Arrow Boy Triumphs Over His Mockers


- Cochiti -

In Cochiti the cacique had an only boy ("grandson probably"). He never went out. He didn't know the country, nor how to hunt. He only knew bow to sing. The other young men were jealous because he had so many lovers, because he always stayed in the pueblo and wore good clothes and sang to the girls. At last the young men who were hunters decided to put it before Masewa. They said, "Let us hunt deer and put the cacique's boy in charge and see where he will lead us." Masewa listened to them and agreed to their plan. They were to put the boy in command of the party to find out how he would manage, and where he would take them. They sent for Arrow Boy to go to Masewa, and when he came, Masewa told him that he had chosen him to, take charge of the deer hunt and he must choose the direction in which they should go; he was the one to decide.

Arrow Boy accepted gladly; he did not know they were mocking him. He said, "All right, Masewa. Tell the boys to make all their preparations and have bows and arrows ready. In four days I will decide which direction we shall take. I will ask our Mother to choose the place and arrange the hunt."

For four days he asked our Mother that the hunt should be successful; that there should be no trouble with the men and no trouble with the game; that he should manage his party well. For four nights the other young men met together and laughed about how Arrow Boy would manage his hunting party. They said, "He will get over singing to the girls around the village; he'll see he has to be a man."

The day came when they were to go. Arrow Boy dressed himself for the hunt. He came out and made proclamation (in three places) to notify the hunters that it was time to start for the hunt. He told them to go to the north. He would be waiting for them there. He went to Masewa to ask for his guard. Masewa gave him his guard and they went ahead of the others, to the north. When they got to the meeting place he had appointed, they waited for the hunters. In a little while the others arrived and he led them farther to the north. He selected the mouth of a canyon in which to pitch their camp for the night. Early in the morning Arrow Boy rose and told the rest to pack up their loads and go farther into the canyon. There he would assign their stations for the hunt.

When they came to the place he had appointed he stood before them all and said, "Masewa has given authority into my hands for these days. Everybody shall carry out every direction. If we work together, our Mother will help us for I have asked her that she should give much game during these days to feed her people." When he had finished he separated the hunters into two parties. He put leaders in charge of each party and assigned to the men their positions. The two parties followed opposite sides of the canyon and when they came together, they drove game directly toward Arrow Boy and his guard who stood waiting at the starting place. When everything was ready Arrow Boy said to his guard, "Deer are coming and whether they want to or not, they must come through this pass. Shoot as many as you can; some will fall right here, others you will wound and will have to follow until they fall." Those of his guard who were against him said, "He thinks he knows, and he has never hunted before!" Those who were for him said, "He has supernatural power."

When the two parties came together, they started toward the boy and his guard. At first they started mountain goats, but farther on, herds of deer. At every trail out of the canyon they had stationed men so that no game could escape. The animals tried to get out but these men who were guarding the trails turned them back, killing a few. All kinds of game were running together now and they drew close to where Arrow Boy and his guard were. Near an opening of the canyon they started wild turkeys and quails (in olden times quails flew only once). The game went straight to where Arrow Boy and the old hunters (his guard) were standing. Ahead came the turkeys; the deer and the mountain goats hugged the sides of the canyon. They had a good day and they got much game; very few escaped. The hunters from up the canyon pressed close upon the game and made them go through the narrow pass of the canyon. The mountain goats went first. The guard killed them. All the deer followed and they killed those. Where there were trails out of the canyon there the hunters had killed, too. They had plenty of game. The hunters who had mocked the boy got nothing, the old hunters who had had faith in him killed many, and Arrow Boy killed most of all. When they had gathered together all the game those who had mocked him hid away and went home by another direction. The rest of the hunters came into the pueblo with their game and divided it according to custom. Tales of the Cochiti Indians by Ruth Benedict, Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin No. 98 [1932]

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