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Smokyriversongs' Look At Indian Life And The Lore
Hichiti - Karasha













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Hitchiti Indian Lore:

 

White Potato Clan

When the 'others' invaded the land. This first wave of the invasion force gave the appearance of coming in peace, and so they were met by the people in peace.

For many years the people and the 'others' lived side by side in peace, and friendships developed, and something as old as time happened, people met and fell in love. Some of the people took 'others' for wives.

These marriages produced children and the problem soon developed. In Mvskokee tradition, clan is passed through the mothers' family, but since the

For others' did not belong to any Mvskokee clan the children were clan less.

This caused problems for the children and the people. It is a bad thing to be clan less. You can never marry within your clan, so how would future marriages for clan less children be handled?

The children were well loved by their parents, but were not completely accepted into the community.

The mothers of the clan less ones were very saddened by what was happening to the children so they went to the elders and asked for advice. The elders told them to go out together and pray to the creator, and if their hearts were pure

the creator would hear their prayers.

The woman then departed from the village and went out to a place of prayer and offered up their supplication to the Creator. For many days they prayed and the Creator heard their prayers and saw the sincerity in their hearts.

The Creator told the woman to go to the p;ace of soft ground and black waters and to stay there there and search until they found a plant that would cry out to them from under ground.

The Creator told them that if they found this plant and did as the plant instructed them, they would not only find a clan name for their children, but

they would also give the people a gift that would feed the people forever the women left the place of prayer and went to the village. They said good-bye to their husbands and children and left for the place of soft ground and black waters. The place of soft ground and black waters is a place filled with biting insects, snakes, thorns, mud and spiders, and hungry logs and strange spirits. This was the place that would test the hearts of the women.

For many days they searched and listened for the plant that would call out to them from under the ground, just as the women were about to give up all hope of finding the plant, they prayed again to the Creator, and then they heard the voice of the plant calling out to them.

It was difficult to find the plant because it was hidden form view, but finally they found it and dug it up The plant told the women that even though it was under the ground the Creator had given it the ability to see in every direction at one time.

this is what the woman were instructed to do. they were to take the plant to the village of the People, once there they were to take a knife and cut out the eyes of the plant, the eyes were to be planted on a small mound. If the women followed these instructions the plant promised to grow and it would feed the People forever.

The women followed the instructions of the plant, and the clan less children became known as the White Potato Clan, and the plant has continued to feed the People until this very day.

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Hopi Indian Lore:

 

Emergence

After the departure of Spider Woman, the people set out once more to discover their new world. Alone they set out, traveling east and a little north, paddling hard day and night for many days as if they were paddling uphill.

At last they saw land. It rose high above the waters, stretching from north to south as far as they could see. A great land, a mighty land, their inner wisdom told them. "The Fourth World!" they cried to each other.

As they got closer, its shores rose higher and higher into a steep wall of mountains. There seemed no place to land. "Let us go north. There we will find our place of emergence," said some. So they went north, but the mountains rose higher and steeper.

"No! Let us go south! There we will find our place of emergence!" cried others. So they turned south and traveled many days more. But here too the mountain wall reared higher.

Not knowing what to do, the people stopped paddling, opened the doors on top of their heads, and let themselves be guided. Almost immediately the water smoothed out, and they felt their rafts caught up in a gentle current. Before long they landed and joyfully jumped out upon a sandy shore. "The Fourth World!" they cried. "We have reached our place of emergence at last!"

Soon all the others arrived and when they were gathered together, Sótuknang appeared before them. "Well, I see you are all here. This is good. This is the place I have prepared for you. Look now at the way you have come."

Looking to the west and south, the people could see sticking out of the water the islands upon which they had rested.

"They are the footprints of your journey," continued Sótuknang, "the tops of the high mountains of the Third World, which I destroyed. Now watch."

As the people watched them, the closest one sank under the water, then the next, until all were gone, and they could see only water.

"See," said Sótuknang, "I have washed away even the footprints of your emergence, the stepping-stones which I left for you. Down on the bottom of the sea lie all the proud cities, the flying pátuwvotas, and the worldly treasures corrupted with evil, and those people who found no time to sing praises to the Creator from the tops of their hills. But the day will come, if you preserve the memory and meaning of your emergence, when these stepping stones will emerge again to prove the truth you speak."

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How the Great Chiefs Made the Moon and the Sun

Once upon a time, when our people first came up from the villages of the underworld, there was no sun. There was no moon. They saw only dreary darkness and felt the coldness. They looked hard for firewood, but in the darkness they found little.

One day as they stumbled around, they saw a light in the distance. The Chief sent a messenger to see what caused the light. As the messenger approached it, he saw a small field containing corn, beans, squash, water melons, and other foods. All around the field a great fire was burning. Nearby stood a straight, handsome man wearing around his neck a turquoise necklace of four strands. Turquoise pennants hung from his ears.

"Who are you?" the owner of the field asked the messenger.

"My people and I have come from the cave world below," the messenger replied. "And we suffer from the lack of light and the lack of food."

"My name is Skeleton," said the owner of the field. He showed the stranger the terrible mask he often wore and then gave him some food. "Now return to your people and guide them to my field."

When all the people had arrived, Skeleton began to give them food from his field. They marveled that, although the crops seemed so small, there was enough food for everyone. He gave them ears of corn for roasting; he gave them beans, squashes, and water melons. The people built fires for themselves and were happy.

Later, Skeleton helped them prepare fields of their own and to make fires around them. There they planted corn and soon harvested a good crop.

"Now we should move on," the people said. "We want to find the place where we will live always."

Away from the fires it was still dark. The Great Chiefs, at a council with Skeleton, decided to make a moon like the one they had enjoyed in the underworld.

They took a piece of well-prepared buffalo hide and cut from it a great circle. They stretched the circle tightly over a wooden hoop and then painted it carefully with white paint. When it was entirely dry, they mixed some black paint and painted, all around its edge, completing the picture of the moon. When all of this was done, they attached a stick to the disk and placed it on a large square of white cloth. Thus they made a symbol of the moon.

Then the Great Chiefs selected one of the young men and bade him to stand on top of the moon symbol. They took up the cloth by its corners and began to swing it back and forth, higher and higher. As they were swinging it, they sang a magic song. Finally, with a mighty heave, they threw the moon disk upward. It continued to fly swiftly, upward and eastward.

As the people watched, they suddenly saw light in the eastern sky. The light became brighter and brighter. Surely something was burning there, they thought. Then something bright with light rose in the east. That was the moon!

Although the moon made it possible for the people to move around with less stumbling, its light was so dim that frequently the workers in the fields would cut up their food plants instead of the weeds. It was so cold that fires had to be kept burning around the fields all the time.

Again the Great Chiefs held a council with Skeleton, and again they decided that something better must be done.

This time, instead of taking a piece of buffalo hide, they took a piece of warm cloth that they themselves had woven while they were still in the underworld. They fashioned this as they had fashioned the disk of buffalo hide, except that this time they painted the face of the circle with a copper-colored paint.

They painted eyes and a mouth on the disk and decorated the forehead with colors that the Great Chiefs decided upon according to their desires. Around the circle, they then wove a ring of corn husks, arranged in a zig zag design. Around the circle of corn husks, they threaded a string of red hair from some animal. To the back of the disk, they fastened a small ring of corn husks. Through that ring they poked a circle of eagle feathers.

To the top of each eagle feather, the old Chief tied a few little red feathers taken from the top of the head of a small bird. On the forehead of the circle, he attached an abalone shell. Then the sun disk was completed.

Again the Great Chiefs chose a young man to stand on top of the disk, which they had placed on a large sheet. As they had done with the moon disk, they raised the cloth by holding its corners. Then they swung the sun disk back and forth, back and forth, again and again. With a mighty thrust, they threw the man and the disk far into the air. It traveled fast into the eastern sky and disappeared.

All the people watched it carefully. In a short time, they saw light in the east as if a great fire were burning. Soon the new sun rose and warmed the earth with its kindly rays.

Now with the moon to light the earth at night and the sun to light and warm it by day, all the people decided to pick up their provisions and go on. As they started, the White people took a trail that led them far to the south. The Hopi's took one to the north, and the Pueblos took one midway between the two. Thus they wandered on to the places where they were to live.

The Hopi's wandered a long time, building houses and planting crops until they reached the mesa where they now live. The ruins of the ancient villages are scattered to the very beginnings of the great river of the canyon--the Colorado.

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     How the Hopi Indians Reached Their World

When the world was new, the ancient people and the ancient creatures did not live on the top of the earth. They lived under it. All was darkness, all was blackness, above the earth as well as below it.

There were four worlds: this one on top of the earth, and below it three cave worlds, one below the other. None of the cave worlds was large enough for all the people and the creatures.

They increased so fast in the lowest cave world that they crowded it. They were poor and did not know where to turn in the blackness. When they moved, they jostled one another. The cave was filled with the filth of the people who lived in it. No one could turn to spit without spitting on another. No one could cast slime from his nose without its falling on someone else. The people filled the place with their complaints and with their expressions of disgust.

Some people said, "It is not good for us to live in this way."

"How can it be made better?" one man asked.

"Let it be tried and seen!" answered another.

Two Brothers, one older and one younger, spoke to the priest- chiefs of the people in the cave world, "Yes, let it be tried and

seen. Then it shall be well. By our wills it shall be well."

The Two Brothers pierced the roofs of the caves and descended to the lowest world, where people lived. The Two Brothers sow-ed one plant after another, hoping that one of them would grow up to the opening through which they themselves had descended and yet would have the strength to bear the weight of men and creatures. These, the Two Brothers hoped, might climb up the plant into the second cave world. One of these plants was a cane.

At last, after many trials, the cane became so tall that it grew through the opening in the roof, and it was so strong that men

could climb to its top. It was jointed so that it was like a ladder, easily ascended. Ever since then, the cane has grown in joints as

we see it today along the Colorado River.

Up this cane many people and beings climbed to the second cave world. When a part of them had climbed out, they feared that that cave also would be too small. It was so dark that they could not see how large it was. So they shook the ladder and caused those who were coming up it to fall back. Then they pulled the ladder out. It is said that those who were left came out of the

lowest cave later. They are our brothers west of us.

After a long time the second cave became filled with men and beings, as the first had been. Complaining and wrangling were heard as in the beginning. Again the cane was placed under the roof vent, and once more men and beings entered the upper cave world. Again, those who were slow to climb out were shaken back or left behind. Though larger, the third cave was as dark as the first and second. The Two Brothers found fire. Torches were set ablaze, and by their light men built their huts and kivas, or traveled from place to place.

While people and the beings lived in this third cave world, times of evil came to them. Women became so crazed that they neglected all things for the dance. They even forgot their babies. Wives became mixed with wives, so that husbands did not know their own from others. At that time there was no day, only night, black night. Throughout this night, women danced in the kivas (men's "club houses"), ceasing only to sleep. So the fathers had to be the mothers of the little ones. When these little ones cried from hunger, the fathers carried them to the kivas, where the women were dancing. Hearing their cries, the mothers came and nursed them, and then went back to their dancing. Again the fathers took care of the children.

These troubles caused people to long for the light and to seek again an escape from darkness. They climbed to the fourth world, which was this world. But it too was in darkness, for the earth was closed in by the sky, just as the cave worlds had been closed in by their roofs. Men went from their lodges and worked by the light of torches and fires. They found the tracks of only one being, the single ruler of the UN peopled world, the tracks of Corpse Demon or Death. The people tried to follow these tracks, which led eastward. But the world was damp and dark, and people did not know what to do in the darkness. The waters seemed to surround them, and the tracks seemed to lead out into the waters.

With the people were five beings that had come forth with them from the cave worlds: Spider, Vulture, Swallow, Coyote, and Locust. The people and these beings consulted together, trying to think of some way of making light. Many, many attempts were made, but without success. Spider was asked to try first. She spun a mantle of pure white cotton. It gave some light but not enough. Spider therefore became our grandmother.

Then the people obtained and prepared a very white deerskin that had not been pierced in any spot. From this they made a shield case, which they painted with turquoise paint. It shed forth such brilliant light that it lighted the whole world. It made the light from the cotton mantle look faded. So the people sent the shield-light to the east, where it became the moon.

Down in the cave world Coyote had stolen a jar that was very heavy, so very heavy that he grew weary of carrying it. He decided to leave it behind, but he was curious to see what it contained. Now that light had taken the place of darkness, he opened the jar. From it many shining fragments and sparks flew out and upward, stinging his face as they passed him. That is why the coyote has a black face to this day. The shining fragments and sparks flew up to the sky and became stars.

By these lights the people found that the world was indeed very small and surrounded by waters, which made it damp. The people appealed to Vulture for help. He spread his wings and fanned the waters, which flowed away to the east and to the west until mountains began to appear.

Across the mountains the Two Brothers cut channels. Water rushed through the channels, and wore their courses deeper and deeper. Thus the great canyons and valleys of the world were formed. The waters have kept on flowing and flowing for ages. The world has grown drier, and continues to grow drier and drier.

Now that there was light, the people easily followed the tracks of Death eastward over the new land that was appearing. Hence Death is our greatest father and master. We followed his tracks when we left the cave worlds, and he was the only being that awaited us on the great world of waters where this world is now.

Although all the water had flowed away, the people found the earth soft and damp. That is why we can see today the tracks of men and of many strange creatures between the place toward the west and the place where we came from the cave world.

Since the days of the first people, the earth has been changed to stone, and all the tracks have been preserved as they were when they were first made.

When people had followed in the tracks of Corpse Demon but a short distance, they overtook him. Among them were two little girls. One was the beautiful daughter of a great priest. The other was the child of somebody-or-other She was not beautiful, and she was jealous of the little beauty. With the aid of Corpse Demon the jealous girl caused the death of the other child. This was the first death.

