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Túwaqachi, The Fourth World

A Hopi Legend

Finally their movement ceased. The Spider Woman unsealed their hollow reeds, took them by the tops of their heads, and pulled them out. "Bring out all the food that is left over," she said.

The people brought out their hurúsuki. It was still the same size, although they had been eating it all this time. Looking about them, they saw they were on a little piece of land that had been the top of one of their highest mountains. All else, as far as they could see, was water. This was all that remained of the Third World.

"There must be some dry land somewhere we can go to," they said. "Where is the new Fourth World that Sótuknang has created for us?" They sent many kinds of birds, one after another, to fly over the waters and find it. But they all came back tired out without having seen any sign of land. Next they planted a reed that grew high into the sky. Up it they climbed and stared over the surface of the waters. but they saw no sign of land.

Then Sótuknang appeared to Spider Woman and said, "You must continue traveling on. Your inner wisdom will guide you. The door a the top of your head is open."

So Spider Woman directed the people to make round, flat boats of the hollow reeds they had come in and to crawl inside. Again they entrusted themselves to the water and the inner wisdom to guide them. For a long time, they drifted with the wind and the movement of the waters and came to another rocky island.

"It is bigger than the other one, but it is not big enough," they said, looking around them and thinking they heard low rumbling noise.

"No, it is not big enough," said the Spider Woman.

So the people kept traveling toward the rising sun in the reed boats. After a while they said, "There is that low rumbling noise we heard. We must be coming to land again."

So it was. A big land, it seemed, with grass and trees and flowers beautiful to their weary eyes. On it they rested a long time. Some of the people wanted to stay, but Spider Woman said, " No. It is not the place. You must continue on."

Leaving their boats, they traveled by foot eastward across the island to the water's edge. Here they found growing some more of the hollow plants like reeds or bamboo, which they cut down. Directed by Spider Woman, they laid some of these in a row with another row on top of them in the opposite direction and tied them together with vines and leaves. This made a raft big enough for one family or more. When enough rafts were made for all, Spider Woman directed them to make paddles.

"You will be going uphill from now on and you will have to make your own way. So Sótuknang told you: the farther you go, the harder it gets"

After long and weary traveling, still east and a little north, the people began to hear the low rumbling noise and saw land. One family and clan after another landed with joy. The land was long, wide, and beautiful. The earth was rich and flat, covered with trees and plants: seed-bearers and nut bearers, providing lots of food. The people were happy, and kept staying there year after year.

"No, this is not the Fourth World," Spider Woman kept telling them. "It is too easy and pleasant for you to live on, and you would soon fall into evil ways again. You must go on. Have we not told you that the way becomes harder and longer?"

Reluctantly the people traveled eastward by foot across island to the far shore. Again they made rafts and paddles. When they were ready to set forth, Spider Woman said, "Now I have done all I have been commanded to do for you. You must go on alone and find your own place of emergence. Just keep your doors open and your spirits will guide you."

"Thank you, Spider Woman for all you have done for us," they said sadly. "We will remember what you have said."

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