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The Song-hunter

Source: Myths And Legends Of California And The Old Southwest

Navajo (New Mexico)

A man sat thinking. "Let me see. My songs are too short. I want more
songs. Where shall I go to find them?"

Hasjelti appeared and perceiving his thoughts, said, "I know where you
can get more songs."

"Well, I want to get more. So I will follow you."

They went to a certain point in a box canon in the Big Colorado River
and here they found four gods, the Hostjobokon, at work, hewing
cottonwood logs.

Hasjelti said, "This will not do. Cottonwood becomes water-soaked. You
must use pine instead of cottonwood."

The Hostjobokon began boring the pine with flint, but Hasjelti said,
"That is slow work." He commanded a whirlwind to hollow the log. A
cross, joining at the exact middle of each log, a solid one and the
hollow one, was formed. The arms of the cross were equal.

The song-hunter entered the hollow log and Hasjelti closed the end with
a cloud so that water would not enter when the logs were launched upon
the great waters. The logs floated off. The Hostjobokon, accompanied by
their wives, rode upon the logs, one couple sitting upon each arm.
Hasjelti, Hostjoghon, and the two Naaskiddi walked upon the banks to
keep the logs off shore. Hasjelti carried a squirrel skin filled with
tobacco, with which to supply the gods on their journey. Hostjoghon
carried a staff ornamented with eagle and turkey plumes and a gaming
ring with two humming birds tied to it with white cotton cord. The two
Naaskiddi carried staffs of lightning. The Naaskiddi had clouds upon
their backs in which the seeds of all corn and grasses were carried.

After floating a long distance down the river, they came to waters that
had a shore on one side only. Here they landed. Here they found a people
like themselves. When these people learned of the Song-hunter, they gave
him many songs and they painted pictures on a cotton blanket and said,

"These pictures must go with the songs. If we give this blanket to you,
you will lose it. We will give you white earth and black coals which you
will grind together to make black paint, and we will give you white
sand, yellow sand, and red sand. For the blue paint you will take white
sand and black coals with a very little red and yellow sand. These will
give you blue."

And so the Navajo people make blue, even to this day.

The Song-hunter remained with these people until the corn was ripe.
There he learned to eat corn and he carried some back with him to the
Navajos, who had not seen corn before, and he taught them how to raise
it and how to eat it.

When he wished to return home, the logs would not float upstream. Four
sunbeams attached themselves to the logs, one to each cross arm, and so
drew the Song-hunter back to the box canon from which he had started.
When he reached that point, he separated the logs. He placed the end of
the solid log into the hollow end of the other and planted this great
pole in the river. It may be seen there to-day by the venturesome. In
early days many went there to pray and make offerings.

Next: Sand Painting Of The Song-hunter

Previous: Hasjelti And Hostjoghon

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