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Smokyriversongs' Look At Indian Life And The Lore
Upper Segit - Yuki













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Upper Segit:

 

Cannibal Basket Woman, Defeated By Clever Children

A group of children knew a woman who lived all alone near the river. The children knew that she was lonely, and they wanted to go visit with her. When they asked their parents for permission to go, their parents said, "No. You can't go, because it is too far away: the Giant Woman might get you when you are away from home. The Giant woman is powerful. She would put you in her huge clam basket."

The children ignored their parents. They got into a canoe and went on their way to visit the lonely woman. When night came, they made themselves a camp on the other side of the river. They built a fire and cooked their supper. One of the children was a hunchback. When the children divided their supper, Hunchback was given the tail part.

They traveled for several days. Each evening they would stop to camp overnight and eat their supper. Every time, they would give Hunchback the tail part for his share.

Hunchback finally said, "If you folks are always going to be giving me the tail part when I would really rather have the tips, I will call the Giant Woman!"

When night came again and they stopped to camp and eat their supper, it was still the tail part which he was given. Now Hunchback hollered! He hollered:

"Come downhill, Giant Woman, Come downhill, Giant Woman. It is just the tail part that I am given by my playmates ! "

The Giant woman heard right away. "Oh, there is someone hollering at me!" She put her basket on her back and she walked. She was a huge person, this Giant Woman. She chewed on everything as she traveled.

She arrived where the children were. Right away she began to pick up the children one by one and put them into her basket. She grabbed Hunchback first and put him there. When all of the children were in the basket, the Giant Woman walked. she carried these children upland. suddenly she could feel something catch at her basket. She thought, "Oh, it must be Hunchback who has caught onto something."

Hunchback had squirmed and squirmed until he managed to get himself up on top of the other children. Each time he came to a leaning tree he tried to grab ahold of it. No. He couldn' t do it. On the fourth try, he did it.

Giant Woman went on walking. When she arrived at her home with the children she immediately gathered rocks and placed them on her fire to heat. When they were good and hot she began to take the children out of her basket. Then she found that Hunchback was missing. "Oh, Hunchback isn't here ! Where is he? Maybe he managed to run away."

Giant Woman ran!

Hunchback was in the canoe, shoving off from shore. He had a paddle with holes in it. This paddle had holes. When Giant Woman threw rocks at him, he held up his paddle and the rocks just went through. Hunchback paddled hard. Each time she threw a rock at him, he raised his paddle and the rock just went through a hole.

Giant Woman gave up. she went home and put more rocks on her fire. She wanted the rocks to be very hot to cook her supper fast.

The children huddled together and began talking to each other. They watched the Giant Woman heating all of those rocks on the fire.

Giant Woman noticed and said to them, "What are you children saying?"

The children carefully answered, "Oh, it is just that we are so happy for you that you are heating rocks. We would like for you to sing and dance before you cook us there."

Giant Woman was so flattered at the request that she said, "All right!"

The children said, "You will dance!"

She proudly said, "Yes, I will." Now Giant Woman danced. She sang this as she danced:

The children will be roasted on the rocks.

The children will be roasted on the rocks.

The children will be roasted on the rocks.

The children will be roasted on the rocks.

The children said, "Oh my, but your song is so nice. Sing more. " And again Giant Woman sang and danced.

The oldest and strongest of the children were making plans: "We had better push her onto the hot rocks."

Giant Woman asked, "What. are you children saying?"

They cautiously answered,, "Oh, we are just so happy for you."

They whispered to each other, "When she comes near us, let's all push her."

Ohl Giant Woman was coming closer, singing:

The children will be roasted on the rocks

The children will be roasted on the rocks

The children will be roasted on the rocks

The children will be roasted on the rocks

As she came close to them, all of the oldest, strongest children pushed her. Right onto the hot rocks she fell. She screamed, "Remove me, children. Remove me from the fire and I will return you to your home. " One of the children said, "Get a forked stick, and we shall remove your grandmother from the fire. We shall remove her. Get a forked stick."

