Preferred Citation: Bahr, Donald, Juan Smith, William Smith Allison, and Julian Hayden. The Short, Swift Time of Gods on Earth: The Hohokam Chronicles. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1994 1994.

Part 7— Feather Braided Chief and the Gambler

Part 7—
Feather Braided Chief and the Gambler

Although there is another procreation episode in this story—a young woman causes a young man to become an eagle—procreation is not the focus of the text. The origin of war ceremonies is the main issue, and, as was stated in the introduction, it is interesting that this origin occurs among the Hohokam. They are killed in Siuuhu's war, but in some sense they also invented the practice.

A moment's review will establish that there has been neither warfare nor war ceremony in the mythology so far, that is, in the first nine stories. In the last part, there were magical battles between chiefs, and a witch and an old woman were killed. What, then, is warfare

For this mythology as I understand it, war is the intentional, face-to-face, bloodletting killing of a male by a male. This is lacking in the previous stories, and when it occurs in this part, a postkilling, purificational ceremonialism also begins. Thus, war is men killing men and being purified afterward.

There is one killing complete with purification in the Smith-Allison text, and there is that one plus another in a text that I include as a supplement to the Smith-Allison story. This time the supplement is from the Papagos, from a narrator named Sivariano (Cipriano, in Spanish) Garcia. His text was obtained by the musicologist Ruth Densmore in 1929.

These mythical killings only approximate the above definition of war. In the Smith-Allison text (and Garcia has this, too), the killer is Siuuhu. The enemy is a young man who has been turned into an eagle. The postkilling purification is done for Siuuhu by an old woman. The eagle has been a menace to society, carrying off people as food for his family. He has captured a human woman as his wife, and he has children by her. He supplies his family with human meat.


The other killing also occurs in both texts, but only Garcia makes it the occasion for a purification. This time the man who is killed is a normal but old Hohokam, that is, a man from the killer's community. The situation is this. A boy being raised by his grandmother takes the figurative commands of his male elders literally. After a series of such fiascos, the elders station him for a deer drive, so they can drive deer past him, and they order him to shoot. "the old man." He shoots a human old man. For this he is banished from society, or he leaves voluntarily. In the Garcia version, while wandering he comes to a person called Bitter Wind, far in the west. Bitter Wind, who has magically directed his literal foolishness, purifies and initiates him into the status of warrior on the strength of his having killed the old man.

The boy's act of killing and his subsequent purification come at the beginning of this quite long myth, and Siuuhu's killing and purification come at the end. The remainder of my introductory remarks will treat three questions. First, how does the story progress from the young boy as killer to Siuuhu as killer

Second, where does the character Feather Braided Chief enter the story
And third, why would an old woman officiate in the purification of Siuuhu

Concerning the first question, the Smith-Allison text drops the young boy after the old man/deer killing episode, without connecting his story to the myth of how Siuuhu killed the eagle. In the Garcia version, the boy returns to society after his initiation, and he resumes residence with his grandmother. He is now a ripe and respected man, but it is never said that he marries. Soon a friendless, wandering, and always losing young gambler comes to him. The ripe young man gives him dice sticks that render him invincible in gambling (see the note on the game gins, in story 4). The Smith-Allison text substitutes Lightning for the returned ripe young man. It is Lightning who pities the loser and makes him invincible.

The texts agree that the gambler is a menace to society. He threatens to win everyone's property. People cannot refrain from trying to best him. In the Garcia text, Siuuhu (called "Elder Brother") observes this and decides to intervene. In the Smith-Allison text, the intervention is by a person whose name I cannot understand. This name is trans-


lated as "tall fellow medicine man." In any case, the interventions follow the same course. An intervener gets a young woman to tempt the gambler to a waterhole before his next bout. There she gives him a gruel of feathers mixed with corn. When the gambler drinks it, he becomes an eagle, flies away, and commences to kill people as already stated.

In the Smith-Allison text, the people turn to Siuuhu at this point; in the Garcia version, Siuuhu has taken an interest since plotting to turn the gambler into an eagle. The texts agree on what Siuuhu does to the eagle. He seeks him where he lives with his wife and child on the top of a mountain, and he kills him with the wife's connivance and to the child's horror. Humanity is saved. The uneaten stored dead are revived (which gives origin to the white people); and Siuuhu is initiated by an old woman into warriorhood.