When people saw that the girl slept and could not be awakened, that she grew cold and that her heart had stopped beating, her father, the great priest, grew angry.

"Who has caused my daughter to die?" he cried loudly.

But the people only looked at each other.

"I will make a ball of sacred meal," said the priest. "I will throw it into the air, and when it falls it will strike someone on the head. The one it will strike I shall know as the one whose magic and evil art have brought my tragedy upon me."

The priest made a ball of sacred flour and pollen and threw it into the air. When it fell, it struck the head of the jealous little girl, the daughter of somebody-or-other. Then the priest exclaimed, "So you have caused this thing! You have caused the death of my daughter."

He called a council of the people, and they tried the girl. They would have killed her if she had not cried for mercy and a little time. Then she begged the priest and his people to return to the hole they had all come out of and look down it.

"If you still wish to destroy me, after you have looked into the hole," she said, "I will die willingly."

So the people were persuaded to return to the hole leading from the cave world. When they looked down, they saw plains of beautiful flowers in a land of everlasting summer and fruitfulness. And they saw the beautiful little girl, the priests daughter, wandering among the flowers. She was so happy that she paid no attention to the people. She seemed to have no desire to return to this world.

"Look!" said the girl who had caused her death. "Thus it shall be with all the children of men."

"When we die," the people said to each other, "we will return to the world we have come from. There we shall be happy. Why should we fear to die? Why should we resent death?"

So they did not kill the little girl. Her children became the powerful wizards and witches of the world, who increased in numbers as people increased. Her children still live and still have wonderful and dreadful powers.

Then the people journeyed still farther eastward. As they went, they discovered Locust in their midst.

"Where did you come from?" they asked.

"I came out with you and the other beings," he replied.

"Why did you come with us on our journey?" they asked.

"So that I might be useful," replied Locust.

But the people, thinking that he could not be useful, said to him, "You must return to the place you came from."

But Locust would not obey them. Then the people became so angry at him that they ran arrows through him, even through his heart. All the blood oozed out of his body and he died. After a long time he came to life again and ran about, looking as he had looked before, except that he was black.

The people said to one another, "Locust lives again, although we have pierced him through and through. Now he shall indeed be useful and shall journey with us. Who besides Locust has this wonderful power of renewing his life? He must possess the medicine for the renewal of the lives of others. He shall become the medicine of mortal wounds and of war."

So today the locust is at first white, as was the first locust that came forth with the ancients. Like him, the locust dies, and after he has been dead a long time, he comes to life again-- black. He is our father, too. Having his medicine, we are the greatest of men. The locust medicine still heals mortal wounds.

After the ancient people had journeyed a long distance, they became very hungry. In their hurry to get away from the lower cave world, they had forgotten to bring seed. After they had done much lamenting, the Spirit of Dew sent the Swallow back to bring the seed of corn and of other foods. When Swallow returned, the Spirit of Dew planted the seed in the ground and chanted prayers to it. Through the power of these prayers, the corn grew and ripened in a single day.

So for a long time, as the people continued their journey, they carried only enough seed for a day's planting. They depended upon the Spirit of Dew to raise for them in a single day an abundance of corn and other foods. To the Corn Clan, he gave this seed, and for a long time they were able to raise enough corn for their needs in a very short time.

But the powers of the witches and wizards made the time for raising foods grow longer and longer. Now, sometimes, our corn does not have time to grow old and ripen in the ear, and our other foods do not ripen. If it had not been for the children of the little girl whom the ancient people let live, even now we would not need to watch our cornfields whole summers through, and we would not have to carry heavy packs of food on our journeys.

As the ancient people traveled on, the children of the little girl tried their powers and caused other troubles. These mischief-makers stirred up people who had come out of the cave worlds before our ancients had come. They made war upon our ancients. The wars made it necessary for the people to build houses whenever they stopped traveling. They built their houses on high mountains reached by only one trail, or in caves with but one path leading to them, or in the sides of deep canyons. Only in such places could they sleep in peace.

Only a small number of people were able to climb up from their secret hiding places and emerge into the Fourth World. Legends reveal the Grand Canyon is where these people emerged. From there they began their search for the homes the Two Brothers intended for them.

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Legend of the Wind God - Yaponcha

Long ago, the Hopis were greatly troubled by the wind. It blew and blew and blew and blew-- all the time. The Hopis planted their crops, but before the seeds could begin to sprout, the wind blew the soil and seeds away. Unhappy and worried, all the people made prayer offerings of many kinds.

But they accomplished nothing.
The old men held councils in their kivas. They smoked their pipe sprayer fully and asked one another,
"Why do the gods turn such strong winds upon us?"
After a while, they decided to ask for help from the "Little Fellows" who were the two little War Gods, two of the five grandsons of Spider Woman.

"Why did you ask us to come?", was their first question.

"We need your help," answered the old men. "Something must be done to the Wind."

"We will see what we can do for you," said the Little Fellows. "You stay here and make many more prayer offerings."

The Hopis make many kinds of prayer offerings--as many as there are prayers, and there are prayers for every occasion in life and death. They are reverently fashioned of various types of feathers, carved and painted sticks,and hand-spun cotton yarn.

The Little Fellows went first to their wise old grandmother, Spider Woman. They asked her to make some sweet cornmeal mush for them to take along on a journey. Of course they knew who the Wind God was and knew that he lived over near Sunset Mountain in the big crack of the black rock.

When Spider Woman had the cornmeal mush ready, the Little Fellows came back to the kiva where the men were holding their council. The prayer offerings were ready and also the ball that the Little Fellows like to take with them wherever they went. They liked to play catch with it. The men made bows and arrows for them to take on their journey which seemed much like going on a war party. The arrows were tipped with bluebird feathers, thought to be more powerful than any other kinds of feathers.

The two Little Fellows started toward the San Francisco Peaks. The old men went along until they reached the Little Colorado River, and there they sat down and smoked their pipes. The smoking of tobacco among the Hopis, as among many other tribes, is strictly ceremonial. The sacred smoke carried the prayers of the Hopis to their Gods. Continuing their journey, the two Little Fellows played catch- ball from time to time.

On the fourth day they reached the home of the Wind God who lived at the foot of Sunset Crater, in a big crack in the black rock. There he breathed through the crack, as he does to this day.
The Little Fellows threw the prayer offerings into the crack and hastily put their old grandmother's sticky cornmeal mush into and over the crack, and thus sealed the Wind God's door.
Phew--he became very angry, so angry that he blew and blew and blew, but could not get out. The Little Fellows laughed and laughed and then went home, feeling very proud of themselves and of what they had done.

But after a while, the people in the villages began to feel very hot. Everyday the weather became hotter and hotter. People came out of their homes and stood on housetops to look toward the San Francisco Peaks, to see if any clouds were coming their way. But they did not see even a wisp of a cloud, and they seemed not to feel a breath of air. They thought they would suffocate.

"We must do something right away," everyone said or thought.
So the men made some more prayer offerings and called the two Little Fellows again.
"Please go back to the House of the Wind God at once and tell him that there must be peace between us. Then give him these prayer offerings and let him out. This heat is much worse than the wind."
The Little Fellows replied,
"We will go and see what we can do with the Wind God to make life more comfortable for you."

After four days, they arrived at the House of Yaponcha--the House of the Wind God. The Little Fellows decided that the wisest thing to do would be to let the Wind God have a small hole open--just enough to let him breathe through, but not enough for him to come out of the crack in the black rock.
So they took a little of the cornmeal mush out of the crack. Immediately, a nice cool breeze came out and a small white cloud appeared. It floated over across the desert toward the Hopi villages.

When the Little Fellows reached home, everyone was pleased. The Hopis have been grateful to the Little Fellows ever since. The winds have been perfect--just strong enough to keep the people happy but not strong enough to blow everything away.

Every since then, every year in the windy month of March, the chiefs and the high priests of the three villages on the Second Mesa give prayer offerings to the Wind God, Yaponcha.


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Rabbit Shoots The Sun

It was the height of summer, the time of year called Hadotso, the Great Heat. All day long, from a blue and cloudless sky, the blazing sun beat down upon the earth. No rain had fallen for many days and there was not the slightest breath of wind to cool the stifling air.
Everything was hot and dry. Even the rose-red cliffs of the canyons and mesa seemed to take on a more brilliant color than before.

The animals drooped with misery. They were parched and hungry, for it was too hot to hunt for food and, panting heavily, they sought what shade they could under the rocks and bushes.

Rabbit was the unhappiest of all. Twice that day the shimmering heat had tempted him across the baked earth towards visions of water and cool, shady trees. He had exhausted himself in his desperate attempts to reach them, only to find the mirages dissolve before him, receding further and further into the distance.

Now, tired and wretched, he dragged himself into the shadow of an overhanging rock and crouched there listlessly. His soft fur was caked with the red dust of the desert. His head swam and his eyes ached from the sun's glare.

'Why does it have to be so hot?' he groaned.
'What have we done to deserve such torment?'
He squinted up at the sun and shouted furiously, 'Go away! You are making everything too hot!'

Sun took no notice at all and continued to pour down his fiery beams, forcing Rabbit to retreat once more into the shade of the rock. 'Sun needs to be taught a lesson,' grumbled Rabbit. 'I have a good mind to go and fight him. If he refuses to stop shining, I will kill him!'

His determination to punish Sun made him forget his weariness and, in spite of the oppressive heat, he set off at a run towards the eastern edge of the world where the Sun came up each morning.

As he ran, he practiced with his bow and arrows and, to make himself brave and strong, he fought with everything which crossed his path. He fought with the gophers and the lizards. He hurled his throwing stick at beetles, ants and dragon flies. He shot at the yucca and the giant cactus. He became a very fierce rabbit indeed.

By the time he reached the edge of the world, Sun had left the sky and was nowhere to be seen.

'The coward!' sneered Rabbit. 'He is afraid to fight, but he will not escape me so easily,' and he settled to wait behind a clump of bushes.

In those days, Sun did not appear slowly as he does now. Instead he rushed up over the horizon and into the heavens with one mighty bound.
Rabbit knew that he would have to act quickly in order to ambush him and he fixed his eyes intently on the spot where the Sun usually appeared.

Sun, however, had heard all Rabbit's threats and had watched him fighting. He knew that he was lying in wait among the bushes. He was not at all afraid of this puny creature and he thought that he might have some amusement at his expense.

He rolled some distance away from his usual place and swept up into the sky before Rabbit knew what was happening. By the time Rabbit had gathered his startled wits and released his bowstring, Sun was already high above him and out of range.
Rabbit stamped and shouted with rage and vexation.
Sun laughed and laughed and shone even more fiercely than before.
Although almost dead from heat, Rabbit would not give up. Next morning he tried again, but this time Sun came up in a different place and evaded him once more.

Day after day the same thing happened. Sometimes Sun sprang up on Rabbit's right, sometimes on his left and sometimes straight in front of him, but always where Rabbit least expected him.
One morning, however, Sun grew careless. He rose more leisurely than usual, and this time, Rabbit was ready. Swiftly he drew his bow. His arrow whizzed through the air and buried itself deep in Sun's side.

Rabbit was jubilant! At last he had shot his enemy! Wild with joy, he leaped up and down. He rolled on the ground, hugging himself. He turned somersaults. He looked at Sun again - and stopped short.

Where his arrow had pierced Sun, there was a gaping wound and, from that wound, there gushed a stream of liquid fire. Suddenly it seemed as if the whole world had been set ablaze. Flames shot up and rushed towards Rabbit, crackling and roaring. Rabbit paused not a moment longer. He took to his heels in panic and ran as fast as he could away from the fire. He spied a lone cottonwood tree and scuttled towards it.

'Everything is burning!' he cried. 'Will you shelter me?'

The cottonwood shook its slender branches mournfully. 'What can I do?' it asked. 'I will be burned to the ground.'

Rabbit ran on. Behind him, the flames were coming closer. He could feel their breath on his back. A greasewood tree lay in his path.

'Hide me! Hide me!' Rabbit gasped. 'The fire is coming.'

'I cannot help you,' answered the greasewood tree. 'I will be burned up roots and branches.'

Terrified and almost out of breath, Rabbit continued to run, but his strength was failing. He could feel the fire licking at his heels and his fur was beginning to singe. Suddenly he heard a voice calling to him.

'Quickly, come under me! The fire will pass over me so swiftly that it will only scorch my top.'

It was the voice of a small green bush with flowers like bunches of cotton capping its thin branches. Gratefully, Rabbit dived below it and lay there quivering, his eyes tightly shut, his ears flat against his body.

With a thunderous roar, the sheet of flame leaped overhead. The little bush crackled and sizzled. Then, gradually, the noise receded and everything grew quiet once more.

Rabbit raised his head cautiously and looked around. Everywhere the earth lay black and smoking, but the fire had passed on. He was safe!

The little bush which had sheltered him was no longer green. Burned and scorched by the fire, it had turned a golden yellow. People now call it the desert yellow brush, for, although it first grows green, it always turns yellow when it feels the heat of the sun.

Rabbit never recovered from his fright. To this day, he bears brown spots where the fire scorched the back of his neck. He is no longer fierce and quarrelsome, but runs and hides at the slightest noise.

As for Sun, he too was never quite the same. He now makes himself so bright that no one can look at him long enough to sight an arrow and he always peers very warily over the horizon before he brings his full body into view.


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The Birth Ritual

With the pristine wisdom granted them, the First People understood that the earth was a living entity like themselves. She was their mother: they were made from her flesh, and they suckled at her breast. For her milk was the grass upon which all animals grazed and the corn which had been created specially to supply food for mankind.

But the corn plant was also a living entity with a body similar to man's in many respects, and the people built its flesh into their own. Hence corn was also their mother. Thus they knew their mother in two aspects which were often synonymous: as Mother Earth and the Corn Mother.