However, the children took the forked stick, and everyone pressed her down onto the hot rocks until she was just stuck there, roasting.

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Ute Indian Lore:

 


Porcupine Hunts Buffalo

In olden days when mostly animals roamed this earth, a Porcupine set out to track some buffalo.

He asked the buffalo chips, "How long have you been here on this trail?" He kept on asking, until finally one answered, "Only lately have I been here."

From there Porcupine followed the same path. The farther he went, the fresher the tracks. He continued until he came to a river; there he saw a buffalo herd that had crossed the ford onto the other side.

"What shall I do now?" thought Porcupine as he sat down.

He called out, "Carry me across!"

One of the buffalo replied, "Do you mean me?"

Porcupine called again, "No, I want a different buffalo." Thus he rejected each member of the herd, one after another, as each asked. "Do you mean me?"

Finally the last and best one in the herd said, "I will carry you across the river." The buffalo crossed the river and said to porcupine, "Climb on my back."

Porcupine said, "No, I'm afraid I will fall off into the water."

Buffalo said, "Then climb up and ride between my horns."

"No," replied Porcupine. "I'm sure I'll slide off into the river."

Buffalo suggested many other ways to carry him, but Porcupine protested. "Perhaps you'd rather ride inside of me?" offered the buffalo.

"Yes," said Porcupine, and let himself be swallowed by the buffalo.

"Where are we now?" asked Porcupine.

"In the middle of the river," said the buffalo.

After a little while, Porcupine asked again.

"We have nearly crossed," said the buffalo. "Now we have emerged from the water; come out of me!"

Porcupine said, "No, not yet, go a little farther."

Soon the buffalo stopped and said, "We have gone far enough, so come out."

Then Porcupine hit the buffalo's heart with his heavy tail. The buffalo started to run, but fell down and died right there. Porcupine had killed him. Others in the herd tried to hook Porcupine, but he sat under the buffalo's ribs, where he could not be hooked. Soon the herd tired and ran on their way.

Porcupine came out and said aloud, "I wish I had something to butcher this nice big buffalo with."

Now, Coyote was sleeping nearby, and woke up and heard him. Coyote went to Porcupine and said, "Here is my knife for butchering." So they went together to the side of the buffalo.

"Let him butcher who can jump over it," said Coyote. Porcupine ran and jumped, but only partway over the buffalo. Coyote jumped over it without touching the dead animal, so he began to butcher, cutting up the buffalo.

After a little time, he handed the paunch to Porcupine and said, "Go wash it in the river, but don't eat it yet."

Porcupine took it to the river, washed it, then he bit off a piece. When Coyote saw what Porcupine had done, he became very angry with him and went after him, "I told you not to eat any of the paunch."

Coyote picked up a club and killed Porcupine and placed him beside the buffalo, and went to his home. Then he told his family, "I have killed a buffalo and I have killed a porcupine. Let us go and carry them home."

Before Porcupine had come out of the buffalo, he said magic words, "Let a red pine grow here fast." Then at once red pine began to grow under the meat and under Porcupine. It grew very tall and fast. All of the meat and Porcupine rested at the top of the red pine tree, high in the air, Porcupine magically coming alive again.

Coyote and his family arrived and were surprised that all of the meat was gone. They began to hunt for it.

"I wish they would look up," said Porcupine. Then the smallest child looked up and said "Oh!" The family looked up and saw Porcupine sitting on top of the meat in the tall red pine tree.

Coyote said, "Throw down a piece of the neck, we are very hungry."

"Yes," said Porcupine, "Place that youngest child a little farther away.

"Yes," they responded and took him to one side.

"Now make a ring and all hold hands upward," said Porcupine. So the family joined hands and held them up. Porcupine threw down several pieces of the buffalo meat, killing Coyote and those in the ring. Porcupine then threw down the rest of the buffalo meat, and climbed down the tree.

