Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Young Woman From The Mustard Seed Clan

When the world was still young there lived a girl, a young woman almost. The beautiful young girl from the Mustard Seed Clan was named Kuwanyanma meaning a butterfly showing her beautiful wings.  All the young men on Third Mesa noticed her. Because she was so beautiful it was difficult not to notice her.  Each evening some boy or another could be seen talking to her through the window of her home as she was grinding corn for her family’s piki bread. When she grew weary she would send the boy away and another would show up.  This would happen every night.  At times she wished she were ugly. Even when she put a blanket over the window she could always hear some boy or another singing to her.

Yet in spite of the annoyance she found two boys caught her attention. The first was a boy named Istaqa or Coyote Man. He was tall and gorgeous from the Coyote Clan. He had eyes that melted through her heart and danced with her soul. She loved talking to him even though neither ever really listens to the other.  When she was with him she would giggle deep inside.

The other boy was named Lavathoya or Bird Song. He was from the Swallow Clan.  He was handsome but not beautiful. When he sang the birds would croon and dance in harmony.  He would make her feel good about her self and she felt free to share all her secrets and she would listen to every word he spoke. With his words he knew the secrets of her heart. And her soul found a home.

She wanted to marry but which young suitor?  The Boy from the Coyote Clan could only love himself. But, whenever she was with him all she could think about is being with him, because he was the most beautiful man she had ever seen.

The Boy from the Sallow Clan would love her devotedly, listen to her and give her what she needed. When she was with him he made her feel comfortable and she could tell him things she could tell no one else, but he did not make her giggle inside. Beauty or love, which would the Mustard Seed Girl choose? It doesn’t take a smart storyteller give you the answer, of course she would choose beauty.

Things are never as easy as that.  As is the custom Swallow Boy approached her Clan elders with his intent to marry the dazzling young woman. Everyone in the Mustard Seed Clan knew he would make the best possible of all husbands and the date was set.

The girl who was to be married was upset, because Coyote Boy would never think to ask, as all he thought about was Coyote Boy.  So Mustard Seed Girl went Coyote Boy a told him she wanted to marry him, but he would be required to ask for her hand form the elders of her clan. This young woman was beautiful in the extreme and the Young Coyote Man loved all beautiful women unfortunately.  At his age he really should start thinking about getting married. So this lad went asked if he could court her for marriage.

Even though she knew that the Boy from the Coyote Clan would break her heart she wanted only him. The young girl told the boy from the Swallow Clan they could never see each other again. The next day the girl took tosi or sweet corn meal to the home of the Coyote Clan. This is the custom when a girl is interested in marriage.

The boy’s mother accepted the gift and began preparing for the marriage. The meal was ground into flour and made into tortillas and given to the Boy’s Maternal Uncles who were the leaders of the Coyote Clan.

Sallow Boy was grief-stricken could neither eat nor sleep. His Clan feared he would soon die. The Swallow Clan began to scheme on how to win the girl for their young lad.

The Mustard Seed Clan was also worried. Only the Boy from Sallow Clan would make their girl happy. The Swallow Boy would work and live in home of the Mustard seed Clan, as is custom.  

The Maiden was washing her hair to prepare for the wedding between her and Coyote Boy. The leaders of the Mustard seed Clan announced their would be no wedding until a contest was held to determine who was the most worthy.

The beautiful young woman from the Mustard Seed Clan knew that the boy the Swallow Clan would win the contest. Swallow magic is more powerful than Coyote magic. If Coyote Boy lost our young lady had already made plans to run away with Coyote Boy and go to live with the Tewa people who would take them in.

The elders from the Mustard Seed Clan would judge the race and decide on the rules. The two boys would begin the race at dawn. The race would start at Oraivi a high rock near Orabi. From there they would scurry to Topock on the Colorado River, then they would to the Salt River Canyon, then to White Rock on the Rio Grande, to Bluff on the San Juan and finally Back to Oraivi. The first to return would marry the young maid.

The race began. Coyote Boy crawled into a clump of trees and went to sleep; he would wait a sufficient amount of time and pretend to cross the finish line first. Swallow Boy turned him himself into a Swallow and flew straight and with great speed to the Colorado River. Everyone knew a Coyote even with four legs could not out run and bird on wing.  It appeared the race was over.

The young woman knew both boys well their strengths and their secrets. She went to the Coyote Clan and told the elders how they could beat the Swallow.  First the Coyotes danced to bring the monsoons or summer rains. With feathers soaked the Swallow fell to the ground Swallow became a boy again and sang for the winds. The winds would keep his feathers dry and a Swallow can ride the winds. The Boy turn himself back into a bird. The young woman informed the Coyote Clan of the news.

Mustard Seed Girl gave the Coyote Elders a magic arrow of lightening. She also told the Coyotes where they might find Swallow. With perfect skill the best archer of the Coyotes shot the arrow. The arrow found its target piercing the wing of the Swallow. The bird fell to the earth unable to finish the race. The wounded boy waited to be rescued. After the race he would withdraw into banishment and never to go to the home of the Young Woman.

Almost by accident a member of the Mustard Seed Clan stumbled across the Sleeping Coyote Boy only very short distance from the beginning of the race. The elders of the Mustard Seed Clan were aware of everything that had happened. Swallow Boy was defeated, their own daughter cheated and Coyote boy didn’t even try. The young girl could wait no longer she went right to the Coyote Boy told every one in all the clans she would go to Coyote Boys Bed tonight nothing could stop her, either as his wife or his lover. Her clan put the biggest wedding anyone could remember.

Now I wished I could say they lived happily ever after, but life is not a fairy tale. Coyote Boy became Coyote Man. Coyote Man loved only himself. I wish I could say he was devoted to her he was not. He rarely visited his wife. But spent more time in his Mothers Village or traveling long distances with the men of his Marti-clan.  When he came to see his wife he would stay only long enough to leave her with another child and then depart again. She many times thought of ending their marriage but she never did. Until one time her husband left on a long journey with his kin and died in a distant village.

Finally free of a loveless marriage the elders of the Mustard Seed Clan heart went out to the Swallow Boy who was now an old man. The band was lifted and Swallow could visit the Mustard People. Swallow Man inquired about the love of his life, having never married himself. Hearing she was widowed he decided to take his chances and see her.

One day he went to visit her; she was grinding corn to make Piki Bread for grandchildren.  At first she did not recognize him. But, because of his gentle voice and concern for her listing closely to all she said she finally knew who he was.  Slowly their friendship grew into love, and love into marriage. Her children had a devoted and loving father. Her grandchildren had a devoted and loving grandfather. Swallow Man never tired telling the only woman he ever loved how beautiful she was. Swallow Man would say “life truly works out for the best” because he was with this woman he waited for. Now I can say they lived happily ever after.

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