Native American Legends
The Pookonghoyas and the Cannibal Monster
A Hopi Legend
A very long time ago a large monster, whom our forefathers called
Shíta, lived somewhere in the west, and used to come to the
village of Oraíbi and wherever it would find children it
would devour them.
Often also grown people were eaten by the monster. The people became
very much alarmed over the matter, and especially the village chief
was very much worried over it. Finally he concluded to ask the Pöokónghoyas
for assistance. These latter, namely Pöokónghoya and
his younger brother Balö'ngahoya, lived north of and close
to the village of Oraíbi. When the village chief asked them
to rid them of this monster they told him to make an arrow for each
one of them. He did so, using for the shaft feathers, the wing feathers
of the bluebird. These arrows he brought to the little War Gods
They said to each other: "Now let us go and see whether such
a monster exists and whether we can find it." So they first
went to Oraíbi and kept on the watch around the village.
One time, when they were on the east side of the village at the
edge of the mesa, they noticed something approaching from the west
side. They at once went there and saw that it was the monster that
they were to destroy. When the monster met the two brothers it said
to them: "I eat you" (Shíta). Both brothers objected.
The monster at once swallowed the older one and then the other
one. They found that it was not dark inside of the monster, in fact,
they found themselves on a path which the younger brother, who had
been swallowed last, followed, soon overtaking his older brother.
The two brothers laughed and said to each other: ''So this is the
way we find it here. We are not going to die here."
They found that the path on which they were going was the esophagus
of the monster, which led into its stomach. In the latter they found
a great many people of different nationalities which the monster
had devoured in different parts of the earth; in fact, they found
the stomach to be a little world in itself, with grass, trees, rock,
Before the two brothers had left their home on their expedition
to kill the monster, if possible, their grandmother had told them
that in case the monster should swallow them too, to try to find
its heart; if they could shoot into the heart the monster would
die. So they concluded that they would now go in search of the heart
of the monster.
They finally found the path which led out of the stomach, and after
following that path quite a distance they saw way above them hanging
something which they at once concluded must be the heart of the
monster. Pöokónghoya at once shot an arrow at it, but
failed to reach it, the arrow dropping back. Hereupon his younger
brother tried it and his arrow pierced the heart, whereupon the
older brother also shot his arrow into the heart. Then it became
dark and, the people noticed that the monster was dying.
The two brothers called all the people together and said to them:
"Now let us get out." They led them along the path to
the mouth of the monster, but found that they could not get out
because the teeth of the monster had set firmly in death. They tried
in vain to open the mouth but finally discovered a passage leading
up into the nose. Through this they then emerged.
It was found that a great many people assembled there north of
the village. The village chief had cried out that a great many people
had arrived north of the village and asked his people to assemble
there too. They did so and many found their children and relatives
that had been carried off by the monster, and were very glad to
have them back again.
The two brothers then said to the others that they should now move
on and try to find their own homes where they had come from, which
they did, settling down temporarily at different places, which accounts
for the many small ruins scattered throughout the country The old
people say that this monster was really a world or a country, as
some call it, similar to the world that we are living in.
Native American Legends
Back to Top
Other Native American Legends