YOU have perhaps seen the beautiful arrowheads of moss-agate, petrified wood, or volcanic glass which were used, until very recently, by the Indians of the Southwest, and are still treasured by them. At least you are familiar with the commoner flint ones left by the aboriginal tribes farther eastward. And seeing them, you must have wondered how they were ever made from such fearfully stubborn stone-always the very hardest that was accessible to the maker. I have tried for six hours, with the finest drills, to make a little hole in the thinnest part of an agate arrowhead, to put it on a charm-ring; but when the drill and I were completely worn out, there was not so much as a mark on the arrow-head to show what we had been doing. If you will take one to your jeweler, he will have as poor luck.
But the making of the arrow-heads is really a very simple matter; and I have fashioned many very fair ones. The only implements are part of a peculiarly shaped bone--preferably from the thigh of the elk--and a stick about the size of a lead-pencil, but of double the diameter. The maker
of puntas takes the bone in his left hand; in his right is the stick, against which the selected splinter of stone is firmly pressed by the thumb. With a firm, steady pressure against the sharp edge of the bone, a tiny flake is nicked from the splinter. Then the splinter is turned, and a nick is similarly made on the other side, just a little ahead of the first; and so on. It is by this alternate nicking from opposite sides that the stone-splinter grows less by tiny flakes, and is shaped by degrees to a perfect arrow-head. If you will notice the edge of an arrow-head, you will see plainly that the work was done in this way, for the edge is not a straight but a wavy line--sometimes even a zigzag, recalling the manner in which saw-teeth are "set."
Every Indian, and every one who has studied the Indian, knows this. But if I ask one of my brown old compadres here, where he got the arrow-head which he wears as a charm about his wrinkled neck, he will not tell me any such story as that. No, indeed!
Quáh-le-kee-raí-deh, the Horned Toad, gave it to him. So? Oh, yes! He talked so nicely to a Horned Toad on the mesa 1 the other day, that the little creature put a punta where he could find it the next time he went thither.
Whenever a Pueblo sees a Quáh-le-kee-raí-deh, he jumps from his horse or his big farm-wagon, and makes every effort to capture the animalito before it can reach a hole. If successful, he pulls from his blanket or his legging-garters a red thread--no other color will do--and ties it necklace--fashion
around the neck of his little prisoner. Then he invokes all sorts of blessings on the Horned Toad, assures it of his sincere respect and friendship, begs it to remember him with a punta, and lets it go. Next time he goes to the mesa, he fully expects to find an arrow-head, and generally does find one--doubtless because he then searches more carefully on that broad reach where so many arrow-heads have been lost in ancient wars and hunts. Finding one, he prays to the Sun-Father and the Moon-Mother and all his other deities, and returns profound thanks to the Horned Toad. Some finders put the arrow-head in the pouch which serves Indians for a pocket. 1 Some wear it as an amulet on the necklace. In either case, the belief is that no evil spirit can approach the wearer while he has that charm about him. In fact, it is a sovereign spell against witches.
The common belief of the Pueblos is that the Horned Toad makes these arrow-heads only during a storm, and deposits them at the very instant when it thunders. For this reason an arrow-head is always called Kóh-un-shée-eh, or thunder-knife. The strange appearance of this quaint, spiked lizard--which is really not a "hop-toad" at all-doubtless suggested the notion; for his whole back is covered with peculiar points which have very much the shape and color of Indian arrow-heads.
Quáh-le-kee-raí-deh is a very important personage in the Pueblo folk-lore. He not only is the inventor and patentee of the arrow-head and the
scalping-knife, 1 but he also invented irrigation, and taught it to man; and is a general benefactor of our race.
There is one very sacred folk-story which tells why boys must never smoke until they have proved their manhood. Pueblo etiquette is very strict on all such points. 2
Once upon a time there lived in Isleta two boys who were cousins. One day their grandfather, who was a True Believer (in all the ancient rites), caught them in a corner smoking the weer. Greatly shocked, he said to them:
"Sons, I see you want to be men; but you must prove yourselves before you are thought to be. Know, then, that nobody is born with the freedom of the smoke, but every one must earn it. So go now, each of you, and bring me Quée-hla-kú-ee, the skin of the oak."
Now, in the talk of men, Quée-hla-kú-ee is another thing; but the boys did not know. They got their mothers to give them some tortillas, 3 and with this lunch they started for the Bosque (a 10,000-foot peak twenty miles east of Isleta). Reaching the mountain, they went to every kind of tree and cut a little piece of its bark--for they were not sure which was the oak. Then they came home, very tired, and carried the bark to their grandfather. But when he had looked at it all he said:
"Young men, you have not yet proved yourselves. So now it is for you to go again and look for the oak-bark."
