Many moons ago when man still cared for the Earth, the air was fresh and the days long and good in the sun, there lived a young Hopi girl called Satinka. She was sixteen years old and had lived all her years doing as she was told and preparing to be married to a suitable Hopi boy.
Satinka spent her days gathering corn with the other women in her tribe. The days were hot and Satinka grew tired and bored. She would much rather be dancing with her shadow or playing in the fields, chasing field-mice.
One day Satinka grew thirsty and walked in search of a nearby river. She knew she was crossing over into a piece of land, not familiar with her people. She had been warned about venturing too far from their camp, but she could not bring herself to stop. She heard the trickling sound of water and made her way through the dense bushes and trees to the river’s edge. She bent down and starred at her reflection and then cupping her hands, began to sip the water from the river. It was so cool and refreshing and Satinka felt content. She looked at the water in the river and it was so inviting that she decided to go for a swim. In she waded, splashing water all over her body, instantly cooling down. It was so peaceful there and she enjoyed the feeling of being alone in quiet solitude.
Lost in thought, Satinka startled, as she heard a noise from behind her. Looking back she saw an attractive Indian boy, crouched by the rivers edge with a spear in his hand. She did not recognize him. He was not Hopi.
Satinka, slowly backed away and was about to turn, when the boy cried out for her to stop. Right then his spear came crashing down into the water next to where she had been swimming. Satinka screamed and tried to run out of the water, falling face down with a great big splash. In the next moment she felt strong arms lift her up and wiping the water and river mud from her face, she looked into a pair of beautiful brown eyes that smiled cheekily into hers, as a voice said, “You are Hopi right?”
Satinka just nodded.
“I am Kosumi - the one who fishes for Salmon with spear.”
Satinka looked as the boy removed his spear from the river, a large silver fish shining in the sun, pinned to the end.
She felt foolish but instead said, “That is no Salmon, and you startled me.”
“Ah you are beautiful, clumsy and clever’’ he joked.
“Yes this is not a Salmon but I was telling you what my name meant. I am Miwok and I can catch any fish I want. What are you doing on our side of the river?”
Satinka pulled away from Kosumi and replied that she had just wanted a break from the hot sun and a day’s gathering in the fields. She was no regular Hopi girl, she had an adventurous spirit and was quick to learn.
"Well, I hope to see you again tomorrow then, adventurous Hopi girl” Kosumi said, “The day promises to be very hot and a swim will be good.”
Satinka left and went back to the fields. No-one appeared to have missed her and she was able to collect enough food for dinner. As she prepared the evening meal for her family, she could not concentrate on the drums and dancing, nor the trickle of conversation around the fire. All Satinka thought about was the boy with the spear and his twinkling brown eyes.
The next day she could not wait to visit the river bank again and wasted no time getting there. She brought a parcel of ground corn as a gift for Kosumi and he looked surprised and pleased when he accepted her gift. Satinka’s heart seemed to swell in her chest and her cheeks felt warm whenever Kosumi looked at her, but she also felt as if she could spend all day with him at the river and never grow tired of the sound of his voice, nor bored by his smile.
Every day for the next four full moons, Satinka would meet Kosumi by the river. They would sometimes lie on the riverbank and tell stories about their tribes. Satinka told Kosumi how her father was a fierce warrior and would never approve of her talking to a Miwok boy and how her mother was gentle and calm but had plans for her to marry very soon. She told Kosumi how she was not meant to follow in these ways, she was sure. Her spirit was braver than the other Hopi girls and her mind wanted different things for her life.
At times they would lie down on their backs and stare up at the clouds, finding shapes and making up stories. Sometimes though, they would just lie in silence and Kosumi would gaze into Satinka’s eyes as if he knew things that she didn’t and had seen many things, she never would.
Satinka loved to dance for Kosumi and would whirl around in circles, praising the sky with her arms and the Earth with her feet.
As the weeks went on Kosumi taught Satinka how to fish, something a Hopi woman would normally not know how to do. Satinka was rather good at it and caught a few river trout. She was so proud of her new talent but would mostly give the fish to Kosumi to take back to his tribe, for fear of her secret being discovered. After a few weeks though, Satinka decided to keep a fish. The first time Satinka brought a fish home for dinner, her mother wanted to know where she had got it and why she had been near the river and Miwok territory. Her family had noticed her absence in the fields and were not happy with her behaviour. This was as she had feared but even her mother’s disapproving looks could not keep Satinka away. When a few weeks later Satinka proudly brought home her largest catch ever, her father grew angry and demanded for her to show him where she had got it.
The next day when the sun was midway in the sky, Satinka took her father to the river bank. She prayed to the Gods that somehow Kosumi would not be there that day and she could just show her father how she had learnt to catch fish, but in her heart she knew he would be there waiting for her.
When he saw her his face lit up, but quickly the smile faded as her father, Chief of the Hopi appeared behind her, holding her tightly by her wrists.
