Grace P. Moon Grace P. Moon had a deep interest in native American Indian Culture. Together with her husband, Carl, she lived on reservations in the Southwest. The Moons spent many years among the Hopi and Navajo tribes, where they gathered much interesting information for her books. Grace Moon won a Newbery Medal in 1929 for “Runaway Papoose”.
Change takes place in many ways. Some changes are seen in the physical appearance of a person; some changes cannot be seen but can be perceived. Some changes occur in people’s attitude and behaviour. After every change, everything falls into its rightful place.
Definition of Terms Mesa- high, steep-sided rock plateau Beaded moccasins- a sturdy slipper- shaped type of shoe sewn from tanned leather Ears of corn- cob of corn Smooth as honey- pleasant to touch Corncob doll- a doll made out of corn
1 Tassai lived on the top of a mesa that looked far out over the Painted Desert. The air was clear as thin ice. It made even the farthest mountains and blue hills look nearer than they really were. Tassai was an Pueblo Indian girl, brown as a nut that has dried in the sun. She liked to lie on the edge of the mesa and look over the desert and dream long dreams.
2 But Tassai did not often have time for dreams. There was too much work for her to do. It was not hard work, and it had magic in it. It had the magic of watching green things spring up out of the ground where only brown earth had been before. For Tassai worked with her mother in the little fields at the foot of the mesa.
3 Tassai brought water, too, from the spring at the foot of the mesa, carrying it up the steep trail in jars. For hours each day, she grounfd the red blue and yew grains of corn. She cooked when her mother needed her help, she knew where to find the grasses that her mother wove into baskets.
4 There was one thing Tassai did that no one knew about, for she did it only at times when no eyes were watching. She was making a jar from clay that she has found in a secret place, where the earth was smooth as honey to the touch and rich and dark in color. Not even her mother knew that Tassai was working at this jar. She had a very special reason for making it.
5 She shaped and smoothed it just as she had seen her mother do, until one day the most beautiful jar all seemed to form itself in her hands. She could hardly believe her own eyes, it was so beautiful. And when she added a design of little black lines and baked it golden brown, she thought again that never had a jar been so lovely as this one. She wrapped it in a piece of blanket and hid it away carefully until the time should come for her to show it.
6All through the hours when she worked in the fields, Tassai thought of her jar. In her thoughts a little song sang itself over and over again for her feet danced to the music of it:It is so beautiful,My big, round jar!So round and beautiful!Only the moon,When it walks on the edge of the world
At harvest timeIs like my Jar.Round and smooth it is,And has a shine that sings!Maybe the Moon has come to meTo be my jar! (repeat 7625948x)
7 Not long before Tassai made her jar, the Governor of the Pueblo called the people of the town in the little open place where meetings were held. He told them that the people of three towns were going to meet for a time of dancing and feasting. He asked that each man, woman, and child bring to feast something he or she had made. This was because a great white man visited the Indian towns had said that the Indians could not make anything. The white man had also said that, since this was so, the Indian children would have to go away to the white man’s school to learn the white man’s ways.
8 The Indians did not want their children to be sent away. They planned to show all the finest things that they could make so that the white man would change his mind. Prizes would be given for the best things brought to the feast.
9 There was much excitement at the governor’s news and much talking and planning of what should be done. Tassai was excited from the first. She could hardly wait for the time to come.
10 The day itself was wonderful. There was a feel in the air that was different. Tassai felt that she could not walk or even breathe as she did on other days. The open place in the town was bright with color. It was like a fair.
11 There were good smell and different sounds everywhere. There were baskets and pottery and woven things of leather and wood. There were great pumpkins and squashes and ears of corn that were bigger than any Tassai had ever seen before.There were beaded moccasins and sandals for the feet and nets for carrying things. There were fruits piled high in baskets and little cake made of pine nuts and seeds. There was good food cooking.
12 Tassai was one of the very last to come into the open place on that big day. She had been busy since dawn, helping her mother make their home ready for stangers to see. When at last she was free, she picked up the blanket in which her jar was wrapped and ran to the open place. There she stood, holding tightly to her bundle.
13 The old Governor of the Pueblo, with two white men from the big white school, moved from place to place. The looked long and closely at each of the many things that had been brought. These three men were to say which were the best of all and to give the prizes.
14 A little white girl, daughter of one of the men, danced ahead of them as they walked. She looked at everything with bright, eager eyes. Her father looked at her proudly as often as he looked at the shining things the Indians had made.
15When the men had seen everything else, Tassai camecloser with her bundle and touched the blanket withtrembling fingers. She was frightened now. Perhapsthey would not think her jar was beautiful. Otherscrowded close. They had not known that Tassai wouldhave anything to show.
16 “Maybe it is not very good,” she said in a voice that was so slow that no one heard her. “Maybe it –” Then her words would not come at all, for when she opened her bundle the beautiful jar was not there. She had not noticed that there were two bundles of blankets in the room of her home. Then one she had picked up in her excitement held only an old corncob doll.
17 There was a big laugh from those who stood near. The words of Tassai, explaining her mistake, were lost. Quickly she pushed her way through the laughing crowd and ran home. She did not know that the little girl, eager to see again that strange doll, was following close behind her.
18 The house of Tassai was the last one in the little town, on the very edge of the mesa top. She ran into the door and did not notice that the little white girl who had followed her had stopped suddenly just outside the doorway. The child was watching, with wide, frightened eyes, a snake that lifted its head from beside a big stone. It was a rattlesnake, and it moved its flat, ugly head closer to the little girl. She gave one sharp cry as Tassai came out the door with the jar in her arms. Tassai had thrown aside the blanket and held the jar unwrapped in her arms.
19 There was no time to think. There was no time to call for help. Tassai did the only thing she could do. With all her strength she threw the jar at the snake. It broke into many pieces on the rock, and the snake lay flat and still.
20For the first moment Tassai thought only that thesnake was dead. The she thought of her jar. No onewould call it beautiful now. She picked up a littlebroken piece. One of the white men took it from herhand.“It must have been a mighty pretty jar,” he said. “Didyou make it?”Tassai nodded. The father of the white girl looked atthe piece of the jar, too, and then at Tassai.
21 “That was a beautiful jar,” he said slowly. His voice shook a little so that he had to clear his throat. “I am sorry that we cannot give the prize for a broken jar- but-” He cleared his voice again. “For what you have done for me I will give you anything else you ask.” He closed his arms more tightly around his little girl.
22 At first Tassai could not answer. In her surprise the words would not come. Then she said, there is nothing I wish but to stay here in the pueblo. Could it be that we need not go far to learn the ways of white men?”
23 The man smiled. “You will not have to go away,” he assured Tassai. “The white teachers are coming here to learn from the Indians instead. Today your people have shown what beautiful things they can make- like your jar. There will be a school here where the Indians and the white teachers will work together.”
24 Tassai was very happy now. It did not matter that her jar was broken. She could make another, even more beautiful.
May you have a great day! To God be the Glory!