In their wisdom, the First People also knew their father in two aspects. He was the Sun, the solar god of the universe. Not until he first appeared to them at the time of the red light, Tálawva, had they been fully firmed and formed. Yet his was but the face through which looked Taiowa, their Creator.

These two universal entities were their real parents, their human parents being but instruments through which their power was made manifest. In modern times their descendants remembered this


When a child was born his Corn Mother (a perfect ear of corn whose tip ends in four kernels) was placed beside him, where it was kept for 20 days. During this time, he was kept in darkness, for while his newborn body was of this world, he was still under the protection of his universal parents.

If the child was born at night, four lines were painted with cornmeal on each of the four walls and ceiling early the next morning. If he was born during the day, the lines were painted the following morning. These lines signified that a spiritual home, as well as a temporal home, had been prepared for him on earth.

On the first day, the child was washed with water in which cedar had been brewed. Fine white cornmeal was then rubbed over his body and left all day. The next day, the child was washed and cedar ashes rubbed over him to remove the hair and baby skin. This was repeated for three more days.

From the fifth day until the twentieth day, he was washed and rubbed with cornmeal for one day and covered with ashes for four days. Meanwhile, the child's mother drank a little of the cedar water each day.

On the fifth day, the hair of both the mother and the child were washed, and one cornmeal line was scraped off each wall and the ceiling. The scrapings were then taken to the shrine where the umbilical cord had been deposited. Each fifth day thereafter, another line of cornmeal was removed from the walls and ceiling and taken to the shrine.

For nineteen days now, the house had been kept in darkness so that the child could see no light. Early on the morning of the twentieth day, while it was still dark, all of the aunts of the child arrived at the house, each carrying a Corn Mother in her right hand, and each wishing to be the child's godmother.

First, the child was bathed. Then the mother, holding the child in her left arm, took up the Corn Mother that had lain beside the child and passed it over the child four times from the navel to the head. On the first pass, the child was named. On the second, she wished the child a long life. On the third, she wished the child a healthy life. If the child was a boy, she wished him a productive life in his work on the fourth pass. If the child was a girl, she wished that she would become a good wife and mother.

Each of the aunts in turn did likewise, giving the child a clan name from the clan of either the mother of the father of the aunt. The child was then given back to its mother. The yellow light was by then showing in the east. The mother, holding the child in her left arm and the Corn Mother in her right hand and accompanied by her own mother (the child's grandmother) left the house and walked towards the east. Then they stopped, facing east, and prayed silently, casting pinches of cornmeal toward the rising sun in the east.

When the sun had cleared the horizon the mother stepped forward, held the child up to the sun, and said, "Father Sun, this is your child." Again she said this, passing the Corn Mother over the child's body as she had done when she had named him, wishing for him to grow so old he would have to lean on a crook for support, thus proving that he had obeyed the Creator's laws. The grandmother did the same thing when the mother had finished. Then both marked a cornmeal path toward the sun for this new life.

The child now belonged to the family and the earth. Mother and grandmother then carried him back to the house where his aunts were waiting. The village crier announced his birth, and a feast was held in his honor. For several years the child was called by the different names that were given him. The one that seemed most predominant became his name, and the aunt who gave it to him became his godmother. The Corn Mother remained his spiritual mother.

For seven or eight years he led the normal earthy life of a child. Then came his first initiation into a religious society, and he began to learn that, although he had human parents, his real parents were the universal entities who had created him through them: his Mother Earth, from whose flesh all are born, and his Father Sun, the solar god who gives life to all the universe. He began to learn, in brief, that he too had two aspects. He was a member of an earthy family and tribal clan, and he was a citizen of the great universe to which he owed a growing allegiance as his understanding developed.

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The Care Taker

"I have something more to say to you before I leave you," Sótuknang told the people as they stood at their place of emergence.

"The name of this Fourth World is Túwaqachi," he said, "the World Complete. You will find out why. It is not all beautiful and easy like the previous ones. It has height and depth, heat and cold, beauty and barrenness: it has everything for you to choose from. What you choose will determine if this time you can carry out the plan of creation on it or whether it, in time, must be destroyed too.

Now you will separate and go different ways to claim all the earth for the Creator. Each group of you will follow your own star until it stops. There you will settle. Now I must go. But you will have help from the proper deities, from your good spirits. Just keep your own doors open and always remember what I have told you."

Then he disappeared.

The people began to move slowly off the shore and into the land, when they heard the low rumbling noise again. Looking around, they saw a handsome man and asked, "Are you the one who has been making these noises we have heard?"

"yes, I made them to help you find the way here. Do you not recognize me? My name is Másaw. I am the caretaker, the guardian and protector of this land."

The people recognized Másaw. He had been appointed head caretaker of the Third World, but, becoming a little self-important, he had lost his humility before the Creator. Being a spirit, he could not die, so Taiowa took his appointment away from him and made him the deity of death and the underworld. This job below was not as pleasant as the one Above. Then, when the Third World was destroyed, Taiowa decided to give him another chance, as he had the people, and appointed him to guard and protect this Fourth World as its caretaker.

He was the first being the people had met here, and the people were very respectful to him. "Will you give us permission to live on this land?" they asked.

"Yes, I will give my permission as owner of this land," he said.

"Will you be our leader?" they then asked.

"No," replied Másaw. "A greater one than I has given you a plan to fulfill first. When the previous parts of the world were pushed under the water, this new land was pushed up in the middle to become the backbone of the earth. You are now standing on its western slope, but you have not yet made your migrations. You have not yet followed your stars to the place you will meet and settle. This you must do before I can become your leader. But if you go back to your evil ways again, I will take over the earth from you, for I am its guardian, caretaker, and protector."

"To the north," he continued, "you will find cold and ice. That is the back door to this land, and those who come through this back door do so without my consent. Go now and claim the land with my permission."

When Másaw disappeared, the people divided into groups and clans to begin their migrations.

"May we all meet again," they all called back to one another.

This is how it all began on this, our present Fourth World.

As we know, its name is Túwaqachi, World Complete. Its direction north, its color sikyangpu (yellowish white). Chiefs upon it are the tree kneumapee (juniper), the bird mongwau (owl), the animal tohapko (mountain lion), and the mixed mineral sikyápala.

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The Creation Of Mankind


Spider Woman (Kótyangwúti) next gathered four colors of earth: white, black, yellow, and red, and, mixing them with tüchvala molded them, then covered them with the white-substance cape that was creative wisdom itself. As before, she sang over them the Creation Song, and when she uncovered them these forms were human beings in the image of Sótuknang.

Then, in the same manner, she created four other beings after her own form. These were the wúti, the female partners of the first four male beings.

When Spider Woman uncovered them the forms came to life. This was at the time of the dark purple light, Qoyangnuptu, the first phase of the dawn of Creation, which first reveals the mystery of man's creation.

They soon awakened and began to move, but there was still a dampness on their foreheads and a soft spot on their heads. This was at the time of the yellow light, Síkangnuqua, the second phase of the dawn of Creation, when the breath of life entered man.

In a short time, the sun appeared above the horizon, drying the dampness on their foreheads and hardening the soft spot on their heads. This was the time of the red light, Tálawva, the third phase of the dawn of Creation, when man, fully formed and firmed, proudly faced his Creator.

"That is the sun," said Spider Woman. "You are meeting your Father the Creator for the first time. You must always remember and observe these three phases of your Creation. The time of the three lights: the dark purple, the yellow, and the red reveal in turn the mystery, the breath of life, and the warmth of love. These comprise the Creator's plan of life for you as sung over you in the Song of Creation."

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The First World

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 Sótuknang 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."

Sótuknang 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 Sótuknang 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 Sótuknang 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 (Túwaquachi) of my universal plan."

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The End Of The First World

So the First People multiplied and spread over the face of the land and were happy. Although they were of different colors and spoke different languages, they felt as one and understood each other without talking. It was the same with the birds and the animals. They all suckled at the breast of their Mother Earth, who gave them milk of grass, seeds, fruit, and corn, and they all felt as one: people and animals.

But gradually there were those who forgot the commands of of Sótuknang and the Spider Woman to respect their Creator. More and more they used the vibratory centers solely for earthy purposes, forgetting that their primary purpose was to carry out the plan of Creation.

Then there came Lavahóya, the Talker. He came in the form of a bird called Mochni (a bird like a Mockingbird), and the more he kept talking, the more he convinced them of the differences between them: the difference between people and animals, and the differences between the people themselves by reason of the color of their skins, their speech, and their beliefs in the plan of the Creator.

It was then that the animals drew away from the people. The guardian spirit of animals laid his hands on their hind legs just below the tail, making them become wild and scatter from the people in fear. You can see this slightly oily spot today on deer and antelope on the sides of their back legs as they throw up their tails to run away.

In the same way, people began to divide and draw away from one another: those of different races and languages, then those who remembered the plan of creation and those who did not.

There came among them a handsome one, Káto'ya, in the form of a snake with a big head. He led the people still farther away from each other and their pristine wisdom. They became suspicious of one another and accused one another wrongfully until they became fierce and warlike and began to fight one another.

All the time, Mochni kept talking and Káto'ya became more beguiling. there was no rest, no peace.

But among all the people of different races and languages there were a few in every group who still lived by the laws of Creation. To them came Sóyuknang. He came with sound as of a mighty wind and suddenly appeared before them. He said, "I have observed this state of affairs. It is not good. It is so bad that I talked to my Uncle, Taiowa, about it. We have decided this world must be destroyed and another one created so you people can start over again. You are the ones we have chosen."

They listened carefully to their instruction.

Said Sóyuknang, "You will go to a certain place. Your kópavi (vibratory center on top of the head) will lead you. This inner wisdom will give you the sight to see a certain cloud, which you will follow by day, and a certain star, which you will follow by night. Take nothing with you. Your journey will not end until the cloud stops and the star stops

So all over the world these chosen people suddenly disappeared from their homes and people and began following the cloud by day and the star by night. Many other people asked them where they were going and, when they were told, laughed at them. "We don't see any cloud or any star either!" they said.

This was because they had lost the inner vision of the kópavi on the crowns of their heads: the door was closed to them. Still, there were a very few people who went along anyway because they believed the people who did see the cloud and the star. This was all right.

After many days and nights the first people arrived at the certain place. Soon others came and asked, "What are you doing here?" And they said, " We were told by Sóyuknang to come here." The other people said, " We too were led here by the vapor and the star!" They were all happy together because they were of the same mind and understanding even though they were of different languages and races.

When the last ones arrived Sóyuknang appeared. "Well, you are all here, you that I have chosen to save from the destruction of this world. Now come with me."

He led them to a big mound where the Ant People lived, stamped on the roof, and commanded the Ant People to open up their home. When an opening was made on top of the anthill, Sóyuknang said to the people, "Now you will enter this Ant kiva, where you will be safe when I destroy the world. While you are here, I want you to learn a lesson from these Ant People. They are industrious. They gather food in the summer for the winter. They keep cool when it is hot and warm when it is cold. They live in peace with each other. They obey the plan of creation."

So the people went down to live with the Ant People. When they were all safe and settled Taiowa commanded Sóyuknang to destroy the world. Sóyuknang destroyed it by fire because the Fire Clan had been its leaders. He rained fire upon it. He opened up the volcanoes. Fire came from above and below and all around until the earth, the waters, the air, all was one element: fire. And then there was nothing left except the people safe inside the womb of the earth.

This was the end of Tokpela, the First World.

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The Second World

The First People of Tokpela, the First World, were safely sheltered underground as fire rained down upon the earth. Volcanoes and firestorm destroyed all that was above them until the earth, the waters, and the air itself was all elemental fire.

While this was was going on, the people lived happily underground with the Ant People. Their homes were just like the people's homes on the earth-surface being destroyed. There were rooms to live in and rooms where they stored their food. There was light to see by too. The tiny bits of crystal in the sand of the anthill had absorbed the light of the sun, and using the inner vision of the center located behind the eyes (see "The Nature of Man"), they could see by its reflection very well.

Only one thing troubled them: the food had begun to run short.

It had not taken Sótuknang long to destroy the world, nor would it take him long to create another one. But it was taking a long time for the First World to cool off before a Second World could be created. That was why the food was running short.

"Do not give us so much of the food you have worked so hard to gather and store," the people said.

"You are our guests," the Ant people said, "What we have is yours also." So the Ant people continued to deprive themselves of food in order to supply their guests. Every day, they tied their belts tighter and tighter, and this is why ants today are so small around the waist.

Finally, that which had been the First World cooled off. Sótuknang purified it. Then he began to create the Second World. He changed its form completely, putting land where there was water and water where there was land so that the people upon their emergence would have nothing to remind them of the previous wicked world.

When all was ready, he came to the roof of the Ant kiva, stamped on it, and gave his call. Immediately the Chief of the Ant People went up to the opening and rolled back the núta (the straw hatch that covered the opening to the kiva). "Yung-ai! Come in! You are welcome!" he called.

Sótuknang spoke first to the Ant People. "I am thanking you for doing your part in helping to save these people. It will always be remembered, this you have done, The time will come when another world will be destroyed, and when the wicked people know their last day on earth has come, they will sit by an anthill and cry for the ants to save them. Now, having fulfilled your duty, you may go forth to this Second World and take your place as ants."

hen Sótuknang said to the people, "Make your emergence now to the Second World I have created. It is not quite as beautiful as the First World, but it is beautiful just the same. You will like it. So multiply and be happy. But remember your creator and the laws he gave you. When I hear you sing joyful praises to him I will know you are my children, and you will be close to me in your hearts."

So the people emerged to the second world. Its mane was Tokpa (Dark Midnight). Its direction was south, its color blue, its mineral was qöchásive (silver). Chiefs upon it were salvi (spruce), kwáhu (eagle), and kolíchiyaw (skunk).

