Other Stories


How Half Dome Was Formed



Tu-tok, Yosemite Spirit Chief, lived in his castle atop this highest mountain. He was the giver of all creature comforts to his people. He was giver of future enjoyment in the happy hunting grounds of Indian heaven. Tu-tok lived for all the Indians surrounded by the granite range of mountains. He kept vigilant watch that no foreign enemy should invade their homeland.

Long, long ago, when the children of the Sun lived in Yosemite Valley, all was happiness. Tu-tok sat high on his rocky throne overlooking the peaceful people and animals below.

He herded the wild deer and roused the sleeping bear so that the brave Yosemites might have a good hunt. He prayed to the Sky Chief for soft rain and warm sunshine to make the corn grow. He prayed that the harvest be rich for their womenfolk to gather.

When Tu-tok laughed, the winding river rippled with smiles. When he sighed, the wind swept sadly through the pines. When he spoke, the sound was like the deep voice of a roaring waterfall. When he smote the bear, his triumphant whoop rang out and echoed from mountaintop to mountaintop. His feet were swift. His eyes were strong and bright like the rising sun.

One morning a shining vision of the maiden Tis-sa appeared before the eyes of Tu-tok. She was the guardian angel of Yosemite Valley. He saw her sitting on the southern granite Dome, among the highest mountains. She was beautiful. On her shoulders rested two filmy, cloudlike wings.

“Tu-tok,” she whispered. Then she vanished over the rounded granite Dome. With his eyes alert, his ears quick, his feet swift, he ran in pursuit. She had left a soft, down-like mist behind. His vision was blurred by it. He could not find her.

“Tis-sa! Tis-sa!” he called every morning as he leaped the stony crests in search of her. Every day he placed acorns and wild flowersupon her granite Dome. Sometimes he seemed to have a vision of her and saw her beautiful eyes. But never did he hear her voice. Never did he speak to her.

Tu-tok’s love for Tis-sa grew so strong that he forgot the crops of the Yosemites. The rain did not fall. The corn drooped their heads. The wind whistled mournfully through the wild crops. The flowers lost their blooms. The bees stored no honey in the hollow trees. Green leaves turned brown.

Tu-tok saw none of these changes in the valley, because he was blinded by his love for Tis-sa. But she looked down with sad eyes upon the neglected valley below. Kneeling upon the gray granite Dome, she prayed to the Chief of the Sky spirits. She prayed that the flowers might be bright again; that the grasses and trees might be green again; that the corn might be ripe again.

Then a thundering sound like a giant earthquake split the Dome beneath her. Half the Dome disappeared. Melting snow from the High Sierra Mountains gushed through an opening made by the split. Rushing water, tumbling over rocks, formed a waterfall into Mirror Lake below. The lake overflowed into the beautiful Merced River winding through Yosemite Valley. All was changed!

Birds dipped their bodies into small pools. Fluttering from the water, they burst into songs of delight again. Moisture seeped silently into the parched earth. Flowers lifted their heads with fragrant gratitude. Corn gracefully stood upright. Sap ran upward into all the trees. But the maid, Tis-sa, vanished as strangely as she had first appeared. In memory of her, she left in the hearts of the Yosemites the beautiful falls, the quiet lake, the winding river, the Half Dome. The Yosemite tribe called it Tis- sa-ack.

When Tis-sa flew away, small downy feathers drifted from her shiny wings. Where they fell on the edge of the lake and in the meadows, you can see thousands of little white violets growing today. Some people say they hear whispers that he who sees a white violet and lovingly picks it with a kiss will have happy thoughts and pleasant dreams.

When Tu-tok was certain that Tis-sa was gone, he left his rocky mountain castle. He wandered everywhere in search of the one he loved. Before he left, however, he carved a bold outline of his head upon the rock, EL Capitan, which bears his nobel tribal name, Tu-tok-ah-nu-lah.

There in stone, Tu-tok still guards the entrance to Yosemite Valley, which once he cared for tenderly. There the Yosemites remember him, though he wandered for many years. His search for Tis-sa ended without success. He returned alone to his mountaintop home, always looking expectantly toward Half Dome for Tis-sa.

Leaping Frog Rocks



Long ago, the Yosemites named the three peaks outlined against the north ridge the Leaping Frog Rocks. Yosemites called them Kom-po-pai-ses, because they look like three frogs sitting on their haunches, ready to spring. Today in Yosemite National Park you can still see the same formation.

The last great chief of the Yosemites was Chief Ten-a-ya. Constantly he watched from his hideaway mountain lodge, and saw strange white horsemen riding from across the plains to the West.

Often he remembered what the Old Chief his father had said, “Obey my word, Ten-a-ya, and your people shall be as many as the blades of grass. No enemy tribe shall ever dare to bring war into Yosemite Valley.

“But beware, my son, of the white horsemen coming from across the plains beyond. If once they cross the western mountains, your tribe will scatter as the dust before the desert wind. Then the Yosemites will never be the same again.

“Guard your stronghold, Ten-a-ya my son, lest you be the last of the great Chiefs of the Yosemites.”

The Old Chief, trembling, had raised his peace pipe above his head and prayed, “Great Spirit Above, be good to my son, Ten-a- ya, Young Chief of the Yosemites.”

To the four points of the compass, he turned and prayed:

“To the pines of the north, cold Wind treat him kindly.

“To the rising Sun of the east, Great Sun shine upon his lodge early in the morning.

“To the place where the Sun goes in winter, south wind bless my son,

“To the land of the Setting Sun in the west, tenderly carry on the breezes a gentle sleep for him.

“Lowering my pipe I say to you, kind Mother Earth, when you receive my son into your warm bosom, hold him gently forever.

“Let the howl of the coyote, the roar of the bear and the mountain lion, and the sound of the wind swaying the tops of the tall pine trees, be to him a sweet lullaby.”

As he remembered the Old Chief’s words, Ten-a-ya guarded his mountain retreat like a mother-bear protects her young cub. With great anxiety day after day, he saw the white horsemen coming nearer and nearer from across the plains.

Ten-a-ya watched them take the land that the Great Spirit had made for the Yosemites and the other tribes. Ten-a-ya watched the white men burrow into the earth like moles. He watched them wash the sands and rocks of the rivers, searching for something yellow and shiny. They pastured their cattle upon the sacred hunting grounds of the Yosemites.

Ten-a-ya heard of the strangers stealing Yosemite women and girls for their wives. Nearer and nearer they made their camps, stealing Yosemite supplies.

Because Ten-a-ya was young and strong, he did not fear the white men. In his heart, he hated them for their disregard of what the Great Spirit had created for the Yosemites. Sometimes at night, Ten-a-ya and his braves drove away the white men’s horses or killed them for food in place of their own natural game which supply was stolen by the white men.

A feeling of defiance against the white man’s encroachment grew among the Yosemite braves. Ten-a-ya grew older with time. White horsemen increased in numbers, arriving at the very walls of Yosemite Valley. Again Ten-a-ya recalled his dying father’s words, and Ten-a-ya knew the evil day was drawing near.

The white men climbed the western mountains. They offered gifts in the name of their White Father in Washington, and then made Ten-a-ya their captive. Young Yosemite braves fled from their camps, crossing the North Dome to the camp of the Mono Indians. They were young and could hunt far for food to supply their families. They refused to be herded like cattle in the white man’s camp.

Though a captive, in spirit Chief Ten-a-ya remained strong. With native cunning, he watched for a chance and escaped to his mountain stronghold. More and more in his heart, he was growing a strong hatred for the white man.

The children of the Yosemites scattered. They were unable to rally again around Chief Ten-a-ya, because the white horsemen pursued him into his mountain retreat. Day and night, signal fires burned upon the mountaintops.

When messengers from the White Father entered Yosemite Valley, they found it deserted. But five dark figures darted from trees to rocks at the base of the jagged spur of the northern rock wall of Yosemite Valley.

A swollen river lay between the enemy and the five Indian scouts. With this protection, the scouts came into the open and taunted the white strangers. Then the scouts disappeared up the mountain, leaving no trail visible for white men to follow. Later, however, false promises induced the five scouts to come again to the white men’s camp. Three of the scouts were sons of Ten-a-ya.

One brother was killed when he became a hostage. Another brother escaped only because of the bad aim of a white stranger.

When Ten-a-ya realized that it was useless to resist further, he surrendered to the messengers of the White Father in Washington. They had stolen his lands and his families, and they would not let the Yosemites live in peace in their homeland.

Ten-a-ya came down the mountain by his secret path from Le-ham-i- te, the canyon of the Arrowwood. His first sight was that of his oldest son’s dead body. He spoke no word. That night he secretly carried the young chief’s body to a sacred burial place.

Angered at the loss of his son, once more Ten-a-ya tried to escape and gather his tribe together, but he was captured a second time. In grief, he turned his bare chest toward his captors and cried:

“Kill me, White Chief, kill me as you have killed my sons and my people. You have brought sorrow to my heart and to the Yosemites. Kill me–and when I am dead, my spirit will rise up and call the spirits of our dead Yosemites to avenge the deaths you have caused. Our spirits will follow your footsteps forever.

“You will not see me or other Yosemites, but we will follow you wherever you go. You will know it is the spirit of Ten-a-ya and his people. You will come to fear us. Someday you will be sorry. This message is from our Great Spirit Above.”

Ten-a-ya’s prophecy came true. When the white men crossed the western mountains they encountered many problems and hardships because they had not made friends with the native people in the beginning. Yosemites scattered and never came together again as a tribe.Ten-a-ya was the last great Chief of the Yosemites.

