The Unwritten Literature of the Hopi
by Hattie Greene Lockett
1  2     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

Vol. IV, No. 4 May 15, 1933

University of Arizona Bulletin


The Unwritten Literature of the Hopi




I. Introduction General Statement The Challenge The Myth, Its Meaning and Function in Primitive Life

II. The Hopi Their Country, The People

III. Hopi Social Organization Government The Clan and Marriage Property, Lands, Houses, Divorce Woman's Work Man's Work

IV. Pottery and Basket Making Traditional, Its Symbolism

V. House Building

VI. Myth and Folktale, General Discussion Stability Intrusion of Contemporary Material How and Why Myths are Kept Service of Myth Hopi Story Telling

VII. Hopi Religion Gods and Kachinas Religion Not for Morality

VIII. Ceremonies, General Discussion Belief and Ceremonial

IX. Hopi Myths and Traditions and Some Ceremonies Based Upon Them The Emergence Myth and the Wu-wu-che-Ma Ceremony Some Migration Myths Flute Ceremony and Tradition Other Dances The Snake Myth and the Snake Dance A Flood and Turkey Feathers

X. Ceremonies for Birth, Marriage, Burial Birth Marriage Burial

XI. Stories Told Today An Ancient Feud Memories of a Hopi Centenarian The Coyote and the Water Plume Snake A Bear Story The Giant and the Twin War Gods The Coyote and the Turtle The Frog and the Locust

XII. Conclusion

The Unwritten Literature of the Hopi[1]

[Footnote 1: A thesis accepted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Master of Arts degree in Archaeology, University of Arizona, 1933. Published under the direction of the Committee on Graduate Study, R.J. Leonard, Chairman.]



* * * * *


By a brief survey of present day Hopi culture and an examination into the myths and traditions constituting the unwritten literature of this people, this bulletin proposes to show that an intimate connection exists between their ritual acts, their moral standards, their social organization, even their practical activities of today, and their myths and tales—the still unwritten legendary lore.

The myths and legends of primitive peoples have always interested the painter, the poet, the thinker; and we are coming to realize more and more that they constitute a treasure-trove for the archaeologist, and especially the anthropologist, for these sources tell us of the struggles, the triumphs, the wanderings of a people, of their aspirations, their ideals and beliefs; in short, they give us a twilight history of the race.

As the geologist traces in the rocks the clear record of the early beginnings of life on our planet, those first steps that have led through the succession of ever-developing forms of animal and plant life at last culminating in man and the world as we now see them, so does the anthropologist discover in the myths and legends of a people the dim traces of their origin and development till these come out in the stronger light of historical time. And it is at this point that the ethnologist, trying to understand a race as he finds them today, must look earnestly back into the "realm of beginnings," through this window of so-called legendary lore, in order to account for much that he finds in the culture of the present day.

The Challenge: Need of Research on Basic Beliefs Underlying Ceremonies

Wissler says:[2] "It is still an open question in primitive social psychology whether we are justified in assuming that beliefs of a basic character do motivate ceremonies. It seems to us that such must be the case, because we recognize a close similarity in numerous practices and because we are accustomed to believe in the unity of the world and life. So it may still be our safest procedure to secure better records of tribal traditional beliefs and to deal with objective procedures as far as possible. No one has ventured to correlate specific beliefs and ceremonial procedures, but it is through this approach that the motivating power of beliefs will be revealed, if such potency exists."

[Footnote 2: Wissler, Clark, An Introduction to Social Anthropology: Henry Holt & Co., New York, 1926, p. 266.]

Some work has been done along this line by Kroeber for the tribes of California, Lowie for the Crow Indians, and Junod for the Ekoi of West Africa; but it appears that the anthropological problem of basic beliefs and philosophies is dependent upon specific tribal studies and that more research is called for.

The Myth, Its Meaning and Function in Primitive Life

As a background for our discussion we shall need to consider first, the nature and significance of mythology, since there is some, indeed much, difference of opinion on the subject, and to arrive at some basis of understanding as to its function.

The so-called school of Nature-Mythology, which flourishes mainly in Germany, maintains that primitive man is highly interested in natural phenomena, and that this interest is essentially of a theoretic, contemplative and poetical character. To writers of this school every myth has as its kernel or essence some natural phenomenon or other, even though such idea is not apparent upon the surface of the story; a deeper meaning, a symbolic reference, being insisted upon. Such famous scholars as Ehrenreich, Siecke, Winckler, Max Muller, and Kuhn have long given us this interpretation of myth.

In strong contrast to this theory which regards myth as naturalistic, symbolic, and imaginary, we have the theory which holds a sacred tale as a true historical record of the past. This idea is supported by the so-called Historical school in Germany and America, and represented in England by Dr. Rivers. We must admit that both history and natural environment have left a profound imprint on all cultural achievement, including mythology, but we are not justified in regarding all mythology as historical chronicle, nor yet as the poetical musings of primitive naturalists. The primitive does indeed put something of historical record and something of his best interpretation of mysterious natural phenomena into his legendary lore, but there is something else, we are led to believe, that takes precedence over all other considerations in the mind of the primitive (as well as in the minds of all of the rest of us) and that is getting on in the world, a pragmatic outlook.

It is evident that the primitive relies upon his ancient lore to help him out in his struggle with his environment, in his needs spiritual and his needs physical, and this immense service comes through religious ritual, moral incentive, and sociological pattern, as laid down in the cherished magical and legendary lore of his tribe.

The close connection between religion and mythology, under-estimated by many, has been fully appreciated by the great British anthropologist, Sir James Frazer, and by classical scholars like Miss Jane Harrison. The myth is the Bible of the primitive, and just as our Sacred Story lives in our ritual and in our morality, as it governs our faith and controls our conduct, even so does the savage live by his mythology.

The myth, as it actually exists in a primitive community, even today, is not of the nature of fiction such as our novel, but is a living reality, believed to have once happened in primeval times when the world was young and continuing ever since to influence the world and human destiny.

The mere fireside tale of the primitive may be a narrative, true or imaginary, or a sort of fairy story, a fable or a parable, intended mainly for the edification of the young and obviously pointing a moral or emphasizing some useful truth or precept. And here we do recognize symbolism, much in the nature of historical record. But the special class of stories regarded by the primitive as sacred, his sacred myths, are embodied in ritual, morals, and social organization, and form an integral and active part of primitive culture. These relate back to best known precedent, to primeval reality, by which pattern the affairs of men have ever since been guided, and which constitute the only "safe path."

Malinowski[3] stoutly maintains that these stories concerning the origins of rites and customs are not told in mere explanation of them; in fact, he insists they are not intended as explanations at all, but that the myth states a precedent which constitutes an ideal and a warrant for its continuance, and sometimes furnishes practical directions for the procedure. He feels that those who consider the myths of the savage as mere crude stories made up to explain natural phenomena, or as historical records true or untrue, have made a mistake in taking these myths out of their life-context and studying them from what they look like on paper, and not from what they do in life.

[Footnote 3: Malinowski, B., Myth in Primitive Psychology: M.W. Norton & Co., Inc., New York, 1926, p. 19.]

Since Malinowski's definition of myth differs radically from that of many other writers on the subject, we would refer the reader to the discussion of myth under the head of Social Anthropology in the Encyclopedia Britannica, Fourteenth Edition, page 869.


* * * * *

Their Country—The People

The Hopi Indians live in northern Arizona about one hundred miles northeast of Flagstaff, seventy miles north of Winslow, and seventy-five miles north of Holbrook.

For at least eight hundred years the Hopi pueblos have occupied the southern points of three fingers of Black Mesa, the outstanding physical feature of the country, commonly referred to as First, Second, and Third Mesas.

It is evident that in late prehistoric times several large villages were located at the foot of First and Second Mesas, but at present, except for two small settlements around trading posts, the villages are all on top of the mesas. On the First Mesa we find Walpi, Sichomovi, and Hano, the latter not Hopi but a Tewa village built about 1700 by immigrants from the Rio Grande Valley, and at the foot of this mesa the modern village of Polacca with its government school and trading post. On Second Mesa are Mashongnovi, Shipaulovi, and Shungopovi, with Toreva Day School at its foot. On Third Mesa Oraibi, Hotavilla, and Bacabi are found, with a government school and a trading post at Lower Oraibi and another school at Bacabi. Moencopi, an offshoot from Old Oraibi, is near Tuba City.

This area was once known as the old Spanish Province of Tusayan, and the Hopi villages are called pueblos, Spanish for towns. In 1882, 2,472,320 acres of land were set aside from the public domain as the Hopi Indian Reservation. At present the Hopi area is included within the greater Navajo Reservation and administered by a branch of the latter Indian agency.

The name Hopi or Hopitah means "peaceful people," and the name Moqui, sometimes applied to them by unfriendly Navajo neighbors, is really a Zuni word meaning "dead," a term of derision. Naturally the Hopi do not like being called Moqui, though no open resentment is ever shown. Early fiction and even some early scientific reports used the term Moqui instead of Hopi.

Admirers have called these peaceful pueblo dwellers "The Quaker People," but that is a misnomer for these sturdy brown heathen who have never asked or needed either government aid or government protection, have a creditable record of defensive warfare during early historic times and running back into their traditional history, and have also some accounts of civil strife.

The nomadic Utes, Piutes, Apaches, and Navajos for years raided the fields and flocks of this industrious, prosperous, sedentary people; in fact, the famous Navajo blanket weavers got the art of weaving and their first stock of sheep through stealing Hopi women and Hopi sheep. But there came a time when the peaceful Hopi decided to kill the Navajos who stole their crops and their girls, and then conditions improved. Too, soon after, came the United States government and Kit Carson to discipline the raiding Navajos.

