Native American Legends
The Wanderings of the Bear Clan
A Hopi Legend
After we had left the sípahpuni the Bear people separated
and went ahead of the others. First they came somewhere near the
present site of Phoenix, and stayed there awhile.
They remained for or shorter or longer periods at many different
places. Finally they came to the Little Colorado River, and about
there it was where they assumed the clan name, but just exactly
where the place was nobody can tell. Their forefathers say that
the party once came upon a dead bear that they looked at, and from
that they were called forever afterwards the Bear clan. Another
party that traveled with them took the hide of the bear, of which
the hair had already been removed by little animals (Mû'yi.
Pl. Mû'mutyu), who use hair or wool for their nests or burrows.
These people took the skin and cut from it carrying straps (piqö'sha),
from which they were called Piqö'sha clan. Another party came
upon the bear at just this time and were called Mû'yi clan,
after the small mice mentioned before. These three clans arrived
there just about the same time, and hence are considered as closely
related to one another.
Shortly after another party passed by and found many blue-birds
sitting upon the cadaver eating from it; so they were called the
Bluebird clan (Chórzh-ñamu). Still later another party,
came upon the scene and found the remains of the cadaver full of
spider web, so this party was called Spider (Kóhk'ang) clan.
By and by a sixth migrating party came along.
By this time the bones of the bear were bleached already. They
took the skull, tied yucca leaves to it and carried it along as
a drinking vessel in the manner in which the chief's or priest's
jugs (móngwikurus) are carried at the present time, and from
this. that party was called the jug (Wíkurzh) clan. Finally
a seventh party came along and found the place where the bear had
been killed swarming with ants, so they were called the Ant (Án-ñamu)
These seven clans have derived their names from the same origin,
and are now considered as being related to one another. The Bear
clan is also said to have halted at various places along the Little
Colorado River. From there they moved eastward, stopping for some
time at a place called Badger Spring (Honánva).
From this place they again moved eastward, stopped at a place called
Mákwutavi, and from here they finally moved to Matö'ví,
a large spring a number of miles south of Shongópavi. At
this place they also remained for a considerable length of time,
but finally they moved northward to the present site of Shongópavi,
where they remained. They being the first to arrive at this place,
they have ever since considered themselves to be the leading clan
in the village, the village chief having also been chosen from their
A few persons of the Bear clan moved from here to Oraíbi,
where the chieftainship of the so-called Liberal or Friendly faction
is still held by that clan, the Conservative or Hostile faction
of that village selecting their chief from the Spider clan. Two
of this clan moved to the villages of Shupaúlavi and Mishóngnovi,
where the office of the village chief has also remained in this
clan to the present day.
The Bear clan brought with them the altar paraphernalia, song,
etc., of the Blue Flute cult. When they stopped and planted anywhere
they would perform the Blue Flute ceremony and sing the songs, and
their crop would then grow and mature very quickly, so that they
would have something to eat. They also brought with them the Hû
Katcina, the Bear (Hon) Katcina, the Â'ototo Natácka,
his wife Cóoyok Wuhti, and finally the Cóoyoko Táhaam.
Later on other clan and migrating parties arrived at Shongópavi
asking of the Bear clan admission to the village. If proper arrangements
could be made with the Bear clan they remained; if not, they moved
on. Many of the large and small ruins with which the country is
covered date back to the time of the migration of these different
clans, showing the places where they made stays of shorter or longer
Native American Legends
Back to Top
Other Native American Legends