The Story of Hawawk opens with an interesting reference to the favorite Pima game of football. The ball was about two and one half inches in diameter, merely a heavy pebble coated thick with black greasewood gum. Sometimes it was decorated with little inlays of shell. It was thrown by the lifting of the naked or sandaled foot, rather than kicked. Astonishing tales are told of the running power and endurance of the older Indians. White and red men agree in the testimony.
Emory says of the Maricopa interpreter, Thirsty Hawk, before alluded to, that he came running into their camp on foot and "appeard to keep pace with the fleetest horse." Whittemore, the missionary, says: "Some young women could travel from forty to fifty miles in sixteen hours, and there were warriors who ran twenty miles, keeping a horse on a canter following them." G. W. Mardis, the trader at Phoenix, told me he had known Indians to run all day, and my interpreter told me of Pimas running forty to seventy miles in a day, hunting horses on the mountains. Others ran races with horses and with a little handicap and for moderate distance often beat them. On these long runs after horses the men took their foot balls and kept them going, saying it made the journey amusing and less tiresome. And undoubtedly it was, in the practice of this sport, that their powers were developed. Beside the usual foot-races, in which all Indians delight, it often happened that two champions would, on a set day, start in different directions and chase their footballs far out on the desert, perhaps ten miles and then return. The one who came in first was winner. The whole tribe, in two parties, on horseback as far as they could get mounts, followed the champions, as judges, assistants, critics and friends and there was profuse betting and picturesque excitement and display.
But the fine old athletic games seem to have all died out now.
Stories of miraculous conception are not uncommon in Indian tradition, and this story of the bewitching of the young girl into motherhood thru the agency of the football is an instance.
This gruesome and graphic tale is full Of insight into Indian thought and fancy. In reading it we are reminded of many familiar old nursery tales of kidnapped child, pig or fowl ("the little red hin" of Irish legend for instance) and of Were-Wolf and Loup-Garou.
And here reappears the old myth of some god's or hero's footstep printed in solid rock.
Here is a hint, too, of transmigration in the various adventures of the soul of Hawawk.
My Indian hosts cooked me a pot of choohookyuh greens, and I found them very palatable.
The reference to the pottery making reminds me of Pima arts. Today the Maricopas have almost a monopoly of pottery making, tho the Quohatas make some good pottery too. It is shaped by the hands (no potters wheel being known) and smoothed and polished by stones, painted red with a mineral and black with mezquite gum and baked in a common fire. It is often very artistic in a rude way, in form and decoration.
The Papagoes do most of the horse-hair work, chiefly bridles, halters and lariat ropes, and make mats and fans from rushes.
The Pimas make the famous black and white, water-tight baskets, which are too well known to need description. The black in these is shreds of the dead-black seed pod of the devil-claw and not some fibre dyed black, as some suppose.
There seems to have been no original bead work among Pima Indians.