Sacred Texts  Native American  Southwest  Index  Previous  Next 


After this the people began to quarrel. They found many new bad words 36 to use against each other. Fights and feuds arose. They did not like each other much any more. They had heard what had been said between Country Chief and Tsitsanits, and that the katsina leader was coming back to teach the people how to act in the supernatural manner of the katsina. But some people wore afraid. They were afraid that if they made a mistake and did not fast just right they would have to pay with their life. 37 But others said everything would be all right. "Let us do as we are asked, and learn to carry on as they want us to," they said. So the people, that, did not wish to see that day come, packed up and left in small bands, or perhaps just man and wife would go away. It is not known where they went and they were never heard of any more. (This may account for the other tribes of Indians; but this is not in the tradition.) Those willing to take instructions from the katsina leader stayed.

So they waited for the day when the katsina were to be reborn, making a tally mark each day till they got three 10's. When the 30th day was approaching, Antelope man called all of his people together and told them what he and Tsitsanits had talked about--the katsina being reborn and that the people were to help in their rebirth and still believe in them. So the people made prayer sticks and brought them to the altar of Antelope man, who took them and prayed to the katsina, asking them to come and visit his people. When the 30 days were up, Masewi and Oyoyewi went to Wenimats and with their prayers gave new life to the katsina. When they got to the top above Wenimats they cried out, saying, "All clouds in the north, all

p. 57

clouds in the west, all clouds in the south, all clouds in the east that have been asleep all this time, come awake!" And the katsina awoke. Also those who had been asleep in Wenimats came awake. The clouds rested because they had no one to pray to them while the katsina slept. Thus all the katsina awoke in good health. (The Kopishtaiya and Koshari and all the rulers were affected when the katsina were killed. They are all partners.)

Antelope Man's prayer sticks were already there and were received by the katsina leader. The katsina took them and prayed to the people and smoked the cigarettes to reestablish contact. Tsitsanits told the katsina they were not to go to the village any more. He sent Gomaiowish to tell the people that he (Tsitsanits) was coming alone on the fourth day to initiate them (tsi'mă’ăwă, "to imitate," to give them the strength and right to act the katsina way.) Gomaiowish took the message to the people. He was in a very good humor and told them that the katsina leader was to come alone in 4 days, and for them to wait and purify themselves and prepare a feast for his coming. They understood that they were all going to be initiated.

On the fourth day Tsitsanits came. Antelope Man's altar was all set and everything was ready for him. Gomaiowish came along with Tsitsanits and brought a lot of feather down. All the people went into the kiva and Tsitsanits came with Gomaiowish. The song began. The people were brought up one at a time and Tsitsanits struck them four times with the yucca. 38 The Gomaiowish, who held them while they were being struck, tied feather down on their heads. They were then given advice by Tsitsanits as to how to make masks. They were to duplicate the ones they had seen the katsina wearing. "You have seen the feathers, you have seen how they are painted, and how they wear their costumes. You will do the same way and this you are to carry on into the future as long as there is life." He instructed them to fast 4 days, 8 days, or 12 days, according to what they were doing. During these fast days they were not to touch any woman, and were to purify themselves every day by vomiting. Four days they were to fast and purify their systems by vomiting, on the fourth day to pray to Wenimats, on the fifth day still fasting to bring the masks to the kiva. Now they are ready making new dance songs and fixing masks, painting them, etc., making new equipment. On the eighth day the representatives (katsina chaianyi) [i. e., the persons impersonating the katsina] come. They dance a day and a half and the next day they are sent back to Wenimats. From then on, 8 days more of fasting. No mixing With people, no women. They start eating, though, the day they come out On the fourth day. All this was laid down as rules and all of the people understood them. Some of the people were not satisfied go

p. 58

because they had no power, having been afraid to participate; others were quite satisfied.

After all this was done, Antelope Man thought of trying it out to see how it would work. So the men who were willing to take part met in the kiva. Country Chief instructed the men to make masks, saying that they had to be brought to life before they could be used. "The mask you will make will belong to yourself. Name it for whatever katsina you want to represent." They tried many different skins but they made the best ones of buffalo skin (they were tough and heavy). Those made of buckskin did not look well and had to be made over, It took a long time to make this first set of masks. Some of the men laughed at those who could not make them and many got discouraged and left. Some made very funny masks but they persisted. They sewed the buffalo skin in the shape of a mask. They found it was best to fill them with dry earth and tamp it down, giving them a smooth shape. It took a long time to dry them. The next work was to paint them, but they did not know just where to get the paint. They had to do a lot of experimenting before they were finished. But they could do anything with them because they were not yet sacred. However, they fixed them as nearly as they could to represent the katsina they wanted. They helped one another and in this way they got some finished. "It will be up to our fathers, the chaianyi," they said, "They are the ones who know better than we what to do."

