Native American Legends
How Ball Head wedded an Oraibi Maiden
A Hopi Legend
Halíksai! In Oraíbi the people were living. At the
place where Tuwá-mana now lives, right east of the public
plaza, lived a maiden who persistently refused to marry any of the
young men of the village.
Many of these young men were wooing her.
North of the village at Achámali, lived an old woman with
her grandson. "My grandmother," he said to her one time.
"What is it?" she answered. "Yes," he said,
"I am going to visit that maiden there in the village, and
see whether she will not marry me."
"Alas!" she replied, "she will not want you,"
"I am going to try it anyhow," he answered. So one evening,
after they had eaten, he put his wildcat robe on, of which at that
time nearly every young man had one, and proceeded to the village.
It was moonlight.
When he came to the house he stood outside at the corner of the
house. The maiden was grinding corn opposite an open window. He
went up to the place where she was grinding corn, looked through
the opening, and saw that she was very busy grinding corn. "Stop
a little," he said.
She stopped and asked: "Why do you want me to stop?"
"Yes," he said, "I came to you."
"Who are you?" she asked., "Yes," he said,
"it is I."
And hereupon she began to guess, mentioning many names of young
men in the village, and asked whether he was that one or that one.
Finally she said: "Are you not living north of the village
"Yes," he answered.
"So you are that one," she said. "All right, I am
willing that we should live together."
"That is what I came for," the young man said.
"Very well," the maiden replied, "I shall ask my
mother, and if she is willing, we shall live together. So you go
home now and sleep."
After he had left she went down and spoke to her parents, telling
them that the young man living north of the village at Achámali
had asked her to marry him. They said that they would be glad if
he would live with them and he was welcome, "If he has not
spoken a falsehood he will certainly come back again," they
said. Whereupon they retired for the night.
When the young man arrived at his home, he was asked by his grandmother
what he had found out. "Yes," he said, ''I have good news;
she is willing." Hereupon they too retired for the night. In
the morning the grandmother said to her grandson: "You have
a big field here. Some of your corn has certainly matured, so you
prepare some steamed sweet corn."
"Very well," he said. So he gathered some sweet corn-ears,
heated his oven, and threw into it a good many corn-ears. In the
evening they were done. He took them out, took off the husks, and
strung the corn-ears on strings of yucca leaves, preparing about
ten bunches of corn ears, By this time the sun had gone down. After
a little while he wrapped up the corn-ears that he had strung up,
and proceeded to the village.
The maiden was still grinding corn. He left the presents on the
ground in front of the house, on the plaza, and went up. "Have
you come?" the maiden said. "Yes," he replied. "Very
well," she said, come in." Hereupon he went down, got
his bundle. and brought it in. A fire was burning at the fireplace.
He took a seat by the side of the fireplace. The maiden stopped
her grinding and took a seat on the opposite side.
The young man had a mask on with three nodules on top, from which
small turkey feathers were suspended. It was the Ball-Head (Tatciqtö).
He handed the maiden the sweet corn-ears that he had brought, saying
to her, "You take this and eat it." She was happy and
thanked him for it. "Thanks," she said, "on your
account I shall eat it." Hereupon she took part of the corn
down to her parents who were also glad, and ate of it because they
were new corn ears.
Returning to the room where the young man was sitting, they conversed
together for a while. ''Very well," the maiden said, "I
shall now save the corn- meal that I am grinding, then sometime
I shall come over to your house." Whereupon they separated,
the young man going back to his house, and the mána also
retiring for the night. Hereupon the maiden ground blue corn for
four days. On the fifth day she ground white corn. Every evening
the young man brought over some fresh sweet corn-ears, which the
people of the house ate. In the evening of the fifth day he did
not bring any, but he came to fetch his bride.
She and her mother filled a large tray full of the white meal,
tied it up in an atö'ö, which she then took in her hands,
and followed the young man to his house. When they arrived there
he went in first. His grandmother welcomed the maiden to her house
and invited her repeatedly to come in. The young man also told her
to come in.
