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Base Camp

The Delight Makers

Chapter XI. Excerpts on the convening of a meeting in a kiva

"The interior of the estufa (kiva) was as brightly illuminated as a small fire could make it, the smoke of which found egress through the door and the two air holes, or rose to the low ceiling, where it floated like a grayish cloud. The air was heavy and stifling, and odour of burning pitch proceeded from the pine wood with which the flames were fed in the center of the room. …. (The seating) arrangement corresponded closely to the degree of importance of the various officers … The taptop. As chairman of the meeting, occupied the middle, together with the principal religious functionaries - the yaya, or mothers of the tribe. On the outer circumference were placed the nashito, or fathers, the delegates of the clans. The Koshare and his colleagues held an intermediate position." The military head, and the assistant to the governor, sat beside the entrance, guarding it. A lieutenant crouched outside to prevent the approach of eavesdroppers.

As soon as the rustling noise occasioned by so many people taking their seats in a small room had subsided, the Hishtanyi Chayan again seized the two basalt plates and caused them to ring. When the metallic sound was heard, everybody became very quiet; not one of the twenty-three men that composed the meeting moved. All maintained the deepest silence, fastening their eyes on the ground. The shaman scattered sacred meal to the six regions, then he raised his eyes to the ceiling, and finally turned to the three caciques (head men) with the formal greeting, "Gatzens yaya!" then to the others, with "Gatzens, nashito!".

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