Native American Legends
A Hopi Legend
A very long time ago there was nothing but water. In the east Hurúing
Wuhti, the deity of all hard substances, lived in the ocean. Her
house was a kiva like the kivas of the Hopi of today.
To the ladder leading into the kiva were usually tied a skin of
a gray fox and one of a yellow fox. Another Hurúing Wuhti
lived in the ocean in the west in a similar kiva, but to her ladder
was attached a turtle-shell rattle.
The Sun also existed at that time. Shortly before rising in the
east the Sun would dress up in the skin of the gray fox, whereupon
it would begin to dawn- -the so-called white dawn of the Hopi. After
a little while the Sun would lay off the gray skin and put on the
yellow fox skin, whereupon the bright dawn of the morning--the so-called
yellow dawn of the Hopi--would appear. The Sun would then rise,
that is, emerge from an opening in the north end of the kiva in
which Hurúing Wuhti lived.
When arriving in the west again, the sun would first announce his
arrival by fastening the rattle on the point of the ladder beam,
whereupon he would enter the kiva, pass through an opening in the
north end of the kiva, and continue his course eastward under the
water and so on.
By and by these two deities caused some dry land to appear in the
midst of the water, the waters receding eastward and westward. The
Sun passing over this dry land constantly took notice of the fact,
that no living being of any kind could be seen anywhere, and mentioned
this fact to the two deities. So one time the Hurúing Wuhti
of the west sent word through the Sun to the Hurúing Wuhti
in the east to come over to her as she wanted to talk over this
matter. The Hurúing Wuhti of the east complied with this
request and proceeded to the West over a rainbow. After consulting
each other on this point the two concluded that they would create
a little bird; so the deity of the east made a wren of clay, and
covered it up with a piece of native cloth (möchápu).
Hereupon they sang a song over it, and after a little while the
little bird showed signs of life. Uncovering it, a live bird came
forth, saying: "Úma hínok pas nui kitâ'
náwakna?" (why do you want me so quickly). "Yes,"
they said, "we want you to fly all over this dry place and
see whether you can find anything living." They thought that
as the Sun always passed over the middle of the Earth, he might
have failed to notice any living beings that might exist in the
north or the south. So the little Wren, flew all over the Earth,
but upon its return reported that no living being existed anywhere.
Tradition says, however, that by this time Spider Woman (Kóhk'ang
Wuhti), lived somewhere in the south-west at the edge of the water,
also in a kiva, but this the little bird had failed to notice.
Hereupon the deity of the west proceeded to make very many birds
of different kinds and form, placing them again under the same cover
under which the Wren had been brought, to life. They again sang
a song over them. Presently the birds began to move under the cover.
The goddess removed the cover and found under it all kinds of birds
and fowls. "Why do you want us so quickly?" the latter
asked. "Yes, we want you to inhabit this world."
Hereupon the two deities taught every kind of bird the sound that
it should make, and then the birds scattered out in all directions.
Hereupon the Hurúing Wuhti of the west made of clay all
different kinds of animals, and they were brought to life in the
same manner as the birds. They also asked the same question: "Why
do you want us so quickly?" "We want you to inhabit this
Earth," was the reply given them, whereupon they were taught
by their creators their different sounds or languages, after which
they proceeded forth to inhabit the different parts of the Earth.
They now concluded that they would create man. The deity of the
east made of clay first a woman and then a man, who were brought
to life in exactly the same manner as the birds and animals before
them. They asked the same question, and were told that they should
live upon this Earth and should understand everything. Hereupon
the Hurúing Wuhti of the east made two tablets of some hard
substance, whether stone or clay tradition does not say, and drew
upon them with the wooden stick certain characters, handing these
tablets to the newly created man and woman, who looked at them,
but did not know what they meant.
So the deity of the east rubbed with the palms of her hands, first
the palms of the woman and then the palms of the man, by which they
were enlightened so that they understood the writing on the tablets.
Hereupon the deities taught these two a language. After they had
taught them the language, the goddess of the east took them out
of the kiva and led them over a rainbow, to her home in the east.
There they stayed four days, after which Hurúing Wuhti told
them to go now and select for themselves a place and live there.
The two proceeded forth saying that they would travel around a
while and wherever they would find a good field they would remain.