It was a big land, and the people multiplied rapidly, spreading over it to all directions, even to the other side of the world. This did not matter, for they were so close together in spirit they could see and talk to each other from the center on top of the head. (see "The Nature of Man") Because this door was still open, they felt close to Sótuknang and they sang joyful praises to the Creator, Taiowa.

They did not have the privilege of living with the animals, though, for the animals were wild and kept apart. Being separated from the animals, the people tended to their own affairs. They built homes, then villages and trails between them. They made things with their hands and stored food like the Ant People. Then they began to trade and barter with one another

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The End Of The Second World

After their emergence, the people of the Second World lived in harmony with each other for a time. They built villages and linked them with trails. They began to trade food and hand crafted items between villages.

This was when the trouble started. Everything they needed was on this Second World, but they began to want more. More and more they began to trade for things they didn't need, and the more goods they got, the more they wanted.

This was very serious, for they did not realize they were drawing away, step by step, from the good life given them. They just forgot to sing joyful praises to the Creator, and soon began to sing praises to the goods they bartered and stored. Before long it happened as it had to happen. The people began to quarrel and fight, and then wars between the villages began.

There were still a few people in each village who sang the song of their Creation. But the wicked people laughed at them until they could only sing it in their hearts. Even so, Sótuknang heard it through their centers and the centers of the earth. One day he suddenly appeared before them.

"Spider Woman tells me your thread is running out on this world," he said. "That is too bad. The Spider Clan was your leader, and you were making good progress until this state of affairs began. Now my Uncle, Taiowa, and I have decided we must do something about it. We are going to destroy this Second World just as soon as we put you people who still have the song in your hearts in a safe place."

So again, as on the First World, Sótuknang called on the Ant People to open up their underground world for the chosen people. When they were safely underground, Sótuknang commanded the Twins, Pöqánghoya and Palöngawhoya, to leave their posts at the north and south ends of the world's axis, where they were stationed to keep the earth properly rotating.

The Twins had hardly abandoned their stations when the world, with no one to control it, tee tered off balance, spun around crazily, then rolled over twice. Mountains plunged into the sea with a great splash, seas and lakes sloshed over the land, and as the world spun through cold and lifeless space, it froze into solid ice.

This was the end of Tokpa, the Second World.

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The Third World

For many years, all the elements that had comprised the Second World were frozen into a motionless and lifeless lump of ice. But the people were happy and warm with the Ant People in their underground world. They watched their food carefully, although the ants; waists became still smaller. They wove sashes and blankets together and told stories.

Eventually, Sótuknang ordered Pöqánghoya and Palöngawhoya back to their stations at the poles of the world axis. With a great shudder and a splintering of ice, the planet began rotating again. When it was rotating smoothly about its axis and moving in its universal orbit, the ice began to melt and the world began to warm to life. Sótuknang set about creating the third world: arranging lands and seas, planting mountains and plains with their proper coverings, and creating all forms of life.

When the earth was ready for occupancy, he came to the Ant kiva with the proper approach as before and said, "Open the door, it is time for you to come out."

Once again, when the núta was rolled back, he gave the people their instructions. "I have saved you so you can be planted again on this new Third World. But you must always remember the two things I am saying to you now. First, respect me and one another. Second, sing in harmony from the tops of the hills. When I do not hear you singing praises to your Creator, I will know you have gone back to evil again."

So the People climbed up the ladder from the Ant kiva, making their emergence to the Third World.

The name of this Third World was Kuskurza, its direction east, its color red. Chiefs upon it were the mineral palásiva (copper), the plant píva (tobacco), the bird angwusi (crow), and the animal chöövio (antelope).

Upon it once more the people spread out, multiplied, and continued their progress on the Road of Life. In the First World, they had lived simply with the animals. In the Second World, they had developed handicrafts, homes, and villages. Now, in the Third World, they created big cities and countries: a whole civilization.

This made it difficult to conform to the plan of Creation and to sing praises to Taiowa and to Sótuknang. More and more of them became wholly occupied with their own earthy plans.

Some of them, of course, retained the wisdom granted them upon their emergence. With this wisdom they understood that the farther they went on the road of life and the more that they developed, the harder it was. That was why their world was destroyed every so often to give them a fresh start. They were especially concerned because so many people were using their reproductive power in wicked ways.

There was one woman who was becoming known throughout the land for her wickedness in corrupting so many people. She even boasted that so many men were giving her turquoise necklaces for her favors she could wind them around a ladder that reached to the end of the world's axis. So the people with wisdom sand longer and louder their praises to the Creator from the tops of the hills.

The other people hardly heard them. Under the leadership of the Bow Clan, they began to use their creative power in another evil and destructive way. Perhaps this was caused by that wicked woman. But some of them made a pátuwvota (a shield made of hide) and with their creative power, made it fly through the air.

On this, many people flew to a big city, attacked it, then returned so fast that no one knew where they came from. Soon the people of many cities were making pátuwvotas and flying on them to attack one another. So corruption and war came to the Third World as it had to the others.

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Kuskurza, The End of the Third World

This time Sótuknang came to Spider Woman and said, "There is no use waiting until the thread runs out this time. Something has to be done lest the people with the song in their hearts are corrupted and killed off too. It will be difficult, with all this destruction going on, for them to gather at the far end of the world where I have designated. But I will help them. Then you will save them when I destroy this world with water."

"How shall I save them?" asked Spider Woman.

"When you get there look about you," commanded Sótuknang. "You will see these tall plants with hollow stems. Cut them down and put the people inside. They I will tell you what to do next."

Spider Woman did as he instructed her. She cut down the hollow reeds, and, as the people came to her, she put them inside with a little water and hurúsuki (white cornmeal dough) for food, and sealed them up. When all the people were thus taken care of, Sótuknang appeared.

"Now you get in to take care of them, and I will seal you up." he said. "Then I will destroy the world."

So he loosed the waters upon the earth. Waves higher than mountains rolled in upon the land. Continents broke asunder and sank beneath the seas. And still the rains fell, the waves rolled in.

The people sealed up in their hollow reeds heard the mighty rushing of the waters. They felt themselves tossed high in the air and dropping back to the water. Then all was quiet, and they knew they were floating. For a long, long time, (so long a time that it seemed it would never end) they kept floating.

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The Fourth World

Finally their movement ceased. The Spider Woman unsealed their hollow reeds, took them by the tops of their heads, and pulled them out. "Bring out all the food that is left over," she said.

The people brought out their hurúsuki. It was still the same size, although they had been eating it all this time. Looking about them, they saw they were on a little piece of land that had been the top of one of their highest mountains. All else, as far as they could see, was water. This was all that remained of the Third World.

"There must be some dry land somewhere we can go to," they said. "Where is the new Fourth World that Sótuknang has created for us?" They sent many kinds of birds, one after another, to fly over the waters and find it. But they all came back tired out without having seen any sign of land. Next they planted a reed that grew high into the sky. Up it they climbed and stared over the surface of the waters. but they saw no sign of land.

Then Sótuknang appeared to Spider Woman and said, "You must continue traveling on. Your inner wisdom will guide you. The door a the top of your head is open."

So Spider Woman directed the people to make round, flat boats of the hollow reeds they had come in and to crawl inside. Again they entrusted themselves to the water and the inner wisdom to guide them. For a long time, they drifted with the wind and the movement of the waters and came to another rocky island.

"It is bigger than the other one, but it is not big enough," they said, looking around them and thinking they heard low rumbling noise.

"No, it is not big enough," said the Spider Woman.

So the people kept traveling toward the rising sun in the reed boats. After a while they said, "There is that low rumbling noise we heard. We must be coming to land again."

So it was. A big land, it seemed, with grass and trees and flowers beautiful to their weary eyes. On it they rested a long time. Some of the people wanted to stay, but Spider Woman said, " No. It is not the place. You must continue on."

Leaving their boats, they traveled by foot eastward across the island to the waters edge. Here they found growing some more of the hollow plants like reeds or bamboo, which they cut down. Directed by Spider Woman, they laid some of these in a row with another row on top of them in the opposite direction and tied them together with vines and leaves. This made a raft big enough for one family or more. When enough rafts were made for all, Spider Woman directed them to make paddles.

"You will be going uphill from now on and you will have to make your own way. So Sótuknang told you: the farther you go, the harder it gets"

After long and weary traveling, still east and a little north, the people began to hear the low rumbling noise and saw land. One family and clan after another landed with joy. The land was long, wide, and beautiful. The earth was rich and flat, covered with trees and plants: seed-bearers and nut bearers, providing lots of food. The people were happy, and kept staying there year after year.

"No, this is not the Fourth World," Spider Woman kept telling them. "It is too easy and pleasant for you to live on, and you would soon fall into evil ways again. You must go on. Have we not told you that the way becomes harder and longer?"

Reluctantly the people traveled eastward by foot across island to the far shore. Again they made rafts and paddles. When they were ready to set forth, Spider Woman said, "Now I have done all I have been commanded to do for you. You must go on alone and find your own place of emergence. Just keep your doors open and your spirits will guide you."

"Thank you, Spider Woman for all you have done for us," they said sadly. "We will remember what you have said

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The End Of The Fourth World

This time Sótuknang came to Spider Woman and said, "There is no use waiting until the thread runs out this time. Something has to be done lest the people with the song in their hearts are corrupted and killed off too. It will be difficult, with all this destruction going on, for them to gather at the far end of the world where I have designated. But I will help them. Then you will save them when I destroy this world with water."

"How shall I save them?" asked Spider Woman.

"When you get there look about you," commanded Sótuknang. "You will see these tall plants with hollow stems. Cut them down and put the people inside. They I will tell you what to do next."

Spider Woman did as he instructed her. She cut down the hollow reeds, and, as the people came to her, she put them inside with a little water and hurúsuki (white cornmeal dough) for food, and sealed them up. When all the people were thus taken care of, Sótuknang appeared.

"Now you get in to take care of them, and I will seal you up." he said. "Then I will destroy the world."

So he loosed the waters upon the earth. Waves higher than mountains rolled in upon the land. Continents broke asunder and sank beneath the seas. And still the rains fell, the waves rolled in.

The people sealed up in their hollow reeds heard the mighty rushing of the waters. They felt themselves tossed high in the air and dropping back to the water. Then all was quiet, and they knew they were floating. For a long, long time, (so long a time that it seemed it would never end) they kept floating.

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The Song Of Creation

The dark purple light rises in the north,
A yellow light rises in the east.
Then we of the flowers of the earth come forth
To receive a long life full of joy.
We call ourselves the Butterfly maidens.

Both male and female make their prayers to the east,
Make the respectful sign to the Sun, our Creator.
The sounds of bells ring through the air,
Making a joyful sound throughout the land,
Their joyful echo resounding everywhere.

Humbly I ask my Father,
The perfect one, Taiowa, our Father,
The perfect one, creating the beautiful life
Shown to us by the yellow light,
To give us perfect light at the time of the red light.

The perfect one laid out the perfect plan
And gave to us a long span of life,
Creating song to implant joy in life.
On this path of happiness, we the Butterfly maidens
Carry out his wishes by greeting our Father Sun.

The song resounds back from our Creator with joy,
And we of the earth repeat it to our Creator.
At the appearing of the yellow light,
Repeats and repeats again in the joyful echo,
Sounds and resounds for times to come.

The First People of the First World did not answer her: they could not speak. Something had to be done. Since Spider Woman received her power from Sótuknang, she had to call him and ask him what to do. So she called Palöngawhoya and said, "Call your Uncle. We need him at once."

Palöngawhoya, the echo twin, sent out his call along the world axis to the vibratory centers of the earth, which rebounded his message throughout the universe. "Sótuknang, our Uncle, come at once! We need you!"

All at once, with the sound of a mighty wind, Sótuknang appeared in front of them. "I am here, why do you need me so urgently?"

Spider Woman explained, " As you commanded me, I have created these First People. They are fully and firmly formed, they are properly colored, they have life and movement. But they cannot talk. That is the proper thing they lack. So I want you to give them speech. Also the wisdom and the power to reproduce, so that they might enjoy their life and give thanks to the Creator."

So Sótuknang gave them speech, a different language to each color, with respect for each other's difference. He also gave them the wisdom and the power to reproduce and multiply.

Then he said to them, "With all these I have given you this world to live on and to be happy. There is only one thing I ask of you: to respect the Creator at all times. Wisdom, harmony, and respect for the love of the Creator who made you: may it grow and never be forgotten among you as long as you live."

So the First People went their directions, were happy, and began to multiply.

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The Nature Of Man

The First People, then, understood the mystery of their parenthood. In their pristine wisdom they also understood their own structure and function: the nature of man himself.

The living body of man and the living body of the earth were constructed in the same way. Through each man ran an axis, man's axis being his backbone, the vertebral column, which controlled the equilibrium of his movements and his functions. Along this axis were several vibratory centers which echoed the primordial sound of life throughout the universe or sounded a warning if anything went wrong.

The first of these in man lay at the top of the head. Here, when he was born, was the soft spot, kópavi, the "open door" through which he received his life and communicated with his Creator. For, with every breath, the soft spot moved up and down with a gentle vibration that was communicated to the Creator. At the time of the red light, Tálawva, the last phase of his creation, the soft spot was hardened and the door was closed. It remained closed until his death, opening then for his life to depart as it had come.

Just below it lay the second center, the organ that man learned to think with by himself, the thinking organ called the brain. Its earthy function enabled man to think about his actions and work on this earth. But the more he understood that his work and his actions should conform to the plan of the Creator, the more clearly he understood that the real function of the brain was carrying out the plan of all Creation.

