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Smokyriversongs' Look At Indian Life And The Lore
Snoquaimie - Uitoto













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Snoqualmie Indian Lore:

 

 

 

Playing A Trick On The Moon

Long ago, Snoqualm, Or Moon, was chief of the heavens. One day he said to Spider. "Make a rope of ceder bark and stretch it from the earth to the sky."

Soon Fox and Blue Jay found the rope and climbed up it. Late at night they came to the place where it was fastened to the underside of the sky. They entered the sky.

Blue Jay flew to a tree and Fox found himself in a lake. There he changed himself into a Beaver.

Moon had set a trap in the lake, and Beaver got caught in it. Next morning Moon took Beaver out of the trap. skinned him, stretched his skin out to dry, and threw the body into the corner of the smokehouse.the next night Beaver waited until Moon was asleep. Then he got up, took his skin from the place were it was stretching, and put it back on. While moon was still snoring, he examined the lodge and the sky world.

outside he found a great forest of fir, ceder and pine trees. He pulled some of them up by their roots and then, with his spirit powers, made them small enough to carry under one arm. Under his other arm he put Moons' tools for making daylight. He took some fire from below the smoke hole, put ashes and leaves and bark around it, and carried it in one hand. He found the Sun hidden away in Moons' lodge and carried it away in his other hand.

The beaver found the hole Blue Jay had made, changed himself back to the Fox again, and went down the rope to earth. there he gave the fire to the people. he set out the trees. he made the daylight. he set the sun in it's place so it would give light and heat to all. The people were happy because of the things Fox brought from the sky.

by this time Moon had awakened. When he found the beaver skin gone and the sun stolen, he was very angry. he knew that one of the earth people had tricked him. Noticing footprints around the lodge, he followed them to the top of the rope Spider had made.

"I'll follow him to the earth world," Moon thought.

but as he started down, the rope broke. Both he and the rope fell down in a heap and were transformed into a mountain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Squamish Indian Lore:

 

The Legend Of Wountie

A long time ago, before the time of the flood, the Cheakamus River provided food for the Squamish people. Each year, at the end of summer, when the salmon came home to spawn, the people would cast their ceder root nets into the water and get enough fish for the winter to come.

One day, a man came to fish for his family for the winter. He looked into the river and found that many fish were coming home this year. he said thanks to the spirit of the fish, for giving themselves as food for his family and cast his net into the river and waited. In time, he drew his nets in, and they were full, enough fish for his family for the whole year. he packed these away into ceder bark baskets, and prepared to go home.

But he looked into the river, saw all those fish, and decided to cast his net again. again it was filled with fish. which he threw onto the shore. A third time, he cast his net into the water and waited.

This time when he pulled his net in, it was torn beyond repair by sticks, stumps, and branches which filled the net. to his dismay, the fish on the shore and the fish in the baskets were also sticks and branches. He had no fish, his nets were ruined.

It was then that he looked up the mountain, and saw Wountie , the spirit that protected the river, Wountie told him that he had broken faith with the river and with nature, by taking more than he needed for his family. And this was the consequence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tewa Indian Lore:

 


A Fish Story

There occurred in those days a great drought. Rain had not come for many, many days. The crops were dying and the water in the lake was going down and down. Prayers had to be offered to the Great Spirit.
This was the duty of the fish people, so they all assembled in the kiva to pray and offer sacrifices to the rain gods.

The custom was to fast and stay in the kiva until the rain came.
A woman by the name of Fee-ne-nee was given the duty to feed the fish people, which she did each day at noon. Since the men were fasting, she served them only a small amount of food and a few drops of water.

On the night of the third day, however, one of the men could no longer stand the isolation. When the others went to sleep, he sneaked out of the kiva and ran to a nearby lake. There he drank and drank, swallowing all the water he had been thinking about for three days.

After filling his body with water, he returned to the kiva. He entered slowly and stepped quietly down the stairs so that he would not be heard.
Midway between the roof and the floor, however, he burst. Water poured out of his head, eyes, mouth, arms body, and legs. When this happened, the people who were inside turned into fish, frogs, and all kinds of water animals, and the kiva was filled with water.

The next day at noon, the woman who was in charge of feeding the men went to the kiva. She could not believe what she saw: water was gushing from it straight up into the air, and suspended in the torrent were fish, frogs, eels, snakes, and ducks.

Sadly, with her basket still in her hand, she slowly returned to the village.
The first house she visited was that of an untidy old couple. She placed her basket in the center of the room and silently sat by the grinding stone. After making only one stroke of the stone, she too turned into a snake.