Because the three sons of Ten-a-ya were captured at the base of the northern mountain wall, the three peaks were named to honour the “Three Brothers.” Because their posture still resembles the “Three Leaping Frogs,” they are also called Kom-po-pai-ses

The Origin of Yosemite



Long, long ago before the white man came to the West, a large happy tribe of peaceful Indians lived among the trees of beautiful Oak Canyon. This spectacular place is now known as Yosemite Valley, situated in Yosemite National Park, California.

In the beginning these peaceful Indians were called Ah-wah-nees, meaning “Deep Grass Valley,” which was the first name given to Yosemite Valley.

It is of interest to note that because of a printer’s error at a later date, the spelling of the tribe’s name was inadvertently changed to Yosemite. Now Yosemite National Park identifies the original home of the Ah-wah-nee band (Yosemite), southern division of the Miwok Tribe.

Today, the California State flag carries a picture of the grizzly bear as a reminder of the State’s official animal, Yo Semitee.

Ah-wah-nees were proud of their Chief, a tall and young athletic man. Early one spring morning, he started off with his spears in hand to hunt for trout in the nearby lake known as Sleeping Water.

Imagine his astonishment when he rounded a large boulder and came face to face with an enormous grizzly bear, probably just out of its winter hibernation!

Such an unexpected meeting caused both of them to rear back in stunned surprise. Immediately, however, all of the fighting spirit within each arose. They attacked one another furiously! The Chief realized his fighting power was not equal to the great strength of the grizzly.

“What can I do to help myself?” he wondered.

At that moment, he saw an oak limb within reach and grabbed it for a weapon.

“I must do everything possible to subdue this bear, even if it means my own death,” he thought while he fought. “I am determined that future Ah-wah-nee children will always remember the proud and brave blood that flowed in the veins of their ancestors.”

He pounded heavy blows, one after another, upon the head of the grizzly bear. In return, the young Chief received innumerable cuts from the bear’s teeth and claws. They exchanged blows that could have been death blows to either one, if each had not been determined to survive. The grizzly bear’s hunger drove him to attack; the Chief’s pride, courage, and great height strengthened his defense.

On and on they fought. Then when the Chief saw the eyes of the bear glaze with a cold stare, he knew his great moment had come. With his club raised overhead, the Chief brought down a whopping smash upon the head of the bear, who then slowly slumped to the ground. The Chief charged in to finish the task, making sure the grizzly bear was dead.

Exhausted, the young Chief withdrew a short way to rest, but kept his eyes upon the grizzly bear in case it revived. After some time, when he was certain of the bear’s death, the Chief stepped forward and skinned the animal.

Later, dragging the bearskin behind him, the Chief returned to his village and proclaimed his victory. Young and old braves gathered to welcome him and to praise his success. The young braves took off, following the trail where the bearskin dragged upon the ground. They found the grizzly bear before any other wild animal had a chance to claim it. Immediately, they set to work and butchered the bear and then carried the parts back to their camp.

In the meantime, the braves prepared a huge fire and sent young runners to the outlying camps, inviting all the people to an evening of feasting.

The victory of their young Chief over the enormous grizzly bear astounded all of the Ah-wah-nees. They cheered and cheered their admiration for their great Chief. They renamed their hero, Chief Yo Semitee, which means “Grizzly Bear.”

Following the feast, the entire tribe gathered for a victory dance, attired in all their fine beads and fine feathers. Chief Yo Semitee sat and overlooked the celebration, smoking the peace pipe with his tribal council. More feasting and dancing continued most of the night, as Ah-wah-nees showed their affection for their young and strong Chief.

Yo Semitee’s children, and finally all of the tribe, became known as Yo Semitees in honour of their brave Chief.

The Water Famine



From this legend we learn of the origin of fish, frogs, and turtles. A long, long time ago, Indians settled up the river. A Monster frog forbade these Indians the use of water. Some died from thirst. Their Spirit Chief, Gluskabe, came to help them. He saw how sickly his people seemed. He asked them, “What is your trouble?”

“The Monster is killing us with thirst. He forbids us water.”

“I will make him give you water,” Gluskabe replied. The people went with their Chief to see the Monster frog. The Chief said to the Monster, “Why do you abuse our grandchildren? You will be sorry for this treatment of our good people. I will give them water, so all will have an equal share of the water. The benefits should be shared.”

Gluskabe suddenly grabbed the Monster frog and broke his back. From thenceforth, all bullfrogs are broken-backed. Even then the Monster did not give up the water. So Gluskabe took an axe and cut down a large yellow birch tree, so that when it fell down, the yellow birch tree killed the Monster frog.

That is how the Penobscot River originated. The water flowed from the Monster frog. All the branches of the yellow birch tree became rivers, and all emptied into the main Penobscot River.

Now, all of the Penobscot Indians were so thirsty, some even near death, that they jumped into the river to enjoy the water inside and outside. Some of them turned into fish; some turned into frogs; some turned into turtles. A few human Penobscots survived. That is the reason they inhabit the whole length of the Penobscot River. This is how they took their family names from all kinds of fish, turtles, and other sea creatures.

Woodpecker and the Theft of Fire


Long, long ago, in the days of the animal people, there was no fire on the earth. There was fire in the sky, but none on the earth.

One day the chief of the animal people said to those near him, “Let us go up to the sky country and try to get some fire. Tell all the people to gather here. Then I will tell you what to do.”

When the animal people had gathered together, the chief said to them, “Each of you will make a bow and many arrows. Then come together again and shoot at the sky. We’ll see if we can hit the sky. If we can, we’ll make a chain of arrows down to the earth. Then we’ll climb up to the sky country and steal some fire from the sky people.”

The people obeyed the chief’s orders–all except Woodpecker. They made long, strong bows, and they made many arrows. Then all the people came together again at one place. Everyone shot at the sky, but no one could hit it with his arrows.

Then Woodpecker decided to get busy. First he made a bow from the rib of Elk. Then he made some arrows from the stems of serviceberry bushes.

“Where can I get some feathers for my arrows?” Woodpecker asked himself.

He saw Golden Eagle, and then he saw Bald Eagle.

Woodpecker said to Bald Eagle, “Golden Eagle has been saying mean things about you.”

Bald Eagle flew straight at Golden Eagle and began to fight him with his strong bill. That was just what Woodpecker wanted. Soon feathers were dropping from the two eagles fighting high in the air. Many feathers dropped.

Woodpecker spread out a mat and gathered all of them. He took all of the feathers home with him and fastened them to his arrows. Soon he had two big bags full of nice, feathered arrows.

“Now where can I get some points for my arrows?” Woodpecker asked his grandmother.

“Go to see Flint Rock and Hard Rock,” his grandmother told him.

Woodpecker went. And he said to Flint Rock, “Hard Rock has been saying mean things about you.”

Then Hard Rock and Flint Rock began to fight. That was just what Woodpecker wanted. Hard Rock broke Flint Rock into little pieces. Woodpecker took all the flint chips home with him and used them as arrowheads.

Woodpecker knew that in two days the animal people were going to have another meeting. They would try again to reach the sky with their arrows. So after two days Woodpecker went toward the shooting place with his two bags of arrows. When he got there, he saw Coyote.

“Why have you come?” asked Coyote. “You can’t shoot.”

“I came to look on.”

Coyote looked at Woodpecker’s bow and said, “That won’t shoot anywhere.”

All the people laughed at Woodpecker. “You can’t shoot as far as the sky,” they said.

The chief was a wise and kind chief. “Don’t make fun of Woodpecker,” he said. “He may shoot better than you think. I will call him when his time comes.”

Then the chief called on each animal, one at a time, to shoot at the sky. But no one’s arrow reached that far. At last Woodpecker’s turn came. When the chief called him, Woodpecker dropped his two bags of arrows on the ground and put a string in his bow.

“Watch me,” he said, and he shot an arrow toward the sky. It went so high it disappeared from sight. Everyone watched and waited. The arrow did not come down. Woodpecker shot another arrow. It disappeared from sight and did not come down. He kept on shooting until he had emptied one bag of arrows. By that time the animal people could see the end of the chain of arrows.

Then Woodpecker started to shoot the second bag of arrows. The people could see that each arrow stuck in the neck of the preceding arrow. When Woodpecker had emptied his second bag, the last arrow was still a long distance from the ground.

“Take some of the other people’s arrows,” said the chief.

Woodpecker shot from the other animals’ bags until the chain reached the ground. Then, one by one, all the animals started up the arrow chain toward the sky. Golden Eagle was the first. The others followed him. Grizzly Bear was the last.

I’ll take some food along with me,” said Grizzly Bear. “We don’t know what we are getting into.”

So he filled a large bag with food and fastened it across his back. Then he took hold of the bottom arrow of the chain. He and his bag of food were so heavy that the arrow broke in two. He took hold of the second arrow. It broke in two. He broke the first five arrows that way. He could not reach the sixth one, so Grizzly Bear did not go up to the sky country.

By sunset all the other animal people were in the sky world.

“Let’s all look around,” said Woodpecker. “Let’s not stay bunched together. If we go one by one, some of us will be sure to find fire.”

So the animals separated, and each one got some fire. As they started back toward the arrow chain, they saw the sky people coming after them. And they found that the chain of arrows was broken.

“Quick!” said Eagle. “Each bird will take an animal on his back and fly down to earth with him.”

That is the way the animals got down to earth again. Sapsucker was afraid to fly and so jumped instead. He hit the ground with his mouth. Ever since then, sapsuckers have had flat mouths and have to suck their food.

Fish slipped and fell down from Magpie’s back. He was carrying his arrows with him, and when he hit the ground, the arrows went right through his body. Ever since then, fish have had many bones.

The animal people laid the fire down in front of their chief, “You can tell us what to do with it,” they said.