He took charge of the young coyote and fed him all the meat he desired. Porcupine took all the meat he could carry to his home. He and the young coyote became good friends and helped each other hunt buffalo together for a long, long time

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Wasco Indian Lore:

 

 

Coyote Places The Stars

Once there were five wolves, all brothers, who traveled together. Whatever meat they got when they were hunting they would share with Coyote.
One evening Coyote saw the wolves looking up at the sky.
"What are you looking at up there, my brothers?" asked Coyote.
"Oh, nothing," said the oldest wolf.

Next evening Coyote saw they were all looking up in the sky at something. He asked the next oldest wolf what they were looking at, but he wouldn't say.
It went on like this for three or four nights. No one wanted to tell Coyote what they were looking at because they thought he would want to interfere. One night Coyote asked the youngest wolf brother to tell him, and the youngest wolf said to the other wolves,
"Let's tell Coyote what we see up there. He won't do anything."
So they told him. "We see two animals up there. Way up there, where we cannot get to them."
"Let's go up and see them," said Coyote.
"Well, how can we do that?"
"Oh, I can do that easy," said Coyote. "I can show you how to get up there without any trouble at all."

Coyote gathered a great number of arrows and then began shooting them into the sky. The first arrow stuck in the sky and the second arrow stuck in the first. Each arrow stuck in the end of the one before it like that until there was a ladder reaching down to the earth.
"We can climb up now," said Coyote.

The oldest wolf took his dog with him, and then the other four wolf brothers came, and then Coyote.
They climbed all day and into the night. All the next day they climbed. For many days and nights they climbed, until finally they reached the sky.
They stood in the sky and looked over at the two animals the wolves had seen from below. They were two grizzly bears.

"Don't go near them," said Coyote. "They will tear you apart."
But the two youngest wolves were already headed over. And the next two youngest wolves followed them. Only the oldest wolf held back.
The wolves sat down and looked at the bears, and the bears sat there looking at the wolves. The oldest wolf, when he saw it was safe, came over with his dog and sat down with them.

Coyote wouldn't come over. He didn't trust the bears.
"That makes a nice picture, though," thought Coyote.
"They all look pretty good sitting there like that. I think I'll leave it that way for everyone to see. Then when people look at them in the sky they will say, 'There's a story about that picture,' and they will tell a story about me."

So Coyote left it that way. He took out the arrows as he descended so there was no way for anyone to get back. From down on the earth Coyote admired the arrangement he had left up there.

Today they still look the same. They call those stars Big Dipper now. If you look up there you'll see that three wolves make up the handle and the oldest wolf, the one in the middle, still has his dog with him. The two youngest wolves make up the part of the bowl under the handle, and the two grizzles make up the other side, the one that points toward the North Star.

When Coyote saw how they looked, he wanted to put up a lot of stars.
He arranged stars all over the sky in pictures and then made the Big Road across the sky with the stars he had left over.

When Coyote was finished he called Meadowlark over.
"My brother," he said, "When I am gone, tell everyone that when they look up into the sky and see the stars arranged this way, I was the one who did that. That is my work."

 


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The Elk Spirit Of Lost Lake
In the days of our grandfathers, a young warrior named Plain Feather lived near Mount Hood. His guardian spirit was a great elk.
The great elk taught Plain Feather so well that he knew the best places to look for every kind of game and became the most skillful hunter in his tribe.

Again and again his guardian spirit said to him,
"Never kill more than you can use. Kill only for your present need. Then there will be enough for all."
Plain Feather obeyed him. He killed only for food, only what he needed.
Other hunters in his tribe teased him for not shooting for fun, for not using all his arrows when he was out on a hunt. But Plain Feather obeyed the great elk.

Smart Crow, one of the old men of the tribe, planned in his bad heart to make the young hunter disobey his guardian spirit. Smart Crow pretended that he was one of the wise men and that he had had a vision.
In the vision, he said, the Great Spirit had told him that the coming winter would be long and cold. There would be much snow.
"Kill as many animals as you can," said Smart Crow to the hunters of the tribe. "We must store meat for the winter."

