THE homes of the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico, especially as regards the size and disposition of the rooms, are to-day slightly modified from what they were in former times. An advance has been made, inasmuch as the buildings are not any longer the vast and ill-ventilated honeycombs composed of hundreds of dingy shells, which they were centuries ago. The houses, while large and many-storied, are comparatively less extensive, and the apartments less roomy than at the time when the Queres, lived in the Rito de los Frijoles.
The two rooms where we left the lads and their mother at the close of the preceding chapter formed such a home. In the front one the family slept at night, with the exception of Okoya who was obliged to join the other youths in the estufa of his clan. The husband was not always at home after sunset. But the mother, Shyuote, and a little girl four years old invariably took their nightly rest there. To the little girl we have not yet been introduced. When the boys returned she was in the court-yard at play, and in the usual state of complete undress which is the regular condition of Indian children of her age.
The inner cell was kitchen and store-room, and there the family partook of their meals.
Among the Pueblos the house was in charge of the women exclusively, everything within the walls of the house, the men's clothing and weapons excepted, belonging to the
housekeeper. Even the crops if once housed were controlled by her. As long as they were in the field, the husband or masculine head of the family could dispose of them. Afterward he must consult the woman, and he could not sell an ear of corn without her consent. It is still so to-day in many villages. Formerly all the field-products were gathered and stored in the granaries of the several clans whence each household drew its supplies. Even the proceeds of communal hunts and fisheries were treated in this manner. Only where the husband, son, or brother killed game while out alone, could he do with it as he pleased.
Not many centuries ago the members of each clan, or rather the women, their offspring, and aged people who were taken care of by their children, lived together. They occupied a certain section of the great hive which the communal dwelling represented, and such a section was not unappropriately called in Spanish a quartel or quarter. The husband also stayed with his wife and the younger children, but he had no rights as owner, or proprietor, to his abode. Since it was the custom for women to raise the walls of buildings, and to finish the house inside and outside, they owned it also. The man was only tolerated. His home was properly with his clan, whither he must return in case his spouse departed this life before him.
It was different in regard to the fields. Each clan had its particular holding, and since the field-work devolved upon the men, the cultivated plots belonged to them alone. Within each allotment every member who was of age, or so situated as to have to support himself or a family, owned and tilled a certain plot which was his by common consent, although in no manner determined by metes or bounds. The condition of ownership was regular improvement of the plot, and if that condition was not complied with, any other
member of the same clan could step in and work it for his own benefit. In case of death the field reverted to the maternal relative of its owner, whereas the widow and children fell back for support upon the resources of their own clan. Hence the singular feature that each household got its livelihood from two distinct groups of blood-relatives. The home which we have entered belonged to the quarters of the Gourd people, or clan Tanyi hanutsh, from which the mother descended; and Okoya had slept at night in the estufa of that cluster ever since his thirteenth year. But the cultivated patch which the father tilled pertained to the fields of his clan, that of Water, Tzitz hanutsh. Though the Water people were his relatives, the crop raised by him found its way into the store-room of Tanyi for the support of the family which he claimed as his own.
Okoya's mother scanned her boys with a sober glance, and turned back into the kitchen without uttering a word.
Soon a grating sound issued from that apartment, indicating that toasted corn was being ground on the flat slab called in Queres, yakkat, and now usually termed metate in New Mexico. The boys meanwhile had approached a niche in the wall. Each one took a pinch of yellow cornmeal from the painted bowl, and scattered it successively to the north, west, south, east; then threw a little of it up in the air and to the ground before him. During this performance their lips moved as if in prayer. Then they separated, for the spirits had been appealed to, and their entrance into their home was under the special protection of Those Above. Shyuote, whose trout had been ruined during the combat with the girls, threw himself on the roll in the comer, there to mourn over his defeat. Okoya went out into the courtyard. Both expected an early meal, for the fire crackled in the dark kitchen, and a clapping of
hands gave evidence that corn-cakes were being moulded to appease their hungry stomachs.
The court-yard had become very quiet. Even the children had gone to rest in a shady place, where they slept in a promiscuous heap, a conglomerate of human bodies, heads, and limbs, intermingled. The form of an old man rose out of a hatchway in the ground-floor, and a tall figure, slightly stooping, clad in a garment, and with a head of iron gray hair, stood on the flat roof. He walked toward a beam leading down into the court, seized its upper end and descended with his face toward the wall, but without faltering. A few steps along the house brought him in front of Okoya, who had squatted near the doorway of his mother's dwelling. The youth was so absorbed in gloomy thoughts that the man's appearance was unexpected. Starting in surprise and hastily rising, Okoya called into the house,--
"Yaya, sa umo,--'Mother, my grandfather!'"
The old man gave a friendly nod to his grandchild, and crossed the threshold, stooping low. Still lower the tall form had to bend while entering the kitchen door. He announced his coming to the inmate in a husky voice and the common formula,
"Raua,--'good,'" the woman replied.
Her father squatted close to the fire and fixed his gaze on his daughter. She knelt on the floor busy spreading dough or thick batter on a heated slab over the fire. She was baking corn-cakes,--the well-known tortillas as they are called to-day.
After a short pause the old man quietly inquired,--
"My child, where is your husband?"
"Zashue Tihua," the woman answered, without looking up or interrupting her work, "is in the fields."
"When will he come?"
The woman raised her right hand, and pointed to the hole in the wall, whence light came in from the outside. The wall faced the west, and the height of the loop-hole corresponded to that of the sun about one hour before sunset.
"Give food to the children," directed the old man.
When they have eaten and are gone I shall speak to you."
The fire crackled and blazed, and ruddy flashes shot across the features of the woman. Was it a mere reflection of the fire, or had her features quivered and coloured? The old man scanned those features with a cold, steady look.
She removed from the fire the sooty pot of clay in which venison cut in small pieces was stewing together with corn, dark beans, and a few roots and herbs as seasoning. Then she called out,--
"Shyuote, come and eat! Where is Okoya?"
