This collection of American Indian legends was gathered by Gene Meany Hodge from authentic sources in the 1930s and centers around the sacred supernatural personages of the American Pueblo Indians called Kachinas (pronounced Kah-chee-nahs). Mrs. Hodge wrote: "All in all the Kachinas are lovable and kindly supernaturals who bring rain and other blessings to the people." The legends of the Kachinas are a unifying and cohesive force in the continuance of Native American social history. In these stories, you discover why Kachinas wear feathers, how Tihkuyi created the game animals, why the war chiefs abandoned latiku, how the rattlesnakes came to be what they are and other events from the past. This book makes an ideal companion to Coyote Tales from the Indian Pueblos, also published by Sunstone Press.
Kachinas are both the gods of the southwestern Pueblos and the physical embodiments of these gods in the form of ceremonial masks and statues. These stories, collected and originally published by Hodge ( The Kachinas Are Coming ) in the 1930s, testify to the importance of the kachinas, upon whom the survival and order of the physical world depend. In one tale, the kachinas take corn from the people who have forgotten its sacred nature and begun to treat it casually. Many stories anthropomorphically explain characteristics of animals. Ants, for instance, have tiny waists because they were scourged too hard around their middles at their kachina initiation. The relationship of these spirits and ritual objects to the popular dolls is discussed in a brief but interesting introduction. Although not designed for children, these stories will perhaps best be thought of as bedtime reading. This very brief anthology only scratches the surface of the rich body of legends surrounding kachinas. Most serious is the failure to indicate from which Pueblo tradition or tribe a given story springs. This would have given some indication of the variety of expression found among these diverse cultures. (Apr.)