HOW THE PEOPLE CAME OUT OF THE UNDERWORLD
ALAIKSAI!–Attention. Before anybody’s memory the Hopi lived in the underworld, which was the original place of all human life. Here, in the beginning, all life and everything was good in peace and happy. The people were governed by the chiefs (Mongwi), village criers (Chakmongwi), priests (Momwit), and high priests and all their religious rites were ruled by the high priests. The people were classed as common, middle, and first class.
The time came when the common and middle class of people grew wise to the doings of the priests and the high priests. All the days of their lives these poor people had been cheated of their family rights by the upper classes of the people. At times the wives of the lower class were visited by these men and by the priests and high priests, while the poor husbands of the women were away. Now all this kept on from bad to worse.
By this time the wives of the priests and the higher class of men also grew wise to what had been going on for all these years, and they were greatly troubled. Then, gossip, quarreling and fighting started between the men and women. Some priests said that it was a joy to cheat and steal another man’s wife and that they would pray hard and earnest for prosperity. The women in return said, “If this is so and true, would it be more joyful to you men if we did the same to you as you have done to us? Would you then pray harder still for prosperity?”
This question was, of course, asked by decent women brought up before guilty men and at this, every heart was troubled. The women turned their husbands away. They had no place to go but to their gathering places, called kivas, which were the underground houses–meeting places at times of ceremonies. In these kivas some hearts were sad and some did not seem to care so very much. They were all waiting and watching to see who would leave the kiva first to go to their houses to see if their wives would refuse to let them in. Some women had declared that they would not let their husbands in, so they put their belongings outside of their doors.
The men left the kiva one by one, going to their homes to try their wives, but finding their things outside, they had to go to the homes of their relatives. Even there, they were not welcomed and were not invited to cat, so they were forced to take two or three ears of corn to the kiva to roast. That was all they had for their meal on that day. The night came on. What were they going to do? This was the question. Some said they would stay in the kivas and live on roasted corn as long as they could, thinking that the women might get over this trouble and their anger.
While the wives were still feeling strong against their men, they called a council. Every woman was present. At this council it was decided that the men would be falsely forgiven and would be taken back by every wife. All this was followed out and the husbands were made happy. But knowing all this, the chief, Yai-hiwa, and village crier, and their families, were greatly troubled and were sad. A thought came to the chief’s mind of what he should do and how he must punish his people. Now with all this he was troubled in mind. About this time, when the men had been falsely forgiven, the women were going around and running wild after the unmarried boys, so that they might break the hearts of their husbands and so be revenged. Their families were neglected and their fires and cookings were left unattended. Among both men and women there was not a soul who could be happy in such sinful days, for there was murder, suicide, and every other wicked thing that made the days darker and darker.
All this worry and sorrow was on the chief. What could be done? Nobody knew. So he went calling on his wise men (Posi-wiwaimkum) personally, and broken hearted as he was, he could not help but shed tears at every call. These wise men were named Kotiwa, Tani, Sootiwa, Komay, Seytiwa, Nawiki, and Kowisa, and they were the best of all wise men, with high ideals. But everything was for the chief to say in those days, so he asked every wise man to come to his counsel on the fourth day, 3 out at a distant place away from the people.
The day came and the chief was out early that morning. With his bag of tobacco and pipes he was waiting for his wise men to come to the appointed place. One by one they came, each with his bag of tobacco and his pipe. The village crier was the last to arrive, and now everyone had come who was expected. Here they kindled a fire and being weary and sad they were rather quiet, sitting around their fire. The chief filled up his pipe with tobacco, lit it and smoked, then passed it to Yai-owa, the village crier. He puffed the smoke four times, then looked up to the chief, saying, “Father.” In return the chief said, “My son.” The pipe was passed on around in the same manner to every man. After the chief’s pipe was all smoked out, every man filled his own pipe. Every pipe was first handed to the chief. Here they had their fatherly and brotherly smoke. 4
When the smoking was done the chief said, “My dear fellowmen, I pray in hopes that the gods, our fathers, get the smell of our smoking that they may have mercy upon us. With their power, I pray we will succeed and win because of what I have planned to do. My dear fellowmen, it is this. We must find a new place somewhere and we must find some way to get out of this sinful land, either below or above. I am in hopes to save some of you people if you only could realize this and feel as grieved as I do, about the trouble we are having this very day. I pray you to help me.” Everybody was silent, arms folded, heads down over their knees while the chief was speaking. Every word was heard.
