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Men and women try living apart

A Sia Legend

Before Ut'se't, Mother of the People, left this world, she selected six Sia women and sent one to the north, one to the west, one to the south, one to the east, one to the zenith, and one to the nadir, and told them to make their homes at these points for all time. That way they would be near the cloud rulers of the cardinal points, and they could intercede for all the people of Ha'arts.

Ut'se't told her people to remember these women in times of need, and they would appeal to the cloud people for them.

The Sia alone followed the command of Ut'se't and took the straight road, while all other pueblos advanced by various routes to the center of the earth.

After Ut'se't's departure the Sia traveled some distance and built a village of beautiful white stone, where they lived for a long duration.

At one time all the parents suffered tragically at the hand of ti'a'moni, who, objecting to the increase of his people, caused all children to be put to death. The Sia had scarcely recovered from this calamity when another serious difficulty arose.

The Sia women worked hard all day, grinding meal and singing; and at sundown, when the men returned to the houses, the women would often abuse them, saying: "You are no good; you do not care to work. All you want to do is be with women all the time. If you would allow four days to pass between, the women would care more for you."

The men replied: "You women really want to be with us all day and all night. If you could have the men only every four days, you would be very unhappy."

The women retorted: "It is you men who would be unhappy if you could be with the women only every four days."

And the fight grew angrier and angrier. The men cried: "Were it ten days, twenty days, thirty days that we remained apart from you, we'd never be unhappy."

The women replied: "We think not, but we women would be very contented to remain away from you men for sixty days."

And the men said: "We men would be happy to remain apart from you women for five moons."

The women, growing more excited, cried: "You do not speak the truth; we women would be contented to be separated from you ten moons."

The men retorted: "We men could remain away from you women twenty moons and be very happy."

"You do not speak the truth," said the women, "for you wish to be with us all the time, day and night."

Three days they quarreled and on the fourth day the women finally took themselves to one side of the pueblo, while the men and boys gathered on the other side, each forming their own kiva, or ceremonial chamber. The women had a great talk and the men held a council. They were both furious with one another.

The ti'amoni, who presided over the council, said: "Perhaps you will each be contented if you and the women try living apart."

And on the following morning he had all the men and male children who were not being nourished by their mothers cross the great river which ran by the village, the women remaining in the village.

The men departed at sunrise, and the women were delighted. They said: "We can do all the work; we understand the men's work and we can work like them."

The men said to each other: "We can do the things the women did for us."

As they left the village the men called to the women: "We leave you to yourselves, perhaps for one year, perhaps for two, and perhaps longer. Who knows how it will work out? After all, men are not so amorous as you."

It took a long time for the men to cross the river, as it was very wide. The ti'amoni led the men and remained with them. The women were compelled by the ti'amoni to send their male infants over the river as soon as they ceased nourishing them.

For two moons the men and women were very happy. The men were busy hunting and all the game they could eat, but the women had no animal food. The men grew stout and the women very thin.

At the expiration of the first ten moons some of the women were sad away from the men.

As the second year passed, more of the women wanted the men, but the men seemed perfectly satisfied with the way things were.

After three years the women more and more wished for the men, but the men were only slightly desirous of the women.

When the fourth year was half gone, the women called to the ti'amoni, saying: "We want the men to come to us."

The female children had grown up like reeds; they had no flesh on them. The morning after the women begged the ti'amoni for the return of the men, they re-crossed the river to live again with the women, and in four days after their return the women had recovered their flesh.

- Based on Matilda Cox Stevenson's report of 1889.

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