Who Is Teofilo in "The Man to Send Rain Clouds"?

The character Teofilo in the short story "The Man to Send Rain Clouds" by Leslie Marmon Silke is the old man who is found dead under the big cottonwood tree. He is also the title character of the story and a Native American. It is his funeral that causes the cultural conflict between the Native Americans and the young Catholic priest.

Teofilo is the grandfather of Leon, the main character of the story. Leon and his brother-in-law Ken find Teofilo dead. They paint his face and wrap his body in a red blanket to take it home for a traditional Pueblo funeral. The Pueblo people believe that the deceased return to its source and help the living community by returning with rain clouds to nourish the earth. During the funeral, Leon's wife suggests that Leon ask Father Paul, the young Catholic priest, to sprinkle holy water on the grave. At first, the priest refuses to use holy water as part of an Indian burial ceremony, but Leon persuades him to change his mind, and he sprinkles Teofilo's grave with holy water. Leon is happy about the sprinkling of the holy water, because it ensures Teofilo can send them rain clouds.