The latter alone heard the invitation, for Shyuote had gone to sleep on the hides. The elder brother shook him, and went into the kitchen. He was followed by the child who staggered from drowsiness. The mother meanwhile had placed on the floor a pile of corn-cakes. Beside it, in an earthen bowl decorated inside and out with geometrical lines, steamed the stew. Dinner was ready; the table spread.
To enjoy this meal both lads squatted, but Shyuote, still half asleep, lost his balance and tumbled over. Angry at the merriment which this created, the boy hastily grabbed the food, but his mother interfered.
"Don't be so greedy, uak,--'urchin.' Remember Those Above," she said; and Shyuote, imitating the example of Okoya, crossly muttered a prayer, and scattered crumbs before him. Then only, both fell to eating.
This was done by simply folding a slice of the cake to form a primitive ladle, and dipping the contents of the stew out with it. Thus they swallowed meat, broth, and finally the ladle also. Okoya arose first, uttering a plainly audible hoa. Shyuote ate longer; at last he wiped his mouth with the seam of his wrap, grumbled something intended for thanksgiving, and strolled back to his resting place in the front room. Okoya went out into the court-yard to be alone with his forebodings. The sight of his mother seemed oppressive to him.
After the boys had gone the woman emptied the remainder of the stew back into the pot, filled the painted bowl with water, and put both vessels in a comer. Then she sat down, leaning against the wall, looking directly toward her father. Her face was thin and wan, her cheeks were hollow, and her eyes had a suppressed look of uneasiness.
The old man remained quietly indifferent as long as the meal lasted; then he rose, peeped cautiously into the outer apartment, resumed his seat, and spoke in a low tone,--
"Is it true that you have listened to kamonyitza,--'black corn'?"
The woman started. "Who says so?" she answered, with sudden haste.
"The Koshare," replied the old man, looking at her with a cold steady gaze.
"What do I care for them," exclaimed his daughter. Her lips curled with an air of disdain.
"It may be," spoke her father, in measured tones, "that you do not wish to hear from them; but I know that they care for your doings."
"Let them do as they please."
"Woman," he warned, "speak not thus. Their disposition toward you is not a matter for indifference."
"What reason have they to follow my path? I am a
woman like many others in the tribe, nothing more or less. I stay with my husband," she went on with greater animation, "I do my duty. What have the Delight Makers to say that might not be for my good?"
"And yet, you are not precious to them--"
"Neither are they precious to me," she cried. Her eyes sparkled.
Her father heaved a deep sigh. He shook his head and said in a husky tone,--
"Woman, your ways are wrong. I know it, and the Koshare know it also. They may know more, much more than I could wish," he added, and looked into her eyes with a searching sorrowful glance. An awful suspicion lay in this penetrating look. Her face flushed, she bent her head to avoid his gaze.
To the gloomy talk succeeded a still more gloomy silence. Then the woman lifted her head, and began entreatingly,--
"My father, I do not ask you to tell me how you come to know all this; but tell me, umo, what are these Delight Makers, the Koshare? At every dance they appear and always make merry. The people feel glad when they see them. They must be very wise. They know of everything going on, and drag it before the people to excite their mirth at the expense of others. How is it that they know so much? I am but a woman, and the ways of the men are not mine," she raised her face and her eyes flamed; "but since I hear that the Delight Makers wish me no good, I want to know at least what those enemies of mine are."
The old man lowered his glance and sighed.
"My child," he began softly, "when I was young and a boy like your son Okoya, I cared little about the Koshare. Now I have learned more." He leaned his head against the wall, pressed his lips firmly together, and continued,
"The holders of the paths of our lives, those who can close them when the time comes for us to go to Shipapu, where there is neither sorrow nor pain, have many agents among us. Pāyatyama our Father, and Sanashtyaya our Mother saw that the world existed ere there was light, and so the tribe lived in the dark. Four are the wombs in which people grew up and lived, ere Maseua and Oyoyāuā his brother led them to where we are now, and this world which is round like a shield is the fourth womb."
The woman listened with childlike eagerness. Her parted lips and sparkling eyes testified that everything was new to her.
"Father," she interrupted, "I knew nothing of this. You are very wise. But why are women never told such things?"
"Don't cut off my speech," he said. "Because women are so forward, that is why many things are concealed from them."
"But," she continued, heedless of his rebuke, "where are the other three worlds?"
"This question I shall answer," he said, "for it is wise in you to speak so. Haatze the earth is round and flat, but it is also thick like a cake. The other three wombs are down below inside, one beneath the other. At Shipapu the people came out upon this world which is the fourth womb, but it was cold and dark. Then the great sun rose in the heavens above. In it Pāyatyama dwells, and on it he rides around the world in one day and one night to see everything which happens. It is day and light, night and dark. We have also summer and heat, winter and cold. For this reason there are summer-people and winter-people, some who like to live when it is cold and others who enjoy the heat. Every tribe, every clan, has some of both kinds. Thus they came out of the third world, and thus they have
remained until this day. It was cold at Shipapu when the people came out on the surface, and Those Above saw that they felt weak. Toward the south it was warm and bright, so Maseua and his brother said to their children, the men of our tribe, 'Go you where there is more light;' and the summer people they directed to go along the Rio Grande; the winter people they sent south also but far around by the east over the plains where the great buffalo is roaming, where the wind blows and it is cold and dry. To both kinds of men they said, besides, 'Come together in the mountains and live there in peace, each one getting food for himself and others as you are wont to do.' But, lest the people might get weary on their long journey, Maseua and his brother commanded that from Shipapu there should come forth a man whose body was painted white and black, and who carried on his head dried corn-leaves instead of feathers. This man began at once to dance, to jump, and to tumble, so that the people laughed and their hearts became glad. This man led the summer-men southward, and as often as they grew tired he danced again and made jests; and the tribe followed him until they came to where we are now, and all met again. The summer-people never suffered hunger in all their wanderings, for their leader was precious, and wherever they went he caused the fruits to be ripe. That man was the Koshare. 1 Since that time there have been Koshare in every tribe. Their task it is to keep the people happy and merry; but they must also fast, mortify themselves, and pray to Those Above that every kind of fruit may ripen in its time, even the fruit in woman's womb. To them is given the yellow flower from the fertile bottoms which makes the hearts of men glad. Now you know what the Koshare are and," he added emphatically, "why you
should not laugh and make merry when you are not precious to them."