Seeing this, the old man and his wife both said,
"Something terrible has happened at the kiva."
The man ran to find out what was wrong, and at the kiva he saw ducks, beavers, and frogs swimming in the water at the bottom.

The old man knew that this was a bad omen for the people of the village. When he reached home, he told his wife,
"One of the men failed us, and all of them turned into ducks, frogs, eels, snakes, and beavers."
"We can no longer live here," his wife replied. "You must let our people know. We must also make preparations to take this snake, our friend Fee-ne-nee, where she belongs."

The old woman prepared a basket filled with blue cornmeal and placed the little snake inside. Her husband took the basket and headed toward the east, where there was a snake burrow. At the home of the snakes, he fed them blue cornmeal, and one by one all kinds of snakes wiggled through the meal.

Then he placed Fee-ne-nee among the others and said to her:
"I have brought you to live here. You are now a young lady snake, and with the help of the Great Spirit you will live among your own kind. I give you my blessing."
To the other snakes he said,
"I have brought you a sister; take her into your arms."
As the other snakes curled around Fee-ne-nee, the man walked away with tears in his eyes.

At home the old couple cried again and told their people that the law required them to move from their home, O-Ke-owin, and seek another place to live.

Now you know why we live where we do. The tragedy that occurred at O-Ke-owin forced our people to move to Xun ochute, which is now San Juan.

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How To Scare A Bear

On top of Red Rock Hill, lived a little rabbit. Prickly pears were his favorite food, and every day he would hunt for them along the east bank of the Rio Grande.

Eventually he ate all the prickly pears along that bank, so he cast his hungry eyes across the river. He said to himself,
"I'll bet plenty of them grow over there. Now, how am I going to get across the river to look?"

The rabbit knew the river was too deep and too wide for him to swim on his own, and he sighed,
"Oh, how I wish that Uncle Fast Water, who moves the current, were here to take me across."
Fast Water heard and replied,
"Child, I'm lying right here. What can I do for you?"
The little rabbit leaped toward the sound.
"Uncle, so this is where you live!"
"Yes, this is the place," said his uncle. "What kind of work do you want from me?"
"I want to cross the river to pick prickly pears, but the water is too deep and too wide for me. Will you help me get across?"
Fast Water agreed, so the little rabbit sat on top of his head. "Splash! Splash! Splash!" went the water, and quickly the two were on the other side.
"Be sure and call me when you want to come back," Fast Water said when they landed.

The rabbit wanted to get home before night fell, so he wasted no time but went right to picking and eating prickly pears.
Then Brother Bear appeared.
"Little Rabbit!"
"Yes, Brother Bear?"
"My! What a pretty necklace you have."
"Yes, isn't it?"
"I want to make a bet with you for that necklace," said Brother Bear. "I'm willing to bet my red necklace for yours. If I win, you'll give me yours, and if you win, I'll give you mine."
Little rabbit agreed, and they arranged to meet at noon the next day in the same spot.

That afternoon the little rabbit returned to the river, and his uncle easily carried him back across the water.
"Tomorrow you must wait for me, Uncle. I have placed a bet with Brother Bear, and I'll need you to carry me across the river again!"
"I'll wait for you," replied his uncle. "I know you'll win."

The next day the little rabbit got up early and hurried to meet Brother Bear. Because of his early start, he arrived first and decided to stroll in the woods. As he was hopping around, he spotted an old horse bell that still had a dried-up piece of leather tied to it. He hung it around his neck, and with each jump the bell went "Clank! Clank!" the little rabbit said to himself,
"I think this bell will come in very handy with Brother Bear." And he hid the bell carefully in the woods.

When noon came, Brother Bear appeared.
"You're here early," he said.
"Yes," answered the little Rabbit, but he said nothing more.

The two picked a place in the dense wooded area to have their contest. Then Brother Bear made a circle on the ground with a stick.
"Little Rabbit, you can go first," said Brother Bear.
"Oh no," said the little rabbit. "You wanted to bet, and you should go first."
"Yes, I'll go first. I'll bet you I'm the braver of us two. See that circle? You sit in it, and if you move even a little from where you're sitting I win."

Little Rabbit sat down, and Brother Bear took off into the woods. A few minutes later the rabbit heard strange sounds:

Aaah...Aaaah...Aaah...
Tweet...Tweet...Tweet...

