The terms legend and folktale are sometimes used interchangeably with myth. Technically, however, these are not the same. How should we distinguish them? Donna Rosenberg, in her book Folklore, Myth, and Legends: A World Perspective, offers some useful guidelines:
A myth is a sacred story from the past. It may explain the origin of the universe and of life, or it may express its culture’s moral values in human terms. Myths concern the powers who control the human world and the relationship between those powers and human beings. Although myths are religious in their origin and function, they may also be the earliest form of history, science, or philosophy…
A folktale is a story that, in its plot, is pure fiction and that has no particular location in either time or space. However, despite its elements of fantasy, a folktale is actually a symbolic way of presenting the different means by which human beings cope with the world in which they live. Folktales concern people — either royalty or common folk — or animals who speak and act like people…A legend is a story from the past about a subject that was, or is believed to have been, historical. Legends concern people, places, and events. Usually, the subject is a saint, a king, a hero, a famous person, or a war. A legend is always associated with a particular place and a particular time in history.
Granted soul, where do I go
I see a world in need of help
Little red buffalo, won’t you come with me?
Here I am, newborn child
It’s cuz of you I’m buffalo boy
Little red buffalo, hey what do you feel?
Listen to the trees, here’s what they say
The land’s becoming dangerous
Newborn child, here’s what we must do
Teach the old ways, share the knowledge
For all are part of the universe
Newborn child, that’s what we must do
Oh, oh, oh
We are the ancestors, returning to you
We are all from the past
Little red buffalo, we were born together
Granted soul, now here we go
Reminding all our relatives
Great Basin Area
Great Plains Area
Northwest Coast Area
Fables of the Mayas
Kokopelli Legends & Lore
Legends and Folklore of the Northern Lights
Myths from the United Kingdom
It must be remembered that the animals which appear in Indian stories are not the same as those which exist now. When the world began, animals were much bigger, stronger and cleverer than their present counterparts but, because of man’s cruelty and agression, these left the earth and took the rainbow path to Galunlati, the Sky Land, where they still remain. The animals which came after them – those we know today – are weak imitations of those first creatures.
Fables of the Mayas
Kokopelli Legends & Lore
Legends and Folklore of the Northern Lights
Native American Authors
Native American Book Reviews
Native American Books Online
Native American Bookstore
Native Voices – Native American Books
Fables of the Mayas
AADIZOOKAANAG — Traditional Stories
Australian Legendary Tales
Encyclopedia of Hotcâk (Winnebago) Mythology
Folk Legends of Japan
Folk Legends of Japan 1
Folklore from around the World
Germanic Myths, Legends, and Sagas
Guam Legens II
(Algonquin, Cherokee, Cheyenne, Chinook, Choctaw, Chumash, Comanche,
Creek, Hopi, Iroquois, Lakota, Lenape, Mohawk, Navajo, Seneca, Sioux)IPL Stories
Internet Sacred Texts
Innu tipatshimuna (stories)
Legends and Myths
Legends from Oban the Knowledge Keeper
Legends, Stories & Poems
Maya Stories 1
Myths and Legends of Our Own Land
Myths & Legends
Myths and Legends of Ancient Korea
Myths of Mexico and Peru
Native American Lore
Native American Tales
Native American Oral Traditions
North American Bigfoot Legends
Old Indian Legends
Sacred Stories (Africa)
Stories for the Seasons
Stories, Legends & Folktales
Story Robes and Legends (Blackfoot)
Storytelling of the North Carolina Indians
University of Virginia Texts
Women of the Celts in Myth, Legend and Story
World Myths & Legends in Art
Wampum beads, made from several kinds of shell, were highly prized by the Indians who lived along the Atlantic coast. Where beads were laboriously cut from the conch shell and quallog clam, while the thick hinge of the clam provided Pink and purple beads.
Wampum beads were used in various ways. They were strung together to form necklaces and bracelets, or used simply to decorate clothing, weapons and utensils. They also served as a form of money to ransom captives, to pay compensation for crimes and injuries and to reward shamans for their services. Most important of all, they were made into belts and used instead of signatures to confirm area ties and agreements between tribes.
The color of the wampum was also important. White was the emblem of peace and good faith. Purple symbolized death, sorrow and mourning. White beads coloured red were sent as a declaration of war or as an invitation to join a war-party. Combinations of these colours were used to convey messages or to record ceremonies and agreements.
North American Indians tell many stories about the stars – individual stars and groups of stars. Often in these stories, the stars are referred to as “the People of the Sky World.”
When the first white people came to the Northwest, Indians of several nations told them about a great bridge of rocks and earth that once spanned the lower Columbia River. When the bridge fell, they said, the rocks made numerous rapids and little waterfalls in the Columbia, near the present city of Hood River. Now the rocks and rapids are covered by the waters above Bonneville Dam.
This web site includes information on several different
topics related to Native American spirituality,
including some comments on Native American Origins.
Aborigine – Dreamtime
Timucua Creation Legend (Taino)
Other Origin Stories
King Mu and the
Great Basin Area
Great Plains Area
Northwest Coast Area
Fables of the Mayas
Kokopelli Legends & LoreLegends and Folklore
of the Northern Lights
Myths from the United Kingdom
Anishinabe Migration Story
Apache Creation Story
Aztec Creation Story
Beginning of the World (Blackfoot)
Beginning of Thunder (Miwok)
Blessed Gift of Joy is Bestowed Upon Man
California Creation Story (Yokut)
Commanche Creation Story
Coyote and Multnomah Falls (Wasco)
Creation of the First Indians (Chelan)
Creation of the Red and White Races (Flathead/Salish)
Diguenos Creation Story
First Fire (Cherokee)
First Moccasins (Plains Nations)
Flood on Superstition Mountain (Pima)
Godasiyo the Woman Chief (Seneca)
Grandmother’s Creation Story (Creek)
Great Flood (Salish)
Great Serpent and the Great Flood (Chippewa)
How Corn Came to the Earth
How the Cherokee Learned the Rattlesnake Prayer Song
How the Great Chiefs Made the Moon and the Sun (Hopi)
How the Hopi Indians Reached Their World (Hopi)
How the Old Man Made People
How Rabbit Brought Fire to the People (Creek)
In the Beginning (Northwest Coast)
In the Beginning (Yuchi)
Legends and Folklore of the Northern Lights
Men Visit the Sky (Seminole)
Morning Star (Plains Indians)
MicMac Creation Story
Origin of Earth (Tuskegee)
Origin of Fire (Jicarilla-Apache)
Origin of Game and of Corn (Cherokee)
Origin of Medicine (Cherokee)
Origin of Summer and Winter (Acoma/Laguna)
Origin of the Animals (Jicarilla-Apache)
Origin of the Buffalo (Cheyenne)
Origin of the Buffalo Dance (Blackfoot)
Origin of the Clans (Hopi)
Origin of the Iroquois Nations (Iroquois)
Origin of the Lakota Peace Pipe (Lakota)
Origin of the Medicine Man (Passamaquoddy)
Origin of the Sierra Nevadas and Coast Range (Yokut)
Origin of the Sweat Lodge (Blackfeet/Piegan)
Origin of the Thunderbird (Passamaquoddy)
Origin of the Winds (Aleuts)
Origin of Tu-Tok-A-Nu-La (Yosemite)
Origin of Yosemite (Yosemite)
Rainbow’s End (Dine/Navajo)
Seek Your Father (Seneca)
Spider Rock (Dine/Navajo)
Strange Origin of Corn (Abnaki)
Tlingit Creation Story (Raven)
The Two-Legged Creature (Oto)
Warm Wind Brothers vs. The Cold Wind Brothers
When the Animals and Birds Were Created (Makah)
Why the North Star Stands Still (Paiute)
Why the Opussum’s Tail Is Bare (Cherokee)
Yellowstone Valley and the Great Flood (Cheyenne)
—————-Other Web sites—————-
Creation of the [Maya] World
Creation of the [Maya] World – Version 2
Creation Stories from around the world
Dreamtime – An Aborigine Creation Story
Navajo Creation Story
Other Origin Stories
Popul-Vuh of the Quiche Maya
The Tohono O’odham Creation Story
as told by Aunty Beryl Carmichael
This is the creation story of Ngiyaampaa country, as well as the land belonging to Eaglehawk and Crow. Now long, long time ago of course, in the beginning, when there was no people, no trees, no plants whatever on this land, “Guthi-guthi”, the spirit of our ancestral being, he lived up in the sky. So he came down and he wanted to create the special land for people and animals and birds to live in. So Guthi-guthi came down and he went on creating the land for the people – after he’d set the borders in place and the sacred sights, the birthing places of all the Dreamings, where all our Dreamings were to come out of.
Guthi-guthi put one foot on Gunderbooka Mountain and another one at Mount Grenfell. And he looked out over the land and he could see that the land was bare. There was no water in sight, there was nothing growing. So Guthi-guthi knew that trapped in a mountain – Mount Minara – the water serpent, Weowie, he was trapped in the mountain. So Guthi-guthi called out to him, “Weowie, Weowie”, but because Weowie was trapped right in the middle of the mountain, he couldn’t hear him. Guthi-guthi went back up into the sky and he called out once more, “Weowie”, but once again Weowie didn’t respond. So Guthi-guthi came down with a roar like thunder and banged on the mountain and the mountain split open.
Weowie the water serpent came out. And where the water serpent traveled he made waterholes and streams and depressions in the land. So once all that was finished, of course, Weowie went back into the mountain to live and that’s where Weowie lives now, in Mount Minara. But then after that, they wanted another lot of water to come down from the north, throughout our country. Old Pundu, the Cod, it was his duty to drag and create the river known as the Darling River today. So Cod came out with Mudlark, his little mate, and they set off from the north and they created the big river. Flows right down, water flows right throughout our country, right into the sea now.
And of course, this country was also created, the first two tribes put in our country were Eaglehawk and Crow. And from these two tribes came many tribal people, many tribes, and we call them sub-groups today. So my people, the Ngiyaampaa people and the Barkandji further down are all sub-groups of Eaglehawk and Crow. So what I’m telling you the stories that were handed down to me all come from within this country.
From the Popul-Vuh of the Quiche Maya
“God made some men of mud, but they were very soft and limp and couldn’t see. They could speak, but what they said didn’t make sense. When they got wet the couldn’t even stand up. God saw that they were of no use so he broke them up and said “I will try again”. Then he made men out of wood. The wooden men were better; they could walk and talk. They built houses and had children, and there were very many of them. But they were dry and yellow, and their faces had no expression, because they had no minds nor souls or hearts. They beat their dogs and they burned the bottoms of their cooking pots. They had forgotten how they were made and could not remember any of the names of God. So he said,
“These men will not do either. I must destroy them also”. And he sent a great flood and the houses of the wooden men fell down. The wooden men wanted to escape, but the animals they had starved and beaten, and cooking pots they had burned, and the trees whose branches they had chopped off, all turned against them and wouldn’t help them. Only a few of them escaped from the flood, and it is said that their descendants are the monkeys. And it still hadn’t dawned; and God wanted to make real men when the dawn came and the sun rose. . . . He took ears of yellow corn of white corn and ground them into meal. With the corn meal he make nine kinds of liquor, and these became man’s strength and energies. With the dough of the meal he shaped the body and he made four men, very strong and handsome. They were called the Wizard of the Fatal Laugh, the Wizard of the Night, the Careless and the Black Wizard…They were gifted with intelligence and they managed to know everything there is in the world. While the men slept, he made four women very carefully, and when the men woke, each found at his side a beautiful wife. .
. . When they looked they would see everything that was around them, and they constantly contemplated the arch of the sky and the round face of the earth. “Thank you for our life!” they said. “We can see, we can hear, we can move and think and speak, we feel and know everything, we can see everything in the earth and in the sky. Thank you for having made us, Oh Father!” Then the Creator was troubled, for he realized that these men could see too much and too far, so that they would not really be men, but gods. He saw that he had to change them so that they could be what he needed. So he leaned down and blew mist in their eyes and clouded their vision, like breathing on a mirror, and from then on nothing was clear to their sight except what was close to them. The four men and their wives went up on a mountain and waited for the dawn. First they saw the shining face of the great star, the Morning Star which comes ahead of the sun, and burned incense and unwrapped three gifts to offer the sun. Then the sun came up. Then the puma and the jaguar roared and all the birds stretched their wings and sang, and the men and their wives danced with joy because the sun had risen.”
Raven was so lonely. One day he paced back and forth on the sandy beach feeling quite forlorn. Except for the trees , the moon, the sun, water and a few animals, The world was empty. His heart wished for the company of other creatures. Suddenly a large clam pushed through the sand making an eerie bubbling sound. Raven watched and listened intently as the clam slowly opened up. He was surprised and happy to see tiny people emerging from the shell. All were talking, smiling, and shaking the sand off their tiny bodies. Men, women, and children spread around the island. Raven was pleased and proud with his work. He sang a beautiful song of great joy and greeting. He had brought the first people to the world.
Salish: The ancients all had greater powers and cunning than either animals or people. Besides the ancients, real people lived on the earth at that time. Old One made the people out of the last balls of mud he took from the earth. They were so ignorant that they were the most helpless of all the creatures Old One had made.
