A long time ago, when the Hopi Tribe was emerging from the First
World, their people started to hunt for the land of the rising
sun. Moving in related groups, they thought it fun to play a name
When the first band came upon a dead bear, immediately they
thought it a sign for them to become the Bear Clan. Another Hopi
band came upon the same skeleton but saw little gopher holes
surrounding the carcass. They agreed among themselves to become
the Gopher Clan.
In the same way, other Hopis found a nest of spiders and they
named themselves the Spider Clan. Far ahead the Bear Clan
travelled with Chief Bahana leading. Always, the Bear Clan seemed
to move faster in many ways.
Spider Clan trailed all the clans because they had so many
children. One day they came upon a friendly spider sitting near
her large web. The Spider Clan encircled her as she spoke to
their Chief, "I am Spider Woman, possessed of Supernatural Power.
Since you are named for my people, I will help you in any way I
"Thank you, Spider Woman," replied the Chief. "We are travelling
to find the land of the rising sun. Other clans of our Hopi Tribe
are much farther ahead of us. We wish we could travel faster, but
we have much to pack on our backs as we have so many children."
"Perhaps I can make something to ease your travel," said Spider
"What do you have in mind?" asked the Chief.
"First, I need something of yourself," said Spider Woman. "You
must go into my secret room where you will find a large water
jug. You must wash yourself all over and save the dust and skin
that rolls off and fetch it to me."
Because of many travel days, the Chief was so hot and dusty that
he made a sizeable ball of dirt, which he gave to Spider Woman.
With this she began her magic creation. She spread a white,
fleecy cloth in front of her, placing the ball in the Centre.
Then she rolled it up carefully into a white ball.
Spider Woman sang her ceremonial creation song four times, while
the Spider Clan sat in a circle and waited expectantly. Now and
then, she touched the fleecy ball with her magic web and looked
to see if any signs of life were evident within the ball. Again,
Spider Woman sang another magic song four times and behold!--the
fleecy, white ball moved back and forth and rolled about. To
everyone's surprise, through the fleecy cover emerged a tiny gray
animal stretching forth four tiny legs.
Spider Woman called it a burro. At the sight of it, the Spider
Clan knew that it needed to grow much stronger before it could be
of any help to them. Spider Woman kept the young animal warm and
gave it some of her magic food. She spent much time massaging its
tiny legs with her magic salve to make them grow faster.
After only four days, the burro was ready to travel with the
Spider Clan. They packed the sides of the burrow with their
excess supplies and started on their way to the land of the
Later, Spider Woman decided to create a man who should know more
about caring for the burro than the Hopis. This she did and sent
the man to catch up with the Spider Clan, to teach them how
better to care for the burro.
But that man was selfish. Instead of helping the people, he ran
away one dark night, taking the burro with him. Even though
saddened over the loss of their helpful burro, Spider Clan
continued their trek to the land of the rising sun, shouldering
their heavy packs as before.
Of course, the Bear Clan arrived at their destination first. They
set about establishing their village. Gradually the other Hopi
Clans joined them, making their villages nearby. There the Hopi
Tribe grew and prospered.
But the Spider Clan, which arrived last in the land of the rising
sun, became the largest and most prosperous of all the Hopi
Clans, because they had so many children during the following
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Compiled by: Glenn Welker
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