"I know that's Brother Bear," thought the little rabbit. "He's trying to scare me, but I won't move."
Closer and closer came the strange sounds. Suddenly, with a crash, a great big tree came tumbling down and barely missed the little rabbit.
"You moved! You moved! I saw you move!" shouted Brother Bear.
"No, I didn't move. Come and see for yourself," answered the rabbit.
Brother Bear couldn't find any foot marks and had to agree that the little rabbit had not moved at all.
Little Rabbit said to Brother Bear,
"Now you must sit in this circle as I did in yours." The rabbit drew a circle, and Brother Bear sat in it.

Leaving Brother Bear sitting in the circle, the rabbit headed into the woods. He just put the old horse bell around his neck and headed toward the place where Brother Bear was waiting.
After he had hopped a few steps, the little rabbit stopped, rang the horse bell, and sang:

Ah nana-na --- Ah nana-na ---
Is cha-nay --- Cha nana-ne ---
Coo ha ya
Where are you sitting, my bear friend?

When Brother Bear heard this, he thought,
"That's not my friend Little Rabbit. This is something else altogether."

Coming closer to the circle where Brother Bear was sitting, the little rabbit rang his horse bell louder and sang his song once more.
Brother Bear, growing really frightened, stood up and ran. The little rabbit jumped out and called,
"You've lost! Let me have your necklace!"

As the story goes, the little rabbit defeated Brother Bear. And today if you see a rabbit around the Tewa country, and if he has a red ring around his neck, you can be sure that the rabbit is descended from the little rabbit who won Brother Bear's pretty red necklace.

 


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Tlingit Indian Lore:

 


How Mosquitoes Came To Be

Long ago there was a giant who loved to kill humans, eat their flesh, and drink their blood. He was especially fond of human hearts.
"Unless we can get rid of this giant," people said, "none of us will be left," and they called a council to discuss ways and means.
One man said, "I think I know how to kill the monster," and he went to the place where the giant had last been seen. There he lay down and pretended to be dead.
Soon the giant came along. Seeing the man lying there, he said:
"These humans are making it easy for me. Now I don't even have to catch and kill them; they die right on my trail, probably from fear of me!"
The giant touched the body.
"Ah, good," he said, "this one is still warm and fresh. What a tasty meal he'll make; I can't wait to roast his heart."
The giant flung the man over his shoulder, and the man let his head hang down as if he were dead. Carrying the man home, the giant dropped him in the middle of the floor right near the fireplace. Then he saw that there was no firewood and went to get some.
As soon as the monster had left, the man got up and grabbed the giant's huge shining knife. Just then the giant's son came in, bending low to enter. He was still small as giants go, and the man held the big knife to his throat.
"Quick, tell me, where's your father's heart? Tell me or I'll slit your throat!"
The giant's son was scared. He said: "My father's heart is in his left heel."
Just then the giant's left foot appeared in the entrance, and the man swiftly plunged the knife into the heel. The monster screamed and fell down dead.
Yet the giant still spoke.
"Though I'm dead, though you killed me, I'm going to keep on eating you and all the other humans in the world forever!"
"That's what you think!" said the man. "I'm about to make sure that you never eat anyone again."
He cut the giant's body into pieces and burned each one in the fire. Then he took the ashes and threw them into the air for the winds to scatter.
Instantly each of the particles turned into a mosquito. The cloud of ashes became a cloud of mosquitoes, and from their midst the man heard the giant's voice laughing, saying:
"Yes, I'll eat you people until the end of time."
And as the monster spoke, the man felt a sting, and a mosquito started sucking his blood, and then many mosquitoes stung him, and he began to scratch himself.

 


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Raven
When Raven was born, his father tried to instruct him and train him in every way and after he grew up, told him he would give him strength to make a world. After trying in all sorts of ways, Raven finally succeeded.
Then there was no light in this world, but it was told him that far up the Nass was a large house in which someone kept light just for himself.

Raven thought over all kinds of plans for getting this light into the world and finally he hit on a good one.
The rich man living there had a daughter, and he thought,
"I will make myself very small and drop into the water in the form of a small piece of dirt."

The girl swallowed this dirt and became pregnant. When her time was completed, they made a hole for her, as was customary, in which she was to give birth, and lined it with rich furs of all sorts.
But the child did not wish to be born on those fine things.

Then its grandfather felt sad and said,
"What do you think it would be best to put into that hole? Shall we put in moss?"

So they put moss inside and the baby was born on it. Its eyes were very bright and moved around rapidly.

Round bundles of varying shapes and sizes hung about on the walls of the lodge. When the child became a little larger, it crawled around back of the people weeping continually, and as it cried it pointed to the bundles.
This lasted many days. Then its grandfather said:
"Give my grandchild what he is crying for. Give him that one hanging on the end. That is the bag of stars."

