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