The Stolen Wife

The Stolen WifeThe Stolen Wife

Tewa

An elderly couple had living with them their grandson, Tiny Flower, and his wife, White Corn; the couple also had a baby. Tiny Flower would go out to hunt deer during the day and White Corn would go out to get water. One day she was getting water and she saw a stick in the water; it was magic. She grabbed it, but the stick belonged the governor of the yellow kachina people. He used the magic in the stick to fly right to White Corn.

He said it was his stick and she couldn’t have it. White Corn ran away from him, which was great fun. Then White Corn gave him a drink from her water jar. He said it was the custom to pour the rest of the water out on the person who had drunk from the container. She tried, but she could not catch him. He then asked if she would like to go to his house and she said yes. They got on his magic stick and flew to his house at the top of the mountain.

There, the governor of the yellow Kachina people told her that this was her home now. White Corn knew she had been trapped. When Tiny Flower got home, he noticed that his wife was missing. He looked all over for her and the baby cried and cried. Finally, it was suggested to ask Grandmother Spider. He went bearing gifts to Grandmother Spider and she told him that the governor of the yellow Kachina had taken his wife. She gave him magic to use. She told him that he must out-smoke the governor.

It took him a bit to get to the house of the yellow Kachina governor. There he found his wife. She said that the yellow governor would be angry, which he was. He challenged Tiny Flower to a smoke off almost as soon as he came into the house. Tiny Flower did not fall over or become sick. They then smoked the tiny pipe that Grandmother Spider had provided. It did not go so well with the governor. The governor then tried to throw bolts of lightning at Tiny Flower, but missed each of the four times. Tiny Flower then threw bolts of lightning at the governor and split him into four pieces. He grabbed his wife and ran.

They stopped at Grandmother Spider’s house along the way to thank her and return her medicine, but the governor was coming back to life so they must hurry. A great storm came up that poured rain. Birds flew over Tiny Flower and White Corn to protect them from the hail. Those birds that were hit with the hail became spotted. They finally made it home and everyone was happy. It is said that because of this reason white corn still grows in San Juan.

Observations

I don’t know a ton about growing corn, but I do know that it’s a fairly easy plant to cross-polinate, meaning that corn is kind of a hussy in the plant world. Corn pollen can be blowing in the wind and a corn plant doesn’t see any problem with using it, even if it’s an entirely different type of corn. So you could have a corn field that’s all white corn, but still end up with a lot of yellow corn because pollen blew into your field from yellow corn plants. Over time, less dominant versions of corn can be completely lost. If a person were saving seeds from year to year, each year their seeds might be a little different.

Lighter colors are usually the colors that get genetic-ed out first. I may not be completely accurate in that statement, but usually, from my knowledge, if something is a lighter color, it’s more likely to be bred out of existence first. It’s recessive, to use the correct biology word.

My point in all of this is that still having entirely white corn after several hundred years, is an accomplishment.

Themes

You probably shouldn’t steal people’s spouses. They rightfully “belong” to someone else and it’s the right of that spouse to take them back, especially if you kidnapped or coerced them in the first place.

One thing I like about these Native American tales is that none of the men seem to have a problem with taking their wives back after they’ve been with another man. Can you imagine how different that would have been in Europe or the Middle East in this same time period? Europe probably wouldn’t have been as strict as the Middle East on the subject. The women would have most likely been blamed for the situation and cast off in some circumstances unless there was a lot of love or a lot of embarrassment at stake. Kudos to the people of the Americas for being more understanding about the whole thing.

Overall

Don’t steal Tiny Flower’s woman.

Weigh In

If someone stole your spouse, would you take them back?

Do you think what White Corn had been through had any future bearing on Tiny Flower’s feelings towards her?

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