The hunters, believing him, went to the forest and meadows and killed all the animals they could. Each man tried to be the best hunter in the tribe.
At first Plain Feather would not go with them, but Smart Crow kept saying,
"The Great Spirit told me that we will have a hard winter. The Great Spirit told me that we must get our meat now."

Plain Feather thought that Smart Crow was telling the truth. So at last he gave in and went hunting along the stream now called Hood River. First he killed deer and bears. Soon he came upon five bands of elk and killed all but one, which he wounded.

Plain Feather did not know that this was his guardian elk, and when the wounded animal hurried away into the forest, Plain Feather followed. Deeper and deeper into the forest and into the mountains he followed the elk tracks.

At last he came to a beautiful little lake. There, lying in the water not far from the shore, was the wounded elk. He heard a voice say clearly,
"Draw him in." And something drew Plain Feather closer to the wounded elk.
"Draw him in," the voice said again. And again Plain Feather was drawn closer to the great elk. At last he lay beside it.
"Why did you disobey me?" asked the elk. "All around you are the spirits of the animals you have killed. I will no longer be your guardian. You have disobeyed me and slain my friends."

Then the voice which had said, "Draw him in," said, "Cast him out."
And the spirits cast the hunter out of the water, onto the shore of the lake.

Weary in body and sick at heart, Plain Feather dragged himself to the village where his tribe lived. Slowly he entered his teepee and sank upon the ground.
"I am sick," he said. "I have been in the dwelling place of the lost spirits. And I have lost my guardian spirit, the great elk. He is in the lake of the lost spirits."

Then he lay back and died.
Ever after, the Indians called that lake the Lake of the Lost Spirits. Beneath its calm blue waters are the spirits of thousands of the dead. On its surface is the face of Mount Hood, which stands as a monument to the lost spirits.



 


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Winnebago Indian Lore:


Little Brother Snares The Sun
At the beginning when the earth was new, the animals were the chiefs. They were more powerful than humans, whom they hunted, killed, and ate.
Finally they killed all the people except one girl and her little brother, who lived in hiding. The brother was very small, no bigger than a newborn child, but the girl was normal in size. Because she was so much bigger, she took care of him and did all the work.

One winter day the girl had to go out and gather food in the woods. To keep Little Brother occupied, she gave him her bow and arrows.
"Hide until a snowbird comes," she told him. "Wait until he looks for grubs in the huge dead tree. Then kill him with one of your arrows."

She went off, and the snowbird came, but Little Brother's arrows missed him.
"It doesn't matter," the sister said when she came home. "Try again tomorrow."

The next day she went into the forest again. Once more the bird came, and this time the boy's arrow hit and killed him. Proudly he showed the bird to his sister when she returned at night.
"Sister, I want you to skin the snowbird and stretch the hide," he said. "I'll be killing more birds, and when we have enough skins, you can make a feather robe for me."
"But what shall we do with the meat?" asked the girl.
At that time people ate only berries and other green things, because they didn't hunt; it was the animals who hunted them.
"Make soup out of it," said Little Brother, who was clever in spite of his size.

Every day for ten days he shot a snowbird, and his sister made him a fine feather robe from the skins.

"Sister, are there no other people in this world?" he asked one day. "Are we the only ones?"
"There may be others," she said, "but we don't dare go looking for them. Terrible animals would stalk and kill us."

But Little Brother was consumed with curiosity. So when his sister went off to gather food again, he set out to look for other humans.
He walked a long time but met neither people nor animals. He got so tired that he lay down in a spot where the sun had melted the snow away. While he was sleeping, the sun rose and shot fiery rays upon Little Brother.

Waking up, the boy found that his feather robe had scorched and tightened around him so that he couldn't move. To free himself he had to tear it apart, ruining it. He shook his fists and shouted,
"Sun, I'll get even! Don't think you're so high that I can't get at you! Do you hear me up there?"