At this their hearts were heavy, but they took tortillas and started again. On the way they met an old Horned Toad, who stopped them and said:
"Young-men-friends, I know what trouble you are in. Your tata has sent you for the skin of the oak, but you do not know the oak he means. But I will be the one to help you. Take these," and he gave them two large thunder-knives," and with these in hand go up that cañon yonder. In a little way you will see a great many of your enemies, the Navajos, camping. On the first hill from which you see their fire, there stop. In time, while you wait there, you will hear a Coyote howling across the cañon. Then is the time to give your enemy-yell [war-whoop] and attack them."
The boys thanked the Horned Toad and went. Presently they saw the camp-fire of the Navajos, and waiting till the Coyote called they gave the enemy-yell and then attacked. They had no weapons except their thunder-knives, but with these they killed several Navajos, and the others ran away. In the dark and their hurry they made a mistake and scalped a woman (which was never customary with the Pueblos).
Taking their scalps, they hurried home to their grandfather, and when he saw that they had brought the real oak-skin (which is an Indian euphemy for "scalp"), he led them proudly to the Cacique, and the Cacique ordered the T'u-a-fú-ar (scalp-dance). After the inside days, when the
takers of scalps must stay in the estufa, was the dance. And when it came to the round dance at night the two boys were dancing side by side.
Then a young woman who was a stranger came and pushed them apart and danced between them. She was very handsome, and both fell in love with her. But as soon as their hearts thought of love, a skeleton was between them in place of the girl--for they who go to war or take a scalp have no right to think of love.
They were very frightened, but kept dancing until they were too tired, and then went to the singers inside the circle to escape. But the skeleton followed them and stood beside them, and they could not hide from it.
At last they began to run away, and went to the east. Many moons they kept running, but the skeleton was always at their heels. At last they came to the Sunrise Lake, wherein dwell the Trues of the East.
The guards let them in, and they told the Trues all that had happened, and the skeleton stood beside them. The Trues said: "Young men, if you are men, sit down and we will protect you."
But when the boys looked again at the skeleton they could not stop, but ran away again. Many moons they ran north till they came to where the Trues of the North dwell in the Black Lake of Tears.
The Trues of the North promised to defend them, but again the skeleton came and scared them away; and they ran for many moons until they came to the Trues of the West, who dwell
in T'hoor-kím-p'ah-whée-ay, the Yellow Lake Where the Sun Sets. And there the same things happened; and they ran away again to the south, till they found the Trues of the South in P'ah-chéer-p'ah-whée-ay, the Lake of Smooth Pebbles.
But there again it was the same, and again they ran many moons till they came to the Trues of the Center, who live here in Isleta. And here the skeleton said to them:
"Why do you run from me now? For when you were dancing you looked at me and loved me, but now you run away."
But they could not answer her, and ran into the room of the Trues of the Center, and told their story. Then the Trues gave power to the Cum-pa-huit-la-wid-deh 1 to see the skeleton,-which no one else in the world could see, except the Trues and the two young men, and said to him:
"Shoot this person who follows these two."
So the Cum-pa-huit-la-wid-deh shot the skeleton through with an arrow from the left side to the right side, 2 and took the scalp.
That was the end of the skeleton, and the young men were free. And when the Trues had given them counsel, they came to their people, and told the Cacique all. He made a new scalp-dance, because they had not stayed to finish the first one.
And when the dance was done, they told all the people what had happened. Then the principals had a meeting and made a rule which is to this
day, that in the twelve days of the scalp 1 no warrior shall think thoughts of love.
For it was because they had love-thoughts of the Navajo girl that her skeleton haunted them. And at the same time it was made the law, which still is, that no one shall smoke till he has taken a scalp to prove himself a man.
For if the boys had not been smoking when they had not freedom to, their grandfather would not have sent them, and all that trouble would not have come. And that is why.
76:1 The "left-hand-bag," shur-taí-moo, because it always hangs from the right shoulder and under the left arm.
77:1 Which were formerly about the same thing--a large and sharp-edged arrow-head or similar stone being the only knife of the Pueblos in prehistoric times.
77:2 See my "Strange Corners of Our Country" (The Century Co.), chap. xviii.
77:3 A cake of unleavened batter cooked on a hot stone. They look something like a huge flapjack, but are very tough and keep a long time.
80:1 Guard at the door of the gods.
80:2 The only official method of killing a witch, which is one of the chief duties of the Cum-pa-huit-la-wen.
81:1 The period of fasting and purification before and during the scalp dance.