The woman had listened with breathless attention. At the close, however, she hung her head and sighed. The old man gazed at her in silence. In the outer room the regular breathings of the sleeping boy were heard, otherwise all was as still as a grave.
At last she lifted her face again.
"Father," she asked, "are those who are precious to the holders of our paths, are they always good?"
"I need not tell you about this," he replied, fixing upon her a penetrating glance.
"I know of nothing evil," she stammered, "unless it be bad men."
"And yet you have used owl's feathers!"
Her face grew pale. She asked hoarsely,
"Where should I keep them?"
"The Koshare know it," was the equally husky reply.
She started, her eyes gleamed like living coals.
"Have the Koshare sent you here, father?"
"No," was the gloomy answer; "but if the old men come to me and say, 'kill the witch,' I must do it. For you know I am Maseua,--head-war-chief, and whatever the principals command I must do, even if it takes the life of my only child!"
The woman rose to her feet; her attitude was one of defiance.
"Let the Koshare speak, and do you as you are commanded. The time must come when I shall have to die. The sooner it comes, the sooner shall I find rest and peace with our mother at Shipapu."
Her father also had risen, he clutched his cotton garment as if a sudden chill went through his body. Without a word he turned and went off dejected, stooping, with a heavy sigh.
The woman dropped to the floor beside the hearth with a plaintive moan. She drew her hair over her face, weep she could not. The embers on the hearth glowed again, casting a dull light over the chamber.
Say Koitza, as this wretched woman was called, was the only child of him with whom she had just had this dismal interview. His name was Topanashka Tihua, and he was maseua, or head-war-chief, of the tribe. In times of peace the maseua is subordinate to the tapop, or civil governor, and as often as the latter communicates to him any decision of the tribal council he is bound to execute it. Otherwise the maseua is really a superior functionary, for he stands in direct relation to the religious powers of which we shall hereafter speak, and these in reality guide and command through oracles and prophetic utterances. In war the maseua has supreme command, and the civil chief and the diviners, or medicine-men, must obey him implicitly as soon as any campaign is started.
Topanashka was a man of great physical vigour notwithstanding his age. He was highly respected for his skill and bravery, and for his stem rectitude and obedience to strict duty. He feared nothing except the supernatural powers of evil. There is nothing the Indian fears, nay hates, so much as sorcery. Topanashka could scarcely believe that his daughter had tampered with magic by causing the dark-coloured corn to speak, and keeping owl's feathers in her possession. Still, if such were really the case, he knew of no other course to pursue but to execute the penalty which according to Indian ideas she deserved, and which the leading men of the tribe composing its council would undoubtedly mete out to her,--death; a cruel, terrible death. But she was his only child, and ere he placed faith in the suspicion communicated to him in secret by one of the shamans in the tribe, he wanted to satisfy himself from her own
behaviour whether it was true or not. To his deepest sorrow Say Koitza's behaviour seemed to prove that she was not falsely accused. It was a terrible blow to the old man, who for the first time in his life rose from a task bewildered and hopeless. Duty was to him paramount, and yet he could not utterly stifle the longing to save his only child from a cruel and ignominious fate.
His daughter too felt utterly wretched, and despondent in the highest degree. For the accusation against her was true. She had practised the dread art; and yet, strange to say, while conscious of guilt, in the bottom of her heart she felt herself innocent. Let us recall the past life of the unhappy being to see whether there is in it anything to explain this apparent anomaly.
When Say Koitza was fourteen years of age her husband Zashue Tihua began to pay her his first attentions. He called at her mother's home oftener than any other youth of her tribe, and one afternoon, when she was returning from the brook with a jar filled with water on her head, he stopped her, dipped some water out of the urn, drank it, and whispered something to which she gave no reply, hurrying home as rapidly as possible. She could not speak to her mother about this, for her mother was hopelessly deaf, and it would not have been proper to consult her father, since the father belonged of course to another clan. A whole night and one full day Say pondered over the case; at last her mind was made up. The girl took a dish filled with corn-cakes and rolls of sweet paste of the yucca-fruit, and placed it on her head. With this load she climbed up the rugged slope leading to the dwellings of the Water clan, to which Zashue belonged. The lad was sitting in the cave inhabited by his family, busying himself with straightening arrow shafts over the fire, when the girl, pushing before her the loaded tray, crept through the port-hole. Silently she
placed the food before him, and went out again without a word. This was her affirmative reply to his wooing. Thereafter, Zashue visited the quarters of the Gourd people at the big house every night. Along the foot of the cliffs, in soft ground, and in a lonely sheltered spot, he meanwhile planted four stakes connected by cross-poles. From end to end cotton threads were drawn lengthwise, and here Zashue wove a cotton wrap day after day. The girl would steal out to this place also, carrying food to the young artisan. She would cleanse his hair while they chatted quietly, shyly at first, about the present and the future. When the mantle was done and it looked white and firm, Zashue brought it to Say Koitza's mother, who forthwith understood the intention of his gift, and felt gratified at the prospect of securing a son-in-law who possessed cotton. The plant was not cultivated near the upper Rio Grande at that time, and had to be obtained from the far south by barter. Many journeys distant, Pueblo Indians lived also, and thither the Queres went at long intervals to trade and to hunt the buffalo on the southwestern plains.
Topanashka also was pleased with the suitor. In due course of time Zashue Tihua and Say Koitza, therefore, became man and wife.
Zashue proved to be a good husband, according to Indian ideas. He worked and hunted dutifully, providing the store-rooms of Tanyi Hanutsh with supplies of which his wife, and through her he also, enjoyed the benefit. He spun cotton and wove it into wraps, scarfs, and sashes. Furthermore, he was always good-natured and merry. He did not spend too many nights out of his wife's home, either. They had three children, Okoya, Shyuote, and a little girl. Of these Shyuote became the father's favourite, for when the child was yet small it happened that his father made a vow to make a Koshare of him, Zashue
was a Delight Maker himself, and one of the merriest of that singular crew. Among them he was perhaps the most popular; for while good-looking, his strength and agility enabled him to perform in a conspicuous manner, and his ready wit and quick conception of everything ludicrous caused him to shine as a great light among that society of official jesters.