The only semblance of trouble our government has had with the Hopi grew out of the objection, in fact, refusal, of some of the more conservative of the village inhabitants to send their children to school. The children were taken by force, but no blood was shed, and now government schooling is universally accepted and generally appreciated.

A forbidding expanse of desert waste lands surrounds the Hopi mesas, furnishing forage for Hopi sheep and goats during the wet season and browse enough to sustain them during the balance of the year. These animals are of a hardy type adapted to their desert environment. Our pure blood stock would fare badly under such conditions. However, the type of wool obtained from these native sheep lends itself far more happily to the weaving of the fine soft blankets so long made by the Hopi than does the wool of our high grade Merino sheep or a mixture of the two breeds. This is so because our Merino wool requires the commercial scouring given it by modern machine methods, whereas the Hopi wool can be reduced to perfect working condition by the primitive hand washing of the Hopi women.

As one approaches the dun-colored mesas from a distance he follows their picturesque outlines against the sky line, rising so abruptly from the plain below, but not until one is within a couple of miles can he discern the villages that crown their heights. And no wonder these dun-colored villages seem so perfectly a part of the mesas themselves, for they are literally so—their rock walls and dirt roofs having been merely picked up from the floor and sides of the mesa itself and made into human habitations.

The Hopi number about 2,500 and are a Shoshonean stock. They speak a language allied to that of the Utes and more remotely to the language of the Aztecs in Mexico.[4]

[Footnote 4: Colton, H.S., Days in the Painted Desert: Museum Press, Flagstaff, 1932, p. 17.]

According to their traditions the various Hopi clans arrived in Hopiland at different times and from different directions, but they were all a kindred people having the same tongue and the same fundamental traditions.

They did not at first build on the tops of the mesas, but at their feet, where their corn fields now are, and it was not from fear of the war-like and aggressive tribes of neighboring Apaches and Navajos that they later took to the mesas, as we once supposed. A closer acquaintance with these people brings out the fact that it was not till the Spaniards had come to them and established Catholic Missions in the late Seventeenth Century that the Hopi decided to move to the more easily defended mesa tops for fear of a punitive expedition from the Spaniards whose priests they had destroyed.

We are told that these desert-dwellers, whose very lives have always depended upon their little corn fields along the sandy washes that caught and held summer rains, always challenged new-coming clans to prove their value as additions to the community, especially as to their magic for rain-making, for life here was a hardy struggle for existence, with water as a scarce and precious essential. Among the first inhabitants was the Snake Clan with its wonderful ceremonies for rain bringing, as well as other sacred rites. Willingly they accepted the rituals and various religious ceremonials of new-comers when they showed their ability to help out with the eternal problem of propitiating the gods that they conceived to have control over rain, seed germination, and the fertility and well-being of the race.

In exactly the same spirit they welcomed the friars. Perhaps these priests had "good medicine" that would help out. Maybe this new kind of altar, image, and ceremony would bring rain and corn and health; they were quite willing to try them. But imagine their consternation when these Catholic priests after a while, unlike any people who had ever before been taken into their community, began to insist that the new religion be the only one, and that all other ceremonies be stopped. How could the Hopi, who had depended upon their old ceremonies for centuries, dare to stop them? Their revered traditions told them of clans that had suffered famine and sickness and war as punishment for having dropped or even neglected their religious dances and ceremonies, and of their ultimate salvation when they returned to their faithful performance.

The Hopi objected to the slavish labor of bringing timbers by hand from the distant mountains for the building of missions and, according to Hopi tradition, to the priests taking some of their daughters as concubines, but the breaking point was the demand of the friars that all their old religious ceremonies be stopped; this they dared not do.

So the "long gowns" were thrown over the cliff, and that was that. Certain dissentions and troubles had come upon them, and some crop failures, so they attributed their misfortunes to the anger of the old gods and decided to stamp out this new and dangerous religion. It had taken a strong hold on one of their villages, Awatobi, even to the extent of replacing some of the old ceremonies with the new singing and chanting and praying. And so Awatobi was destroyed by representatives from all the other villages. Entering the sleeping village just before dawn, they pulled up the ladders from the underground kivas where all the men of the village were known to be sleeping because of a ceremony in progress, then throwing down burning bundles and red peppers they suffocated their captives, shooting with bows and arrows those who tried to climb out. Women and children who resisted were killed, the rest were divided among the other villages as prisoners, but virtually adopted. Thus tenaciously have the Hopi clung to their old religion—noncombatants so long as new cults among them do not attempt to stop the old.

There are Christian missionaries among them today, notably Baptists, but they are quite safe, and the Hopi treat them well. Meantime the old ceremonies are going strong, the rain falls after the Snake Dance, and the crops grow. The Hopi realize that missionary influence will eventually take some away from the old beliefs and practices and that government school education is bound to break down the old traditional unity of ideas. Naturally their old men are worried about it. Yet their faith is strong and their disposition is kindly and tolerant, much like that of the good old Methodist fathers who are disturbed over their young people being led off into new angles of religious belief, yet confident that "the old time religion" will prevail and hopeful that the young will be led to see the error of their way. How long the old faith can last, in the light of all that surrounds it, no one can say, but in all human probability it is making its last gallant stand.

These Pueblo Indians are very unlike the nomadic tribes around them. They are a sedentary, peaceful people living in permanent villages and presenting today a significant transitional phase in the advance of a people from savagery toward civilization and affording a valuable study in the science of man.

Naturally they are changing, for easy transportation has brought the outside world to their once isolated home. It is therefore highly important that they be studied first-hand now for they will not long stay as they are.


* * * * *


In government, the village is the unit, and a genuinely democratic government it is. There is a house chief, a Kiva chief, a war chief, the speaker chief or town crier, and the chiefs of the clans who are likewise chiefs of the fraternities; all these making up a council which rules the pueblo, the crier publishing its decisions. Laws are traditional and unwritten. Hough[5] says infractions are so few that it would be hard to say what the penalties are, probably ridicule and ostracism. Theft is almost unheard of, and the taking of life by force or law is unknown.

[Footnote 5: Hough, Walter, The Hopi: Torch Press, Cedar Rapids, 1915.]

To a visitor encamped at bedtime below the mesa, the experience of hearing the speaker chief or town crier for the first time is something long to be remembered. Out of the stillness of the desert night comes a voice from the house tops, and such a voice! From the heights above, it resounds in a sonorous long-drawn chant. Everyone listens breathlessly to the important message and it goes on and on.

The writer recalls that when first she heard it, twenty years ago, she sat up in bed and rousing the camp, with stage whispers (afraid to speak aloud), demanded: "Do you hear that? What on earth can it mean? Surely something awful has happened!" On and on it went endlessly. (She has since been told that it is all repeated three times.) And not until morning was it learned that the long speech had been merely the announcement of a rabbit hunt for the next day. The oldest traditions of the Hopi tell of this speaker chief and his important utterances. He is a vocal bulletin board and the local newspaper, but his news is principally of a religious nature, such as the announcement of ceremonials. This usually occurs in the evening when all have gotten in from the fields or home from the day's journey, but occasionally announcements are made at other hours.

The following is a poetic formal announcement of the New Fire Ceremony, as given at sunrise from the housetop of the Crier at Walpi:

"All people awake, open your eyes, arise, Become children of light, vigorous, active, sprightly: Hasten, Clouds, from the four world-quarters. Come, Snow, in plenty, that water may abound when summer appears. Come, Ice, and cover the fields, that after planting they may yield abundantly. Let all hearts be glad. The Wuwutchimtu will assemble in four days; They will encircle the villages, dancing and singing. Let the women be ready to pour water upon them That moisture may come in plenty and all shall rejoice."[6]

[Footnote 6: Hough, Walter, Op. cit., p. 43.]

As to the character of their government, Hewett says:[7] "We can truthfully say that these surviving pueblo communities constitute the oldest existing republics. It must be remembered, however, that they were only vest-pocket editions. No two villages nor group of villages ever came under a common authority or formed a state. There is not the faintest tradition of a 'ruler' over the whole body of the Pueblos, nor an organization of the people of this vast territory under a common government."

[Footnote 7: Hewett, E.L., Ancient Life in the American Southwest: Bobbs-Merrill Co., Indianapolis, 1929, p. 71.]

The Clan and Marriage

Making up the village are various clans. A clan comprises all the descendants of a traditional maternal ancestor. Children belong to the clan of the mother. (See Figure 1.) These clans bear the name of something in nature, often suggested by either a simple or a significant incident in the legendary history of the people during migration when off-shoots from older clans were formed into new clans. Thus a migration legend collected by Voth[8] accounts for the name of the Bear Clan, the Bluebird Clan, the Spider Clan, and others.

[Footnote 8: Voth, H.R., Traditions of the Hopi: Field Columbian Museum Pub. 96, Anthropological series, vol. 8, pp. 36-38, 1905.]

Sons and daughters are expected to marry outside the clan, and the son must live with his wife's people, so does nothing to perpetuate his own clan. The Hopi is monogamous. A daughter on marrying brings her husband to her home, later building the new home adjacent to that of her mother. Therefore many daughters born to a clan mean increase in population.

Some clans have indeed become nearly extinct because of the lack of daughters, the sons having naturally gone to live with neighboring clans, or in some cases with neighboring tribes. As a result, some large houses are pointed out that have many unoccupied and even abandoned rooms—the clan is dying out. Possibly there may be a good many men of that clan living but they are not with or near their parents and grandparents. They are now a part of the clan into which they have married, and must live there, be it near or far. Why should they keep up such a practice when possibly the young man could do better, economically and otherwise, in his ancestral home and community? The answer is, "It has always been that way," and that seems to be reason enough for a Hopi.