So the child played with this, rolling it about on the floor back of the people, until suddenly he let it go up through the smoke hole. It went straight up into the sky and the stars scattered out of it, arranging themselves as you now see them.
That was what he went there for.

Some time after this he began crying again, and he cried so much that it was thought he would die. Then his grandfather said,
"Untie the next one and give it to him."

He played and played with it around behind his mother. After a while he let that go up thought the smoke hole also, and there was the big moon.
Now just one thing more remained, the box that held the daylight, and he cried for that. His eyes turned around and showed different colors, and the people began thinking that he must be something other than an ordinary baby.
But it always happens that a grandfather loves his grandchild just as he does his own daughter, so the grandfather said,
"Untie the last thing and give it to him."

His grandfather felt very sad when he gave this to him.
When the child had this in his hands, he uttered the raven cry, "Ga", and flew out with it through the smoke hole.
Then the person from whom he had stolen it said,
"That old raven has gotten all of my things."

Journeying on, Raven was told of another place where a man had an everlasting spring of water. This man was named Petrel (Gan~'k). Raven wanted this water because there was none to drink in this world, but Petrel always slept by his spring, and he had a cover over it so as to keep it all to himself.

Then Raven came in and said to him,
"My brother-in-law, I have just come to see you. How are you?"
He told Petrel of all kinds of things that were happening outside, trying to induce him to go out and look at them, but Petrel was too smart for him and refused.

When night came, Raven said,
"I am going to sleep with you, brother-in-law."
So they went to bed, and toward morning Raven heard Petrel sleeping very soundly. Then he went outside, called very loudly,
"Wake up. Wake up and come outside - look at this!!"

Petrel got up, went outside and looked around - then Raven went over to Petrel's spring, took off the cover and began drinking.
After he had drunk up almost all of the water, Petrel came in and saw him. Then Raven flew straight up, crying "Ga". Before he got through the smoke hole, however, Petrel said,
"My spirits up the smoke hole, catch him."

So Raven stuck there, and Petrel put pitch wood on the fire under him so as to make a quantity of smoke.
Raven was white before that time, but the smoke made him of the color you find him today. Still he did not drop the water.
When the smoke-hole spirits let him go, he flew around the nearest point and rubbed himself all over so as to clear off as much of the soot as possible.

This happened somewhere around the Nass, and afterwards he started up this way.
First he let some water fall from his mouth and made the Nass.
By and by he spit more out and made the Stibine.
Next he spit out Tau river, then Chilkat, then Alsek, and all the other large rivers.
The small drops that came out of his mouth made the small salmon creeks.

After this Raven went on again and came to a large town where were people who had never seen daylight. They were out catching eulachon in the darkness when he came to the bank opposite, and he asked them to take him across but they would not.

Then he said to them,
"If you don't come over I will have daylight break on you."
But they answered,
"Where are you from? Do you come from far up the Nass where lives the man who has the daylight?"

At this Raven opened his box just a little and shed so great a light on them that they were nearly thrown down. He shut it quickly, but they quarreled with him so much across the creek that he became angry and opened the box completely, when the sun flew up into the sky.
Then those people who had sea-otter or fur-seal skins, or the skins of any other sea animals, went into the woods, becoming the animals whose skins they wore.

 


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Tokpelia Indian Lore:

 

The First World

The first world was Tokpela (endless space)

Before that, there was only the Creator, Taiowa. All else was endless space, There was no beginning or end, no time, no shape, no life. There was only an immeasurable void that had its beginning and end, its time, its shape, and its life in the mind of Taiowa.

Then the infinite Taiowa conceived the finite.

First, He created Sˇtuknang to make it manifest.

Taiowa said to him, "I have created the first power and instrument as a person to carry out my plan for life in endless space. I am your Uncle. You are my Nephew. Go now and lay out these universes in proper order so they may work together in harmony according to my plan."

Sˇtuknang did as he was commanded. From endless space he gathered that which was to be manifest as solid substance, molded it into forms, and arraigned them into nine universal kingdoms: one for Taiowa the Creator, one for himself, and seven universes for the life to come.

When he was finished, he went to Taiowa and asked, "Is this according to your plan?"

"Yes," said Taiowa, "it is very good. Now do the same for the waters, dividing them equally upon the surfaces of each of these universes."

So Sˇtuknang gathered from endless space that which was to be manifest as the waters. He placed them on the universes so that each would be half solid and half water.

