This text is an extract from Nancy J. Parezo’s “Emergence to the Fourth World”, in Paths of Life, American Indians of the Southwest and Northern Mexico, The University of Arizona Press, Tucson.
In the beginning, Tawa, the sun spirit and father, impregnated Mother Earth, who gave birth to living things. These people, animals, and insects lived in the underworld, where they tried to live the Hopi way but were not able to understand the meaning of life and became mired in corruption and strife caused by sorcerers. Upon hearing footsteps above and the words of Hummingbird and Spider Grandmother, a brave group decided to leave the koyaanisqatsi, or “crazy life”, behind. They sent out birds to find a way to ascend and explore the unknown land. Catbird finally succeeded in reaching the sipapuni, a hole in the sky, and found Masauwu.
Masauwu, the Spirit of the Dead, gave the people fire and permitted them to settle on his land. The Fire People, who have a special relationship with Masauwu, emerged first, because they agreed to assume the responsibility of leading the others to their final destination. Chipmunk helped the good people climb to the sipapuni through a tall reed. As the people were resting before their journey, Spider Grandmother said, “The journey will be long and difficult. When we reach the Upper World, that will be only a beginning. Things are not like things here. You will discover new ways of doing things. During the journey you must try to discover the meaning of life and learn to distinguish good from evil. Tawa did not intend for you to live in the midst of chaos and dissension.”
Maria II, Kate Russell photographer, Freyr Marie and Rose B. Simpson, models – Arizona State Museum