The difficulty with the early world was that most of the ancients were selfish, and they were also very stupid in some ways. They did not know which creatures were deer and which were people, and sometimes they ate people by mistake.
At last Old One said,”There will soon be no people if I let things go on like this.” So he sent Coyote to teach the Indians how to do things. And Coyote began to travel on the earth, teaching the Indians, making life easier and better for them, and performing many wonderful deeds.
Iroquois: The Iroquois trace the beginning of human life to a time when Skywoman fell to an island created by a giant turtle. The island grew in shape and size and became North America. There, Skywoman gave birth to a daughter whose children propagated the human race.
Penobscot: When Kloskurbeh, the All-Maker, lived on earth, there were no people yet. But one day a youth appeared, born from the foam of the waves, and became his chief helper. After these two beings had created all manner of things, there came to them a beautiful girl. She was born of the wonderful earth plant, and of the dew, and of warmth. First Mother (as she was called) married the chief helper of Kloskurbeh. When their children multiplied until there was not enough game to feed them all, First Mother made her husband kill her. Then he and his children dragged her body back and forth across a barren plot of land, as she had ordered, and buried her bones in the center of the field. Seven months later they returned and found the field green with ripe corn and, in the center, fragrant tobacco.
Tewa/Hopi: Way back in the distant past, the ancestors of humans were living down below in a world under the earth. They weren’t humans yet, they lived in darkness, behaving like bugs. Now there was a Great Spirit watching over everything; some people say he was the sun. He saw how things were down under the earth, so he sent his messenger, Spider Old Woman, to talk to them. She said, “You creatures, the Sun Spirit doesn’t want you living like this. He is going to transform you into something better, and I will lead you to another world.” When they came out on the surface of the earth, that’s when they became humans. In the journeys that followed, they were looking for a place of harmony where they could follow good teachings and a good way of life.
“One day the Great Spirit collected swirls of dust from the four directions in order to create the Commanche people. These people formed from the earth had the strength of mighty storms. Unfortunately, a shape-shifting demon was also created and began to torment the people. The Great Spirit cast the demon into a bottomless pit. To seek revenge the demon took refuge in the fangs and stingers of poisonous creatures and continues to harm people every chance it gets.”
The Navajo creation story involves three underworlds where important
events happened to shape the Fourth World where we now live. . . . . . .
In the Tonoho O’odham creation story, the reproductive powers
of the universe give birth to the Papagueria and the world
thanks to I’itoi, the god who lives in Waw kiwalik, or Baboquivari Peak. . . . . .
Apache Creation Story
Animals, elements, the solar system, and natural phenomena are revered by the Apaches. That which is beyond their understanding is always ascribed to the supernatural.
In the beginning nothing existed–no earth, no sky, no sun, no moon, only darkness was everywhere.
Suddenly from the darkness emerged a thin disc, one side yellow and the other side white, appearing suspended in midair. Within the disc sat a small bearded man, Creator, the One Who Lives Above. As if waking from a long nap, he rubbed his eyes and face with both hands.
When he looked into the endless darkness, light appeared above. He looked down and it became a sea of light. To the east, he created yellow streaks of dawn. To the west, tints of many colours appeared everywhere. There were also clouds of different colours.
Creator wiped his sweating face and rubbed his hands together, thrusting them downward. Behold! A shining cloud upon which sat a little girl.
“Stand up and tell me where are you going,” said Creator. But she did not reply. He rubbed his eyes again and offered his right hand to the Girl-Without-Parents.
“Where did you come from?” she asked, grasping his hand.
“From the east where it is now light,” he replied, stepping upon her cloud.
“Where is the earth?” she asked.
“Where is the sky?” he asked, and sang, “I am thinking, thinking, thinking what I shall create next.” He sang four times, which was the magic number.
Creator brushed his face with his hands, rubbed them together, then flung them wide open! Before them stood Sun-God. Again Creator rubbed his sweaty brow and from his hands dropped Small- Boy.
All four gods sat in deep thought upon the small cloud.
“What shall we make next?” asked Creator. “This cloud is much too small for us to live upon.”
Then he created Tarantula, Big Dipper, Wind, Lightning-Maker, and some western clouds in which to house Lightning-Rumbler, which he just finished.
Creator sang, “Let us make earth. I am thinking of the earth, earth, earth; I am thinking of the earth,” he sang four times.
All four gods shook hands. In doing so, their sweat mixed together and Creator rubbed his palms, from which fell a small round, brown ball, not much larger than a bean.
Creator kicked it, and it expanded. Girl-Without-Parents kicked the ball, and it enlarged more. Sun-God and Small-Boy took turns giving it hard kicks, and each time the ball expanded. Creator told Wind to go inside the ball and to blow it up.
Tarantula spun a black cord and, attaching it to the ball, crawled away fast to the east, pulling on the cord with all his strength. Tarantula repeated with a blue cord to the south, a yellow cord to the west, and a white cord to the north. With mighty pulls in each direction, the brown ball stretched to immeasurable size–it became the earth! No hills, mountains, or rivers were visible; only smooth, treeless, brown plains appeared.
Creator scratched his chest and rubbed his fingers together and there appeared Hummingbird.
“Fly north, south, east, and west and tell us what you see,” said Creator.
“All is well,” reported Hummingbird upon his return. “The earth is most beautiful, with water on the west side.”
But the earth kept rolling and dancing up and down. So Creator made four giant posts–black, blue, yellow, and white to support the earth. Wind carried the four posts, placing them beneath the four cardinal points of the earth. The earth sat still.
Creator sang, “World is now made and now sits still,” which he repeated four times.
Then he began a song about the sky. None existed, but he thought there should be one. After singing about it four times, twenty- eight people appeared to help make a sky above the earth. Creator chanted about making chiefs for the earth and sky.
He sent Lightning-Maker to encircle the world, and he returned with three uncouth creatures, two girls and a boy found in a turquoise shell. They had no eyes, ears, hair, mouths, noses, or teeth. They had arms and legs, but no fingers or toes.
Sun-God sent for Fly to come and build a sweathouse. Girl- Without-Parents covered it with four heavy clouds. In front of the east doorway she placed a soft, red cloud for a foot-blanket to be used after the sweat.
Four stones were heated by the fire inside the sweathouse. The three uncouth creatures were placed inside. The others sang songs of healing on the outside, until it was time for the sweat to be finished. Out came the three strangers who stood upon the magic red cloud-blanket. Creator then shook his hands toward them, giving each one fingers, toes, mouths, eyes, ears, noses and hair.
Creator named the boy, Sky-Boy, to be chief of the Sky-People. One girl he named Earth-Daughter, to take charge of the earth and its crops. The other girl he named Pollen-Girl, and gave her charge of health care for all Earth-People.
Since the earth was flat and barren, Creator thought it fun to create animals, birds, trees, and a hill. He sent Pigeon to see how the world looked. Four days later, he returned and reported, “All is beautiful around the world. But four days from now, the water on the other side of the earth will rise and cause a mighty flood.”
Creator made a very tall pinon tree. Girl-Without-Parents covered the tree framework with pinon gum, creating a large, tight ball.
In four days, the flood occurred. Creator went up on a cloud, taking his twenty-eight helpers with him. Girl-Without-Parents put the others into the large, hollow ball, closing it tight at the top.
In twelve days, the water receded, leaving the float-ball high on a hilltop. The rushing floodwater changed the plains into mountains, hills, valleys, and rivers. Girl-Without-Parents led the gods out from the float-ball onto the new earth. She took them upon her cloud, drifting upward until they met Creator with his helpers, who had completed their work making the sky during the flood time on earth.
Together the two clouds descended to a valley below. There, Girl- Without-Parents gathered everyone together to listen to Creator.
“I am planning to leave you,” he said. “I wish each of you to do your best toward making a perfect, happy world.
“You, Lightning-Rumbler, shall have charge of clouds and water.
“You, Sky-Boy, look after all Sky-People.
“You, Earth-Daughter, take charge of all crops and Earth-People.
“You, Pollen-Girl, care for their health and guide them.
“You, Girl-Without-Parents, I leave you in charge over all.”
Creator then turned toward Girl-Without-Parents and together they rubbed their legs with their hands and quickly cast them forcefully downward. Immediately between them arose a great pile of wood, over which Creator waved a hand, creating fire.
Great billowy clouds of smoke at once drifted skyward. Into this cloud, Creator disappeared. The other gods followed him in other clouds of smoke, leaving the twenty-eight workers to people the earth.
Sun-God went east to live and travel with the Sun. Girl-Without- Parents departed westward to live on the far horizon. Small-Boy and Pollen-Girl made cloud homes in the south. Big Dipper can still be seen in the northern sky at night, a reliable guide to all.
I know not if the voice of man
can reach to the sky;
I know not if the mighty one
will hear as I pray;
I know not if the gifts I ask
will all granted be;
I know not if the world of old
we truly can hear;
I know not what will come to pass
in our future days;
I hope that only good will come,
my children, to you.
Other Origin Stories
(Owens Valley Paiute, Cahuilla, Maidu, Yurok)
King Mu and the
Queen Mother of the West
(The holder of the fruit of eternal life)
Hitchiti-Mikasuki Creation Story
(as told by my family elder Jayabutu McClellan)
The ground shakes and the opening to the cave is exposed – the People slowly walk to the opening and look out onto a strange new place – this is the Mother that had been created for them – but the cave represented security – as a child can not resist the calling of birth the People could not resist the calling of the new place. the cave now gave birth to the People – new life stepped onto the breast of Mother – a beautiful new beginning was at hand.
The People were greeted by their many brothers and sisters that the Great Spirit had sent out ahead of them. Grandfather moved in the sky and kept the cycles in harmony and spoke to the People with his movement. Kiyas also moved and kept the cycles at the time of darkness and spoke to the People with his movement. Beyond Kiyas lay the Okiyas lights that were placed in order – all were in proper place and harmony for the telling of cycles and the times of planting, harvest and movement. It was into this place of creation that the Great Spirit delivered the People at the time of their cave birth.
The People could speak to and understand all of the words of their four-legged, one-legged, winged, crawler, and swimming brothers and sisters. By instruction, these brothers taught and guided the People in the ways of the Great Spirit. Each of the brothers was told to take a small family group of the People and to teach and guide them. Some of the brothers found great favor with the Great Spirit and the families of the People were to be called by the name of these favored brothers.
The wind spirit had breathed life into the People and he too was given a family of the People that would be called after his name. After family clan names were given to the People. Each family clan went out and built their village. No one was to take a wife from their own family clan – this was never to happen – nothing good could ever come from that marriage – each young man was to go to another family clan to get a wife – from this marriage good seeds could be planted in fertile place – and the spirit of the child would be a good spirit – the child would be a blessing to both family clans.
Each clan received the gift of their brother who’s name they used. Some were known as healers, some as warriors, some as leaders – each with their special gift. For many, many cycles the People lived in the way of harmony – led by those of great wisdom and following the movements of Grandfather, Kiyas and Okiyas.
The ways of war, greed and jealousy were not known. The bones of the ancients rested in peace – their ways were the ways of the beginning and that was the way of harmony and understanding the cycles of life.
Then came a time when the People selected a single leader, and this leader commanded the clans of warriors, and this leader fell in love with the movement and cycles of Grandfather – the leader looked to Grandfather for all answers – the cycles of Kiyas and the placement of Okiyas were used only for the worship of Grandfather – these things were not in harmony with the beginning and slowly pain and suffering came to the People.
Walk in Harmony
Contributed by: Adonaset
Grandmother’s Creation Story
By: Muskeke Iskwew (Sharron John, Creek)
The story I send to you was one my Grandmother, Victoria Whitewolf, used to tell me when I was a young girl, “many moons ago”. This is to say thank you for the hours of pleasure your work has given me. I’m sure my Grandmother would have been honored to see it used in this way, so that many people would enjoy it. She was a great storyteller.
Here is her story:
“Long ago, the Creator looked out over the perfect world he had made, at the oceans, mountains, plains, deserts, lakes, and rivers and he was pleased. He looked upon the plants and trees and was happy at what he saw. Still, he felt there was something missing.
There was no movement, nothing to enjoy the beauty he had created. So he created the animals, birds, creepers, and fish. He made them in all sizes, forms, colors, and shapes. As he watched them roam over Mother Earth, enjoying the beauty of his creations, he was pleased with all that he had done. Life continued on Mother Earth in perfect balance and harmony.
Many moons passed, and one day the animals, birds, creepers, and fish called out to their Creator: “We thank you for all that you have given us, for all the beauty that surrounds us; however, everything is so plentiful that we have nothing to do but wander here and there, with no purpose to our lives.
The Creator gave great thought to their request. After a while, he showed himself again to his creations. He told them he would give them a weaker creature to take care of, to look after and teach. This creature would not be so perfect as his other creations. It would come upon Mother Earth weak, small, and knowing nothing.
So the Creator made man and woman, and all his other creations were happy. Now they truly had a purpose in life: to care for these helpless humans, to teach them how to find food and shelter, and to show them the healing herbs.
