Hopi Creation Story
world at first was endless space
in which existed only the Creator, Taiowa. This world had no time, no
and no life, except in the mind of the Creator. Eventually the infinite
creator created the finite in Sotuknang, whom he called his nephew and
whom he created as his agent to establish nine universes. Sotuknang
together matter from the endless space to make the nine solid worlds.
the Creator instructed him to gather together the waters from the
space and place them on these worlds to make land and sea. When
had done that, the Creator instructed him to gather together air to
winds and breezes on these worlds.
fourth act of creation with which
the Creator charged Sotuknang was the creation of life. Sotuknang went
to the world that was to first host life and there he created Spider
and he gave her the power to create life. First Spider Woman took some
earth and mixed it with saliva to make two beings. Over them she sang
Creation Song, and they came to life. She instructed one of them,
to go across the earth and solidify it. She instructed the other,
to send out sound to resonate through the earth, so that the earth
with the energy of the Creator. Poqanghoya and Palongawhoya were
to the poles of the earth to keep it rotating.
Spider Woman made all the plants,
the flowers, the bushes, and the trees. Likewise she made the birds and
animals, again using earth and singing the Creation Song. When all this
was done, she made human beings, using yellow, red, white, and black
mixed with her saliva. Singing the Creation Song, she made four men,
then in her own form she made four women. At first they had a soft spot
in their foreheads, and although it solidified, it left a space through
which they could hear the voice of Sotuknang and their Creator. Because
these people could not speak, Spider Woman called on Sotuknang, who
them four languages. His only instructions were for them to respect
Creator and to live in harmony with him.
people spread across the earth
and multiplied. Despite their four languages, in those days they could
understand each other's thoughts anyway, and for many years they and
animals lived together as one. Eventually, however, they began to
both the people from the animals and the people from each other, as
focused on their differences rather than their similarities. As
and suspicion became more widespread, only a few people from each of
four groups still remembered their Creator. Sotuknang appeared before
few and told them that he and the Creator would have to destroy this
and that these few who remembered the Creator must travel across the
following a cloud and a star, to find refuge.
people began their
treks from the places where they lived, and when they finally converged
Sotuknang appeared again. He opened a huge ant mound and told these
to go down in it to live with the ants while he destroyed the world
fire, and he told them to learn from the ants while they were there.
people went down and lived with the ants, who had storerooms of food
they had gathered in the summer, as well as chambers in which the
could live. This went on for quite a while, because after Sotuknang
the world with fire it took a long time for the world to cool off. As
ants' food ran low, the people refused the food, but the ants kept
them and only tightened their own belts, which is why ants have such
Sotuknang was done making the
second world, which was not quite as beautiful as the first. Again he
the people to remember their Creator as they and the ants that had
them spread across the earth. The people multiplied rapidly and soon
the entire earth. They did not live with the animals, however, because
the animals in this second world were wild and unfriendly. Instead the
people lived in villages and built roads between these, so that trade
up. They stored goods and traded those for goods from elsewhere, and
they were trading for things they did not need.
their desire to have
more and more grew, they began to forget their Creator, and soon wars
resources and trade were breaking out between villages. Finally
appeared before the few people who still remembered the Creator, and
he sent them to live with the ants while he destroyed this corrupt
This time he ordered Poqanghoya and Palongawhoya to abandon their posts
at the poles, and soon the world spun out of control and rolled over.
slid and fell, and lakes and rivers splashed across the land as the
tumbled, and finally the earth froze over into nothing but ice.
went on for years, and again the
people lived with the ants. Finally Sotuknang sent Poqanghoya and
back to the poles to resume the normal rotation of the earth, and soon
the ice melted and life returned. Sotuknang called the people up from
refuge, and he introduced them to the third world that he had made.
he admonished the people to remember their Creator as they spread
the land. As they did so, they multiplied quickly, even more quickly
before, and soon they were living in large cities and developing into
so many people and so many nations, soon there was war, and
some of the nations made huge shields on which they could fly, and from
these flying shields they attacked other cities. When Sotuknang saw all
this war and destruction, he resolved to destroy this world quickly
it corrupted the few people who still remembered the Creator. He called
on Spider Woman to gather those few and, along the shore, she placed
person with a little food in the hollow stem of a reed. When she had
this, Sotuknang let loose a flood that destroyed the warring cities and
the world on which they lived.
the rocking of the waves ceased,
Spider Woman unsealed the reeds so the people could see. They floated
the water for many days, looking for land, until finally they drifted
an island. On the island they built little reed boats and set sail
to the east. After drifting many days, they came to a larger island,
after many more days to an even larger island. They hoped that this
be the fourth world that Sótuknang had made for them, but Spider
Woman assured them that they still had a long and hard journey ahead.
walked across this island and built rafts on the far side, and set sail
to the east again.
came to a fourth and still larger island, but again
they had to cross it on foot and then build more rafts to continue
From this island, Spider Woman sent them on alone, and after many days
they encountered a vast land. Its shores were so high that they could
find a place to land, and only by opening the doors in their heads did
they know where to go to land.
they finally got ashore, Sotuknang
was there waiting for them. As they watched to the west, he made the
that they had used like stepping stones disappear into the sea. He
them to the fourth world, but he warned them that it was not as
as the previous ones, and that life here would be harder, with heat and
cold, and tall mountains and deep valleys. He sent them on their way to
migrate across the wild new land in search of the homes for their
clans were to migrate across the land to learn its ways, although
some grew weak and stopped in the warm climates or rich lands along the
way. The Hopi trekked and far and wide, and went through the cold and
country to the north before finally settling in the arid lands between
the Colorado River and Rio Grande River. They chose that place so that
the hardship of their life would always remind them of their dependence
on, and link to, their Creator.
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