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Native American Legends

Salt Woman is refused food

A Cochiti Legend

Old Salt Woman had a grandson, and they were very poor. They came to Cochiti and went from house to house, but people turned them away. They were all busy cooking for a feast. At that time they used no salt.

When Salt Woman and her grandson had been to all the houses, they came to a place outside the pueblo where lots of children were playing. All the children came to see the magic crystal Salt Woman had in her hand. She led them to a pinon tree and told them each to take hold of a branch of the tree and swing themselves.

Using her magic crystal, she turned them into chaparral jays who live in pinon trees. "When we were in the pueblo, nobody would invite us to stay," Salt Woman said. "From now on you will be chaparral jays."

Salt Woman and her grandson went south and came to Santa Domingo, where they were well treated and fed. After they had eaten and were leaving, Salt Woman said, "I am very thankful for being given food to eat," and she left them some of her flesh. The people of the house ate it with their bread and meat. It tasted good - salty.

"At Cochiti," Salt Woman told them, "they treated me badly, and when I left, I took all the children outside the pueblo and changed them into chaparral jays roosting in a pinon tree. But to you I am grateful. Therefore remember that if I am in your food, it will always taste better.

I will go southeast and stay there, and if any of you want more of my flesh you will find it at that place. And when you come to gather, let there be no laughing, no singing, nothing of that kind. Be quiet and clean."

So she left Santa Domingo and went to Salt Lake, where we get salt today.

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