Sacred Texts  Native American  Southwest  Index  Previous  Next 


The first priest came among the Cochiti Indians; they had come down off the mesa, and they had a governor. The women of Cochiti cooked for the priest every week in turn and cared for his house. He was fond of one of these women, and lay with her. Her husband went to the governor and said, "Send this priest away or I will kill him." The governor did not dare to send the priest away, and the man came again and said, "Send him away or I will kill him." The woman's husband belonged to a large family, and there were many brothers to help him against the priest. When the man had been several times to the governor, the sacristan heard that they were preparing to kill the priest. He took a manta and a woman's dress and a woman's belt to the house of the priest by night and dressed him as a woman. He told him, "The husband of the woman threatens to kill you, and he has many brothers to help him. Escape down

p. 194

the river toward the south, and ask for the protection of one of the other pueblos."

The sacristan took him down to the river and when they got to the shelter of the brush he took off the woman's mantas and brought them home. The priest went toward the south, walking in the river to cover his tracks. Next day he came to Angustula. He hid himself during the day in the underbrush. At San Felipe that day they had made proclamation for a rabbit hunt, and the men came down to the river and made their circle for the surround, just where the priest was hiding at Angustula. They surrounded him and took him to San Felipe; they did not hunt rabbits any more that day.

The men of Cochiti came to San Felipe, pursuing the priest. They demanded that the men of San Felipe surrender him to them. The people of San Felipe refused. The people of Cochiti said, "We will fight." The people of San Felipe said, "We will not give him up." The men of Cochiti went back to their pueblo to gather together the pueblos that would fight with them against San Felipe. They had a council: Santo Domingo and Tesuque and San Ildefonso and Cochiti, and they were not willing to fight San Felipe to obtain the priest. They went again to San Felipe to ask them to surrender the priest peacefully, but they would not.

The men of Cochiti, and of the pueblos which had joined with them, lay in wait outside the pueblo to seize the priest when he came outside. The Indians of San Felipe knew this, and they did not go outside the pueblo even for water. At last they had no drinking water and everyone was suffering with thirst. The priest said to them, "Gather your jars and I will fill them." All the women of the pueblo brought their water jars and set them in a row. The priest opened the vein in his left arm and water poured out and filled all the jars so that everyone had water. When they saw this, the Indians of San Felipe believed in the priest.

They kept him with them for two or three years, and then they gave him a guard to accompany him back to Mexico. There the bishop in Mexico had a message from the Pope in Spain which told the priest to return to the pueblo of San Felipe. He liked the Indians of San Felipe because they had saved his life. When he told the governor of Mexico that he was returning to San Felipe, the governor gave him a guard of soldiers to bring him all the way to the pueblo. The governor also gave to San Felipe all the land they asked for when the country was surveyed. That is why San Felipe has much land. He told them to build their pueblo down below the mesa, that there was no danger. Therefore they abandoned their pueblo on the mesa, and built down below, where their pueblo still is. The priest died in San Felipe.

p. 195

The people of Cochiti sent a message to Rome to ask not to be Catholics. They said that they had not kept their priest and had tried to kill him. That is what happened between Cochiti and San Felipe because of the priest.


193:1 Informant 4.

Next: The Girl who was Stolen by a Navaho