How the Yellow Corn-Ear Maiden became a Bull Snake and revenged herself
A Hopi Legend
A long time ago two maidens lived in Oraíbi. They were close friends and often used to grind corn together, one time at the house of one, at another time at the house of the other. But after a little while they both fell in love with a certain young man of the village, which led to disagreement and quarrels between them. The Yellow Corn-Ear maiden was possessed of supernatural powers and concluded to destroy her friend and rival. One time early in the morning they were both going to get some water from Spider Spring, which is located somewhat north-east of the village. They took their so-called maiden's jugs (mónwikurus) with them. When they were returning to the village they came to a sand hill, and the Yellow Corn-Ear maiden suggested that they rest there for a little while.
After some time she said to her friend: ''Let us play here for a little while. You go down this hill and I shall throw something at you. You catch it and throw it back to me," whereupon she drew forth from her bosom a very pretty little wheel that showed all the colors of the rainbow. When her friend had reached the foot of the hill she threw this wheel at her, and when her friend caught it was A pû'hu (road or path) consists of one or more small feathers - usually eagle feathers - to the stub end of which are fastened a single and a twisted string. These feathers are placed near springs, in front of shrines, altars, on paths and near graves, as paths for clouds, spirits, deities, etc., Whom the Hopi wish to follow the paths so heavy that it threw her down. When she rose she had been turned into a coyote. Her friend at the top of the hill laughed at her and said, "You have been quarreling with me about that young man, now that is what you get for it. Now, you go about that way." Whereupon she picked up her jug and went to the village.
The other maiden, now a coyote, felt very sad and ascended the hill to her water jug, which she tried to carry but could not do so in her present form. She waited there until evening and was crying most of the time. After dark she tried to enter the village, but the dogs of the village immediately drove her away. She made a large circuit around the village and tried to enter it from another side, but was again driven away by the dogs. So she went westward, and having become very hungry by this time, she was thinking where she might find something to eat. It was in the fall of the year, and the people were watching their crops in the fields, so she thought she might perhaps find something in some of the sheds or temporary shelters in which the people were living, and approaching one of them she found on top of a shelter two roasted ears of corn that had been left there. These she ate. She then made another effort to enter the village but as soon as the dogs of the village smelled her presence she was again driven away. She then concluded that she could not get into the village and again went westward. She knew that somewhere west of Apóhnivi there was a place called Yungáchaiví, where some herders had also built temporary shelters and were staying while they were herding their sheep at that place. She thought that perhaps there she might find some shelter and food.
By and by she arrived at a hut which belonged to two Qö'oqöqlöm Katcinas who were hunting in that region. In this but she found a great deal of rabbit meat, a good many rabbit skins and some entrails of rabbit. The latter and the meat were slightly baked. She was very hungry and ate a little of the entrails, which she did not like very much, however. It was about the time of the morning meal and the two hunters had had their early meat and had already left for the hunt. She was very tired, having spent all the night trying to get into the village and find shelter, and so concluded to remain and rest here all day. In the evening the two Qö'oqöqlöm hunters returned. When coming near their hut one of them said, "There is a coyote in our hut and has eaten some of our meat. Let us kill him." Whereupon he got ready his bow and arrows and was aiming at the intruder, when the other one said: "No, let us try to capture him alive and take him home to our grandmother, Spider Woman." Upon entering the hut they heard the coyote sob and saw tears trickling down his eyes. "Oh!" one of the hunters said, "This coyote is sad and has been crying. Let us feed him." So he took a large piece of meat, broke it in two and gave a portion of it to the visitor, who ate it with relish. Hereupon they concluded that they would go home that evening. They tied up the meat and the skins, and also tied the feet of the coyote, and loading everything upon their backs they returned to their home, which was at Katcina Gap (Katcínvala), a short distance northwest of Oraíbi.
Arriving there they called to Spider Woman saying, "We have brought you an animal. Come and help us lift it off of our backs." She did so and expressed her satisfaction at the present that she had received. They then placed the coyote and the meat north of the fireplace. The woman looked closely at it and then said to the two hunters: "Alas! that poor one! That is no coyote. Thanks that you have not killed it. Where did you find it?" They told her that they had captured it in their but where they had been hunting, and related all the circumstances. She at once sent one into the village after some Tomóala, the other one she sent to the woods after some juniper branches.