The chief said to his people, “It is best to divide the fire, so that people all over the world can use it.”

So he and Grizzly Bear gave pieces of the fire to Horsefly and Hummingbird. They carried the fire into all parts of the country.

People have had fire ever since.

Two Grandsons


A man lived on a large rock with his two grandsons. “You had better go hunting and bring home something for us to eat. I am hungry. Go to the hills, sit on top, and watch in all directions; then you may find something,” Grandfather said.

The two grandsons went off and watched in the brush. An elk came directly at them. One boy said, “I see an elk, let’s kill it.” The other said, “My older brother, let us run away. I am afraid.” The older said, “No. Sit still. It is an elk. I shall shoot it as our grandfather directed.” The other said, “No. I am afraid.”

When the older was about ready to shoot, his younger brother fled, crying, “Let’s run away. I am frightened.” Then the elk started back. The older one said, “What is it? Are you crazy? I was nearly ready to shoot that elk.” The younger still said, “I was frightened; but I understand now it is an elk. Let us go after it; it cannot have gone far.”

When they neared the elk again, the younger brother wanted to turn to shoot at it. The older brother wanted him to stay behind, but did not persuade him. When ready to shoot, the younger again ran off shouting, and the elk escaped. The older brother scolded him harshly. The younger one said, “I was afraid that it would jump on me. I became too frightened.”

The younger brother begged the older boy not to send him back home, as the older brother wished. When they approached the elk another time, he again asked his older brother to allow him a shot, saying, if he missed, the other could be ready and still try to kill the elk. But the same thing happened as before.

The older brother became very angry with his younger brother. It was not yet sunset, but the younger persuaded the older to again go after the elk; so they went around ahead of it. Older brother tied the arms, legs, and mouth of his brother. The elk came close. Younger one tried to scream. At the same time the older brother shot and killed the elk.

Younger brother tossed and thrashed about, trying to scream and flee. “Are you crazy? I have killed the elk,” said the older. “Have you truly?” asked the younger. Then the older loosened his brother and showed him the dead elk. “What kind of Deer is it?” asked the younger. “It’s an elk,” replied the older one. “Hurry! Get some brush for a fire. Let’s skin it and go home quickly. There may be bad persons coming about here.”

“I’ll get some brush presently,” said the younger. “Make the fire quickly,” said his brother. “I want to roast some meat and eat it, then go home. Be quick.” “No, I want to rest now,” said the younger. He would not help his older brother. So the older one alone skinned the game and cooked some of the meat. Then he said, “Let’s go home now. There may be some bad things about. I am frightened.”

“No, I am afraid to go. I cannot go home. Let us stay here all night; there is nothing bad about,” said the younger. Then the older urged him no more and said, “Let us sleep in a cedar tree. Make a bed there.” The younger agreed and made a bed in the top of the cedar after they had buried the meat for safekeeping. Then they slept.

In the middle of the night the younger one said, “I am hungry. I will go down and eat.” The older one awoke and said, “What in the world is the matter with you? Sleep now, eat tomorrow.” But the younger one insisted on going down to eat. Finally the older one said, “Very well.” So, the younger brother went down, made a large fire, and cooked a whole shoulder of the elk. He began to eat and enjoy himself. He heard cries from far-off in all directions. The younger brother said, “What is it? Is someone approaching? Come here then and eat with me.” The older brother remained in the cedar tree.

Someone came to the opposite side of the fire. It was a large man. The younger brother said, “Come, friend, eat; I have good food; sit down there.” No answer came from the man. “Here is something to eat,” said the boy, holding elk meat out to the man. He did not take it. He did not answer even when he was repeatedly spoken to. Then the boy hit him on the head and knocked him down. When he went closer until he stood by the man’s head, suddenly the man reached out and caught him in a violent grip.

“Oh, Oh! Let me go!” cried the boy. The man continued to hold his legs in a tight grip. “Let me go! Older brother, come and help me, this stranger is holding me down.” But the older brother was angry at being disturbed so he did not come down from the tree.

The man squeezed the younger boy harder, then picked him up and carried him away. The older brother, half-awake, heard his brother’s cries grow weaker and weaker as the distance grew greater. Then there were no more cries.

In the morning the older brother came down from the cedar tree. Crying aloud for his brother, he followed the tracks. They led him to a lake and right down into the water. He could go no farther. He went back, dug up the elk meat, and went home, telling the whole experience to his grandfather.

His grandfather said, “Tomorrow we will go and see that place.” The older son went with his grandfather to the lake and watched it. Grandfather said, “Wait here while I go down. I will follow the tracks.”

He did not come back until noon, then emerged carrying a dead man, and laid him down.

“Is this the man who killed your brother? Deep in the water I found him. I am going back again, wait here,” said the grandfather. He did not return until sunset and said, “This is another man. I entered his house and killed him. Now open his mouth and look between his teeth.”

The boy saw a little meat between the teeth. His grandfather said to him, “Take a stick and pick out the meat from his teeth. The boy did so and made a little pile of it. Then the old man told him to cut open the dead man. When the boy had done so, his grandfather asked, “Do you see any bones or other parts? Pick them out.”

The boy did as he was told, and then did the same to the other man. They put the meat and bones into a hollow stone and carried them home. They left it standing outside, at a short distance from the tent. Then they slept.

Early in the morning his grandfather called, “He is shouting, Wuwuwuwu! Do you hear him?”

“Yes,” said the older brother. They both answered with a loud shout. Then younger brother came walking from the woods, saying, “Grandfather, older brother, I have risen from the meat!”

All three clasped each other warmly, happy to be together again– grandfather and his two grandsons.

Mooin, the Bear’s Child



Now in the Old Time there lived a boy called Sigo, whose father had died when he was a baby. Sigo was too young to hunt and provide food for the wigwam, so his mother was obliged to take another husband, a jealous spiteful man who soon came to dislike his small stepson, for he thought the mother cared more for the child than for himself. He thought of a plan to be rid of the boy.

“Wife,” said he, “it is time the boy learned something of the forest. I will take him with me today, hunting.”

“Oh no!” cried his wife. “Sigo is far too young!”

But the husband snatched the boy and took him into the forest, while the mother wept, for she knew her husband’s jealous heart.

The stepfather knew of a cave deep in the forest, a deep cave that led into a rocky hill. To this cave, he led his stepson and told him to go inside and hunt for the tracks of rabbit. The boy hung back.

“It is dark in there. I am afraid.”

“Afraid!” scoffed the man. “A fine hunter you’ll make,” and he pushed the boy roughly into the cave. “Stay in there until I tell you to come out.”

Then the stepfather took a pole and thrust it under a huge boulder so that it tumbled over and covered the mouth of the cave completely. He knew well there was no other opening. The boy was shut in for good and would soon die of starvation.

The stepfather left the place, intending to tell the boy’s mother that her son had been disobedient, had run off and got lost, and he had been unable to find him. He would not return home at once. He would let time pass, as if he had been looking for the boy. Another idea occurred to him. He would spend the time on Blomidon’s beach and collect some of Glooscap’s purple stones to take as a peace offering to his wife. She might suspect, but nothing could be proved, and nobody would ever know what had happened.

Nobody? There was one who knew already. Glooscap the Great Chief was well aware of what had happened and he was angry, very angry. He struck his great spear into the red stone of Blomidon and the clip split. Earth and stones tumbled down, down, down to the beach, burying the wicked stepfather and killing him instantly.

Then Glooscap called upon a faithful servant, Porcupine, and told him what he was to do.

In the dark cave in the hillside, Sigo cried out his loneliness and fear. He was only six after all, and he wanted his mother. Suddenly he heard a voice.

“Sigo! Come this way.”

He saw two glowing eyes and went towards them, trembling. The eyes grew bigger and brighter and at last he could see they belonged to an old porcupine.

“Don’t cry any more, my son,” said Porcupine. “I am here to help you,” and the boy was afraid no longer. He watched as Porcupine went to the cave entrance and tried to push away the stone, but the stone was too heavy. Porcupine put his lips to the crack of light between boulder and hill side and called out:

“Friends of Glooscap! Come around, all of you!”

The animals and birds heard him and came–Wolf, Raccoon, Caribou, Turtle, Possum, Rabbit, and Squirrel, and birds of all kinds from Turkey to Hummingbird.

“A boy has been left here to die,” called the old Porcupine from inside the cave. “I am not strong enough to move the rock. Help us or we are lost.”

The animals called back that they would try. First Raccoon marched up and tried to wrap his arms around the stone, but they were much too short. Then Fox came and bit and scratched at the boulder, but he only made his lips bleed. Then Caribou stepped up and, thrusting her long antlers into the crack, she tried to pry the stone loose, but only broke off one of her antlers. It was no use. In the end, all gave up. They could not move the stone.

“Kwah-ee,” a new voice spoke. “What is going on?” They turned and saw Mooinskw, which means she-bear, who had come quietly out of the woods. Some of the smaller animals were frightened and hid, but the others told Mooinskw what had happened. She promptly embraced the boulder in the cave’s mouth and heaved with all her great strength. With a rumble and a crash, the stone rolled over. Then out came Sigo and Porcupine, joyfully.

Porcupine thanked the animals for their help and said, “Now I must find someone to take care of this boy and bring him up. My food is not the best for him. Perhaps there is someone here whose diet will suit him better. The boy is hungry–who will bring him food ?”

All scattered at once in search of food. Robin was the first to return, and he laid down worms before the boy, but Sigo could not eat them. Beaver came next, with bark, but the boy shook his head. Others brought seeds and insects, but Sigo, hungry as he was, could not touch any of them, At last came Mooinskw and held out a flat cake made of blue berries. The boy seized it eagerly and ate.