The humans, under the care of all, multiplied and grew to be many. Still, the animals, birds, creepers, and fish took care of them. As the humans became stronger, they demanded more and more from their brothers. Finally, there came a day when a human demanded more food than he needed, and the animal would not grant him his request. The man, in great anger, picked up a rock and killed the animal. From the dead animal the man discovered that he could use the meat to feed himself and the skin to cover his body. The bones, claws, and teeth would be his trophies to show the other humans that now he was as smart as the animals.
When he showed these things to the other humans, in their greed to have all that he had, they started killing all of their animal brothers around them.
The Creator watched them all: humans, animals, birds, creepers, and fish. Finally, he called the remaining animals, birds, creepers, and fish to him. The Creator told them that he had decided to take them all to his spirit home and leave the humans to rule over Mother Earth for a period of time, until they recognized the error of their ways.
The animals, knowing that the humans could not survive without them, begged the Creator to take pity on their human brothers and sisters.
Because the animals showed compassion and pity for ones weaker and less wise than themselves, the Creator listened to their pleas.
Because you are good and have followed my ways, I will grant you your prayer.
To protect you, I will no longer allow you to speak with humans or guide and protect them. I will make you afraid of them so that you will no longer approach them. I will create a spirit animal to represent each of you, and to this spirit animal I will grant one gift that he may use.
If a human lives in a good and kind way and follows my path, they may ask me for one of my spirit animals to guide and keep them on my path. This spirit animal will only come to humans who have a good heart.
And so today we seek our spirit keepers to learn how to be as kind and wise as our animal brothers. In seeking them, we wish to learn how to please the Creator, as the animals did before us.
No one knows just how the story of Raven really begins, so each starts from the point where he does know it. Here it was always begun in this way. Raven was first called Kit-ka’ositiyi-qa-yit (“Son of Kit-ka’ositiyi-qa”). When his son was born, Kit-ka’ositiyi-qa tried to instruct him and train him in every way and, after he grew up, told him he would give him strength to make a world. After trying in all sorts of ways, Raven finally succeeded. Then there was no light in this world, but it was told him that far up the Nass was a large house in which some one kept light just for himself.
Raven thought over all kinds of plans for getting this light into the world and finally he hit on a good one. The rich man living there had a daughter, and he thought, “I will make myself very small and drop into the water in the form of a small piece of dirt.” The girl swallowed this dirt and became pregnant. When her time was completed, they made a hole for her, as was customary, in which she was to bring forth, and lined it with rich furs of all sorts. But the child did not wish to be born on those fine things. Then its grandfather felt sad and said, “What do you think it would be best to put into that hole? Shall we put in moss?” So they put moss inside and the baby was born on it. Its eyes were very bright and moved around rapidly.
Round bundles of varying shapes and sizes hung about on the walls of the house. When the child became a little larger it crawled around back of the people weeping continually, and as it cried it pointed to the bundles. This lasted many days. Then its grandfather said, “Give my grandchild what he is crying for. Give him that one hanging on the end. That is the bag of stars.” So the child played with this, rolling it about on the floor back of the people, until suddenly he let it go up through the smoke hole. It went straight up into the sky and the stars scattered out of it, arranging themselves as you now see them. That was what he went there for.
Some time after this he began crying again, and he cried so much that it was thought he would die . Then his grandfather said, ” Untie the next one and give it to him.” He played and played with it around behind his mother. After a while he let that go up through the smoke hole also, and there was the big moon.
Now just one thing more remained, the box that held the daylight, and he cried for that. His eyes turned around and showed different colors, and the people began thinking that he must be something other than an ordinary baby. But it always happens that a grandfather loves his grandchild just as he does his own daughter, so the grandfather said, “Untie the last thing and give it to him.” His grandfather felt very sad when he gave this to him. When the child had this in his hands, he uttered the raven cry, “Ga,” and flew out with it through the smokehole. Then the person from whom he had stolen it said, “That old manuring raven has gotten all of my things.”
Journeying on, Raven was told of another place, where a man had everlasting spring of water. This man was named Petrel (Ganu’k). Raven wanted this water because there was none to drink in this world, but Petrel always slept by his spring, and he had a cover over it so as to keep it all to himself. Then Raven came in and said to him, “My brother-in-law, I have just come to see you. How are you?” He told Petrel of all kinds of things that were happening outside, trying to induce him to go out to look at them, but Petrel was too smart for him and refused.
When night came, Raven said, “I am going to sleep with you, brother-in-law.” So they went to bed, and toward morning Raven heard Petrel sleeping very soundly. Then he went outside, took some dog manure and put it around Petrel’s buttocks. When it was beginning to grow light, he said, “Wake up, wake up, wake up, brother in-law, you have defecated all over your clothes!” Petrel got up, looked at himself, and thought it was true, so he took his blankets and went outside. Then Raven went over to Petrel’s spring, took off the cover and began drinking. After he had drunk up almost all of the water, Petrel came in and saw him. Then Raven flew straight up, crying “Ga.”
Before he got through the smoke-hole, however, Petrel said,”My spirits up the smoke hole, catch him.” So Raven stuck there, and Petrel put pitchwood on the fire under him so as to make a quantity of smoke. Raven was white before that time, but the smoke made him of the color you find him today. Still he did not drop the water. When the smoke-hole spirits let him go, he flew around the nearest point and rubbed himself all over so as to clear off as much of the soot as possible. This happened somewhere about the Nass, and afterwards he started up this way. First he let some water fall from his mouth and made the Nass. By and by he spit more out and made the Stikine. Next he spit out Taku river, then Chilkat, then Alsek, and all the other large rivers. The small drops that came out of his mouth made the small salmon creeks.
After this Raven went on again and came to a large town where were people who had never seen daylight. They were out catching eulachon in the darkness when he came to the bank opposite, and he asked them to take him across but they would not. Then he said to therm, “If you don’t come over I will have daylight break on you.” But they answered, ” Where are you from ? Do you come from far up the Nass where lives the man who has daylight?” At this Raven opened his box just a little and shed so great a light on them that they were nearly thrown down. He shut it quickly, but they quarreled with him so much across the creek that he became angry and opened the box completely, when the sun flew up into the sky. Then those people who had sea-otter or fur-seal skins, or the skins of any other sea animals, went into the ocean, while those who had land-otter, bear, or marten skins, or the skins of any other land animals, went into the woods [becoming the animals whose skins they wore].
Raven came to another place where a crowd of boys were throwing fat at one another. When they hit him with a piece he swallowed it. After a while he took dog’s manure and threw at the boys who became scared, ran away, and threw more fat at him. He consumed all in this way, and started on again.
After a while he came to an abandoned camp where lay a piece of jade (s!u) half buried in the ground, on which some design had been pecked. This he dug up. Far out in the bay he saw a large spring salmon jumping about and wanted to get it but did not know how. Then he stuck his stone into the ground and put eagle down upon the head designed thereon. The next time the salmon jumped, he said, “See here, spring salmon jumping out there, do you know what this green stone is saying to you? It is saying, ‘You thing with dirty, filthy back, you thing with dirty, filthy gills, come ashore here.'”
Raven suddenly wanted to defecate and started off. Just then the big spring salmon also started to come ashore, so Raven said, “Just wait, my friend, don’t come ashore yet for I have some business to attend to.” So the salmon went out again. Afterward Raven took a piece of wild celery (ya’naet), and, when the salmon did come ashore, he struck it with this and kihed it. Because Raven made this jade talk to the salmon, people have since made stone axes, picks, and spears out of it.
Then Raven, carrying along the spring salmon, got all kinds of birds, little and big, as his servants. When he came to a good place to cook his fish he said to all of them, “Here, you young fellows, go after skunk cabbage. We will bury this in the ground and roast it.” After they had brought it down, however, he said, “I don’t want any of that. My wife has defecated all over that, and I will not use it. Go back and pass over two mountains.” While they were gone, Raven put all of the salmon except one fat piece cut from around the ” navel ” which is usually cooked separately, into the skunk cabbage and buried it in the fire. Before they returned, he dug this up and ate it, after which he put the bones back into the fire and covered them up.
When the birds at last came back he said to them, “I have been across two mountains myself. Now it is time to dig it up. Dig it out.” Then all crowded around the fire and dug, but, when they got it up, there was nothing there but bones.
By and by the birds dressed one another in different ways so that they might be named from their dress. They tied the hair of the blue jay up high with a string, and they added a long tail to the ts!egeni’, another crested bird. Then they named one another. Raven let out the ts!egeni’ and told him that when the salmon comes he must call its slime unclean and stay high up until the salmon are all gone.
Now Raven started off with the piece of salmon belly and came to a place where Bear and his wife lived. He entered and said, “My aunt’s son, is this you?” The piece of salmon he had buried behind a little point. Then Bear told him to sit down and said, ” I will roast some dry salmon for you.” So he began to roast it. After it was done, he set a dish close to the fire and slit the back of his hands with a knife so as to let grease run out for Raven to eat on his salmon. After he had fixed the salmon, he cut a piece of flesh out from in front of his thighs and put it into the dish. That is why bears are not fat in that place.
Now Raven wanted to give a dinner to Bear in return, so he, too, took out a piece of fish, roasted it, set out the dish Bear had used, dose to the fire and slit up the back of his hand, thinking that grease would run out of it. But instead nothing but white bubbles came forth. Although he knew he could not do it, he tried in every way.
Then Raven asked Bear, “Do you know of any halibut fishing ground out here?” He said “No.” Raven said, “Why! what is the use of staying here by this salt water, if you do not know of any fishing ground? I know a good fishing ground right out here called Just on-the-edge-of-kelp (Gi’ck!icuwanyi’). There are always halibut swimming there, mouth up, ready for the hook.”
By and by Raven got the piece of fish he had hidden behind the point and went out to the bank in company with Bear and Cormorant. Cormorant sat in the bow, Bear in the middle, and, because he knew where the fishing ground was, Raven steered. When they arrived Raven stopped the canoe all at once. He said to them, ” Do you see that mountain, Was!e’ti-ca? When you sight that mountain, that is where you want to fish.” After this Raven began to fill the canoe with halibut. So Bear asked him, “What do you use for bait anyhow, my friend?” Raven answered, “I’ll use the skin covering the testicles as bait.” The bear asked, “Is it alright to use mine?” But the raven said, ” I don’t want to do it, for they might be too wasted.” Soon the bear was urging it strongly, “Cut them off!” So the Raven, sharpening a short knife, said, “Place them on the seat.” Then the Raven cut them off, so that the Bear, crying out, fell from the boat and, dying, spilled into the waves with one last sigh.
After a while Raven said to Cormorant, “There is a louse coming down on the side of your head. Come here. Let me take it off.” When he came close to him, he picked it off. Then he said, “Open your mouth so that I can put it on your tongue.” When he did open his mouth, however, Raven reached far back and pulled his tongue out. He did this because he did not want Cormorant to tell about what he had done. He told Cormorant to speak, but Cormorant made only a gabbling noise. “That is how young fellows ought to speak,” said Raven. Then Raven towed the dead body of the bear behind the point and carried it ashore there. Afterwards he went to Bear’s wife and began to take out his halibut. He said to the female bear, “My father’s sister, cut out all the stomachs of the halibut and roast them.” So she went down on the beach to cut them out. While she was working on the rest of the halibut, he cooked the stomachs and filled them with hot rocks. Then he went down and said to her, “You better come up. I have cooked all those stomachs for you. You better wash your hands, come up, and eat.” After that Cormorant came in and tried to tell what had happened but rnade only a gabbling sound. Raven said to the bear, ” Do you know what that fellow is talking about? He is saying that there were lots of halibut out where we fished. Every time we tried to get a canoe load they almost turned us over.” When she was about to eat he said, ” People never chew what I get. They always swallow it whole.” Before she began she asked Raven where her husband was, and Raven said, “Somehow or other he caught nothing, so we landed him behind the point. He is cutting alders to make alder hooks. He is sitting there yet.”
After the bear had swallowed all of the food she began to feel uneasy in her stomach, and Raven said to Cormorant, “Run outside quickly and get her some water.” Then she drank a great quantity of water, and the things in her stomach began to boil harder and harder. Said Raven, “Run out Cormorant.” He did so, and Raven ran after him. Then the female bear ran about inside the house grabbing at everything and finally fell dead. Then Raven skinned the female bear, after which he went around the point and did the same thing to the male. While he was busy there Cormorant came near him, but he said, “Keep away, you small Cormorant,” and struck him on the buttocks with his hand saying, “Go out and stay on those rocks.” Ever since then the cormorants have been there. Raven stayed in that place until he had consumed both of the bears.
Starting on again, Raven came to a place where many people were encamped fishing. They used nothing but fat for bait. He entered a house and askced what they used for bait. They said “Fat.” Then he said, “Let me see you put enough on your hooks for bait,” and he noticed carefully how they baited and handled their hooks. The next time they went out, he walked off behind a point and went under water to get this bait. Now they got bites and pulled up quickly, but there was nothing on their hooks. This continued for a long time. The next time they went out they felt the thing again, but one man among them who knew just how fish bite, jerked at the right moment and felt that he had caught something. The line went around in the water very fast. They pulled away, however, until they got Raven under the canoe, and he kicked against it very hard. All at once his nose came out, and they pulled it up. When they landed, they took it to the chief’s house and said, “We have caught a wonderful thing. It must be the nose of the Gonaqade’t.” So they took it, put eagle down on it, and hung it up on the wall.