The third center lay in the throat. It tied together those openings in his nose and mouth through which he received the breath of life and the vibratory organs that allowed him to give back his breath in sound. This primordial sound, as that coming from the vibratory centers of the body of earth, was attuned to the universal vibrations of all of Creation. New and diverse sounds were given forth by these vocal organs in the forms of speech and song, their secondary function for man on this earth. But, as he came to understand its primary function, he used this center to speak and sing praises to the Creator.

The fourth center was the heart. It too was a vibrating organ, pulsing with the vibration of life itself. In his heart man felt the good of life, its sincere purpose. He was of One Heart, but there were those who permitted evil feelings to enter. They were said to be of two hearts.

The last of man's important centers lay under his navel, the organ some people now call the solar plexus. As this name signifies, it was the throne in man of the Creator himself. From it he directed all the functions of man.

The First People knew no sickness. Not until evil entered the world did people get sick in the body or head. It was then that a medicine man, knowing how man was constructed, could tell what was wrong with a man by examining these centers.

First, he laid his hands on them: the top of the head, above the eyes, the throat, the chest, the belly. The hands of the medicine man were seer instruments; they could feel the vibrations from each center and tell him in which life ran strongest or weakest.

Sometimes, the trouble was just a belly ache from unhooked food or a cold in the head.

Other times, it came "from outside," drawn by the person's own evil thoughts or from those of a Two Hearts. In this case, the medicine man took out from his medicine pouch a small crystal about an inch and a half across, held it in the sun to get it in working order, and then looked through it at each of the centers. In this way, he could see what caused the trouble and often the very face of the Two Hearts person who had caused the illness.

There was nothing "magical" about the crystal, the medicine man always said. An ordinary person could see nothing when he looked through it, the crystal merely objectified the vision of the center which controlled his eyes and which the medicine man had developed for this very purpose.

Thus the First People understood themselves. And this was the first world they lived upon. Its name was Tokpela, Endless Space. Its direction was west, its color sikyangpu (yellow), its mineral sikydsvu (gold). Significant upon it were kato ya, the snake with a big head, wisoko, the fat eating bird, and muha, the little four leaved plant. On this world the First People were pure and happy.

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The Origin Of The Hopi Snake Clan

Long ago, on the enormous far rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona, lived the
ancestors of the Snake Clan, who belonged to the Hopi Indian tribe.

Chief of the Hopi's had a very wise son, who liked to sit and meditate on
the edge of the canyon rim. He tried many times to imagine where the
powerful river far below finally ended. Experienced ancient men of their nation did not know the answer for Wise
Son. Their council leaders had different ideas among themselves. One
thought the river took a secret course through enormous underground
passages. Another thought it entered the middle of the world and there it
nurtured large and dangerous reptiles. Impatient, Wise Son said to his father, the Chief, "Is it not time for meto seek my quest? I wish to go down the great river and find the place
where it ends."

Proud of his son's desire for accomplishment, the Chief gladly granted him
permission to follow his quest. Wise Son, overjoyed with his coming
venture, planned specifically for every need. His family and tribal friends
helped him to design and to build a waterproof boat that could be closed
entirely, like a cocoon. He constructed a long pushing-pole to help him navigate the waters. The
maker of medicine tied prayer sticks at the top of the pole, with special
blessings for a safe journey. Finally, the day arrived for Wise Son to launch his special canoe. The
Chief and his warriors arrived with supplies of food, good wishes, and more
prayer sticks.
Week after week, Wise Son drifted with the river. He was happy. He
learned to keep his boat in the main current, though it carried him through
several turbulent side routes, including rapids and tunnel-like caves. He
victoriously came though these experiences with joy in his heart. On and on Wise Son traveled, winding his way out of steep canyons and
through flat meadow lands. He caught fresh fish for his main food supply.
One day, Wise Son noticed a change in the taste of the water. It was salty
and he knew that he should not drink it. Then to his surprise, he suddenly
floated into a great body of water that extended as far as he could see. He
had discovered the place where the mighty river ended, in the ocean where
the sun sleeps!
He saw an island and guided his boat to its shore. There was a house
nearby. Upon investigation, he found only a very small entrance door. He
knocked and asked, "Please, will you let me come in and see you?" Spider Woman, who possessed supernatural power, lived there and
answered, "Please make the hole large enough and enter." This, Wise Son did
and sat down inside. He presented to Spider Woman one of his prayer sticks
and told her of his adventure to find the place where the river ended. "When I return to my nation, I wish to take with me a gift that might be
helpful to my people," he said. "There is a neighboring house where there are many beautiful
ornament-like beads and rocks. These might be gifts that you can take to
your people," she replied. "But I must caution you to be careful of the
vicious animals on the path. I will give you some of my magic lotion to
protect you."
Together they started for the treasure house. To guide him, Spider Woman
sat upon Wise Son's ear, where she could whisper to him. Immediately, Wise Son sprinkled some magic lotion on the marshy path. A
colorful bridge appeared instantly, guiding them across the marsh to the
treasure house. First, they encountered an enormous lionlike animal showing its fangs. Wise
Son tossed him a prayer stick and sprinkled magic lotion, which calmed the
creature. Second, they met a bear-like animal; third, a mad catlike creature; fourth,
a ferocious wolf-like beast; fifth, a huge angry-looking snake with rattles
on its tail. Wise Son quieted all of them with Spider Woman's magic lotion. The treasure house had steps leading to the roof, and from there steps took
them down into a large room. Men squatted around the inside walls. The
warriors wore handsome, bright-colored beads hanging about their necks.
They had painted their faces tribal fashion.
Wise Son squatted by the fire. All remained quiet for some time. The men
gazed at Wise Son constantly. Finally, their Chief arose and lighted his
pipe. After smoking four times, he passed the pipe to the stranger. Wise
Son smoked the magic number of times that seemed to please the Chief and
the others. They then greeted him in a friendly manner, as if he were one
of their own. In return for their warm welcome, Wise Son gave to each man a prayer stick
tipped with special feathers made by ancient Hopi nations men. "Now it is time to put on our snake costumes," announced the Chief. Wise Son observed that skins of enormous serpents were suspended from the
ceiling, around all four walls. He was asked to face about, so that he
would not see how the warriors got into their snakeskin costumes. When Wise Son was asked to turn back, he saw snakes of many sizes and
colors, hissing and writhing over the dirt floor. Spider Woman remained on
Wise Son's ear.
"Be strong," she whispered to him. "The snakes will not hurt you, only
frighten you. Do whatever I tell you." The Chief of the Snake People had
made his daughter become a yellow-snake-with-rattles. Wise Son did not know
this, and he was asked to choose the Chief's daughter. If he could choose
correctly, the Snake People would show him their ceremonial dance. They
also would give him many beads and gem-rocks to take to his nation. Wise Son tried very hard to guess which snake was the Chief's daughter.
Spider Woman whispered in his ear, "Choose the yellow one with rattles."
Wise Son did, and yellow-snake-with-rattles suddenly became the loveliest
and fairest of maidens. He knew immediately that he could easily fall in
love with her. That evening the Chief and his warriors gave to Wise Son all the secrets of
the Snake Ceremony. They taught him the words of praise and thanksgiving,
which they sang for him. They showed him the ceremonial steps, which they
danced for him. They showed him how they put on their snake costumes.
Finally, they showed him their altar.
After Wise Son learned all that he should know, he and Spider Woman
re-crossed the bridge and returned to her house. He presented her with
another prayer stick, as he thanked her for her help. In return, she gave
him a beautiful bead of turquoise from her north room. She gave him a white
shell from her east room. From her south room, she gave him a red bead, and
from her west room a larger turquoise. She then gave him a bag of special
beads for his nation, but she warned him not to open it on the way home. Next morning, Wise Son went back to the house of the Snake People to say
farewell. Their Chief welcomed him and declared, "You have gained our
friendship and my beautiful daughter. Take her for your wife. We wish you
happiness and a pleasant journey back to your nation."
The nation gave them many presents of good clothing and much food to send
the happy couple on their way to Hopi land. They took the overland route following the great river. Each day Wise Son
found the treasure bag heavier and heavier. He and his wife could hardly
carry it between them. One day out of extreme curiosity, they opened the
bag and looked inside. Regardless of Spider Woman's caution, the two rolled out the beads and made
strands for each to wear around their necks. By the following morning, all
of the gift beads had vanished. Only remaining were the gems from the four
rooms in Spider Woman's house.
Many moons later, the young couple reached Hopi land on the far rim of the
Grand Canyon. Wise Son was delighted to be home again after his great
adventure. The entire Hopi nation rejoiced over his safe return and
welcomed his new young wife to their nation. Wise Son told where the great river ended. He told them about the Snake
Clan, and that he and his wife brought them a special ceremony from the
Snake People, living where the sun sleeps. Wise Son and his wife taught the Hopi's all the songs and dances of the
Snake Ceremony. This was the beginning of the Snake Clan of the Hopi nation.

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The Spider Woman And The Twins

Sótuknang went to that which was to contain Tokpela, the First World, and out of it he created her who was to remain on the earth as his helper. Her name was Kótyangwúti, the Spider Woman.

When she awoke to life and received her name, she asked, "Why am I here?"

"Look around you," answered Sótuknang. "Here is the earth that we have created. It has shape and substance, direction and time, a beginning and an end. But there is no life upon it. We see no joyful movement. We hear no joyful sound. What is life without sound and movement? So you have been given the power to help us create this life. You have been given the knowledge, the wisdom, and the love to bless all the beings you create. That is why you are here."

Following his instructions, Kótyangwúti took some earth and mixed it with some túchvala (liquid from the mouth or saliva) and molded it into two beings. Then she covered them with a cape made of a white substance which was the creative wisdom itself, and she sang the creation song over them.

When she uncovered them, the two beings, twins, sat up and asked, "Who are we? Why are we here?"

To the one on the right, Spider Woman said, "You are Pöqánghoya. You are here to help keep this world in order when when life is put upon it. Go now around all the world and put your hands upon the earth so that it will become solidified. This is you duty."

To the one on the left, Spider Woman said, "You are Palöngawhoya. You are here to help keep this world in order when life is put upon it. This is your duty now: go about all the world and send out sound so that it may be heard throughout all of the land. When this is heard you will also be known as 'Echo,' for all sound echoes the Creator."

Pöqánghoya, traveling throughout the earth, solidified the higher reaches into great mountains. The lower reaches he made firm, but still pliable enough to be used by those beings to be placed upon it and who would call it their mother.

Palöngawhoya, traveling throughout all of the earth, sounded out his call as he was told to do. All of the vibration centers along the earth's axis from pole to pole re sounded his call; the whole earth trembled, and the universe quivered in tune. Thus he made the whole world an instrument of sound, and sound is an instrument for carrying messages, resounding praise to the Creator of all.

"This is your voice, Uncle," Sótuknang said to Taiowa. "Everything is tuned to your sound.

"It is very good," said Taiowa.

Once they had finished their duties, Pöqánghoya was sent to the north pole of the world's axis, and Palöngawhoya to the south pole, where they were jointly commanded to keep the world properly rotating. Pöqánghoya was also given the power to keep the earth in a stable form of solidness. Palöngawhoya was given the power to keep the air in gentle ordered movement, and told to send out his call for good or for warning through the vibratory centers of the earth.

"These will be your duties in time to come," said Spider Woman.

She then created from the earth the trees, bushes, flowers, and other plants. She created all kinds of seed-bearers and nut-bearers to clothe the earth, giving to each a life and a name. In the same manner, she created all kinds of birds and animals, molding them out of earth and covering each with her white-substance cape of wisdom, and singing over them.

Some she placed to the right, some to the left, and others she placed before her and in back of her, indicating how they should spread to all four corners of the world to live.

Sótuknang was happy, seeing how beautiful it all was: the land, the plants, the birds and the animals, and the power working through them all. Joyfully he said to Taiowa, "Come see what our world looks like now!"

"It is very good," said Taiowa. "It is now ready for human life, the final touch to complete my plan."

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Innu Indian Lore:


 


Ravens' Great Adventure
One day, Raven took the form of a little, bent-over old man to walk through a forest. He wore a long white beard and walked slowly.
After a while, Raven felt hungry. As he thought about this, he came to the edge of the forest near a village on the beach. There, many people were fishing for halibut.
In a flash, Raven thought of a scheme. He dived into the sea and swam to the spot where the fishermen dangled their hooks. Raven gobbled their bait, swimming from one hook to another.
Each time Raven stole bait, the fishermen felt a tug on their lines. When the lines were pulled in, there was neither fish nor bait.

But Raven worked his trick once too often.
When Houskana, an expert fisherman, felt a tug, he jerked his line quickly, hooking something heavy.
Ravens' jaw had caught on the hook! While Houskana tugged on his line, Raven pulled in the opposite direction. Then Raven grabbed hold of some rocks at the bottom of the sea and called,
"O rocks, please help me!" But the rocks paid no attention.

Because of his great pain, Raven said to his jaw,
"Break off, O jaw, for I am too tired."
His jaw obeyed, and it broke off.

Houskana pulled in his line immediately. On his hook was a man's jaw with a long white beard !
It looked horrible enough to scare anyone. Houskana and the other fishermen were very frightened, because they thought the jaw might belong to some evil spirit. They picked up their feet and ran as fast as they could to the chief's house.

Raven came out of the water and followed the fishermen. Though he was in great pain for lack of his jaw, no one noticed anything wrong because he covered the lower part of his face with his blanket.

The chief and the people examined the jaw that was hanging on the halibut hook. It was handed from one to another, and finally to Raven who said,
"Oh, this is a wonder to behold!" as he threw back his blanket and replaced his jaw.

Raven performed his magic so quickly that no one had time to see what was happening.
As soon as Ravens' jaw was firmly in place again, he turned himself into a bird and flew out through the smoke hole of the chief's house.
Only then did the people begin to realize it was the trickster Raven who had stolen their bait and been hooked on Houskana's fishing line.

