The Hav-Musuvs – A Paiute Tale

“When the world was young, and this desert valley was a lush, hidden harbor of a blue water sea from the Panamints to the Gulf of California, it is said that the Hav-musuvs came here in huge rowing-ships. 

In the Panamints they found great caverns, and in them they built their city. Living in their hidden city, the Hav-musuvs ruled the sea with their fast rowing-ships, trading with far-away peoples and bringing strange goods to the great quays said to exist in the caverns.

Then as untold centuries rolled past, the climate began to change. The water in the lake went down until there was no longer a way to the sea. But as time went by, the water continued to shrink, until the day came when only a dry crust remained of the great blue lake. Then the desert came, and the Fire-God began to walk across Tomesha, The Flaming-Land.

When the Hav-musuvs could no longer use their great rowing-ships, they began to think of other means to reach the world beyond. We know that they began to use flying canoes. At first they were not large, these silvery ships with wings. They moved with a slight whirring

 sound, and a dipping movement, like an eagle.

The passing centuries brought other changes. Tribe after tribe swept across the land, fighting and living and passing like the storm of sand. In their mountain city still in the caverns, the Hav-musuvs dwelt in peace, far removed from the conflict. 

Sometimes they were seen in the distance, in their flying ships or riding on the snowy-white animals which took them from ledge to ledge up the cliffs. We have never seen these strange animals at any other place. To these people the passing centuries brought only larger and larger ships, moving always more silently.

They are a beautiful people. Their skin is a golden tint, and a head band holds back their long dark hair. They dress in a white fine-spun garment which wraps around them and is draped upon one shoulder. Pale sandals are worn upon their feet.

If you see one, beware and do not follow! These strange people have weapons. One is a small tube which stuns one with a prickly feeling like a rain of cactus needles. One cannot move for hours, and during this time the mysterious ones vanish up the cliffs. The other weapon is deadly. It is a long, silvery tube. When this is pointed at you, death follows immediately

Once in the not-so-distant-past, yet many generations before the coming of the Spanish, a Paiute chief lost his bride by sudden death. In his great and overwhelming grief, he thought of the Hav-musuvs and their long tube-of-death. He wished to join her, so he bid farewell to his sorrowing people and set off to find the Hav-musuvs. 

None appeared until the chief began to climb the almost unscaleable Panamints. Then one of the men in white appeared suddenly before him with the long tube, and motioned him back. The chief made signs that he wished to die, and came on. The man in white made a long singing whistle and other Hav-musuvs appeared. They spoke together in a strange tongue and then regarded the chief thought- fully. Finally they made signs to him making him understand that they would take him with them.

Many weeks after his people had mourned him for dead, the Paiute chief came back to his camp. He had been in the giant underground valley of the Hav-musuvs, he said, where white lights which burn night and day and never go out, or need any fuel, lit an ancient city of marble beauty. 

There he learned the language and the history of the mysterious people, giving them in turn the language and legends of the Paiutes. He said that he would have liked to remain there forever in the peace and beauty of their life, but they bade him return and use his new knowledge for his people.

Look behind you at that wall of the Panamints. How many giant caverns could open there, being hidden by the lights and shadows of the rocks? How many could open outward or inward and never be seen behind the arrow-like pinnacles before them? How many ships could swoop down like an eagle from the beyond, on summer nights when the fires of the furnace-sands have closed away the valley from the eyes of the white-man? 

How many Hav-musuvs could live in their eternal peace away from the noise of white-man’s guns in their unscaleable stronghold? This has always been a land of mystery. Nothing can change that.”

A Paiute Elder

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