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Indigenous Voices of the Colorado Plateau

Havasupai Legends

 Indigenous Voices




 Kaibab Paiute


 White Mountain Apache

Save the Peaks!

 Merriam Report


The Legend of the Havasu Canyon Walls Opening.  There are three different versions. All refer to the story of how the Havasu Canyon walls were opened to allow the Havasupai people to pass through the opening into the canyon.

Version I: According to this version told by a Coyote, the Havasu canyon walls used to open and close constantly and no one was able to pass into the canyon. Many people were crushed due to the ceaseless closing and opening of the walls. However, two boys went to the opening place and attacked the walls with arrows, restraining the walls from closing. From then on, the Havasupai people were able to access Havasu Canyon.

Version II: There was time when the walls of Havasu canyon would always open and close, constantly killing people who attempted to pass through the opening. Many people were killed before a man decided to prevent more deaths. He took a huge log, and placing it on his head he carried it to the entrance so that it blocked the entrance from both sides, preventing the walls from closing. The Havasupai people were then able to pass through the opening place.

Version III: A long time ago, an old woman had two sons. These boys were interested in hunting and asked their mother to tell them more. She advised them to attack the wild animals with arrows. While they boys were looking for materials to construct arrows, their mother informed them to use feathers and points. Looking for material, the boys noticed reeds growing inside Havasu canyon that could be used for constructing arrows. The two sons managed to cut two juniper trees and carry them to the canyon and used these trees to hold the walls apart. The walls were blocked from closing by the two logs, and the boys were able to pass through the opening. After they returned, their mother asked them about how they got through the canyon opening but they never revealed their secret.

The Legend of the Havasupai and Apache.  After the Havasupai and Apache were initially created, Tochopa, one of the two gods of the Havasupai universe, asked both of them to live together in Havasu Canyon. In the beginning both the tribes lived in peace. However, problems arose when an Apache man fell in love with a beautiful Havasupai woman, who was already married. The evil god Hokomata, the other god of the Havasupai universe, instructed the Apache man to abduct the Havasupai woman after killing her husband. The Apache man did as he was told by Hokomata, with Hokomata's help. Soon the Havasupai people discovered what the Apache man had done. Eventually they made a decision to send the Apache tribe from the canyon. When commanded to leave, the Apache refused to do so and the Havasupai drove them out, using force. This incident led to legendary animosity between the Havasupai and Apache, but these ill feelings have since been resolved.

The Legend of the Havasupai and Hopi Brothers.  Once upon a time, there were two twin brothers who were born near Mooney Falls in the lower part of Havasu Canyon. The older brother was stronger than the younger brother. They both then came to upper Havasu Canyon. There was no water in that part of the canyon then, and it was quite hot. The younger man said to his brother that they should find a place that had abundant reserves of water and corn. Both of them reached the Hopi Trail, which stretches through the upper part of Havasu Canyon. The brothers then traveled to the forest lands to hunt in order to secure a huge bundle of buckskins. They decided to continue their journey in search of better land. They carried extremely heavy loads on their backs and the younger brother started to cry. He said that it was not possible to for him to go further than the Little Colorado River. Both brothers agreed to sleep and rest for a while before deciding what to do next. When they woke up, the younger brother told the older one that he wanted to return to Havasu Canyon. The older brother decided to continue on to the Hopi Mesas and he gave a small bit of corn to his younger brother to plant upon his return to Havasu Canyon. Because of this token amount, the Havasupai do not grow very much corn. The older brother found the lands that are now inhabited by the Hopi and began to reside there. He grew plenty of corn because he had brought a large supply with him. Meanwhile, the younger brother discovered water when he returned to Havasu and planted his little bit of corn there.


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