Property, Lands, Houses, Divorce

Land is really communal, apportioned to the several clans and by them apportioned to the various families, who enjoy its use and hand down such use to the daughters, while the son must look to his wife's share of her clan allotment for his future estate. In fact, it is a little doubtful whether he has any estate save his boots and saddle and whatever personal plunder he may accumulate, for the house is the property of the wife, as well as the crop after its harvest, and divorce at the pleasure of the wife is effective and absolute by the mere means of placing said boots and saddle, etc., outside the door and closing it. The husband may return to his mother's house, and if he insists upon staying, the village council will insist upon his departure.

Again, why do they keep doing it this way? Again, "Because it has always been done this way." And it works very well. There is little divorce and little dissension in domestic life among the Hopi, in spite of Crane's[9] half comical sympathy for men in this "woman-run" commonwealth. Bachelors are rare since only heads of families count in the body politic. An unmarried woman of marriageable age is unheard of.

[Footnote 9: Crane, Leo, Indians of the Enchanted Mesa: Little, Brown & Co., Boston, 1925.]

Woman's Work

The Hopi woman's life is a busy one, the never finished grinding of corn by the use of the primitive metate and mano taking much time, and the universal woman's task of bearing and rearing children and providing meals and home comforts accounting for most of her day.

She is the carrier of water, and since it must be borne on her back from the spring below the village mesa this is a burden indeed. She is, too, the builder of the house, though men willingly assist in any heavy labor when wanted. But why on earth should so kindly a people make woman the carrier of water and the mason of her home walls? Tradition! "It has always been this way."

Her leisure is employed in visiting her neighbors, for the Hopi are a conspicuously sociable people, and in the making of baskets or pottery. One hears a great deal about Hopi pottery, but the pottery center in Hopiland is the village of Hano, on First Mesa, and the people are not Hopi but Tewas, whose origin shall presently be explained.

Not until recent years has pottery been made elsewhere in Hopiland than at Hano. At present, however, Sichomovi, the Hopi village built so close to Hano that one scarce knows where one ends and the other begins, makes excellent pottery as does the Hopi settlement at the foot of the hill, Polacca. Undoubtedly this comes from the Tewa influence and in some cases from actual Tewa families who have come to live in the new locality. For instance, Grace, maker of excellent pottery, now living at Polacca, is a Tewa who lived in Hano twenty years ago, when the writer first knew her, and continued to live there until a couple of years ago. Nampeo, most famous potter in Hopiland, is an aged Tewa woman still living at Hano, in the first house at the head of the trail. Her ambitious study of the fragments of the pottery of the ancients, in the ruins of old Sikyatki, made her the master craftsman and developed a new standard for pottery-making in her little world.

Mention was made previously of the women employing their leisure in the making of baskets or pottery. An interesting emphasis should be placed upon the "or," for no village does both. The women of the three villages mentioned at First Mesa as pottery villages make no baskets. The three villages on Second Mesa make a particular kind of coiled basket found nowhere else save in North Africa, and no pottery nor any other kind of basket. The villages of Third Mesa make colorful twined or wicker baskets and plaques, just the one kind and no pottery. They stick as closely to these lines as though their wares were protected by some tribal "patent right." Pottery for First Mesa, coiled baskets for Second Mesa, and wicker baskets for Third Mesa.

The writer has known the Hopi a long time, and has asked them many times the reason for this. The villages are only a few miles apart, so the same raw materials are available to all. These friends merely laugh good naturedly and answer: "O, the only reason is, that it is just the way we have always done it."

Natural conservatives, these Hopi, and yet not one of them but likes a bright new sauce-pan from the store for her cooking, and a good iron stove, for that matter, if she can afford it. There is no tradition against this, we are told.

More than two centuries ago, these Tewas came from the Rio Grande region, by invitation of the Walpi, to help them defend this village (See Figure 2) from their Navajo, Apache, and Piute enemies. They were given a place on the mesa-top to build their village, at the head of the main trail, which it was their business to guard, and fields were allotted them in the valley below.

They are a superior people, intelligent, friendly, reliable, and so closely resemble the Hopi that they can not be told apart.

The two peoples have intermarried freely, and it is hard to think of the Tewas otherwise than as "one kind of Hopi." However, they are of a distinctly different linguistic stock, speaking a Tewa language brought from the Rio Grande, while the Hopi speak a dialect of the Shoshonean.

It is an interesting fact that all Tewas speak Hopi as well as Tewa, whereas the Hopi have never learned the Tewa language. The Hopi have a legend accounting for this:

"When the Hano first came, the Walpi said to them, 'Let us spit in your mouths and you will learn our tongue,' and to this the Hano consented. When the Hano came up and built on the mesa, they said to the Walpi, 'Let us spit in your mouths and you will learn our tongue,' but the Walpi would not listen to this, saying it would make them vomit. This is the reason why all the Hano can speak Hopi, and none of the Hopi can talk Hano."[10]

[Footnote 10: Mindeleff, Cosmos, Traditional History of Tusayan (After A.M. Stephen): Bureau American Ethnology, vol. 8, p. 36, 1887.]

Man's Work

The work of the men must now be accounted for lest the impression be gained that the industry of the women leaves the males idle and carefree.

It is but fair to the men to say that first of all they carry the community government on their shoulders, and the still more weighty affairs of religion. They are depended upon to keep the seasonal and other ceremonies going throughout the year, and the Hopi ceremonial calendar has its major event for each of the twelve months, for all of which elaborate preparation must be made, including the manufacture and repair of costumes and other paraphernalia and much practicing and rehearsing in the kivas. Someone has said much of the Hopi man's time is taken up with "getting ready for dances, having dances, and getting over dances." Yes, a big waste of time surely to you and me, but to the Hopi community—men, women, and children alike—absolutely essential to their well-being. There could be no health, happiness, prosperity, not even an assurance of crops without these ceremonies.

The Hopi is a good dry farmer on a small scale, and farming is a laborious business in the shifting sands of Hopiland. Their corn is their literal bread of life and they usually keep one year's crop stored. These people have known utter famine and even starvation in the long ago, and their traditions have made them wise. The man tends the fields and flocks, makes mocassins, does the weaving of the community (mostly ceremonial garments) and usually brings in the wood for fuel, since it is far to seek in this land of scant vegetation, in fact literally miles away and getting farther every year, so that the man with team and wagon is fortunate indeed and the rest must pack their wood on burros. Both men and women gather backloads of faggots wherever such can be found in walking distance, and said distance is no mean measure, for these hardy little people have always been great walkers and great runners.

Hough says:[11] "Seemingly the men work harder making paraphernalia and costumes for the ceremonies than at anything else, but it should be remembered that in ancient days everything depended, in Hopi belief, on propitiating the deities. Still if we would pick the threads of religion from the warp and woof of Hopi life there apparently would not be much left. It must be recorded in the interests of truth, that Hopi men will work at days labor and give satisfaction except when a ceremony is about to take place at the pueblo, and duty to their religion interferes with steady employment much as fiestas do in the easy-going countries to the southward. Really the Hopi deserve great credit for their industry, frugality, and provident habits, and one must commend them because they do not shun work and because in fairness both men and women share in the labor for the common good."

[Footnote 11: Hough, Walter, Op. cit, pp. 156-58.]


* * * * *

The art of pottery-making is a traditional one; mothers teach their daughters, even as their mothers taught them. There are no recipes for exact proportions and mixtures, no thermometer for controlling temperatures, no stencil or pattern set down upon paper for laying out the designs. The perfection of the finished work depends upon the potter's sense of rightness and the skill developed by practicing the methods of her ancestors with such variation as her own originality and ingenuity may suggest.

All the women of a pueblo community know how to make cooking vessels, at least, and in spare time they gather and prepare their raw materials, just as the Navajo woman has usually a blanket underway or the Apache a basket started. The same is true of Hopi basketry; its methods, designs, and symbolism are all a matter of memory and tradition.

From those who know most of Indian sacred and decorative symbols, we learn that two main ideas are outstanding: desire for rain and belief in the unity of all life. Charms or prayers against drought take the form of clouds, lightning, rain, etc., and those for fertility are expressed by leaves, flowers, seed pods, while fantastic birds and feathers accompany these to carry the prayers. It may be admitted that the modern craftsman is often enough ignorant of the full early significance of the motifs used, but she goes on using them because they express her idea of beauty and because she knows that always they have been used to express belief in an animate universe and with the hope of influencing the unseen powers by such recognition in art.

The modern craftsman may even tell you that the once meaningful symbols mean nothing now, and this may be true, but the medicine men and the old people still hold the traditional symbols sacred, and this reply may be the only short and polite way of evading the troublesome stranger to whom any real explanation would be difficult and who would quite likely run away in the middle of the patient explanation to look at something else. Only those whose friendship and understanding have been tested will be likely to be told of that which is sacred lore. However, if the tourist insists upon having a story with his basket or pottery and the seller realizes that it's a story or no sale, he will glibly supply a story, be he Indian or white, both story and basket being made for tourist consumption.

To the old time Indian everything had a being or spirit of its own, and there was an actual feeling of sympathy for the basket or pot that passed into the hands of unsympathetic foreigners, especially if the object were ceremonial. The old pottery maker never speaks in a loud tone while firing her ware and often sings softly for fear the new being or spirit of the pot will become agitated and break the pot in trying to escape. Nampeo, the venerable Tewa potter, is said to talk to the spirits of her pots while firing them, adjuring them to be docile and not break her handiwork by trying to escape. But making things to sell is different—how could it be otherwise?

In one generation Indian craftsmen have come to be of two classes, those who make quantities of stuff for sale and those few who become real artists, ambitious to save from oblivion the significance and idealism of the old art that was done for the glory of the gods. Indian art may survive with proper encouragement, but it must come now; after a while will be too late.