Second, who is Feather Braided Chief

According to Thin Leather (Russell 1908: 218; Lloyd 1911: 62; Fewkes 1912: 51), Feather Braided is the name of the literalist boy who becomes the benefactor of the gambler. As an adult, according to Thin Leather, Feather Braided Chief lives in the northernmost of the great-houses conquered by the Pimas. We will hear of him later in that context, not in great detail but merely by way of affirming that the characters represented at this stage of the mythology were indeed Hohokam, that the Hohokam chiefs comprised a small world, and that all these chiefs fell, according to Thin Leather (also Smith-Allison), to the Pima-Papago. (Feather Braided Chief is not one of the two great adversaries mentioned in the discussion of the Font text. He is neither a rain god nor a sun god but is merely one of the many Hohokam caught up in the sweep of conquest.)

Third, the old woman who took care of Siuuhu. There is no mistake that this sex and age were intended, because Smith-Allison and Garcia agree on them.[1] I can no more explain the selection of an old woman here than I could explain the selection of the earlier one as the source of tobacco. I can only show some correlates and consequences of the selection.

Thus, I suspect that because an old woman was selected,


no war oratory is derived from this particular episode. Recall from the introduction that the Pima-Papago accompanied the purification of their successful warriors with oratory, that is, with word-for-word memorized speeches. We will find those speeches recalled but not actually delivered as texts in the Garcia narrative of Feather Braided's purification. There the purifier is Bitter Wind, a male. We will find one other Hohokam era event from which the Pima-Papago derived war oratory. This is the death, resurrection, and underworld entry of Siuuhu. There the purifier is Earth Doctor, another male. But the purification that we are now interested in, administered by a woman, has no speech making. I do not think this is coincidental. The officiants and speakers at "actual" war purifications were men (Underhill 1946: 185–210; Underhill et al. 1979: 89–139). Quite probably, men would not give a speech originally mouthed by a woman.

If that is true, it is all the more interesting that a woman performs this function for Siuuhu. If we cannot say why it is a woman, we can at least say how, for the texts are quite clear on that. This woman has an exceptional ability to sense that Siuuhu has survived his encounter with the eagle (the encounter is described in very suspenseful terms; Siuuhu does not seem invincible). With kindness and modesty, quite as a mother we may say, she nurses him to health. There is nothing aggressive or ecstatic in her action, as there is in the purifying actions of Bitter Wind upon Feather Braided and of Earth Doctor upon Siuuhu (part 8). She makes clay pots and prepares a corn gruel for him, which in this context seems more like baby food than like the wicked refreshment that turned the gambler into an eagle. According to Smith-Allison, she holds Siuuhu like a baby and suckles him.

One cannot help comparing this scene with the Pietà, Michelangelo's sculpture of Mary holding Jesus after the Crucifixion. Both scenes show a woman's tenderness to a man-god. Siuuhu, however, has just rescued the Hohokam, and his problems with them will come later. This woman holds a victor, while Jesus' mother holds him dead.


Story 10—
The Boy Gambler, The Man-Eagle, and the Origin of White Culture


In a certain year a baby was born. It was never quiet but always crying. Its mother tried in every way to keep it still but couldn't do it, and its grandmother also tried but couldn't. Finally they went to get some cactus thorns and made holes in its ears, so he[2] might die and they would be rid of him, but the baby did not die. When they saw this, they sang:

The naughty baby
The naughty baby
The mother is trying
To scold the baby
But he is still naughty (repeat, substituting
"grandmother " for  "mother ").[3]

When Siuuhu saw this, he made a rule that every woman, when raising children, must show them the right way. When a child is naughty, they must get a stick and spank the child in order to make him understand. Before he made this rule [in response to this abused, naughty child], all the children were perfect, and there were no naughty children.

This baby was a boy. Soon he grew big enough to go out hunting with the young boys. Sometime then the older people made plans to go out and hunt deer and mountain sheep. The leader of these hunters


told the boy that he must go to a certain place where there was a gap in the mountain and wait for a deer. The boy went to the gap and stayed there. He gathered all the rocks that he could find loose, and he made a wall to close the gap. He worked all day. Then it was time for the hunters to go home.

That evening all the hunters brought some kind of meat they had killed, and this boy didn't have anything. His mother asked him why he didn't kill anything. He told her that the hunters told him to go to work and close the gap in the mountain [they meant that he should hide there, not build a wall there], and that is the reason he didn't kill anything.

