Native American Legends
The Wanderings of the Hopi
A Hopi Legend
A very long time ago they were living down below. Everything was
good there at that time. That way of living was good down there.
Everything was good, everything grew well; it rained all the time,
everything was blossoming.
That is the way it was, but by and by it became different. The
chiefs commenced to do bad. Then it stopped raining and they only
had very small crops and the winds began to blow. People became
sick. By and by it was, like it is here now, and at last the people
participated in this. They, too, began to talk bad and to be bad.
And then those who have not a single heart, the sorcerers, that
are very bad, began to increase and became more and more. The people
began to live the way we are living now, in constant contentions.
Thus they were living. Nobody would listen any more. They became
very bad. They would take away the wives of the chiefs.
The chiefs hereupon became angry and they planned to do something
to the people, to take revenge on them. They began to think of escaping.
So a few of the chiefs met once and thought and talked about the
matter. They had heard some sounds away up, as of footsteps, as
if somebody was walking there, and about that they were talking.
Then the Kík-mongwi, who had heard the sounds above, said that
they wanted to investigate above and see how it was there, and then
if the one above there wanted them, they wanted to try to go out.
So the others were willing too that they wanted to find out about
that, and then if they were permitted they wanted to move up there.
So they were now thinking who should find out.
So they made a Pawáok'aya, sang over it, and thus brought it to
life. "Why do you want me?" the bird said. "Yes," the chief said,
"we are not living well here, our hearts are not light, and they
are troubling us here, and now I have been thinking about these
few children of mine here and we want to see whether we can find
some other way of living. Away above there somebody seems to be
walking, and now we thought maybe you could go up there and see
about that and find out for us, and that is the reason why we want
"All right," the Pawáok'aya said, "all right, I shall go up there
and find out about it." Hereupon the chief planted a lö'oqö (species
of pine or fir), but they saw that it did not reach up, but that
its point was turning downward. Hereupon they planted a reed by
the side of the pine and that reached up. They then told the Pawáok'aya
to go up now and if he should find anybody to tell him and then
if he were willing they would go.
So the Pawáok'aya ascended, flying in circles upward around these
two ladders. When he came up to the top he found an opening there,
through which he went out. After he came out he was flying around
and around, but did not find anybody, so he returned to the opening
again and came down. As he was very tired he fell down upon the
ground before the chiefs. When he was somewhat revived they asked
him, "Now, what have you found out?" "Yes," he said, "I went through
there and there was a large space there, but I did not find anybody.
When I did not find anybody I became hungry and thirsty and very
tired, so I have come back now." "Ishohí! (Oh!)" they said. "Very
well, now who else will go?" and they were thinking. "Somebody else
shall go," they said, and they kept thinking about it.
So they made another one, but this time a small one, and when they
were singing over it became alive. When it had become alive they
saw that it was a Humming-bird (Tóhcha), which is very small, but
very swift and strong. "Why do you want me?" the bird said.
"Yes," they said, "our children here are not with good hearts.
We are not living well here; we are living here in trouble. So we
want you to go up there for us and see what you can find out, and
if the one up there is kind and good, we think of going up there,
and that is the reason why we want you. So you go up there; you
hunt somebody, and if he is gentle and kind, we shall go up there."
So the Tóhcha flew upward, circling around the two trees, went through
the opening and flew around and around, and not finding anybody
also became tired and came back. He flew lower and lower and alighted
in front of the chiefs, exhausted.
When he had somewhat revived, they asked him: "Now, then, what
have you heard, what have you found out?" "Yes," he said, "yes,
I flew around there that way and became tired and exhausted and
have come back." "Ishohí!" they said again, "now then, we shall
send somebody else."
They then created another one, and sang over it. But this time
they had made a larger one, and when they had chanted their song
over it, it became alive and it was a Hawk (Kisha). "Why do you
want me?" the Hawk also said. "Yes," they replied, "yes, these our
children do not listen to us, they worry us, and we are living in
trouble here, and that is why we want you. You go up there and find
out for us and inform us." So the Hawk flew up also, passed through
the opening, and circled around for some time in the space above
the opening, But he also became tired and returned, exhausted. So
when he was somewhat revived, they asked him: "What did you find
out?" and he told them the same as the others had, that he had not
found anyone. "Ishohí!" they said, "we shall try it once more."
