Native American Legends
Yaponcha - The Wind God
A Hopi Legend
Long, long ago, the Hopis were greatly troubled by the wind. It
blew and blew and blew and blew--all the time. The Hopis planted
their crops, but before the seeds could begin to sprout, the wind
blew the soil and seeds away. Unhappy and worried, all the people
made prayer offerings of many kinds. But they accomplished nothing.
The old men held councils in their kivas. They smoked their pipes
prayerfully and asked one another, "Why do the gods turn such
strong winds upon us?" After a while, they decided to ask for
help from the "Little Fellows" who were the two little
War Gods, two of the five grandsons of Spider Woman.
"Why did you ask us to come?" was their first question.
"We need your help," answered the old men. "Something
must be done to the Wind."
"We will see what we can do for you," said the Little
Fellows. "You stay here and make many more prayer offerings."
The Hopis make many kinds of prayer offerings--as many as there
are prayers, and there are prayers for every occasion in life and
death. They are reverently fashioned of various types of feathers,
carved and painted sticks, and hand-spun cotton yarn.
The Little Fellows went first to their wise old grandmother, Spider
Woman. They asked her to make some sweet cornmeal mush for them
to take along on a journey. Of course they knew who the Wind God
was and knew that he lived over near Sunset Mountain in the big
crack of the black rock.
When Spider Woman had the cornmeal mush ready, the Little Fellows
came back to the kiva where the men were holding their council.
The prayer offerings were ready and also the ball that the Little
Fellows like to take with them wherever they went. They liked to
play catch with it.
The men made bows and arrows for them to take on their journey
which seemed much like going on a war party. The arrows were tipped
with bluebird feathers, thought to be more powerful than any other
kinds of feathers.
The two Little Fellows started toward the San Francisco Peaks.
The old men went along until they reached the Little Colorado River,
and there they sat down and smoked their pipes. The smoking of tobacco
among the Hopis, as among many other tribes, is strictly ceremonial.
The sacred smoke carried the prayers of the Hopis to their Gods.
Continuing their journey, the two Little Fellows played catch-
ball from time to time. On the fourth day they reached the home
of the Wind God who lived at the foot of Sunset Crater, in a big
crack in the black rock. There he breathed through the crack, as
he does to this day. The Little Fellows threw the prayer offerings
into the crack and hastily put their old grandmother's sticky cornmeal
mush into and over the crack, and thus sealed the Wind God's door.
Phew--he became very angry, so angry that he blew and blew and blew,
but could not get out. The Little Fellows laughed and laughed and
then went home, feeling very proud of them selves and of what they
But after a while, the people in the villages began to feel very
hot. Every day the weather became hotter and hotter. People came
out of their homes and stood on housetops to look toward the San
Francisco Peaks, to see if any clouds were coming their way. But
they did not see even a wisp of a cloud, and they seemed not to
feel a breath of air. They thought they would suffocate.
"We must do something right away," everyone said or thought.
So the men made some more prayer offerings and called the two Little
Fellows again. "Please go back to the House of the Wind God
at once and tell him that there must be peace between us. Then give
him these prayer offerings and let him out. This heat is much worse
than the wind."
The Little Fellows replied, "We will go and see what we can
do with the Wind God to make life more comfortable for you."
After four days, they arrived at the House of Yaponcha--the House
of the Wind God. The Little Fellows decided that the wisest thing
to do would be to let the Wind God have a small hole open--just
enough to let him breathe through but not enough for him to come
out of the crack in the black rock.
So they took a little of the cornmeal mush out of the crack. Immediately,
a nice cool breeze came out and a small white cloud appeared. It
floated over across the desert toward the Hopi villages.
When the Little Fellows reached home, everyone was pleased. The
Hopis have been grateful to the Little Fellows ever since. The winds
have been perfect--just strong enough to keep the people happy but
not strong enough to blow everything away.
Every since then, every year in the windy month of March, the chiefs
and the high priests of the three villages on the Second Mesa give
prayer offerings to the Wind God, Yaponcha.
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