After that, Raven came ashore at the place where he had been in the habit of going down, got a lot of spruce gum and made a new nose out of it. Then he drew a root hat down over his face and went to the town. Beginning at the nearer end he went through the houses saying “I wonder in what house are the people who caught that Gonaqade’t’s nose.” After he had gone halfway, he entered the chief’s house and inquired, “Do you know where are the people who caught that Gonaqade’t’s nose ?” They answered, “There it is on the wall.” Then he said, ” Bring it here. Let me examine it.” So they gave it to him. “This is great,” he said, and he put up his hat to examine it. “Why,” said he, “this house is dark. You ought to take off the smoke-hole cover. Let some one run up and take it off so that I can see.” But, as soon as they removed it, he put the nose in its place, cried “Ga,” and flew away. They did not find out who he was.
Going thence, Raven saw a number of deer walking around on the beach, with a great deal of fat hanging out through their noses. As he passed one of these, he said, “Brother, you better blow your nose. Lots of dirt is hanging out of it.” When the deer would not do this, Raven came close to him, wiped his nose and threw the fat by his own side. Calling out, “Just for the Raven,” he swallowed it.
Now Raven formed a certain plan. He got a small canoe and began paddling along the beach saying, “I wonder who is able to go along with me.” Mink came down and said, “How am I?” and Raven said, “What can you do?”. Said Mink, “When I go to camp with my friends, I make a bad smell in their noses. That’s what I can do.” But Raven said, “I guess not. You might make a hole in my canoe,” so he went along farther. The various animals and birds would come down and say, “How am I?” but he did not even listen. After some time Deer ran down to him, saying, ” How am I?” Then he answered, ” Come this way, Axkwa’L!i-i-i, come this way Axkwa’L!i-i-i.” He called him Axkwa’L!i-i-i because he never got angry. Finally Raven came ashore and said to Deer, ” Don’t hurt yourself, Axkwa’L!i-i-i.” By and by Raven said ” Not very far from here my father has been making a canoe. Let us go there and look at it.”
Then Raven brought him to a large valley. He took very many pieces of dried wild celery and laid them across the valley, covering them with moss. Said Raven, Axkwa’L!i-i-i, watch me, Axkwa’L!i-i-i, watch me.” Repeating this over and over he went straight across on it, for he is light. Afterwards he said to Deer, “Axkwa’L!i-i-i, now you come and try it. It will not break,” and he crossed once more. “You better try it now,” he said. “Come on over.” Deer did so, but, as he was on the way, he broke through the bridge and smashed his head to pieces at the bottom. Then Raven went down, walked all over him, and said to himself, “I wonder where I better start, at the root of his tail, at the eyes, or at the heart.” Finally he began at his anus, skinning as he went along. He ate very fast.
When he started on from this place, he began crying, “Axkwa’L!i-i-i, Axkwa’L!i-i-i,” and the fowls asked him, “What has become of your friend, Axkwa’L!i-i-i?”
“Some one has taken him and pounded him on the rocks, and I have been walking around and hopping around since he died.”
By and by he came to a certain cliff and saw a door in it swing open. He got behind a point quickly, for he knew that here lived the woman who has charge of the falling and rising of the tide. Far out Raven saw some kelp, and, going out to this, he climbed down on it to the bottom of the sea and gathered up a number of small sea urchins which were lying about there. He brought these ashore and began eating, making a great gulping noise as he did so. Meanwhile the woman inside of the cliff kept mocking him saying, “During what tide did he get those things ?”
While Raven was eating Mink came along, and Raven said, “Come here. Come here.”
Then he went on eating. And the woman again said, “On what tide did you get those sea urchins you are making so much noise about?”
“That is not your business,” answered Raven. “Keep quiet or I will stick them all over your buttocks.” Finally Raven became angry, seized the knife he was cutting up the sea urchins with and slit up the front of the cliff out of which she spoke. Then he ran in, knocked her down and began sticking the spines into her buttocks.
“Stop, Raven, stop,” she cried, ” the tide will begin to go down.”
So he said to his, servant, Mink, “Run outside and see how far down the tide has gone.”
Mink ran out and said, “It is just beginning to go down.” The next time he came in he said, “The tide is still farther down.” The third time he said, “The tide is lower yet. It has uncovered everything on the beach.”
Then Raven said to the old woman, “Are you going to let the tide rise and fall again regularly through the months and years?” She answered “Yes.”
Because Raven did this while he was making the world, nowadays, when a woman gets old and can not do much more work, there are spots all over her buttocks.
After the tide had gone down very far he and his servant went out. He said to Mink, “The thing that will be your food from now on is the sea urchin. You will live on it.” The tide now goes up and down because he treated this woman so.
Now Raven started on from this place crying, “My wife, my wife ! ” Coming to some trees, he saw a lot of gum on one of them and said to it, “Why! you are just like me. You are in the same state.” For he thought the tree was crying.
After this he got a canoe and began paddling along. By and by Petrel met him in another canoe. So he brought his canoe alongside and said, “Is this you, my brother-in-law? Where are you from?”
He answered, “I am from over there.”
Then Raven began to question him about the events in this world, asking him how long ago they happened, etc. He said, “When were you born? How long have you been living?”
And Petrel answered, “I have been living ever since the great liver came up from under the earth. I have been living that long.” So said Petrel.
“Why! that is but a few minutes ago,” said Raven.
Then Petrel began to get angry and said to Raven, “When were you born ? ”
“I was born before this world was known.”
” That is just a little while back.”
They talked back and forth until they became very angry. Then Petrel pushed Raven’s canoe away from him and put on his hat called fog-hat so that Raven could not see where he was. The world was round for him in the fog. At last he shouted, “My brother-in-law, Petrel, you are older than I am. You have lived longer than I.”
Petrel also took water from the sea and sprinkled it in the air so that it fell through the fog as very fine rain. Said Raven, “Ayee! Ayee!” He did not like it at all. After Petrel had fooled him for some tirne, he took off Fog-hat and found Raven close beside him, pulling about in all directions. Then Raven said to Petrel, “Brother-in-law, you better let that hat go into this world.” So he let it go. That is why we always know, when we see fog coming out of an open space in the woods and going right back again, that there will be good weather.
Leaving this place, Raven came to another where he saw something floating not far from shore, though it never came any nearer. He assembled all kinds of fowl. Toward evening he looked at the object and saw that it resembled fire. So he told a chicken hawk which had a very long bill to fly out to it, saying, “Be very brave. If you get some of that fire, do not let go of it.” The chicken hawk reached the place, seized some fire and started back as fast as it could fly, but by the time it got the fire to Raven its bill was burned off. That is why its bill is short. Then Raven took some red cedar, and some white stones called neq! which are found on the beach, and he put fire into them so that it could be found ever afterward all over the world.
After he had finished distributing the fire he started on again and came to a town where there were many people. He saw what looked like a large animal far off on the ocean with fowl all over the top of it. He wondered very much what it was and at last thought of a way of finding out. He said to one of his friends, “Go up and cut a cane for me.” Then he carved this cane so as to resemble two tentacles of a devil fish. He said, “No matter how far off a thing is, this cane will always reach it.”
Afterward he went to the middle of the town and said, “I am going to give a feast. My mother is dead, and I am going to beat the drums this evening. I want all of the people to come in and see me.”
In the evening he assembled all of the people, and they began to beat drums. Then he held the cane in his hands and moved it around horizontally, testing it. He kept saying “Up, up, up” He said, “I have never given any feast for my mother, and it is time I did it, but I have nothing with which to give a feast. Therefore I made this cane, and I am going to give a feast for my mother with this wonderful thing.”
Then he got the people all down on the beach and extended his cane toward the mysterious object until it reached it. And he began to draw it in little by little, saying to the people, “Sing stronger all the time.” When it struck land, a wave burst it open. It was an everlasting house, containing everything that was to be in the waters of the world. He told the people to carry up fish and they did so. If one had a canoe, he filled it; if he had a box, he filled that; and those that had canoes also boiled eulachon in them. Since then they have known how to boil them. With all of these things Raven gave the feast for his mother.
After this was over he thought up a plot against the killer whales and sent an invitation to them. Then he told each of his people to make a cane that would reach very much above his head. So, when the killer whales came in and inquired, “What do the people use those canes for that extend up over their heads?”, he replied, ” They stick them down into their heads.” They asked him several times, and he replied each time in the same way.
After a while one of the whales said, “Suppose we try it.”
Raven was glad to hear that and said, “All right, we will try it with you people, but the people I have invited must not look when I put a cane into anyone’s head.”
Then he went away and whittled a number of sticks until they were very sharp. After that he laid all of the killer whales on the beach at short distances apart, and again he told them not to look up while hewas showing one how it was done. Then he took a hammer and drove his sticks into the necks of these whales one after the other so that they died. But the last one happened to look up, saw what was being done, and jumped into the ocean.
Now Raven and another person started to boil out the killer whales’ grease, and the other man had more than he. So Raven dreamed a dream which infomed him that a lot of people were coming to fight with him, and, when such people really did make their appearance, he told his companion to run out. After he had done so, Raven quickly drank all the latter’s grease. By and by, however, the man returned, threw Raven into a grease box, and shut him in, and started to tie it up with a strong rope. Then Raven called out, “My brother, do not tie the box up very strongly. Tie it with a piece of straw such as our forefathers used to use.” The man did so, after which he took the box up on a high cliff and kicked it over.
Then Raven, breaking the straw, flew out, crying “Ga.” When he got to the other side of the point, he alighted and began wiping himself.
Next he came to a large whale blowing along out at sea, and noticed that every timo it came up, its mouth was wide open. Then Raven took a knife and something with which to make fire. When the whale came up again he flew into its mouth and sat down at the farther end of its stomach. Near the place where he had entered he saw something that looked like an old woman. It was the whale’s uvula. When the whale came up, it made a big noise, the uvula went to one side and the herring and other fish it lived on poured right in. Then Raven began eating all these things that the whale had swallowed, and presently, he made a fire to cook the fat of the whale itself that hung inside. Last of all he ate the heart
As soon as he cut this out, the whale threw itself about in the water and soon floated up dead. Raven felt this and said, “I wish it would float up on a good sandy beach.” After he had wished this many times, the whale began to drift along, and it finally floated ashore on a long sandy beach.
After a while some young fellows who were always shooting about in this neighborhood with their bows and arrows, heard a voice on the beach say, “I wonder who will make a hole on the top so that he can be my friend.”
The boys ran home to the town and reported, We heard a queer noise. Something floated ashore not far from this place, and a person inside said, ‘I wish that somebody would make a hole above me so that he can be my friend.'”
Then the people assembled around the whale and heard Raven’s words very clearly. They began to cut a hole just over the place these came from and presently they heard some one inside say, “Xone’e.” When the hole was large enough, Raven flew straight up out of it until he was lost to sight. And they said to him, “Fly to any place where you would like to go.”
After that they cut the whale up and in course of time came to the spot where Raven had lighted his fire to make oil.
Meanwhile Raven flew back of their camp to a large dead tree that had crumbled into fine pieces and began rubbing on it to dry himself. When he thought that the people were through making oil, he dressed himself up well and repaired to the town. There he said to the people, “Was anything heard in that whale?” and one answered, “Yes, a queer noise was heard inside of the whale.”
“I wonder what it was,” said Raven.
After their food was all prepared Raven said to the people, “Long ago, when a sound was heard inside of a whale, all the people moved out of their town so as not to be killed. All who remained were destroyed. So you better move from this town.”
Then all of the people said, “All of us better move from this town rather than be destroyed.” So they went off leaving all of their things, and Raven promptly took possession of them.
Raven once went to a certain place outside of here (Sitka) in his canoe. It was calm there, but he began rocking the canoe up and down with his feet until he had made a great many waves. Therefore, there are many waves there now even when it is calm outside, and a canoe going in thither always gets lost.
By and hy Raven came to a sea gull standing at the mouth of a creek and said to it, “What are you sitting in this way for? How do you call your new month?” “Yadaq!o’l,” replied the seagull. Raven was questioning him in this way because he saw many her ring out at sea. So he said, “I don’t believe at all what you say. Fly out and see if you can bring in a herring.” This is why, until the present time, people have differed in their opinions concerning the months and have disputed with one another.
After they had quarreled over it for a long time, the gull became angry, flew out to sea, and brought back a big herring. He lighted near Raven and laid the herring beside him, but, when Raven tried to get it, he gulped it down.
In another direction from the sea gull Raven saw a large heron and went over to it. He said to the heron, “Sea gull is calling you Big-long-legs-always-walking-upon-the beach.”
Then, although the heron did not reply, he went back to the sea gull and said, “Do you know what that heron is saying about you? He says that you have a big stomach and get your red eyes by sitting on the beach always looking out on the ocean for some thing to eat.”