So the men who were to take part made prayer sticks which they gave to Country Chief to present to the chaianyi, asking their aid. Country Chief went to Flint Chaianyi and Fire Chaianyi. That night the chaianyi took the prayer sticks and said they would help. They set the time for the fourth night; then they would help to bring the masks alive so as really to represent the katsina. All waited the coming of the fourth day. The chaianyi were preparing their altars during these 4 days. When all was ready, their songs were finished. The men who had made masks to be brought alive were waiting in the kiva. Word was sent them to bring them to the various chaianyi altars.

The chaianyi went through their ceremonies and gave life to the masks, just as they had done to the fetishes on their altars. They named the masks for the katsina each represented. No one but the medicine men was present at the altars; the men to whom the masks belonged were waiting in the kiva. When the chaianyi had finished giving life to each mask, they would blow it to the owner and then give it to him, saying, "This is now real and it has the same power as the real katsina. You must take good care of it and not neglect it, and most of all, this is going to be secret from this day on. This means that the children and the ones who are not initiated must not know about

p. 59

this and the dancers are not real katsina. This must be hidden from them. Only the women who have become grandmothers (old) shall know of this. (Now all the boys of 12 or 15 know about it, and even the little girls, just as they know about Santa Claus.)

When all this had been done, Antelope Man said, "Let us try it out now. Let us start to work and prepare." He instructed the men to follow the rules that Tsitsanits had given them,--4 days' fasting and so on. They did this and on the fourth day went into the kiva for the first time. While in the kiva they made prayer sticks with which to call the power of the real katsina whom they were to represent. (It had taken a long time to make all these preparations and the earth had become dry, since the katsina naturally had not appeared.)

For 4 days and nights they made songs similar to those that had been sung by the katsina. They were to imitate the katsina in every way they could. They practiced singing and dancing the way the katsina did but as yet without mask and without painting up. Came the fourth day and all had gone well. In the morning they sent out the man who was to represent Gomaiowish. He took his mask, concealed in his blanket, into the country where he was out of sight. He had paint with him to paint himself. He was accompanied by one of the officers of Country Chief, who was to guard him, He painted and dressed himself up in the costume of Gomaiowish. He had with him the prayer sticks he had made, and, placing the mask in front of him facing west (toward Wenimats), he started to pray: "I am praying to the real Gomaiowish. I have made a mask (shpitso, "likeness") similar to yours. I know you are giving it your power so I ask also that the power of your body and your mind be placed into my body and my mind. Even though I am a common human and you are real, help me represent you as you would like me to do. Help me to represent you really." So he took the mask and slipping it over his head, he said, "You that are real, clothe me!" Then he gave the cry of Gomaiowish, saying, "Now I hope to represent you so that my people may go on believing in the katsina." Then he went toward the village, singing a song. It was just sunrise when he reached the pueblo. The War chief's helper, who had been guarding him, kept out of sight.

Gomaiowish went into the plaza. Country Chief, Antelope Man, and the chaianyi knew, of course, that he was coming. Antelope Man went through the welcome [ritual], just as he had done with the real katsina. All the other officers also welcomed him. Gomaiowish told the officers that the katsina were coming to visit them; he said

p. 60

that it was Gaiya katsina (Mixed katsina, i. e., all the different kinds of katsina). This group still comes. 39

While Gomaiowish was in the plaza, the other katsina impersonators were out in the country, hidden from the pueblo. They were putting on their masks and costumes, each one praying to the katsina he was representing and talking like that katsina. Then they started toward the pueblo, singing.

Soon the people heard them. The children and uninitiated were much afraid, as they did not know whether or not the katsina were going to kill people again. They were trembling from their recollections. So Country Chief cried out and told the people that the katsina were visiting them, and for them to be polite, to quit playing and pay attention. When the katsina came in sight all the people as usual brought out sacred corn meal and made a path for them into the pueblo. They said prayers that they made up themselves. Antelope Man went forth to meet them and spoke to them in the same words he had used in greeting the real katsina. He welcomed them into the plaza. He led them in a row to the north side of the plaza where they always danced first. The officers had prepared things for them in the kiva where they were to be taken to rest after the dance. So they danced the katsina dance. All was done in direct imitation of the real katsina. They danced four times in the north, west, south and east. After this they were brought into the kiva to rest.