Then they said, “Our father, our chief, we pray with all our hearts and we are ready to help you. We will stand with you. We will walk in your path and whatever you ask of us we will do.”
“Very well,” he said, “be watchful and look ahead in my path that I may not mislead you. I pray you all and hope that the words you have spoken are from the very hearts of you and are true.”
“We pray you, chief, that the words we speak are from every heart, and they are true.”
“Very well, my fellowmen, I thank you. We will get busy at once. Tomorrow we will make pahos 5 (prayer offerings) for our gods asking for the mercy and blessings that they bring upon us. I, the chief, Yai-hiwa, again thank you all. Be here earlier tomorrow.”
The men went to their homes with the hope of success in their hearts, for they were true, honest men and were loyal to their chief.
The next morning being the second day of the meeting, the chief and all his wise men came to the same place where they had met the day before and here they smoked, as usual. Every man had brought his material with which to make pahos, or prayer sticks.
“Now,” said the chief, “my dear fellowmen, let us start our work, and let every heart be in earnest. Let no soul be discouraged for we must work till we succeed.”
“Our father and chief, we are strong in heart to be with you. There is no thought in us to forsake you.”
“Very well, I thank you all,” said the chief.
So here they made their prayer sticks all the forenoon and part of the afternoon. The chief had done his cutting of the pahos first, then the rest had copied after his, for he knew every sort of cut for a certain god. All this was well done.”
When they had finished their paho making, every man, with his tray or plaque full of prayer sticks held in front of him, again circled around the fire and filled his pipe with tobacco to smoke. With a Hopi, smoking a pipe is the most true and earnest way of showing himself in prayer. Here they let the smoke pass from their mouths onto the trays of their prayer offerings to let the gods know they were earnest. With the Hopi, the smell of the smoke is the most sincere message to the gods, and for this reason much smoking is done at the times of all ceremonies. Now the work was well done for that day, so the chief said, “This will be all for today, and tomorrow we will see again what we can do. Let us all leave our pahos here and four of you will stay to guard our things, while the rest of us will go home and get something to eat. Then we will all come back and will bring you something to eat, and from now on we will camp here to the finish.”
This was the third day of their session. The four men stayed to watch, so that nothing would harm their prayer offerings, for they afraid that the witches and the wizards might send a spy to find out what was going on, for it has always been believed by the Hopi that the witches and wizards could change their form into anything–into wild animals or birds of any kind. The men who had gone home all came back and brought food for the rest that had stayed. Now they were to take turns that night in watching, so that nothing could come close enough to see what kind of pahos they had made. They did this and at last morning came and the watchmen had done well.
Then the chief called his men to come together and take their places in a circle, and their smoking started, asking for mercy and the blessings of the gods, and all this was done. And again the chief looked up and said, “My dear fellowmen, our work is done so far, but we must have someone–we must call somebody who is wiser than we are to do the rest, or to finish the work for us. So let us now sing the calling song.” 6 With this song they called the mocking bird, Yapa. 6a Now when he came he asked them, “Why do you want me? What can I do for you?”
The chief said, “We are in great need of you for you are so much wiser than us all, and you know all the songs of our gods. We need your help. We want to be sure that we make no mistakes. This is why we have called for you to come, and so we did make some pahos for you.”
The chief handed him a tray of pahos, and the mocking bird was very glad to receive the prayer offerings. This was the fourth day when the mocking bird was called.