On the totem pole, Raven was carved, not as the old man, but as himself without his beak, a reminder of how the old man lost his jaw.




 

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Inuit Indian Lore:

 


Crow Brings Daylight

A long time ago when the world was first born, it was always dark in the north where the Inuit people lived. They thought it was dark all over the world until an old crow told the them about daylight and how he had seen it on his long journeys.
The more they heard about daylight, the more the people wanted it.

"We could hunt further and for longer," they said. "We could see the polar bears coming and run before they attack us."

The people begged the crow to go and bring them daylight, but he didn't want to.
"It's a long way and I'm too old to fly that far," he said.
But the people begged until he finally agreed to go. He flapped his wings and launched into the dark sky, towards the east. He flew for a long time until his wings were tired. He was about to turn back when he saw the dim glow of daylight in the distance.
"At last, there is daylight," said the tired crow.
As he flew towards the dim light it became brighter and brighter until the whole sky was bright and he could see for miles. The exhausted bird landed in a tree near a village, wanting to rest. It was very cold.

A daughter of the chief came to the nearby river. As she dipped her bucket in the icy water, Crow turned himself into a speck of dust and drifted down onto her fur cloak. When she walked back to her father's snow lodge, she carried him with her. Inside the snow lodge it was warm and bright. The girl took off her cloak and the speck of dust drifted towards the chief's grandson, who was playing on the lodge floor. It floated into the child's ear and he started to cry.
"What's wrong? Why are you crying?" asked the chief, who was sitting at the fire.
"Tell him you want to play with a ball of daylight," whispered the dust.
The chief wanted his favorite grandson to be happy, and told his daughter to fetch the box of daylight balls. When she opened it for him, he took out a small ball wrapped a string around it and gave it to his grandson.
The speck of dust scratched the child's ear again, making him cry.
"What's wrong, child?" asked the chief.
"Tell him you want to play outside", whispered Crow.
The child did so, and the chief and his daughter took him out into the snow. As soon as they left the snow lodge, the speck of dust turned back into Crow again. He put out his claws, grasped the string on the ball of daylight and flew into the sky, heading west.

Finally he reached the land of the Inuit again and when he let go of the string, the ball dropped to the ground and shattered into tiny pieces. Light went into every home and the darkness left the sky. All the people came from their houses.
"We can see for miles! Look how blue the sky is, and the mountains in the distance! We couldn't see them before."
They thanked Crow for bringing daylight to their land. He shook his beak.
"I could only carry one small ball of daylight, and it'll need to gain its strength from time to time. So you'll only have daylight for half the year."
The people said, "But we're happy to have daylight for half the year! Before you brought the ball to us it was dark all the time!"

And so that is why, in the land of the Inuit in the far north, it is dark for one half of the year and light the other. The people never forgot it was Crow who brought them the gift of daylight and they take care never to hurt him - in case he decides to take it back.

 


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Moon Rapes His Sister Sun
In the old days, when everything began, a brother lived with his sister in a large village which had a dance house. At night it was lit with stone lamps burning seal oil, and once the sister was dancing and singing there when a big wind blew all the lamps out.
While everything was black, a man copulated with her. She struggled against him, but he was too strong, and it was too dark to see who he was.

Thinking he might come again, before she went back there next she blackened the palms of her hands with soot.
Again a great gust of wind blew out all the lamps. Again that man threw her upon her back, got on top of her, and entered her. But this time she smeared his back with soot.

When the lamps were rekindled, she looked for the one with a sooty back and was enraged to see that it was her brother.

She cried,
"Such things are not done! Such things are unheard of!"
She was so angry that she took a sharp knife and cut off both her breasts. Flinging them at her brother, she cried,
"As you seem to enjoy me, as you seem to have a taste for my body, eat these!"

She grabbed a brightly burning torch and, maddened and wild-eyed, ran out of the dance house into the dark night.
Her brother snatched up another torch and ran after her, but stumbled and fell down in the snow. The snow put out the flames of his torch so that only its embers flickered feebly.

Then a big windstorm lifted both the sister and her brother high up into the sky.
The girl was turned into the sun, and her brother into the moon.
She stays as far away from him as she can. As long as the moon shines, she hides herself, coming out only after he is gone.
If the brother had not let his torch fall into the snow, the moon would be as bright as the sun.


 


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Iroquios Indian Lore:

 

Battle With The Snakes

There was a man who was not kind to animals. One day when he was hunting, he found a rattlesnake and decided to torture it. He held its head to the ground and pierced it with a piece of bark. Then as it was caught there, he tormented it.

"We shall fight," he said and then burned the snake until it was dead. He thought this was a great jest and so, whenever he found a snake, he would do the same thing.

One day another man from his village was walking through the forest when he heard a strange sound. It was louder than the wind hissing through the tops of tall pine trees. He crept closer to see. There, in a great clearing, were many snakes. They were gathered for a war council and as he listened in fright he heard them say:

"We shall now fight with them. Djisdaah has challenged us and we shall go to war. In four days we shall go to their village and fight them."

The man crept away and then ran as fast as he could to his village to tell what he had heard and seen. The chief sent other men to see if the report was true. They returned in great fright.

"Ahhhh," they said, "it is so. The snakes are all gathering to have a war."

The chief of the village could see that he had no choice. "We must fight," he said and ordered the people of the village to make preparations for the battle. They cut mountains of wood and stacked it in long piles all around the village. They built rows of stakes close together to keep the snakes out. When the fourth day came, the chief ordered that the piles of wood be set on fire. Just as he did so they heard a great noise, like a great wind in the trees. It was the noise of the snakes, hissing as they came to the village to do battle.

Usually a snake will not go near a fire, but these snakes were determined to have their revenge. They went straight into the flames. Many of them died, but the living snakes crawled over the bodies of the dead ones and continued to move forward until they reached the second row of stakes.

Once again, the chief ordered that the piles of wood in the second row of defense be set on fire. But the snakes crawled straight into the flames, hissing their war songs, and the living crawled over the bodies of the dead. It was a terrible sight. They reached the second row of stakes and, even though the people fought bravely, it was no use. The snakes were more numerous than fallen leaves and they could not be stopped. Soon they forced their way past the last row of stakes and the people of the village were fighting for their lives. The first man to be killed was Djisdaah, the one who had challenged the snakes to battle.

It was now clear that they could never win this battle. The chief of the village shouted to the snakes who had reached the edge of the village: "Hear me, my brothers. We surrender to you.

We have done you a great wrong. Have mercy on us."

The snakes stopped where they were and there was a great silence.

The exhausted warriors looked at the great army of snakes and the snakes stared back at them. Then the earth trembled and cracked in front of the human beings. A great snake, a snake taller than the biggest pine tree, whose head was larger than a great long house, lifted himself out of the hole in the earth

"Hear me," he said. "I am the chief of all the snakes. We shall go and leave you in peace if you will agree to two things."

The chief looked at the great snake and nodded his head. "We will agree, Great Chief," he said.

"It is well," said the Chief of the Snakes. "These are the two things. First, you must always treat my people with respect. Secondly, as long as the world stands, you will never name another man Djisdaah."

And so it was agreed and so it is, even today.

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How Chipmunks Got Their Stripes

A grandmother and granddaughter were living together. They had a skin blanket, but it was old and a good deal of the hair was worn off.

The two woman went to the forest to camp and cut wood. and they carried the blanket to cover themselves with at night. They had been in the forest only a few days when they found that their skin blanket was alive and angry. They threw the blanket down and ran toward home as fast as they could go. Soon they heard the skin blanket following them.

When it seemed very near the grandmother began to sing and her song said, "My granddaughter and I are running for our lives."

When the song ended, the women could hardly hear the skin following them, but not long afterward they heard it again. When they reached home, the skin, now a bear, was so near that as they pushed open the door it clawed at them and scratched their backs, but they got in.

The old woman and her granddaughter were chipmunks, Since that time chipmunks have stripes on their backs, the result of the scratches given by the blanket turned to bear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hunting The Great Bear

There were four hunters who were brothers. No hunters were as good as they at following a trail. They never gave up once they began tracking their quarry.

One day, in the moon when the cold nights return, an urgent message came to the village of the four hunters.
A great bear, one so large and powerful that many thought it must be some kind of monster, had appeared. The people of the village whose hunting grounds the monster had invaded were afraid. The children no longer went out to play in the woods. The long houses of the village were guarded each night by men with weapons who stood by the entrances.
Each morning, when the people went outside, they found the huge tracks of the bear in the midst of their village. They knew that soon it would become even more bold.

Picking up their spears and calling to their small dog, the four hunters set forth for that village, which was not far away.
As they came closer they noticed how quiet the woods were. There were no signs of rabbits or deer and even the birds were silent. On a great pine tree they found the scars where the great bear had reared up on hind legs and made deep scratches to mark its territory.
The tallest of the brothers tried to touch the highest of the scratch marks with the tip of his spear.
"It is as the people feared," the first brother said. "This one we are to hunt is Nyah-gwaheh, a monster bear."

"But what about the magic that the Nyah-gwaheh has?" said the second brother.

The first brother shook his head.
"That magic will do it no good if we find its track."

"That's so," said the third brother. "I have always heard that from the old people. Those creatures can only chase a hunter who has not yet found its trail. When you find the track of the Nyah-gwaheh and begin to chase it, then it must run from you."

"Brothers," said the fourth hunter who was the fattest and laziest, "did we bring along enough food to eat? It may take a long time to catch this big bear. I'm feeling hungry."

Before long, the four hunters and their small dog reached the village. It was a sad sight to see. There was no fire burning in the center of the village and the doors of all the long houses were closed. Grim men stood on guard with clubs and spears and there was no game hung from the racks or skins stretched for tanning. The people looked hungry.

The elder sachem of the village came out and the tallest of the four hunters spoke to him.
"Uncle," the hunter said, "we have come to help you get rid of the monster."
Then the fattest and laziest of the four brothers spoke.
"Uncle," he said, "is there some food we can eat? Can we find a place to rest before we start chasing this big bear. I'm tired."

The first hunter shook his head and smiled.
"My brother is only joking, Uncle." he said. " We are going now to pick up the monster bears' trail."

"I am not sure you can do that, Nephews," the elder sachem said. "Though we find tracks closer and closer to the doors of our lodges each morning, whenever we try to follow those tracks they disappear."

The second hunter knelt down and patted the head of their small dog.
"Uncle," he said, that is because they do not have a dog such as ours."
He pointed to the two black circles above the eyes of the small dog.
"Four-Eyes can see any tracks, even those many days old."

"May Creator's protection be with you," said the elder sachem.

"Do not worry. Uncle," said the third hunter. "Once we are on a trail we never stop following until we've finished our hunt."

"That's why I think we should have something to eat first," said the fourth hunter, but his brothers did not listen. They nodded to the elder sachem and began to leave.
Sighing, the fattest and laziest of the brothers lifted up his long spear and trudged after them.

They walked, following their little dog. It kept lifting up its head, as if to look around with its four eyes. The trail was not easy to find.

"Brothers," the fattest and laziest hunter complained, "don't you think we should rest. We've been walking a long time."
But his brothers paid no attention to him. Though they could see no tracks, they could feel the presence of the Nyah-gwaheh. They knew that if they did not soon find its trail, it would make its way behind them. Then they would be the hunted ones.

The fattest and laziest brother took out his pemmican pouch. At least he could eat while they walked along. He opened the pouch and shook out the food he had prepared so carefully by pounding together strips of meat and berries with maple sugar and then drying them in the sun.
But instead of pemmican, pale squirming things fell out into his hands. The magic of the Nyah-gwaheh had changed the food into worms.

"Brothers," the fattest and laziest of the hunters shouted, "let's hurry up and catch that big bear! Look what it did to my pemmican. Now I'm getting angry."

Meanwhile, like a pale giant shadow, the Nyah-gwaheh was moving through the trees close to the hunters. Its mouth was open as it watched them and its huge teeth shone, its eyes flashed red. Soon it would be behind them and on their trail.

Just then, though, the little dog lifted its head and yelped.
"Eh-heh!" the first brother called
"Four-Eyes has found the trail," shouted the second brother.
"We have the track of the Nyah-gwaheh," said the third brother.
"Big Bear," the fattest and laziest one yelled, "we are after you, now!"

Fear filled the heart of the great bear for the first time and it began to run. As it broke from the cover of the pines, the four hunters saw it, a gigantic white shape, so pale as to appear almost naked. With loud hunting cries, they began to run after it.
The great bears' strides were long and it ran more swiftly than a deer. The four hunters and their little dog were swift also though and they did not fall behind. The trail led through the swamps and the thickets. It was easy to read, for the bear pushed everything aside as it ran, even knocking down big trees.
On and on they ran, over hills and through valleys. They came to the slope of a mountain and followed the trail higher and higher, every now and then catching a glimpse of their quarry over the next rise.

Now though the lazy hunter was getting tired of running. He pretended to fall and twist his ankle.

"Brothers," he called, "I have sprained my ankle. You must carry me."

So his three brothers did as he asked, two of them carrying him by turns while the third hunter carried his spear.
They ran more slowly now because of their heavy load, but they were not falling any further behind.
The day had turned now into night, yet they could still see the white shape of the great bear ahead of them. They were at the top of the mountain now and the ground beneath them was very dark as they ran across it.
The bear was tiring, but so were they. It was not easy to carry their fat and lazy brother. The little dog, Four-Eyes, was close behind the great bear, nipping at its tail as it ran.

"Brothers," said the fattest and laziest one. "put me down now. I think my leg has gotten better."

The brothers did as he asked. Fresh and rested, the fattest and laziest one grabbed his spear and dashed ahead of the others.
Just as the great bear turned to bite at the little dog, the fattest and laziest hunter leveled his spear and thrust it into the heart of the Nyah-Gwaheh. The monster bear fell dead.

