#33 Suicides as Cloud Beings
     (Elsie Clews Parsons, 1939)


“They act like Shiwanna,” Cloud people, Keres say of the society chiefs performing their winter solstice ceremony…

When Hümi dies, he will join Cloud. The Rain society chiefs of Zuni probably are thought of as joining the Uwanami, the water spirits whose houses are the cumulus clouds. War chiefs become Lightnings, most potent of rain spirits. When Giwire died, the Shikani-Kurena shaman of Laguna, a thunderstorm was raging. “The Shiwanna, the storm spirits, have taken him,” said his glad people.2 Similarly at Cochiti if it rain after a death people will say of the deceased, “He is already a Shiwanna; he brings us rain.”3 At Taos “those who always believe,” the upright and good chiefs, men who perish in the mountains, * and suicides become Lightnings or Cloud beings.

A special class of deceased rain-makers are the enemy dead who through scalp ceremonial are taken into the tribe and by prayer converted into rain-makers (Zuni). “Though in his life the enemy [Navaho] was a worthless lot, now through the Corn priests’ [Rain chiefs’] rain prayers and seed prayers, he has become a rain person.”4

But the dead at large may be associated with the Cloud beings. The Hopi say in haranguing the dead, “You are no longer a Hopi, you are Cloud. When you get yonder you will tell the chiefs to hasten the rain clouds hither.”5

[#33] Pueblo: Elsie Clews Parsons, Pueblo Indian ReligionChicago: University of Chicago, 1939, pg. 171.

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