Spitting Woman

Six in the evening, sun almost all the way down in the west, bouncing alone Borrego pass road, heading home from the sheep camp.

Curtis sits quietly, head tilted back. Tired? I ask....he doesn't answer, but take his work gloves and shows me his right hand palm, an angry red blister the size of a nickel has formed on the center, it has busted and it look nasty.

What kind of sheep cost that? I asked

Being digging holes for fence posts, he answers.

He contemplates his hand in silence, and suddenly he spits on it...four times

Curt ,stop that ,it's going to get infected ..besides is gross. I say

No...it will heal it...

It's no use to argue with him...I just give him a mean look and go back to concentrate in driving.

Did I ever told you about my auntie that used to be a spitting woman? he asks

No , you never did...and as matter of fact I never heard of such a person in our family.

It was in my fathers side, that is why.

She was a Nakai.

How so?

How so what?

How so was she a Nakai when your family is Navajo?

Her mother married a Nakai...she was beautiful...real beautiful...I was a little buck but I remember her.

Did she really spit on people?

Yes , she will go and get some herbs and chew them good and then she'll spit on whoever needed it.

How she learned to do that ,did it came natural?

Yes( a tinge of impatience in his tone)  They pay her good money and silver and turquoise and came from far away for her to spit on them.

Did she ever actually heal anybody?

Lots of people.


Mostly you don't know them.

Who? (I insisted)

Hosteen Benally, from Ramah...he got his leg burned with gas...his old lady brought him to Auntie, she made a bed for him under the arbor and spit on him for four days and then he was heal, his leg was like knew.

(A doubtful look from me )

She was so pretty...she married an old man...real old.

Was he rich?


was he good looking?

no much

Maybe she was in love with him...

Maybe...He was my uncle-grandpa(????)and he show me how to make an snare to catch rabbits

That is good (I think)

He lived to be ninety...I liked him ,when he hitched the wagon to go to Ramah shopping I helped him and he bought me hard candy from Candy Kitchen

Curts!!! you were born in the fifties...there were no wagons...just cars.

He had a wagon

You are a lier!

No I'm not

I bet that there wasn't a spitting woman either.

Yes it was...her name was Marge Pino...I named Marge (one his daughters) after her.

How come I never heard of her before?

You were never here to hear of anything.

Bolony...besides I did heard of the Listening woman ( great aunty to both of us)

A listening woman only diagnoses...a spitting woman heals.

So what happened to her?

She died.

From what?

A heart attack.

How long ago?

Much before you came

Did she had children?

No, her husband was too old. I told you that.
But he did outlive her and kept all her good stuff and married again.

Oh go on , spit on your hand if you must...we soon be home .

He stays quiet the rest of the trip.. A hurt look in his eyes

It's always hard to know when brother is telling the truth....he prevaricated so well.:)

Do any of you ever heard of such a thing as a spitting woman?  I like to know if such a person ever existed.

Winter Stories