After receiving the prayer sticks the mocking bird said, “Yes, I am called a wise bird and one that knows everything, and of the songs I know all. But there is still somebody higher than I and he is above me, and this one is the canary bird, Si-katsi. 6b Make no mistakes, call him. If he comes and says for me to help you, then I will, for he is still the wisest of all and his advice we must follow. Now I must go and hide for I do not want him to know and grow jealous because I came first.”
The mocking bird left and was gone. Then again they sang their calling song for the canary bird and he came and sat on a nearby bush.
“Welcome,” said the men, and he flew and sat down right in the center of them.
“Why do you call me?” he asked. “Why do you want me here?”
“Yes,” said the chief, “we called you because we are in trouble and you being the wisest of all, we need your help. With all my heart, truly and honestly I pray you to help us.”
“You are right,” said the bird, “I am always in all prayer offerings. My feathers are always first. The trouble you are having I know all about. I wondered why you have waited so long to call me.”
“My dear bird,” said the chief, “it is like this. Our minds are full; we are almost insane and cannot think right, so do not think we mean to pass you by.”
“I understand you,” said the bird, “so I am here to help you. But I cannot do everything alone. I cannot perform my ceremony without the magic songs. The mocking bird must be with us. Call him at once. We need him.”
Again the Hopis sang their calling song and soon the mocking bird was in sight. As he came near everybody said, “Welcome.”
“Yes, here I am,” said the bird, “Why do you want me?”
“It is I,” said the canary. “Without you and your magic songs nothing could be done.”
“Certainly, being noted for my songs I feel that it is my duty to be here and help you,” said the mocking bird.
Before getting things ready for the ceremony, the two birds flew back around the rocks and there they changed their form into human beings. When they came back, the Hopis saw that they were handsome tall men with long straight black hair.
Now all this time the men were getting the things ready with which the Birdmen were to work and perform their ceremony. In laying the altar they spread out the sand in a small square and in the center they placed a sacred water bowl and for each direction an ear of corn was placed. Each ear of corn was of a different color-yellow for the north, blue for the west, red for the south, and white for the east.
When the altar was set up, they were ready for the mocking bird to take the lead in singing. The first songs were for making up the medicine water in the sacred water bowl. After the medicine water was :made, the calling songs were to be next, but the questions arose: who would they call first? Who would have the courage and strength to go out to find a place for these Hopis to go, where they might rest and live in peace? The two Birdmen knowing all things, the Hopis left everything to them that there might be no more trouble. So they first called the eagle, Kwa-hu. 6c At the end of every song the sacred water was sprinkled to each direction.
As they were singing the eagle came and sat in the midst of them and said, “Why do you call me? Why do you want me?”
“Welcome,” said the men. “You being strong on the wing that is why we call you. We want you to help us. We think that you might find a place for us that we may be saved, and we pray that you will.”
“Even though being a bird of the air and strong on the wing it is a hard undertaking. But with all my heart I am willing to help you, so let us hope for the best and pray our gods that I may come back to you alive. To be sure, which way must I go?” asked the eagle.
“We wish you would go up into the skies. There may be an opening and another world up there,” said the men.
When the eagle was ready to fly and the prayer feathers were tied around his neck and upon each foot, the eagle said, “Pray that I may find a place up there and bring good news.” Then off he went up into the skies. He circled round and round above these men and they watched him as he went up, till he was no more to be seen. At last it was getting late in the day and the people felt rather uneasy about him, but finally he was seen coming down, and now it was very late. It seemed as though he was just dropping down, and sure enough he was. He was hardly alive when he came and dropped in front of them all, exhausted, and they rushed to him and rubbed him till he came to. Soon he was quite well and had come to himself again. Then he was ready to tell the news.