Then he went back to the heron and said to it, “When I meet a man of my own size, I always kick him just below the stomach. That fellow is talking too much about you. Go over, and I will help you thrash him.”
So the heron went over toward the sea gull, and, when he came close to it, Raven said, “Kick him just under his stomach.” He did so, and the big herring came out. Then Raven swallowed it quickly saying, “Just for the Raven.”
Going on again, Raven came to a canoe in which were some people lying asleep along with a big salmon which he took away. When the people awoke, they saw the trail where he had dragged it off, and they followed him. They found him Iying asleep by the fire after having eaten the salmon. Seeing his gizzard hanging out at his buttocks, they twisted it off, ran home with it and used it as a shinny ball; this is why no human being now has a gizzard.
The people knew it was Raven’s gizzard, so they liked to show it about, and they knocked it around so much that it grew large by the accumulation of sand. But Raven did not like losing his gizzard. He was cold without it and had to get close to the fire. When he came to the place where they were playing with it, he said, “Let it come this way.” No sooner had they gotten it near him, however, than they knocked it away again. After a while it reached him, and he seized it and ran off, with all the boys after him. As he ran he washed it in water and tried to fit it back in place. It was too hot from much knocking about, and he had to remove it again. He washed it again but did not get all of the sand off. That is why the raven’s gizzard is big and looks as if it had not been washed.
Next Raven came to a town where lived a man called Fog-on-the-Salmon. He wanted to marry this man’s daughter because he always had plenty of salmon. He had charge of that place. So he married her, and they dried quantities of salmon, after which they filled many animal stomachs with salmon eggs. Then he loaded his canoe and started home. He put all of the fish eggs into the bow. On the way it became stormy, and they could not make much headway, so he became tired and threw his paddles into the bow, exclaiming to his wife, “Now you paddle!”
Then the salmon eggs shouted out, “It is very hard to be in stomachs. Hand the paddles here and let me pull.” So the salmon eggs did, and, when they reached home, Raven took all of them and dumped them over board. But the dried salmon he carried up. That is why people now use dried salmon and do not care much for salmon eggs.
Journeying on, Raven came to a seal sitting on the edge of a rock, and he wanted to get it, but the seal jumped into the ocean. Then he said, “Yak!oct!a’l!,” because he was so sorry about it. Farther on he came to a town and went behind it to watch. After a while a man came out, took a little club from a certain place where he kept it in concealment, and said to it, “My little club, do you see that seal out there? Go and get it.” So it went out and brought the little seal ashore. The club was hanging to its neck. Then the man took it up and said, “My little club, you have done well,” after which he put it back in its place and returned to the town. Raven saw where it was kept, but first he went to the town and spoke kindly to the owner of it.
In the night, however, when every one was asleep, he went back to the club, carried it behind a point and said to it, “See here, my little club, you see that seal out in the water. Go and get it.” But the club would not go because it did not know him. After he had tried to get it to go for some time, he became angry and said to it, “Little club, don’t you see that seal out there?” He kept striking it against a rock until he broke it in pieces.
Coming to a large bay, Raven talked to it in order to make it into Nass (i. e., he wanted to make it just like the Nass), but, when the tide was out great numbers of dams on the flats made so much noise shooting up at him that his voice was drowned, and he could not succced. He tried to put all kinds of berries there but in vain. After many attempts, he gave it up and went away saying, “I tried to make you into Nass, but you would not let me. So you can be called Skana’x” (the name of a place to the southward of Sitka).
Two brothers started to cross the Stikine river, but Raven saw them and said, “Be stones there.” So they became stones.
Starting on, he came to the ground-hog people on the mainland. His mother had died some time before this, and, as he had no provisions with which to give a feast, he came to the ground hogs to get some. The ground-hog people know when slides descend from the mountains, and they know that spring is then near at hand, so they throw all of their winter food out of their burrows. Raven wanted them to do this, so he said, “There is going to be a world snow slide.” But the ground-hog chief answered, ” Well! nobody in this town knows about it.”
Toward spring, however, the slide really took place, and the ground hogs then threw all of their green herbs, roots, etc., outside to him.
After this he said to the people, “Make ear pendants because I am going to invite the whole world.” He was going to invite everyone because he had heard that the GonaqAde’t had a Chilkat blanket and a hat, and he wanted to see them. First he invited the Gonaqade’t and afterwards the other chiefs of all the tribes in the world. At the appointed time they began to come in. When the Gonaqade’t came in he had on his hat with many crowns and his blanket but was surrounded by a fog. Inside of the house, however, he appeared in his true fom. It is from this feast of Raven’s that people now like to attend feasts. It is also from this that, when a man is going to have a feast, he has a many-crowned hat carved on top of the dead man’s grave post.
Raven made a woman under the earth to have charge of the rise and fall of the tides. One time he wanted to learn about everything under the ocean and had this woman raise the water so that he could go there. He had it rise very slowly so that the people had time to load their canoes and get into them. When the tide had lifted them up between the mountains they could see bears and other wild animals walking around on the still unsubmerged tops. Many of the bears swam out to them, and at that time those who had their dogs had good protection. Some people walled the tops of the mountains about and tied their canoes inside. They could not take much wood up with them. Sometimes hunters see the rocks they piled up there, and at such times it begins to grow foggy. That was a very dangerous time. The people who survived could see trees swept up roots and all by the rush of waters and large devilfish and other creatures were carried up by it.
When the tide began to fall, all the people followed it down, but the trees were gone and they had nothing to use as firewood, so they were destroyed by the cold. When Raven came back from under the earth, if he saw a fish left on top of a mountain or in a creek, he said, “Stay right there and become a stone.” So it became a stone. If he saw any person coming down, he would say, “Turn to a stone just where you are,” and it did so.
After that the sea went down so far that it was dry everywhere. Then Raven went about picking up the smallest fish, as bull heads and tom cod, which he strung on a stick, while a friend who was with him at this time, named Cak!a’ku, took large creatures like whales. With the grease he boiled out, Cak!a’ku filled an entire house, while Raven filled only a small bladder.
Raven stayed with Cak!a’ku and one night had a dream. He said to his friend, “I dreamed that a great enemy came and attacked us.” Then he had all the fowls assemble and come to fight, so that his dream might be fulfilled. As soon as Raven had told his dream, Cak!a’ku went down and saw the birds. Then Raven went into the house and began drinking up his grease. But the man came back, saw what Raven was doing, and threw him into a grease box, which he started to tie up with a strong rope. Raven, however, called out, “My brother, do not tie me up with a strong rope, but take a straw such as our forefathers used to empIoy.” He did so. Then Raven drank up all the grease in the box, and, when the man took him up on a high cliff and kicked him off, he came out easily and flew away crying “Ga.”
One time Raven assembled all the birds in preparation for a feast and had the bears in the rear of his house as guests. All the birds had canes and helped him sing. As he sang along Raven would say quietly, “Do you think one of you could fly into the anus of a bear?” Then he would start another song and end it by saying in much the same language, “One of you ought to fly up into that hole.” He kept taunting the birds with their inability to do this, so, when the bears started out, the wren (wu’naxwu’ckaq, “bird-that can-go-through-a-hole”) flew up into the anus of one of them and came out with his intestines. Before it had pulled them far out the bear fell dead. Then Raven chased all of the small birds away, sat down, and began eating. Raven never got full because he had eaten the black spots off of his own toes. He learned about this after having inquired everywhere for some way of bringing such a state about. Then he wandered through all the world in search of things to eat.
After all the human beings had been destroyed Raven made new ones out of leaves. Because he made this new generation, people know that he must have changed all of the first people who had survived the flood into stones. Since human beings were made from leaves, people always die off rapidly in the fall of the year when flowers and leaves are falling.
At the time when he made this world, Raven made a devilfish digging-stick and went around to all created things saying, “Are you going to hurt human beings ? Say now either yes or no.” Those that said “No” he passed by; those that said “Yes” he rooted up. He said to the people, “When the tide goes out, your food will be there. When the tide comes in, your food will be in the woods,” indicating bear and other forest animals.
In Raven’s time the butts of ferns were already cooked, but, after some women had brought several of these in, Raven broke a stick over the fern roots. Therefore they became green like this stick. He also broke the roots up into many layers one above another.
Devilfish were very fat then, and the people used to make grease out of them, but, when Raven came to a place where they were making he said, “Give me a piece of that hard thing.” That is why its fatness left it.
One time Raven invited all the tribes of little people and laid down bear skins for them to sit on. After they had come in and reached the bear skins, they shouted to one another, “Here is a swampy, open space.” That was the name they gave to those places on the skins from which the hair had fallen out. By and by Raven seized the bear skins and shook them over the fire, when all the little people flew into the eyes of the human beings. He said, “You shall be pupils in people’s eyes,” and ever since human beings have had them.
Now he went on from this place and camped by himself. There he saw a large sculpin trying to get ashore below him, and he said to it, “My uncle’s son, come ashore here. Come way up. One time, when you and I were going along in our uncle’s canoe we fell into the water. So come up a little farther.”
Raven was very hungry, and, when the sculpin came ashore, he seized it by its big, broad tail intending to eat it. But it slipped through his fingers. This happened many times, and each time the sculpin’s tail became smaller. That is why it is so slender today. Then Raven said to it, From now on, you shall be named ‘sculpin.'”
Raven had a blanket which kept blowing out from him, so he threw it into the water and let it float away. Then he obtained a wife, and, as he was traveling along with her, he said, “There is going to be a great southwest wind. We better stop here for a little, wife. I expect my blanket ashore here.” After a while it came in. Then his wife said to him, “Take your blanket ashore and throw it on some branches.
He did so and it became Rebis bracteosum. When they went on farther the sea became so rough that his wife was frightened and told him to put ashore some of the fat with which his canoe was loaded. He did this, but was so angry with his wife for having asked him, that he said to her, “You better put ashore your sewing basket,” and so she did.
Then he left his wife and went along by himself. He assembled very many young birds, and, when he camped told them to go after cat!k!, the term he at that time applied to drinking water.
Afterwards he came to a certain place and started to make a salmon creek. He said, “This woman shall be at the head of this creek.” The woman he spoke of had long teats, so he called her Woman-with long-teats-floating-around, saying, “When the salmon come to the creeks, they shall all go up to see her.” That is why salmon run up thc creeks.
After this he went into the woods and set out to make the porcupine. For quills he took pieces of yellow cedar bark, which he set all the way up and down its back so that bears would be afraid of it. This is why bears never eat porcupines. He said to the porcupine, “Whenever anyone comes near you, throw your tail about.” This is why people are afraid of it when it does so.
Now Raven went off to a certain place and made the west wind, naming it Q!axo’. He said to it, “You shall be my son’s daughter. No matter how hard you blow you shall hurt nobody.
He took up a piece of red salmon and said to it, “If anyone is not strong enough to paddle home he shall take up this fish and blow behind him.”
Raven is a grandchild of the mouse . That is why a mouse can never get enough to eat.
Raven also made the south wind (sa’naxet). When the south wind climbs on top of a rock it never ceases to blow.
He made the north wind (xun), and on top of a mountain he made a house for it with something like ice hanging down on the sides. Then he went in and said to it, “Your buttocks are white.” This is wy the mountains are white with snow.
He made all the different races, as the Haida and the Tsimshian. They are human beings like the Thingit, but he made their languages different.
He also made the dog. It was at first a human being and did every thing Raven wanted done, but he was too quick with everything, so Raven took him by the neck and pushed him down, saying, “You are nothing but a dog. You shall have four legs.”
One time Raven came to a certain thing called fat-on-the-sea, which stuck out of the ocean. He kept saying to it, “Get down a little,” so it kept going under the surface. But every time it came up he took his paddle and cut part off. It did this seven times, but, when he spoke to it the eighth time, it went down out of sight, and he never saw it again.
As he was traveling along in another place, a wild celery came out, became angry with Raven, and said, “You are always wandering around for things to eat.” Then he named it wild celery (ya’naet) and said to it, “You shall stay there, and people shall eat you.
Once he passed a large tree and saw something up in it called Caxda’q . Raven called out “Caxda’q,” and it shouted back, “You Raven.” They called back and forth to each other for some time.
Aztec Creation Story
The mother of the Aztec creation story was called “Coatlique”, the Lady of the Skirt of Snakes. She was created in the image of the unknown, decorated with skulls, snakes, and lacerated hands. There are no cracks in her body and she is a perfect monolith (a totality of intensity and self-containment, yet her features were sqaure and decapitated).
Coatlique was first impregnated by an obsidian knife and gave birth to Coyolxanuhqui, goddess of the moon, and to a group of male offspring, who became the stars. Then one day Coatlique found a ball of feathers, which she tucked into her bosom. Whe she looked for it later, it was gone, at which time she realized that she was again pregnant. Her children, the moon and stars did not believe her story. Ashamed of their mother, they resolved to kill her. A goddess could only give birth once, to the original litter of divinity and no more. During the time that they were plotting her demise, Coatlicue gave birth to the fiery god of war, Huitzilopochtli. With the help of a fire serpent, he destroyed his brothers and sister, murdering them in a rage. He beheaded Coyolxauhqui and threw her body into a deep gorge in a mountain, where it lies dismembered forever.