“Oh, how good it is,” he cried. And Porcupine nodded wisely.

“From now on,” he said, “Mooinskw will be this boy’s foster mother.”

So Sigo went to live with the bears. Besides the mother bear, there were two boy cubs and a girl cub. All were pleased to have a new brother and they soon taught Sigo all their tricks and all the secrets of thee forest, and Sigo was happy with his new-found family. Gradually, he forgot his old life. Even the face of his mother grew dim in memory and, walking often on all fours as the bears did, he almost began to think he was a bear.

One spring when Sigo was ten, the bears went fishing for smelts. Mooinskw walked into the water, seated herself on her haunches and commenced seizing the smelts and tossing them out on the bank to the children. All were enjoying themselves greatly when suddenly Mooinskw plunged to the shore, crying, “Come children, hurry!” She had caught the scent of man. “Run for your lives!”

As they ran, she stayed behind them, guarding them, until at last they were safe at home.

“What animal was that, Mother?” asked Sigo.

“That was a hunter,” said his foster-mother, “a human like yourself, who kills bears for food.” And she warned them all to be very watchful from now on. “You must always run from the sight or scent of a hunter.”

Not long afterwards, the bear family went with other bear families to pick blueberries for the winter. The small ones soon tired of picking and the oldest cub had a sudden mischievous thought.

“Chase me towards the crowd,” he told Sigo, “just as men do when they hunt bears. The others will be frightened and run away. Then we can have all the berries for ourselves.”

So Sigo began to chase his brothers towards the other bears, whooping loudly, and the bears at once scattered in all directions. All, that is, except the mother bear who recognized the voice of her adopted son.

“Offspring of Lox!” she cried. “What mischief are you up to now?” And she rounded up the children and spanked them soundly, Sigo too.

So the sun crossed the sky each day and the days grew shorter. At last the mother bear led her family to their winter quarters in a large hollow tree. For half the winter they were happy and safe, with plenty of blueberry cakes to keep them from being hungry. Then, one sad day, the hunters found the tree.

Seeing the scratches on its trunk, they guessed that bears were inside, and they prepared to smoke them out into the open.

Mooinskw knew well enough what was about to happen and that not all would escape.

“I must go out first,” she said, “and attract the man’s attention, while you two cubs jump out and run away. Then you, Sigo, show yourself and plead for your little sister. Perhaps they will spare her for your sake.”

And thus it happened, just as the brave and loving mother bear had said. As soon as she climbed down from the tree, the Indians shot her dead, but the two male cubs had time to escape. Then Sigo rushed out, crying:

“I am a human, like you. Spare the she-cub, my adopted sister.”

The amazed Indians put down their arrows and spears and, when they had heard Sigo’s story, they gladly spared the little she- bear and were sorry they had killed Mooinskw who had been so good to an Indian child.

Sigo wept over the body of his foster mother and made a solemn vow.

“I shall be called Mooin, the bear’s son, from this day forwards. And when I am grown, and a hunter, never will I kill a mother bear, or bear children!”

And Mooin never did.

With his foster sister, he returned to his old village, to the great joy of his Indian mother, who cared tenderly for the she- cub until she was old enough to care for herself.

And ever since then, when Indians see smoke rising from a hollow tree, they know a mother bear is in there cooking food for her children, and they leave that tree alone.

Thus, kespeadooksit–the story ends.

Wa-Ba-Ba-Nal, The Northern Lights



Before 1890, Mrs. W. Wallace Brown wrote that folktales among the Wabanaki must have been extensive, for, though these legends were so swiftly dying out, there seemed to be few things in nature for which they had no legend of its life or beginning. They were known as people living at the sunrise in northeastern and northwestern Maine. A large Wabanaki camp was situated in the Kennebec Valley of Maine.

Old Chief M’Sartto, Morning Star, had only one son, so different from the other boys of the tribe as to be a worry to Old Chief. The boy would not stay and play with the others, but would take his bow and arrows, and leave home for many days at a time, always going toward the north.

When he came home his family asked, “Where have you been and what did you see?” But he had no reply. At last Old Chief said to his wife, “The boy needs watching. I will follow him when he takes off again.”

A few days later, Old Chief followed the boy’s trail and they travelled for a long time. Suddenly, Old Chief’s eyes closed. He could not hear. A curious feeling came over him. Then he knew nothing.

Later, when his eyes opened, he found himself in a strange light country, with no sun, no moon, no stars, but the country was lit by a peculiar brightness. He saw many beings, but all of them different from his own people. They gathered around him and tried to talk, but he did not understand their language.

Old Chief M’Sartto did not know where to go or what to do. He was very well treated by this strange tribe. He watched them play games and became attracted to a wonderful game of ball that he had never seen played before. The game seemed to turn the light into many colours. The players all had lights on their heads and wore very curious kinds of belts, called Menquan, or “Rainbow” belts.

In a few days, an old man came and spoke to Old Chief in his own language, asking if he knew where he was. “No,” Old Chief replied.

“You are in the country of Wa-ba-ban of the northern lights,” the stranger said. “I came here many years ago. I was the only one here from the ‘Lower Country,’ as we usually call it. But now there is a boy who comes to visit us every few days.”

“How did you get here, and what tribe did you come from?” Old Chief asked.

“I follow the path called Spirits’ Path, through the Milky Way,” said the old man.

“That must be the same path I followed to come here,” said Old Chief M’Sartto, Morning Star. “Did you have a queer feeling, as if you lost all sense of knowledge when you travelled here?”

“Yes, exactly that kind of sensation,” he replied. “I could neither see nor hear.”

“We did come by the same path,” Old Chief said. “Can you now tell me how I can go to my home at the Wabanaki camp?”

“Yes, the Chief here can direct you.”

“Now can you tell me where I can see my son? He’s the boy who comes here to visit you.”

“Stay here and watch, you will see him playing ball,” said the old man, as he left to visit many wigwams to invite everyone out to a ball game.

Old Chief was very glad to hear the news of his son, and soon the ball game began, and many beautiful colours spread out over the playing field.

“Do you see your son playing?” the old man asked.

“Yes, the boy with the brightest light on his head is my son.”

The two men then went to see the Chief of the Northern Lights. The old man spoke up and said to him, “The Chief Morning Star of the Lower Country wants to go home and desires to take his son with him.”

Chief of Northern Lights called all of his people together to bid good-bye to Old Chief Morning Star and his son. Then he ordered two great birds to carry them to their home. When they travelled the Milky Way, Old Chief again felt the same strange feelings he had experienced when going there.

When Old Chief came to his senses again, he found himself near his home. His wife was very glad to see him. Her son had arrived first and told her that his father was safe and would come soon. She paid little notice to that announcement for she had thought that her husband had lost his way.

Now her wigwam was filled with joy again at the sight of her son and Old Chief M’Sartto, Morning Star, returned to Wabanaki.

Tales of Lake Tahoe



Tah-hoe (Ta’-ho’) is some Indians’ pronunciation of their name for the beautiful lake that forms twenty-one miles of the boundary between California and Nevada. Mark Twain wrote of it when he was there: ‘We plodded on, and at last the lake burst upon us, a noble sheet of blue water…walled in by a rim of snow-clad peaks that towered aloft full 3,000 feet higher still.”

The cave mentioned in the second story is on the shore near present-day Glenbrook, Nevada.

Long, long ago, our people used to say, Lake Tahoe was the home of the water babies. If they wanted to cross the lake or fish in the lake, they had to prepare by making a basket sealed well with pitch. In it, they put corn, bread, and pine nuts. After each basket was full, the owners would put the cover on it and sink it in the lake.

By doing this, they believed that the water babies helped them to get across safely and to have luck while fishing. But if they didn’t take a basket of food, they believed that the water babies would become very angry. Sometimes people did not return from their trips because they were drowned by the will of the water babies.

In Lake Tahoe stood a tall pine tree with a mass of large branches at its top. In these branches was the nest of an enormous bird that ate human beings. The bird’s winter home was a cave on the east shore of the lake.

One day it carried a man into its nest and left him sitting there while it ate. The man covered his head with his blanket made of rabbit skin and peered out through the holes in it. Each time the giant bird took a bite, the man could see into its huge mouth and down into its gullet. He threw an arrowpoint into the bird’s mouth, and the bird swallowed it along with the meat it was chewing The arrowpoint was made from some kind of volcanic rock that is poisonous.

Repeatedly, the man threw an arrowpoint into the bird’s mouth. Soon it began to tremble, and in a short time it died from the poison of the arrowpoints.

Then the man cut off the bird’s wings and tied them together. He climbed down the tree, placed the huge wings on the water like a boat, and sat on them. The wind soon after carried him to the other shore of Lake Tahoe.

Neverending legacy for Te-lah-nay


Wall pays homage to Yuchi Indian forced from her Lauderdale land

It’s early morning, and the waters of the Tennessee River lap against the sides of the skiff. The young Yuchi Indian named Te-lah-nay recognizes the place her people call the shoulder bone of the river, the place where she was born.

She knows someone has buried her family.

The next day, Te-lah-nay takes stones from the river’s edge and adds them around the mounds. It is her way of honoring her ancestors.

Her great-great-grandson, Tom Hendrix, now walks along the path of another stone wall, this one surrounding his property in Lauderdale County. It is here that he honors Te-lah-nay.

“It’s two and a half miles of stone,” Hendrix said. “It is the longest unmortared stone wall known in the U.S. and the only one … with a prayer circle east of the Mississippi River.

“There is a stone from every state in the United States and 126 stones from other countries, territories and islands.”

The wall, as it stands, took Hendrix more than 15 years to build. It is never finished, he says. Its meandering shape is indicative of Te-lah-nay’s travels.