So she entered. She first handed the tray with meal to the grandmother,,
who thanked her for it, and put the meal away. They then ate the
evening meal, which consisted of corn, melons, and watermelons.
After having conversed for some little time they retired for the
night, the mána sleeping with the grandmother.
Early in the morning when the yellow dawn was appearing the grandmother
and the maiden went out to kúivato (to make prayer-offerings,
consisting of sacred meal, to the dawn and rising sun). Returning
to the kiva, the grandmother got out four Kohoníno trays
(chukávotas) and a lot of corn, which the mána was
shelling, filling the four trays. When they were filled, the grandmother
told her grandson to go and call his animals.
He went out and called them by saying "pi-pi-pi-pi!"
whereupon a great many chickens came running to the kiva. When they
had come in, the young man first took one tray, scattering the corn
to the chickens. When they had eaten that he scattered the corn
from another tray, and so on until they were all emptied. He then
told them to sit down on the banquette that was running along the
wall all around the kiva, which they did. The four empty trays he
placed in a row north of the fireplace, Hereupon he said to the
chickens: "I am going to sing for you now, so you listen to
me attentively, and then afterward s sing the same way."
Hereupon he hung a little drum over his shoulder, gave a signal
on the drum, when all the chickens looked at him and listened attentively,
while the young man sang the following song, accompanying it by
beating the drum:
Aha ihi aha
Kowakoho ngumanta (The chicken was grinding meal),
Angwushihi ngumanta (The crow was grinding meal).
The mána was sitting near the fireplace. While the young
man was singing the song, the chickens all swayed their bodies from
side to side to the time of the singing, and by doing so ground
the corn which they had taken into their bodies. When he had sung
the song five times he said to the chickens: "Now then, come
and vomit your meal into these trays." So one after the other
came and vomited the meal which it had ground in its body into the
tray. It was very fine white meal. When they were all through they
left the kiva.
In this way the chickens assisted the maiden in getting all that
corn ground quickly, so that she did not have to grind it herself
as is usually the case. This meal they then used afterwards. But
the young man had no cotton, and so no bridal costume was prepared
for the bride, for which she was sorry. The young man, however,
was a hunter and often brought home rabbits and other game. After
the maiden had lived there awhile the grandmother said to her: "Now
then, you have been here a long time, you prepare some good food."
This the mána did in the morning, preparing some pík'ami
and other food. The young man again went hunting and returned with
rabbits. The grandmother prepared a great deal of nö'qkwiwi.
In the evening they spread the food on the floor, filling a great
many bowls and trays. When they had spread out the food the grandmother
went out and called out: "You my neighbors here, come in and
eat, and be not slow about it, but come in and eat."
Hereupon the three sat down and commenced to eat. While they were
eating the people began to come in. The first one that came in carried
under his arm a large white bridal robe; the second one a small
bridal robe; the third one a white knotted belt; the fourth one
a pair of bridal moccasins; and the fifth one a reed receptacle.
Having placed the same on the floor, they sat down and ate. Hereupon
they exhorted the young man, saying to him that when he would now
take his bride home and live there in the village he should be good
to the people and he should not be angry at them, but should benefit
them, whereupon they left the kiva.
Early in the morning the grandmother made some yucca suds and washed
the mána's head. When her hair was dry she took her out and
sprinkled meal to the rising sun. When they returned she dressed
her up in the bridal costume. The young man put four watermelons
in a blanket, and just as the sun was rising they all went out,
the grandmother sprinkling a road of meal for her children, and
then told them to go on now, whereupon they proceeded to the village,
to the house of the bride.
Arriving at the house they were welcomed by the mother of the bride
who took the bridal costume and also the watermelons, which the
young man had brought and put everything away. Hereupon the young
people lived in the village, and as the young man was a Katcina
the village prospered, it always rained and they had much to eat.
But by and by his wife went astray, at which her husband became
angry and left the village, returning to his house again. After
that it did not rain so much, the people became poor, and it is
still that way.
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