The natural cosmos of the Indians was born of catastrophe. The heavens literally crumbled to pieces. The earth mother fell and was fertilized, while her children were torn apart by fratricide and them scattered and disjointed throughout the universe.
Ometecuhlti and his wife Omecihuatl created all life in the world.
Xipe Totec – The Lord of the Springtime
Huitzilopochtli – the Sun god
Tezcatlipoca – the god of Night and Sorcery.
Quetzalcoatl – the Plumed Serpent
Coatlicue – She of the Serpent Skirt.
Commanche Creation Story
“One day the Great Spirit collected swirls of dust from the four directions in order to create the Commanche people. These people formed from the earth had the strength of mighty storms. Unfortunately, a shape-shifting demon was also created and began to torment the people. The Great Spirit cast the demon into a bottomless pit. To seek revenge the demon took refuge in the fangs and stingers of poisonous creatures and continues to harm people every chance it gets.”
California Creation Story
A Great Flood had occurred upon Earth long, long ago. While Earth was still covered with water, there were no living creatures upon the land.
Then out of the sky one day glided an enormous Eagle with a black Crow riding upon its back, searching for a place to light.
Around and around Eagle flew until he discovered a projecting tree stump, or what appeared to be a stump, upon which he landed to rest. There was a home at last upon the flat surface, which was amply large enough for Eagle and Crow to roost upon.
From here, they surveyed the greenish gray water as far as they could see. The sky was a gorgeous bright blue with a few white drifting clouds, occasionally swirled by a passing breeze. All seemed serene to Eagle and Crow.
Small fish were visible below the water, sometimes leaping out of the sea playfully. Hunger caused Eagle and Crow to swoop down, catching a meal for themselves from time to time. Soon a game developed between the two birds to see which one would be the winner in the fish-catching contest. Upon their return to the stump, however, they always shared the reward.
Because of Eagle’s great size and wingspan, he soared to great heights and surveyed widely, as the two birds often flew in opposite directions exploring for land. But no land did they find. No other flying creatures did they see. But they always returned to their home base on the tree stump.
Between them, they wondered “How can we possibly think of a way to make land?”
“We know we cannot dive deep enough to find dirt, and the fish are of no help except to provide food.”
Day after day these scenes were repeated, exploring in search of land or wondering how to create land, only to return to their stump and catch more fish.
One morning soon thereafter and much to their surprise, a Duck was swimming around and around their stump. Occasionally, it dived deep in the water, rose to the surface chewing small fish, twisting its head from side to side trying to swallow its meal. One time, Duck emerged with more mud than fish in its mouth.
Eagle and Crow bird talked excitedly about this! “Can Duck possibly bring up enough mud for us to build land?” they wondered.
How could they let Duck know that mud was what they needed most?
An idea occurred to Eagle, which he bird talked to Crow, “If we supply fish for Duck, maybe he will bring up more mud than fish.”
By trial and error, the two birds caught fish for Duck, placing them at the edge of the stump, until Duck learned that the fish were for him in exchange for mud!
When Duck appeared on the surface after a deep dive, Eagle and Crow brushed off the mud from Duck’s bill and his body with their wings. Progress was slow but steady.
Gradually, Eagle had a pile of mud on his side of the stump and Crow had a similar pile on his side. Each placed fish on his own side for Duck, who now responded by carrying more and more mud to Eagle and Crow. This became a great game of fish-and-mud exchange.
Duck worked very hard, consequently he was always hungry. The birds were surprised at how large each one’s mud pile grew every day. In bird talk they said, “Duck is helping us to make a new world. This we will share equally.”
Occasionally, Eagle and Crow flew toward the horizon, exploring for any new signs of land. But they returned with nothing new to report; however, they noticed a slight lowering of water around the tree stump.
“Surely, the flood must be coming to an end,” Crow and Eagle bird talked.
Each day they watched for a change in the waterline. Each day their piles of mud seemed higher and higher. Faithful Duck kept up his good work as Eagle and Crow caught fish for him and scraped off mud from him for each side of the new world.
Another time, Eagle flew high and far in search of dry land, not returning until late. The sun set and darkness enveloped his world on the stump. Next morning, to Eagle’s surprise, he saw how much more mud he had acquired, and he was pleased. But after looking across at Crow’s mud pile, Eagle was astounded to see that Crow had given himself twice as much mud while Eagle was away.
“Was this Crow’s idea of sharing the new world equally?” accused Eagle.
Of course, they quarrelled all that day and the next over Crow’s unfairness. But the following day, they went back to work making their new land. Eagle decided that he must catch up. He caught two fish for Duck and put them in his usual place. Duck responded by bringing up mud twice to Eagle in exchange for his two fish. All three worked very hard for many, many moons.
Gradually, Eagle’s half of the new world became taller and taller than Crow’s half, even though Crow seemed to work just as hard as Eagle. Duck was faithful to his task, never tiring in his effort to supply mud. Of course, Duck continued to give Eagle twice as much mud for his two fish. Crow never seemed to notice why Eagle’s half became higher and higher than his half.
One morning, as the sun rose brightly, the two birds looked down through the water and saw what appeared to be land!
“So that is where Duck finds the mud,” they bird talked. They were pleased to see that the water was subsiding. How they hoped that soon they would be high and dry on their new world.
But all was not so easy, for that very night lightning flashed across the waters and thunder rolled and rolled from one horizon to the other followed by a heavy, drenching rain. Eagle and Crow sought shelter in holes they dug into the sides of their mud piles. All night long the rain continued to fall, washing away much of the new world into the sea.
As the rain stopped and the sun rose, Eagle and Duck looked out upon the waters and saw an arc of many colours reaching from one edge of the horizon across the sky to the other horizon. This brilliant display held their eyes in wonderment. What did it mean? They marvelled at how long the colours lingered in the sky. Eagle flew toward the scene for a closer look, returning when the arc disappeared.
In bird talk, Eagle and Crow decided that the storm of the night before must have been a clearing shower. They began their land- building project again, hoping that Duck would resume his work as mud-carrier. Soon the sun’s rays burned strong and hot, packing the mud until it was hard. Duck appeared and the team of three continued to build the two halves of the new world.
Day by day, the waters subsided and new land began to show above the waterline but far, far below the new creation by Eagle and Crow. Eagle’s half became taller and taller and hard packed by the hot sun. Crow’s share of the new world was still great, but never could become as large as Eagle’s half of the new world.
In retelling this creation story, Yokut tribal historians always claim that Eagle’s half became the mighty Sierra Nevada Mountains. They also tell how Crow’s half became known as the Coast Mountain Range.
Yokut historians end their tale by saying that people everywhere honour the brave and strong Eagle, while Crow is accorded a lesser place because of his unfair disposition displayed during he creation of the new world by Eagle and Crow.
MicMac Creation Story
This story has been passed down from generation to generation since time immemorial and it explains how Mik’Maq people came into existence in North America. The story tells about the relationship between the Great Spirit Creator and Human Beings and the Environment. It also explains a philosophical view of life which is indigenous to North America. This way of thinking is evident in the Native Languages and Cultures and in the spiritual practices.
The fact that the Mik’Maq people�s language, culture and spiritualism has survived for centuries is based on the creation story. Respect for their elders has given them wisdom about life and the world around them. The strength of their youth has given them the will to survive. The love and trust of their motherhood has given them a special understanding of everyday life.
Among the Mik’Maq people, the number seven is very meaningful. There are seven districts for distinct areas which encompasses an area of land stretching from the Gasp� coast of Quebec and includes New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. The most powerful spirit medicine is made from seven barks and roots. Seven men, representatives from each distinct area or Grand Council District sit inside a sweat-lodge smoke the pipe and burn the sweet grass. Inside the sweat-lodge, the Mik’Maqs will pour water over seven, fourteen and then twenty-one heated rocks to produce hot steam. A cleansing or purification takes place. A symbolic rebirth takes place and the men give thanks to the Spirit Creator, the Sun and the Earth. They also give thanks the first family, Glooscap, Nogami, Netaoansom, and Neganagonimgoosisgo. Listen to the story.
Gisoolg is the Great Spirit Creator who is the one who made everything. The work Gisoolg in Mik’Maq means ” you have been created “. It also means ” the one credited for your existence”.
The word does not imply gender. Gisoolg is not a He or a She, it is not important whether the Great Spirit is a He or a She.
The Mik’Maq people do not explain how the Great Spirit came into existence only that Gisoolg is responsible for everything being where it is today. Gisoolg made everything.
Nisgam is the sun which travels in a circle and owes its existence to isoolg. Nisgam is the giver of life. It is also a giver of light and heat.
The Mik’Maq people believe that Nisgam is responsible for the creation of the people on earth. Nisgam is Gisoolg�s helper. The power of Nisgam is held with much respect among the Mik’Maq and other aboriginal peoples. Nisgam owes its existence to Gisoolg the Great Spirit Creator.
Ootsitgamoo is the earth or area of land upon which the Mik’Maq people walk and share its abundant resources with the animals and plants. In the Mik’Maq language Oetsgitpogooin means “the person or individual who stand upon this surface”, or “the one who is given life upon this surface of land”. Ootsitgamoo refers to the Mik’Maq world which encompasses all the area where the Mik’Maq people can travel or have travelled upon.
Ootsitgamoo was created by Gisoolg and was placed in the centre of the circular path of Nisgam, the sun. Nisgam was given the responsibility of watching over the Mik’Maq world or Ootsitgamoo. Nisgam shines bright light upon Oositgamoo as it passes around and this brought the days and nights.
After the Mik’Maq world was created and after the animals, birds and plants were placed on the surface, Gisoolg caused a bolt of lightening to hit the surface of Ootsitgamoo. This bolt of lightning caused the formation of an image of a human body shaped out of sand. It was Glooscap who was first shaped out of the basic element of the Mik’Maq world, sand.
Gisoolg unleashed another bolt of lightening which gave life to Glooscap but yet he could not move. He was stuck to the ground only to watch the world go by and Nisgam travel across the sky everyday. Glooscap watched the animals, the birds and the plants grow and pass around him. He asked Nisgam to give him freedom to move about the Mik’Maq world.
While Glooscap was still unable to move, he was lying on his back. His head was facing the direction of the rising sun, east, Oetjgoabaniag or Oetjibanoog. In Mik’Maq these words mean “where the sun comes up ” and “where the summer weather comes from” respectively. His feet were in the direction of the setting sun or Oetgatsenoog. Other Mik’Maq words for the west are Oeloesenoog, “where the sun settles into a hallow” or Etgesnoog “where the cold winds come from”. Glooscap�s right hand was pointed in the direction of the north or Oatnoog. His left hand was in the direction of the south or Opgoetasnoog. So it was the third big blast of lightening that caused Glooscap to become free and to be able to stand on the surface of the earth.
After Glooscap stood up on his feet, he turned around in a full circle seven times. He then looked toward the sky and gave thanks to Gisoolg for giving him life. He looked down to the earth or the ground and gave thanks to Ootsigamoo for offering its sand for Glooscap’s creation. He looked within himself and gave thanks to Nisgam for giving him his soul and spirit.
Glooscap then gave thanks to the four directions east, north, west and south. In all he gave his heartfelt thanks to the seven directions.
Glooscap then travelled to the direction of the setting sun until he came to the ocean. He then went south until the land narrowed and he came to the ocean. He then went south until the land narrowed and he could see two oceans on either side. He again travelled back to where he started from and continued towards the north to the land of ice and snow. Later he came back to the east where he decided to stay. It is where he came into existence. He again watched the animals, the birds and the plants. He watched the water and the sky. Gisoolg taught him to watch and learn about the world. Glooscap watched but he could not disturb the world around him. He finally asked Gisoolg and Nisgam, what was the purpose of his existence. He was told that he would meet someone soon.
One day when Glooscap was travelling in the east he came upon a very old woman. Glooscap asked the old woman how she arrived to the Mik’Maq world. The old woman introduced herself as Nogami. She said to Glooscap, “I am your grandmother”. Nogami said that she owes her existence to the rock, the dew and Nisgam, the Sun. She went on to explain that on one chilly morning a rock became covered with dew because it was sitting in a low valley. By midday when the sun was most powerful, the rock got warm and then hot. With the power of Nisgam, the sun, Gisoolg’s helper, the rock was given a body of an old woman. This old woman was Nogami, Glooscap’s grandmother.
Nogami told Glooscap that she come to the Mik’Maq world as an old woman, already very wise and knowledgeable. She further explained that Glooscap would gain spiritual strength by listening to and having great respect for his grandmother. Glooscap was so glad for his grandmother’s arrival to the Mik’Maq world he called upon Abistanooj, a marten swimming in the river, to come ashore. Abistanooj did what Glooscap had asked him to do. Abistanooj came to the shore where Glooscap and Nogami were standing. Glooscap asked Abistanooj to give up his life so that he and his grandmother could live. Abistanooj agreed. Nogami then took Abistanooj and quickly snapped his neck. She placed him on the ground. Glooscap for the first time asked Gisoolg to use his power to give life back to Abistanooj because he did not want to be in disfavour with the animals.
