Native American Legends
Chórzhvûk'iqölö and the Eagles
A Hopi Legend
A long time ago there lived a family right north of where now the
Náshabe kiva is situated. The family consisted of a father,
mother, two daughters, and a son. The latter would always go and
hunt eagles as soon as warm weather set ill in spring, and later
on take care of them, so that he would never find any time to assist
his father in his field work. The two maidens would get angry at
their brother because he would not assist their father to make a
living, and they would tell him that he should go and work in the
field. He would say, however, that he had to take care of his eagles,
of which he usually caught and kept a great many.
One spring he only captured two young eagles. He was very much
depressed, saying: "Why has this happened to me; I usually
capture a good many eagles, and now I only found two." Yet
he took them home and cared for them. One morning after he had gone
out to hunt food for his eagles, the mother and two maidens concluded
to go to the field also. The girls got angry at the eagles and beat
them. Thereupon they locked up the house, hiding the wooden key
of the wooden lock somewhere near the fireplace. The mother had
gone to the field early in the morning with her husband. When the
girls arrived in the field the father said to them: "So you
have come." "Yes," they said, "we have come."
"Very well," the father said, whereupon the maidens assisted
their parents in weeding and hoeing their field.
When the young man came home some time during the day, he was very
thirsty and tried to get into the house. "Well, now,"
he said, "some one locked this door." "Yes,"
the Eagles said, "your sisters locked it, and the key is buried
near the fireplace under some ashes;" whereupon the young man
found the key and opened the door. The Eagles told him that his
sisters had beaten them, and told him that he should dress up and
that they wanted to go to where the family was. So the young man
painted his legs yellow, with sik'áhpiki, tied some bells
or rattles round his legs, and some eagle's feathers in his hair,
put on a kilt, sash, and belt, and decorated his body in different
colors. Over his cheeks and nose he made a black line. He placed
a number of strands of beads around his neck and ear pendants around
his ears. One of the Eagles said, "I am going to carry you
on my back." So he mounted the Eagle, holding himself with
both hands to the wings of the Eagle, and the other Eagle taking
the lead, they began to ascend. The people in the village observed
them and recognized the young man, and said, "Oh' Why is that
Eagle carrying Chórzhvûk'íqölö!"
As they started , the Eagle t hat carried him said to him, he should
sing the following Song:
Haoo Inguu! Haoo Inaa!Itah uuyiyuu kamuktiqöö. Shilakwuyata
Hao, my mother! Hao, my father! Our corn grown high. Corn husks.
Tûtûbena tûtûbena. Ayay Tûtûbena.
(Are) figured, (are) figured. Aha (are) figured. Are figured, (are)
While he was singing this they kept soaring upwards above the village,
and after flying around in a circle four times they proceeded southward
towards the field in which his people were. When they had come near
the field the young man sang the same song again. The sisters heard
him, and said, "Listen, our brother is coming from somewhere,
because we hear him sing." They looked along the path but could
see nothing. When the Eagles were close by the sisters discovered
them and recognized their brother. "Oh!" they said, "why
are you carrying our brother?" but they received no answer.
Hereupon the Eagles descended somewhat, and the parents, whom the
maidens had told about it, asked them to come down and leave their
son with them, but instead of doing that, the Eagles began to rise,
again circling around four times, the young man singing the song
four times. By this time they had soared up very high, and finally
were out of sight. The parents and sisters cried very much, especially
the latter. The family immediately went home, mourning as they went
The Eagles kept flying higher and higher to their home. Arriving
at an opening away up in the sky, they passed through into the world
where the Eagles dwell, and from where they come down in response
to the prayers of the Hopi and hatch their young for the Hopi here
in this world. The two Eagles proceeded somewhat eastward from the
opening, onto a very high bluff around which, in the. valley, were
many houses that were all perfectly white and in which the Eagles
lived. The two Eagles deposited the young man on the top of that
bluff, and told him, ''Here you will have to stay, because your
sisters were bad to us and beat us," whereupon they left him.
He was very despondent over the matter and thought that he would
jump down from the bluff. He said, "If I remain here I will
die with hunger anyway, so I may just as well jump down and die
quickly.'' But soon a little Wren appeared on the bluff, jumping
up and down the edge. He spoke to the little Wren, asking whether
there was no possibility of him getting down, but he received no
answer. Soon the little bird flew away, but came back again, acting
in the same manner.