So they made another one, and sang over it again. While they were
singing over it became alive, and it was the Mótsni. "Why do you
want me?" the latter asked. "Yes," they said, "our children here
do not listen to us, they have bad hearts, and we are living in
trouble here. So we have been thinking of leaving here, but these
here have not found anybody there, so you go up too, and you find
out for us. And, if you find some one there who is kind and gentle
and has a good heart, why you tell us and we shall go up there."
So he flew up too, and having passed through the opening, he kept
flying around and looking about, as he was very strong. Finally
he found the place where Oraíbi now is, but there were no houses
there yet, and there somebody was sitting, leaning his head forward,
and as the Mótsni came nearer he moved it to the side a little.
Finally he said: "Sit down, you that are going around here, sit
down. Certainly you are going around here for some reason. Nobody
has seen me here yet."
"Yes," the Mótsni said, "down below we are not living well, and
the chiefs there have sent me up here to find out, and now I have
found you, and if, you are kind, we have thought of coming up here,
since I now have found you. Now you say, you tell, me if you are
willing, and I shall tell them so, and we will come up here." This
one whom the Mótsni had found was Skeleton (Másauwuu). "Yes," he
said, "now this is the way I am living, here. I am living here in
poverty. I have not anything; this is the way I am living here.
Now, if you are willing to live here that way, too, with me and
share this life, why come, you are welcome." "All right," the Mótsni
said, "whatever they say down there, whatever they say. Now, I shall
be off." "All right," Skeleton said, whereupon the Mótsni left.
So he returned and descended to where the chiefs were sitting,
but this one did not drop down, for he was very strong, and he came
flying down to them. What have you found out?" they asked the bird.
"Yes," he said, "I was up there and I have found him away off. But
it is with you now; he also lives there poorly, he has not much,
he is destitute. But if you are satisfied with his manner of living,
why you are welcome to come up there." "All right," they said, and
were happy. "So that is the way he is saying, so he is kind, we
are welcome, and we are going."
At that time there were all kinds of people living down there,
the White Man, the Paiute, the Pueblo; in fact, all the different
kinds of people except the Zuñi and the Kóhonino, who have come
from another place. Of all these people some whose hearts were not
very bad had heard about this, and they had now assembled with the
chiefs, but the greater part of the people, those whose hearts were
very bad, were not present.
They now decided that they would leave. The chief told them that
in four days they were to be ready to leave. So during the four
days those who knew about it secretly told some of their friends
whose hearts also were at least not very bad, that after four days
they were going to leave. So the different chiefs from the different
kinds of people assembled with small parties on the morning of the
fourth day, after they had had their morning meal. They met at the
place where they were appointed to meet, and there were a good many.
"We are a great many," the chief said, "may be there will be some
here among them whose heart is not single. Now, no more must come,
this is enough."
So they commenced to climb up the reed, first the different chiefs,
the Village chief (Kík-mongwi), who was also at the same time the
Soyál-mongwi, the Flute chief (Lâ'n-mongwi), Horn chief (Ál-mongwi),
Agave chief (Kwán- mongwi), Singer chief (Táo-mongwi), Wúwûchim
chief (Kél-mongwi), Rattlesnake chief (Tcû'-mongwi), Antelope chief
(Tcö'b-mongwi), Maraú chief (Maraú-mongwi), Lagón chief (Lagón-mongwi),
and the Warrior chief (Kaléhtak-mongwi or Pö'okong).
And then the people followed and a great many went out. By this
time the people in the lower world had heard about this, and they
now came crowding from all sides towards the trees. When the Kík-mongwi
above there saw that so many were coming he called down to stop.
"Some of those Pópwaktu," he said, "are going to come up too, I
think, so that is enough, stop now!" He then commenced to pull up
the reed so that a great many people that were still on it dropped
So they now moved on a little bit to the rim or edge of the opening,
and there they gathered, and there were a great many of them, The
Kík-mongwi now addressed them and said: "Now this many we have come
out, now we shall go there, but we want to live with a single heart.
Thus long we have lived with bad hearts. We want to stop that. Whatever
that one there (referring to the Mótsni) tells its, We want to listen
to, and the way he says we shall live. Thus he instructed them.
In a little while the child of the chief, a small boy, became sick
and died. 'Ishohí!" the chief said, "A Powáka has come out with
us," and they were thinking about it. Then he made a ball of fine
meal and threw it upward, and it alighted on the head of a maiden.