Because of marten’s sacrifice, Glooscap referred to all the animals as his brothers and sisters from that point on. Nogami added that the animals will always be in the world to provide food, clothing, tools, and shelter. Abistanooj went back to the river and in his place lay another marten. Glooscap and Abistanooj will become friends and brothers forever.
Nogami cleaned the animal to get it ready for eating. She gathered the still hot sparks for the lightening which hit the ground when Glooscap was given life. She placed dry wood over the coals to make a fire. This fire became the Great Spirit Fire and later go to be known as the Great Council Fire.
The first feast of meat was cooked over the Great Fire, or Ekjibuctou. Glooscap relied on his grandmother for her survival, her knowledge and her wisdom. Since Nogami was old and wise, Glooscap learned to respect her for her knowledge. They learned to respect each other for their continued interdependence and continued existence.
One day when Glooscap and Nogami were walking along in the woods, they came upon a young man. This young man looked very strong because he was tall and physically big. He had grey coloured eyes. Glooscap asked the young man his name and how he arrived to the Mik’Maq world. The young man introduced himself. He told Glooscap that his name is Netaoansom and that he is Glooscap’s sister’s son. In other words, his nephew. He told Glooscap that he is physically strong and that they could all live comfortably. Netaoansom could run after moose, deer and caribou and bring them down with his bare hands. He was so strong. Netaoansom said that while the east wind was blowing so hard it caused the waters of the ocean to become rough and foamy. This foam got blown to the shore on the sandy beach and finally rested on the tall grass. This tall grass is sweetgrass. Its fragrance was sweet. The sweetgrass held onto the foam until Nisgam, the Sun, was high in the midday sky. Nisgam gave Netaoansom spiritual and physical strength in a human body. Gisoolg told Glooscap that if he relied on the strength and power of his nephew he would gain strength and understanding of the world around him.
Glooscap was so glad for his nephew’s arrival to the Mik’Maq world, he called upon the salmon of the rivers and seas to come to shore and give up their lives. The reason for this is that Glooscap, Netoansom and Nogami did not want to kill all the animals for their survival. So in celebration of his nephew’s arrival, they all had a feast of fish. They all gave thanks for their existence. They continued to rely on their brothers and sisters of the woods and waters. They relied on each other for their survival.
While Glooscap was sitting near a fire, Nogam was making clothing out of animal hides and Netaoansom was in the woods getting food. A woman came to the fire and sat beside Glooscap. She put her arms around Glooscap and asked “Are you cold my son?” Glooscap was surprised he stood up and asked the woman who she is and where did she come from. She explained that she was Glooscap’s mother. Her name is Neganogonimgooseesgo. Glooscap waited until his grandmother and nephew returned to the fire then he asked his mother to explain how she arrived to the Mik’Maq world.
Neganogonimgooseesgo said that she was a leaf on a tree which fell to the ground. Morning dew formed on the leaf and glistened while the sun, Nisgam, began its journey towards the midday sky. It was at midday when Nisgam gave life and a human form to Glooscap’s mother. The spirit and strength of Nisgam entered into Glooscap’s mother.
Glooscap’s mother said that she brings all the colours of the world to her children. She also brings strength and understanding. Strength to withstand earth’s natural forces and understanding of the Mik’Maq world; its animals and her children, the Mik’Maq. She told them that they will need understanding and co-operation so they all can live in peace with one another.
Glooscap was so happy that his mother came into the world and since she came from a leaf, he called upon his nephew to gather nuts, fruits of the plants while Nogami prepared a feast. Glooscap gave thanks to Gisoolg, Nisgam, Ootsitgamoo, Nogami, Netaoansom and Neganogonimgooseesgo. They all had a feast in honour of Glooscap’s mother�s arrival to the world of Mik’Maqs.
The story goes on to say that Glooscap, the man created from the sand of the earth, continued to live with his family for a very long time. He gained spiritual strength by having respect for each member of the family. He listened to his grandmother’ s wisdom. He relied on his nephew’ s strength and spiritual power. His mother’ s love and understanding gave him dignity and respect. Glooscap’ s brothers and sisters of the wood and waters gave him the will and the food to survive. Glooscap now learned that mutual respect of his family and the world around him was a key ingredient for basic survival. Glooscap’s task was to pass this knowledge to his fellow Mik’Maq people so that they too could survive in the Mik’Maq world. This is why Glooscap became a central figure in Mik’Maq story telling.
One day when Glooscap was talking to Nogami he told her that soon they would leave his mother and nephew. He told her that they should prepare for that occasion. Nogami began to get all the necessary things ready for a long journey to the North. When everyone was sitting around the Great Fire one evening, Glooscap told his mother and nephew that he and Nogami are going to leave the Mik’Maq world. He said that they will travel in the direction of the North only to return if the Mik’Maq people were in danger. Glooscap told his mother and nephew to look after the Great Fire and never to let it go out.
After the passing of seven winters, “elwigneg daasiboongeg”, seven sparks will fly from the fire and when they land on the ground seven people will come to life. Seven more sparks will land on the ground and seven more people will come into existence. From these sparks will form seven women and seven men. They will form seven families. These seven families will disperse into seven different directions from the area of the Great Fire. Glooscap said that once the seven families their place of destination, they will further divide into seven groups.
Each group will have their own area for their subsistence so they would not disturb the other groups. He instructed his mother that the smaller groups would share the earth’s abundance of resources which included animals, plants and fellow humans.
Glooscap told his mother that after the passing of seven winters, each of the seven groups would return to the place of the Great Fire. At the place of the fire all the people will dance, sing and drum in celebration of their continued existence in the Mik’Maq world. Glooscap continued by saying that the Great Fire signified the power of the Great Spirit Creator, Gisoolg. It also signified the power and strength of the light and heat of Nisgam, the sun. The Great Fire held the strength of Ootsitgamoo the earth. Finally the fire represented the bolt of lightening which hit the earth from which Glooscap was created. The fire is very sacred to the Mik’Maqs. It is the most powerful spirit on earth.
Glooscap told his mother and nephew that it is important for the Mik’Maq to give honour, respect and thanks to the seven spiritual elements. The fire signifies the first four stages of creation, Gisoolg, Nisgam, Oositgamoo and Glooscap. Fire plays a significant role in the last three stages as it represents the power of the sun, Nisgam.
In honour of Nogamits arrival to the Mik’Maq world, Glooscap instructed his mother that seven, fourteen and twenty-one rocks would have to be heated over the Great Fire. These heated rocks will be placed inside a wigwam covered with hides of moose and caribou or with mud. The door must face the direction of the rising sun. There should be room from seven men to sit comfortably around a pit dug In the centre where up to twenty-one rocks could be placed. Seven alders, seven wild willows and seven beech saplings will be used to make the frame of the lodge. This lodge should be covered with the hides of moose, caribou, deer or mud.
Seven men representing the seven original families will enter into the lodge. They will give thanks and honour to the seven directions, the seven stages of creation and to continue to live in good health. The men will pour water over the rocks causing steam to rise in the lodge to become very hot. The men will begin to sweat up to point that it will become almost unbearable. Only those who believe in the spiritual strength will be able to withstand the heat. Then they will all come out of the lodge full of steam and shining like new born babies. This is the way they will clean their spirits and should honour Nogami’s arrival.
In preparation of the sweat, the seven men will not eat any food for seven days. They will only drink the water of golden roots and bees nectar. Before entering the sweat the seven men will burn the sweetgrass. They will honour the seven directions and the seven stages of creation but mostly for Netawansom’s arrival to the Mik’Maq world. The sweet grass must be lit from the Great Fire.
Glooscap’s mother came into the world from the leaf of a tree, so in honour of her arrival tobacco made from bark and leaves will be smoked. The tobacco will be smoked in pipe made from a branch of a tree and a bowl made from stone.
The pipe will be lit from sweetgrass which was lit from the Great Fire. The tobacco made from bark, leaves and sweetgrass represents Glooscap’s grandmother, nephew and mother. The tobacco called “spebaggan” will be smoked and the smoke will be blown in seven directions.
After honouring Nogami’s arrival the Mik’Maq shall have a feast or meal. In honour of Netawansom they will eat fish. The fruits and roots of the trees and plants will be eaten to honour Glooscap’s mother.
Glooscap’s final instruction to his mother told her how to collect and prepare medicine from the barks and roots of seven different kinds of plant. The seven plants together make what is called “ektjimpisun”. It will cure mostly every kind of illness in the Mik’Maq world. The ingredients of this medicine are: “wikpe”(alum willow), “waqwonuminokse”(wild black-cherry), “Kastuk”(ground hemlock), and “kowotmonokse”(red spruce). The Mik’Maq people are divided into seven distinct areas which are as follows:
3.Epeggoitg a, Pigtog
Creation of the Races
Among the people of long, long ago, Old Man Coyote was the symbol of good. Mountain Sheep was the symbol of evil.
Old-Man-in-the-Sky created the world. Then he drained all the water off the earth and crowded it into the big salt holes now called the oceans. The land became dry except for the lakes and rivers.
Old Man Coyote often became lonely and went up to the Sky World just to talk. One time he was so unhappy that he was crying. Old- Man-in-the-Sky questioned him.
“Why are you so unhappy that you are crying? Have I not made much land for you to run around on? Are not Chief Beaver, Chief Otter, Chief Bear, and Chief Buffalo on the land to keep you company?
“Why do you not like Mountain Sheep? I placed him up in the hilly parts so that you two need not fight. Why do you come up here so often?”
Old Man Coyote sat down and cried more tears. Old-Man-in-the-Sky became cross and began to scold him.
“Foolish Old Man Coyote, you must not drop so much water down upon the land. Have I not worked many days to dry it? Soon you will have it all covered with water again. What is the trouble with you? What more do you want to make you happy?”
“I am very lonely because I have no one to talk to,” he replied. “Chief Beaver, Chief Otter, Chief Bear, and Chief Buffalo are busy with their families. They do not have time to visit with me. I want people of my own, so that I may watch over them.”
“Then stop this shedding of water,” said Old-Man-in-the-Sky. “If you will stop annoying me with your visits, I will make people for you. Take this parfleche. It is a bag made of rawhide. Take it some place in the mountain where there is red earth. Fill it and bring it back up to me.”
Old Man Coyote took the bag made of the skin of an animal and travelled many days and nights. At last he came to a mountain where there was much red soil. He was very weary after such a long journey but he managed to fill the parfleche. Then he was sleepy.
“I will lie down to sleep for a while. When I waken, I will run swiftly back to Old-Man-in-the-Sky.”
He slept very soundly.
After a while, Mountain Sheep came along. He saw the bag and looked to see what was in it.
“The poor fool has come a long distance to get such a big load of red soil,” he said to himself. “I do not know what he wants it for, but I will have fun with him.”
Mountain Sheep dumped all of the red soil out upon the mountain. He filled the lower part of the parfleche with white solid, and the upper part with red soil. Then laughing heartily, he ran to his hiding place.
Soon Old Man Coyote woke up. He tied the top of the bag and hurried with it to Old-Man-in-the-Sky. When he arrived with it, the sun was going to sleep. It was so dark that the two of them could hardly see the soil in the parfleche.
Old-Man-in-the-Sky took the dirt and said, “I will make this soil into the forms of two men and two women.”
He did not see that half of the soil was red and the other half white. Then he said to Old Man Coyote, “Take these to the dry land below. They are your people. You can talk with them. So do not come up here to trouble me.”
Then he finished shaping the two men and two women–in the darkness.
Old Man Coyote put them in the parfleche and carried them down to dry land. In the morning he took them out and put breath into them. He was surprised to see that one pair was red and the other was white.
“Now I know that Mountain Sheep came while I was asleep. I cannot keep these two colors together.”
He thought a while. Then he carried the white ones to the land by the big salt hole. The red ones he kept in his own land so that he could visit with them. That is how Indians and white people came to the earth.
Creation of the First Indians
This story is told by the Chelan Indians, who live beside a long lake in the central part of the state of Washington. The lake is called Lake Chelan (pronounced sha- lan), meaning “Beautiful Water”.
Long, long ago, the Creator, the Great Chief Above, made the world. Then he made the animals and the birds and gave them their names–Coyote, Grizzly Bear, Deer, Fox, Eagle, the four Wolf Brothers, Magpie, Bluejay, Hummingbird, and all the others.
When he had finished his work, the Creator called the animal people to him. “I am going to leave you,” he said. “But I will come back. When I come again, I will make human beings. They will be in charge of you.”
The Great Chief returned to his home in the sky, and the animal people scattered to all parts of the world.
After twelve moons, the animal people gathered to meet the Creator as he had directed. Some of them had complaints. Bluejay, Meadowlark, and Coyote did not like their names. Each of them asked to be some other creature.
“No,” said the Creator. “I have given you your names. There is no change. My word is law.
“Because you have tried to change my law, I will not make the human being this time. Because you have disobeyed me, you have soiled what I brought with me. I planned to change it into a human being. Instead, I will put it in water to be washed for many moons and many snows, until it is clean again.”
Then he took something from his right side and put it in the river. It swam, and the Creator named it Beaver.