A notably fine example of such encouragement is the work of Mary Russell F. Colton of Flagstaff, Arizona, in the Hopi Craftsman Exhibition held annually at the Northern Arizona Museum of which she is art curator. At the 1931 Exhibition, 142 native Hopi sent in 390 objects. Over $1500 worth of material was sold and $200 awarded in prizes. The attendance total of visitors was 1,642. From this exhibit a representative collection of Hopi Art was assembled for the Exposition of Indian Tribal Arts at the Grand Central Galleries, New York City, in December of the same year. A gratifying feature of these annual exhibits is the fact that groups of Hopi come in from their reservation 100 miles away and modestly but happily move about examining and enjoying these lovely samples of their own best work and that of their neighbors; and they are quick to observe that it is the really excellent work that gets the blue ribbon, the cash prize, and the best sale.

Dr. Fewkes points out that while men invented and passed on the mythology of the tribe, women wrote it down in symbols on their handicrafts which became the traditional heritage of all.

The sand paintings made for special ceremonies on the floors of the various kivas, in front of the altars, are likewise designs carried only in the memory of the officiating priest and derived from the clan traditions. All masks and ceremonial costumes are strictly prescribed by tradition. The corn symbol is used on everything. Corn has always been the bread of life to the Hopi, but it has been more than food, it has been bound up by symbolism with his ideas of all fertility and beneficence. Hopi myths and rituals recognize the dependence of their whole culture on corn. They speak of corn as their mother. The chief of a religious fraternity cherishes as his symbol of high authority an ear of corn in appropriate wrappings said to have belonged to the society when it emerged from the underworld. The baby, when twenty days old, is dedicated to the sun and has an ear of corn tied to its breast.


* * * * *

As already stated, the house (See Figure 3) belongs to the woman. She literally builds it, and she is the head of the family, but the men help with the lifting of timbers, and now-a-days often lay up the masonry if desired; the woman is still the plasterer. The ancestral home is very dear to the Hopi heart, men, women, and children alike.

After the stone for building has been gathered, the builder goes to the chief of the village who gives him four small eagle feathers to which are tied short cotton strings. These, sprinkled with sacred meal, are placed under the four corner stones of the new house. The Hopi call these feathers Nakiva Kwoci, meaning a breath prayer, and the ceremony is addressed to Masauwu. Next, the door is located by placing a bowl of food on each side of where it is to be. Likewise particles of food, mixed with salt, are sprinkled along the lines upon which the walls are to stand. The women bring water, clay, and earth, and mix a mud mortar, which is used sparingly between the layers of stone. Walls are from eight to eighteen inches thick and seven or eight feet high, above which rafters or poles are placed and smaller poles crosswise above these, then willows or reeds closely laid, and above all reeds or grass holding a spread of mud plaster. When thoroughly dry, a layer of earth is added and carefully packed down. All this is done by the women, as well as the plastering of the inside walls and the making of the plaster floors.

Now the owner prepares four more eagle feathers and ties them to a little willow stick whose end is inserted in one of the central roof beams. No home is complete without this, for it is the soul of the house and the sign of its dedication. These feathers are renewed every year at the feast of Soyaluna.

The writer remembers once seeing a tourist reach up and pull off the little tuft of breath feathers from the mid-rafter of the little house he had rented for the night. Naturally he replaced it when the enormity of his act was explained to him.

Not until the breath feathers have been put up, together with particles of food placed in the rafters as an offering to Masauwu, with due prayers for the peace and prosperity of the new habitation, may the women proceed to plaster the interior, to which, when it is dry, a coat of white gypsum is applied (all with strokes of the bare hands), giving the room a clean, fresh appearance. In one corner of the room is built a fireplace and chimney, the latter often extended above the roof by piling bottomless jars one upon the other, a quaint touch, reminding one of the picturesque chimney pots of England.

The roofs are finished flat and lived upon as in Mediterranean countries, particularly in the case of one-story structures built against two-story buildings, the roof of the low building making the porch or roof-garden for the second-story room lying immediately adjacent. Here, on the roof many household occupations go on, including often summer sleeping and cooking.

When the new house is completely finished and dedicated, the owner gives a feast for all members of her clan who have helped in the house-raising, and the guests come bearing small gifts for the home.

Formerly, the house was practically bare of furniture save for the fireplace and an occasional stool, but the majority of the Hopi have taken kindly to small iron cook stoves, simple tables and chairs, and some of them have iron bedsteads. Even now, however, there are many homes, perhaps they are still in the majority, where the family sits in the middle of the floor and eats from a common bowl and pile of piki (their native wafer corn bread), and sleeps on a pile of comfortable sheep skins with the addition of a few pieces of store bedding, all of which is rolled up against the wall to be out of the way when not in use.

In the granary, which is usually a low back room, the ears of corn are often sorted by color and laid up in neat piles, red, yellow, white, blue, black, and mottled, a Hopi study in corn color. Strings of native peppers add to the colorful ensemble.


* * * * *


Because none of this material could be written down but was passed by word of mouth from generation to generation, changes naturally occurred. Often a tale traveled from one tribe to another and was incorporated, in whole or in part, into the tribal lore of the neighbor—thus adding something. And, we may suppose, some were more or less forgotten and thus lost; but, as Wissler[12] tells us, "tales that are directly associated with ceremonies and, especially, if they must be recited as a part of the procedure, are assured a long life."

[Footnote 12: Wissler, Clark, Op. cit, p. 254.]

Such of these tales as were considered sacred or accounted for the origin of the people, were held in such high regard as to lay an obligation upon the tribe to see to it that a number of individuals learned and retained these texts, perhaps never in fixed wording, except for songs, but as to essential details of plot.

Many collectors have recorded several versions of certain tales, thus giving an idea of the range of individual variation, and the writer herself has encountered as many as three variants for some of her stories, coming always from the narrators of different villages. But Wissler,[13] while allowing for these variations, says: "All this suggests instability in primitive mythology. Yet from American data, noting such myths as are found among the successive tribes of larger areas, it appears that detailed plots of myths may be remarkably stable."

[Footnote 13: Wissler, Clark, Op. cit., p. 254.]

Intrusion of Contemporary Material

However there is another point discussed by Wissler which troubled the writer greatly as a beginner, and that was the intrusion of new material with old, for instance, finding an old Hopi story of how different languages came to exist in the world and providing a language for the Mamona, meaning the Mormons, who lived among the Hopi some years ago. The writer was inclined to throw out the story, regarding the whole thing as a modern concoction, but Wissler[14] warns us that: "From a chronological point of view we may expect survival material in a tribal mythology along with much that is relatively recent in origin. It is, however, difficult to be sure of what is ancient and what recent, because only the plot is preserved; rarely do we find mention of objects and environments different from those of the immediate present."

[Footnote 14: Wissler, Clark, Op. cit, p. 255.]

A tale, to be generally understood, must often be given a contemporary setting, and this the narrator instinctively knows, therefore the introduction of modern material with that of undoubted age.

Stability, then, lies in the plot rather than in the culture setting; the former may be ancient, while the latter sometimes reflects contemporary life.

Boaz[15] argues that much may be learned of contemporary tribal culture by a study of the mythology of a given people, since so much of the setting of the ancient tale reflects the tribal life of the time of the recording. He has made a test of the idea in his study of the Tsimshian Indians. From this collection of 104 tales he concludes that: "In the tales of a people those incidents of the everyday life that are of importance to them will appear either incidentally or as the basis of a plot. Most of the reference to the mode of life of the people will be an accurate reflection of their habits. The development of the plot of the story, further-more, will on the whole exhibit clearly what is considered right and what wrong."

[Footnote 15: Boaz, Franz, Tsimshian Mythology: Bureau American Ethnology, vol. 35, 1916, p. 393.]

How and Why Myths Are Kept

There are set times and seasons for story-telling among the various Indian tribes, but the winter season, when there is likely to be most leisure and most need of fireside entertainment, is a general favorite. However, some tribes have myths that "can not be told in summer, others only at night, etc."[16] Furthermore there are secret cults and ceremonials rigidly excluding women and children, whose basic myths are naturally restricted in their circulation, but in the main the body of tribal myth is for the pleasure and profit of all.

[Footnote 16: Wissler, Clark, Op. cit., p. 256.]

Old people relate the stories to the children, not only because they enjoy telling them and the children like listening to them, but because of the feeling that every member of the tribe should know them as a part of his education.

While all adults are supposed to know something of the tribal stories, not all are expected to be good story-tellers. Story-telling is a gift, we know, and primitives know this too, so that everywhere we have pointed out a few individuals who are the best story-tellers, usually an old man, sometimes an old woman, and occasionally, as the writer has seen it, a young man of some dramatic ability. When an important story furnishing a religious or social precedent is called for, either in council meeting or ceremonial, the custodian of the stories is in demand, and is much looked up to; yet primitives rarely create an office or station for the narrator, nor is the distinction so marked as the profession of the medicine man and the priest.

Service of Myth

As to the service of myth in primitive life, Wissler[17] says: "It serves as a body of information, as stylistic pattern, as inspiration, as ethical precepts, and finally as art. It furnishes the ever ready allusions to embellish the oration as well as to enliven the conversation of the fireside. Mythology, in the sense in which we have used the term, is the carrier and preserver of the most immaterial part of tribal culture."

[Footnote 17: Wissler, Clark, Op. cit., p. 258.]

Hopi Story-Telling

There comes a time in the Hopi year when crops have been harvested, most of the heavier and more essentially important religious ceremonials have been performed in their calendar places, and even the main supply of wood for winter fires has been gathered. To be sure, minor dances, some religious and some social, will be taking place from time to time, but now there will be more leisure, leisure for sociability and for story-telling.