“She did not make an ordinary journey. I did not build an ordinary wall,” Hendrix said. The wall and the prayer circle within, draws a near constant stream of visitors from all over the world, including members of other Indian nations, Hendrix said.

Many bring stones from their land to add to the wall.

Tom Hendrix walks along a section of a rock wall he built as a memorial to his great-great-grandmother, a Yuchi Indian who was driven from Lauderdale County to Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears. DANIEL GILES/TimesDaily

Hendrix is following his great-great-grandmother’s example in ensuring that the legacy of his family will not die. Te-lah-nay passed on to her offspring 12 stories of the Yuchi people and the story of how she returned to Lauderdale County. Hendrix’s grandmother began teaching him the stories when he was a boy.

It was October, during the aftermath of a time when American Indians were forcibly removed from the eastern United States and forced to go to Oklahoma. Though the Indian Removal Act of 1830 targeted many Cherokee Indians, in the end, members of the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek and Seminole nations suffered the same fate.

They all were forced from their homes by federal troops, rounded up and sequestered in camps where conditions were so bad, many died. The survivors were forced to make the long trek to reservations in the west, most on foot. Thousands died during the journey.

Some Indians scattered, escaping detection. For a time, that was the fate of Te-lah-nay, the young girl who, with her sister, Whanna-le, dodged death by the quick actions of their grandmother. They were placed in a canoe and sent downstream. Te-lah-nay believes it was her grandmother who buried the others.

Te-lah-nay and her sister were discovered during the mopping up operation after the initial roundup of American Indians. Soldiers and local constables found small pockets of Indians who had been overlooked during the initial journey and sent them, too, on the walk to Oklahoma.

“(The two sisters) found an old abandoned house and hid in the root cellar,” Hendrix said. “They were found there and numbered. My great-great-grandmother was number 59; her sister was number 60. The soldiers didn’t know what tribe they were with, so they were placed with the Creek people.”

Te-lah-nay spent several months at the camp in Oklahoma.

“She believed she would die if she remained,” Hendrix said. Te-lah-nay, like all the American Indians from the Tennessee Valley believed there was a woman in the river who sang to them. Te-lah-nay and the river were sisters.

Hendrix, in his best storytelling voice, recounts Te-lah-nay’s reasons for making the desperate journey back to her home and the river.

“When I was born, my grandmother took my birth cord and put it in the river and that made the river my sister,” Hendrix said, speaking for his ancestor. Also, Te-lah-nay had a recurring dream of her grandmother beckoning her back home.

“When I got to the nation (in Oklahoma), I listened to the river and there were no songs. I knew then, I would die.”

One spring morning, the young Indian girl slipped away from the Oklahoma camp. It took her two years, but she walked back to Lauderdale County and was adopted by a white woman by the name of Ferguson. Ferguson gave her the white name, Mary, in order to have Te-lah-nay recorded in the census. Te-lah-nay settled near Little Cypress Creek with her husband, Jonathan Levi Hipp.

“Almost immediately, she started practicing her medicine,” Hendrix said. Unlike other tribes, the women are the healers among the Yuchi people.

Hendrix has some of his great-great-grandmother’s letters, precious words written in her own hand.

Some of the words are in Yuchi language, something that is significant because there are very few descendants remaining who speak and read the Yuchi language.

Hendrix is determined to preserve and to share the story of his ancestors. He has authored a book, “If the Legends Fade,” which he sells on his Web site, www.ifthelegendsfade.com. Proceeds from the book are used to help American Indians, he said.

Hendrix knows of the importance of the Yuchi who still live in Oklahoma. He visited one elderly Yuchi woman years ago to learn the meaning of the Yuchi words written by Te-lah-nay.

It was here that he also learned the meaning behind his ancestor’s name.

“I almost fell off the porch when she told me,” Hendrix said. “I had always heard she had unusual eyes.

“`Ah, Te-lah-nay,’ the woman said. `The one with the dancing eyes.'”

Story from: Times Daily
February 17, 2003
Neverending legacy
By Sherhonda Allen
Night Editor

The Tah-tah-kle’-ah (Owl-Woman Monster)


Yakama Indian William Charley told this story to McWhorter about the Tah-tah kle’ -ah (Owl-Woman-Monster) in 1918. “Before the tribes lived peaceably in this country, before the last creation, there were certain people who ate Indians whenever they could get them. They preferred and hunted children, as better eating. These people, the Tah-tah kle’ -ah, were taller and larger than the common human. They ate every bad thing known such as frogs, lizards, snakes, and other things that Indians do not eat. They talked the Indian language, and in that way might fool the Indians. There were five of them, all sisters. But at the last creation they came up only in California. Two were seen there. They were women, tall big, women, who lived in a cave.”

“One time the Shastas (Shasta Indians) were digging roots and camped. They knew that the two Tah-tah kle’ -ah were about, were in that place. The Indians were careful, but the Tah-tah kle’-ah caught one little boy, not to eat, but to raise up and live with them. The boy thought he would be killed, but he was not. The Tah-tah kle’-ah had him several days…[One day], when they were out of sight, the boy hurried away. He ran fast, traveled over rough, wild places, and at last reached his own people… After many years the two Tah-tah-kle’-ah were destroyed. None knew how, but perhaps by a higher power. Their cave home became red hot and blew out. The monster-women were never seen again, never more heard of. but they have always been talked about as the most dangerous beings on earth. One other of the five sisters was drowned. From her eye, all owls were created. The person or power that killed her said to her, ‘From now on, your eye will be the only part of you to act. At night it will go to certain birds, the owls’.”

A Yakama Indian named Tam-a-wash told L. V. McWhorter this Tah-tah-kle’-ah story in 1919.

“Owl [Sho-pow’-tan] was the man. He was a big chief who lived at Po-ye-koosen. He went up the Naches [river?] to hunt deer. Many men went with him. They hunted all one sun, and when evening came, Owl did not return to camp. The hunters called to each other, “Owl is not here! Owl is away! Owl is lost!”

“Tah-tah-kle’-ah, the evil old woman with her basket, heard that call in the twilight, “Owl is lost!” And she said to her four sisters, “We must go hunt Owl who is lost from his people. We will get him for ourselves”.

“Owl knew that Tah-tah-kle’-ah was coming for him; so he went up to a hollow place in the Tic-te’ ah. You can see the trail that he traveled up the face of the rock to the cave high up in the wall of Tic-te’ ah. Grass is growing along the narrow trail. You can see it when you are out from the rock where it winds up the cliff.” km

“Owl had killed a deer. He filled the tripe with the blood of the deer. He heard Tah-tah-kle’-ah coming, and he knew she would kill him. He knew, and he placed the blood filled tripe in front of him… Tah-tah-kle’-ah entered the mouth of the cave. She looked. It was dark, but she saw it, the strange thing lying there. She did not know. She was afraid. She called to Owl, “Take it away! I do not like it!”

“Owl said, “No! That is something powerful, step over it.” Tah-tah-kle’-ah did as told, stepped her foot over the tripe. Owl was ready. He did not get up. He sat there; and when the Tah-tah-kle’-ah stepped, he punched the tripe with his stick. He punched it often and it went, “Kloup! kloup! kloup!”

“Tah-tah-kle’-ah was scared! she screamed, threw up her hands, and fell from the cliff. The wana [river] ran by the base of the cliff, deep and swift. Tah-tah-kle’-ah fell into the water and was killed.”

In the Beginning


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

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

Lock-chew, the Crawfish, said, “I will make the land appear.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Who will make more light?” Wind asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anasazi Echoes


Reflections on our future from the past

“We are more than the sum of our knowledge,
we are the products of our imagination.”


their name is a whispering call
on the wind beckoning
the sound of it in reverence spoken
hypnotizes the senses


into hearing
the cries of their children
the songs of their mothers
into feeling
the pride of their warriors
the fear of the dying for the living


their name is a thousand questions
left unanswered as they vanished
their lonesome gods can be felt
in the desert wind at night
their ghosts dance within the shadows
of flames cast by ancient firelight


their name is a whispering call
on the wind beckoning
to be remembered
for each time it is spoken


their lonesome gods become less lonesome

Poem by: Jason W. Campbell


This place in the sky is watered by rain that doesn’t reach the ground, warmed by sun that winter valleys can only remember. Up here, sometimes in the clouds, its verdant bounty stretches like a sea, farther than the 100 miles the eye can reach in any direction. It has been known to humans for these virtues for 2000 years, and hosted the rise of one civilization that suddenly departed 700 years ago. It is thought that for a time nearly one million people were supported in this, the breadbasket of the southwest, most of which we call desert. Certainly inside the mysteries of Mesa Verde there may be lessons for us now, as we consider our relationship to the tides of history.

We drove here in a car, after flying west in a plane, which might have seemed miraculous to the Anasazi, but our reaction to their creations holds their achievement (moving from nomads to architects and artisans within 700 years of peace) as the more deserving of awe.

At the time their civilization blossomed, then vanished (or transformed), Europe was in the dark ages. The plagues, wars, famines and persecutions that typify European history of the period are notably absent here. I can’t help but wonder what a thoughtful, reflective person at that age, in either place, would have thought of their respective position, and how they would have acted on the basis of such belief. It can be hard to tell one equinox from another.

The same question challenges us: are we on the verge of a new chapter of history, in which new potentials become available to us (both as individuals and collectively), or are we on the edge of decline, in which we must carefully gather and guard what knowledge we do have, and ensure its safe passage to some future generation that emerges again into light .

I imagine you would react differently depending upon your answer. Your answer, in turn, depends very much upon where and how you live. Maybe Dickens had it right, each city requiring its personal tale, and while some are preparing to enjoy the best, others are resigning themselves for the worst.