While they were gone she boiled some water, and when the man with the Tomóala returned, she poured the water into a vessel and put a hook from the pods of the Tomóala into the neck and another one into the back of the coyote. She then placed the latter into the water, covered it with a piece of native cloth (möchápu), then placed her hand upon the cover, took hold of the two hooks and kept twisting and turning them, by which operation she pulled off the skin of the coyote. Throwing aside the covering of the vessel she threw away the skin, and in the vessel was found the maiden whom she had thus restored. She still had her clothes on and her hair tied in whorls just as she had left the village. The woman asked her how she had met with this fate, and the maiden told her the whole story. Spider Woman comforted her saying, "You poor one. That Yellow Corn-Ear maiden is bad, but you will take revenge on her."
Hereupon the other hunter returned with the juniper branches. She took the maiden, the branches, and the water into another room and there bathed the maiden, then gave her some corn which the maiden ground into meal. After a number of days Spider Woman told the maiden that she should go home now as her mother was very homesick after her child, but she said she would call somebody in first; so she ascended her housetop and cried out to her neighbors that they should come in. In response to her announcement a great many Katcinas who lived around there came into her house, asking her what she wanted of them. "Yes," she said, "there is this maiden here and I want you to return her to her house," and then told them the whole story. They were willing. She then dressed up the maiden nicely, putting her hair into new whorls and placing over her shoulders a new atö'ö, and then instructed her that she should have her father make two báhos and a number of nakwákwosis for the leader of the Katcinas and for the leader of the singing, and also told her how she should behave towards and get even with her enemy, the Yellow Corn-Ear maiden. Hereupon they went to the village, the maiden going in the rear of the line of Katcinas. Having arrived near the house of the village chief (Kík-mongwi), where the Pongówe kiva is at present situated, they performed their first dance, singing while they danced.
This was at early dawn, the so-called white dawn (qöyángwunu). Their singing at once arrested the attention of some of the early risers, who hastened to the place where the Katcinas were dancing. Soon the news was whispered around that the Katcinas had brought a maiden to the village, and some soon recognized the girl and ran to the house of her parents. The latter, however, refused to believe the news, and four messengers had to be sent to them before they believed. They then went to the dancers, who in the meanwhile had arrived at the dancing plaza in the center of the village. "So you have come," the mother said, and began to cry and wanted to take her daughter with her, but the latter said, "Wait a little," and then told her father that he should take two báhos and a number of nakwákwosis, and while he did this the Katcinas continued their dancing and the mana remained waiting by their side. When finally the father brought the prayer-offerings he gave one báho to the leader, the other to his daughter. After the dancing was over, the daughter gave her báho to the leader of the singing. The nakwákwosis were distributed among the other Katcinas, and after the father had thanked the Katcinas for returning his child and had told them that he was very happy, they returned to their home, the parents taking with then] their daughter.
She rested there during the whole day, but early the next morning went to grind corn, singing a little song which told about her recent adventures. Her friend, the Yellow Corn-Ear maiden, heard her sing and at once visited her, expressing her great delight at her return. She was treated cordially, the maiden just having returned not manifesting any ill-feeling towards her at all, according to the instructions of Spider Woman. She was biding her time. They ground corn together all day again as they had done formerly. In the evening they went after water again to the same spring where they had gotten water before. While they were filling their jugs the Yellow Corn-Ear maiden noticed that her friend was dipping her water with a peculiar little vessel (which Spider Woman had given to her) and that the water, as it was running into the jug, looked very beautiful, showing the different colors of the rainbow. She said to her friend: "What have you there? Let me see that little cup." "Yes," her friend said, "that is a very good cup, and the water tastes well from it, too." Hereupon she drank from it and handed it to her friend. She admired it very much and also drank from it. Immediately she fell down and was turned into a bull snake. "There! You remain that way now too," the Blue Corn-Ear maiden said; "you tried to destroy me, but you will now have to remain that way because no one will help you and restore you." She then laughed, picked up her jug and returned to the village.
The bull snake left the place and wandered about. It often gets hungry, but as it cannot run very fast it has difficulty in getting its prey, hence it captures its prey by charming and drawing it towards it by its powerful inhalations, which is still frequently observed by the Hopi. It lives on little rabbits, mice, birds, squirrels, etc., which it charms by its inhalations and then kills them.
This maiden in the form of a bull snake later on went to the village once and there was killed by her own parents, who of course did not know that they had killed their own daughter. Hereupon the maiden, or rather her soul, was liberated and could then go to the Skeleton House. Ever since some of the sorcerers (Pópwaktu) will occasionally leave their graves in the form of bull snakes. Bull snakes are often seen coming out of certain graves still wound in the yucca leaves with which the corpse was tied up when laid away. If such a bull snake in which a sorcerer is supposed to have entered happens to be killed, the soul of the sorcerer living in it is set free and then goes to the Skeleton House (Máski).
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