youth took out his feather and let it go and it rose in the air and flew along before him, very slowly, so that he could easily follow it.
No sooner had he started than he came to the first guard. A great mountain lion lay across his way and when he saw the boy he growled in his throat and crouched ready to spring upon him. The youth was frightened but he remembered the old Spider Woman's words and he quickly chewed the magic root and sprayed it out upon the angry lion and at once the beast lay down and it seemed as if he
had never noticed the boy.
Now all this time, the little feather danced along ahead of the youth and presently they came to the second guard, a giant grizzly bear. Of course you know, this animal is very fierce and the boy was even more afraid than he had been of the mountain lion, but he quickly chewed more of the magic medicine and sprayed it out over the bear and at once he became quiet and the youth passed on.
Finally, with the feather going before he reached the top of the mountains and there he found a kiva. This kiva was guarded by two snakes, a great rattler, and a small rattler more deadly than the first. When they saw him approaching they coiled ready to strike and the boy stopped a long way off and felt very much discouraged and he forgot about his magic medicine. But the little feather had gone on ahead and stopped over the two snakes on top of the kiva. Now the snakes looked at the little feather and then at the youth and they thought that the feather was the boy's spirit. Then the youth remembered his charm and sprayed the snakes and they quieted down, uncoiled and crawled away from the entrance to the kiva.
The feather entered the kiva and the youth followed. One lone man was sitting by the fire-place and he did not notice the youth. So the boy stood by the ladder and waited and presently the man saw him and asked him to be seated. The youth had a pipe which he filled with tobacco, lit it at the fire and passed it to the old man, who took four puffs and all the tobacco was used up; but the odor of the tobacco filled the room. Now he asked the youth where he had come from and who had sent him and the youth said that his uncle, the Chief, had sent him to find out who it was that visited the village and returned to the peaks each night.
The old man said, "I know who you mean, he is my scout. He is away today, but he will soon come home. At any rate, I am the head man here."
So the boy said, "If you are the head man here, I have brought you the prayer offerings the Chief and High Priest and the other head men have made for you."
Well, the old man said that he was very glad that the offerings were made for him, because his people prized them very highly and he took the bundle and opened it and spread the plaques with the pahos on them out in front of him in the middle of the kiva. Then he said to the youth, "Watch me closely and see what I do. Do you see this paho? It was made by a man with a bad heart--I will
cast it behind the ladder. But the maker of this paho has a good heart--I will place this in front of the ladder. Now I will call my people and pass these offerings around to them."
So he opened the north, west, south, and east doors of the kiva and as he did this, many people came in and the youth saw that this was a large under-ground dwelling with only one opening through the kiva to the upper world. The youth was surprised to find that, as the head man handed around the pahos, there were certain ones for certain people and that there were just enough for every one.
Finally, the head man asked the youth why his people down there had sent the offerings and what it was they wanted. Well, the boy said that his people wanted to find out who it was that lived up there and if they might be supernatural beings. And they answered him and said that they were the Kachinas, 7 and being Kachinas they had control of the weather, like the rain and the storms.
Now the Kachinas said that they would teach the youth the Kachina dances so that he could show his people down below how to hold Kachina dances and make them a part of their religion.
So the youth was asked to stay for four days 3 and during those four days and four nights he was shown the different dances and he was asked to study them so that he could paint the faces on the ceremonial masks when he returned. So the old man dressed the youth in full costume and they danced to the north, west, south, and east.
Then the youth, who had heard about the Germ God (Muiaingwa ) 7 now recognized the old man as the Germ God himself. Then the Germ God told the youth that if he would stay with them for awhile he would teach him how to make masks out of a white material and he told him that he must also learn how to make the costumes and belts and how to prepare the paint. The Germ God said that the youth must also learn their songs and then he said, "This ceremony will surely bring rain if you do as we do up here."
Now after he had learned these dances and memorized the painting and the songs and all that was necessary, he was sent back to his home. Before he left the kiva, he was told that he and his relatives would now be a Kachina Clan. Well, the youth said that they were already the Crow Clan, but the head man said that they had a Crow Kachina and told the boy to tell his uncle, the Chief, that they must make pahos to the Kachinas whenever they held a dance.
When they had told him all this he was sent back. While he was gone his people had been uneasy for four days, for they knew the forest was full of wild animals. When he returned, they were glad.
The youth went to the kiva and the Chief was waiting for him there. The Crier was sent out to call the people to come to the kiva and when the men gathered in the kiva the youth told them how he had been taught the songs and the painting of the masks and how the Kachinas had control of the rain and wished the people to make prayer offerings for them whenever they prayed for rain and held a Kachina dance.
And so the Crow and Kachina Clans brought these dances to the Hopi.
Next: The Legend of Palotquopi