The Cloud People
by Katharine Berry Judson
Myths and Legends of California and the Old
Sia (New Mexico)
Now all the Cloud People, the Lightning People, the Thunder and Rainbow
Peoples followed the Sia into the upper world. But all the people of
Tinia, the middle world, did not leave the lower world. Only a portion
were sent by the Spider to work for the people of the upper world. The
Cloud People are so many that, although the demands of the earth people
are so great, there are always many passing about over Tinia for pleasure.
These Cloud People ride on wheels, small wheels being used by the little
Cloud children and large wheels by the older ones. (5)
The Cloud People keep always behind their masks. The shape of the mask
depends upon the number of the people and the work being done. The Henati
are the floating white clouds behind which the Cloud People pass for
pleasure. The Heash are clouds like the plains and behind these the Cloud
People are laboring to water the earth. Water is brought by the Cloud
People, from the springs at the base of the mountains, in gourds and jugs
and vases by the men, women, and children. They rise from the springs and
pass through the trunk of the tree to its top, which reaches Tinia. They
pass on to the point to be sprinkled.
The priest of the Cloud People is above even the priests of the Thunder,
Lightning, and Rainbow Peoples. The Cloud People have ceremonials, just
like those of the Sia. On the altars of the Sia may be seen figures
arranged just as the Cloud People sit in their ceremonials.
When a priest of the Cloud People wishes assistance from the Thunder and
Lightning Peoples, he notifies their priests, but keeps a supervision of
all things himself.
Then the Lightning People shoot their arrows to make it rain the harder.
The smaller flashes come from the bows of the children. The Thunder People
have human forms, with wings of knives, and by flapping these wings they
make a great noise. Thus they frighten the Cloud and Lightning People into
working the harder.
The Rainbow People were created to work in Tinia to make it more beautiful
for the people of Ha-arts, the earth, to look upon. The elders make the
beautiful rainbows, but the children assist. The Sia have no idea of what
or how these bows are made. They do know, however, that war heroes always
travel upon the rainbows.
(5) The Indians say the Americans also ride wheels, therefore they must
have known about the Cloud People.