Our issues on this discussion list can be framed in a wider context, particularly since the actions we take will have broader implications than “the Internet” or “K12 education” or “computer mediated communications”. I’m beginning to believe that we are at a juncture not entirely unlike that facing the 500 nations of pre-Columbian America at the advent of European arrival.

Our civilization’s track record is atrocious with respect to indigenous peoples. What if we had it to do all over again? The lessons we presently need to learn seem to share themes of simplifying (rather than increasing) the complexity of life, of harmonizing with (rather than dominating) our environment, of celebrating diversity (rather than dictating dogma with genocide as the alternative).

When our ancestors labeled the people they encountered in the “New World” as “savages”, simply because they lived a different cosmology that didn’t worship domination of nature as the goal for humanity, we lost an opportunity to blend their wisdom with our technical prowess. It seems that such wisdom is very much like what we seek today, in response to myriad ills.

Thanks to the technological legacy of our ancestors, we now have in our hands a communications tool the likes of which humanity has never before posessed, at a time when the stakes rise daily in the race for local solutions to global problems. It is no longer “us” versus “them”; there is only “us”, only some of “us” aren’t yet comfortable with that reality.

We, who are already here in the “new world” of cyberspace, do not need to be “discovered” in order to be validated or useful. The past year’s media infatuation with the Internet has proven that! With 97% of classrooms presently members of the “unreachable caste”, misinformation and hype has made it increasingly difficult to hold meaningful conversations about the visceral benefits of the Internet for learning. One can only imagine the impact of the next wave, when the titans seeking commercialization of networking for edutainment delivery systems or consumer marketing systems vie to alter the virtual landscape away from the embryonic and visionary model of every person as a potential knowledge builder and publisher.

If we see ourselves at the doorstep of a new era, where our present two-way communication paradigm coexists with 500 channels, we will proceed with confidence to build systems of collaboration which form the highest expression of our civilization’s value of synergy. If we see the darkness approaching, our actions will be more like guerilla warfare, harnessing the anarchic internal design of the Internet to ensure that we can reach one another at the IP level, packet by packet.

The answer may actually be that both responses are appropriate. We need people (sages and poets) advancing the state of the art, demonstrating tangibly what can be achieved when the ‘net is put to work in service of learning, and discovering along the way what new kinds of dwellings fit the needs of people to the possibilities that the environment can sustainably support. We also need warriors who will blaze trails, and rescue those who would be left behind by “invaders” who care only for quick profit at the expense of the larger populace. We also need to champion those with an entrepreneurial spirit who have transformed themselves away from the models of cultures that no longer work, who seek a way to provide livelihoods for people in a win-win model. In any case, the work lies in building a community, one which reflects and supports our values as growing, learning human beings.

There is much reason for hope, not the least of which is the speed with which we can translate our ideas into actions (notice the flow in KidSphere, KidLink, Global SchoolNet, EdWeb and the Online Internet Institute). Also, the geometric growth of the Internet means that in the coming years we will approach the critical mass of people whose minds are ripe for harnessing the collaborative potential of the media, far beyond the pen pal (hunter) and lesson plan (gatherer) mode of earlier educational telecommunication uses.

We need to grow a vision that embraces the best of what we’d like to achieve, personally and as a community. We then need to share and shape it’s expression to ensure that it works for the full range of diversity found in present and future “netizens”. Finally, we need to help one another solve the challenges of becoming and staying connected, and using our connections for mutual strengthening.

These are the echoes emerging from the silent eloquence of the ruins at Mesa Verde. Whether that which we build lasts 700 years, is understood by future archeologists, portends the start of a Renaissance or heralds a time of darkness, let’s use our talents and time to see what can be achieved at this moment of history.

Source: Ferdi Serim

Princeton Regional Schools
Computer Teacher/ District Computer Coordinator
Online Internet Institute, Principal Investigator

phone: (609) 921-8549
fax: (609) 924-7347

Other Anasazi Sites

Source: David O. Born

Swift-Runner and Trickster Tarantula


In the long ago time there was only one Tarantula on earth. He was as large as a man, and lived in a cave near where two broad columns of rock stand at the base of Thunder Mountain. Every morning Tarantula would sit in the door of his den to await the sound of horn bells which signalled the approach of a young Zuni who always came running by at sunrise. The young man wore exceedingly beautiful clothing of red, white and green, a plaited headband of many colours, a plume of blue, red and yellow macaw feathers in his hair knot, and a belt of horn bells. Tarantula was most envious of the young man, and spent much time thinking of ways to obtain his costume through trickery.

Swift-Runner was the young Zuni’s name, and he was studying to become a priest-chief like his father. His costume was designed for use in sacred dances. To keep himself strong for these arduous dances, Swift-Runner dressed in his sacred clothing every morning and ran all the way around Thunder Mountain before prayers.

One morning at sunrise, Tarantula heard the horn bells rattling in Swift-Runner’s belt. He took a few steps outside of his den, and as the young Zuni approached, he called out to him: “Wait a moment, my young friend, Come here!”

“I’m in a great hurry,” Swift-Runner replied.

“Never mind that. Come here,” Tarantula repeated.

“What is it?” the young man asked impatiently. “Why do you want me to stop?”

“I much admire your costume,” said Tarantula. “Wouldn’t you like to see how it looks to others?”

“How is that possible?” asked Swift-Runner.

“Come, let me show you.”

“Well, hurry up. I don’t want to be late for prayers.”

“It can be done very quickly,” Tarantula assured him. “Take off your clothing, all of it. Then I will take off mine. Place yours in front of me, and I will place mine in front of you. Then I will put on your costume, and you will see how handsome you look to others.”

If Swift-Runner had known what a trickster Tarantula was, he would never have agreed to this, but he was very curious as to how his costume appeared to others. He removed his red and green moccasins, his fringed white leggings, his belt of horn bells, and all his other fine clothing, and placed them in front of Tarantula.

Tarantula meanwhile had made a pile of his dirty woolly leggings, breech-cloth and cape–all of an ugly grey-blue colour. He quickly began dressing himself in the handsome garments that Swift-Runner placed before him, and when he was finished he stood up on his crooked hind legs and said: “Look at me now. How do I look?”

“Well,” replied Swift-Runner, “so far as the clothing is concerned, quite handsome.”

“You can get a better idea of the appearance if I back off a little farther,” Tarantula said, and he backed himself, as only Tarantulas can, toward the door of his den. “How do I look now?”

“Handsomer,” said the young man.

“Then I’ll get back a little farther.” He walked backward again. “Now then, how do I look?”

“Perfectly handsome.”

“Aha!” Tarantula chuckled as he turned around and dived headfirst into his dark hole.

“Come out of there!” Swift-Runner shouted, but he knew he was too late.

Tarantula had tricked him. “What shall I do now?” he asked himself. “I can’t go home half naked.” The only thing he could do was put on the hairy grey-blue clothing of Tarantula, and make his way back to the village.

When he reached home the sun was high, and his father was anxiously awaiting him. “What happened?” his father asked. “Why are you dressed in that ugly clothing?”

“Tarantula who lives under Thunder Mountain tricked me,” Swift- Runner replied. “He took my sacred costume and ran away into his den.”

His father shook his head sadly. “We must send for the warrior chief,” he said. “He will advise us what we must do about this.”

When the warrior-chief came, Swift-Runner told him what had happened. The chief thought for a moment, and said: “Now that Tarantula has your fine costume, he is not likely to show himself far from his den again. We must dig him out.”

And so the warrior-chief sent runners through the village, calling all the people to assemble with hoes, digging sticks, and baskets. After the Zunis gathered with all these things, the chief led the way out to the den of Tarantula.

They began tunnelling swiftly into the hole. They worked and worked from morning till sundown, filling baskets with sand and throwing it behind them until a large mound was piled high. At last they reached the solid rock of the mountain, but they found no trace of Tarantula. “What more can we do?” the people asked. “Let us give up because we must. Let us go home.” And so as darkness fell, the Zunis returned to their village.

That evening the leaders gathered to discuss what they must do next to recover Swift-Runner’s costume. Someone suggested that they send for the Great Kingfisher. “He is wise, crafty, and swift of flight. If anyone can help us, the Great Kingfisher can.”

“That’s it,” they agreed. “Let’s send for the Kingfisher.”

Swift-Runner set out at once, running by moonlight until he reached the hill where Great Kingfisher lived, and knocked on the door of his house.

“Who is it?” called Kingfisher.

“Come quickly,” Swift-Runner replied. “The leaders of our village seek your help.”

And so Kingfisher followed the young man back to the Zuni council. “What is it that you need of me?” he asked.

“Tarantula has stolen the sacred garments of Swift-Runner,” they told him. “We have dug into his den to the rock foundation of Thunder Mountain, but we can dig no farther, and know not what next to do. We have sent for you because of your power and ability to snatch anything, even from underwater.”

“This is a difficult task you place before me,” said Kingfisher. “Tarantula is exceedingly cunning and very sharp of sight. I will do my best, however, to help you.”

Before sunrise the next morning, Kingfisher flew to the two columns of rock at the base of Thunder Mountain and concealed himself behind a stone so that only his beak showed over the edge. As the first streaks of sunlight came over the rim of the world, Tarantula appeared in the entrance of his den. With his sharp eyes he peered out, looking all around until he sighted Kingfisher’s bill. “Ho, ho, you skulking Kingfisher!” he cried.

