Origin of the Clans
Native American Lore
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 game.
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 can.”
“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 Woman.
“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 rising sun.
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 years.