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Indigenous Stories

Másaw – The Caretaker

Categories : Hopi , Hopi Stories

"I have something more to say to you before I leave you," Sótuknang told the people as they stood at their place of emergence.

"The name of this Fourth World is Túwaqachi," he said, "the World Complete. You will find out why. It is not all beautiful and easy like the previous ones. It has height and depth, heat and cold, beauty and barrenness: it has everything for you to choose from. What you choose will determine if this time you can carry out the plan of creation on it or whether it, in time, must be destroyed too.

Now you will separate and go different ways to claim all the earth for the Creator. Each group of you will follow your own star until it stops. There you will settle. Now I must go. But you will have help from the proper deities, from your good spirits. Just keep your own doors open and always remember what I have told you."

Then he disappeared.

The people began to move slowly off the shore and into the land, when they heard the low rumbling noise again. Looking around, they saw a handsome man and asked, "Are you the one who has been making these noises we have heard?"

"yes, I made them to help you find the way here. Do you not recognize me? My name is Másaw. I am the caretaker, the guardian and protector of this land."

The people recognized Másaw. He had been appointed head caretaker of the Third World, but, becoming a little self-important, he had lost his humility before the Creator. Being a spirit, he could not die, so Taiowa took his appointment away from him and made him the deity of death and the underworld. This job below was not as pleasant as the one Above. Then, when the Third World was destroyed, Taiowa decided to give him another chance, as he had the people, and appointed him to guard and protect this Fourth World as its caretaker.

He was the first being the people had met here, and the people were very respectful to him. "Will you give us permission to live on this land?" they asked.

"Yes, I will give my permission as owner of this land," he said.

"Will you be our leader?" they then asked.

"No," replied Másaw. "A greater one than I has given you a plan to fulfill first. When the previous parts of the world were pushed under the water, this new land was pushed up in the middle to become the backbone of the earth. You are now standing on its western slope, but you have not yet made your migrations. You have not yet followed your stars to the place you will meet and settle. This you must do before I can become your leader. But if you go back to your evil ways again, I will take over the earth from you, for I am its guardian, caretaker, and protector."

"To the north," he continued, "you will find cold and ice. That is the back door to this land, and those who come through this back door do so without my consent. Go now and claim the land with my permission."

When Másaw disappeared, the people divided into groups and clans to begin their migrations.

"May we all meet again," they all called back to one another.

This is how it all began on this, our present Fourth World.

As we know, its name is Túwaqachi, World Complete. Its direction north, its color sikyangpu (yellowish white). Chiefs upon it are the tree kneumapee (juniper), the bird mongwau (owl), the animal tohapko (mountain lion), and the mixed mineral sikyápala.

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