So he went there and grabbed her, saving: "So you are the one. On
your account my child has died. I shall throw you back again." He
then lifted her to the opening. "I am going to throw you down here,''
he said, "you have come out with us and we shall now live in the
same way here again." But she did not want to. "No," she said, "you
must not throw me down, I want to stay with you, and if you will
contend with one another again I shall always talk for you (be on
Now, you go and look down there and you will see your child going
around down there." So he looked down and there he saw his child
running around with the others. "That is the way it will be," the
maiden said to the chief; "if any one dies, he will go down there
and he will remain there only four days, and after the four days
he will come back again and live with his people." Hereupon the
chief was willing that she should remain and he did not throw her
down, but he told her that she could not go with them right away.
When they should leave, when they had slept, after the first day
she might follow them. So she remained there near the opening.
Hereupon Pö'okong looked around all over and he found out that
towards one side it was always cold. It was at this time dark yet,
so Spider Woman (Kóhk'ang Wuhti) took a piece of white native cloth
(ówa) and cut a large round piece out of it on which she made a
drawing. She was assisted by the Flute priest. They sang some songs
over it, and Spider Woman then took the disk away towards the east.
Soon they saw something rise there, but it did not become very light
yet, and it was the moon.
So they said they must make something else. Spider Woman and the
Flute priest then took a piece of buckskin, cut a circular piece
out of it, and made on it a drawing of the sun symbol, as is still
used by the Flute priest today. They sang over this, whereupon Spider
Woman took that away and in a little while something rose again,
and now it became light and very warm.
But they had rubbed the yolks of eggs over this sun symbol and
that is what makes it so very light, and that is why the chickens
know when it is light and yellow in the morning, and crow early
at the sunrise, and at noon, and in the evening, and now they know
all about the time. And now the chief and all the people were happy
because it was light and warm.
The chiefs now made all different kinds of blossoms and plants
and everything. They now thought of starting and scattering out.
The language then spoken was the Hopi language. This language was
dear and sacred to the Hopi chief, and he wanted to keep it alone
to himself and for the Hopi, but did not want the people who would
scatter out to take this language along, and so he asked the Mockingbird
(Yáhpa), who talks everything, to give to the different people a
This the Mocking-bird did, giving to one party one language, to
another party another language, and so on, telling them that these
languages they should henceforth speak. Hereupon they sat down to
eat a common meal, and the chief laid out a great many corn-ears
of different lengths which they had brought from the under-world.
"Now," he said, "you choose of these corn- ears before you start."
So there was a great wrangle over these corn-ears, every one wanting
the longest ears, and such people as the Navaho, Ute, Apache, etc.,
struggled for and got the longest corn-ears, leaving the small ones
for the Hopi, and these the chief took and said: "Thanks, that you
have left this for me. Upon this we are going to live. Now, you
that took the long corn-ears will live on that, but they are not
corn, they will be kwáhkwi, láhu, and such grasses that have seed."
And that is the reason why these people rub out the tassels of those
grasses now and live on them; and the Hopi have corn, because the
smaller ears were really the corn.
The chief had an elder brother, and he selected some: of the best
foods-that tasted well, such as nö'okwiwi, meats, etc. They were
now ready to start, and then the chief and his elder brother talked
with each other and agreed that the elder brother should go with
a party ahead towards the sunrise, and when he would arrive there
he should touch the sun, at least with his forehead, and then remain
and live there where the sun rises.
But they should not forget their brethren, they should be looking
this way, towards the place where they would settle down. A So Wuhti
(old woman, grandmother) went with each party. Each party also took
a stone upon which there were, some marks and figures, and that
fitted together. They agreed that if the Hopi should get into trouble
again, and live again the same way as they did in the lower world,
the elder brother should come back to them and discover the Powákas
who caused the trouble, and cut off their heads.
The elder brother and his party started first, and they became
the White Men as they traveled eastward. The chief and his party
started next, both taking a southern route. The maiden that had
been found to be a Powáka, and who had been left behind at the opening,
followed these two parties after they had left.
The people hereupon formed different parties, each party following
a certain chief, and all traveling eastward. They usually stopped
for longer or shorter periods at certain places, and then traveled
on again. For this reason there are so many ruins all over the country.