So the people told each other that they must not tell this boy to do that again. The next time they went hunting, they told him to go and stay someplace and watch out for the "cule "[a] (slang for buck deer; the old people did not kill anything but the oldest animals). So he went and stood someplace and watched for a cule to come along, but instead of an old deer, it was an old man that came along, and he shot and killed him.

When the people saw what he did, they saw it was a great wrong, and they decided to leave him alone, to leave him go. So they did, and he went on. At that time there was a man who was fond of a game called ginss .[4]

[a] Keli , 'old man'.


This man always lost everything he had. Once he lost all his dishes, cooking pots, and dippers. His mother had to use spoiled pots for cooking. When she finished cooking, she fixed something like a dish scooped in the ground, put the food in it, and told the man to eat the food. She said, "I have fixed this for you and you must eat out of it," and she scolded him that it is not right for him to gamble and lose her cooking pots.

The man was very sorry. He ate his food with the dust. When he finished eating, he went to a man who had the power of lightning, and who was called Lightning. The man asked what he wanted and also told him that everyone was afraid and would not come close to him. The man told Lightning about the trouble he had in playing the game, and he asked for help.

Lightning told him it was all right, he could help him out and do something for him. He made a lightninglike symbol for the ginss [15] stick. He did the same, only halfway, for the see-i-ko, and he did the same for the other sticks, six and four. The man took these sticks and went back to the people he had played with. This time his luck changed. He won all the time, was getting wealthy, and was happy. His mother was also happy because he was doing nicely. The place where they lived was east of the San Tan mountains. It was and is still called Two Tanks.


One day the men were going to play again, starting in the morning. With them was the man who had been the naughty child. Now he was called Huikeene (tall fellow medicine man).[b] He saw the man [helped by Lightning] playing and was jealous. He went and got some corn, mixed it with feathers, and told one of the women to grind up the mixture. Then he told her to go and sit at a place where there is water.

When Huik-eene saw that the other man was preparing to play ginss, he put the thought in his head to go drink some water before playing. The man did this. Huik-eene also planned for the man to drink some pinole before playing. So the man told the woman, "It is all right. I know I'll be hungry at the time when I'm playing." After he swallowed a mouthful, he began to feel funny and began to shake all over. The second time he drank the pinole, little feathers came out from his body, just like a young bird. The third time he drank it, the feathers became longer. The fourth time his feathers were full grown, and he was like an eagle.

Meanwhile the people had gathered to play. When the man didn't come, they began to ask each other why he was slow. They sent a young man to tell him to come right away so they could start the

[b] I do not understand this word or phrase. It is not the normal way to say "Tall Medicine-man" (Cew Ma:kai). This man corresponds to I'itoi/Siuuhu of the Garcia text. That is, he is not the young man who did everything literally.


game. This boy went to where the water was, and at that time the man-eagle was sitting by the water cleaning himself and playing with is feathers, as you see birds doing sometimes. The boy went back to where the people were and told them in a very sad way that the man had turned himself into an eagle.

The people told one another that something terrible was going to happen, that they must prepare their fighting weapons that very day. They gathered their bows and arrows and surrounded the eagle. The man-eagle began to rise slowly while the people shot arrows at him. He caught the arrows in his claws and went northeast (see-a-tak-uk , an old Pima word).[c]

Then Siuuhu spoke to the people and told them that the time that he had told them about earlier was getting near. He told them to remember that the earth, the people, and the mountains were all spinning around.

The man-eagle made his home at a place where there is a steep, high mountain that no one could climb.

The man-eagle got food by killing deer. Soon the deer got afraid and moved down this way to live. The next things the man-eagle killed were young children. Then he began to kill grown people for food. Once he got a young woman who had never

[c] Si'alig is the normal, present-day way to say "east," and the see-a - of this word seems related to that.


married. He didn't kill her but kept her for a wife. The next thing he got was a female dog which he kept for a pet.

When the people saw this, they held meetings on how they could kill the eagle. They thought they would ask Siuuhu to kill him for them. One man was sent to Siuuhu's place which at that time was at South Mountain [by Phoenix]. When he came, Siuuhu was lying down asleep. The man tried to tell him to get up and listen, but Siuuhu wouldn't wake up, so the man got a burning coal and put it on his chest. When the coal went out, he got another one and put it in the same place. Then a third, then a fourth one. Siuuhu finally woke up and got up and sat down. The man asked him if he knew what trouble was going on, if he knew the people were being killed and only a few were left, and he asked him to kill the eagle for them.