In the kivas (See Figure 4) the priests and old men will instruct the boys in the tribal legends, both historical and mythological, and in the religious ceremonies in which they are all later supposed to participate. In the home, some good old story-telling neighbor drops in for supper, and stories are told for the enjoyment of all present, including the children; all kinds of stories, myths, tales of adventure, romances, and even bed-time stories. Indian dolls of painted wood and feathers, made in the image of the Kachinas, are given the children, who thus get a graphic idea of the supposed appearance of the heroes of some of these stories.

The Hopi, like many primitive people, believe that when a bird sings he is weaving a magic spell, and so they have songs for special magic too; some for grinding, for weaving, for planting, others for hunting, and still others for war; all definitely to gain the favor of the gods in these particular occupations.

Without books and without writing the Hopi have an extensive literature. That a surprising degree of accuracy is observed in its oral transmission from generation to generation is revealed by certain comparisons with the records made by the Spanish explorers in the sixteenth century.


* * * * *

Gods and Kachinas

The Hopi live, move, and have their being in religion. To them the unseen world is peopled with a host of beings, good and bad, and everything in nature has its being or spirit.

Just what kind of religion shall we call this of the Hopi? Seeing the importance of the sun in their rites, one is inclined to say Sun Worship; but clouds, rain, springs, streams enter into the idea, and we say Nature Worship. A study of the great Snake Cult suggests Snake Worship; but their reverence for and communion with the spirits of ancestors gives to this complex religious fabric of the Hopi a strong quality of Ancestor Worship. It is all this and more.

The surface of the earth is ruled by a mighty being whose sway extends to the underworld and over death, fire, and the fields. This is Masauwu, to whom many prayers are said. Then there is the Spider Woman or Earth Goddess, Spouse of the Sun and Mother of the Twin War Gods, prominent in all Hopi mythology. Apart from these and the deified powers of nature, there is another revered group, the Kachinas, spirits of ancestors and some other beings, with powers good and bad. These Kachinas are colorfully represented in the painted and befeathered dolls, in masks and ceremonies, and in the main are considered beneficent and are accordingly popular. They intercede with the spirits of the other world in behalf of their Hopi earth-relatives.

Masked individuals represent their return to the land of the living from time to time in Kachina dances, beginning with the Soyaluna ceremony in December and ending with the Niman or Kachina Farewell ceremony in July.

Much of this sort of thing takes on a lighter, theatrical flavor amounting to a pageant of great fun and frolic. Dr. Hough says these are really the most characteristic ceremonies of the pueblos, musical, spectacular, delightfully entertaining, and they show the cheerful Hopi at his best—a true, spontaneous child of nature.

There are a great many of these Kachina dances through the winter and spring, their nature partly religious, partly social, for with the Hopi, religion and drama go hand in hand. Dr. Hough speaks appreciatively of these numerous occasions of wholesome merry-making, and says these things keep the Hopi out of mischief and give them a reputation for minding their own business, besides furnishing them with the best round of free theatrical entertainments enjoyed by any people in the world. Since every ceremony has its particular costumes, rituals, songs, there is plenty of variety in these matters and more detail of meaning than any outsider has ever fathomed.

The Niman, or farewell dance of the Kachinas, takes place in July. It is one of their big nine-day festivals, including secret rites in the kivas and a public dance at its close.

Messengers are sent on long journeys for sacred water, pine boughs, and other special objects for these rites. This is a home-coming festival and a Hopi will make every effort to get home to his own town for this event. On the ninth day there is a lovely pageant just before sunrise and another in the afternoon. No other ceremony shows such a gorgeous array of colorful masks and costumes. And it is a particularly happy day for the young folk, for the Kachinas bring great loads of corn, beans, and melons, and baskets of peaches, especially as gifts for the children; also new dolls and brightly painted bows and arrows are given them. The closing act of the drama is a grand procession carrying sacred offerings to a shrine outside the village.

This is the dance at which the brides of the year make their first public appearance; their snowy wedding blankets add a lovely touch to the colorful scene.

Religion Not For Morality

The Hopi is religious, and he is moral, but there is no logical connection between the two.

Mrs. Coolidge says:[18] "In all that has been said concerning the gods and the Kachinas, the spiritual unity of all animate life, the personification of nature and the correct conduct for attaining favor with the gods, no reference has been made to morality as their object. The purpose of religion in the mind of the Indian is to gain the favorable, or to ward off evil, influences which the super-spirits are capable of bringing to the tribe or the individual. Goodness, unselfishness, truth-telling, respect for property, family, and filial duty, are cumulative by-products of communal living, closely connected with religious beliefs and conduct, but not their object. The Indian, like other people, has found by experience that honesty is the best policy among friends and neighbors, but not necessarily so among enemies; that village life is only tolerable on terms of mutual safety of property and person; that industry and devotion to the family interest make for prosperity and happiness. Moral principles are with him the incidental product of his ancestral experience, not primarily inculcated by the teaching of any priest or shaman. Yet the Pueblos show a great advance over many primitive tribes in that their legends and their priests reiterate constantly the idea that 'prayer is not effective except the heart be good.'"

[Footnote 18: Coolidge, Mary Roberts, The Rain-makers: Houghton Mifflin Co., New York, 1929, p. 203.]


* * * * *

Beliefs and Ceremonials

The beliefs of a tribe, philosophical, religious, and magical, are, for the most part, expressed in objective ceremonies. The formal procedure or ritual is essentially a representation or dramatization of the main idea, usually based upon a narrative. Often the ceremony opens with or is preceded by the narration of the myth on which it is based, or the leader may merely refer to it on the assumption that everyone present knows it.

As to the purpose of the ceremony, there are those who maintain that entertainment is the main incentive, but the celebration or holiday seems to be a secondary consideration according to the explanation of the primitives themselves.

If there chances to be a so-called educated native present to answer your inquiry on the point, he will perhaps patiently explain to you that just as July Fourth is celebrated for something more than parades and firecrackers, and Thanksgiving was instituted for other considerations than the eating of turkey, so the Hopi Snake Dance, for instance, is given not so much to entertain the throng of attentive and respectful Hopi, and the much larger throng of more or less attentive and more or less respectful white visitors, as to perpetuate, according to their traditions, certain symbolic rites in whose efficacy they have profoundly believed for centuries and do still believe.

Concerning the Pueblos (which include the Hopi), Hewett says:[19] "There can be no understanding of their lives apart from their religious beliefs and practices. The same may be said of their social structure and of their industries. Planting, cultivating, harvesting, hunting, even war, are dominated by religious rites. The social order of the people is established and maintained by way of tribal ceremonials. Through age-old ritual and dramatic celebration, practiced with unvarying regularity, participated in by all, keeping time to the days, seasons and ages, moving in rhythmic procession with life and all natural forces, the people are kept in a state of orderly composure and like-mindedness.

[Footnote 19: Hewett, E.L., Op. cit., p. 117.]

"The religious life of the Pueblo Indian is expressed mainly through the community dances, and in these ceremonies are the very foundations of the ancient wisdom...."

Dance is perhaps hardly the right word for these ceremonies, yet it is what the Hopi himself calls them, and he is right. But we who have used the word to designate the social dances of modern society or the aesthetic and interpretive dances for entertainment and aesthetic enjoyment will have to tune our sense to a different key to be in harmony with the Hopi dance.

Our primitive's communion with nature and with his own spirit have brought him to a reverent attitude concerning the wisdom of birds, beasts, trees, clouds, sunlight, and starlight, and most of all he clings trustingly to the wisdom of his fathers.

"All this," according to Hewett, "is voiced in his prayers and dramatized in his dances—rhythm of movement and of color summoned to express in utmost brilliancy the vibrant faith of a people in the deific order of the world and in the way the ancients devised for keeping man in harmony with his universe. All his arts, therefore, are rooted in ancestral beliefs and in archaic esthetic forms."

Surely no people on earth, not even the Chinese, show a more consistent reverence for the wisdom of the past as preserved in their myths and legends, than do the Hopi.


* * * * *

The Emergence Myth and the Wu-wu-che-ma Ceremony

Each of the Hopi clans preserves a separate origin or emergence myth, agreeing in all essential parts, but carrying in its details special reference to its own clan. All of them claim, however, a common origin in the interior of the earth, and although the place of emergence to the surface is set in widely separated localities, they agree in maintaining this to be the fourth plane on which mankind has existed.

The following is an abbreviation of the version gathered by A.M. Stephen, who lived many years among the Hopi and collected these sacred tales from the priests and old men of all the different villages some fifty years ago, as reported by Mindeleff.[20]

[Footnote 20: Mindeleff, Cosmos, Traditional History of Tusayan (After A.M. Stephen): Bureau American Ethnology, vol. 8, pp. 16-41, 1887.]

In the beginning all men lived together in the lowest depths, in a region of darkness and moisture; their bodies were mis-shapen and horrible and they suffered great misery.

By appealing to Myuingwa (a vague conception of the god of the interior) and Baholinkonga (plumed serpent of enormous size, genius of water) their old men obtained a seed from which sprang a magic growth of cane.

The cane grew to miraculous height and penetrated through a crevice in the roof overhead and mankind climbed to a higher plane. Here was dim light and some vegetation. Another magic cane brought them to a higher plane, with more light and vegetation, and here was the creation of the animal kingdom. Singing was always the chief magic for creating anything. In like manner, they rose to the fourth stage or earth; some say by a pine tree, others say through the hollow cylinder of a great reed or rush.

This emergence was accompanied by singing, some say by the Magic Twins, the two little war gods, others say by the mocking bird. At any rate, it is important to observe that when the song ran out, no more people could get through and many had to remain behind.