When he was finished, he went to Taiowa and asked, "Is this according to your plan?"

"Yes," said Taiowa, "It is very good. The next thing now is to put the forces of air into peaceful movement about all."

So Sˇtuknang did. From endless space he gathered that which was to be manifest as the airs. He made them into great forces, and arraigned them into gentle, ordered movement around each universe.

When he was finished, he went to Taiowa and asked, "Is this according to your plan?"

"Yes," said Taiowa, "you have done a great work according to my plan. You have created the universes and made them manifest into solids, waters, and winds, and put them in their proper places. But your work is not finished. Now you must create life and its movements to complete the four parts (T˙waquachi) of my universal plan."

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Toltec Indian Lore:

 

 

The Scabby One Lights The Sky

Five worlds and five suns were created one after the other. There were the suns of earth, fire, air, water and rock. The first world was destroyed because it's people acted wrongfully;:they were devoured by ocelot, and their sun also died. The second sun, the pure orb, saw his human beings changed into monkeys for the lack of wisdom. Next came the sun of fire, whose world was destroyed by flames, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions because the people living in it were impious and did not sacrifice to the gods. The fourth world perished in a great flood which also drowned it's sun. Before the dawn of the fifth, our present world, all the gods assembled in darkness to decide who should have the honor--and a dangerous honor it turned out to be--to light up the fifth world, and with it the fifth sun. One god named Tecciztecatl volunteered, thinking to get much praise from the other gods. After days of purification, the gods built a huge fire on the top of a pyramid and told Tecciztecatl: "Light up the world!"

"How?" asked Tecciztecatl, dressed in iridescent hummingbird feathers and jewels of gold and turquoise.

"By jumping into the fire, O Tecciztecatl," said the gods. But Tecciztecatl was afraid, he didn't want to be burned up. Four times he tried to immolate himself, and four times th heat, the flames and his fear drove him back.

Then the lowliest of all gods, Nanautzin, dressed in humble garments of woven reeds, misshapen, ugly, and covered with scabs, offered to renew the world and light up the sun by jumping into the fire. None of the gods had paid him the slightest attention before, but now they all cried with one voice:

"O, Scabby One, be thou he who brings back the Sun!"

Without a moment's hesitation Nanautzin hurled himself into the flames, burning up with a great crackling sound, his blazing garments of reeds lighting up the sky. And ashamed of his cowardice, Tecciztecatl followed his example and was cremated also. At once the sun rose to light up the new fifth world, and it was the despised Scabby One, brave Nanautzin, who by his death had given life to the sun.

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Tsimshian Indian Lore:

 

The Bear Who Married A Woman

Once there lived a widow of the tribe of the Tsimshian. Many men tried to marry her daughter, but she declined them all.

The mother said, "When a man comes to marry, feel the palms of his hands. If they are soft, decline him. If they are rough, accept him." She meant that she wanted to have for a son in law a man skillful in building canoes.

Her daughter obeyed her commands and refused all the young men. One night a young man came to her bed. The palms of his hands were very rough, and therefore she accepted his suit.

Early in the morning however, he had suddenly disappeared, even before she had seen him.

When her mother arose early and went out, she found a halibut on he beach in front of their lodge, although it was midwinter. The following evening the young man came back, but disappeared again before dawn. The young woman never saw the face of her husband, but every morning she found and animal or fish on the beach, every day there was a larger one, Thus the widow came to be very rich.

She was anxious to see her son in law, and thank him. So one day she waited until he arrived. Suddenly she saw a red bear emerge from the water. He carried a whale under each arm, and put them down on the beach, As soon as he noticed that he was being observed, he was transformed into a rock. As he was a supernatural being of the sea.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Meeting Of The Wild Animals
A long time ago, when the Tsimshian lived on the upper Skene River in Prairie Town, they were the cleverest and strongest of all humans. They were good hunters and caught many animals. They went hunting the whole year round, and all the animals feared for their survival.

Grizzly Bear invited all the large animals to his house.
"A terrible calamity has come to us with these hunting people, who pursue us even into our dens," he said. "I suggest we ask Him Who Made Us to give us more cold in winter and keep the hunters in their own houses and out of our dens!"
All the large animals agreed, and Wolf said,
"Let's invite all the small animals - Porcupine, Beaver, Racoon, Marten, Mink, and even the really small ones such as Mouse and the insects - to join us and increase our strength."

On the following day the large animals assembled on a wide prairie and called together all the small animals, even down to the insects. The multitude sat down, the small animals on one side of the plain, the large animals on the other. Panther came, and Black Bear, Wolf, Elk, Reindeer, and Wolverine.

