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"It is my purpose to hold Christmas alone. I have no one with me at table, and my own thoughts must be my Christmas guests. Sitting here, it is pleasant to think how much kindly feeling exists this present night in England."
"The pantomime, pleasantest Christmas sight of all, with the pit a sea of grinning delight, the boxes a tier of beaming juvenility, the galleries, piled up to the far-receding roof, a mass of happy laughter which a clown's joke brings down in mighty avalanches. In the pit, sober people relax themselves, and suck oranges, and quaff ginger-pop; in the boxes, Miss, gazing through her curls, thinks the Fairy Prince the prettiest creature she ever beheld, and Master, that to be a clown must be the pinnacle of human happiness."
A Hopi Ceremonial
By ELSIE CLEWS PARSONS
LORA would not go with me to the Hopi country, her baby was sick, but she had the happy idea of giving me the photograph of her Hopi friend as a card of introduction, knowing as well as I how reassuring to any Pueblo Indian on meeting a stranger is the knowledge of having a common friend. Thirty-six miles from Zuñi to Gallup, a hundred odd miles to the first mesa, and at the post-office and store at the foot of the mesa I asked a woman coming out if she happened to know John Kochisi and where he lived. I showed the photograph.
"I am his aunt," said she, interested and smiling, "and this letter is for him. He lives on top of this mesa at Sichumovi."
I invited her into the motor, and we went on up the steep road past the shrine-guarded boundary-line between the Tewa town and the town that for many a generation has harbored Zuñi visitors, Sichumovi.
John Kochisi happened to be sitting at his door. At the end of the room a supper party was gathered in a circle about the loaves and piles of wafer bread and the bowls of mutton stew earned that day at work in the corn-fields of the family. It was mid-June, the cornplanting season not quite concluded, and the working parties of relatives and neighbors were still being called together every four days or so at dates set by the "sun watcher"-dates named after the places where the sun was rising, Grasshopper, Coyote Bitch, Tunneled Rock, and others. How calendary methods vary!
The photograph and Flora's messages were effectual; John had a room at my disposal. It was the same room that Douglas Fairbanks had lived in when he was there a few weeks past, making a film, and I was shown the photographs from the envelop the aunt had just
brought from the post-office-photographs of the slim actor dancing with a portly Hopi matron and winking an eye at the motley crowd of Indian and white lookers-on. The Pueblo Indian is fond of burlesque, his own, but that any Pueblo Indian woman would thus lend herself to the American sense of burlesque was a surprise. Pueblo Indian women, young and old, are shy and reticent. No doubt the dance was a pecuniary transaction, like the photographing by tourists of the Indian pottery-venders at the stations on the Santa Fé railroad; but even so, since Sichumovi was not Albuquerque, the photograph was startling, and on top of my satisfaction at being so advantageously installed for ethnographical pursuit, comically dismaying. Would I have to live down Douglas Fairbanks?
Knowing that host and hostess would want to put my room in order, I walked out to visit Walpi, next door, where the mesa narrows into the long ridge which, seen from below, keeps one guessing where rock ends and house begins. It was the hour when laden donkeys were coming up the trail, to be unpacked and left over night in the little corrals on the edge of the mesa. One of these donkeys was causing irritation to somebody, for as I passed by I heard an angry exclamation. Irritation, plus cruelty, with draft animals is common enough on the part of Pueblo Indians, but the expletive he used and even the loud, angry tone would be novelties at Zuñi. American oaths and American humor! Indeed, the first mesa had been corrupted, just as they told me, by its "snake-dance" visitors. Then in the next few steps toward the eastern edge of the mesa I almost stepped on some green prayersticks, duplicates of those I had been studying the winter before in the American Museum, and from the open slab shrine to my right protruded still another type of prayer-stick, the long
willow twig to which the eagle prayerfeathers are fastened that every man makes in his kiva for all those at home to pray with during the winter solstice ceremonial. And was not that the skeleton of an eagle over there in the rock crevice, buried ceremonially just as Dr. Fewkes has described?
And I was soon to find that my household was quite as uncontaminated as any Pueblo Indian household I knew anywhere. The singular-looking hoops which hung to a corner of my ceiling, and which I learned were a store-bought machine to teach a child to walk, interfered in no way with original beliefs about hastening the child's development. Here, as at Zuñi, a mocking-bird was held to his lips that he might learn readily to talk, and were he sickly, would he not be "given" to some one to sponsor him in later years in his secret society? Besides, in other parts of the roofing prayer-sticks were stuck, sticks made by the war priest to keep the house strong, and just over my American bedstead was fastened to the rafters a shalako shrine in which the "two little ones" were a prayer for increase of offspring to the household. The floor, to be sure, had been boarded over, but • under the boards there were still other prayer-sticks made for the house when it had been rebuilt to entertain the shalako, those masked impersonations of supernatural messengers that the people of Sichumovi alone of all the Pueblo peoples have in common with Zuñi.
It was the old story, as old as Spanish occupation, of foreign goods and contrivances fitted into native concepts and habits of mind. Perhaps the most remarkable instance of this process John Kochisi supplied from his personal history. For several years he was a student at Phoenix, and he qualified to graduate with his class, but absolutely refused. Graduation to his Indian way of thinking was an initiation, a rebirth into a new life, the American life, and that break with the old life, “life as a regular Indian," as he put it, John did not wish to make. And so he took what the school could give him, but on his own terms. Last year at Hampton Institute there was also a case of an Indian refusing to graduate, a refusal
interpreted by the school authorities as due to a sense of sin, of unworthiness to receive the certificate of the institution. The complacency of our cultural egoism!
One evening I, too, was given the choice of rebirth into another culture, and, unlike John, I accepted. Perhaps the consequences were less grave, or perhaps the spiritual break with the old had long since been made. At any rate, when our evening visitor suggested to John and me that it might be well, in order to disarm criticism of my presence on the mesa, for me to have my head washed and get a Hopi name, we concurred. Our visitor was a man of prominence, the head man of the winter solstice ceremony, and so frankly it was decided by John and me that he, Sixtaime, should become my "father. connection was satisfactory to all three of us, to John because, as the neighbors began to take notice of me, their questions also began to be disturbing, particularly as the rumor had unfortunately gone abroad that I had books about the ceremonies; to me because the necessary rite would not only be of interest in itself, but gave promise of future privileges; to Sixtaime because his clan would get a new child, if only a white child.
Early the next morning, but not in accordance with the rule before sunrise, Sixtaime came into my room to fetch me and lead the way across the plaza to his sister's house, a Water clan house. Sleeping pallets had been rolled up and put away, and the household of three generations, mother, daughter, and daughter's husband and children, and two clanswomen from outside were sitting against the wall on box stools and chairs. In the middle of the room was a chair for me, and on the floor near by the large pottery bowl in which my head was to be washed. There was some water in it, and the yucca roots lay at hand.
I sat down, and took out the one hair-pin that held up my hair. Sixtaime talked a little with the others; as I knew English talk was not expected, and any Hopi formulas which might be in order I did not know, I said nothing. Chii, Sixtaime's sister, my aunt to be, left the room to bring in the ear of corn that was to be an essential part of the rite;