The Pueblo Indians also passed through about here where the Hopi
The-White Men were more skillful than the others and got along
better. Spider Woman, who was with them, made horses and burros
for them, on which they traveled when they got tired, and for that
reason they went along much faster. The party that brought Powák-mana
with them settled down at Palátkwapi, where they lived for quite
a while, and these did not yet bear a particular clan name.
The other parties traveled different routes and were scattered
over the country, each party having a chief of its own. Sometimes
they would stay one, two, three, or four years at one place, wherever
they found good fields or springs. Here they would raise crops so
that they had some food to take with them when they continued their
journeys, and then moved on again. Sometimes when they found good
fields but no water they would create springs with a báuypi.
This is a small perforated vessel into which they would place certain
herbs, different kinds of stones, shells, a small balölöokong, bahos,
etc., and bury it. In one year a spring would come out of the ground
where this was buried. During this year, before their spring was
ready, they would use rainwater, because they understood how to
create rain. When they continued their journeys they usually took
such a báuypi out of the ground and took it with them.
Before any of the parties had arrived at the place where the Hopi
now live they began to become bad. Contentions arose among the parties.
They began to war against each other. Whenever a certain party possessed
something, another party would attack and kill them on account of
For that reason some of them built their villages on top of the
bluffs and mesas, because they were afraid of other parties. Finally
some of them arrived at Mû'enkapi. These were the Bear clan, Spider
clan, Hide Strap clan, Blue-bird clan, and the Fat Cavity clan;
all of which had derived their names from a dead bear upon which
these different parties had come as they were traveling along.
While these parties lived near Mû'enkapi for some time another
party had gone along the Little Colorado river, passed by the place
that is now called the Great Lakes, and arrived at Shongópavi, where
they started a village at the place where now the ruins of old Shongópavi
are, east of the present village.
These people were also called the Bear clan, but they were different
Bear people from those living at Mû'enkapi about that time. Shongópavi
was the first village started., When these Bear people arrived at
Shongópavi, Skeleton was living at the place where Oraíbi now is,
where he had been living all the time. The clan that had stopped
northeast of Mû'enkapi soon moved to the place where Mû'enkapi now
is, but did not remain there long. The Bear clan, the Hide Strap
clan, and the Blue-bird clan soon moved on towards Oraíbi.
When the Spider clan arrived at Mû'enkapi they made marks or wrote
on a certain bluff east of Mû'enkapi, saving that this place should
always belong to the Hopi, that no one should take it away from
them, because there was so much water there. Here the Hopi should
Soon after the Spider clan had moved on towards Oraíbi the Snake
clan arrived. When these Snake people saw the writing on the bluff
they said. has been writing here that they wanted to own this. Let
us write also that we want to own this here, too."
So they wrote the same thing on the bluff. After they had left
the place, the Burrowing Owl clan arrived, and they also wrote the
same thing on the bluff. But they all had heard that Skeleton was
living where Oraíbi now is, and so they all traveled on towards
When the Bear clan arrived at Nátuwanpik'a, a place a very short
distance west of Kuiwánva, Skeleton came to meet them there. "We
have arrived here,'' the Hón-wungwa said, "we would like to live
here with you, and we want you to be our chief. Now, what do you
think about it? Will you give us some land?"
But Skeleton replied, "No, I shall not be chief. You shall be chief
here, you have retained your old life. You will be the same here
as you were down in the under-world. Someone that is Powáka has
come out with you and it will be here just the same as it was down
there when he comes here. But when the White Man, your elder brother,
will come back here and cut off the heads of the bad ones, then
I shall own all this land of mine myself. But until then you shall
be chief. I shall give you a piece of land and then you live here."
Hereupon he stepped off a large tract of land, going east of where
they were, and then descending the mesa west of K'öqö'chmovi, then
towards the present trail towards Oraíbi, up the trail, past the
present village site, down the mesa on the west side, along the
trail towards Momóshvavi, including that spring, and back up the
mesa. This piece of land he allotted to the Bear clan. The leader
of the Bear Clan now asked him where he lived. He said he lived
over there at the bluff of Oraíbi, and that is where they should
live also. So this clan built its houses right east of the bluff
of Oraíbi where there are now the ruins.
The Bear clan brought with them the Soyál cult, the Â'ototo, and
the Soyál Katcínas. Soon other clans began to arrive. When a clan
arrived usually one of the new arrivals would go to the village
and ask the village chief for permission to settle in the village.
