Native American Legends
The first settlers in the valley of Cuzco
An Inca Legend
Before all things it must be understood that the valley of Cuzco
is in 13° 15' from the equator on the side of the south pole.
In this valley, owing to its being fertile for cultivation, there
were three tribes settled from most ancient times, the first called
Sauaseras, the second Antasayas, the third Huallas. They settled
near each other, although their lands for sowing were distinct,
which is the property they valued most in those days and even now.
These natives of the valley lived there in peace for many years,
cultivating their farms.
Some time before the arrival of the Incas, three Sinchis, strangers
to this valley, the first named Alcabisa, the second Copalimayta,
and the third Culunchima, collected certain companies and came to
the valley of Cuzco, where, by consent of the natives, they settled
and became brothers and companions of the original inhabitants.
So they lived for a long time. There was concord between these
six tribes, three native and three immigrant. They relate that the
immigrants came out to where the Incas then resided, as we shall
relate presently, and called them relations. This is an important
point with reference to what happened afterwards.
Before entering upon the history of the Incas I wish to make known
or, speaking more accurately, to answer a difficulty which may occur
to those who have not been in these parts. Some may say that this
history cannot be accepted as authentic being taken from the narratives
of these barbarians, because, having no letters, they could not
preserve such details as they give from so remote an antiquity.
The answer is that, to supply the want of letters, these barbarians
had a curious invention which was very good and accurate. This was
that from one to the other, from fathers to sons, they handed down
past events, repeating the story of them many times, just as lessons
are repeated from a professor's chair, making the hearers say these
historical lessons over and over again until they were fixed in
Thus each one of the descendants continued to communicate the annals
in the order described with a view to preserve their histories and
deeds, their ancient traditions, the numbers of their tribes, towns,
provinces, their days, months and years, their battles, deaths,
destructions, fortresses and Sinchis.
Finally they recorded, and they still record, the most notable
things which may be expressed in numbers (or statistics), on certain
cords called quipu, which is the same as to say reasoner or accountant.
On these cords they make certain knots by which, and by differences
of color, they distinguish and record each thing as by letters.
It is a thing to be admired to see what details may be recorded
on these cords, for which there are masters like our writing masters.
Besides this they had, and still have, special historians in these
nations, an hereditary office descending from father to son. The
collection of these annals is due to the great diligence of Pachacuti
Inca Yupanqui, the ninth Inca, who sent out a general summons to
an the old historians in all the provinces he had subjugated, and
even to many others throughout those kingdoms. He had them in Cuzco
for a long time, examining them concerning their antiquities, origin,
and the most notable events in their history.
These were painted on great boards, and deposited in the temple
of the Sun, in a great hall. There such boards, adorned with gold,
were kept as in our libraries, and learned persons were appointed,
who were well versed in the art of understanding and declaring their
contents. No one was allowed to enter where these boards were kept,
except the Inca and the historians, without a special order of the
In this way they took care to have all their past history investigated,
and to have records respecting all kinds of people, so that at this
day the Indians generally know and agree respecting details and
important events, though, in some things, they hold different opinions
on special points.
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