All at once a black Spider, that had been informed about the matter
by the Wren came up the bluff The Spider came close to the man,
saying to him: ''Well, now, you poor one, here you are all alone."
After thus having pitied him, the Spider continued: "Well,
just stay here," and left him. But soon she returned, bringing
with her two small, fine, downy turkey feathers, and handed them
to the young man, saying: "You sleep or, one of them and cover
yourself with the other, so that you do not get cold during the
night." She then began pitying him, saying that it was too
bad that his animals (meaning the Eagles) had treated him so badly
after he had taken such good care of them. Hereupon she again left
him and he spent the night on the bluff.
Early in the morning the Wren came again. "So you have come
again, the young man said, but the Wren did not answer. It went,
however, along the edge of the bluff again to the place where the
Spider had come up and when the young man looked there, too, he
saw a narrow crack in the bluff, reaching away down to the ground.
The Wren at once began to pull out one feather after another from
its wings, putting them at short intervals into the wall of the
crack, while it was holding itself also on the sides of the crack.
When the feathers from the wings were all gone it pulled out the
feathers from its tail, thrusting them also into the side of the
crack. When the tail feathers were all gone it had not yet reached
the bottom by far. So it began to pull out the small feathers from
all over the body and continued to build its little ladder with
these feathers, but the bottom was still not reached, so that finally
it had to pull out even the small down all over its body, with which
it finished the ladder. It now ascended the bluff again on its improvised
ladder, and when it came to the top the young man hardly recognized
It was entirely naked, having kept only its bill. It now invited
the young man to follow it, and climbed down this ladder, assuring
him that he would get down safely, and there was no reason for him
to be afraid. So they descended and when they had safely reached
the ground the Wren told him to wait there for it, whereupon it
commenced to ascend again, holding itself to the sides of the crack.
As it slowly mounted it pulled off with its bill the feathers from
the wall of the crack and replaced them where they had been taken
out from its body. When it had reached the top it had all its feathers
again and then flew down. Here it told the young man to go towards
the place from where it had come. showing him the direction, and
then left him.
The man proceeded as directed, and when he finally stopped at a
place he heard a voice saying: "Step back a little, you almost
are on my house." It was Spider Woman. She invited him into
her house, but he said: "The opening is so small, how shall
I get in?" She removed the small sticks and pieces of grass
that were built up around the opening, thus enlarging the opening
so that he could enter. "Now," she said to him, "you
must be very hungry. It is too bad that those Eagles which you treated
so well should have been so bad to you. You had better stay here
and live with me now."
Hereupon she gave him a tiny piece of meat, a very small quantity
of hurúshuki (a kind of doughy mush), and half a nut, and
invited him to eat. "Oh!" he thought, "how shall
I get satisfied with this small quantity. I shall surely remain
hungry," but when he took the hurúshuki, and placed
it in his mouth, she said to him: "Oh, you must not take it
all, you must just take a small quantity, and you must only suck
the meat." He did so and when he began to eat it, it increased
in his mouth, filling his mouth entirely. The same was true of the
nut, and the meat, the latter being white meat of some kind of a
fowl, as the old woman explained to him upon his request. After
he had eaten, Spider Woman made a ball for him of pitch and hair,
the same as the Hopi use today in their races in early spring. In
the morning he took that ball, left the house and ran southward,
kicking the ball before him as the Hopi do at the present day.
Arriving at a small lake he saw at its banks some little birds,
and having learned that Spider Woman relished that kind of meat
very much, he killed one of the birds and took it along. On his
way back he again kicked the ball before him, and at the last kick
it dropped down into the Spider Woman's house, by which she knew
that he had returned. "Thanks, that you have come back."
She expressed her satisfaction at him having brought some more meat,
and said: "Now, you must put this away and we must not eat
very much of it at a time, so that it may last us several months."
The young man laughed at her, saying, "Yes, I will be nibbling
at it for a long time." She told him that the meat which she
had had before, she had found, the bird evidently having been killed
by some other bird, and she had lived upon that bird for a long
The next day he went out again, bringing home this time two birds
that he had killed. She thanked him very much again, saying, that
now they could eat all they wanted. She then warned him that he
should never go towards the west, as there were some bad people
living there that would hurt him. The third day he again went to
the lake, taking with him this time a throwing stick. When he arrived
there he killed a large number of birds and brought them back with
him. On this trip he again kept kicking the ball before him. When
he brought all these birds into Spider Woman's house and placed
them on the floor, she was very happy, and thanked him for it many
times. "Now," she said, "we can eat meat and need
no longer simply suck it," as they did before. "I am going
to live well now, on account of you, (by your help)," she added.
