SW/CA: The Course of the Sun

Here is another story about Sussistinnako, the spider-creator of the Zia Pueblo people. This time it is about the spider's son, the sun, and why he travels every day from east to west, although that was not how the sun first made his journey!

[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 Course of the Sun
Sia (New Mexico)

Sussistinnako, the spider, said to the sun, "My son, you will ascend and pass over the world above. You will go from north to south. Return and tell me what you think of it."

The sun said, on his return, "Mother, I did as you bade me, and I did not like the road."

Spider told him to ascend and pass over the world from west to the east. On his return, the sun said, "It may be good for some, mother, but I did not like it."

Spider said, "You will again ascend and pass over the straight road from the east to the west. Return and tell me what you think of it."

That night the sun said, "I am much contented. I like that road much."

Sussistinnako said, "My son, you will ascend each day and pass over the world from east to west."

Upon each day's journey the sun stops midway from the east to the centre of the world to eat his breakfast. In the centre he stops to eat his dinner. Halfway from the centre to the west he stops to eat his supper. He never fails to eat these three meals each day, and always stops at the same points.

The sun wears a shirt of dressed deerskin, with leggings of the same reaching to his thighs. The shirt and leggings are fringed. His moccasins are also of deerskin and embroidered in yellow, red, and turkis beads. He wears a kilt of deerskin, having a snake painted upon it. He carries a bow and arrows, the quiver being of cougar skin, hanging over his shoulder, and he holds his bow in his left hand and an arrow in his right. He always wears the mask which protects him from the sight of the people of Ha-arts.

At the top of the mask is an eagle plume with parrot plumes; an eagle plume is at each side, and one at the bottom of the mask. The hair around the head and face is red like fire, and when it moves and shakes people cannot look closely at the mask. It is not intended that they should observe closely, else they would know that instead of seeing the sun they see only his mask.

The moon came to the upper world with the sun and he also wears a mask.

Each night the sun passes by the house of Sussistinnako, the spider, who asks him, "How are my children above? How many have died to-day? How many have been born to-day?" The sun lingers only long enough to answer his questions. He then passes on to his house in the east.





(500 words)











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