Siuuhu told the man to go back to his people and tell them that he would come inside of four days, and they must get four saguaro ribs. When the man returned, he told the people that Siuuhu would go to the house of the eagle, and, if he was not killed, they would see a white cloud rise over the mountains.

Siuuhu lit one of the sticks [obtained from the people], and that was his light in the night as he went on [toward the eagle]. When he went a certain distance, morning came, and he hid himself. He


stayed there all day, and, when the sun went down, he lit another stick and went on all night. Then when daylight came he did the same as before and stayed hidden all day. The eagle could not see him as he flew above where Siuuhu was hiding.

When the sun went down for the third time, he lit another stick and went on all night, and the next morning he did the same as before. Then, when the sun went down, he started out with the last stick in his hand. All night he traveled, and sometime before dawn he came to the bottom of the mountain where Eagle lived. He hid himself there, as it was Eagle's custom to go out very early in the morning. That morning he saw Eagle go out.

So Siuuhu came out and went around the mountain looking for a good place to climb it. He saw it was impossible to climb, so he called a man by the name of "Nowtchuk."[d] This man had been alive since the time of the great flood.[6] So when this man Nowtchuk came, he brought some gourd seed with him. He made a hole at the base of the mountain and planted the seed there. Then he sang and, while singing, danced:

A cliff is coming out
A cliff is coming out (repeat, as you please).

[d] Nawicu , the "clown" figure in the Pima-Papago wi:gita "prayerstick" or "harvest" ceremony. This is one of the rare myths that gives an account of that person. Saxton and Saxton [1973: 270–304] give two versions of this story, one with and one without the Nawicu.


As he sang this song, the seed started to grow. It began to climb the cliff and went up until it reached Eagle's nest on top. Nowtchuk did this to make a place for Siuuhu to climb on, but a strong wind blew the plant back to the ground. Nowtchuk couldn't do it [successfully help Siuuhu]. Then Siuuhu spoke up and said, "If it was my desire, I would just say that the Eagle might die, and he would die." Then he looked around and got a kind of wood called vass (Juan doesn't know what this wood is),[e] and he sang:

I am  Heetoi[f
Vass, I have stuck
The vass,
And I walked on them
And killed the eagle.

So Siuuhu climbed on these [vass sticks] and came to where the eagle's wife was and asked her what time the eagle would return. She told him he would return at noon. Then Siuuhu asked what he does after he gets back home. The woman told him that when Eagle comes back, he looks very carefully among the meat that is there, and if he finds any living creatures, such as flies or spiders, he kills them.

[e] Va:s , apparently broomweed (Mathiot n.d.: 215—Vass entry, no Linnaean name given), or broom snakeweed (Gutierrezia sarothrae —Parker 1972: 292–293; no Pima-Papago equivalent given). The latter, Parker says, is a native perennial half-shrub that grows both in gravelly and clayey soils. Saxton, Saxton, and Enos (1983: 61) give "a species of plant used for pink dye (unidentified)" under their wa:s entry (= Pima va:s ). Saxton and Saxton (1969, 1973) lack this word.

[f] I'itoi, another name for Siuuhu.


After he finds that there is no danger, he lies down and goes to sleep. When Siuuhu heard this he was afraid.

It happened that Eagle had a son. Siuuhu asked the woman if the son could talk. She said that he understands well enough to tell his father that somebody came there. So Siuuhu stuck his hand in ashes, took it out, and rubbed his fingers on the young boy's mouth, meaning that his mouth would be tied and he couldn't tell his father what had happened. Then Siuuhu turned himself into a snake and crawled into a crack in the stone. He asked the woman if she could see him there. She told him that she could see him and that the Eagle could find him.

So Siuuhu came out and turned himself into a fly. He went way underneath the oldest pieces of meat and was out of sight. In a little while the Eagle came. He brought the people that he had killed. Some were completely dead, and some were groaning. The young child ran to its father and was trying to tell him that someone had come, but he couldn't do it. He could only say, "a-papa-chu-vitch " (meaningless).