“Now I will give you another law,” said the Great Chief Above. “The one of you who keeps strong and good will take Beaver from the water some day and make it into a human being. I will tell you now what to do. Divide Beaver into twelve parts. Take each part to a different place and breathe into it your own breath. Wake it up. It will be a human being with your breath. Give it half of your power and tell it what to do. Today I am giving my power to one of you. He will have it as long as he is good.”
When the Creator had finished speaking, all the creatures started for their homes–all except Coyote. The Great Chief had a special word for Coyote.
“You are to be head of all the creatures, Coyote. You are a power just like me now, and I will help you do your work. Soon the creatures and all the other things I have made will become bad. They will fight and will eat each other. It is your duty to keep them as peaceful as you can.
“When you have finished your work, we will meet again, in this land toward the east. If you have been good, if you tell the truth and obey me, you can make the human being from Beaver. If you have done wrong, someone else will make him.”
Then the Creator went away.
It happened as the Creator had foretold. Everywhere the things he had created did wrong. The mountains swallowed the creatures. The winds blew them away. Coyote stopped the mountains, stopped the winds, and rescued the creatures. One winter, after North Wind had killed many people, Coyote made a law for him: “Hereafter you can kill only those who make fun of you.”
Everywhere Coyote went, he made the world better for the animal people and better for the human beings yet to be created. When he had finished his work, he knew that it was time to meet the Creator again. Coyote thought that he had been good, that he would be the one to make the first human being.
But he was mistaken. He thought that he had as much power as the Creator. So he tried, a second time, to change the laws of the Great Chief Above.
“Some other creature will make the human being,” the Creator told Coyote. “I shall take you out into the ocean and give you a place to stay for all time.”
So Coyote walked far out across the water to an island. There the Creator stood waiting for him, beside the house he had made. Inside the house on the west side stood a black suit of clothes. On the other side hung a white suit.
“Coyote, you are to wear this black suit for six months,” said the Creator. “Then the weather will be cold and dreary. Take off the black suit and wear the white suit. Then there will be summer, and everything will grow.
“I will give you my power not to grow old. You will live here forever and forever.”
Coyote stayed there, out in the ocean, and the four Wolf brothers took his place as the head of all the animal people. Youngest Wolf Brother was strong and good and clever. Oldest Wolf Brother was worthless. So the Creator gave Youngest Brother the power to take Beaver from the water.
One morning Oldest Wolf Brother said to Youngest Brother, “I want you to kill Beaver. I want his tooth for a knife.”
“Oh, no!” exclaimed Second and Third Brothers. “Beaver is too strong for Youngest Brother.”
But Youngest Wolf said to his brothers, “Make four spears. For Oldest Brother, make a spear with four forks. For me, make a spear with one fork. Make a two-forked spear and a three-forked spear for yourselves. I will try my best to get Beaver, so that we can kill him.”
All the animal persons had seen Beaver and his home. They knew where he lived. They knew what a big creature he was. His family of young beavers lived with him.
The animal persons were afraid that Youngest Wolf Brother would fail to capture Beaver and would fail to make the human being. Second and Third Wolf Brothers also were afraid. “I fear we will lose Youngest Brother,” they said to each other.
But they made the four spears he had asked for.
At dusk, the Wolf brothers tore down the dam at the beavers’ home, and all the little beavers ran out. About midnight, the larger beavers ran out. They were so many, and they made so much noise, that they sounded like thunder. Then Big Beaver ran out, the one the Creator had put into the water to become clean.
“Let’s quit!” said Oldest Wolf Brother, for he was afraid. “Let’s not try to kill him.”
“No!” said Youngest Brother. “I will not stop.”
Oldest Wolf Brother fell down. Third Brother fell down. Second Brother fell down. Lightning flashed. The beavers still sounded like thunder. Youngest Brother took the four-forked spear and tried to strike Big Beaver with it. It broke. He used the three- forked spear. It broke. He used the two-forked spear. It broke. Then he took his own one–forked spear. It did not break.
It pierced the skin of Big Beaver and stayed there. Out of the lake, down the creek, and down Big River, Beaver swam, dragging Youngest Brother after it.
Youngest Wolf called to his brothers, “You stay here. If I do not return with Beaver in three days, you will know that I am dead.”
Three days later, all the animal persons gathered on a level place at the foot of the mountain. Soon they saw Youngest Brother coming. He had killed Beaver and was carrying it. “You remember that the Creator told us to cut it into twelve pieces,” said Youngest Brother to the animal people.
But he could divide it into only eleven pieces.
Then he gave directions. “Fox, you are a good runner. Hummingbird and Horsefly, you can fly fast. Take this piece of Beaver flesh over to that place and wake it up. Give it your breath.”
Youngest Brother gave other pieces to other animal people and told them where to go. They took the liver to Clearwater River, and it became the Nez Perce Indians. They took the heart across the mountains, and it became the Methow Indians. Other parts became the Spokane people, the Lake people, the Flathead people. Each of the eleven pieces became a different tribe.
“There have to be twelve tribes,” said Youngest Brother. “Maybe the Creator thinks that we should use the blood for the last one. Take the blood across the Shining Mountains and wake it up over there. It will become the Blackfeet. They will always look for blood.”
When an animal person woke the piece of Beaver flesh and breathed into it, he told the new human being what to do and what to eat.
“Here are roots,” and the animal people pointed to camas and kouse and to bitterroot, “You will dig them, cook them, and save them to eat in the winter.
“Here are the berries that will ripen in the summer. You will eat them and you will dry them for use in winter.”
The animal people pointed to chokecherry trees, to serviceberry bushes, and to huckleberry bushes.
“There are salmon in all the rivers. You will cook them and eat them when they come up the streams. And you will dry them to eat in the winter.”
When all the tribes had been created, the animal people said to them “Some of you new people should go up Lake Chelan. Go up to the middle of the lake and look at the cliff beside the water. There you will see pictures on the rock. From the pictures you will learn how to make the things you will need.”
The Creator had painted the pictures there, with red paint. From the beginning until long after the white people came, the Indians went to Lake Chelan and looked at the paintings. They saw pictures of bows and arrows and of salmon traps. From the paintings of the Creator they knew how to make the things they needed for getting their food.
Note: The paintings (or pictographs) on the lower rocks have been covered by water since a dam was built at the foot of the lake. Surprisingly high on the rocks that are almost perpendicular walls at the north end of the lake, the paintings remained for a long, long time. Then white people with guns and little respect for the past ruined them–for fun.
Origin of the Clans
A long time ago, when the Hopi Tribe was emerging from the First World, their people started to hunt for the land of the rising sun. Moving in related groups, they thought it fun to play a name game.
When the first band came upon a dead bear, immediately they thought it a sign for them to become the Bear Clan. Another Hopi band came upon the same skeleton but saw little gopher holes surrounding the carcass. They agreed among themselves to become the Gopher Clan.
In the same way, other Hopis found a nest of spiders and they named themselves the Spider Clan. Far ahead the Bear Clan travelled with Chief Bahana leading. Always, the Bear Clan seemed to move faster in many ways.
Spider Clan trailed all the clans because they had so many children. One day they came upon a friendly spider sitting near her large web. The Spider Clan encircled her as she spoke to their Chief, “I am Spider Woman, possessed of Supernatural Power. Since you are named for my people, I will help you in any way I can.”
“Thank you, Spider Woman,” replied the Chief. “We are travelling to find the land of the rising sun. Other clans of our Hopi Tribe are much farther ahead of us. We wish we could travel faster, but we have much to pack on our backs as we have so many children.”
“Perhaps I can make something to ease your travel,” said Spider Woman.
“What do you have in mind?” asked the Chief.
“First, I need something of yourself,” said Spider Woman. “You must go into my secret room where you will find a large water jug. You must wash yourself all over and save the dust and skin that rolls off and fetch it to me.”
Because of many travel days, the Chief was so hot and dusty that he made a sizeable ball of dirt, which he gave to Spider Woman. With this she began her magic creation. She spread a white, fleecy cloth in front of her, placing the ball in the Centre. Then she rolled it up carefully into a white ball.
Spider Woman sang her ceremonial creation song four times, while the Spider Clan sat in a circle and waited expectantly. Now and then, she touched the fleecy ball with her magic web and looked to see if any signs of life were evident within the ball. Again, Spider Woman sang another magic song four times and behold!–the fleecy, white ball moved back and forth and rolled about. To everyone’s surprise, through the fleecy cover emerged a tiny gray animal stretching forth four tiny legs.
Spider Woman called it a burro. At the sight of it, the Spider Clan knew that it needed to grow much stronger before it could be of any help to them. Spider Woman kept the young animal warm and gave it some of her magic food. She spent much time massaging its tiny legs with her magic salve to make them grow faster.
After only four days, the burro was ready to travel with the Spider Clan. They packed the sides of the burrow with their excess supplies and started on their way to the land of the rising sun.
Later, Spider Woman decided to create a man who should know more about caring for the burro than the Hopis. This she did and sent the man to catch up with the Spider Clan, to teach them how better to care for the burro.
But that man was selfish. Instead of helping the people, he ran away one dark night, taking the burro with him. Even though saddened over the loss of their helpful burro, Spider Clan continued their trek to the land of the rising sun, shouldering their heavy packs as before.
Of course, the Bear Clan arrived at their destination first. They set about establishing their village. Gradually the other Hopi Clans joined them, making their villages nearby. There the Hopi Tribe grew and prospered.
But the Spider Clan, which arrived last in the land of the rising sun, became the largest and most prosperous of all the Hopi Clans, because they had so many children during the following years.
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 sowed 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 travelled 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 “clubhouses”), 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 unpeopled 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, singeing 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 priest’s 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 travelled 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 travelling. 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.
These few were the Hopi Indians that now live on the Three Mesas of northeastern Arizona.
When the Animals and Birds Were Created
The Indians who live on the farthest point of the northwest corner of Washington State used to tell stories, not about one Changer, but about the Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things. So did their close relatives, who lived on Vancouver Island, across the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
When the world was very young, there were no people on the earth. There were no birds or animals, either. There was nothing but grass and sand and creatures that were neither animals nor people but had some of the traits of people and some of the traits of animals.
Then the two brothers of the Sun and the Moon came to the earth. Their names were Ho-ho-e-ap-bess, which means “The Two-Men-Who- Changed-Things.” They came to make the earth ready for a new race of people, the Indians. The Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things called all the creatures to them. Some they changed to animals and birds. Some they changed to trees and smaller plants.
Among them was a bad thief. He was always stealing food from creatures who were fishermen and hunters. The Two-Men-Who- Changed-Things transformed him into Seal. They shortened his arms and tied his legs so that only his feet could move. Then they threw Seal into the Ocean and said to him, “Now you will have to catch your own fish if you are to have anything to eat.”
One of the creatures was a great fisherman. He was always on the rocks or was wading with his long fishing spear. He kept it ready to thrust into some fish. He always wore a little cape, round and white over his shoulders. The Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things transformed him into Great Blue Heron. The cape became the white feathers around the neck of Great Blue Heron. The long fishing spear became his sharp pointed bill.
Another creature was both a fisherman and a thief. He had stolen a necklace of shells. The Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things transformed him into Kingfisher. The necklace of shells was turned into a ring of feathers around Kingfisher’s neck. He is still a fisherman. He watches the water, and when he sees a fish, he dives headfirst with a splash into the water.
Two creatures had huge appetites. They devoured everything they could find. The Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things transformed one of them into Raven. They transformed his wife into Crow. Both Raven and Crow were given strong beaks so that they could tear their food. Raven croaks “Cr-r-ruck!” and Crow answers with a loud “Cah! Cah!”
The Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things called Bluejay’s son to them and asked, “Which do you wish to be–a bird or a fish?”
“I don’t want to be either,” he answered.
“Then we will transform you into Mink. You will live on land. You will eat the fish you can catch from the water or can pick up on the shore. ”
Then the Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things remembered that the new people would need wood for many things.
They called one of the creatures to them and said “The Indians will want tough wood to make bows with. They will want tough wood to make wedges with, so that they can split logs. You are tough and strong. We will change you into the yew tree.”
They called some little creatures to them. “The new people will need many slender, straight shoots for arrows. You will be the arrowwood. You will be white with many blossoms in early summer.”
They called a big, fat creature to them. “The Indians will need big trunks with soft wood so that they can make canoes. You will be the cedar trees. The Indians will make many things from your bark and from your roots.”
The Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things knew that the Indians would need wood for fuel. So they called an old creature to them. “You are old, and your heart is dry. You will make good kindling, for your grease has turned hard and will make pitch. You will be the spruce tree. When you grow old, you will always make dry wood that will be good for fires.”
To another creature they said, “You shall be the hemlock. Your bark will be good for tanning hides. Your branches will be used in the sweat lodges.”
A creature with a cross temper they changed into a crab apple tree, saying, “You shall always bear sour fruit.”
Another creature they changed into the wild cherry tree, so that the new people would have fruit and could use the cherry bark for medicine.
A thin, tough creature they changed into the alder tree, so that the new people would have hard wood for their canoe paddles.
Thus the Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things got the world ready for the new people who were to come. They made the world as it was when the Indians lived in it.