Killer-of-Enemies at Taos
and His Departure

Killer-of-Enemies made himself appear to be poverty-stricken. His dress was ragged and he had no possessions. Matter was running from his nose, and he was dirty. In this condition he walked to Taos Pueblo. He entered the village.

They disliked him. They chased him out, saying, “You get out, you old Apache.”

He was out on the edge of the village. He begged them for something to eat. They gave him a few crumbs left from their meal. They treated him like a dog.

They were having a ceremony at Taos. They have a holy place where they hold their ceremonies. It is the kiva.

Killer-of-Enemies was not invited, but he went into the kiva. They couldn’t see him. They didn’t know he was there. They were alI praying and expressing thanks for the fruit and for all things. It was their Thanksgiving, I suppose.

Then one of the Pueblo Indians discovered him. This man called the attention of the others to the stranger, and they all began to abuse him. They told him that he was dirty and that he must go.

Killer-of-Enemies turned to go. But as he was being driven out of the kiva, he made a motion with his right hand and all the corn of the people changed to flies. He did this with a motion as though he were covering the corn with a blanket.

Then Killer-of-Enemies hid. The people tried to find him and bring him back. They searched until they found him and begged him to return and restore their corn for them. So he agreed and returned. With a reverse wave of his hand he made all the corn as it was before.

At the time of another ceremony, he again entered the kiva. Again someone saw him.

This man asked, “Why have you come here? Your clothes are all ragged.”

Killer-of-Enemies started to walk out. As he was leaving he raised his hand and waved it before them. “All right,” he said, “I will go, but all will be changed. Your corn will turn to worms.”

And in all the homes the corn turned to worms at that moment. They were all astonished when they learned of it.

Killer-of-Enemies went away. He tried to hide himself.

“Who did this?” one Pueblo Indian asked another. But no one knew. By and by someone suggested that it must have been the man who was driven from the kiva. They all decided he must have been the one, but they did not know it was Killer-of-Enemies. They thought it was some ordinary Apache.

They all hunted for the ragged stranger. They found him and brought him back.

“You must change this corn and make it as it was,” they told him.

He did it; he waved his hand once more and the corn was as before. [Killer-of-Enemies was driven out of the kiva and had his revenge on the people of Taos four times, though only three of the encounters are given here. After he had restored the corn from the worms he turned it into some black substance. Because of this a black ball is sometimes found on the cornstalk. “My people won’t eat corn from a stalk which has this on it,” the informant said. “No one can touch it. You get a boil where it touches you.”]

Killer-of-Enemies came into the kiva for the third time. This time they again drove him out. He waved his hand over them and their heads were stuck together. They cried and begged him to make them as they were before. So Killer-of-Enemies did so.

Killer-of-Enemies stayed there a few days more.

They said to him, “If you have power you must help us.” Then they told him, “If you are so powerful, we can use you. Nearby is a lake. There is something in there which swallows people. He-Holds-in-the-Water is its name. You must help us to get rid of it and get our people back.”

Killer-of-Enemies replied, “If you believe in me I shall be glad to help you. Dress me in turquoise. Cover my cap, my shirt, my leggings, and my moccasins with turquoise.”

The first time they put only one piece of turquoise on his moccasins and one on each piece of clothing.

“That is not enough. That is not the way I want it. I said to put it on all over my clothes.”

So the next time they put a few more on. They put two on each moccasin and two pieces on the shirt and other articles of clothing.

“That is not the way I told you to do it. Put them on thicker.”

So the third time they took the clothes and put the pieces of turquoise on a little thicker. They put three pieces of turquoise on each piece of clothing.

But Killer-of-Enemies said, “No, I want them close together. I want the whole thing covered. I want no spaces between the stones.”

So the fourth time they put them on as he directed. Then they all walked toward the lake.

But Killer-of-Enemies told them, “Do not follow me. Stand near your pueblo and watch from there.”

He came to the lake. He turned around and looked at the sun. He motioned four times in a clockwise circle with his hand, and he had stone hoops in his hand, four of them—one black, one blue, one yellow, and one glittering. Then he stood and faced each direction in turn, standing first facing the east, then the south, then the west, and then the north, and last he faced the east again.

He threw the black rock hoop into the water and the water receded toward the middle. He walked to the south side of the lake and threw the blue hoop into the water, and the water dimihished even more this time. He walked to the west and from there he threw the yellow hoop. This time the water level was much lowered. He walked to the north and from there he threw the glittering hoop. Now the water was gone. The land was dry where the lake had been.

Killer-of-Enemies came back to the east now. He stooped and looked down. There he saw a ladder pointing upward. It was moss- covered and the moss and seaweed hung from it and made it look like a tipi. But Killer-of-Enemies knew it was a ladder.

There were frogs all around. These were the spies of the one who captured the people. But they could not see Killer-of-Enemies and therefore could not warn the old man of his approach. There were all sorts of water animals present to warn the old man, but none of them could see Killer-of-Enemies.