Kosumi stepped forward and introduced himself, but her father was furious that she had spent time with a boy from another tribe. He turned and hit Satinka across her face and she fell into the water, head buried and ashamed.
Kosumi screamed and stepped forward, throwing his spear at the chief, but the Hopi chief was an experienced warrior and easily stepped away in time. No-one challenged a Hopi Chief, especially not some boy from another tribe and the Chief was furious.
"You will both be punished for this! It is not right. It is not our way,” her father exclaimed fiercely. The Hopi Chief bent forward, grabbing his daughter by the arm, he lifted her up from the ground and forced her to look him in the eyes.
“Do you love this boy Satinka?” he asked her.
“Yes father, I do. Please forgive us.” Satinka pleaded. He nodded slowly and then brought his attention to the boy who was standing in the river bank, a look of concern on his young face.
“And you, Miwok boy, do you love my daughter?”
“I do Chief and I wish to make her my wife” Kosumi answered confidently.
The Hopi Chief let out a laugh at the young man's arrogance. “Then I will find a suitable punishment for both of you, but until that day you shall not see each other again.”
The Hopi Chief dragged Satinka, crying and hysterical, back to the village and Kosumi returned home feeling that a great light had suddenly left his life. Inside he felt a sense of urgency. He devised all kinds of plans to rescue Satinka and run away with her to a better place, a world where their love could have no boundaries and no fear.
The Hopi Chief sat by the fire for three days and three nights while he thought about a suitable punishment. He called on the ancestor spirits, the Kachinas and burnt sage, breathing in the smoke deeply, seeking guidance on this matter that weighed heavily on his heart. He was not a bad man, he loved his daughter deeply and could see she had chosen a fierce warrior spirit to love, but this was not their way and he could never allow such a love to exist - neither in his family, nor in his tribe. He drew on his magical powers as his answer became clear. The Hopi Chief decided he would change Kosumi’s form so that his daughter would never want, nor be able to marry him. This would be a fit punishment for them both.
The following day, the Hopi Chief sent a message to meet Kosumi. He ordered the boy to come alone and meet by the river just before the sun disappears into the Earth. He took his daughter with and the closer they got to the river bank, the more anxious she became. She knew her father and in her heart she knew there was no hope. When they arrived at the river, Kosumi was already there waiting. He stood proudly and looked lovingly at Satinka, whose head was bowed. He had missed her so deeply and it made him sad to see her this afraid. Kosumi's eyes held no fear as he approached the fierce Hopi Chief. He would await his fate like a true warrior.
The Hopi Chief then spoke. His voice was strong and solemn. He told Kosumi that he would spare his life. Relief flooded into Satinka's heart and she looked up at her father thankfully. The Chief continued to speak and as he did, realization set in and Satinka's smile disappeared and her body began to shake with both fear and grief. The Chief told Kosumi that he would give him one chance to make a choice. For his punishment he would have to alter his form and so he must choose what creature he would like to be turned into.
Kosumi looked at Satinka and smiled softly. Without hesitation, he gave his answer to the Chief. "I choose to be turned into a Salmon."
The Hopi Chief nodded, surprised at the unexpected choice. He then took his knife from his leather pouch, the blade sparkling in the sun's dying light and stabbed Kosumi straight through his heart. He withdrew the knife, crimson blood dripping off it into the water and stabbed the young warrior twice more, muttering a sacred prayer as he did so. Instantly Kosumi fell to the ground, his body slowly dissolving away into the water, his cells beginning to change form.
Satinka let out a cry and fell to her knees. Tears fell from her face as she looked up into the sky, calling out and praying to the Eagle, the carrier of prayers to save Kosumi from his fate. Her father looked at her, his face distorted with disgust and he slowly turned to walk away, leaving his grief stricken daughter by the river.
Satinka crawled towards the spot where Kosumi had been standing and reached for his spear that had fallen to the side, caught between some reeds and a rock. Tears falling from her eyes she stood up tall and lifted the spear above her, like she had been taught. Just as Kosumi turned fully into a pale pink Salmon and was about to swim away, she took aim and threw the spear into him. The spear caught the Salmon in the centre and the fish wriggled a few times before finally becoming still. Satinka cried deeply as she slowly lifted the spear out of the water and carried the body of Kosumi home. That night she told her mother that she would not be eating with the rest of the tribe and was best left alone. She prepared her own meal of Salmon and corn and sat quietly away from the others saying a prayer to the Gods, sending out love to her dear Kosumi. Satinka sat and slowly ate the fish that held Kosumi’s spirit, so that from that day forward, he would always be a part of her.
That night as Satinka lay on the grass outside her teepee and gazed at the stars in the night sky, she thought she could hear the sound of Kosumi’s laughter vibrating through her chest. She closed her eyes and breathed a deep sigh, understanding that which is loved so deeply, will always be held within one’s heart. There can be no end to that type of love, no separation.