Angry and sad, Little Brother returned home. He wept when he told his sister how the sun had spoiled his feather robe. He lay down on his right side for ten days and refused to eat or drink.

Still fasting, he lay on his left side for another ten. After twenty days he got up and told his sister to make a snare for him to catch the sun. She had only a short length of dried deer sinew, and out of that she made a noose.

"I can't catch the sun with this little thing," he said.
So the girl made a string for him out of her hair, but he said, "This isn't long or strong enough."
"Then I'll have to make a snare out of something secret," she said.

She went out and gathered many secret things and twisted them into a strong cord. The moment he saw it, Little Brother said,
"This is the one!"
To wet the cord he drew it through his lips again and again, so that it grew longer and stronger.

Then Little Brother waited until the middle of the night, when it is darkest. He went out and found the hole through which the sun would rise, and at its entrance he set his snare.
When the sun came up at the usual time, he caught and held fast, and there was no day that day. There was no light, no warmth.

Even though the animals were the chiefs who had killed and eaten the people, they were afraid. They called a council of all their elders and talked for a long time. At last they decided that the biggest and most fearsome of all the animals should go and gnaw through the cord holding the sun.
This animal was Dormouse, who was not small, as it is now, but as big as a mountain. Even so, Dormouse was afraid of the sun.
"What you want me to do is dangerous," she said, "but I'll try."

Dormouse went to the place where the sun rises and found him in the snare. Struggling to free himself, the sun had grown hotter. As Dormouse approached, the hair on her back smoked and was singed off, but she crouched down and began to gnaw at the cord. She chewed and chewed and after a long time managed to bite it in two.

Freed at last, the sun rose at once and made everything bright again. But the heat had shriveled Dormouse down to her present size, and the sun's rays had half blinded her. So she was given the name of Kung-e-been-gwa-kwa, Blind Woman.

Though brave Dormouse had freed the sun, everybody realized that Little Brother, who had snared the sun, was the wisest being in this world, and the one with the greatest power.
Since that time the humans have been the chiefs over the animals, the hunters instead of the hunted.



 


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The Faster

There was once a man who had an only child. One day he said, "My child, you must know that you are all alone in the world, with no one from whom to hope for anything. Only the spirits can help you." Thus he spoke to his child.

The sun fasted. After he had been fasting for some time his father came to him and said, "My dear son, you have been fasting for a very long period. Surely you have obtained some gift from the spirits. You had better stop now." "Father", answered the boy, "you are quite right, but still I should like to continue. All that you have told me to fast for, all that I have now obtained. I have received the gift of killing an enemy at will; I have obtained the gift of old age. Indeed, the spirits came to me and took me to a doctor's lodge and there they brought me to a person who was dead and told me that I could restore him to life again. It was then they told me not to fast any longer. Yet in spite of their request I continued. Then the spirits from below came, from the creation lodge they came, and they bestowed all things upon me--victory in war, the ability to cure the sick, success in hunting, a long and complete life--this they gave me. Indeed every spirit to whom Earth Maker had given power, each one bestowed something upon me. "You have fasted enough, they said. But Father, what I most desire is that I shall not die. That is why I do not want to stop. So let me continue. Indeed, only when I have obtained that gift shall I stop."

So the youth continued. The spirits came to him and said, "Young man, you have fasted long enough. Earth Maker has bestowed upon you the gift of living to extreme old age, of obtaining everything you wish." "I am grateful," said the boy, "but what I desire is to never die." The spirits could not dissuade him. "Indeed, I shall never be satisfied until I obtain the gift of immortal life," continued the boy. He was unable to face the thought of death; he dreaded it very much.

In the council lode of the spirits it was accordingly decided that he should die. So they looked down upon the place where the boy was fasting and there he lay, dead. Then the spirit spoke to the father and said, "All that we promised your son, you shall have. Do not think about his matter anymore and bury him."