So Killer-of-Enemies went to the ladder. He lifted up the moss that lay over the top and it came off just like a blanket. He looked down. There, at the foot of the ladder, sat an old man. He was ridding himself of lice. He had his clothes off and had put them in the sun so that the lice would get too warm and would come off the clothes. The old man was looking down at the clothes. When a louse came up he picked it off [this method of ridding the clothes of lice was much used by the Indians (Inf.)]. This old man was He-Holds-in-the-Water.

The old woman, his wife, was there too. She said to him, “Why don’t you look around and see whether anyone is watching you.”

So he put his clothes back on.

Killer-of-Enemies started to descend the ladder. The two saw him now and called to him angrily, “What do you want? Why do you come here?”

“I have come here to take out those people you have imprisoned here. I want those people.”

The old couple said, “No one comes to visit us. We have been by ourselves a long time. There are no people here.”

Killer-of-Enemies had with him a fire drill. He took it out and began to work it. Black smoke arose from it so thickly that the old man began to choke.

He called to his wife, “I’m choking. You’d better give him that one old man we have here.”

Then Killer-of-Enemies stopped. The smoke settled and it cleared. Then they brought out this old man from a hole.

Killer-of-Enemies asked him, “Are there other people there?”

“Yes, there are many others there. Four rooms are filled with people.”

So Killer-of-Enemies used his drill again. Blue smoke arose and once more the old man nearly choked.

He spoke to his wife in the same way. “You’d better take out two people from each room, eight in all,” he said.

These eight were brought out. Killer-of-Enemies asked them, “Are there more people down there?”

“Yes, a great many people are there still.”

Then Killer-of-Enemies asked the old couple, “Are there others there?”

“No, that is all. We have no more here.”

Then Killer-of-Enemies used his drill again. Yellow smoke poured out of the drill and the old man couldn’t stand it. He spoke to his wife again, and then both went and opened the doors and all the people came up.

Killer-of-Enemies watched. Of the last one who came out of each cave he asked, “Are there any more there?”

“No, I am the last,” he was told.

Then he commanded those people whom he had saved. “Go up the ladder and wait for me there on top. Don’t go to the village yet.”

They all went away. Then he spoke to those two old people. “I want you two to get out of this place because you are so merciless.”

They pleaded with him. They said,“Grandson, don’t send us away. Let us stay here.”

But Killer-of-Enemies said, “No, you must do what I say and leave this place.”

But they did not want to depart and they refused to go. So Killer-of-Enemies began to use the last drill. The glittering smoke arose, they choked and were afraid, and they went up the ladder.

Now all were above at a dry place.

Killer-of-Enemies said to the old man, “You will have to go to Lake-with-Serrated-Flints [a lake somewhere near Alamosa, Colorado (Inf.)] and stay there.”

The old man said, “I want my wife to be with me. We must go together.”

But Killer-of-Enemies told him, “No, you two are too fierce. You had better not go together.”

So the old man had to go alone.

Now Killer-of-Enemies spoke to the woman. He said to her, “You must go to Big-Water-Lake” [a lake near the first one (Inf.)].

They both turned as they went and said, “If anyone drowns in the water it will be because of us.” Then they both left.

So if anyone drowns today it is because of these two people. Then Killer-of-Enemies turned to the people who had been freed and told them to come with him to the pueblo. He picked out six handsome young men and six pretty young girls.

He said, “I’m going to take these twelve into the kiva.” So he took them in there. He stayed there with them for a few days. They lived together in there and married there.

Then Killer-of-Enemies spoke to the older people and the relatives of these twelve. He said, “I want to take these twelve and distribute them all over. They will be like a foundation so the earth will be strong.”

He took them to the holy mountains and they lived on top of these thereafter. They were put on six mountains, a boy and a girl on each one. They are the guardians of the customs. If anyone cuts his hair or cuts a horse’s mane, or does anything which he should not do, they send a voice to him and warn him, or even call him into the mountains to speak with him sometimes.

Then Killer-of-Enemies went back to his grandmother, White-Painted Woman, in the west.

This is the last story of what Killer-of-Enemies did on earth. Now he is in the west with his grandmother.

Until Killer-of-Enemies was ready to leave man, man was not living as he does now. All was as though in a dream [the informant compared their condition to that of a patient who has been given ether for a surgical operation]. If the people had been as they are now they would have been frightened and would have run back into the hole of emergence. But when all the monsters were killed and all was at peace, Killer-of-Enemies gave people their own minds and habits, and they began to live as they do now.

Up to this time the animals had talked and acted just like man, but Killer-of-Enemies was afraid that if they were left that way, more monsters might be born. So he changed all the animals and made them different from men.

Then Killer-of-Enemies left. After he left evil and sorcery came into the lives of men. Some men, though they did not know it, had become contaminated from contact with the monsters. Some, though they were not aware of it, were carrying disease on their hands and gave it to other people.


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