Native American Legends
The beginning of the World
A Truhohi Yokut Legend
Far in the south was a mountain. It was the only land. Everything
else was water. The eagle was the chief. The people had nothing
to eat. They were eating the earth and it was nearly gone. Then
Coyote said: "Can we not obtain earth? Can we not make mountains?"
The eagle said: "I do not know how."
Coyote said: "There is a man that we will ask." Then
they got the magpie. The eagle said: "Can we obtain earth?"
The magpie said: "Yes." "Where?" "Right
below us." Then all the ducks dived and tried to bring up the
earth. Some were gone half a day. They could not reach the bottom
and died and floated up.
The eagle said: "When you reach the ground take hold of it
and bite it, and fill your nose and ears." For six days they
dived and found nothing. There was only one more to go down, the
mudhen. Then the eagle said: "Now you go. Let us see if you
can find the earth." The mudhen said: "Good." Then
it dived. It was gone for a day and a night. In the morning it came
up. It was dead. They looked it over. It had earth in its nails,
its ears, and its nose. Then they made the earth from this ground.
They mixed it with chiyu seeds and from this they made the earth.
After six days the eagle said to the wolf: "Now go around."
Then the wolf went where the Sierra Nevada now is and around to
the west and came back along where the Coast Range is. The eagle
said: "Do not touch it for six days. Let it dry first."
All the people said: "Very well, we will let it become dry."
But soon Coyote said: "I will try it. It is getting hard now."
He traveled along where the Sierras are. That is why these are
rough and broken now. It is from his running over the soft earth.
Then he turned west and went back along the Coast Range. That is
why there are mountains there also. Coyote made it so. Now the eagle
sent out the prairie falcon and the raven (Khotoi). He told them:
"Go around the world and see if the earth is hard yet."
Then the prairie falcon went north along the Sierra Nevada and
Khotoi went north along the Coast Range. Each came back the way
he had gone. Now at first the Sierra Nevada was not so high as the
Coast Range. When the two returned the eagle said: "How is
the earth? Is it hard?" "Yes," they said.
Then the prairie falcon said "Look at my mountains. They are
the highest," but Khotoi said: "No, mine are higher."
The prairie falcon said: "No, your, do not amount to anything.
They are low." Then the eagle and Coyote sent the people to
different places. They said: "You go to that place with your
people. You go to that spring." So they sent them off, and
the people went to the different places where they are now. They
were still animals, but they became people. For a little while after
they had all gone the eagle and Coyote stayed there. Then Coyote
said: "Where will you go?" The eagle said: "I am
thinking about it. I think I will go up." Coyote said: "Where
shall I live?" The eagle said: "Here." But Coyote
said: "No, I will go with you." The eagle told him: "No,
you must stay here. You will have to look after this place here."
So they talked for six days. Then the eagle took all his things.
"Goodbye," he said, "I am going." Then he went.
Coyote looked up. He said: "I am going too." "You
have no wings. You cannot," said the eagle. "I will go,"
said Coyote, and he went. Now they are together in the sky above.
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