Then the father dug a grave and buried him. "I wonder how it all happened," he thought to himself. "They told me they were unable to dissuade him, and it was for that reason that they killed him, they told me not to think of the matter any more."

Sometime after, when the father went to the grave, he noticed a tree growing at its head. The was his son. Only a tree lives forever, and that is why the spirits transformed him into a tree. The father realized it and was happy. He lived contented and prosperous thereafter.

Now this is what the father himself reported and it was because of this [the fate of the youth] that young people are told not to fast for too long a period.

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The Twins Alter The Book Of Life

They traveled all over the world and killed all th evil spirits they met. Then they went under the earth, under the rivers, the oceans and then above the earth. visiting the Night spirits, the Sun, the Moon, the Stars the Thunder birds. They visited the four worlds too. Indeed they did not miss any place, Herecgunina was sitting there writing in a book and marking off the number of years humans were to live. He was making them very short. "Say, why don't you make them long?" asked the boys. "This is the way the Earth Maker created me.. He put me in control of life. It is to be short because if all the people were to live long lives, the world would soon be over crowded. Then the people would be in a pitiable condition indeed. There would not be enough food to go around, This is the reason Earth Maker created me, that I might decrease the number of people." Finally the twins persuaded him to give them the book. They marked all lives long. "Don't do that," he said. But they refused to listen to him. He tried to take the book back but they refused to give it up. Although Herecgunina was the equal of Earth Maker, the twins were more powerful. he was afraid of them.

 

 

 

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Wintu Indian Lore:


Rolling Heads
Long ago there was a village filled with people. They lived in the flatlands on both the west and the east sides of the river. The younger of the chief's two daughters had just reached puberty, and her parents were planning to call a puberty dance.

In the evening the father spoke to the other women.
"Early in the morning go strip bark for a maple-bark apron," he said. "But don't take my younger daughter with you. Go secretly."

So the women got up very early and stole away. Quite far north they went, and some even climbed uphill and crossed the ridge to the north.

Later the girl who had reached puberty woke up and, though it was forbidden, followed the others. When she reached them, they were stripping bark. She went up to them and began cutting maple bark too.

All at once she struck her little finger with a splinter. Her older sister came up to her and wiped the blood with dead leaves. The other women said,
"When will it leave off? The blood cannot stop flowing."

Afraid of what had happened, they ran back to the village. They reached the house and told the father,
"She got stuck with a splinter while stripping bark."
And the old man said, "She doesn't listen to me."

The girl and her older sister were left behind alone. The younger one, who stood downhill to the north, now sucked blood and spat it out. Then more blood came, and though she sucked and sucked, she could not stop the flow.

Meanwhile the sun began to set. She kept on sucking until early evening, unable to help herself.
Suddenly she happened to swallow blood and smelled the fat. It tasted sweet. So she ate her little finger, and then ate her whole hand. Then devoured both her hands. Then she ate her leg, ate both her legs. Then she ate up her whole body. Then her head alone was left. It went rolling over the ground, with her sister still beside her.

In the village the chief said,
"From the north she'll come. Put on your clothes, people. Get your weapons. We must go."
And the people dressed themselves and got their weapons. And from the north they saw her come, rolling toward her father's house. She arrived in the early evening and lay there.

After she had rested a while, she bounced up to the west across the river to the flat on the west, where she threw the people into her mouth. Without stopping, she turned the village upside down as she devoured them all.
Then she fell to the east across the river and lay there, and the next morning she threw the people who lived on the eastern flat into her mouth and ate them, devoured them all. Only her eldest sister she left for a while.
And she went about the world, and when she saw people, she threw them into her mouth and ate them. Each evening she came home, each morning she went about the world looking for people. Always she went searching.

One day she climbed up to the northern edge of the sky and looked all over the world, but she saw no one. So in the evening she came home, and the next morning she got up and threw her sister into her mouth.