However, the outlet through which man came has never been closed, and Myuingwa sends through it the germs of all living things. It is still symbolized, Stephen says, by the peculiar construction of the hatchway of the kiva, in designs on the kiva sand altars, and by the unconnected circle on pottery, basketry, and textiles. Doubtless the most direct representation of this opening to the underworld is the sipapu or ceremonial small round opening in the floor of the kiva, which all Hopi, without exception, agree symbolizes the opening or spirit passage to the underworld. "Out of the sipapu we all came," they say, "and back to the underworld, through the sipapu, we shall go when we die."

Once every year the Hopi hold an eight-day ceremony commemorating this emergence from the underworld. It is called the Wu-wu-che-ma, occurs in November and thus begins the series of Winter festivals. Four societies take part, and the Da-dow-Kiam or Mocking Bird Society opens the ceremony by singing into the kiva of the One-Horned Society this emergence song, the very song sung by the mocking bird at the original emergence, according to Voth.[21] This ceremony is a prayer to the powers of the underworld for prosperity and for germination of new life, human, animal, and vegetable. Fewkes called this the New Fire Ceremony, and in the course of the eight-day ceremonial the kindling of new fire with the primitive firestick does take place. But it is not hard to feel a close relation between the idea of fire and that of germination which stands out as the chief idea in the whole ritual, particularly in the subtle dramatization of the underworld life and emergence as carried on in the kivas, preceding the public "dance" on the last day.

[Footnote 21: Voth, H.R., Op. cit, p. 11.]

Thus we have at least three distinct points in this one myth that account for three definite things we find the Hopi doing today: (1) Note that it was "our old men" who got from the gods the magic seed of the tall cane which brought relief to the people. To this day it is the old men who are looked up to and depended upon to direct the people in all important matters. "It was always that way." (2) While the magic song lasted the people came through the sipapu, but when the song ended no more could come through, and there was weeping and wailing. Singing is today the absolutely indispensable element in all magic rites. There may be variation in the details of some performances, but "unless you have the right song, it won't work." The Hopi solemnly affirm they have preserved their original emergence song, and you hear it today on the first morning of the Wu-wu-che-ma. (3) The sipapu seen today in the floor of the kiva or ceremonial chamber symbolizes the passage from which all mankind emerged from the underworld, so all the Hopi agree.

The belief of the present-day Hopi that the dead return through the sipapu to the underworld is based firmly upon an extension of this myth, as told to Voth,[22] for it furnishes a clear account of how the Hopi first became aware of this immortality.

[Footnote 22: Voth, H.R., Op. cit, p. 11.]

It seems that soon after they emerged from the underworld the son of their chief died, and the distressed father, believing that an evil one had come out of the sipapu with them and caused this death, tossed up a ball of meal and declared that the unlucky person upon whose head it descended should be thus discovered to be the guilty party and thrown back down into the underworld. The person thus discovered begged the father not to do this but to take a look down through the sipapu into the old realm and see there his son, quite alive and well. This he did, and so it was.

Do the Hopi believe this now? Yes, so they tell you. And Mr. Emery Koptu, sculptor, who lived among them only a few years ago and enjoyed a rare measure of their affection and good will, recently told the writer of a case in point:

On July 4, 1928, occurred the death of Supela, last of the Sun priests. Mr. Koptu, who had done some studies of this fine Hopi head, was in Supela's home town, Walpi, at the time of the old priest's passing.

The people were suffering from a prolonged drouth, and since old Supela was soon to go through the sipapu to the underworld, where live the spirits who control rain and germination, he promised that he would without delay explain the situation to the gods and intercede for his people and that they might expect results immediately after his arrival there. Since his life had been duly religious and acceptable to the gods, it was the belief of both Supela and his friends that he would make the journey in four days, which is record time for the trip, when one has no obstacles in the way of atonements or punishments to work off en-route. Supela promised this, and the people looked for its fulfillment. Four days after Supela's death the long drouth was broken by a terrific rain storm accompanied by heavy thunder and lightning. Did the Hopi show astonishment? On the contrary they were aglow with satisfaction and exchanged felicitations on the dramatic assurance of Supela's having "gotten through" in four days. The most wonderful eulogy possible!

It is indicated, in the story of Supela, that the Hopi believe that only the "pure in heart," so to speak, go straight to the abode of the spirits, whereas some may have to take much longer because of atonements or punishments for misdeeds. Their basis for this lies in a tradition regarding the visit of a Hopi youth to the underworld and his return to the earth with an account of having passed on the way many suffering individuals engaged in painful pursuits and unable to go on until the gods decreed they had suffered enough. He had also seen a great smoke arising from a pit where the hopelessly wicked were totally burned up. He was told to go back to his people and explain all these things and tell them to make many pahos (prayer-sticks) and live straight and the good spirits could be depended upon to help them with rain and germination. Voth records[23] two variants of this legend.

[Footnote 23: Voth, H.R., Op. cit, pp. 109-119 (A journey to the skeleton house).]

Some Migration Myths

The migration myths of the various clans are entirely too numerous and too lengthy to be in their entirety included here. Every clan has its own, and even today keeps the story green in the minds of its children and celebrates its chief events, including arrival in Hopiland, with suitable ceremony.

We are told that when all mankind came through the sipapu from the underworld, the various kinds of people were gathered together and given each a separate speech or language by the mocking bird, "who can talk every way." Then each group was given a path and started on its way by the Twin War Gods and their mother, the Spider Woman.

The Hopi were taught how to build stone houses, and then the various clans dispersed, going separate ways. And after many many generations they arrived at their present destination from all directions and at different times. They brought corn with them from the underworld.

It is generally agreed that the Snake people were the first to occupy the Tusayan region.

There are many variations in the migration myths of the Snake people, but the most colorful version the writer has encountered is the one given to A.M. Stephen, fifty years ago, by the then oldest member of the Snake fraternity. A picturesque extract only is given here.

It begins: "At the general dispersal, my people lived in snake skins, each family occupying a separate snake-skin bag, and all were hung on the end of a rainbow, which swung around until the end touched Navajo Mountain, where the bags dropped from it; and wherever their bags dropped, there was their house. After they arranged their bags they came out from them as men and women, and they then built a stone house which had five sides.

"A brilliant star arose in the southwest, which would shine for a while and then disappear. The old men said, 'Beneath that star there must be people,' so they determined to travel toward it. They cut a staff and set it in the ground and watched till the star reached its top, then they started and traveled as long as the star shone; when it disappeared they halted. But the star did not shine every night, for sometimes many years elapsed before it appeared again. When this occurred, our people built houses during their halt; they built both round and square houses, and all the ruins between here and Navajo Mountain mark the places where our people lived. They waited till the star came to the top of the staff again, then they moved on, but many people were left in those houses and they followed afterward at various times. When our people reached Wipho (a spring a few miles north from Walpi) the star disappeared and has never been seen since."

There is more of the legend, but quoted here are only a few closing lines relative to the coming of the Lenbaki (the Flute Clan):

"The old men would not allow them to come in until Masauwu (god of the face of the earth) appeared and declared them to be good Hopitah. So they built houses adjoining ours and that made a fine large village. Then other Hopitah came in from time to time, and our people would say, 'Build here, or build there,' and portioned the land among the new-comers."[24]

[Footnote 24: Mindeleff, Victor, Pueblo architecture (Myths after Stephen): Bureau American Ethnology, vol. 8, pp. 17-18, 1887.]

The foregoing tradition furnishes the answer to two things one asks in Hopiland. First, why have these people, who by their traditions wandered from place to place since the beginning of time, only building and planting for a period sometimes short, sometimes a few generations, but not longer, they believe—why have they remained in their present approximate location for eight hundred years and perhaps much longer? The answer is their story of the star that led them for "many moves and many stops" but which never again appeared, to move them on, after they reached Walpi.

The second point is: The Flute Dance, which is still held on the years alternating with the Snake Dance, is of what significance? It is the commemoration of the arrival of this Lenbaki group, a branch of the Horn people, and the performance of their special magic for rain-bringing, just as they demonstrated it to the original inhabitants of Walpi, by way of trial, before they were permitted to settle there.

Flute Ceremony and Tradition

This Flute ceremony is one of the loveliest and most impressive in the whole Hopi calendar. And because it is one which most clearly illustrates this thesis, some detail of the ceremony will be given.

From the accounts of many observers that of Hough[25] has been chosen: "On the first day the sand altar is made and at night songs are begun. Within the kiva the interminable rites go on, and daily the cycle of songs accompanied with flutes is rehearsed. A messenger clad in an embroidered kilt and anointed with honey, runs, with flowing hair, to deposit prayer-sticks at the shrines, encircling the fields in his runs and coming nearer the pueblo on each circuit. During the seventh and eighth days a visit is made to three important springs where ceremonies are held, and on the return of the priests they are received by an assemblage of the Bear and Snake Societies, the chiefs of which challenge them and tell them that if they are good people, as they claim, they can bring rain.

[Footnote 25: Hough, Walter, Op. cit., pp. 156-158.]

"After an interesting interchange of ceremonies, the Flute priests return to their kiva to prepare for the public dance on the morrow. When at 3:00 a.m. the belt of Orion is at a certain place in the heavens, the priests file into the plaza, where a cottonwood bower has been erected over the shrine called the entrance to the underworld. Here the priests sing, accompanied with flutes, the shrine is ceremonially opened and prayer-sticks placed within, and they return to the kiva. At some of the pueblos there is a race up the mesa at dawn on the ninth day, as in other ceremonies.

"On the evening of the ninth day the Flute procession forms and winds down the trail to the spring in order: A leader, the Snake maiden, two Snake youths, the priests, and in the rear a costumed warrior with bow and whizzer. At the spring they sit on the south side of the pool, and as one of the priests plays a flute the others sing, while one of their number wades into the spring, dives under water, and plants a prayer-stick in the muddy bottom. Then taking a flute he again wades into the spring and sounds it in the water to the four cardinal points. Meanwhile sunflowers and cornstalks have been brought to the spring by messengers. Each priest places the sunflowers on his head and each takes two cornstalks in his hands and the procession, two abreast, forms to ascend the mesa. A priest draws a line on the trail with white corn meal and across it three cloud symbols. The Flute children throw the offerings they hold in their hands upon the symbols, followed by the priests who sing to the sound of the flutes.

