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How the Rainbow Worm bore K'yäk'lu to the plain of Kâ''hluëlane

A Zuni Legend

Now the Rainbow-worm was near, in that land of mists and waters. And when he heard the sacred sounds of the shells he listened. "Ha! these are my grandchildren and they are precious, for they call one to the other with shells of the great world-encircling waters," he said; and so, with one measure of his length, he placed himself near them, saying, "Why do you mourn grandchildren, why do you mourn? Give me plumes of the spaces, grandchildren. So that I can be related to the regions. So that I can be uplifted to the cloud-heights. So that my footsteps might be countries and countries; So I will bear you swiftly on my shoulders. To the place of your people and country."

K'yäk'lu took off his plume-wands the lightest and choicest; and the Duck gave to him her two strong pinion-feathers that he might hang them with the others, making them far reaching and far-seeing. And the Rainbow arched himself and stooped near to them while K'yäk'lu, breathing on the plumes, approached him and fastened them to his heart side. And while with bent head, all white and glistening wet, K'yäk'lu said the sacred words, not turning to one side or to the other, see! the Rainbow shadow gleamed full brightly all his forehead like a little rainbow, (even as the great sky itself gleams little in a tiny dew-drop) and became painted thereon, and í'hlimna.

"Thanks this day!" said the Rainbow. "Mount, now, on my shoulders, grandson!" The Rainbow unbent himself lower that K'yäk'lu might mount; then he arched himself high amidst the clouds, bearing K'yäk'lu upward as in the breath a speck of dust is borne, and the Duck spread her wings in flight toward the south.

In that direction, like an arrow, the Rainbow-Worm straightened himself forward and followed until his face looked into the Lake of the Ancients, the mists which were to him breath and substance. And there in the plain to the north of Kâ''hluëlane, K'yäk'lu descended even before the sun was fully entered, and while it was still light, the Rainbow returned swiftly back. But alas! K'yäk'lu was weary and lame. He could not journey farther, but sat himself down to rest and ponder the way.

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