20. The Visit of the Mountain Spirits
Here, also, were a great many Indians.
Here where they were many, also, only one knew in a good way about the Mountain Spirits.
It is possible [that] these are the same ones of whom I spoke a while ago [who] knew about the Mountain
Spirits, 1 [but] perhaps no one has spoken of them.
Anyhow, this man who knew about the Mountain Spirits spoke to everyone.
"My relatives, I will make Mountain Spirits for you four nights. The ceremony will last four days." he said to them.
Then he had made it known to all the people.
All the people were happy about it.
Then, when the sun had begun to go down, the Mountain Spirits were being decorated.
The sun had set.
Twilight had come.
Where the ceremony was to be held, where the Mountain Spirits were to dance, they had built a big fire.
All of the men [and] women had come there.
The Mountain Spirits were coming to the fire.
Blessping the fire, they were moving around it.
Singing had begun for them.
The Mountain Spirits danced.
It was a great celebration.
When the celebration was at its height, two Mountain Spirits that no one had ever seen before [came] from somewhere.
They had been beautifully decorated.
All of their horns had been well designed.2
The Mountain Spirits that belonged to [the people] danced very well, but those two who had come there unknown to anyone danced much better.
They looked at them alone.
Only those Mountain Spirits were outstanding.
Then the wise men spoke thus:
They asked one another about them:
"Who is it that owns these?" they said to one another.3
No one knew about them.
All of the Mountain Spirits danced until dawn.
As dawn was breaking, while it was still dark, the two [strangers] were going away somewhere.
No one knew [where].
They had tried in vain to find out.
At night, when the Mountain Spirits danced [and] were going back out of sight, those two also moved back there but they stopped far from the other Mountain Spirits.
Those other Mountain Spirits knew nothing about them.
The two [strangers] kept coming there every night.
It happened so four nights.
In spite of that, no one knew about them.
While it was still dark, they always went away somewhere.
Then all of the wise men spoke thus:
"It is better that something be learned about them," they said.
"Therefore, this very night, when the Mountain Spirits dance here, is the time [to find out]. Then, it will be learned where [it is] that they go."they said.
Then they spoke thus again:
"Tonight, when dawn has come, saddle those of your horses which run the fastest." they said to one another,
"As day is dawning, station yourselves on horseback at intervals along the way that those two customarily go away." they said to one another.
Then, the night of the fourth night, the Mountain Spirits danced the high step until the sun had risen.4
And the two [strangers] were still moving about there.
Then they began to do what [the wise men] had told them.
[Riding] only the fastest horses, they placed themselves at intervals along the way that those two Mountain
Spirits had been going away toward the mountain.
The horse that ran best was farthest away: he went with [his rider] close to the mountain.5
When they had said
"Ready,"the Mountain Spirits who had been dancing stopped.
From their midst, the two [strangers] ran out yonder.
They were going close to the line of horses.
[The riders] spurred their horses after them.
The two who ran before the horses kept on going just so.6
They ran toward the mountain.
Even that one who had been standing farthest away with the fastest horse returned with nothing7
Then, right up close where everybody saw it, lay a big mountain.
It was a high rock wall.
Toward that, as they watched them, the two [strangers] were moving up.
They kept turning back toward them [and] making a noise.8
As they watched them, the two stopped directly at the center of the big rock wall.
There they stood making a noise.
The rock spread apart.
The two went in there.
Then all of the people went back to where the ceremony had been held.
They did not like what they had done [and] discussed it among themselves.9
"We have done something that it is not good to do."they said as they discussed that which they did not like.
"Pray with all your power:they said as they discussed that which they did not like among themselves.
If we had not bothered them, something good might have happened to us.
If we had not done so, even something which was good to us might have been.
We, who are only men, did wrong."
There were many of them at that time.
But some kind of a disease came among them.
Then, not long afterward, many of them died.
Then there were not very many of them.
At that time, long ago, they respected those Mountain Spirits.
The people blessed them.
They lived in the sacred mountains, the people said.
From inside the sacred mountains, they talked to those people who knew about the Mountain Spirits.
But we, because they do not talk to us, will therefore not believe [this].
They do not speak so, you will say.
But then, too, they cannot speak to all of us.
Not all of us can know about the Mountain Spirits.
That is, in text 19.
The "horns" refer to uprights of yucca stalk wood which rise above the buckskin masks.
It is not difficult to tell to whom a certain set of dancers "belong," that is, by whom they were dressed and
designed, for the symbols, colors, and patterns used by each man who knows a masked dancer ceremony, are
The masked dancers perform three dance steps or types of dancing and for each kind a different set of songs is
sung. One of these types is the "high" step mentioned in the text, which, because it requires that the legs be
raised very high, is considered to be the most strenuous and tiring of the three.
This "relay" method of pursuit is utilized in hunting. A deer is started in the direction in which a number of
men, each quite a distance from the next, wait on horseback. Each pursues the quarry in turn and forces the
animal to extend itself to the utmost. Then the last rider, on his fresh horse, can easily overtake and kill the
That is, they kept ahead of the horsemen who were not able to catch them.
That is, he returned without having caught the strange Mountain Spirits.
The reference is to a peculiar warbling cry made by the Mountain Spirits.
That is, they were frightened to learn that they had been pursuing the true Mountain Spirits.