The eagle told his wife, "Someone has come here, and this is what this son of mine is trying to say." The boy kept repeating the same word. The Eagle spoke to his wife for a second time, "If someone has come, you must tell me." The woman said, "You know very well that nobody can come here because


everyone is afraid of you." And, "You know when a child is learning to talk, he will be trying to say something and someday he will tell us what he is trying to say."

The Eagle went out and began to look over everything and to kill anything that showed it was alive. He didn't feel easy, and it took him a long time to go to sleep, for he knew that troubles were coming and his time was getting closer. The woman got the eagle, placed him on her lap, and began to nurse him to put him to sleep. She sang.

The Eagle fell asleep, and the woman whistled for Siuuhu to come out, but before he came out, old man Eagle woke up. The Eagle said to the woman, "I believe someone is around here, that's why you are trying to call him." The woman spoke back, "You know very well that nobody can come up here. I'm just making this noise because I'm glad we have fresh meat to eat."

She sang the same song again:

Hai yaka hai yaka hai mona (last line ).[8]

At the end of the song, Eagle fell asleep again. This time she whistled and Siuuhu came out. He took something that they called chu mos (something to cut with, Juan doesn't know its appearance), stuck Eagle's neck with it, cut the neck off, and the eagle flopped until he died. Then he did the same thing to


the young child. Then he sprinkled some hot water over the bodies of all the dead people that were lying around, as many as Eagle had killed since he started killing people. The last human beings that he brought back to life, when he finished, were the white people.

Siuuhu spoke to the white man and asked him where his home was. The man wouldn't speak because he didn't understand Siuuhu's language. Siuuhu thought very hard over this white man, and he began to work hard. At that time a dog that was the Eagle's pet had brought up some pups, and they were making a lot of noise. Siuuhu gathered the pups and threw them down into some earth that was very hot (stoin ju-ut ).[g]

He did this because he didn't want any noise while he was planning what to do with the white people. He pulled one of the feathers from the Eagle and cut the end off the feather with his right thumbnail. He dipped the pointed end into the Eagle's blood and took a deerskin and wrote something on it just like white men do today.

He picked up one white man and one Indian and placed them face to face. He told them that when the white man nods his head, that will mean "yes," and when the Indian shakes his head side to side, that will mean "no."

[g] S-ton Jewed, 'Hot Earth', 'Hot Land'.


Then he sang a song for the white people:

I have made a people out of you
You are brightening my people (teaching)
You are making your home
In the home of the morning.

When he brought the white people down from the mountain, he sang:

I am bringing you down
I am sending you among bright ways.

He set the white people down and placed his hands on their shoulders, just like a father does when he sends his son someplace. He sang:

I am making you go
To the star that never
Moves around.

Siuuhu spoke to them and said, "You will make your home on the other side of the ocean." He told them that what he had said to them [about the inventions and knowledge of the New World and the North Star[9] ], these things would come in the future. He also told the Indians that they must know that there is another world on the other side of the ocean. When the end of the world was getting closer, the white man would cross the ocean and come over to this side. When they come, they will give the Indians things the white people use for food, such as


sweets, and they will both eat the same food together. After the understanding of the white people goes higher, there will be trouble for them. When the day comes that the earth will pass away, Indians will raise up children white, white women will have Indian children and white men also do it. But the white man can't create another world like Jeoss did.

Those were all the words Siuuhu spoke to his white children. Then he worked on old man Eagle, pulled off all his feathers, placed him over his shoulder, and started home. When he came over the tops of mountains, the soft white eagle feathers rose over the mountains and showed the people what he had told them before he went: to watch for white clouds over the mountains, and they saw them there.

Story 11—
Origin of the Purification Ceremony and the Strengthening of Medicine Men


When the people saw the clouds they were happy. One old woman worked to make a dish and a water cup for Siuuhu, so when he got home, he would eat from the platter and drink from the cup. Others made a shade [ramada] for him, so when he got home he would go under it to rest. And when he


came home he did so, because it was the season they call moo-ee-he-bik (burning heat).[h]

He stayed four days under the shade without drinking water or eating food, and the nights were four without water or food. When the fourth day was about finished, Siuuhu was ready to pass out. The old woman came and saw him in that condition. She put some water in the cup, placed it beside him, then put her hand under his head, and raised it. She sang:

I'm going to give you
Some bright water
Which will make your heart shine.