Then the chief speaker, Grizzly Bear, rose.
"Friends," he said to the small animals and the insects. "you know very well how the people hunt us on mountains and hills, even pursuing us into our dens. Therefore, my brothers, we large animals have agreed to ask Him Who Made Us to give our earth cold winters, colder than ever, so that the people who hunt us cannot come to our dens and kill us and you! Large animals, is this so?"
The Panther said,
"I fully support this wise counsel," and all the large animals agreed.
Grizzly Bear turned to the small animals and said,
"We want to know what you think of in this matter."

The small animals did not reply at first. After they had been silent for a while, Porcupine rose and said,
"Friends, let me say a word or two in response. Your strategy is very good for you, because all of you have plenty of warm fur for the most severe cold. But look at these little insects. They have no fur at all to warm them in the winter. Moreover, how can insects and small animals obtain food if winters are colder? Therefore I say this: don't ask for more cold."
Then he sat down.

Grizzly Bear rose again.
"We need not pay attention to what Porcupine says," he told the large animals. "You all agree, don't you, that we should ask for the severest cold on earth?"
The large animals replied,
"Yes, we do. We don't care for Porcupine's reasoning."
"Now, listen once more! I will ask you just one question," Porcupine said. "If it's that cold, the roots of the wild berries will freeze and die, and all the plants of the prairie will wither away. How will you get food? You large animals always roam the mountains wanting something to eat. When your request brings more winter frost, you will die of starvation in spring or summer. But we will survive, for we live on the bark of trees, the very small animals eat the gum of trees, and the smallest insects find their food in the earth."

After he had spoken, Porcupine put his thumb into his mouth, bit it off, said,
"Confound it!" and threw his thumb out of his mouth to show the large animals how bold he was.
He sat down again, full of rage. Therefore the hand of the Porcupine has only four fingers, no thumb.

The large animals were speechless at Porcupine's wisdom. Finally Grizzly Bear admitted,
"It's true what you have said." And the large animals chose Porcupine as their wise man and as the first among the small animals. Together all the animals agreed that the cold in winter should be the way it is now. And they settled on six months for winter and six months for summer.

Then Porcupine spoke again in his wisdom:
"In winter we will have ice and snow. In spring we will have showers, and the plants will become green. In summer we will have warmer weather, and all the fishes will go up the rivers. In the fall the leaves will drop, it will rain, and the rivers and brooks will overflow. Then all animals, large and small, and those that creep on the ground, will go into their dens and hide for six months."
And after they had all agreed to what Porcupine had proposed, they happily returned to their homes.

That's why wild animals, large and small, take to their dens in winter.
Only Porcupine does not hide, but goes about visiting his neighbors Porcupine also went to the animals who had slighted him at the meeting and struck them dead with the quills of his tail.
That's why all the animals are afraid of Porcupine to this day.



 


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The Theft of Light

 

Giant flew inland [toward the east]. He went on for a long time, and finally he was very tired, so he dropped down on the little round stone which he father had given to him. It became a very large rock way out at sea. Giant rested on it and refreshed himself, and took off the raven skin.

At that time, there was always darkness. There was no daylight then. Again Giant put on the raven skin and few toward the east. Now, Giant reached the mainland and arrived at the mouth of the Skeena River. There he stopped and scattered the salmon roe and trout roe. He said while he was scattering the, "Let every river and creek have all kinds of fish!" Then he took the dried sea-lion bladder and scattered the fruits all over the land, saying, "Let every mountain, hill, valley, plain, the whole land, be full of fruits!"

The whole world was still covered with darkness. When the sky was clear, the people would have a little light from the stars, and when the clouds were in the sky, it was very dark all over the land. The people were distressed by this. Then Giant thought that it would be hard for him to obtain his food if it was always dark. He remembered that there was light in heaven, when he had come. Then he made up his mind to bring down the light to our world. On the following day Giant put on his raven skin, which his father the chief had given to him, and flew upward. Finally he found the hole in the sky, and he went through it. Giant reached the inside of the sky. He took off the raven skin and put it down near the hole in the sky. He went on, and came to a spring near the house of the chief of heaven. Then he sat down and waited.

Then the chief's daughter came out, carrying a small bucket in which she was about to fetch water. She went down to the big spring in front of her father's house. When Giant saw her coming along, he transformed himself into the leaf of a cedar and floated on the water. he chief's daughter dipped it up in her bucket and drank it. Then she returned to her father's house and entered.