So the two lived in quiet and sober content. Zashue was pleased with his spouse. She kept her looks well with advancing years, and while there is never among Indians that complete intimacy. between man and wife which engenders fidelity under all circumstances, while a certain freedom of action is always permitted to the man toward the other sex, Say had natural tact enough to never pry into such matters. She, in turn, did her duty. Always at home, she faithfully fulfilled her obligations as head of the house, and naturally shrank from all society but that of her own sex and such men as were allied to her by near ties of relationship. When she told her father in that sad interview that she was faithful to her husband, Say had told the truth. And yet there was something that caused her to plead guilty.
The family had lived contentedly, and no cloud appeared to hang over them until, a few years previous to the date of our story, Say Koitza fell ill, from want of proper care. Mountain fever is not infrequently fatal, and it was mountain fever that had seized upon the delicate frame of the little woman. This fever is often tenacious and intermittent; sometimes it is congestive. Indian medicine may cure a slight attack, and prevent too frequent returns of more violent ones; but if the case is a serious one, Indian remedies are of no avail. Say suffered from a slight attack at first, and recovered from it. A primitive cold-water treatment was effective for the time being; but
in the year ensuing fever set in again, and no sudorific was of any use. She tried a decoction of willow bark, but it did her no good. She took the root of the yucca, or soapweed, and drank the froth produced by whipping water with it, but gained no relief. The poor woman did not know that these remedies are not employed by the Indians in a case like hers, but only for toothache and, in the case of soapweed, for consumption.
Thus it went on for three years. During the dry seasons there were no signs of the illness; but as soon as, in July or August, thunderstorms shed their moisture over the mountains, and chilly nights alternated with warm sunshine, the fever made its appearance. Two years before the rainy season had lasted unusually long. and it was followed immediately by snow-falls. The attacks from the disease were therefore unusually violent, and by November Say Koitza thought herself dying from weakness and exhaustion. Her condition was such that her husband felt alarmed, and every effort was made to relieve her by the aid of such arts as the Indian believes in. The chief medicine-man, or great shaman, of the tribe had to come and see the patient, pray by her side, and then go home to fast and mortify himself for four consecutive days. His efforts had no effect whatever. Every indigenous medicine that was thought of had been already used, and none had been of any avail.
At last the shaman, encouraged by the many blue and green stones, cotton wraps, and quantities of corn meal which Zashue Tihua contributed in reward of his juggleries, resolved to make a final trial by submitting himself and his associates to the dangerous ordeal of fire-eating for the invalid's sake. This ceremony was always per. formed by a certain group of medicine-men, called therefore Hakanyi Chayani, or Fire Shamans. The Hishtanyi [paragraph continues]
Chayan was their official head, and he, with the four others belonging to the fire-eating crew, fasted rigorously for four days and nights. Then they went to the house of Say Koitza, and in her presence sang the powerful song, while each one of them in turn waved a burning bunch of long dry grass to the six sacred regions, and each time bit off a piece of the burning weed and chewed it. When all had gone through the performances, and their mouths were well filled with ashes, each one gravely stepped up to the invalid, and spat the contents of his mouth in her face. Then they departed as quietly as they had come, and went home to await the results of the wonderful remedy. 1 It was a last, a supreme effort.
The condition of Say could not fail to arouse the sympathies of her own sex, even outside of her clan. Many were the calls from compassionate women. They would drop in, squat down, tender their services, suggest remedies, and gossip. Only one woman made herself directly useful, and that was Shotaye, a member of the Water clan. Shotaye was a strange woman. Nobody liked her, and yet many applied to her for relief in secret; for Shotaye possessed great knowledge of plants and other remedies, and she had a keen practical sense. But people dreaded her; she lived alone in her cave among the abodes of the Water people, and nobody knew but she might know more than the official medicine-men themselves. In short, the majority of the tribe believed that Shotaye was a witch; but the woman was so wary that nobody could prove her to be one.
Shotaye was not an old woman. Her appearance was not in the least repulsive, on the contrary. The men knew that the woman showed no objections to occasional
attentions, even to intimacy. For this reason, also, she was not popular among her own sex.
Shotaye had had a husband once; but he had left her and was living with another woman. That husband was called Tyope, badger, a man of strong physique and one averse to monotony in conjugal life. Tyope was a scheming man, cunning and unscrupulous in the highest degree; Shotaye an energetic woman, endowed with a powerful will of her own. Had there not been the little cloud of marital inconstancy on both sides, the pair would have been well-assorted for good as well as for evil. Tyope was a Koshare rather than an agriculturist, he spent his time mostly in other people's homes and in the estufa of the Delight Makers, leaving his wife to provide for herself and for him also, whenever he chose to remain at her house. In short there were flaws on both sides, and Shotaye being the house-mistress held the main power. One fine evening when Tyope presented himself in the grotto occupied by his wife, she refused to recognize him any longer. He protested, he stormed, he menaced her; it was of no avail. Shotaye told him to go, and he left. Henceforth the two were mortal enemies. The woman said little; but he was bent upon her destruction by every possible means. She kept on the defensive, avoided all conflicts, and was very careful not to give any cause for a direct accusation of sorcery. She cured people incidentally, never asking any compensation for it. She lived alone, and thus earned enough to be independent of her own clan if need be.
This woman called on Say occasionally, but only between the periods of the attacks of fever. On such visits she would assist the patient, do the housework, and arrange the hides or covers for her. Say harboured a wish to consult her about her disease; but Shotaye studiously avoided any opportunity for confidential talk. One day, however, when
the two were alone in the kitchen, and the invalid felt somewhat relieved, she opened her heart to her visitor. Shotaye listened very attentively, and when Say had concluded, instead of asking for further details, she abruptly asked whether Say had no suspicion of being bewitched.
