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The Traditions of the Hopi, by H.R. Voth, [1905], at


A long time ago a Badger lived north of the village of Oraíbi. He was a doctor and the people used to go to him seeking aid and cure for their various ailments. The place where he lived was called Badger Burrow (Honan Yaha); the Small Gray Mice (Tucánhomihtci) or rather many of them, lived west of Oraíbi at a place called Big Hill (Wopáchmo).

One time the Hopi were on a hunt west of this place, where those Mice lived, and as ill luck would have it, one of the hunters hit another one with his boomerang and broke his leg. Nobody seemed to take interest enough in the unfortunate man to care for him, so he tried to get home the best he could. Seeing a light at the aforesaid Big Hill, he made for that place and found an underground room similar to the Hopi kívas. In it he observed a number of small people like

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children. They at once noticed him, saying: "Somebody is looking in here," and invited him to come down. "How can I come in?" he said. "What is the matter with you?" they asked, to which he replied: "My thigh bone is broken." So one of the small men went up the ladder and carried the lame man down, placing him on the floor north of the fireplace. Two rabbits, which the man had killed and brought with him from the hunt, he left outside. The people pitied the poor man and said: "So this has happened to you." "Yes," he answered, "could not one of you hunt me up a doctor?" Whereupon one of the small men whispered to another one: "Let's repair the leg for him." "All right," he answered, who was a chief. Hereupon a door was opened on the north side of the kiva which led into another room, and all the small people, who seemed to be children, were sent into that small room. One of the men, who took care of the fire at the fireplace, remained with the sick man. The one who remained, presently called out: "Now come in here," whereupon a very great number of the Mice entered the room, crowded around the patient, covering him completely, and commencing to rub him all over the body and otherwise worked on and about him, and in that way plied their art as doctors upon the patient that had so unexpectedly dropped in upon them. All at once they all ran away, entered another room again, and the man found that his leg had been made well. He was very happy and leaving the two rabbits as a remuneration, he went home to the village. The people knowing that his leg had been broken the previous day, were surprised to see him well and inquired who had cured him. He told them.

The Badger, who lived north of the village, heard about it and became very jealous and angry about the matter. The man whose leg had been healed by the Mice said to the people, that the "Old Man Badger" was somewhat behind. It had been those Mice who had cured him and what was more, they had not asked for any pay, whereas, the Old Man Badger always asked something for his services, meat, cactus bulbs, etc., and he advised people who ever had any ailments, to go to these Mice physicians that lived west of the village, and had cured him. The Old Man Badger did a great deal of thinking over the matter and was angry. Finally he concluded that he was going to test the knowledge of the Mice doctors. "I am going to feign sickness and shall call them over, and if they can tell me my ailment, I shall believe in them." So he feigned sickness; placed some pelts and blankets on the floor and a bowl by his side, and laid down. In order to make it appear that he was very sick he took a little nourishment in the morning only and kept

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expectorating into the bowl. This he did for three days, at the end of which he looked very tired and exhausted. So he called some one who was passing by and said to him: "You go over there to those Mice doctors and fetch them here, because I am very sick." So this man went over and told them that that poor Old Man Badger was very sick and seemed to be dying, and that they should have pity on him and come over there the next day. Having delivered this message to them, he returned to his home. They were willing, and their chief taking the lead, they went to the mesa, passed by the village on the north side, along the edge of the mesa, to the dwelling of the Badger. This dwelling consisted of a kiva like the Hopi kivas of to-day. The Badger was still angry and had hidden a stick under his bed. The mice, however, had brought no medicines with them. Arriving at the kiva, the chief went down the ladder first, passing by the east side of the fireplace to the bed of the patient. He was followed by his companions, of whom there were many, who also crowded around the bed of the sick doctor. The latter was groaning very much, acting as if he was about to die. The chief of the Mice doctors then began to sing the following song in which he was accompanied by all the others:

Cowiskwi naiukwiwiwaa!
Rabbit meat cook for us!

To which the Badger replied in a faint voice:

Hâm pai pi pam himuu shulawu.
Oh why this something all gone.

The Mice kept slowly moving on in a circle and soon commenced to sing

Aahai! aahai! Ayam hapiii,
Honanyahay epee
At the Badger burrow over there.
The Badger Old Man
Tucun Homihtcit
The Tucan Homcihtci
Aotûhik unangwyat
A doctor to be believed
Because he heard
Naloshwat aknachangkwainitaa Hahahaha
Four times he fasted
Hainawa Hainawa (No meaning.)
Hainawa Hainawa

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Free rendering:

At the Badger burrow the Badger
Old man heard that the Tusan
Homihtsi believed himself to be a
Doctor and hence fasted four days.

The Mouse doctor sang this in order to let the Badger know that he had at once detected the fraud. Being through with the singing, he told the Badger that nothing was the matter with him; as soon as he would eat something he would get well.

While they were singing they had kept slowly going around the bed of the sick doctor and when they were through with their singing they had reached the ladder. The leader, after having given the Badger his opinion as mentioned above, at once ascended the ladder, being followed by all the others. The Badger was very angry by this time, and grabbing the stick which he had hidden under his bed, he began to strike at some of the Mice, but as he had fasted so long, and the Mice jumped around In the kiva and up the ladder very fast, he failed to hit any of them. he tried to follow them, but failed to catch and kill any of them for the same reason. But some of the younger Mice could not keep up with the older ones while they were running to their home, being chased by the Badger, so they scattered out, and not being able to find their way home, they dug holes for themselves, and that is the reason why these mice, "Hómihtsi," are now living all over the country. The Badger is the cause of this scattering of these Mice.

But these new settlers had nothing to eat, so they went to hunt food, and wherever they came upon some seed or plant they would appropriate them, and to this day, wherever the Hopi plant something, these Mice will come and eat it. If that Old Man Badger had not scattered them at that time they would not be all over the country now, but would still be living at the one place west of the village, where they had their home at that time. But, on the other hand, if any Hopi works in his field or travels anywhere, or is away from his village for any purpose, and if he becomes sick, or gets hurt, these Mice in all unseen secret way take care of him so that he does not die; but they do not come to the village to take care of any sick.


224:1 Told by Qöyáwaima (Oraíbi).

Next: 89. The Badger and the Small Gray Mice