After a short time she was with child, and not long after that she gave birth to a boy. then the chief and his wife were very glad. They washed the boy regularly. He began to grow up. Now he was beginning to creep about. They washed hi often, and the chief smoothed and cleaned the floor of the house. Now the child was strong and crept about every day. He began to cry, "Hama, Hama!" He was crying all the time, and the great chief was troubled, and called in some of his slaves to carry about the boy. The slaves did so, but he would not sleep for several nights. He kept on crying, Hama, Hama!" Therefore the chief invited all his wise men, and said to them that he did not know what the boy wanted and why he was crying. He wanted the box that was hanging in the chief's house.

This box, in which the daylight was kept, was hanging in one corner of the house. It's name was Ma. Giant had known it before he descended to our world. The child cried for it. The chief was annoyed, and the wise men listened to what the chief told them. When the wise men heard the child crying aloud, they did not know what he was saying. He was crying all the time, "Hama, hama, hama!"

One of the wise men understood him, said to the chief, "He is crying for the ma. Therefore the chief ordered it to be taken down. The man put it down. They put it down near the fire, and the boy sat down near it and ceased crying. He stopped crying, for he was glad. Then he rolled the ma about inside the house. He did so for four days. Sometimes he would carry it to the door. Now the great chief did not think of it. He had quite forgotten it. Then the boy really took up the ma, put it on his shoulder, and ran out with it. While he was running, someone said, "Giant is running away with the ma!" He ran away, and the hosts of heaven pursued him. They shouted that Giant was running away with the ma. Then the hosts of heaven returned to their houses, and he flew down with it to our world.

At that tie the world was still dark. He arrived farther up the river, and went down river. Giant had come down near the mouth of the Nass River. He went to the mouth of the Nass River. It was always dark, and he carried the ma about with him. He went on, and went up the river in the dark. A little farther up he heard the noise of the people, who were catching olachen in bag nets in their canoes. There was much noise out on the river, because they were working hard. Giant, who was sitting on the short, said, "Throw ashore one of the things that you are catching, my dear people!" After a while, Giant said again, "Throw ashore one of things that you are catching!" Then those on the water scolded him. "Where did you come from, great liar. . .?" The [animal] people knew that it was Giant. Therefore they made fun of him. The Giant said again, "Throw ashore one of things that you are catching, or I shall break the ma!" and all those who were on the water answered, "Where did you get what you are talking about, you liar?" Giant said once more, "Throw ashore one of the things your are catching, my dear people, or I shall break the ma for you!" One person replied, scolding him.

Giant had repeated his request four ties, but those on the water refused what he had asked for. Therefore Giant broke the ma. It broke, and it was daylight. The north wind began to blow hard, and all the fisherman, the Frogs, were driven away by the north wind. All the Frogs who had made fun of Giant were driven away down the river until they arrived at one of the large mountainous islands. Here the Frogs tried to climb up the rock; but they stuck to the rock, being frozen by the north wind, and became stone. They are still on the rock. . .and all the world had the daylight.

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Tuscarora Indian Lore:


The Corn Spirit
Long ago, they say, there was a village of people whose cornfields were blessed with good harvests, year after year. They had so much corn each year that they began to take it for granted. They stopped weeding the fields and the children trampled the cornstalk as they played.

When harvest time came, the people picked, but they did not do it well.

Much of the corn was left unlicked and only the birds ate it. The people wasted more than they ate. They threw ears of corn to their dogs.
As they had always done, they dried some of the corn to eat in the winter and use for seed corn the next spring. They placed this corn in storage baskets to bury for the winter, but they did everything carelessly. The corn baskets were not well made. The storage holes were not dug deeply or well covered.

"There is much game in the forest," the people said. "We can always hunt to survive, even if the stored corn spoils."

So the people went on without showing respect for the corn that gave them life. They even forgot to say thanks to the Creator for their good fortune.
Only one man remembered to show respect. His name was Dayohagwenda. Dayohagwenda cared for his fields and weeded them. He harvested his corn carefully and gave thanks for his good harvest. He stored his corn with great care. He was sad about the way the others acted.

That autumn, after the harvest moon, the people went hunting. But the hunters had bad luck. Animals were hard to find. It seemed that the deer and moose and even the rabbits had all disappeared from the forest.

The people tried to fish, but the streams and lakes were empty.

Finally, the people dug up their stored corn. But the poorly made baskets had fallen apart. Much of the corn had been eaten by mice. The rest had rotted away.

"What shall we do?" the people said. "We will starve."