If such a question were put to us, we should doubt the sanity of the questioner. Not so the Indian. Say felt like one from whose eyes thick scales are suddenly removed. Indeed, she thought this was the cause of her evil, this alone could explain the tenacity of the disease, its mysterious intermittence. She told her interlocutor that she must be right, or else why these regular returns and always during the season of rain? Shotaye listened and listened; every word she heard was in confirmation of her own thoughts. Say must be under the influence of some evil charm, and unless counteracted by magic, it was clear to her that the poor woman must succumb to its workings.
Whatever there is in nature which the Indian cannot grasp at once, he attributes to mysterious supernatural agencies. He believes that nature is pervaded by spiritual essence individualized into an infinite number of distinct powers. Everything in nature has a soul according to him, and it is that soul which causes it to move or to act upon its surroundings in general. Thus the medical properties of animals, of plants, or minerals, are due to spiritual manifestations. His medical art therefore does not consist merely in eliminating the physical cause of disease. As soon as any disease is stubborn there must be at the bottom of it some spiritual source, and this source can be discovered and removed only by magic.
Incantations therefore form an important part of Indian medicine. The formulas therefor are the special property of the medicine-men, whom we shall hereafter designate with the much more appropriate name of Shamans. The shaman
is wizard and physician at the same time. He is also a prophet, augur, and oracle. His duty it is not only to protect from evil, but to counteract it. He has charms and incantations which he offers for the production of beneficial natural phenomena.
Magic for such purposes is regarded by the Indian as essential to the existence of man. Magic, however, as a black art is the most heinous crime which he can conceive. The difference between the two consists mainly in their purpose; the manipulations are substantially the same, so are the objects. To know those details is one of the attributes of the shamans.
The latter constitute a circle of their own,--a cluster of adepts, nominally in the arts of healing, but really in the arts of magic. That circle is wide, and whoever stands outside of it has no right to infringe upon the duties of its members by attempting to follow their example. It is an institution, and its origin dates from untold centuries. It is subdivided into groups, each of which practises charms, incantations, or magic, relating to certain human interests. The Shyayak are in possession of the spell which charms game, in other words they are the shamans of the hunt. The Uakanyi practise magic in warfare, they are the shamans of war. The Chayani are physicians who combine with the knowledge of medicine proper, the knowledge of magic curative powers. They are the shamans of medicine. Lastly the Yaya combine a knowledge of all these different branches in their essence. They are the prophets and priests. These groups may be described as, in a certain sense, guilds. But they are secret societies also, inasmuch as the arts and practices of each are special property which is kept secret from the others, and from the uninitiated members in the tribe. In order to become a member of a society of that kind secrecy is required and long apprenticeship. [paragraph continues]
The novice rises slowly from one degree of knowledge to another, and only few attain the higher positions.
The members of these secret societies are therefore magicians or wizards, and when any one dreads danger from evil sorcery it is his duty to consult the proper shaman for relief, unless he should be sure of the person of the sorcerer, in which case he may kill him outright without even mentioning the deed. In the present instance Say could not resort to such a summary expedient. It was therefore the duty of Shotaye, who was better informed on institutions and customs, to direct her sick friend to a shaman. But Shotaye was not on good terms with the official wizards, particularly the Chayani, those who cured, and still less with the highest religious powers, the Yaya. It suited her pride to attempt the experiment at her own risk, conscious all the while that it was dangerous,--dangerous for herself, as well as for her patient. For it entailed performances which only the shaman can undertake, and should they be detected, the very crime of sorcery, against which their experiments were directed, would be charged against them.
Shotaye had still another reason for not encouraging her friend to speak to the higher chayani. The fever coincided with the rainy season. As soon as this was over it subsided. Natural as this was, both women attributed it to a mysterious cause; and Shotaye, suspicious and vindictive even, thought she had discovered a clew to the guilty party.
The rainy season in New Mexico is of course essential to the growth of the chief staple of the Indian,--maize or Indian corn. When, therefore, in July daily showers should occur, the principal shamans of each tribe and the yaya must pray, fast, and mortify themselves, in order that Those Above may send the needed rain. The hishtanyi chayan scatters the powder of the white flower to the winds, meanwhile murmuring incantations. At night he imitates
thunder, by whirling a flint knife attached to the end of a long string, and draws brilliant flashes from pebbles which he strikes together in a peculiar manner. For the Indian reasons that since rain is preceded in summer by lightning and thunder, man by imitating those heralds is calling the desired precipitation,--beckoning it to come.
This is the time of the year when the Koshare perform their chief work. Four days and four nights, sometimes longer, they must fast and pray in order that the crops may obtain the moisture indispensable for ripening. The people look upon the Delight Makers with a degree of respect akin to fear at all times, for they are regarded as powerful intermediaries in matters of life and death to the tribe; but during that particular time they are considered as specially precious to the higher powers. Shotaye hated the Koshare. They in turn disliked the woman, and gave vent to their dislike by turning her into ridicule at public dances as often as possible. This she resented greatly; but she was powerless to retaliate, since the Delight Makers enjoy special privileges on festive days. The medicine-woman's hatred was still increased by the fact that her former husband, Tyope, was a leading Koshare. To his influence she attributed the insults which the jesters offered her, and she saw in the whole group but a crowd of willing tools handled by her personal enemy.
Since Say's illness coincided with the beginning of the rainy season, the principal activity of the Koshare immediately preceded the outbreak of the fever. Urged by hate and desire for revenge, Shotaye combined the two facts in her mind, and drew the conclusion that the disease was due to the magic power of the Koshare, directed against Say for some unknown reason and purpose.
If the Koshare were guilty, it was not only useless, it was dangerous even, to call upon any chayan for relief. [paragraph continues]
The Delight Makers were the chief assistants of the shamans in any public ceremony, and indispensable to them in many ways. Beside, Say Koitza could not have applied to a chayan without her husband's knowledge, and that husband was a Koshare.
