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p. 141

Topol the Clever

IN A PLACE called Sikchibei, which is situated about two kilometers from Torim toward where the sun sets, there in ancient times one of the greatest fiestas of the Yaquis took place. People from the eight pueblos attended. It was dedicated to the three divinities, Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Nobody remained in his home.

In those times people did not know corn, beans, garbanzos, or any of these things, but the Yaquis, then, contributed roots and wild fruits. Others brought herbs to cook and give to the fiesteros to serve. Others brought deer, coyotes, and javelinas.

Here Topol performed. Topol means tiger. Here it was that he received as a reward for his cleverness a beautiful Yaqui maiden named Wotoboli Sewa Tosali.

A kobanao there had offered this girl to the man who could bring in, alive, without having struck it or touched it, a javelina to the fiesta. Others brought deer, lions, and dead javelina, but no one knew how to bring in a javelina he had not touched. But Topol was clever. He cut himself a stick of the wood of a plant which has blue flowers. With this stick he set out into the forest. There, he encountered a band of javelinas. All ran away but one. This one ran toward Topol. Topol did not move. He held his stick out. The javelina bit it. The animal bit the stick with great strength as if he wanted to take it away from Topol. Thus Topol began to drag on the stick and the pig didn't want to let it go. Instead, he followed wherever Topol dragged him. Pulling the stick and

p. 142

the pig traveling behind never letting go of the stick, Topol dragged him all the way to Sikchibei, where the fiesta was taking place.

When the Indians saw Topol bring in the animal, those who were seated arose, shouting "Topol! It is he who wins Wotoboli Sewa Tosali!" All of the Indians looked with admiration at him for his great valor. Topol gave the pig to the chiefs of the fiesta. But the father of Wotoboli Sewa Tosali said to him, "There still lacks one thing before you conclude your task."

Without saying anything, Topol made as if to mount the javelina, passing over its back and pressing his legs about its ribs. This he repeated three times and it was finished.

Immediately they brought out the girl, dressed with beautiful skins and a crown of the finest bird plumes. The witnesses and god-parents appeared and the maestros and cantoras. With all of these, they appeared at the altar. There they were taken care of. Then followed the fiesta.

Later, it is said that Topol became a chief and gave battle against the Apaches. Having come out of the battle wounded by three arrows, from this he died. At his funeral great fiestas were celebrated. And it was here, for the first time, that the dance of the coyote was performed. It was sung thus:

yoli yoli yoli tamewuk yoli tamewuk
kayoli tamewukayoli tamewuk kayoli tamewuk
ponki ponki ponki pok pok pok

With this coyote song they buried the chief, Topol. And from then until today, when a soldier dies, or a Yaqui chief, in his funeral services, they sing and dance the coyote.

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