Meanwhile, Dayohagwenda was walking in the forest. He was thinking about the way his people no longer showed respect for the corn or gave thanks.
As he walked, he found an old trail. It led to a clearing in the forest. In that clearing was a lodge made of elm bark and built on top of a mound of earth. Weeds grew all around the lodge. In front of the lodge, an old man dressed in torn clothing sat weeping.

"Grandfather," Dayohagwenda said, "why are you weeping?"
"I am weeping because your people have forgotten me."
"Why are your clothes torn?"
"They are torn because your people threw me to their dogs."
"Why are you so dirty?"
"I am dirty because your people let their children trample me."
"Why are there weeds around your lodge?"
"Your people no longer take care of me. Now I must go away and I can never return again to help them."

Now Dayohagwenda knew who the old man was. He was Corn Spirit.
"Grandfather," Dayohagwenda said, "do not leave us. I still respect you. I will go back and remind my people how to treat you."
The old man stopped weeping. "Grandson," he said, "I will stay with you. If your people show me respect, I will not leave them."

Dayohagwenda went back to the village. "We are going to starve," the people said. "Our corn is gone and we have no other food."
"Listen," said Dayohagwenda, "I have been in the forest. There I found a lodge surrounded by weeds and an old man wearing torn clothing the color of corn husks. He said his people deserted him and he was going to leave forever."

The people understood. "It is Corn Spirit," they said. "He has left us and now we will surely die."
"No," said Dayohagwenda, "I spoke with Corn Spirit. I told him we would treat him with respect. He said that if we respect him, he will help us through the winter."

Then Dayohagwenda dug up his own stored corn. His baskets had been well made. He had dug his granary deep and covered it properly. All of his harvest was there.
There was more than he had remembered storing, much more. There was enough to feed the whole village through the winter. There was even enough left to use as seed corn for planting in the spring when the leaves of the maple tree were the size of a squirrels ear.

From then on, Dayohagwenda's people always showed respect for the corn.
They planted with care and shoed and weeded.
They sang songs of thanksgiving as they harvested.
They made strong baskets and deep storage pits for their granaries.
Most of all, they remembered to give thanks for the blessing of corn and all of the other good things they had been given.
They taught their children and their children's children to do the same.

So it is to this day.



 


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Tuskegee Indian Lore:

 

The Origin of Earth

Before the beginning, water was everywhere. But no people, animals, or earth were visible.

There were birds, however, who held a council to decide if it might be best to have all land or all water. "Let us have land, so we can have more food," said some of the birds. Others said, "Let's have all water, because we like it this way."

Subsequently, they appointed Eagle as their Chief who was to decide one way or the other. Eagle decided upon land and asked, "Who will go and search for land?"

Dove volunteered first and flew away. In four days he completed his hunt and returned, reporting, "I could not find land anywhere." Craw fish came swimming along and was asked by the council to help search for land. He disappeared under the water for four days. When he arose to the surface again, he held some dirt in his claws. He had found some land deep in the water.

Craw fish made a ball of the dirt and handed it to Chief Eagle, who then flew away with it. Four days later he returned and said to the council, "Now there is land, an island has been formed-- follow me!"

The whole bird colony flew after Eagle to see the new land, though it was a very small island. Gradually, the land began to grow larger and larger as the water became lower and lower. More islands appeared and these grew together, creating larger islands into one earth.

Tuskegee Indians say they were chosen by the Great Spirit to be the first people to live upon the new earth, a long, long time ago.

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Uitoto Indian Lore:

 

 

"Was it not an Illusion?"

The Father touched an illusory image. He touched a mystery. Nothing was there. The Father, Who-Has-an-Illusion, seized it and, dreaming, began to think.

Had he no staff? Then with a dream-thread he held the illusion. Breathing, he held it, the void, the illusion, and felt for it's earth. There was nothing to feel: "I shall gather the void," He felt, but there was nothing.

Now the Father thought the word. "Earth." He felt of the void, the illusion and took it into his hands. The Father then gathered the void with dream-thread and pressed it together with gum. With the dream-gum iseike he held it fast.

He seized the illusion, the illusory earth, and he trampled and trampled it, seizing it, flattening it. Then as he seized it and held it, he stood himself on it, on this that he'd dreamed, on this that he'd flattened.

As he held the illusion, he salivated, salivated and salivated, and the water flowed from his mouth. Upon this, the illusion, this, as he held it, he settled the sky roof. This, the illusion, he seized, entirely, and peeled off the flue sky, the white sky.

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