She raised his head onto her knees and sang (same as before). Then she raised his head still higher, onto her shoulder, and sang (same as before). When she finished the song, she made Siuuhu drink the water. Since his strength was almost gone, the water nearly choked him, and he almost passed out. When he came back to consciousness, he told the people about the mountain where Eagle lived, and how there was much blood on the mountain, and how it has a bloody smell. He told them to call it "Cliff that smells like blood."

Then he made a rule for the Pimas and Papagos, that whenever they have wars with the Apaches, when

[h] Unknown, unless it is mu 'i he:pidk , 'much cold'.


one of them kills an Apache, he must go without food and water for four days. And at that time he prepared some eagle feathers for Pima medicine men to use in working over a sick person. He also prepared the fine, white, soft down feathers and gave them to the medicine men to use in praying for rain. When he completed all this work, he started for home.

From then the people continued to multiply, and the understanding of the sy-juukum and makai increased.

Story of the Gambler (Siviriano Garcia)


[After his adventures as a literalist, the boy left home]. He traveled a long time, always going toward the west. The reason for this was as follows: His strange actions had been caused by an evil medicine man named Beater Wind,[10] who lived in the west[11] and compelled the boy to come toward him. Beater Wind had foreseen that the boy would do something like the killing of his grandfather, so he made a

[i] Sai ju:kam , 'very doers'.

[j] Ma:kai , 'medicine man', 'shaman'. Most people use this word for all those who can divine and "see" magically, whether for rain forecasting or curing or any other purpose. Thus, the distinction made here between the two kinds of medicine men is not universally made.


new house for the boy near his own and was living in it when the boy arrived.

All the time that the boy was going toward the west, Beater Wind lay in the new house with his back to the door. Someone came in the door and sat down. Beater Wind could feel it and turned over and said, "I did not build this house for you to enter first. The person for whom I built it is coming." The man who entered was Brown Buzzard.[12] The house was full of "medicine," which was said to be something like the heat vibrations that rise from the desert in the summer.[13] Beater Wind had put his medicine in the house for the boy, but Brown Buzzard was so angry at Beater Wind's words that he spread his wings against the house and took out every bit of medicine of every sort.[14] He sang this song:

Am I an eagle

My feathers are filled with mysterious power.

When Beater Wind found that Brown Buzzard was doing this, he turned to him and said, "I do not mean any harm. You can enter this house if you want to." Brown Buzzard was already offended, so he walked out the door and flew over the highest and the lowest mountains and dropped onto each mountaintop some of the medicine that he had taken out of the house. Because of this some of the mountains became full of medicine, as the house had been. Brown Buzzard said that because of this


medicine there would be a roaring of wind or noise of thunder and a shaking inside of these mountains before a storm, and this would be a warning to the people.

The boy approached the house after Brown Buzzard had flown away. He went inside and sat down by the door. Beater Wind turned over, saw the boy, and said, "Have you come

" The boy replied, "Yes." Beater Wind took him in front of the house where he had cleared a big circle. He put the boy in the middle of the circle and went over to one side. Then he went back to the boy, took him up, and threw him to the east. He went again to the boy, took him up, and threw him to the north. Then he threw the boy toward the west and toward the south.[16]

He thought that the boy must be dead, and yet he knew that he had not fully killed him. Beater Wind went home and lay down for a while. Then he thought he would go back and see if the boy was getting up yet. The boy was "coming to" but lay there, his long hair tangled and filled with sticks or whatever was on the ground. Beater Wind picked him up and carried him to the place where they sat down together.

While they sat there Beater Wind fixed the boy's hair as it was when he arrived. He cut several sticks four or five inches long and pointed at the end and told the boy to use these instead of his hands in


scratching his head or body. Beater Wind put these sticks in the boy's hair and told him that henceforth it would be the custom that if a man killed an enemy he must use one of these sticks until he had gone through a certain manner of purification.

Beater Wind took the boy quite a distance from the house and fixed a place where he was to stay four days without food or water. At the end of four days, the boy was as though he had been sick for years. On the fifth day Beater Wind came to him with a little food and one swallow of water. From that day on, for four days, he got about the same amount; then for four days he got about double that quantity of food. This was followed by one more period of four days during which the food was double that in the third period. After each period Beater Wind had the boy bathe and come nearer the house. Beater Wind was doing this all the time to "straighten out" the boy. While the boy was fasting, Beater Wind was thinking all the time, keeping watch of the boy, and seeing that his mind was clearing. At the end of sixteen days (four periods of four each), Beater Wind saw that the boy was going to be all right, so on the seventeenth day he allowed him to enter the house and gave him a full meal.