By the time the other brothers caught up, the fattest and laziest hunter had already built a fire and was cutting up the big bear.

"Come on, brothers," he said. "Let's eat. All this running has made me hungry!"

So they cooked the meat of the great bear and its fat sizzled as it dripped from their fire. They ate until even the fattest and laziest one was satisfied and leaned back in contentment. Just then, though, the first hunter looked down at his feet.

"Brothers," he exclaimed, "look below us!"

The four hunters looked down. Below them were thousands of small sparkling lights in the darkness which. they realized, was all around them.

"We aren't on a mountain top at all," said the third brother. "We are up in the sky."

And it was so. The great bear had indeed been magical. Its feet had taken it high above the earth as it tried to escape the four hunters. However, their determination not to give up the chase had carried them up that strange trail.

Just then their little dog yippee twice.

"The great bear!" said the second hunter. "Look!"

The hunters looked. There, where they had piled the bones of their feast the Great Bear was coming back to life and rising to its feet. As they watched, it began to run again, the small dog close on its heels.

"Follow me," shouted the first brother.
Grabbing up their spears, the four hunters again began to chase the great bear across the skies.

So it was, the old people say, and so it still is.
Each autumn the hunters chase the great bear across the skies and kill it. Then, as they cut it up for their meal, the blood falls down from the heavens and colors the leaves of the maple trees scarlet. They cook the bear and the fat dripping from their fires turns the grass white.

If you look carefully into the skies as the seasons change, you can read that story.
The great bear is the square shape some call the bowl of the Big Dipper.
The hunters and their small dog (which you can just barely see) are close behind, the dipper's handle.
When autumn comes and that constellation turns upside down, the old people say.
"Ah, the lazy hunter has killed the bear."
But as the moons pass and the sky moves once more towards spring, the bear slowly rises back on its feet and the chase begins again.

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The Girl Who Was Not Satisfied With Simple Things

There once was a girl who was not satisfied with simple things. Her parents despaired of ever finding her a husband she would accept. Each man who came was not good enough. "That one was too fat; he will never do." Or "Did you see how shabby his moccasins were?" Or "I didn't like the way he spoke." Such were the things she would say.

One night, as the fire flickered low, a strange young warrior came to their door. "Dahjoh," said the mother. "come inside," but the visitor stood a the edge of the light and pointed his hand at the girl.

"I have come to take you as my wife," he said. Now this young man was very handsome. His face shone in the firelight. Above his waist was a fine, wide belt of black and yellow wampum that glittered like water. On his head he wore two tall feathers and he moved with the grace of a willow tree in the wind.

But the mother was worried. "My daughter," she said, "you would not take any of the men in our village. Would you marry a stranger whose clan you don't know?"

It was no use, for at last the daughter was satisfied. She packed her belongings and walked into the night, following the handsome stranger.

The girl walked for some time through the darkness with him when she began to feel afraid. Why had she left her mother's lodge to come with this man she had never seen?

Just then her husband grasped her arm. "Do not fear," he said, whispering in the darkness. "We will soon come to the place of my people."

"But my husband," said the girl, "how can that be? It seems we must be close to the river."

Her husband grasped her arm again. "Follow me," he whispered "just down this hill. We have almost come to the place of my people."

The two of them walked down a steep bank and came to a lodge which had a pair of horns, like those of a giant elk, fastened above the door. "This is our home," the husband said. "Tomorrow you will meet my people."

The rest of the night the girl was afraid. She heard strange noises outside. She noticed that the lodge had a smell like that of a fish. She held her blankets tightly about her and waited, wide-eyed, for the morning.

When the next day came, the sun did not shine. The grey sky was filled with hazy light. Her husband gave her a new dress, covered just like his with wampum. "You must put this on," he said to the girl, "before you are ready to meet my people."

But the frightened girl would not touch the dress.
"It smells like fish," she said. "I will not put it on."

Her husband looked angry but he said no more. Before long, he walked to the door of the lodge. "I must go away for a time," he whispered. "Do not leave this place and do not be afraid of anything you see." And he was gone.

The girl sat there wondering about her fate. Why had she come with this strange man? She saw that if she had been satisfied with simple things this would not have happened. She thought of the fire in her mother's lodge. She thought of the simple, good-hearted men who had asked her to marry them. Just then a great horned serpent crawled in through the door of the lodge. As she sat there, stiff with fear, it came up to her and stared a long time into her eyes. Around its body were glittering bands of yellow and black. Then it turned and crawled out of the door.

The girl followed slowly and peered outside. All around, there were serpents, some lying on rocks, some crawling out of caves. Then she knew that her husband was not what he seemed, not a human being, but a serpent disguised in human form.

Now this girl who had been foolish was a girl who was not without courage. She knew that she would never agree to put on her husband's magical dress and become a great serpent herself. But how could she escape? She thought and thought and finally, for she had gone the whole night without sleep, she closed her eyes and slept.

Then, as she slept, it seemed to her an old man appeared in her dream. "My granddaughter," said the old man in a clear deep voice, "let me help you."

"But what can I do, Grandfather?" she asked.

"You must do as I say," the old man answered "You must leave this place at once and run to the edge of the village. There you will see a tall steep cliff. You must climb that cliff and not turn back or your husband's people will stop you. When you have reached the top, I shall help you."

When the girl awoke, she realized she had to follow the old man's words. She looked outside the lodge and saw her husband coming, dressed again in the form of a beautiful man. She knew she had to go at once or be caught in this place forever. So, quick as a partridge flying up, she burst from the door of her husband's lodge and dashed toward the cliffs.

"Come back!" she heard her husband shout but she did not look back. The cliffs were very far away. She ran as swiftly as she could. Then she began to hear a sound, a rustling noise like the wind rushing through the reeds but she did not look back. The cliffs were closer now. Then once more she heard her husband's voice close to her whispering, whispering, "Come back, my wife, come join my people." But now she had come to the cliffs and began to climb.

She climbed and she climbed, using all of her strength, remembering the old man's promise, as her hands grew painful and tired. Ahead of her was the top of the cliff and as she reached it she felt the hand of the old man lifting her to her feet.

She looked back and saw that she had just climbed up out of the river. Behind her were many great horned serpents. Then, as she watched, the old man began to hurl bolts of lightning which struck the monsters. And she knew that the old man was Heno, the Thunderer.

The lightning flashed and the thunder drums rolled across the sky. In the river the serpents tried to escape but the bolts of Heno struck them all. Then the storm ended and the girl stood there, a gentle rain washing over her face as the Thunderer looked down on her.

"You're very brave, my child," he said. "You have helped me rid the earth of those monsters. Perhaps I may call on you again, for your deed has given you power."

Then the old man raised his hand and a single cloud drifted down to earth. He and the girl stepped into the cloud which carried them back to her village.

It is said that the girl later married a man whose heart was good. Between them they raised many fine children. It is also said that her grandfather, Heno, came back to visit her many times. Often she would fly with him to help rid the earth of evil creatures.

And when she was old, she always told her grandchildren these words: "Be satisfied with simple things."



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The Origin of the Iroquois Nations

About 1390, today's State of New York became the stronghold of five powerful Indian tribes. They were later joined by another great tribe, the Tuscaroras from the south. Eventually the Iroquois, Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, and Cayugas joined together to form the great Iroquois Nation. In 1715, the Tuscaroras were accepted into the Iroquois Nation.

The Five Nations

Long, long ago, one of the Spirits of the Sky World came down and looked at the earth. As he traveled over it, he found it beautiful, and so he created people to live on it. Before returning to the sky, he gave them names, called the people all together, and spoke his parting words:

"To the Mohawks, I give corn," he said. "To the patient Oneidas, I give the nuts and the fruit of many trees. To the industrious Seneca, I give beans. To the friendly Cayugas, I give the roots of plants to be eaten. To the wise and eloquent Onondagas, I give grapes and squashes to eat and tobacco to smoke at the camp fires."

Many other things he told the new people. Then he wrapped himself in a bright cloud and went like a swift arrow to the Sun. There his return caused his Brother Sky Spirits to rejoice.

The Six Nations

Long, long ago, in the great past, there were no people on the earth. All of it was covered by deep water. Birds, flying, filled the air, and many huge monsters possessed the waters.

One day the birds saw a beautiful woman falling from the sky. Immediately the huge ducks held a council.

"How can we prevent her from falling into the water?" they asked.

After some discussion, they decided to spread out their wings and thus break the force of her fall. Each duck spread out its wings until it touched the wings of other ducks. So the beautiful woman reached them safely.

Then the monsters of the deep held a council, to decide how they could protect the beautiful being from the terror of the waters. One after another, the monsters decided that they were not able to protect her, that only Giant Tortoise was big enough to bear her weight. He volunteered, and she was gently placed upon his back. Giant Tortoise magically increased in size and soon became a large island.

After a time, the Celestial Woman gave birth to twin boys. One of them was the Spirit of Good. He made all the good things on the earth and caused the corn, the fruits, and the tobacco to grow.

The other twin was the Spirit of Evil. He created the weeds and also the worms and the bugs and all the other creatures that do evil to the good animals and birds.

All the time, Giant Tortoise continued to stretch himself. And so the world became larger and larger. Sometimes Giant Tortoise moved himself in such a way as to make the earth quake.

After many, many years had passed by, the Sky-Holder, whom Indians called Ta-rhu-hia-wah-ku, decided to create some people. He wanted them to surpass all others in beauty, strength, and bravery. So from the bosom of the island where they had been living on moles, the Sky-Holder brought forth six pairs of people.

The first pair were left near a great river, now called the Mohawk. So they are called the Mohawk Indians. The second pair were told to move their home beside a large stone. Their descendants have been called the Oneidas. Many of them lived on the south side of Oneida Lake and others in the valleys of Oneida Creek. A third pair were left on a high hill and have always been called the Onondagas.

The fourth pair became the parents of the Cayugas, and the fifth pair the parents of the Seneca. Both were placed in some part of what is now known as the State of New York. But the Tuscaroras were taken up the Roanoke River into what is now known as North Carolina. There the Sky-Holder made his home while he taught these people and their descendants many useful arts and crafts.

The Tuscaroras claim that his presence with them made them superior to the other Iroquois nations. But each of the other five will tell you, "Ours was the favored tribe with whom Sky- Holder made his home while he was on the earth."

The Onondagas say, "We have the council fire. That means that we are the chosen people."

As the years passed by, the numerous Iroquois families became scattered over the state, and also in what is now Pennsylvania, the Middle West and southeastern Canada. Some lived in areas where bear was their principal game. So these people were called the Bear Clan. Others lived where beavers were plentiful. So they were called the Beaver Clan. For similar reasons, the Deer, Wolf, Snipe and Tortoise clans received their names.

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Why The Owl Has Big Eyes

Raweno, the Everything-Maker, was busy creating various animals. He was working on Rabbit, and Rabbit was saying: "I want nice long legs and ears like a deer, and sharp fangs and claws like a panther."

"I do them up the way they want to be; I give them what they ask for," said Raweno. He was working on Rabbit's hind legs, making them long, the way Rabbit had ordered.

Owl, still unformed, was sitting on a tree nearby waiting his turn. He was saying: "Whoo, whoo, I want a nice long neck like Swan's, and beautiful red feathers like Cardinals, and a nice long beak like Egrets, and a nice crown of plumes like Heron's. I want you to make me into the most beautiful, the fastest, the most wonderful of all the birds."

Raweno said: "Be quiet. Turn around and look in the other direction. Even better, close your eyes. Don't you know that no one is allowed to watch me work?" Raweno was just then making Rabbit's ears very long, the way Rabbit wanted them

Owl refused to do what Raweno said. "Whoo, whoo," he replied, "nobody can forbid me to watch. Nobody can order me to close my eyes. I like watching you, and watch I will."

Then Raweno became angry. He grabbed Owl, pulling him down from his branch, stuffing his head deep into his body, shaking him until his eyes grew big with fright, pulling at his ears until they were sticking up at both sides of his head.

"There," said Raweno, "that'll teach you. Now you won't be able to crane your neck to watch things you shouldn't watch. Now you have big ears to listen when someone tells you what not to do. Now you have big eyes--not so big that you can watch me, because you'll be awake only at night, and I work by day. And your feathers won't be red like cardinals, but gray like this" --and Raweno rubbed Owl all over with mud--"as punishment for your disobedience." So Owl flew off, pouting: "Whoo, whoo, whoo."

Then Raweno turned back to finish Rabbit, but Rabbit had been so terrified by Raweno's anger, even though it was not directed at him, that he ran off half done. As a consequence, only Rabbit's hind legs are long, and he has to hop about instead of walking and running. Also, because he took fright then, Rabbit would have been an altogether different animal.

As for Owl, he remained as Raweno had shaped him with anger--with big eyes, a short neck, and ears sticking up on the sides of his head. On top of everything, he has to sleep during the day and come out only at night.

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Kalamath Indian Lore:

 


Spell Of The Laughing Raven
At "dance place" when the Klamath Lake people danced, many people were there.

Kemush, Old Man of the Ancients, went there. Then Old Raven laughed at them, laughed when they danced, and all people dancing there became rocks.

Gray Wolf entered Kitti above, from the north. There he stopped and lay down, although not yet having reached his home. In full dress, at that spot, moccasins with beads on toe, stopped and rested.

Then Old Grizzly approached Old Gray Wolf while lying asleep. And Old Grizzly stole from Gray Wolf his moccasins, beads also, and put them on to go to the fishing place.

Upon this, Old Gray Wolf, waking up, threw Old Grizzly down hill. He rolled him down over the rocks for having robbed him of moccasins and beads also. Thus killed he Old Grizzly.