Then she went on her way until she reached the edge of a big creek which she did not know how to cross.
A man was sitting on the other side. She called to him, and he threw a bridge over. She was crossing, and when she had gone halfway he jerked it, and it went down at Talat. And she fell into the river, and a riffle pike jumped and swallowed her. And it is finished.

That is all.



 


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Yakima Indian Lore:

 


Creation Of The Yakima World

In the beginning of the world, all was water.
Whee-me-me-ow-ah, the Great Chief Above, lived up in the sky all alone.
When he decided to make the world, he went down to the shallow places in the water and began to throw up great handfuls of mud that became land.

He piled some of the mud so high that it froze hard and made the mountains. When the rain came, it turned into ice and snow on top of the high mountains. Some of the mud was hardened into rocks.
Since that time the rocks have not changed - they have only become harder.

The Great Chief Above made trees grow on the earth, and also roots and berries.
He made a man out of a ball of mud and told him to take fish from the waters, and deer and other game from the forests.
When the man became lonely, the Great Chief Above made a woman to be his companion and taught her how to dress skins, how to find bark and roots, and how to make baskets out of them. He taught her which berries to gather for food and how to pick them and dry them. He showed her how to cook the salmon and the game that the man brought.

Once when the woman was asleep, she had a dream, and in it she wondered what more she could do to please the man.
She prayed to the Great Chief Above for help. He answered her prayer by blowing his breath on her and giving her something which she could not see or hear, smell or touch.
This invisible something was preserved in a basket. Through it, the first woman taught her daughters and granddaughters the designs and skills which had been taught her.

But in spite of all the things the Great Chief Above did for them, the new people quarreled.
They bickered so much that Mother Earth was angry, and in her anger she shook the mountains so hard that those hanging over the narrow part of Big River fell down.
The rocks, falling into the water, dammed the stream and also made rapids and waterfalls. Many people and animals were killed and buried under the rocks and mountains.

Someday the Great Chief Above will overturn those mountains and rocks. Then the spirits that once lived in the bones buried there will go back into them.
At present those spirits live in the tops of the mountains, watching their children on the earth and waiting for the great change which is to come. The voices of these spirits can be heard in the mountains at all times. Mourners who wail for their dead hear spirit voices reply, and thus they know that their lost ones are always near.

We did not know all this by ourselves; we were told it by our fathers and grandfathers, who learned it from their fathers and grandfathers. No one knows when the Great Chief Above will overturn the mountains.
But we do know this: the spirits will return only to the remains of people who in life kept the beliefs of their grandfathers.
Only their bones will be preserved under the mountains.

 


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Yuchi Indian Lore:

 

In The Beginning

Southeastern Indian traditions indicated their belief in an Upper World, a Lower World, and This World, where they, the animals and plants, lived and thrived. Early on in This World, some extraordinary humans and animals came down to visit from Upper World. Later, they returned to their previous world, where they felt more comfortable. Mankind of This World in time learned to resolve frictions and to maintain some order between themselves and the other two worlds. They became mostly villagers and agriculturist with more permanent tribal homes, since they were not nomadic by nature. Their tribes enlarged and prospered as hunters, fishermen, builders, and skilled craftsmen, including the women's abilities in weaving, basketry, and herbal medicines; the latter maintaining the good health of their people.

In the beginning, water covered everything. Wind asked, "Who will make the land? Who will make the land appear?"

Lock-chew, the Craw fish, said, "I will make the land appear."

So he went down to the bottom of the water and began to stir up the mud with his tail and his claws. He brought up some mud to a certain place and piled it up until it made a mound.

The owners of the land at the bottom of the water said, "Who is disturbing our land?" They kept careful watch and discovered it was Craw fish. When they started toward him, Craw fish stirred up the mud so much with his tail that they could not see him.

Lock-chew continued to pile up mud, until it came out on top of the surface of the great water. This is how land first appeared. It was so soft that Wind said, "Who will spread the land to make it dry and hard?"

