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Native American Legends

Emergence

A Hopi Legend

After the departure of Spider Woman, the people set out once more to discover their new world. Alone they set out, traveling east and a little north, paddling hard day and night for many days as if they were paddling uphill.

At last they saw land. It rose high above the waters, stretching from north to south as far as they could see. A great land, a mighty land, their inner wisdom told them. "The Fourth World!" they cried to each other.

As they got closer, its shores rose higher and higher into a steep wall of mountains. There seemed no place to land. "Let us go north. There we will find our place of emergence," said some. So they went north, but the mountains rose higher and steeper.

"No! Let us go south! There we will find our place of emergence!" cried others. So they turned south and traveled many days more. But here too the mountain wall reared higher.

Not knowing what to do, the people stopped paddling, opened the doors on top of their heads, and let themselves be guided. Almost immediately the water smoothed out, and they felt their rafts caught up in a gentle current. Before long they landed and joyfully jumped out upon a sandy shore. "The Fourth World!" they cried. "We have reached our place of emergence at last!"

Soon all the others arrived and when they were gathered together, Sótuknang appeared before them. "Well, I see you are all here. This is good. This is the place I have prepared for you. Look now at the way you have come."

Looking to the west and south, the people could see sticking out of the water the islands upon which they had rested.

"They are the footprints of your journey," continued Sótuknang, "the tops of the high mountains of the Third World, which I destroyed. Now watch."

As the people watched them, the closest one sank under the water, then the next, until all were gone, and they could see only water.

"See," said Sótuknang, "I have washed away even the footprints of your emergence, the stepping-stones which I left for you. Down on the bottom of the sea lie all the proud cities, the flying pátuwvotas, and the worldly treasures corrupted with evil, and those people who found no time to sing praises to the Creator from the tops of their hills. But the day will come, if you preserve the memory and meaning of your emergence, when these stepping stones will emerge again to prove the truth you speak."

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