At the instant he knew he was discovered, Kingfisher opened his wings and sped like an arrow on the wind, but he merely brushed the tips of the plumes on Tarantula’s head before the trickster jumped back deep into his hole. “Ha, ha!” laughed Tarantula. “Let’s have a dance and sing!” He pranced up and down in his cave, dancing a tarantella on his crooked legs, while outside the Great Kingfisher flew to the Zuni village and sadly told the people: “No use! I failed completely. As I said, Tarantula is a crafty, keen-sighted old fellow. I can do no more.”

After Kingfisher returned to his hill, the leaders decided to send for Great Eagle, whose eyes were seven times as sharp as the eyes of men. He came at once, and listened to their pleas for help. “As Kingfisher, my brother, has said, Tarantula is a crafty, keen sighted creature. But I will do my best.”

Instead of waiting near Thunder Mountain for sunrise, Eagle perched himself a long distance away, on top of Badger Mountain. He stood there with his head raised to the winds, turning first one eye and then the other on the entrance to Tarantula’s den until the old trickster thrust out his woolly nose. With his sharp eyes, Tarantula soon discovered Eagle high on Badger Mountain. “Ho, you skulking Eagle!” he shouted, and Eagle dived like a hurled stone straight at Tarantula’s head. His wings brushed the trickster, but when he reached down his talons he clutched nothing but one of the plumes on Tarantula’s headdress, and even this fell away upon the rocks. While Tarantula laughed and danced in his cave and told himself what a clever well- dressed fellow he was, the shamed and disappointed Eagle flew to the Zuni council and reported his failure.

The people next called upon Falcon to help them. After he heard of what already had been done, Falcon said: “If my brothers, Kingfisher and Eagle, have failed, it is almost useless for me to try.”

“You are the swiftest of the feathered creatures,” the leaders answered him. “Swifter than Kingfisher and as strong as Eagle. Your plumage is speckled grey and brown like the rocks and sagebrush so that Tarantula may not see you.”

Falcon agreed to try, and early the next morning he placed himself on the edge of the high cliff above Tarantula’s den. When the sun rose he was almost invisible because his grey and brown feathers blended into the rocks and dry grass around him. He kept a close watch until Tarantula thrust out his ugly face and turned his eyes in every direction. Tarantula saw nothing, and continued to poke himself out until his shoulders were visible. At that moment Falcon dived, and Tarantula saw him, too late to save the macaw plumes from the bird’s grasping claws.

Tarantula tumbled into his den, sat down, and bent himself double with fright. He wagged his head back and forth, and sighed: “Alas, alas, my beautiful headdress is gone. That wretch of a falcon! But what is the use of bothering about a miserable bunch of macaw feathers, anyway? They get dirty and broken, moths eat them, they fade. Why trouble myself about a worthless thing like that? I still have the finest costume in the Valley-handsome leggings and embroidered shirt, necklaces worth fifty such head- plumes, and earrings worth a handful of such necklaces. Let Falcon have the old head-plumes.”

Meanwhile, Falcon, cursing his poor luck, took the feathers back to the Zunis. “I’m sorry, my friends, this is the best I could do. May others succeed better.”

“You have succeeded well,” they told him. “These plumes from the South are precious to us.”

Then the leaders gathered in council again. “What more is there to be done?” Swift-Runner’s father asked.

“We must send your son to the land of the gods,” said the war chief “Only they can help us now.”

They called Swift-Runner and said to him: “We have asked the wisest and swiftest and strongest of the feathered creatures to help us, yet they have failed. Now we must send you to the land of the gods to seek their help.”

Swift-Runner agreed to undertake the dangerous climb to the top of Thunder Mountain where the two war-gods, Ahaiyuta and Matsailema, lived with their grandmother. For the journey, the priest-chiefs prepared gifts of their most valuable treasures. Next morning, Swift-Runner took these with him and by midday he reached the place where the war-gods lived.

He found their grandmother seated on the flat roof of their house. From the room below came the sounds of the war-gods playing one of their noisy games. “Enter, my son,” the grandmother greeted Swift-Runner, and then she called to Ahaiyuta and Matsailema: “Come up, my children, both of you, quickly. A young man has come bringing gifts.”

The war-gods, who were small like dwarfs, climbed to the roof and the oldest said politely: “Sit down and tell us the purpose of your visit. No stranger comes to the house of another for nothing.”

“I bring you offerings from our village below. I also bring my burden of trouble to listen to your counsel and implore your aid.”

He then told the war-gods of his misfortunes, of how Tarantula had stolen his sacred clothing, and of how the wisest and swiftest of the feathered beings had tried and failed to regain them.

“It is well that you have come,” said the youngest war-god. “Only we can outwit the trickster Tarantula. Grandmother, please bestir yourself, and grind some rock flour for us.”

While Swift-Runner watched, the old grandmother gathered up some white sandstone rocks, broke them into fragments, and then ground them into a powder. She made dough of this with water, and the two war-gods, with amazing skill, moulded the dough into two deer and two antelope which hardened as quickly as they finished their work.

They gave the figures to Swift-Runner and told him to place them on a rock shelf facing the entrance to Tarantula’s den. “Old Tarantula is very fond of hunting. Nothing is so pleasing to him as to kill wild game. He may be tempted forth from his hiding place. When you have done this, go home and tell the chiefs that they should be ready for him in the morning.”

That evening after Swift-Runner returned to his village and told how he had placed the figures of deer and antelope on the rock shelf in front of Tarantula’s den, the chiefs summoned the warriors and told them to make ready for the warpath before sunrise. All night long they prepared their arrows and tested the strength of their bows, and near dawn they marched out to Thunder Mountain. Swift-Runner went ahead of them, and when he approached the rock shelf, he was surprised to see that the two antelope and the two deer had come to life. They were walking about, cropping the tender leaves and grass.

“I call upon you to help me overcome the wicked Tarantula,” he prayed to the animals. “Go down close to his den, I beg you, that he may be tempted forth at the sight of you.”

The deer and antelope obediently started down the slope toward Tarantula’s den. As they approached the entrance, Tarantula sighted them. “Ho! What do I see?” he said to himself “There go some deer and antelope. Now for a hunt. I might as well get them as anyone else.”

He took up his bow, slipped the noose over the head of it, twanged the string, and started out. But just as he stepped forth from his den, he said to himself: “Good heavens, this will never do! The Zunis will be after me if I go out there.” He looked up and down the valley. “Nonsense! There’s no one about.” He leaped out of his hole and hurried toward the deer, which were still approaching. When the first one came near he drew back an arrow and let fly. The deer dropped at once. “Aha!” he cried. “Who says I am not a good hunter?” He whipped out another arrow and shot the second deer. With loud exclamations of delight, he then felled the two antelope.

“What fine game I have bagged today,” he said. “Now I must take the meat into my den.” He untied a strap which he had brought along and with it he lashed together the legs of the first deer he had shot. He stooped, raised the deer to his back, and was about to rise with the burden and start for his den, when cachunk! he fell down almost crushed under a mass of white rock. “Mercy!” he cried. “What’s this?” He looked around but could see no trace of the deer, nothing but a shapeless mass of white rock.

“Well, I’ll try this other one,” he said, but he had no sooner lifted the other deer to his back when it knocked him down and turned into another mass of white rock. “What can be the matter?” he cried.

Then he tried one of the antelope and the same thing happened again. “Well, there is one left anyway,” he said. He tied the feet of the last animal and was about to lift it when he heard a great shouting of many voices.

He turned quickly and saw all the Zunis of the village gathering around his den. He ran for the entrance as fast as his crooked legs would move, but the people blocked his way. They closed in upon him, they clutched at his stolen garments, they pulled earrings from his ears, until he raised his hands and cried: “Mercy! Mercy! You hurt! You hurt! Don’t treat me so! I’ll be good hereafter. I’ll take this costume off and give it back to you without making the slightest trouble if you will only let me alone.” But the people closed in angrily. They pulled him about and stripped off Swift Runner’s costume until Tarantula was left unclothed and so bruised that he could hardly move.

Then the chiefs gathered around, and one of them said: “It will not be well if we let this trickster go as he is. He is too big and powerful, too crafty. To rid the world of Tarantula forever, he must be roasted!”

And so the people piled dry firewood into a great heap, drilled fire from a stick, and set the wood to blazing. They threw the struggling trickster into the flames, and he squeaked and sizzled and hissed and swelled to enormous size. But Tarantula had one more trick left in his bag. When he burst with a tremendous noise, he threw a million fragments of himself all over the world-to Mexico and South America and as far away as Taranto in Italy. Each fragment took the shape of Old Tarantula, but of course they were very much smaller, somewhat as tarantulas are today. Some say that Taranto took its name from the tarantulas, some say the tarantulas took their name from Taranto, but everybody knows that the wild dance known as the tarantella was invented by Tarantula, the trickster of Thunder Mountain, in the land of the Zunis.

The Hummingbird


Not far from Rainbow Cave on the Sacred Mountain in what is now New Mexico, Hummingbird Hoya lived with his beloved grandmother long ago.

“I think I will go to Kiakima to see what their clansmen are doing,” Hoya said one day to his beloved grandmother.

Because he was so small and wanted to be sure that people could see him, Hoya dressed himself in his colourful hummingbird coat and flew far away. Below him, he saw a lovely spring and decided to stop, taking off his beautifully feathered coat.

Before long, Kia, the daughter of Chief Kya-ki-massi, arrived to fill her jar with the cool spring water. Many young men of the Zuni Indian tribe longed to marry Kia, but were afraid to ask her father, the Chief.

Kia began to fill her water jar without speaking to the attractive young man nearby.

“May I have some of your water to drink?” Hoya asked.

Kia handed him a cupful. When he returned the cup to her, a small amount of water remained. Playfully, she tossed it to him and giggled.