Upon this, the Klamath Lake people began fighting the Northerners because Old Grizzly had been killed by Old Gray Wolf.

Then Old Raven laughed at them when fighting and they became rocks.



 


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Kalapuya Indian Lore:

 

 

Coyote Takes Water From the Frog People

Coyote was out hunting and he found a dead deer. One of the deers' rib bones looked just like a big dent alia shell, and Coyote picked it up and took it with him. He went up to see the frog people. The frog people had all the water. When anyone wanted any water to drink or cook with or to wash, they had to go and get it from the the frog people.

Coyote came up. "Hey, frog people, I have a big dent alia shell. I want a big drink of water--I want to drink for a long time.,p>"Give us that shell," said the frog people, "and you can drink all you want."

Coyote gave them the shell and began drinking. The water was behind a large dam where Coyote drank.

"I'm going to keep my head down for a long time," said Coyote, "because I'm really thirsty. Don't worry about me."

"Okay, we won't worry," said the frog people.

Coyote began drinking. He drank for a long time. Finally one of the frog people said, "Hey, Coyote, you sure are drinking a lot of water there. What are you doing that for?"

Coyote brought his head up out of the water. "I'm thirsty."

"Oh."

After a while one of the frog people said, "Coyote, you sure a drinking a lot. Maybe you better give us another shell."

"Just let me finish this drink," said Coyote, putting his head back under water.

The frog people wondered how a person could drink so much water. They didn't like this. They thought Coyote might be doing something.

Coyote was digging out under the dam all the time he had his head under the water. When he was finished, he stood up and said, "That was a good drink. That was just what I needed."

Then the dam collapsed, and the water went out into the valley and made creeks and rivers and waterfalls.

The frog people were very angry. "You have taken all the water, Coyote!"

"it's not right that one people have all the water. Now it is where everyone can have it."

Coyote did that. Now anyone can go down to the river and get a drink of water or some water to cook with, or just swim around.

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Kanienkehaka Indian Lore:

 


The Prophecy Of Two Serpents
The story is told that a long time ago, before the time that Europeans arrived in the Americas, two hunters went out over the Great Water to look for a new hunting territory. Game was scarce in Kanienkehaka, and they hoped to find more food beyond the horizon in the east.

These two hunters set out in their canoe for richer game.
After they had gone out beyond the horizon's edge, they noticed a glowing in the distance. They quickened their paddling and came upon a very strange sight. There in the water were two small serpents, one gold and one silver. These serpents were glowing and turned the sky into wonderful colors.

The two hunters were amazed at the beauty of the serpents. They did not want to leave them in the water for fear they would drown or else be eaten by a large fish. They knew if they brought these serpents back to their own nation, the people would admire the serpents and call the two hunters men of great skill and daring. They paddled up close to the serpents and scooped them up into their canoe.

Before the two hunters returned to their village, the people could see them approaching from the great light that glowed from the serpents.
When the hunters reached their homes with their prize, the people were impressed by the catch. Everybody crowded around the serpents to watch the beautiful light that they gave off.

The people kept the serpents in an extra canoe. They were fed daily, and soon began to eat 24 hours a day. They grew too large for the canoe, and had to be moved to a stockade especially built for that purpose.
At first the serpents were fed mosquitoes, flies and other insects. As they grew larger they ate small animals like rabbits, raccoons and muskrats. Soon they grew so large that they needed to be fed deer and finally moose.

One day the serpents grew so large that they managed to escape from their stockade pen. They attacked the children and swallowed quite a few of them whole. The people were in terrible circumstances. They could see the children squirming around in the bellies of the huge gold and silver serpents.

They attacked these serpents with clubs, with arrows and with spears, but to no avail. The serpents continued to ravage through the village, killing more and more of the people and swallowing more of the children.
Finally they left the village and headed for the woods.

The people fought among themselves as to what to do. They couldn't agree as to what was the best way to stop the serpents. They fought until it became too late and the serpents disappeared.
The gold serpent went south, and the silver one headed north.

These serpents left trails wherever they went. They cut through mountains and blocked up the rivers. They killed all of the animals wherever they went, not always stopping to eat the meat. When the serpents approached a mountain, instead of going around it or over the top, they burrowed through the middle. The serpents left trails of filth and destruction wherever they went. They poisoned the waters, killed the forests, and made the earth an ugly and barren place.

One day a hunter from the land of the Kanienkehaka happened to see the golden serpent. It had grown to be the size of a mountain, and it had turned around, and was heading for the Mohawk country once again.
Similarly word came down from the north that the silver serpent had grown and it too was heading for the land of the Kanienkehaka.

One day, the two serpents could be seen from the original village from whence they had come three hundred years earlier. Again the people argued and argued. They could not agree as to the best way to kill the serpents off. The people remembered the legends of the serpents, and how they had eaten the children of their ancestors, and they fled to the mountains.

Once in the mountains the people were told by the Creator that the day would come when a small boy would show them the way to kill the two serpents.
The boy would make a bow from willow. He would string the bow with a string made from the hair of the clan mothers. An arrow would be made of a straight sapling and tipped with the white flint of the Kanienkehaka.

With this arrow and this bow, the people were told, the Kanienkehaka would protect themselves from the two serpents of the United States and Canada.



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Karak Indian Lore:

 

Fire Race

A long time ago, only three Yellow Jackets sisters has fire. Even though the other animals froze fire was kept from them. Wise old Coyote devises a plan to steal fire, and enlists the other animals to help.

Coyote diverts the Yellow Jackets, seizes a burning stick and runs away. As the Yellow Jackets chase him, he hands it off to Eagle, who hands it to Mountain Lion. Several hand offs later, Frog hides a hot coal in his mouth on a river bottom, and the Yellow Jackets give up. When Frog spits the coal out, Willow Tree swallows it, and Coyote shows the animals how to extract it, by rubbing two sticks together over dry moss.

Now that the animals have fire, each night they gather together in a circle while the elders tell stories. A meaningful tale which stress the importance of natural world and our need to live cooperatively with it.

 

 

 

 

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Karasha Indian Lore:

 

 

The Evening Star and the Black Bird

Long, long ago the Karasha Indians were still nomads who spent all their time roaming through the forests, hunting game, fishing in the great river Beracan, and gathering roots and berries. At that time they did not know how to grow crops.

Once upon a time there were two Karasha sisters, Imakro and Denake. The elder, Imakro, was a proud, haughty girl with high ambitions. The younger, Denake, was a kind hearted, modest and good-tempered, quite the opposite of her hard sister.

In the evenings Imakro used to sit outside their hut and look at the Evening Star, Tajnakan, the Karashas called it. It shone out in the night sky with a golden light, so bright and beautiful that the girl could hardly take her eyes off it. In the end she fell quite in love with it, partly because it was so beautiful and partly, perhaps, because it was so far away.

Was it really out of reach? One evening Imakro sat down in front of the hut and sighed deeply.

"What's wrong, Imakro?" asked her father. "Why are you sighing?"

"Oh father," replied the girl sadly, "every night I look up and see the beautiful Tajnakan shining in the night. If only I could go up into the sky to join it."

"It's a little too far away, Imakro," answered her father, smiling. "No one has ever been able to reach up there."

"But father," said Imakro, "I'm so sad, and I haven't been able to sleep since I saw how beautiful Tanjakan was."

"You still can't reach it, my child. So you'll just have to put it out of your mind."

Yet Imakro shook her head. "How can you expect me to forget something so lovely?"

So her father tried to comfort her. "Perhaps if you pray hard enough," he said, "the star will come down to you."

Imakro stood up and held her arms out to the star.

"Lord Tajnakan, the great and good," she cried. "Come to me, I beg you. I am waiting for you." Then she went into the hut and lay down with the rest of her family. Soon she was fast asleep, dreaming of the Evening Star and its beautiful golden light.

All at once she woke up. A hand touched her on the shoulder, and she saw someone leaning over her.

"Who are you?" Imakro asked the stranger. "I am Tajnakan," replied a deep voice.

Imakro was afraid. "You? she stammered. "Is it really you, the Evening Star I've so longed to see?"

"Yes, Imakro, replied the strangers voice. "You called me, and I heard you. I've come to ask you to marry me."

Imakro felt a wave of joy rushing over her. She jumped up.

"Wake up, everyone! she cried, her voice trembling. "Tajnakan has come to me, and he wants to marry me. I'm the happiest woman in the whole wide world."

She ran to the fire and threw on some longs. Up leapt the flames, and the glow lit up Tajnakan's face.

But Imakro could scarcely believe her eyes. Her beautiful Evening Star was an old, old man bowed down by the years. His hair and beard were white, and his face deeply wrinkled. Horror stricken, Imakro covered her face to shut out the sight of him.

"Go away!" she shrieked. "It was the lovely Evening Star I called, not you. You're just an ugly old man. I want to marry a fine young man, someone tall and strong, not a miserable old skeleton like you!"

Tajnakan bit his lip, and his face grew dark and bitter. Without a word he turned away and went to leave the hut. But Denake, Imakro's younger sister, took pity on the poor old man. She was ashamed of her sister's biting rudeness, and her kind heart could not bear to see the stranger treated so cruelly.

"Please stay, sir," she said to Tajnakan. "Don't let us part so unhappily." And turning to her father, she went on: "If you will let me, father, I will marry Tajnakan instead."

Tajnakan smiled, and he took Denake's hand. A few days later the marriage took place, with much feasting and joy. Only Imakro mocked her sister for marrying such and old man.

Tajnakan built a hut, and he and Denake settled down together happily. One day Tajnake decided to go out.

"You see the house, Denake," he said. "I'm going out to work."

"What are you going to do?" Denake asked.

"You'll soon see," her husband replied smiling. "I'm going to sow plants you've never seen before. No one here has ever seen them. You're going to be glad you married me."

Denake looked puzzled.

"What does 'sow' mean?" she asked.

"Sowing is doing what the wind does," answered Tajnakan. "I take the seeds and put them in the earth. Then the plants grow and bear fruit, and afterwards you can gather the fruit and eat it."

Denake's question was not as silly as it sounds. As we know, the Indians of the forest had not yet learned to grow crops.

Tajnakan left Denake in the house, and went away to where the wide river Beracan flowed over rapids. There he stepped into the water and whispered a magic spell:

"Tajnakan, Evening Star, shining on high,

to the great Beracan river does cry;

Carry me roots now, and plants too, and seeds,

that I may fill the poor Karasha'a needs."

All at once, swirling down the river, came grains of maize and wheat, sugar-cane plants, tapioca roots and pineapple plants. Tajnakan caught them as they floated down, and born them off to the bank.

Then he made a clearing in the forest, turned over the patch of earth, so wed the seeds and planted the roots and plants. He had made a field.

It was a big task, and took quite some time. Denake, waiting at home for her husband, began to worry.

"Perhaps he's ill," she said to herself. "My Tajnakan is old, and not very strong. I hope nothing has happened to him."

In the end Denake could wait no longer, and she ran into the forest to find him. After a long and anxious search, she found the new field, and then she caught sight of her husband. She gasped in astonishment.

Tajnakan was no longer a frail old man, but a fine, handsome youth, with arms so strong that he was uprooting trees from the ground. He was wearing the Jewelled ornaments of a tribal chief, and wondrous symbols were painted on his body. Denake could not believe anyone could change so much, but her husband smiled at her. "Yes, I'm really Tajnakan," he said.

"Does that mean that you're not old after all?" asked Denake, amazed.

"I'm as old as when you first saw me," replied Tajnakan. "But at the same time I'm as young as you see me now."

Denake ran into his arms. Then she took him back to show him to her family. As they entered the village they met Imakro, who stared in astonishment.

"Who's that with you?" she said to her sister.

"It's Tajnakan, my husband," replied Denake proudly. "Isn't he handsome?"

And so he was. Imakro was speechless with envy. Why, oh why had she refused him? Eaten up with longing and jealousy, she pushed Denake aside and whispered in Tajnakan's ear.

"Denake's simple and stupid. What's she to you? Wasn't it I who called you, I for who you came down from the sky?"

"That's true," said Tajnakan.

"And wasn't it I you came to marry?"

"That's true too," said Tajnakan.

"Then you belong to me. You're my husband.: And she took Tajnakan's harem and tried to drag him away.

Denake stood to one side, watching silently while this was going on. She saw Imakro's eyes gleam in triumph. But Tajnakan pulled his arm from Imakro's grasp.

"When I was an old man, you refused me," he said sternly. "You, Imakro, will never understand how age carries youth within it, just as youth already carries the seeds of age. You cannot see through to the heart of things. You see only the outside, but Denake saw my heart. Go away!"

Imakro let out a piercing shriek. She lifted her arms to the sky and tore her hair. Then she fell to the ground, foaming at the mouth and shaking through and through. The villager came running up.

"What's happened? they cried. "Has an evil spirit got into her?"

Denake tried to go to her sister, but Tajnakan held her back.

"Don't touch her," he said. "She's lost. It's too late to help her now."

When Imakro's parents ran to help their daughter, she had gone. No one had seen it happen, but where she had lain a black bird was standing, flapping its wings and wailing. The sound was as sad as sad could be, and at the same time it had an evil ring to it:

"Kree-ah, kreee-ah! Are you there? Are you there?"

Imakro had turned into the black bird. Ever since then the bird has wandered through the night, crying to Tajnakan, because Imakro cannot forgive him. When people hear it wailing, their blood runs cold. Sometimes, when lovers walk in the forest at night, the bird flies down and pecks a the girl's head again and again, trying to drive Denake away and win back Tajnakan -- Tajnakan the great, who taught the Karashas to grow crops, because Denake's love was stronger than Imakro's selfishness.

"Listen," people will say when they hear the bird wailing at night. "It's Imakro, still longing for Tajnakan."

And far away, high in the night sky, the Evening Star goes behind a cloud.

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