SW/CA: The Children of Cloud

The Hohokam were one of the important prehistoric cultures of the Southwest, specifically in the Sonoran desert of southern Arizona. You can read more at Wikipedia. There is also a Wikipedia article dedicated to Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, the site of ancient Hohokam settlements.

As you will see at the end of the story, it explains the origins of the agave, also known as the century plant, which has many uses in Native American cultures. You can learn more about the agave and its uses at Wikipedia.

[Notes by LKG]

This story is part of the Southwestern and California Legends unit. Story source: Myths and Legends of California and the Old Southwest by Katharine Berry Judson (1912).


The Children of Cloud
Pima (Arizona)

When the Hohokam dwelt on the Gila River and tilled their farms around the great temple which we call Casa Grande, there was a beautiful young woman in the pueblo who had two twin sons. Their father was Cloud, and he lived far away.

One day the boys came to their mother, as she was weaving mats. "Who is. our father?" they asked. "We have no one to run to when he returns from the hunt, or from war, to shout to him."

The mother answered: "In the morning, look toward the sunrise and you will see a white Cloud standing upright. He is your father."

"Can we visit our father?" they asked.

"Yes," said their mother. "You may visit him, but you must make the journey without stopping. First you will reach Wind, who is your father's eldest brother. Behind him you will find your father."

The boys travelled four days and came to the house of Wind.

"Are you our father?" they asked.

"No, I am your Uncle,"answered Wind. "Your father lives in the next house. Go on to him."

They travelled on to Cloud. But Cloud drove them away. He said, "Go to your uncle Wind. He will tell you something." But Wind sent them back to Cloud again. Thus the boys were driven away from each house four times.

Then Cloud said to them, "Prove to me you are my sons. If you are, you can do what I do."

The younger boy sent chain lightning across the sky with sharp, crackling thunder. The elder boy sent the heat lightning with its distant rumble of thunder.

"You are my children," said Cloud. "You have power like mine."

But again he tested them. He took them to a house near by where a flood of rain had drowned the people. "If I they are my sons," he said, "they will not be harmed."

Then Cloud sent the rain and the storm. The water rose higher and higher, but the two boys were not harmed. The water could not drown them. Then Cloud took them to his home and there they stayed a long, long time.

But after a long time, the boys wished to see their mother again. Then Cloud made them some bows and arrows differing from any they had ever seen, and sent them to their mother. He told them he would watch over them as they travelled but they must speak to no one they met on their way.

So the boys travelled to the setting sun. First they met Raven. They remembered their father's command and turned aside so as not to meet him. Then they met Roadrunner, and turned aside to avoid him. Next came Hawk and Eagle.

Eagle said, "Let's scare those boys." So he swooped down over their heads until they cried from fright.

"We were just teasing you," said Eagle. "We will not do you any harm." Then Eagle flew on.

Next they met Coyote. They tried to avoid him, but Coyote ran around and put himself in their way. Cloud was watching and he sent down thunder and lightning. And the boys sent out their magic thunder and lightning also, until Coyote was frightened and ran away.

Now this happened on the mountain top, and one boy was standing on each side of the trail. After Coyote ran away, they were changed into mescal - the very largest mescal ever known. The place was near Tucson. This is the reason why mescal grows on the mountains, and why thunder and lightning go from place to place - because the children did. That is why it rains when we gather mescal.




(600 words)

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