So after explaining to the invalid her suspicions and inferences, she suggested direct inquiry about the principals in the supposed evil actions against her. That inquiry could be conducted only through sorcery itself, and Say at first trembled. She feared, and not without good cause, an appeal to evil powers. Still Shotaye spoke so plausibly; she assured so strongly her friend of her own discretion and fidelity, and was so insistent upon her constant success in everything she had undertaken as yet,--that the woman yielded at last against her own convictions. Something within her seemed to speak and say, "Do not tread forbidden paths, speak to your husband first." But the arguments on the other side were too strong, her own physical condition too weak; she grasped the expected relief regardless of the warnings of her conscience.
Among the objects connected with evil magic, a certain kind of maize had the power of speech attributed to it. It is the dark-coloured variety, called in the Queres language ka monyi tza. Ears of this corn belonging to a witch are said to speak in the absence of their owner, and to, tell of her whereabouts and doings. Shotaye knew this, and herself but indifferently versed in the black art, concluded that the black corn would also reveal, if properly handled, the agent whose manipulations caused Say Koitza's sufferings. She hoped also that by combining the dreaded grain with another more powerful implement of sorcery, owl's plumage, she would succeed in eliciting from the former all the information desired. The woman was quite ignorant of the evil ways in which she was about to wander; but she was
bold and daring, and the hope of injuring her enemies was a greater inducement than the desire to relieve her friend. The proposed manipulation was directed in fact much more against her former husband than against the disease.
But how to obtain the necessary objects! How to secure black corn, and how and where to get the feathers of an owl! Both were so well known and so generally tabooed that inquiry after them would forthwith arouse suspicion. Black maize might be procured on the sly; but the other could be found by chance only,--by meeting with the body of a dead owl on the heights surrounding the Tyuonyi.
Shotaye was in the habit of strolling alone all around the Rito, over the timbered mesa as well as through the gorges which descend from the mountains. On such excursions the woman observed the most minute precautions, for there was danger,--danger from roaming Indians of the Navajo or Dinne tribe, and danger from spies of her own tribe. Frequently people had followed stealthily in the hope of surprising her at some illicit practice, but she had been lucky enough to notice them in time. Of what is called to-day the mesa del Rito, the high table-land bordering the Tyuonyi on the south, Shotaye knew every inch of ground, every tree and shrub.
On a clear, cool November day she strolled again in that direction, climbing the heights and penetrating into the scrubby timber, interspersed with tall pines, which covers the plateau for miles. To her delight she discovered the remains of an owl at no great distance from the declivity of the Rito beneath a rotten pine. Instead of picking up the carcass she kicked it aside disdainfully, but took good care to notice whither so as to remember the place. It landed on a juniper-bush and remained suspended from its branches. Shotaye went onward carelessly. She looked
for herbs and plants, picking up a handful here, pulling out a root there, until she had made a long circuit, which however brought her back to the place where the dead owl was. Here she stopped, listening, all the while looking out for plants. As if by accident she neared the bush on which the carcass was still hanging, and after assuring herself that the body had not been disturbed, she brushed past so as to cause it to drop to the ground. She hastily plucked a few feathers, put them with the herbs and roots already gathered, and turned homeward. Everything was quiet and still around her, only at a short distance two crows flew up croaking.
Say Koitza was not strong. enough to walk up to the cliffs; therefore Shotaye, when she came to announce to her friend that the necessary material was at last secured, suggested that the incantation be performed at the home of the invalid. A certain evening when Zashue was sure to be absent, owing to a gathering of the Koshare, was appointed for the purpose. On that evening the two women sat alone in the kitchen. Okoya was away in the estufa of Tanyi hanutsh. The two younger children were fast asleep in the outer room. It was a cold night, but the fire on the hearth had almost completely subsided, only a few embers remaining. Through the loophole in the wall an occasional draught of chilly air entered. Say Koitza clung to her friend's shoulder, shivering and trembling from fear as well as from cold.
In the centre of the dark room Shotaye had placed a few ears of black corn, and on them two bundles of owl's feathers, each tied to a chip of obsidian. She had also brought along some bark of the red willow; this she pulverized in the hand, and made into two cigarettes with corn husks. At that time tobacco was unknown to the Pueblos, and red willow-bark was the only thing used for
smoking, while smoking itself was not a relish but exclusively a sacrifice.
Handing one of the cigarettes to her friend, Shotaye directed her to light it and then puff the smoke successively to the six mythical regions. After this she was to cast the glowing stub on the pile of corn and feathers. With a shudder Say Koitza obeyed these instructions; her teeth chattered while the cave-woman recited an invocation. Then both huddled together to listen. Even Shotaye felt afraid of the consequences. For a long time everything was silent; the cold draught from the outside had stopped; the women sat in breathless silence; they listened and listened. Nothing moved. Not a sound was heard.
Shotaye overcame her first anxiety and repeated the dread formula. All was silent. Suddenly a cold blast pervaded the room again. It fanned the embers to renewed life; they shed a faint glimmer over the chamber. The women started; there was a crackling heard; the feathers moved; the ears of corn seemed to change position. One of the feather bunches rolled on the floor. They nearly screamed in terror, for their excited imagination caused them to hear ghostly sounds,--disconnected, uncomprehended words. It was clear that the black corn had spoken. What it said neither could tell; but the fact of having heard the noise was sufficient to convince them that Say was under the influence of an evil charm, and Shotaye took care to add that that charm was exercised by the Koshare or by some one belonging to their society.
So powerful was the effect of this incantation scene upon Say that she fainted. After a while she recovered and Shotaye led her back to the outer room, where, after some time, she began to slumber from sheer exhaustion. [paragraph continues]
Then the medicine-woman returned to the caves, taking with her every vestige of the conjuration.