On the fourth day he again made the trip in the same manner, to
the aforesaid lake, but this time he thought he would turn around
to the right, westward, and see at least who it was that was living
there and that was reported to be bad. He thought if any danger
threatened him he could easily run away. So he traveled westward,
kicking before him his ball. All at once the ball disappeared and
he found that it had dropped into a kiva. He approached the kiva
and waited outside. All at once some one called from within, saying,
that he had been seen and that he should come in, as nobody would
hurt him, So he went in and found that his ball was lying north
of the fireplace. He was again, with the utmost kindness, invited
to sit down, with which he complied. He thought that those who lived
here could by no means be called dangerous or bad.
The man living in the kiva had long eyelids that were hanging down
on his breast and that had to be laid back over his head when he
wanted to see. His name was Hásohkata, and soon he said:
''Now, let us play totólospi." The young man consented,
but Hásohkata beat him twice. "What will you pay me
now?" he asked the young man. "I do not know," the
latter said, "I have nothing. You may take my ball, however.
I do not want that," Hásohkata said, ''but you may lie
down outside at the entrance of my kiva and it will not be so cold
then," for it had by this time become fall and the weather
was getting cold. The young man consented, but Hásohkata
said to him: ''I am afraid you will run away then, so I am going
to tie your hands and feet," which he did. In a little while
the young man began to feel very cold while he was lying outside
of the kiva. Spider Woman, in the meanwhile, became uneasy about
her young friend, saving, "It is now about half noon and he
is not yet here, he undoubtedly did not follow my advice and went
westward and fell into the hands of the bad people.
She at once went to look him up and found him lying at the kiva's
opening, his hands tied on his back and his feet also tied together.
"Aha!" she said, "here you are lying just as I thought.
You must be hungry; now, that is the reason why I came. Now, you
stay here until I return and get something for you." So she
returned to her house and got two fuzzy, short turkey feathers.
With these she returned and placed one beneath him and with the
other one she covered him up. Hereupon she returned to her house
and commenced to meditate on the matter. "Why did he take away
my friend," she thought, "and how shall I get him back
again. That man there in the kiva is a bad man and he will not want
to give back to me my grandchild. I am going out to call somebody
in here." So she went out and called out to her people, saving:
''All assemble here, but do not tarry, be quick about it,"
Those that responded at once were specially animals of prey, such
as the bear, wildcat, panther, mole, etc. Her house was completely
filled. ''Why do you want us in such a hurry?" they asked.
"Yes," she said, "that there Hásohkata has
hung my grandchild up to smoke (referring to the fact that objects
that are smoked are sometimes suspended in the hatch-way over the
fireplace). So now, I want you to go and take my grandchild away
from Hásohkata." "All right," they said, ''but
how shall we do it?" "You must also gamble with him,"
she said. They then agreed upon certain games that they were going
to play, and sticks that they should make, etc., and then left,
being led by the old woman.
Hásohkata in the meanwhile kept laughing at the young man
lying outside of his kiva entrance. "Now, you are cold by this
time, are you?" he kept saying to him, and while he was still
talking in that manner the rescuers arrived at the kiva. Before
they started, however, from Spider Woman's house, she had prepared.
a set of báckshivu (a cup game). This she had brought with
her. While they had proceeded to Hásohkata's house the Mole
had proceeded to the same place underground and was waiting under
the house of Hásohkata.
When the others arrived at the kiva they were invited to come in
by Hásohkata. He spoke very kindly to them. North of the
fireplace was still the drawing of the totólospi game that
he had played with the young man. In reply to his urgent request
to come in, Spider Woman said: ''We have come to gamble with you.
You are smoking my grandchild here and we have come to beat you
at playing, and are going to take him away." "All right,"
he said, "come right in," whereupon they entered, entirely
filling the kiva. "All right," they said, "who will
commence?" "You play first," Hásohkata said,"
because you proposed it." Spider Woman was happy over it, and
put up her four gaming cups on the north side of the fireplace.