Hawk and Buzzard appeared. Because Buzzard's wings were larger, he tried first. He flew, fanning the soft earth and spreading it all about. When he flapped his wings, hills and valleys were formed.

"Who will make the light?" Wind asked. It was very dark.

Yo-hah, the Star, said, "I will make light." It was agreed. The Star shone forth, but its light only remained close to the Star.

"Who will make more light?" Wind asked.

Shar-pah, the Moon, said, "I will make enough light for all my children and I will shine forever." But the world was still too dark.

T-cho, the Sun, said, "Leave it to me to make enough light for everyone everywhere."

Sun went to the East and suddenly enough light was everywhere. As Sun traveled over the earth, a drop of blood fell from the sky to the ground. From this spot sprang the first people, the children of the Sun they were called, the Yu-chis.

The Yu-chis wished to find their medicine since a large monster had destroyed some of their people. The Yu-chis cut off its head, but the next day its head and body were together again. They killed the monster a second time. Again, its head grew back on its body.

A third time, they cut off its head. They placed the head on top of a tall tree, so the body could not reach the head. The next morning, the tree was dead and the head had rejoined the monster's body. They killed it once more, putting its head at the top of a cedar tree. The next morning the cedar tree was still alive, but covered with blood from the head. The monster remained dead.

This is how the Yu-chis found their great medicine, the Cedar Tree. Fire was soon discovered by boring a stick into some hard, dry weeds.

The Yu-chis selected a second medicine, as each one made a picture of the Sun upon their door.

In the beginning, all of the animals could talk with one another. All animals and people were at peace. The deer lived in a cave watched over by a Yu-chis keeper. When the Yu-chis became hungry, the keeper selected a deer and killed it for their food. Finally, all of the deer were set free with the other animals, and a name was given to every animal upon the earth.

This is how it was in the beginning with the first people, the Yu-chis Indian tribe.

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Yuki Indian Lore:

 

 

"Solitude Walker"

The name of the Yuki Creator, Taiko-mol, means, literally, "Solitude Walker." The implement he uses is the lilkae, or "stone crook," four of which he arranges to form a cross, or, more precisely, a swastika.

There was only water, and over it a fog. On the water was foam. The foam moved round and round continually, and from it came a voice. After a time there issued from the foam a person in human form. He had wing feathers of the eagle on his head. This was Taiko-mol. He floated on the water and sang. He stood on the foam, which still revolved. There was no light. He walked on the water as if it were land. He made a rope and laid it from north to south, and he walked along it, revolving his hands one about the other; and behind him the earth was heaped up along the rope. But the water overwhelmed it. Again he did this, and again the water prevailed. Four times this was done.

Taiko-mol was constantly talking to himself: "I think we had better do it this way. I think we had better try it that way." So now he talked to himself, and he made a new plan. He made four lilkae, and planted one in the north and the others in the south, west, and east. Then he stretched them out until they were continuous lines crossing the world in the center. He spoke a word, and the earth appeared. Then he went along the edge and lined it with whale hide, so that the ocean could not wash away the earth. He shook the earth to see if it was solid, and he still makes this test, causing earthquakes.

The earth was flat and barren, without vegetation and rivers. And still there was not light. In the ocean were fish and other creatures, but on the earth was nothing. Yet Taiko-mol had the feathers of various birds. He laid buzzard feathers and eagle feathers on the ground, and they became mountains. With lightning he split the mountains, and streams issued forth. He made all the birds and beasts, which in those times were persons. Afterwards he changed them into their present forms and created real human beings.

He built a house, and in it he laid sticks of mountain mahogany. Those with knobs on the ends were to be men, the smooth ones women, the small ones children. He said, "In the morning there will be much noise in this house. There will be laughing and talking." And in the morning the house was full of people, all laughing and talking. The earth was populated, and Taiko-mol went forth from the north all around the earth to give the tribes different languages. When all his work was done, he went up into the sky.

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