Native American Tales

The Transformed Grandmother

The Transformed GrandmotherThe Transformed Grandmother

Pima-Papago

A grandmother lived with her two grandchildren. She was determined to find a plant that people used for food on a nearby mountain. She started on her journey, resting many, many times before finding the plant. She pulled and pulled, but she pulled too hard, and went tumbling down the mountain. She died along the way, but her bones picked themselves up and started off towards home.

The grandmother came into the house wanting to be let in, but the children knew something was wrong. Their grandmother was no longer living. They put a mine, a kind of woven grass blanket over the door, but knew she would get in soon. The grandmother ran around and around the house. The children decided to turn into objects. The girl turned into a blue stone and the boy turned into a stick. When the grandmother finally got into the house, all she found was a blue stone and a stick, and no grand-children.

Observations

I’m not sure about the Pima, but in some tribes, if you die, your house gets torn down. Nobody lives in it from that point forward. I’m not sure if this is one of those situations. I believe the idea is that the spirit of the loved one would come back to the house, just as grandmother did.

Themes

There doesn’t really seem to be a lesson with this story. I can’t decide if it’s supposed to be scary, or humorous. Surely, a grandmother pulling so hard on a plant that she rolls down a mountain and dies is a little humorous, but maybe it’s also scary. Grandmother died in a tragic accident and her bones brought her back to her home and the children were so scared that they transformed themselves into objects.

Overall

Don’t let granny back in?

Weigh In

Is this story humorous or scary?

Would you let a dead relative in the house?

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