He usually asked whether they understood anything to produce rain
and good crops, and if they had any cult, they would refer to it
and say, "Yes, this or this we have, and when we assemble for this
ceremony, or when we have this dance it will rain. With this we
have traveled, and with this we have taken care of our children."
The chief would then say, "Very well, you come and live in the
village." Thus the different clans arrived: First, the Hide Strap
clan, the Blue-bird clan, the Spider clan, etc. While these different
clans were arriving in Oraíbi, other clans were arriving in Wálpi
and Mishóngnovi, and settling up those villages. When a new clan
arrived, the villa e chief would tell them:" Very well, you participate
in our cult and help us with the ceremonies," and then he would
give them their fields according to the way they came. And that
way their fields were all distributed.
One of the first clans to arrive with those mentioned was the Bow
clan, which came from the south-west. When the village chief asked
the leader of this clan what he brought with him to produce rain,
he said, ''Yes, I have here the Sháalako Katcinas, the Tangík Katcinas,
the Tû'kwunang Katcina, and the Sháwiki Katcina. When they dance
it usually rains." "Very well," the village chief said, "you try
it." So the Áoat-wungwa arranged a dance. On the day before the
dance it rained a little, and on the last day when they had their
dance it rained fearfully. All the washes were full of water.
So the village chief invited them to move to the village and gave
them a large tract of land. He told them that they should have their
ceremonies first. This was the Wû'wûchim ceremony, the chief of
the Bow clan being the leader of this ceremony. So this ceremony
was the first one to take place.
Then followed the Soyál ceremony, in charge of the village chief.
And then in the Báho month the Snake and the Flute ceremonies, which
change about every two years. The Snake cult was brought by the
Snake clan, the Antelope cult by the Blue-bird clan, and the Flute
cult by the Spider clan. The Lizard, which also arrived from the
north-west, brought the Maraú cult, and the Parrot clan the Lagón
Others came later. Small bands living throughout the country when
they could hear about the people living in Oraíbi would sometimes
move up towards Oraíbi and ask for admission to live in the village.
In this way the villages were built up slowly.
At that time everything was good yet. No wicked ones were living
in the village at that time. When the Katcinas danced it would rain,
and if it did not rain while they danced, it always rained when
the dance was over, and when the people would have their kiva ceremonies
it would also rain. But at that time they had not so many Katcinas.
There were only the Hopi Katcinas, which the Hopi brought with them
from the under-world.
They were very simple but very good. People at that time lived
happily, but by this time the Pópwaktu had increased at Palátkwapi.
The one Powáka maiden that had come with these people from the under-world
had taught others her evil arts. And so these wicked ones had increased
very much until finally Palátkwapi was destroyed by a great water
produced by the Bálölöokongs. Nearly all the people were destroyed,
but a few succeeded in reaching dry land in the flood and they were
They traveled northeastward and finally came to Matö'vi, and from
there to Wálpi. From Wálpi they scattered to the different villages,
teaching their evil arts to others. They would put sickness into
the people so that the people contracted diseases and died. They
also turned the Ute Indians and the Apache, who used to be friends
of the Hopi, into their enemies, so that after that these tribes
would make wars on the Hopi.
They also caused contentions among the Hopi. The Navaho also used
to be friends of the Hopi, but these Pópwaktu would occasionally
call the Ute and the Apache to make raids on the Hopi. They also
turned the Navaho into our enemies, and then the White Men came
and made demands of the Hopi. The White Men are also called here
by these Pópwaktu, and now the White Men are worrying the Hopi also.
But the Hopi are still looking towards their elder brother, the
one that arrived at the sunrise first, and he is looking from there
this way to the Hopi, watching and listening how they are getting
along. Our old men and. ancestors (wû'wûyom) have said that some
White Men would be coming to them, but they would not be the White
Men like our elder brother, and they would be worrying us. They
would ask for our children.
They would ask us to have our heads washed (baptized), and if we
would not do what they asked us they would beat us and trouble us
and probably kill us. But we should not listen to them, we should
continue to live like the Hopi. We should continue to use the food
of the Hopi and wear the clothes of the Hopi.
But those Pópwaktu of the Hopi would help the White Men, and they
would speak for the White Men, because they would also want to do
just the same as those White Men would ask them to do. And now it
has come to that, our forefathers have been prophesying that. We
are now in trouble. Our children are taken away from us, and we
are being harassed and worried.
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