In the west side of the kiva, skins of different animals were laid out to form a bench-skins of lion, buffalo, or bear. The dancers took off their masks and placed them on these skins. Country Chief and his officers had tobacco ready and gave all the dancers a smoke. The dancers prepared the songs they were to sing next. Each time they put on the masks to go out again, they would repeat the words they had said the first time. They went out the second time and danced four times as before in the plaza. It was now about mid-day, so they went in again to rest. 40 Country Chief announced that the people should also go and rest, that they were to stay in their houses and not come out until the katsina came out. The old women who knew about the dancers brought in food for them. 41 When food was brought in,

p. 61

[paragraph continues] Antelope Man stood up and offered it first to the real katsina, then to the masks on the bench. After a short while, the dancers were told to break their fast. Since the night before at midnight they had not been allowed to drink any water.

During the time the dancers were in the kiva the old women who knew that the dancers were men] would bring presents to any dancer they selected and tell him to present them to the household they named. The dancer would then have to remember and make these presents. Each time they came out, the dancers would bring out some of these gifts and present them. (After the third dance these gifts are presented.)

When they came out the fourth time, the sun was setting. They presented the people with more things, and the dance was over. Antelope Man told the people to bring prayer sticks and place them in a basket in the plaza. When this was done, Antelope Man gave this basket of prayer sticks to Gomaiowish to take with him. After the last dance was over, the dancers made presents as the real katsina had done, taking off all their costume except the mask, and presenting it to members of their own household or to the women that knew [about the dancers], so they would get it back. Then one by one as they disposed of their clothes, the katsina would run off over the desert shouting. The shouts grew fainter as the katsina strung out over the desert and disappeared in the distance. Gomaiowish took along the basket of prayer sticks.

(When they reach the place where they are to unmask, they lift the masks half off--just over the eyes--then take some prayer sticks from the basket and go off by themselves to pray. Each one says, "Now, I believe that you have finished your work. Go back happily to Wenimats! Take with you all which belongs to you and everything that is sacred to you. Let me not be troubled, by your power returning to haunt me in my dreams." Then he takes off his mask and motions four times 42 to Wenimats, saying, "Let me return to my people like a common human. Do not blame me for what I have been doing. Lot nothing wrong happen because I have imitated you. But lot me have good health, long life, and the gifts you have brought." Then they bury the prayer sticks.--There is a big crevice at Acoma where today prayer sticks are thrown down.--Then they take off the feathers that are on the masks and put the masks in shape to carry home. They wait until dark when they scatter out and return, one at a time, from different directions. Then they go to kiva and turn in the masks.)

Antelope Man thanked the men who had taken part and told them all had gone well, but that they were to be continent for 8 days. These were the instructions to Antelope Man from the real Tsitsanits. If

p. 62

anyone broke these rules, even after going through all this hardship, he would not got any of the blessings for which he had asked; he might even shorten his life and die.


56:33 Informant's note: This groove in the rock Iatiku made when she was abandoned by her sister. She performed the ceremony in order to forget. Later Iatiku taught people to perform the ceremony in order to forget whatever they wished, including the dead. (Cf. Parsons, 1923, p. 258.) At Laguna a pebble was shoved along a similar figure cut into the rock; but here the ritual was for prognostication in sickness. If the pebble slips from under the foot, the patient will die.

56:34 According to others, the arrow point is returned to the relatives.

56:35 Tsa·'lts. This word is also used for "soul."

56:36 I have never succeeded in uncovering among the Keres any "bad words" except witch, kanadyaiya and "evil spirit," croadyam.--L. A. W.

56:37 It is a common Pueblo notion that, if one does not observe ritual rules faithfully, he is likely to sicken and perhaps die.

57:38 Cf. White, 1932, pp. 71-75.

60:39 Informant's note: On some occasions when the katsina come to Acoma there will be a group of 20 or so of the same kind. Nowadays there are many kivas and each one will represent only one kind at a time, or perhaps two. Sometimes, if it is necessary to have more masks, they may borrow them from another kiva. At Acoma all masks are kept in kiva and maybe taken out only for ceremonies. Masks are not the property of individuals. [Members of the kachina organization at Zuñi own dance masks, but nowhere among Keres is there individual ownership of masks.] Masks are kept in a room, plastered shut [in the custody either of kiva chiefs or of medicine men]. There are four rooms in Acoma kivas; three of them are plastered up. The kivas in Acoma have altars [Mauharots is probably one of them, perhaps the chamber of the Fire society is the other. See previous note on Acoma kivas, p. 45). The chaianyi keeps the altar in his own house, fits it up for ceremonies.

60:40 Informant's note: Today they dance 10 times before noon.

60:41 At Acoma today the masked dancers eat outdoors, but behind the church (White, 1932, p. 83). At Santo Domingo and at San Felipe the masked dancers eat in a house set aside for them. All spectators, especially women and children, must go indoors. Old women bring food to the war chief's helpers who take it to the dancers (White, 1935, pp. 96-97; White, 1932 a, p. 39).

61:42 Cf. White, 1932, p. 87.

Next: Wanderings, Part IX