It was wise on her part, for as soon as Say awoke from feverish and anxious dreams, her first thought was about the dismal objects. Everything was quiet. Zashue had returned, and was quietly asleep by her side. She arose and glided into the kitchen, noiselessly, stealthily. The floor was clean. She felt around; not a trace of the objectionable pile could be noticed. Unspeakable was the feeling of relief with which she returned to her husband's side and extended herself on the hides again; sound sleep came to her, and when she awoke it was daylight. She felt stronger, brighter. Yet thereafter, as often as Zashue approached her in his harmless, bantering manner, she experienced a strange, sudden pang. She was reminded of having done wrong in not having been open with him. The Indian's conscience is hemmed in by bonds arising from his social and religious organization; why, for instance, should she have told her spouse? He was neither of her clan nor of her party. He belonged to the summer people, she to those of winter. She stood outside of all secret associations, whereas he was a Koshare.
The winter following proved to be mild and dry. Say recovered slowly. Shotaye kept aloof after the conjuration, for a long time at least. All of a sudden she made her appearance at the home of her convalescent friend. It was in order to remind her that the first step was only a preliminary, and that it could not effect a radical cure. All that had been achieved was to prove that an evil charm existed, and that the Koshare were the wrongdoers. It remained now to remove the spell by breaking the charm. This, she represented, had to be attempted when the Koshare were in their greatest power, and could
only be effected by means of the owl's feathers. By burying these feathers near the place where the Delight Makers used to assemble, Shotaye asserted that not only would the disease be eliminated forever, but the guilty one be punished according to the measure of his crime.
Say would not listen to any such proposals. She saw no necessity for going any further in forbidden tracks. Now that her health was restored, why should she attempt to harm a cluster of men to which her husband belonged, and thus perhaps imperil his life? Shotaye met this objection with the assurance that the remedy was directed against the guilty ones only, and that she herself did not for a moment think that Zashue had participated in the evil manipulations against his wife; that consequently he was in no manner exposed to danger. Say finally told her visitor that she would wait and see, and then decide.
Winter went and spring came. Warm summer followed with a dark-blue sky and sporadic thunderclouds. All the crops were planted, irrigated, and scantily weeded. Now they awaited the rains in order to complete growth and prepare for maturity. The great chayani had gone through their official fasts, they had made their sacrificial offerings in the sacred bowls dedicated to rain-medicine. Every day clouds loomed up in the west, distant thunder rumbled, but not a drop of rain fell in the Rito and the people began to look gloomy. The Koshare were therefore required to go to work earlier than usual. They were to fast four consecutive days between two full moons.
The estufa in which the Delight Makers used to assemble is situated at the eastern end of the cliffs, and its access is difficult to-day. It is a circular chamber in the rock twenty feet in diameter. At present the outer wall has fallen in, but a crease in the floor indicates the place where a little port-hole led into the cave. The cave lies high, so that
from it a view of the whole valley presents itself, and at its feet opens a narrow chasm of considerable depth. This is a mere fissure, so narrow that cross-beams were fastened into its sides like the rounds of a step-ladder; and on these the people ascended to a narrow trail leading up to the entrance. Other cave-dwellings were scattered along this trail and farther below. They were inhabited by the people of the Turquoise clan.
All the Koshare had retired to this secluded spot, and the first day of fasting was nearly over when Shotaye called once more at the home of Say. The latter guessed the object of her coming and felt afraid. Without preamble, in a sober, matter-of-fact way, the cave-woman stated that the time had come for a decisive step; and with this she placed three bunches of owl's feathers on the floor. In vain Say Koitza protested, affirming that her health was fully restored. Shotaye would not listen to refusal or excuse. Now or never, she commanded. She repeated her former assertion that the charm could not hurt Zashue as long as he was not guilty. For a long while the women sat arguing the matter; at last Say Koitza yielded, and promised to comply.
Night came, and the people of the Rito went to rest. The moon rose behind the lava-ridge of the Tetilla; the rocky battlements of the cliffs shone brightly above the gorge, whose depths rested in dark shadow. A tiny figure crept out of the big building and hurried down the vale along the fields. When she reached the grove where we met Okoya and his little brother for the first time, she crouched beneath a tree, covered her head, and sobbed aloud. It was a dire task for Say Koitza, this errand out of which harm might arise to the whole cluster to which her husband belonged. If the charm which she clutched with trembling fingers should work against him, then he was the
guilty party. So Shotaye had insinuated, and the word had stung her like the bite of a serpent. It came back to her mind as she hurried to perform the deed, and caused her to start. She rose hastily and turned toward the cliffs.
The uppermost rocks glistened fairly in the light of the moon; and where the sharp line of the shadows commenced, the ruddy glow of a fire burst from an oblong aperture. There was the estufa of the Koshare. From it issued the sound of hollow drumming intermingled with the cadence of a chorus of hoarse voices. A thrill went through Say, she stopped again and listened. Was not her husband's voice among them? Certainly he was there, doing his duty with the rest. And if he was as guilty toward her as the others? That monstrous thought rose again, it pushed her onward. She crawled ahead slowly, scarcely conscious of the danger attending her mission. Large blocks of débris, tent-shaped erosive hillocks, impeded her progress; they crowded along the foot of the cliffs like protecting bulwarks, and the trail wound around them on a higher plane. But this trail she dared not follow, there was not enough darkness on it. She crept along the base, the sense of danger coming to her with the increasing obscurity, until suddenly she stood before a cleft of almost inky hue. Here she remembered was the ascent to the estufa, here she had to perform the work, and here overpowered by emotion and excitement she dropped behind an angular block of stone unconscious.
When she recovered, the chorus sounded directly above her, and the chant seemed to soar away like voices from an upper world. She glanced up the dark fissure as through a flume. The cross-beams were faintly visible. Over the cleft rested a moonlit sky, but to the rocks clung the figure of a man. That man stood there a moment only, then shouting a few words as if calling to somebody within,
he disappeared. The song was hushed. Say recognized the speaker; it was Tyope, Shotaye's former husband, and the one whom the woman suspected of having done her harm. Resolutely she went at her task.
Taking a bundle of owl's feathers from her wrap, she presented it successively to the six regions, and then buried it carefully in the sand, below where the first cross-beam traversed the fissure. Again she listened and spied, and creeping forward concealed the second bunch in another place near by. Then she whispered the sinister prayer which was to give to the feathers the power to do harm. At the close the drum rumbled again within the cliffs above her, and the chant rose strong and rude. Covering her head, shaking and shivering with sudden fear, Say Koitza rushed from the spot. Ere day broke she had reached home again, and extended her weary frame by the side of her sleeping children.