“I know you are anxious to hear how far I have gone and what I have seen. Well, my dear good men,” he said, “to tell you the truth, the way up there is rather discouraging. When I left here and kept going higher and higher, not a living thing was to be seen above the clouds. As I went on going higher I began to wonder where I would rest, but there was nothing to light on and nowhere to get a rest. When I looked up, it seems as though there is an opening up there, but I was getting very tired already, and if I didn’t start to come back I might not be able to return here alive and tell you this news.”
After hearing all this they were very much troubled and deep in sadness,, and they wondered what else must be done. The eagle then received his prize of many prayer offerings and was asked to stay with them to the finish, and, of course, he was glad to be with them.
By this time the two leaders–canary and mocking bird–thought of someone else to call. Again they were singing the calling song, and in singing the song it was mentioned who they wanted. Before the fourth song was half sung, a hawk, Ki-sa 6d came and circled above once and sat down in the midst of them and said, “Why do you call me? Why do you want me?”
“We call you because we are in trouble and we need your help,” said the men.
“Yes, I do know that you are in trouble,” said the hawk. “All who have a heart wish to help and save you, and I am willing to do whatever you will ask of me.”
“Very well,” said the Hopis, “we want you to search the skies for us . You are strong on the wing and can fly high, so we feel that you might be able to find a way out of this wicked world.”
“Very well,” said he, “I will try.”
So they made ready for the hawk to fly and put prayer feathers on him as was done to the eagle–around his neck and on his feet.
When he was all ready, he said, “Pray with all your hearts that I may find a place for you and bring you good news.”
“We will,” said the men, “for we want to save our families and many others who have good hearts, so may our gods take care of you while you are on the journey.”
Up the hawk went and circled round and round overhead, as the eagle had done. For a long time he could be seen up in the air till he was gone above the clouds. All this time the men were singing prayer and luck songs that nothing would happen to the hawk.
It was getting late and everybody was rather uneasy again, and they kept watching for him very anxiously. Finally, he was seen again, but he did not seem to be alive and the eagle did not wait to be asked but went right up to meet him. Then every heart was troubled because they thought that he was surely dead. Now, before the eagle knew, the hawk had dropped past him, and then he just dived for the hawk, to catch him, and when the eagle did catch him his mouth was wide open but his heart was still beating a little. When the eagle came down with him in his claws he laid him down on a white robe and every eye was full of tears. Soon one of the men started to rub him, while the mocking bird sang the “life returning song.” When he came to he was quite weak, and earnest prayers were shown by smoking many pipes for the hawk. Now by this time he was ready to tell his story.
“I know,” said the hawk, “you are all anxious to hear what I have found out for you up in the skies. When I left here, the first part about going up is the same as what brother eagle had seen and told you. I had gone as far as he did, then I took the courage upon myself and went on up as far as I could see up there. I am quite sure that there is an opening up there, but I was tired out and was not able to go any further before I knew that I was dropping down. I tried to turn myself over, but could not make it, for I was exhausted. Finally I felt something hurting me on my sides. I opened my eyes and found myself in the sharp claws of brother eagle. Then, I do not know how we got here, but now I thank the gods and you all that I am alive again. But let us not be discouraged, we might find someone that will make it up there and find out for us all about what is up there. I know every heart is in trouble. My heart is in trouble too because of you.”
After hearing this story of the hawk, there was very little light in the hearts of the men. But the thoughts with the men were still very deep of what is to be done next, or who would be the third to try the skies for these Hopis. Everything and everybody was very still and quiet–prayers were being said by the smoking of many pipes.
The next morning being the fifth day of their ceremony, the wise Birdmen–canary and mocking bird–called the men to attention, to come around the altar and fill up their pipes by which to say their prayers again to the gods. After this was said and done, they started singing the calling ceremony again, but they did not know who they were calling this time. Before long something came and just went “whip,” sounding like a whip over their heads many times and then sat down in the midst of them, and he was a swallow, Powvowkiaya.
He said, “Here I am.”
“Welcome,” said the men.
