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Forth on the desert they went, and whenever they found a rattlesnake, quickly seized it, put it in a sack and carried it to the Kiva. Near and far they searched for them, and when no more were to be found, the snakes were carefully washed and the dance was held. Then Eldest Brother's counsel was proven to be true. The rains did fall and plentifully, and the needed crops were heavy. Ever since that time in the long ago, once every year these people have held the sacred dance.
“It truly is a singular custom, this dance of the isolated Moqui people, but more singular is the fact that they never are bitten by the deadly reptiles. They go out on the desert and carefully seizing them, lift them and put them into their sacks. Equally fearless are they in washing them in preparation for the ceremony, and in rushing out with them in their hands and mouths to join in the dance. What is the apparent power which they seem to possess over the poisonous things? Is it because, in the course of centuries, the knowledge has been bred into the snakes that the red men never harm them, and that, therefore, they have no fear of being handled?
“Could white men approach them and lift them into a bag, wash them, dance with them, with like immunity from being struck ?”
Mr. Peter Moran, the eminent artist of Philadelphia, was a frequent visitor to those Indians, and, in company with Captain John G. Bourke, saw the dance at Walpi in August, 1883. His notes on that dance which are contained in the Eleventh Census of the United States, 1893,
differ materially from the account given by Special Agent Scott of the dance of 1891. The accounts of the dance of 1883 by Mr. Moran and Captain Bourke agree. The following are these different accounts of the dance and of the ceremonies preceding them:
THE ESTUFAS AND SO-CALLED
SACRED FIRES OF THE MOQUI
By Peter Moran. “By reference to my notes made during my trip to witness the snake dance of the Moquis in 1883, I find that Captain Bourke and myself left Keams Canyon about noon on August 11, 1883, and that we reached the foot of the mesa on which the pueblo of Walpi stands, late that afternoon. The distance is about twelve miles. On every hand there was evidence of the agricultural industry of the Moqui Indians. On arriving at the top of the mesa at the Tewa end we found no quarters, but we obtained a room in which to stay during our visit in the middle town, called Sichumnavi. After supper we concluded to visit Walpi and go down into the estufas. The one visited that night was square in shape, about 25 or 30 feet long by 15 or 20 feet wide and 9 or 10 feet high, cut out of the sandstone, and with mud roof. There was present during our visit a large number of Indians, men and boys, all naked except the breechclout; all had spats of white paint over their bodies. The walls of the estufa were covered with articles of various kinds, which were to be worn
or used in the dance on the morrow. On one side of the room on the floor was what might be called an altar, made of various colored clays, sands, or ashes, say three feet square. The center was a flat ground of light gray earth or ashes, and in the center of this was a crude representation of a mountain lion with blood flowing from the nose. This square was bounded by three fine lines or bands of color, black, yellow, and red; this again was bounded by a broad band of dark gray, on which were representations of four snakes, white, red, green, and yellow; around this on three sides of the square was a railing of sticks painted black, the lower ends resting in a base of mud balls, their upper ends ornamented with feathers and corn; around all was a broad band of earth or ashes of light gray. There was no fire of any kind in the estufa at this time, nor did we see any evidence that there had been. The men and boys were eating ravenously of food brought them by the squaws, which had been cooked outside in their houses. The squaws were not permitted to enter the estufa. At this time there was no evidence that there were any snakes in this estufa, as they were kept in large earthen jars. The dance took place on August 12th, between 4 and 5 o'clock in the afternoon. Early on the morning of the 12th we revisited the estufa that we were in the evening before and found a number of men and boys getting ready for the dance. The snakes had been liberated and were crawling along the floor against the wall near the altar, and were kept together by several old men, who seemed to me to be