Say slept for the remainder of the night a long sleep of exhaustion. The next morning her first task was to bury the last bunch of owl's feathers in the kitchen, close to the fireplace, where it was to protect her from the inroads of enemies. She felt weak but rather comfortable. Her only anxiety was now the return of her husband.
Zashue came home at last, good-humoured as ever, but with a lively appetite akin to hunger. His wife received him in a subdued manner bordering on obsequiousness; she was more than ever bent on anticipating any desire on his part. All the while afraid of detection, every kind word spoken to her caused remorse, every joke pained her in secret. It recalled what she had done to his companions, perhaps to him also.
The incantations of the chayani and the fasts of the Koshare seemed to have no effect whatever upon the course of the rain-clouds. The heavens clouded regularly every
day; they shed their moisture all around the Tyuonyi, but not a drop fell in the valley-gorge. Now the three chief penitents of the tribe, the Hotshanyi, the shaykatze, and the uishtyaka, were called upon to use their means of intercession with Those Above. They fasted, prayed, and made sacrifices alternately for an entire moon; still it rained not. In New Mexico local droughts are sometimes very pertinacious. Plants withered, the corn and beans suffered, languished, and died. The tribe looked forward to a winter without vegetable food. But Say Koitza was secretly glad, for drought killed her disease. She felt stronger every day, and worked zealously, anxious to please her husband and to remove every suspicion. Shotaye called on her frequently; she, too, felt proud of the success of her cure, sure of the revenge she had taken upon her enemies.
When a few rains swept at last down upon the vale, it was too late for the crops. Only the few stores kept in reserve and the proceeds of the hunt could save the tribe from a famine. Women and children put on red wristbands to comfort their hearts in the prospective distress, for a winter without vegetable supplies was until then an unknown disaster. Say Koitza also placed strips of red buckskin around her arms. Ostensibly she mourned for her tribe; in reality it was to relieve her heart from the reproaches of her own conscience.
But when winter set in and the fever had not put in its appearance, her mind gradually changed. She lost all fear of discovery, and finally felt proud of what she had done. Had she not preserved herself for her own husband, for her children? Instead of performing a crime, it was a meritorious act. Shotaye encouraged her in such thoughts. To her it was less the recovery of her friend than the blow dealt the Koshare, particularly her former husband, that excited her satisfaction and tickled her pride.
Say thus felt happy and at rest, but that fatal interview with her father suddenly dispelled all her fond dreams. The old man's revelations annihilated everything at one fell blow. No hope was left; her life was gone, her doom sealed. As if lightning had struck her she lay down by the hearth, motionless, for a long while. She heard nothing; she stared vacantly; her thoughts came and went like nebulous phantoms. At last somebody entered the outer room, but the woman noticed him not. Three times the new-comer called her name; she gave no reply. At the fourth call, "Koitza!" she started at last, and faintly answered,--
Zashue, her husband, entered the kitchen and good-naturedly inquired,
"Are you ill?"
She raised herself hastily and replied,
"No; but I was asleep."
"The sun is resting on the western mountains," said Zashue; "give me something to eat, I am tired."
She stirred the fire, and when dry brush flamed over the hearth she placed the stew-pot on it. The remainder of the cornmeal she stirred with water, and began to mix cakes in the usual way. Her husband watched her pleasantly.
Zashue was indeed a good-looking Indian. Lithe and of a fair height, with black hair and large bright eyes, he appeared the picture of vigour and mirth. He chatted with the utmost nonchalance, telling his wife about the insignificant happenings of the day, the prospects of the crops, what such and such a one had said to him, and what he had told the other in return. It was innocent gossip, intimate chat, such as a contented husband may tell a wife in whom he places entire confidence. How
happy she felt at the harmless chatter, and yet how intensely miserable. His inquiry, "Are you ill?" rang in her ears with a sickening clang, like some overwhelming reproach. Why, oh why, had she not spoken to him in time? He was so good to her. Now it was too late; and beside, why anticipate the fatal hour when he must know all? Why not improve the few moments of respite granted ere death came?
Say Koitza suffered him to continue, and listened with increasing interest to the talk of her husband. It might be the last time. Little by little, as he went on, with harmless, sometimes very clumsy, jokes and jests, she became oblivious of her wretched prospects, and her soul rested in the present. She began to smile shyly at first, then she even laughed. As Zashue ate he praised her cooking; and that gratified her, although it filled her with remorse and anguish. The children came also and squatted around the hearth, Okoya alone keeping at a distance and eyeing his mother suspiciously. Could she in his presence really feel as merry as she acted? Was it not evidence of the basest deception on her part? So the boy reasoned from his own standpoint, and went out into the court-yard in disgust.
The sun set, and a calm, still night sank down on the Rito de los Frijoles. As the sky darkened, evidences of life and mirth began to show themselves at the bottom of the gorge as well as along the cliffs. Monotonous singing sounded from the roofs of the big house, from caves, and from slopes leading up to them. Noisy talking, clear, ringing laughter, rose into the night. Old as well as young seemed to enjoy the balmy evening. Few remained indoors. Among these were Zashue and his wife. The woman leaned against him, and often looked up to his face with a smile. She felt happy by the side of her husband, and
however harrowing the thought of her future seemed to be, the present was blissful to her.
After a while Zashue rose, and his spouse followed him anxiously to the door, trembling lest he should leave her alone for the night. She grasped his hand, and he stood for a while in the outer doorway gazing at the sky. Every sound was hushed except the rushing of the brook. The canopy of heaven sparkled in wonderful splendour. Its stars blazed, shedding peace upon earth and good-will to man. The woman's hand quivered in that of her spouse. He turned and retired with her to the interior of the dwelling.
34:1 This tradition was told me by Tehua Indians, and some friends among the Queres subsequently confirmed it.
41:1 This fire-cure was still practised by the Queres not very long ago.