[k] Limhu , 'purification', 'offering'. The word may be from the Spanish Catholic limosna , 'offering', 'charity', which is present in Pima-Papago as limhusa[*] , and is used in reference to food offerings left for the dead on All Souls' Eve. Or limhu as used in the context of warrior purification may have a completely different and strictly Indian etymology. The word does not sound like Pima-Papago, however, and it does sound like limhusa .


The boy stayed in Beater Wind's house quite a while, and then he decided to go home. Beater Wind said, "All right. I have done what I wanted to do. I have straightened out what I wanted to straighten out in you. It is all right now for you to return and live like other people."

The boy came out of the house and started toward his own home. As he went along he entered every mountain and learned songs. The four kinds of songs he learned are called komatan and koop (used in treating the sick),[18] kohemorle (used in the rain ceremony), and hicuhcolita (songs that come from the ocean).[19] He learned these and knew that all these songs would in the future be used for curing the sick and performing other remarkable acts beneficial to the people. These were very powerful medicine songs.[20]

After entering these great mountains the boy reached the village, went into his own house, and lived as Beater Wind had taught him, staying at home all the time and not mingling with the people. There was much gambling in the village. There was one young man who constantly stole, gambled, and lost, then he would go to another village, steal, gamble, and lose again. This had gone on for a long time. The fellow was very rough in all he did. He gambled all the time and was called "Wanta," meaning "gambler."[l]

[l] In fact this word does not seem to mean 'gambler', but simply to be the person's name. It does not seem like a Pima-Papago word.


[Deleted here are the sections of the story on Wanta's befriending the now grown boy, Wanta's invincibility in gambling thanks to gaming sticks supplied by the grown boy, Elder Brother's success in turning Wanta into an eagle, the eagle's ravages, and Elder Brother's success in killing the eagle. These are all rather like the Smith-Allison text. We resume the story with the account of Elder Brother's purification by the old woman.]

Before Elder Brother had left the old woman's[21] house [to hunt the eagle], he strung a string across her room, saying, "If this breaks, you will know I am dead, but so long as it is not broken, you will know I am alive." The shock of the earthquake [caused by the eagle's death throes] broke the string, and Elder Brother's people began to fear that he had failed.

 . . . Back at the house where his string was broken, the old woman had medicine power, and she knew that Elder Brother was alive and had killed the eagle. So she sang and danced.

Before Elder Brother went away [to hunt the eagle], he told the people to watch a certain chain of mountains. He told them to watch a low place in it and said that if he had been killed by the eagle there would be white clouds over that place. So the people watched the old woman dancing and singing, and they also looked for the clouds in the low place. At last something appeared that looked like clouds, but it was Elder Brother's hat decorated with tufts of eagle down. Then they remembered his words and said to each other, "It must be that the old lady


knows more than we know and Elder Brother has killed the eagle."

After Elder Brother came down from the high place where his hat showed, he did not come home at once but went to a quiet place for several days. The old woman was out walking and came upon him, asleep from exhaustion. After she found him she went home and began to make an olla [pot] to cook gruel for him, a little olla for him to drink from, and a plate, and a little spoon for the gruel. When she finished making the dishes and had made the gruel, she got some water, took it over, and sat it beside him. This is her song.

You have done it right, you little bit of an Elder
Henceforth the villages will be safe and I am on the
     ground, I will get along better.

After giving him the food, she cared for him for sixteen days. She had also made ollas to carry water for his cold bath, and she cared for him in every way, as Beater Wind had cared for the boy at the beginning of the story. . . . At the end of the third period of four days she took him inside the house and continued her care until the end of the fourth period of four days, when he took a bath and was entirely free. Then he lay around the place for a while. He knew everything was settled and that everything would go on the same as before the gambler was made into an eagle. (Densmore 1929: 36–39, 52–54)


Part 7— Feather Braided Chief and the Gambler

Preferred Citation: Bahr, Donald, Juan Smith, William Smith Allison, and Julian Hayden. The Short, Swift Time of Gods on Earth: The Hohokam Chronicles. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1994 1994.