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Native American Legends

Kuskurza, The Third World

A Hopi Legend

For many years, all the elements that had comprised the Second World were frozen into a motionless and lifeless lump of ice. But the people were happy and warm with the Ant People in their underground world. They watched their food carefully, although the ants; waists became still smaller. They wove sashes and blankets together and told stories.

Eventually, Sótuknang ordered Pöqánghoya and Palöngawhoya back to their stations at the poles of the world axis. With a great shudder and a splintering of ice, the planet began rotating again. When it was rotating smoothly about its axis and moving in its universal orbit, the ice began to melt and the world began to warm to life. Sótuknang set about creating the third world: arranging lands and seas, planting mountains and plains with their proper coverings, and creating all forms of life.

When the Earth was ready for occupancy, he came to the Ant kiva with the proper approach as before and said, "Open the door, it is time for you to come out."

Once again, when the núta was rolled back, he gave the people their instructions. "I have saved you so you can be planted again on this new Third World. But you must always remember the two things I am saying to you now. First, respect me and one another. Second, sing in harmony from the tops of the hills. When I do not hear you singing praises to your Creator, I will know you have gone back to evil again."

So the People climbed up the ladder from the Ant kiva, making their emergence to the Third World.

The name of this Third World was Kuskurza, its direction east, its color red. Chiefs upon it were the mineral palásiva (copper), the plant píva (tobacco), the bird angwusi (crow), and the animal chöövio (antelope).

Upon it once more the people spread out, multiplied, and continued their progress on the Road of Life. In the First World, they had lived simply with the animals. In the Second World, they had developed handicrafts, homes, and villages. Now, in the Third World, they created big cities and countries: a whole civilization.

This made it difficult to conform to the plan of Creation and to sing praises to Taiowa and to Sótuknang. More and more of them became wholly occupied with their own earthy plans.

Some of them, of course, retained the wisdom granted them upon their emergence. With this wisdom they understood that the farther they went on the road of life and the more that they developed, the harder it was. That was why their world was destroyed every so often to give them a fresh start. They were especially concerned because so many people were using their reproductive power in wicked ways.

There was one woman who was becoming known throughout the land for her wickedness in corrupting so many people. She even boasted that so many men were giving her turquoise necklaces for her favors she could wind them around a ladder that reached to the end of the world's axis. So the people with wisdom sand longer and louder their praises to the Creator from the tops of the hills.

The other people hardly heard them. Under the leadership of the Bow Clan, they began to use their creative power in another evil and destructive way. Perhaps this was caused by that wicked woman. But some of them made a pátuwvota (a shield made of hide) and with their creative power, made it fly through the air.

On this, many people flew to a big city, attacked it, then returned so fast that no one knew where they came from. Soon the people of many cities were making pátuwvotas and flying on them to attack one another. So corruption and war came to the Third World as it had to the others.

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