The Mole, still being under the floor, saw it and placed the little
ball under one of the cups, pushing it up very bard, however, that
it could not drop out in case that cup was chosen and thrown down
by the player. Now, they said to Hásohkata, "Guess under
which it is, and we will see whether you will win." He pondered
a long time, then threw down one of the cups, but the ball was not
under it. Hereupon he threw down another one, but the ball was not
under that one. "Now, that is enough," Spider Woman said,
"you have not found it." So she put up her four cups again,
the Mole again fastened the ball in one of the cups quickly, closing
up the opening in the floor, and then Hásohkata was again
challenged to guess.
He again threw down two cups without winning one game. "My!"
he said, ''Who are you? Why are you trying to keep away your things
from me? You have beaten me, so take the young man along."
Spider Woman then herself threw down one of her cups and said, "Here
under this one is the ball." This made the old man somewhat
angry and he refused to let his captive go, but he challenged them
to another trial.
Outside of his kiva grew very strong kwíngwi, which is a
brush, the sticks of which are very hard. He told them that if they
would break down or pull out a certain amount of that stuff he would
consider himself beaten. The Mole hearing this, quickly made its
way underground to the brush and soon gnawed off all the biggest
roots of a great deal of brush. The others did not know anything
about this and so when they came out of the kiva the old woman said
to the others: "Now, let us try to pull this out and see whether
we can do it." They commenced, and in a short time had pulled
out so much, even with parts of the roots, that Hásohkata
considered himself beaten even before they had pulled out all that
the Mole had loosened. "All right," he said, "you
take with you all that I have and you will be rich, you have beaten
me." They returned to the kiva, untied the young man and all
again entered the kiva of Hásohkata. "Now," Hásohkata
said to them, "take with you all of my things here, because
you have beaten me twice." There were a great many objects
throughout his kiva, such as clothing, bows. quivers, arrows, and
other things that he had taken away from visitors with whom he had
gambled and whom he had killed, throwing their corpses into a big
hole that was full of bones.
After they had taken everything, they said to him: "But what
shall we do to you?" He replied: "You have taken all my
things, let me alone." To this they did not agree. "We
are going to kill you," they said. "So the Bear grabbed
him, tore open his breast, and tore out the heart of Hásohkata,
which he took with him. The Wolves, Coyotes, Wildcats, etc., hereupon
fell upon the corpse, tearing it to pieces and devoured it. These
animals still do the same today, killing people whenever they have
an opportunity to do so, whether these people are good or bad, and
that is the reason why the Hopi hunt and kill those animals if they
can do so.
After they had left the kiva, Spider Woman told them all that they
could now go to their respective homes. She took her grandchild
with her and also returned to her home with him. Here she told him
that he should fear nothing after this because nobody would now
hurt him, that having been the only one that was bad and dangerous.
The Wren had in the meanwhile been down to this earth and had seen
the parents of the young man and found out that they were longing
for their lost son, and when it returned it told Spider Woman about
So about four or five days after they had returned from Hásohkata's
kiva, she told him that he might go home now, as his father and
mother were homesick after him. She did not, however, tell him how
she had found it out, and she promised him that the next day she
would go with him. So the next day they went to the opening through
which the Eagles had brought the young man. They looked down and
could see nothing. Everything looked as if we are now looking upward.
So Spider Woman placed around the opening sticks and brush of all
kinds just the same as around a spider hole. Over this she then
spun a great deal of web and before cutting the thread she told
the young man to mount her back. Hereupon they began to descend,
the thread of spider web unraveling at the opening as they descended
farther and farther downward.
She advised the young man to keep his eyes closed, which he did.
They struck the earth somewhere close to the field of the young
man's parents. Here he left Spider Woman and started to his parents'
home himself. When he arrived at his home one of the neighbors said
to his parents: "Some one has come; your child has come,"
but they would not believe it. "He will never come, he is gone,"
the mother said. When he entered the house he said: "I have
come." "Who are you?" the father said. "I am
Chórzhvûk'íqölö." "No, you
are not the one." "Yes, I am," he said; but at last
the father recognized him and said, "Yes, you have come."
The mother then, too, recognized him and she was very happy. The
sisters who had been waiting and longing for their brother, were
also very happy that he had returned. So they were all united again
and maybe they are still living there.
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