“Why do you call me? Why do you want me?” said the bird.
“Yes,” said they, “we need you. We want you to help us out of the troubles we are having. We want to be saved.”
“I know you do,” said the swallow. “I was anxious and longed to be called, but I know your minds are full and of course I know the way things have happened, so I have no envy against those who were called first, because I may not be able to equal what they have already done, but do understand that I am willing to help you.”
“Yes,” they said, “you being strong and swift on the wing, we pray in hopes that you will make it up through the skies to find a place for us, and here we have these prayer feathers made for you to wear on the way.”
“Thank you,” said he, “I would be happy to have them, but all those might be in the way so I will go without them.”
“Very well,” said the Hopis, “you know best of how you go in the air. May our gods bless us and have mercy upon us so that nothing will happen to you and we pray that our gods may take care of you on your journey and bring you back safely to us, so pray that no heart may be discouraged.”
“You have all said well. I thank you all,” said he.
Then he went off and in a little while he was out of sight. The men filled their pipes and were smoking. Those who were not smoking were singing the prayer songs of good luck. Again it was getting late in the day and the men were still strong with smoking and singing, while the eagle and the hawk were looking up into the skies with their sharp eyes. Finally they saw that the swallow was coming and they hesitated not, but flew right up to meet him. When they reached him he was nearly done and with a faint voice he said, “Catch me.” They made a dive for him and did catch him and brought him down and right away they gave him some water and started to rub him up till he had come to himself. While he was resting the gift of prayer feathers was given to him.
When the chief handed all this to him, he said, “This is our gift to you, from us all. We are glad that you have returned to us again.”
“Yes,” said the swallow bird, “and I know you would like to hear what I have seen and done. It is too high up there. What these two brothers and I have seen is too great and wonderful, and to anybody without wings it is dangerous because the wind is strong up there. Going into the opening I got scared of the wind and was afraid to go any higher for fear I may not be able to come back. If I did I might not be alive to tell you this. What all I did see I could not begin to tell you all about it.”
Now the Hopis were wondering who would be the next one to fly into the skies for them, so rather hopelessly they filled their pipes again to smoke and to pray some more, and of course they were very silent.
Finally the canary bird spoke up and said, “My dear fellowmen, we will make our last try so we will call brother shrike, Si-katsi and see what he can do for us. He is pretty wise too, so cheerfully come to the altar and we will sing again.”
They all moved up around the altar and took up a little more courage, hoping down in their hearts for success. Before many calling songs were ended someone came flying very close to the ground and sat down on top of a nearby bush and from there into the midst of them.
“Welcome,” said the Hopis.
“Yes, yes, here I am,” he said. “Why do you want me in such a hurry?”
“Yes,” said the mocking bird. “Here we are in trouble. Brother canary and I have been working here with these Hopis trying and hoping to find a place and a way to save them from this sinful land. These three brothers here have done their best up in the skies and they all seem to be very certain about an opening somewhere up there. This is why we wanted and called you, hoping that you can find another world and save us.”
“With all my heart,” said the shrike, “I am here to help you. I know and feel that it must be a hard undertaking because these three brothers were not able to make it. But to be sure, you must all tell me if you are all earnest in the hope to be saved. Somebody’s heart must be bad here and he is the one that is holding you back and keeping you working so hard. Every heart must be true and honest. Let us all be one if we really want to be saved.”
The chief of course was most troubled to think of all that time he had spent and had not yet accomplished anything, for he, himself, had good faith in his men and trusted them. Anyway, he asked the people then if there is any one of them with a false heart and who is intending to forsake them and they declared themselves to their chief and father to be all true men.
“No fault having been found in you, it gives me courage to go on and take the trip,” said the shrike, “so pray for the best while I am away.” He went off on a slow flight and as he went higher, he kept going faster. Soon he was no more to be seen. The men then took their pipes, filled them up and smoked with all their hearts, while the canary and the mocking bird were singing their prayer songs. The eagle and hawk were keeping their sharp eyes looking up into the skies.
