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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
June 2015 -
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Horned Toad and the Giants
from "Myths and Legends of our Own Land", by Charles M. Skinner, [1896]
The Moquis have a legend that, long ago, when the principal mesa that they occupy was higher than it is now, and when they owned all the country from the mountains to the great river, giants came out of the west and troubled them, going so far as to dine on Moquis. It was hard to get away, for the monsters could see all over the country from the tops of the mesas. The king of the tribe offered the handsomest woman in his country and a thousand horses to any man who would deliver his people from these giants. This king was eaten like the rest, and the citizens declined to elect another, because they were beginning to lose faith in kings. Still, there was one young brave whose single thought was how to defeat the giants and save his people.

As he was walking down the mesa he saw a lizard, of the kind commonly known as a horned toad, lying under a rock in pain. He rolled the stone away and was passing on, when a voice, that seemed to come out of the earth, but that really came from the toad, asked him if he wished to destroy the giants. He desired nothing so much. "Then take my horned crest for a helmet."

Lolomi -- that was the name of him -- did as he was bid, and found that in a moment the crest had swelled and covered his head so thickly that no club could break through it.

"Now take my breastplate," continued the toad. And though it would not have covered the Indian's thumb-nail, when he put it on it so increased in bulk that it corseleted his body and no arrow could pierce it.

"Now take the scales from my eyes," commanded the toad, and when he had done so Lolomi, felt as light as a feather.

"Go up and wait. When you see a giant, go toward him, looking in his eyes, and he will walk backward. Walk around him until he has his back to a precipice, then advance. He will back away until he reaches the edge of the mesa, when he will fall off and be killed."

Lolomi obeyed these instructions, for presently a giant loomed in the distance and came striding across the plains half a mile at a step. As he drew near he flung a spear, but it glanced from the Indian's armor like hail from a rock. Then an arrow followed, and was turned. At this, the giant lost courage, for he fancied that Lolomi was a spirit. Fearing a blow if he turned, he kept his face toward Lolomi, who maneuvered so skillfully that when he had the giant's back to the edge of a cliff he sprang at him, and the giant, with a yell of alarm, fell and broke his bones on the rocks below. So Lolomi killed many giants, because they all walked back before him, and after they had fallen the people heaped rocks on their bodies. To this day, the place is known as "the Giants' Fall." Then the tribe made Lolomi king and gave him the most beautiful damsel for a wife. As he was the best king they ever had, they treasured his memory after he was dead, and used his name as a term of greeting, so that "Lolomi" is a word of welcome, and will be until the giants come again.

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an exerpt from:: "Books of the Southwest" - The University of Arizona Library


The Indians of Arizona are, perhaps, the most interesting of any of the American aborigines. They are as unique and picturesque as is the land which they inhabit; and the dead are no less so than the living.

The Pueblo Indians, with which the Moquis are classed, number altogether about ten thousand and are scattered in twenty-six villages over Arizona and New Mexico. They resemble each other in many respects, but do not all speak the same language. They represent several wholly disconnected stems and are classified linguistically by Brinton as belonging to the Uto-Aztecan, Kera, Tehua and Zuñi stocks. He believes that the Pueblo civilization is not due to any one unusually gifted lineage, but is altogether a local product, developed in independent tribes by their peculiar environment, which is favorable to agriculture and sedentary pursuits1.

The houses are constructed of stone and adobe, are several stories high and contain many apartments. None of the existing pueblos are as large as some that are in ruins which, judging by the quantity of débris, must have been huge affairs. Since the advent of the Spaniard the style of building has changed somewhat to conform to modern ideas, so that now some families live in separate one-story houses having doors and windows, instead, as formerly, only in large communal houses that were built and conducted on the communal plan.

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