Native American Legends
The Wanderings of the Spider Clan
A Hopi Legend
In the under-world many people became very bad. They had many contentions,
and began to kill the people and also killed the chief's son; so
the chief concluded that they would move away from there.
But the question was, how to get out?' So he sent the Mótsni
to find a place where they could get out. He flew up and found an
opening, and came back and reported the same to the chief. So the
Village Chief (Kík-mongwi) and the Crier Chief (Chaák-mongwi)
planted a pine (calávi), which grew up very fast, but did
not quite reach the opening. They then planted a reed (bákavi)
which also grew up fast and reached through the opening. On this
reed they climbed till, first the Horn people (Áaltu), who
then stood outside and held the protruding part of the reed or ladder.
Many people then followed.
The Mocking-bird (Yáhpa) was sitting outside and distributed
the languages to the People. As they were climbing up one of them
dropped one of his moccasins. Below the Hopi had pretty moccasins,
but as this moccasin was dropped and the man had to make another
one, and could not make it as nicely as the other one had been,
the Hopi now have not very nice moccasins. The people had not yet
all come out when the chief stopped them and closed up the opening,
but one of the sorcerers (Pópwaktu) had also come out.
From here the people now started on different routes, the White
Man taking the most southern route. All the other people took different
routes further north. The 'Hopi brought with them Mû'yingwu,
whose body consisted entirely of corn, his feet being ears of corn,
so that he could not move very fast. The Hopi were to have the horse,
but as they tried to ride him they could not do so, as they did
not put any bridle on him; so the Navaho, wearing a band around
their head, tried it and they could ride him. The two matched together
better for that reason because they also bridled the pony, probably
with yucca leaves.
They had not gone very far when the chief's son took sick and died.
They thought that the sorcerer who was with them had killed him,
but the latter said: "Nobody has died, he is not dead; just
go and look down into the opening through which we came. He is down
there." So the chief went and looked down there, and beheld
his child walking about in the other world. So they took the Powáku
with them. He said that hereafter no one would be really dead, but
the people who would die would simply go back to the lower world.
After they had traveled for some time, just how long tradition does
not say, the Coyote who had carried the stars in his hand, and was
traveling with the Hopi people, threw the stars into the sky so
that from that time it was somewhat light during the night.
The White People had taken with them the Spider which was very
skillful, so that when they had traveled some distance the Spider
rubbed some scales from her skin, and from these created burros.
These the White Men afterwards used for carrying their burdens.
So they got along faster and reached the place where the sun rises
first. When they arrived there a star arose in the south, which
told the other migrating people that some one had arrived at the
sunrise. This was a signal that they had agreed upon before starting.
This star is said to have influence over the animals, and the old
people say that whoever wants to own a horse, cattle, sheep, etc.,
should pray to this star, which the Hopi are doing to this day.
So the people traveled on. All at once one party came upon a bear
that had died there. They were called the Bear (Hónawu) clan.
Right after them came another party, who cut straps from the skin
of the bear and were called Piqósha clan, the name given
by the Hopi to this peculiar strap. Another party followed and found
the cadaver covered with spider web, from which they were called
Spider (Kóhk'ang) clan. A fourth party found blue-birds sitting
on the cadaver and they were called the Blue-bird (Chóro)
clan. A fifth party found that maggots had eaten out the eyes, leaving
the cavities bare with a little fat still attached to the bone.
From this they were called Fat Cavity clan (Wíkorzh-ñamu).
A sixth migrating party came upon the scene and found that a mole
had dug his way up under the place where the cadaver had been lying,
and hence they were called Mole (Mû'yi) clan. Here the parties
who had thus received their clan names soon separated, and the Spider
clan after this wandered about and stopped at various places for
a long time. The other clans did the same, living shorter or longer
periods at one place, which accounts for the many smaller and larger
ruins with which the country is covered.
Finally the Spider clan arrived at a spring (about four miles north
of the present village sites of Mishóngnovi and Shupaúlavi)
called Homìqöpu. Here they remained for some time, there
still being ruins at that place. From here this clan moved to a
place about a mile northeast of Shupaúlavi, called Chûkúvi.
At the foot of the mesa on which this village was situated was a
very large spring. The Squash (Batánga) clan then ruled in
this village, the chief belonging to that clan. The Sand (Tûwá)
clan was also one of the clans being numerous in the village at
that time. The inhabitants of the different villages were often
harassed by enemies, among them the Utes and Apache. It seems that
even the inhabitants of the different villages often made raids
on each other. For this reason the inhabitants of Chûkúvi
and those of old Mishóngnovi, which was situated, however,
west of its present location, way down the mesa, moved on the mesa
and built the present village of Mishóngnovi.
In Mishóngnovi the Blue-bird clan was then in charge of
the village, the chief belonging to that clan, but it seems that
this clan, shared the chieftainship with the following clans, which
furnished the Kík-mongwi, the Village Chief, in the order
named, for four year, a new chief being elected every four years:
After the Blue-bird clan followed the Bear clan, then the Bátki
clan, and lastly, the Squash clan, The Sand clan, having lived in
the village of Chukúvi, is said to have moved to Oraíbi,
east of which village they had had fields while they were still
living at Chukúvi. At the time when the people lived at Chukúvi,
Shúpaúlavi was also inhabited, but it seems that the
people then, too, lived farther down, probably at the so-called
First Ledge, but when Mishóngnovi was built the people of
Shupaúlavi also moved on to the top of the mesa.
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