Praying for many days with their pipes, every tongue was burning with the taste of the tobacco, but their courage was still strong for they were hoping for good news with all their anxious hearts. The day seemed very long.
It was very late when the shrike was seen high up in the sky and he was very slowly coming down. The eagle and the hawk saw that he was still strong so they did not go up to meet him for his little wings were still holding him up. As he was coming down nearer everybody was asked to hold their heads down with high hopes that he may land safely. As he landed they felt that their prayers were answered and they were filled with much joy. The shrike was asked to be seated in the center of them and be resting while the men joined in prayer by smoking their pipes.
When this was done the chief said to the bird, “I am more than glad and happy to see you come back to us again and it is not only I, but everybody here who is anxious to hear the news of what you have for us, so let us hear you.”
“It is the same story,” said the shrike, “from here on up to where these others had gotten to. When I passed that, I could see the opening and from there on the passage looked rather narrow. As I went on higher into the narrow passage, in there I found many a projecting rock on which I could light and rest myself. Then, at last, up through the opening which is just like a kiva you have down here. The light and sunshine is much better than here, but there is no sign of human life, only the animals and birds of all kinds. Now the question is, how are we going to get you up there? Because even the strongest birds carrying you one by one could not get you all up through there.”
“So it is,” said the chief, “that is another hard proposition, but let no heart be discouraged. Let us all be strong and we will succeed and leave our troubles behind here in this sinful world for I am more than glad and happy to know that there is another and better world up above, so if there is anyone present to give us advice of what is to be done next, I would like to hear him.”
“It is I, who am called Kochoilaftiyo (the poker boy) said a boy who was sitting way in the back. They did not even know that he was with them all this time, for he was ranked and considered as of the low class people.
“Come forward to my side,” said the chief.
And he was seated on the left side of him. Being only a poor boy it was rather doubtful to the others that he would know of any advice to give, but he was treated like the others and so they smoked their pipes together. When this was done, the chief asked him of what he had in mind.
“It is not much of anything,” said the boy. “But I am with you and with all my heart I wish to help you. You know and everybody knows that I am not recognized nor respected half as much as the others.”
“You have spoken the truth, but you must forget that now,” said the chief. “You who are with me here, I refuse no one.”
“I thank you,” said the boy with eyes full of tears. “I know a little creature, kuna (chipmunk), who lives on the nuts of the pines. I think he knows how to plant and grow those pines and he may have some seeds. If he would come and plant and grow us one of those tall trees it might reach the sky so that we may climb up on it. He lives in the rocks and pines.”
“Very well,” said the chief, “let us call him.” At this he turned to the mocking bird and asked him to sing his calling song for the chipmunk. At the altar the mocking bird picked up his rattle and started to sing. It was not very long before the chipmunk appeared over the rocks with his usual chip-chip voice, and when he did come up he ran in front of the altar.
“Why do you call me, and why do you want me?” he asked.
“It is because we are in trouble. We need your help.”
“I am ready,” he said.
“As you are noted for your tree planting and know how to make them grow so fast we would like you to plant one for us that will reach up to the sky and into the new world. We have been here many days trying to find out how we can get up there.”
“Yes,” said the chipmunk, “I do know how to plant trees, but I cannot be very sure and promise you that I could make it grow up to reach the sky, but for your sake I will try, so let us pray to our gods who really have power.”
They filled up their pipes and smoked again, to carry their earnest prayers to the gods. After this was done, the little chipmunk reached into his bag for his tree seeds. “This,” he said, “is a spruce. We will try it first.” He put it in his mouth and sang four of his magic songs. Then he took it out and set it in the ground in front of him, watching it very closely. Again he reached into his little bag and drew out his little rattle of sea shells with which he sang over his planted seed. Soon the tree began to grow out of the ground, and when it was about three inches high, he spit all over it and around the roots. With that it began to grow faster. Now, he kept this up as he was singing and his mouth began to get awfully dry so he asked for some water to increase the moisture in himself. Finally the tree was as high as a man stood and when it got this high he would run up on it and with his little paws would pull it upward at the very top. With songs and pulling it up, the tree was growing very fast indeed. The little creature kept this up till it had grown to its full height, but it did not reach the sky.
