“THE SNAKE! THE SNAKE! A large golden snake just hissed at Tiyo!” Kaiah said almost screaming.
“Oh yes,” Omawnakw said with a smile. “Tiyo was in the house of the Snake-People.”
And so the story continues...
The great snake, the chief, rose and spoke, 'If you can tell us which snake is my daughter, we will share our secrets.'
'The golden rattler! The one that hissed at you. That's the one,' whispered the Spider-Woman.
'This is a most difficult puzzle. Which shall it be?' Tiyo said. He paused and looked over the snakes in the room. 'Could be the small striped one or maybe the black one? Wait . . . I must be sure.' Tiyo was biding his time. 'Your daughter must be . . . the golden rattler. The one at my feet.'
As soon as Tiyo had spoken his choice, the golden rattlesnake's skin fell away. Standing before him was the chiefs daughter. The most beautiful maiden he had ever seen.
Then Tiyo told them of his quest and of his people and their land. The Snake Chief said, 'We have ample rain for our corn and you have little. We will teach you our ways and prayers to bring the rain.'
The Snake People taught Tiyo their ways. They taught him their songs and how they danced. They showed him their altar. They showed Tiyo how they put on their snake skins. He in turn taught them of our people and our ways.
After Tiyo had learned all they had to teach, he thanked the Snake People and returned with the Spider-Woman to her house the way that they came. Once there, she crawled down his arm and into his hand again. There she transformed back into the white haired woman. Tiyo gave her another prayer stick in gratitude for all that she had done. The Spider-Woman gave to Tiyo the treasures he had sought. A sea-shell from her east room; from the south a red bead; a large turquoise from her west room and small turquoise from the north room.
The next few days the Spider-Woman helped Tiyo replenish his supplies for his trip home. Once preparations were complete, he returned to the Snake People one more time to say his farewells.
'Tiyo,' the chief said, 'you came alone and as a stranger. You will leave as a friend, but not alone. Here is my daughter for you to take home as your bride. May you both be blessed with long lives and many children.' With that his daughter took her place beside Tiyo.
Tiyo and the Snake Maiden return to the land he had left. He was welcomed home as a hero and his new wife was warmly received by the tribe.
Tiyo told of his quest to all that would listen. He showed how the Snake People danced and gave his treasures to the tribe. He spoke of the Spider-Woman that had helped him during his journey.
To this day the Hopi dance the Snake Dance with snakes taken from the four directions east, south, west and north. It is to honor the Snake People and as a prayer to the Gods for rain.
“Oh my! It is getting late and I had better return before Hehewuti gets worried,” Omawnakw announced.
Choovio, Manci and Kaiah quickly rise off the rug. Choovio offers his hand to the elder and helps him up. The adults are busy with thanking one another for the story, the hospitality and the delicious meal when little Kaiah finally interrupts the grownups.
“Wait. Wait," she cried. Then she started to rattle of a series of questions, “What happened to Tiyo and the princess? Did they have any children? What of the Snake People and the Spider-Woman? Is the more to the story?”
Omawnakw finally silenced her inquiries by placing his hand on her shoulder, “Yes, there is much more to the story Kaiah.” Bending down to her, he tells her with a smile, “But then it would be long and boring.”
No sooner had he completed the sentence, Omawnakw was quickly through doorway and outside in the crisp night air. Pausing momentarily to drink in the stars and pat his full belly, he could hear only the sound of a child's voice coming from the doorway and breaking the night.
“Momma! You told!”