Western Life

Native American Superstitions – Tribal Legends of Arizona

Arizona is the home of several Native American tribes and, like other cultures, became the origin of legends associated with the survival of each. The stories are passed down through several generations and include:

  1. The Spider Tower

Located near The Rio de Chelly Valley, is a deep gorge known as Dead Man’s Canyon. It contains an obelisk rising 800 feet that is known as The Spider Tower. The story surrounding the tower’s name originated centuries ago, when the canyon was the home to peaceful cave dwellers and their hostile foes.

One day, a young cave dweller was being chased by his enemies and, as his body was approaching its endurance limit, he arrived at the base of the tower. There he noticed a strong, shiny rope dangling from the top. The youth wrapped the rope around his waist, so that he couldn’t be followed, and climbed to the summit. As his hunters lay in wait, he survived at the top by collecting and drinking morning dew and eating eagles’ eggs. His enemies eventually grew tired of their vigil and left, after which the boy climbed down and returned home.

Tribal members believe that the rope was provided by one of the giant spiders that lived on the cliff, and preferred the peaceful cave dwellers to the more aggressive tribes. She had spun the rope from her webbing and fastened one end to a rock at the top, lowering the other so that the youth could use it to climb to safety. To honour the spider, and her life-saving deed, the obelisk was renamed The Spider Tower.

  1. Lolomi Defeats the Giants

The Moquis tribe believes that they controlled most of the country, from the mountains to the great river, many years ago. During this period, giants came out of the distance and began to feed on the tribe. The tribe’s chief offered the warrior that could stop this plague a thousand horses, and the most beautiful women in the tribe. Unfortunately, he was also eaten by a giant and the tribe, losing faith in all leaders, refused to elect another.

One young warrior, Lolomi, remained focused on ridding his people of the threat of the giants. As he was walking one day, he heard a voice which seemed to emanate from the earth itself. Upon investigation, he found that it came from a horned toad that claimed it could help him rid the land of the giants. The toad gave Lolomi his horned crest as a helmet, his breast-plate as armour, and the scales from its eyes to make him as light as a feather.

When the giants saw that none of their blows, or weapons, could hurt Lolomi, they believed that he was a spirit and began to walk backwards away from him. The warrior led them to the edge of the cliff where they fell to their death on the rocks below. The area is now called ‘The Giants’ Fall,’ and Lolomi became the head of the tribe and led them well for many years. To honour his name, lolomi is now used as a greeting.

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