"The children pick the offerings from the ground with sticks held in their hands, and the same performance is repeated till they stand again in the plaza on the mesa before the cottonwood bower, where they sing melodious songs then disperse."

The foregoing description of Hough's is an account of the Walpi ceremony, where we find only one Flute fraternity. Each of the other villages has two fraternities, the Blue Flute and the Drab Flute. The Flute Ceremony at Mishongnovi is perhaps the most impressive example of this pageant as given by the double fraternity. Dr. Byron Cummings reports this Mishongnovi ceremony as having several interesting variations from the Walpi report given above. (See Figure 5.)

On the ninth day women were observed sweeping the trail to the spring with meticulous care, in preparation for the double procession which came down at about 1:30 in the afternoon.

All the costuming was done at the spring—body painting, putting on of ceremonial garments and arranging of hair.

The fathers of the Flute maidens brushed and arranged their hair for them and put on their blankets. If a girl had no father, her uncle did this for her. There were two Flute Maids and a Flute Boy (See Figure 6) who walked between them, in each of the two fraternities. Even this ceremonial costuming was accompanied by solemn singing.

When all was ready the priests sat on the edge of the pool with their legs hanging over, and the two maids and the boy sat behind them on a terrace of the bank. The Blue Flute fraternity occupied one side of the pool and the Drab Flute fraternity another. Many songs were sung to the strange, plaintive accompaniment of the flute players. After a while an old priest waded into the pool and walked around it in ever-narrowing circles till he reached the center, where he sank into the water and disappeared for a dramatically long moment and came up with a number of ceremonial objects in his hands, including a gourd bottle filled with water from the depths of the spring.

It was late afternoon by the time all the songs had been sung, and evening when the two processions had finished their ceremonial ascent to the mesa top, pausing again and again as the old priest went ahead and drew his symbolic barrier of meal and the three rain clouds across the path, which were to be covered with the pahos of the Flute children, then taken up and moved on to the next like symbol. The old priest led the procession, the three children behind him, then the flute players, followed by the priests bearing emblems, and the priest with the bull roarer at the end of the line. Each fraternity preserved its own formation. Having reached the village plaza they marched to the Kisa and deposited their pahos and ceremonial offerings, then dispersed. The solemnity of the long ritual, the weird chant and the plaintive accompaniment of the flutes running through the whole ceremony, while at the spring, coming up the hill, and to the last act before the Kisa, leaves the imprint of its strange musical vibration long after the scene has closed.

The legend back of this ceremony is a long account of the migrations of the Horn and Flute people. It relates that when they at last reached Walpi, they halted at a spring and sent a scout ahead to see if people were living there. He returned and reported that he had seen traces of other people. So the Flute people went forth to find them. When they came in sight of the houses of Walpi, they halted at the foot of the mesa, then began moving up the trail in ceremonial procession, with songs and the music of the flutes.

Now the Bear and Snake people who lived in Walpi drew a line of meal across the trail, a warning understood by many primitives, and challenged the new-comers as to who they were, where they were going, and what they wanted. Then the Flute chief said, "We are of your blood, Hopi. Our hearts are good and our speech straight. We carry on our backs the tabernacle of the Flute Altar. We can cause rain to fall."

Four times the demand was repeated, as the Flute people stood respectfully before the barrier of meal, and four times did their chief make the same reply. Then the Walpis erased the line of meal and the Flute people entered the pueblo, set up their altars and demonstrated their rain magic by singing their ceremonial Flute songs which resulted in bringing the needed rain. Then said the Bear and Snake chiefs, "Surely your chief shall be one of our chiefs."

Thus we see that the Flute Dance as given today is a dramatization of this legend. Dr. Fewkes, who collected this legend, tells us that the Flute fraternity claims to be even more successful rain-makers than the world-famous Snake fraternity.[26]

[Footnote 26: Fewkes, J. Walter, The Walpi Flute Observance: Journal American Folklore, vol. 7, 1894.]

Dr. Monsen tells of seeing the Flute ceremony at Mishongnovi, a good many years ago, and of the deeply religious feeling that pervaded the whole scene. His words are descriptive of a dramatic moment at the close of the day, when the procession had at last reached the public plaza on top of the mesa.[27]

[Footnote 27: Monsen, Frederick, Religious Dances of the Hopi: The Craftsman, vol. 12, 1907, pp. 284-285.]

"By this time it was nearly dark, but the ceremony went on in the center of the plaza where other mysterious symbols were outlined on the rocky floor with the strewn corn meal, and numbers of supplementary chants were sung until night closed down entirely and the moon appeared.... Then came something so extraordinary that I am aware that it will sound as if I were drawing on the rich stores of my imagination, for the coincidence which closed the festival.

"But all I can say is that to my unutterable astonishment, it happened exactly as I tell it. At a certain stage in this part of the ceremony there was a pause. No one left the plaza, but every one stood as still as a graven image, and not a sound broke the hush, apparently of breathless expectancy. The stillness was so unearthly that it became oppressive, and a few white friends who were with me began to urge in whispers that we leave the plaza as all was evidently at an end, and go back to our camp below the mesa, when suddenly there rang out such a wild, exultant shout of unrestrained, unmeasured rejoicing as only Indians can give in moments of supreme religious exaltation—raindrops had splashed on devout, upturned faces.

"Their prayers had been answered. The spell of the drouth-evil had been broken, and the long strain of the solemn ceremonial gave place to such a carnival of rejoicing as it seldom falls to the lot of civilized man to see....

"From the white man's point of view, this answer to prayer was, of course, the merest coincidence, but not all the power of church or government combined could convince the Hopi that their god had not heard them ... that their devotion to the ancient faith had brought relief from famine, and life to themselves and their flocks and herds."

The present-day Hopi, including the most intelligent and best educated of them, will tell you, that all their important dances and ceremonials follow faithfully the old traditions, and are still believed to be efficacious and necessary to the welfare of the people. And this has been the conviction of a majority of the scientific observers who have studied them.

Other Dances

There is a very definite calendar arrangement of these ceremonials, some variation in the different villages, but no deviation in the order and essential details of the main dances.

In December comes the Soyaluna, or winter solstice ceremony, to turn the sun back from his path of departure and insure his return with length of days to the Indian country. Good-will tokens are exchanged, not unlike our idea of Christmas cards, at the end of the ceremony; they are prayer tokens which are planted with prayers for health and prosperity. The kiva rituals are rich in symbolism and last eight days, if young men are to be initiated, otherwise four. The public dance at the end is a masked pageant.

In January comes the Buffalo Dance, with masks representing buffalo, deer, mountain sheep, and the other big game animals. Its chief characters are the Hunter and the Buffalo Mother, or Mother of all big game. A prayer for plentiful big game is the idea of this dance.

In February the Powamu, "bean sprouting," ceremony occurs, with very elaborate ritual signifying consecration of fields for planting. Various masks and symbolic costumes are used, and the children's initiation is accompanied with a ceremonial "flogging"—really a switching by kachinas. Dr. Dorsey considers this the most colorful of all Hopi ceremonies and says that nowhere else on earth can one see in nine days such a wealth of religious drama, such a pantheon of the gods represented by masked and costumed actors, such elaborate altars and beautiful sand mosaics, nor songs and myths sung and recited of such obvious archaic character, containing many old words and phrases whose meaning is no longer known even to the Hopi themselves.

March brings the Palululong, "Great Plumed Serpent," a masked and elaborately costumed mystery play given in the kiva. This shows more of the dramatic ability and ingenuity of this people than any other of their ceremonies; the mechanical representation of snakes as actors being one of its astonishing features.

One of the very pretty social dances is the Butterfly Dance, given during the summer by the young people of marriageable age. Costumes are colorful and tall wooden headdresses or tablets are worn. Figure 7 shows a Hopi girl acquaintance photographed just at the close of a Butterfly Dance that the writer witnessed in the summer of 1932 at Shungopovi. (See Figure 8.)

This dance is really a very popular social affair, a sort of coming out party adopted from the Rio Grande Pueblos a good many years ago.

The Snake Myth and the Snake Dance

The Snake Dance of the Hopi is, of course, the best known and most spectacular of their ceremonies, and comparatively few white people have seen any other.

One hears from tourists on every hand, "Oh, they used to believe in these things, but of course they know better now, and at any rate it's all a commercial racket, a side show to attract tourists!"

Anyone who says this has seen little and thought less. The Hopi women make up extra supplies of baskets and pottery to offer for sale at the time of the Snake Dance because they know many tourists are coming to buy them, otherwise they get no revenue from the occasion. No admission is charged, and the snake priests themselves seriously object to having Hopi citizens charge anything for the use of improvised seats of boxes, etc., on the near-by house tops.

The writer has seen tourists so crowd the roofs of the Hopi homes surrounding the dance plaza that she feared the roofs would give way, and has also observed that the resident family was sometimes crowded out of all "ring-side" seats. No wonder the small brown man of the house has in some cases charged for the seats. What white man would not? Yet the practice is considered unethical by the Hopi themselves and is being discontinued.

We know that this weird, pagan Snake Dance was performed with deadly earnestness when white men first penetrated the forbidding wastelands that surround the Hopi. And we have every reason to believe that it has gone on for centuries, always as a prayer to the gods of the underworld and of nature for rain and the germination of their crops.