Finding a nice place at last, they built a small, simple house,
similar to the old houses of the Hopi. Soon the Hurúing Wuhti
of the west began to think of the matter again, and said to herself
: "This is not the way yet that it should be. We are not done
yet," and communicated her thoughts to the Hurúing Wuhti
of the east. By this time Spider Woman had heard about all this
matter and she concluded to anticipate the others and also create
some beings. So she also made a man and woman of clay, covered them
up, sang over them, and brought to life her handiwork.
But these two proved to be Spaniards. She taught them the Spanish
language, also giving them similar tablets and imparting knowledge
to them by rubbing their hands in the same manner as the woman of
the East had done with the "White Men." Hereupon she created
two burros, which she gave to the Spanish man and woman. The latter
settled down close by. After this, Spider Woman continued to create
people in the same manner as she had created the Spaniards, always
a man and a woman, giving a different language to each pair. But
all at once she found that she had forgotten to create a woman for
a certain man, and that is the reason why now there are always some
She continued the creating of people in the same manner, giving
new languages as the pairs were formed. All at once she found that
she had failed to create a man for a certain woman, in other words,
it was found that there was one more woman than there were men.
"Oh my!'' she said, "How is this?" and then addressing
the single woman she said: ''There is a single man somewhere, who
went away from here. You try to find him and if he accepts you,
you live with him. If not, both of you will have to remain single.
You do the best you can about that."
The two finally found each other, and the woman said, "Where
shall we live?" The man answered: "Why here, anywhere.
We shall remain together." So he went to work and built a house
for them in which they lived. But it did not take very long before
they commenced to quarrel with each other. "I want to live
here alone," the woman said. "I can prepare food for myself."
''Yes, but who will get the wood for you? Who will work the fields?"
the man said. "We had better remain together." They made
up with each other, but peace did not last.
They soon quarreled again, separated for a while, came together
again, separated again, and so on. Had these people not lived in
that way, all the other Hopi would now live in peace, but others
learned it from them, and that is the reason why there are so many
contentions between the men and their wives. These were the kind
of people that Spider Woman had created. The Hurúing Wuhti
of the west heard about this and commenced to meditate upon it.
Soon she called the goddess from the east to come over again, which
the latter did. "I do not want to live here alone," the
deity of the west said, "I also want some good people to live
here." So she also created a number of other people, but always
a man and a wife. They were created in the same manner as the deity
of the east had created hers. They lived in the west. Only wherever
the people that Spider Woman had created came in contact with these
good people there was trouble. The people at that time led a nomadic
life, living mostly on game. Wherever they found rabbits or antelope
or deer they would kill the game and eat it.
This led to a good many contentions among the people. Finally the
Woman of the west said to her people: "You remain here; I am
going to live, after this, in the midst of the ocean in the west.
When you want anything from me, you pray to me there." Her
people regretted this very much, but she left them. The Hurúing
Wuhti of the east did exactly the same thing, and that is the reason
why at the present day the places where these two live are never
Those Hopi who now want something from them deposit their prayer
offerings in the village. When, they say their wishes and prayers
they think of those two who live in the far distance, but of whom
the Hopi believe that they still remember them.
The Spanish were angry at Hurúing Wuhti and two of them
took their guns and proceeded to the abiding place of the deity.
The Spaniards are very skillful and they found a way to get there.
When they arrived at the house of Hurúing Wuhti the latter
at once surmised what their intentions were. "You have come
to kill me," she said; "don't do that; lay down your weapons
and I shall show you something; I am not going to hurt you."
They laid down their arms, whereupon she went to the rear end of
the kiva and brought out a white lump like a stone and laid it before
the two men, asking them to lift it up. One tried it, but could
not lift it up, and what was worse, his hands adhered to the stone.
The other man tried to assist him, but his hands also adhered to
the stone, and thus they were both prisoners. Hereupon Hurúing
Wuhti took the two guns and said: "These do not amount to anything,"
and then rubbed them between her hands to powder.
She then said to them: "You people ought to live in peace
with one another. You people of Spider Woman know many things, and
the people whom we have made also know many, but different, things.
You ought not to quarrel about these things, but learn from one
another; if one has or knows a good thing he should exchange it
with others for other good things that they know and have. If you
will agree to this I shall release you.
They said they did, and that they would no more try to kill the
deity. Then the latter went to the rear end of the kiva where she
disappeared through an opening in the floor, from where she exerted
a secret influence upon the stone and thus released the two men.
They departed, but Hurúing Wuhti did not fully trust them,
thinking that they would return, but they never did.
Native American Legends
Back to Top
Other Native American Legends