“I have done my best,” said the chipmunk. “The tree will grow no more.”
The high hopes of the chief sank again because the tree did not reach the opening up in the sky.
“Being called to help you,” said the chipmunk, “I will try again, so keep your hopes and do not be discouraged. I think it has weakened this tree making it grow too fast, so this time it will be a little slower.”
And he reached into his little bag for another seed which was a fir-pine. This he planted, with the same performance as the first time. Again, the little tree began to grow and the chipmunk repeated his same songs with new and strong hopes that he might make it reach the hole in the sky. Going up on this tree he would take his sacred meal and at the very top, with his prayer, he would throw this meal upward as high as he could, hoping that this would make it grow up through the opening.
While he was busy growing his tree every man was smoking his pipe and they were making their earnest prayers from their very hearts. Finally the chipmunk came back down to the ground again and said, “My tree has stopped growing again, although it has passed the first one by four men’s height, but be not discouraged, I will try again. First, I must have prayer.”
He reached into his bag and out he brought his little pipe and smoked. While he was smoking he kept a seed in his mouth which was a long-needle pine. When he had finished he set the seed in the ground again, and started his performance in the same manner with all the hopes of making it reach the sky, but this was also in vain, though it did pass the two first trees.
Now not only the chipmunk, but all the rest of the people were very much troubled and crying in their hearts to think that the trees had failed to reach the opening in the sky. The chipmunk, with a broken heart, filled up his little pipe and smoked, thinking very hard of what he could do next, because he thought himself powerless and knew that only his gods had unlimited power so with his smoking he prayed the gods for more wisdom. He could see that every heart was sad for the men were sitting around with their heads down upon their folded arms over their knees.
A thought came to him now, so he slowly raised his head and said, “We are all very sad but I will try again, so I wish to ask you from your very hearts if there is someone here who is not very willing to go and hates to leave behind the ones he loves or there may be some of you that still have evil thoughts in your hearts. All this work and many sleepless nights are getting heavy on our father, our chief. We must confess ourselves to him and to our gods that we will do right and will try to live the right kind of life in the upper world.”
“We are all true,” said they, “If we were not true we would not have stayed to this day with our chief.”
The chipmunk left them and went to a place where the bamboo tree grows.” Here he took a little shoot of a bamboo plant and with this he brought a tiny piñon shell full of water. These he set on a small basket tray and smoked his pipe over it, which was his earnest prayer. Others followed in the same manner. When this was done he put the piñon shell of water in the ground, at an arm length deep and on top of it he planted the bamboo shoot and he covered it up. He took his sacred corn meal in his right hand and stood over the plant and said his prayers in silence. Then he threw the meal high up toward the sky. Then the others followed one by one.
“Now,” he said, “this being the last plant I know that will grow high we must give all our hearts to our gods that they may believe and answer our prayers and make this tree grow up through the opening in the sky.
When all their preparations were made and their sacred corn meal was thrown up toward the sky, the two birdmen started to sing their magic songs and the rest all joined with them because by that time, they knew the songs so that they could follow along with them. After the songs were ended, the little chipmunk ran up the tree and when he got to the top he pulled on it and he ran back four times up into that tree. Then he came down and filled up his pipe and started smoking.
He was always keeping time with the singing and he knew just when to run up the tree, and he just kept this performance up till the tree was high enough, and still they were singing and then, while they were singing, they asked the four other birds that had made their attempt to go up into the sky to find the opening, to fly up and see how high the tree had gone up, because by that time, the little chipmunk was tired, he couldn’t run up the high tree again.