Some young Zunis watching from the brush wondered why she laughed. They also wondered about the stranger. Then they heard the princess say, “Let’s go to my home.”

Hoya followed Kia to her house, and they talked for some time at the bottom of her ladder, which led to the lodge roof. Then Hoya said, “I think it is time for me to start home.”

“I hope to see you at the spring tomorrow,” Kia said. She then climbed to the roof of her lodge. Hoya put on his magic feathered coat, flying away invisibly. The young men of the village did not see Hoya vanish, which aroused their curiosity.

When Hoya arrived back at his beloved grandmother’s house, she met him with a bowl of honey combined with sunflower pollen. The next day, he carried some of the delicacy to the spring as a gift for the princess. Again, he walked Kia home and they conversed at the bottom of her ladder. He gave her the honey and pollen to share with her family.

“Um-m-m good, we like this kind of food,” her parents said. “You should marry this young man.”

Next day, when Hoya walked Kia home from the spring, she invited him to come into her lodge to meet her family.

“No, thank you, Kia, I cannot marry you yet,” said Hoya. “I do not have deerskins, blankets, or beads for you.”

“But I do not need these things,” she replied. “I like the good food you brought to me, that is enough.”

“Then, if I may, I will come to your lodge tomorrow evening,” said Hoya. He then put on his magic coat and flew away instantly as Kia ascended the ladder to her roof.

Hoya reported to his beloved grandmother all that had taken place. He told her the Chief’s daughter wanted him for her husband.

“No, not now,” she replied. “You do not have enough things to give her; you cannot marry her yet.”

“But, Grandmother, the daughter of the Chief wants nothing except our delicious honey food.”

“If you are sure of her parents’ approval, then I give you my permission to marry Kia.”

At dawn next day, Hoya and his beloved grandmother, dressed in their hummingbird coats, zoomed away southward to the land of the sunflowers.

All that day, they gathered pollen and honey. Later, when they returned, they placed a deerskin on the floor. Onto this, they shook the pollen from their feathers. Into a large shell, they deposited the honey. Hoya’s beloved grandmother mixed the pollen and honey together, much the same way as kneading bread dough. She then wrapped a large ball of the mixture in a deerskin, which Hoya took to Kia that very evening.

Village youths gathered and watched from a distance as Hoya climbed Kia’s ladder to her lodge roof. There Hoya secretly hid his magic coat under a rock before lowering himself into Kia’s lodge.

“How sad for us that Kia will marry a stranger,” the youths repeated among themselves.

The young men of Zuni village gathered in a Kiva, a ceremonial lodge saying to the Bow Chief, “Please announce that in four days we will go on a parrot hunt. Say, also, that anyone who does not join us will lose his wife.”

Later, Kia’s brother returned home and reported, “In the village, they are saying that on the hunt for young parrots, the young hunters will throw my new brother-in-law from the mesa and kill him. they will then claim his wife.”

“They are just loud-mouth talking,” said Chief Kya-ki-massi.

But Hoya believed that when he heard from younger brother. He quickly put on his hummingbird coat and flew away to Parrot Woman’s Cave.

“What have you to say?” she asked.

“I wish to warn you to protect your young parrots from harm. I also ask your help for myself,” Hoya said, telling her of the plot to kill him. In a few minutes, he returned to Kia’s home.

Next day, the parrot hunt began, with Hoya bringing up the rear. He secretly wore his magic coat beneath his buckskin shirt. At the high mesa, a yucca rope was let down toward the parrot’s cave.

Hoya was instructed by the group to go down the rope to the nest of the young parrots. When he was halfway down, the village hunters let go of the rope. Parrot Woman was waiting for him, spreading her large fanlike tail outside her cave entrance. She caught Hoya in time.

Upon returning to the village, the young men reported that the rope broke, letting hoya fall to his death. In Kia’s lodge, there was much sadness at the loss of Kia’s new husband.

Parrot Woman took her two young birds and, with Hoya in his magic coat, flew up to the mesa.

“Please keep my two children with you,” she said. “But bring them back to me in four days.”

Hoya took the two young parrots to his new home and, from the roof he heard Kia crying inside.

“I hear someone on our roof,” her father said. “Perhaps, it is your new husband.”

“Impossible,” said his son. “Hoya is dead. But Kia ran up the ladder and to her great joy, she discovered her husband with the two parrots.

At dawn, Hoya placed the two young parrots on the tips of the ladder poles. A village youth came out of the Kiva and saw the birds. He ran back inside calling, “Wake up everyone! Hoya is not dead. He has come back to his home with two young parrots!”

When the Zuni villagers saw the two parrots, they decided to make another plan to rid themselves of Hoya.

“Please, Bow Chief, give us permission to hunt the Bear’s children. If anyone does not come along with us, he will lose his wife.”

Hoya heard the terrible news, so he went to the cave of the Bear Mother.

“What do you wish of me?” she asked Hoya.

“The young hunters of Zuni village are going on a hunt for your children. I have come to warn you and to ask you for your help in protecting me,” replied Hoya. Then he told her of the plot to kill him.

Four days later, the young hunters charged toward Bear Mother’s cave. Hoya again secretly wore his magic hummingbird coat beneath his buckskin shirt. He was forced by the young men to lead the attack at the cave entrance. Then the others pushed him inside the Bear’s cave!

Mother Bear grabbed him but she shoved him behind her. She chased the young Zuni hunters, killing a few of the young tribesmen. Later, Hoya flew home with two bear cubs and at dawn he placed them on the roof. When the villagers discovered the bears on Kia’s roof, they knew that Hoya was still alive.

Hoya decided to fly to his beloved grandmother’s home near Rainbow Cave to seek her wisdom about a new plan of his. She helped him paint a bird cage with many colours and they filled it with birds of matching colours. Back to Zuni village he flew, carrying the cage, which he placed in the centre of the plaza. Around it, he planted magic corn, bean, squash, and sunflower seeds.

That very evening welcome rains came down gently. Next morning the sun shone brightly and warmly. When the Zuni villagers came out of their adobe houses, they were amazed at the sight before them! In the plaza centre, growing plants surrounded the beautiful cage of colourful, singing birds!

From that moment on, all of the happy, dancing Zuni tribe accepted Hoya and his gifts. They learned to love him as one of their own. His wife they called Mother, and they called him Father of their tribe for many contented years.

The Four Flutes


How the Zunis wished for new music and new dances for their people when they participated in ceremonials!

Their Chief and his counsellors decided to ask their Old Grandfathers for help. They journeyed to the Elder Priests of the Bow and asked, “Grandfathers, we are tired of the same old music and the old dances. Can you please show us how to make new music and new dances for our people?”

After much conferring, the Elder Priests arranged to send our Wise Ones to visit the God of Dew. Next day the four Wise Ones set out upon their mission.

Slowly climbing a steep trail, they were pleased to hear music coming from the high Sacred Mountain. Near the top, they discovered that the music came from the Cave of the Rainbow. At the cave’s entrance vapours floated about, a sign that within was the god Paiyatuma.

When the four Wise Ones asked permission to go in, the music stopped; however, they were welcomed warmly by Paiyatuma, who said, “Our musicians will now rest while we learn why you have come.”

“Our Elders, the Priests of the Bow, directed us to you. We wish for you to show us your secret in making new sounds of music. Also with the new music, we wish to learn how to create new ceremonial dances.

“As gifts, our Elders have prepared these prayer sticks and special plume-offerings for you and your people.”

“Come sit with me,” responded Paiyatuma. “You shall now see and hear.”

Before them appeared many musicians with beautifully decorated long shirts. Their faces were painted with the signs of the gods. Each held a lengthy tapered flute. In the centre of the group was a large drum beside which stood its drum-beater. Another musician held the conductor’s wand. These were men of age and experience, graced with dignity.

Paiyatuma stood and spread some magic pollen at the feet of the visiting Wise Ones. With crossed arms, he then strode the length of the cave, turning and walking back again. Seven beautiful young girls, tall and slender, followed him. Their garments were similar to the musicians, but were of various colours. They held hollow cottonwood shafts from which bubbled dainty clouds when the maidens blew into them.

“These are not the maidens of corn,” Paiyatuma said. “They are our dancers, the young sisters from the House of Stars.”

Paiyatuma placed a flute to his lips and joined the circle of dancers. From the drum came a thunderous beat, shaking the entire Cave of the Rainbow, signalling the performance to begin.

Beautiful music from the flutes seemed to sing and sigh like the gentle blowing of the winds. Bubbles of vapour arose from the girls’ reeds. In rhythm, the Butterflies of Summerland flew about the cave, creating their own dance forms with the dancers and the musicians. Mysteriously, over all the scene flooded the colours of the Rainbow throughout the cave. All of this harmony seemed like a dream to the four Wise Ones, as they thanked the God of Dew and prepared to leave.

Paiyatuma came forward with a benevolent smile and symbolically breathed upon the four Wise Ones. He summoned four musicians, asking them to give each one a flute as a gift.

“Now depart to your Elders,” said Paiyatuma. “Tell them what you have seen and heard. Give them our flutes. May your people the Zunis learn to sing like the birds through these woodwinds and these reeds.”

In gratitude the Wise Ones bowed deeply and accepted the gifts, expressing their appreciation and farewell to all of the performers and Paiyatuma.

Upon the return of the four Wise Ones to their own ceremonial court, they placed the four flutes before the Priests of the Bow. The Wise Ones described and demonstrated all that they had seen and heard in the Cave of the Rainbow.

Chief of the Zuni tribe and his counsellors were happy with their new knowledge, returning to their tribe with the gift of the flutes and the reeds. Before their next ceremonial, many of their tribesmen learned to make new music and to create new dances for all their people to enjoy.

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