The writer has observed these ceremonies in the various Hopi villages for the past twenty years, some with hundreds of spectators from all over the world, others in more remote villages, with but a mere handful of outsiders present. She is personally convinced that the Snake Dance is no show for tourists but a deeply significant religious ceremony performed definitely for the faithful fulfillment of traditional magic rites that have, all down the centuries, been depended upon to bring these desert-dwellers the life-saving rain and insure their crops. They have long put their trust in it, and they still do so.

Are there any unbelievers? Yes, to be sure; but not so many as you might think. There are unbelievers in the best, of families, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Hopi, but the surprising thing is that there are so many believers, at least among the Hopi.

The Snake Dance, so-called, is the culmination of an eight-days' ceremonial, an elaborate prayer for rain and for crops. Possibly something of the significance of parts of its complicated ritual may have been forgotten, for some of our thirst for knowledge on these points goes unquenched, in spite of the courteous explanations the Hopi give when our queries are sufficiently courteous and respectful to deserve answers. And possibly some of the things we ask about are "not for the public" and may refer to the secret rituals that take place in the kivas, as in connection with many of their major ceremonials.

We do know that the dramatization of their Snake Myth constitutes part of the program. This myth has many variations. The writer, personally, treasures the long story told her by Dr. Fewkes, years ago, and published in the Journal of American Ethnology and Archaeology, Vol. IV., 1894, pages 106-110. But here shall be given the much shorter and very adequate account of Dr. Colton,[28] as abbreviated from that of A.M. Stephen:

"To-ko-na-bi was a place of little rain, and the corn was weak. Tiyo, a youth of inquiring mind, set out to find where the rain water went to. This search led him into the Grand Canyon. Constructing a box out of a hollow cottonwood log, he gave himself to the waters of the Great Colorado. After a voyage of some days, the box stopped on the muddy shore of a great sea. Here he found the friendly Spider Woman who, perched behind his ear, directed him on his search. After a series of adventures, among which he joined the sun in his course across the sky, he was introduced into the kiva of the Snake people, men dressed in the skins of snakes. The Snake Chief said to Tiyo, 'Here we have an abundance of rain and corn; in your land there is but little; fasten these prayers in your breast; and these are the songs that you will sing and these are the prayer-sticks that you will make; and when you display the white and black on your body the rain will come.' He gave Tiyo part of everything in the kiva as well as two maidens clothed in fleecy clouds, one for his wife, and one as a wife for his brother. With this paraphernalia and the maidens, Tiyo ascended from the kiva. Parting from the Spider Woman, he gained the heights of To-ko-na-bi. He now instructed his people in the details of the Snake ceremony so that henceforth his people would be blessed with rain. The Snake Maidens, however, gave birth to Snakes which bit the children of To-ko-na-bi, who swelled up and died. Because of this, Tiyo and his family were forced to emigrate and on their travels taught the Snake rites to other clans."

[Footnote 28: Colton, H.S., Op. cit., p. 18.]

Most of the accounts tell us that later only human children were born to the pair, and these became the ancestors of the Snake Clan who, in their migrations, finally reached Walpi, where we now find them, the most spectacular rain-makers in the world.

Another fragment of the full Snake legend must be given here to account for what Dr. Fewkes considers the most fearless episode of the Snake Ceremonial—the snake washing:

"On the fifth evening of the ceremony and for three succeeding evenings low clouds trailed over To-ko-na-bi, and Snake people from the underworld came from them and went into the kivas and ate corn pollen for food, and on leaving were not seen again. Each of four evenings brought a new group of Snake people, and on the following morning they were found in the valleys metamorphosed into reptiles of all kinds. On the ninth morning the Snake Maidens said: 'We understand this. Let the Younger Brothers (The Snake Society) go out and bring them all in and wash their heads, and let them dance with you.'"[29]

[Footnote 29: Fewkes, J.W., The Snake Ceremonials at Walpi: Jour. Am. Ethnology and Archaeology, Vol. IV, 1894, p. 116.]

Thus we see in the ceremony an acknowledgment of the kinship of the snakes with the Hopi, both having descended from a common ancestress. And since the snakes are to take part in a religious ceremony, of course they must have their heads washed or baptized in preparation, exactly as must every Hopi who takes part in any ceremony. The meal sprinkled on the snakes during the dance and at its close is symbolic of the Hopi's prayers to the underworld spirits of seed germination; and thus the Elder Brothers bear away the prayers of the people and become their messengers to the gods, to whom the Elder Brothers are naturally closer, being in the ground, than are the Younger Brothers, who live above ground.

Rather a delicately right idea, isn't it, this inviting of the Elder Brothers, however lowly, to this great religious ceremonial which commemorates the gift of rain-making, as bestowed by their common ancestress, and perpetuates the old ritual so long ago taught by the Snake Chief of the underworld to Tiyo, the Hopi youth who bravely set out to see where all the blessed rain water went, and came back with the still more blessed secrets of whence and how to make it come.

Nine days before the public Snake Ceremony, the priests of the Antelope and Snake fraternities enter their respective kivas and hang over their hatchways the Natsi, a bunch of feathers, which, on the fifth day is replaced by a bow decorated with eagle feathers. This first day is occupied with the making of prayer-sticks and in the preparation of ceremonial paraphernalia. On the next four days, ceremonial snake hunts are conducted by the Snake men. Each day in a different quarter of the world, first north, next day west, then south, then east.

It is an impressive sight, this line of Snake priests, bodies painted, pouches, snake whips, and digging sticks in hand, marching single file from their kiva, through the village and down the steep trail that leads from the mesa to the lowlands.

When a snake is found under a bush or in his hole, the digging stick soon brings him within reach of the fearless hand; then sprinkling a pinch of corn meal on his snakeship and uttering a charm and prayer, the priest siezes the snake easily a few inches back of the head and deposits him in the pouch. Should the snake coil to strike, the snake whip (two eagle feathers secured to a short stick) is gently used to induce him to straighten out.

At sunset they return in the same grim formation, bearing the snake pouches to the kiva, where four jars (not at all different from their water jars) stand ready to receive the snakes and hold them till the final or ninth day of the ceremony.

On the next three mornings, just before dawn, in the Antelope Kiva, is held the symbolic marriage of Tiyo and the Snake Maiden, followed by the singing of sixteen traditional songs.

Just before sunset of the eighth day, the Antelope and Snake priests give a public pageant in the plaza, known as the Antelope or Corn Dance. It is a replica of the Snake Dance, but shorter and simpler, and here corn is carried instead of snakes.

On the morning of the ninth and last day occurs the Sunrise Corn Race, when the young men of the village race from a distant spring to the mesa top. The whole village turns out to watch from the rim of the mesa, and great merriment attends the arrival of the racers, the winner receiving some ceremonial object, which, placed in his corn field, should work as a charm and insure a bumper crop.

In 1912, Dr. Byron Cummings witnessed a more interesting sunrise race than the writer has ever seen or heard described by any other observer.

An aged priest stood on the edge of the mesa, before the assembled crowd of natives and visitors, and gave a long reverberating call, apparently the signal for which the racers were waiting, for away across the plain below and to the right was heard an answering call, and from the left and far away, another answer. Eagerly the crowd watched to catch the first glimpse of the approaching racers, for there was no one in sight for some time, from the direction of either of the answering calls.

Finally mere specks in the distance to the right resolved themselves into a line of six men running toward the mesa. As they came within hailing distance they were greeted by the acclamations of the watchers.

These runners were Snake priests, all elderly men, and as each in turn reached the position of the aged priest at the mesa edge, he received from that dignitary a sprinkling of sacred meal and a formal benediction, then passed on to the Snake Kiva.

Before the last of these had appeared, began the arrival of the young athletes from across the plain to the left. Swiftly them came, and gracefully, their lithe brown bodies glistening in the early sunlight, across the level lowland, then up the steep trail, to be met at the mesa edge by a picturesque individual carrying a cow bell and wearing a beautiful garland of fresh yellow squash blossoms over his smooth flowing, black hair, and a girdle of the same lovely flowers round his waist, with a perfect blossom over each ear completing his unique decoration.

As the athletes, one at a time, joined him they fell into a procession and, led by the flower bedecked individual, they moved gracefully in a circle to the rhythmic time of a festive chant and the accompaniment of the cow bell. When the last racer had arrived, they were led in a sort of serpentine parade toward the plaza. But before they reached that point they encountered a waiting group of laughing women and girls in bright-colored shawls, whose rollicking role seemed to be that of snatching away from the young men the stalks of green corn, squash, and gourds they had brought up from the fields below. The scene ended in a merry skirmish as the crowd dispersed.

Later, Dr. Cummings unobtrusively followed the tracks of the priests back along their sunrise trail and out across the desert for more than two miles, to find there a simple altar and nine fresh prayer-sticks.

About noon occurs the snake washing in the kiva. This is not for the public gaze. If one knows no better than to try to pry into kiva ceremonies, he is courteously but firmly told to move along.

A few white men have been permitted to see this ceremony, among them, Dr. Fewkes; an extract from his description of a snake washing at Walpi follows:[30]

[Footnote 30: Fewkes, J.W., Op. cit.]

"The Snake priests, who stood by the snake jars which were in the east corner of the room, began to take out the reptiles and stood holding several of them in their hands behind Supela (the Snake Priest), so that my attention was distracted by them. Supela then prayed, and after a short interval, two rattlesnakes were handed him, after which venomous snakes were passed to the others, and each of the six priests who sat around the bowl held two rattlesnakes by the necks with their heads elevated above the bowl. A low noise from the rattles of the priests, which shortly after was accompanied by a melodious hum by all present, then began. The priests who held the snakes beat time up and down above the liquid with the reptiles, which, although not vicious, wound their bodies around the arms of the holders.

1  2     Next Part
Home - Random Browse