Now these birds, that is, the eagle and the hawk and the swallow bird and the shrike, made their trip up into the sky to the top of this tree four times and each time, when they came back they told the people that it was coming nearer to the opening. Toward the last, it was only the shrike that could go up and he made this trip up four times. But the last trip he made he stayed up on the top limb, and with him on the top limb the tree went through the opening. Of course, the old shrike felt very safe because he knew he could come back down, resting on the limbs of the tree.
When he came down he told the people that the tree had gone through the opening. Now the chipmunk was very glad that it had gone through, and of course you know that he was overjoyed. Then the chipmunk told them that it would be rather impossible to climb up on the tree. He told them that this tree was hollow inside and he started to gnawing on the bottom of the tree to cut an opening into it. While he was gnawing away all the men circled around the little fire and started their prayers again by smoking. After all this was done the chief said that as it was rather late in the day they would start their prayers and songs for the people at dawn. Now they were all very anxious to see the morning come and before it did come the chief had appointed two birds–the eagle and the swallow, to be on the look-out, so that no wicked people might pass.
Now on this day, before they started out, the chief said to the wise men that they must give an order for some kind of a guard that would hold back the bad people and the witches and wizards that would try to steal their way into the reed with the rest of the people. So the chief told the wise men to make their pahos for each four directions. These were to represent the closing of all the different trails from all directions. When these were made he sent out the One Horned Society 10 or priests who were supposed to guard the North and West, and the Two Horned priests to guard the South and East. When they got to the four directions they made four lines out of sacred corn meal about six feet long and on both ends of the lines they set a paho falling backward–not toward the bamboo. Whoever steals their way into the bamboo and crosses this line will perish, which means that they will drop dead. Of course, many people tried to cross from different directions and were found dead.
This is how two of the societies or religions were started; Kwakant (One Horned Society) and A-alt (Two Horned Society), which are still in existence today. Whoever came to the bamboo by the set path came safely to the chief, to join in going to the Upper World.
The time came for them to sing their calling songs and before they started to sing they renewed their altar on which they had laid their prayer offerings. They made four of these prayer offerings and set them up on four sides of the tree to hold it up. These prayer offerings were about the span of a man’s hand. When they started to sing they had to sing around the altar and the two birds were watching the opening at the bottom of the tree so in case the wicked people should start to come through they could drive them away. The two birds were appointed because they had sharp claws. When they started to sing their calling song, being a magic song, it took effect and they found the names of men who were in this ceremony following one another because the calling song as it began, named all the wise men who were serving in the ceremony. Before long the people were coming up one after another–that is, one family after another family.
When the people were gathered there, the chief had his prayer offering ready and at the foot of the tree he set this little prayer offering down in front of it. Then with his sacred corn meal he made a line pointing into it and then he walked in and his family followed and the rest of the royal families came after him, like the family of the village crier and the families of the others who had a high position, such as the high priest.
As they were going up through the tree the shrike started outside, because he was rather light and he could rest on the limbs. They didn’t know how far they were going up. It took them quite a long while and the chief was rather anxious to get up to the top and after a long time they finally came up to the opening. When the chief got up there the shrike was waiting for him and when he crawled out of the tree the rest followed and as some of these people came out they started to sing the same songs that they were singing down at the bottom. These songs were limited and they were only to be sung four times, because they were awfully long songs. In a ceremony like this everybody was so anxious to get to the top it didn’t seem so long and before all the people were through, the songs were ended and there were still some more people gathered around the tree. Then everywhere there was trouble down below, for those who hadn’t been able to get up while the songs were being sung had to stay at the bottom, because the ceremony couldn’t be sung any more.
Then the One Horned Priests who remained below had to cut the tree down for fear that someone might steal their way up, so they cut down the tree and this tree still had some people in it, so that is why the bamboo is jointed–because the people in there stuck in the tree and the tree kind of shrunk in between them.