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Arrow Boy, Child of the Witch Man

A Cochiti Legend

In the beginning there was a woman all of whose children had died one after another. She said to herself, "Why is it that I can not bring up a child?" She prayed and said, "Kopishtaya, what can I do so that my children shall not die?" The kopishtaya came to her and said, "My poor child, do not cry. I will tell you what you can do. Fast for four days and at the end of that time go to the Flint Society and ask them for their help." She was happy and fasted for four days. At the end of the four days she went to the Flint Society and asked them to make prayer sticks for her. They met in the morning and cut the sticks and tied the feathers. When they had finished she said to herself, "I must go and take dinner to them." She brought dinner into their room and they thanked her. The chief of the Flint Society said to her, "If you believe, you shall have children and they will live." She took the prayer sticks and early in the morning, before sunrise, she planted them to the kopishtaya. As she was planting she heard singing.

The kopishtaya came near and stood before her. He gave her a root for medicine. He said to her, "The reason why your children have died is because your husband is a witch man. He is killing his own children. You will have a child. Rub his body with this root for medicine, and he will live. Keep watch of your husband. He is trying to offer your baby to the witches. Watch at night. It will not be your husband beside you. It will be the Corn Mother he has left beside you in his place. He will be away at the meeting of the witches. Take hold of the Corn Mother and throw it against the wall so that it breaks in pieces. Go to the niche (where the prayer meal is kept). You will find his human eyes laid on the shelf covered with wool. Drop them into the pot of urine. When your husband comes home he will be in the shape of an owl. Lie still as if you were asleep, and in the morning you will discover that I have told you the truth."

His wife watched at night. She threw the Corn Mother against the wall and dropped her husband's eyes in the chamber pot. When he came in he went to the niche to get his eyes. He found they were in the pot of urine and he had to keep his owl's eyes. He went to the Corn Mother and spoke to it, but it could not answer. He spoke to his wife, "Are you asleep?" "Yes; I was sound asleep. Lie down and I will spread your blanket." "No; I can't go into that room. Something is the matter with me." The kopishtaya had told that woman, "Do not tell your husband what I have told you, but send for the chief of the Flint Society to cure him." She told her husband he must send for the chief of the Flint Society. Her husband was not willing, but she took sacred meal and went to get him. He came in. The man was lying on his face with his eyes buried in his hands. He tried to turn him on his back. "What is the matter with you?" "I don't know." The Flint chief said to the wife, "Go and bring his sisters so that they will see what is the matter with him and there will be no blame for you." She brought his sisters. Her husband would not take his hands from his face. At last the medicine man took them away from his eyes. They were owl's eyes. He died and his wife wept and said, "What shall I do? I have a little baby and my husband is dead." They buried him and at night the witches had a meeting for him on the top of the mountain.

The kopishtaya came to the young woman that night and he told her, "I have come to tell you to offer sacred meal every day to the kopishtaya. Send for your brother to stay with you in the house for these four days until you send away the soul of your husband. At the end of that time send for the chief of the Flint Society. Tell him to cut the earth with the obsidian knife." She did as he had told her and at the end of four days the Flint medicine man came to the house. He cut the ground four times with the large flint knife.

Arrow Boy grew up. Every morning his mother offered prayer meal and he grew very fast. She never let him go out alone. When he was a little boy his mother said, "Let us go into the hills to hunt wood rats or rabbits. I will cook corn dodgers." She made the corn dodgers and wrapped them in corn husks. She filled the canteen and tied it on her back. They came to a rabbit hole and the mother and Arrow Boy took turns in digging it out. They heard the kopishtaya coming. He said to her, "What happened to your husband?" "He is dead." "That is better for him to die than for you to lose another baby. If he had lived it would not have been safe for your little boy. He will take care of you. Now your husband's people are trying to harm you because of his death. It is dangerous for you to stay in the village. Go outside and live with your son."

They went to White Bank and lived there in a cave. The boy came to his mother and said, "There is going to be a dance in Potsherd Village." His mother said, "Let us go together." Next morning they went to Potsherd Village. Arrow Boy said to his mother, "Watch carefully (for danger)." They came to Potsherd Village. On the north side the houses were built in two tiers and on the top story a man stood and saw them coming. He said to his family, "Look, who is that who is coming? She is wearing a black manta." The woman and the child came into the plaza. They came to the house on the second story and they received them there and the mother of that family gave them something to eat. She brought bread and stew and said, "Eat." There were two daughters in that family and they sat on either side of the boy. They loved him, but the boy was bashful and ran away. Another young man came in. He loved the mother of the boy, but his mother said, "No; I have my son. He is my only son and he takes good care of me and I do not need a husband." "If you come with me you will always eat venison for I am a great hunter. It is not far and you can see your son often." "Let me tell my son. If he wants me to go with you, we will both go; but I will not go alone." She spoke to her son. He said, "My dear mother, you have told me that all your children died and I am the only one that is left. How can you leave me now that I have grown a man? I want to stay with you always."

The father of the house came into the room. He said, "Are you in the house?" and the women answered, "Yes, we are in the house." The older of the two girls came to the father and said, "Father, I want to marry this boy." The younger came to him and said, "No, I want to marry him." The boy's mother said, "If my son wants to marry one of these girls, he may, if not, not. Let him say." Immediately the boy said, "I think I should like to stay here and marry one of these girls. Let us live in this house. Perhaps the kopishtaya meant us to live here always."

The boy married the elder of the two girls and lived there all his life. The younger sister loved him also. Whenever they could be alone together they played with each other and talked. The elder sister knew that they were together and she said, "I am going to die." She went into the inner room and placed a large basket in the center of the floor. She sat down in the basket crying. Her feet began to turn into the tail of a snake. She was crying and the tears were running down her checks. She was already a snake. The boy's mother came to look for her, but she could not find her. She went into the inner room and she found that her daughter-in-law had become a great snake.

She took sacred meal in her hand and went to the chief of the Flint Society. She said to him, "My daughter-in-law has become a snake. Come and restore her." He came and set up his altar in the inner room. He put the snake in the basket in front of the altar and covered it with an embroidered ceremonial blanket. He sang all the curing songs of the Flint Society but he could not restore her. She was a snake. He called all the men of his society and they took her to Gaskunkotcinako ("the girl's cave"). They left her there and people still take little pots to this place to offer to her.

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