Native American Legends
The beginning of the World
A Yauelmani Yokut Legend
At first there was water everywhere. A piece of wood [wichet, stick,
wood, tree] grew up out of the water to the sky. On the tree there
was a nest. Those who were inside did not see, any earth. There
was only water to be seen. The eagle was the chief of them. With
him were the wolf, Coyote, the panther, the prairie falcon, the
hawk called po'yon, and the condor.
The eagle wanted to make the earth. He thought: "We will have
to have land." Then he called k'uik'ui, a small duck. He, said
to it: "Dive down and bring up earth." The duck dived,
but did not reach the bottom. It died. The eagle called another
kind of duck. He told it to dive. This duck went far down. It finally
reached the bottom. Just as it touched the mud there it died. Then
it came up again. Then the eagle and the other six saw a little
dirt under its finger nail. When the eagle saw this he took the
dirt from its nail. He mixed it with telis and pele seeds and ground
them up. He put water with the mixture and made dough. This was
in the morning. Then he set it in the water and it swelled and spread
everywhere, going out from the middle. [These seeds when ground
and mixed with water swell.] In the evening the eagle told his companions:
"Take some earth."
They went down and took a little earth up in the tree with them.
Early in the morning, when the morning star came, the eagle said
to the wolf: "Shout." The wolf shouted and the earth disappeared,
and all was water again.
The eagle said: "We will make it again," for it was for
this purpose that they had taken some earth with them into the nest.
Then they took telis and pele seeds again, and ground them with
the earth, and put the mixture into the water, and it swelled out
Then early next morning, when the morning star appeared, the eagle
told the wolf again: "Shout!" and he shouted three times.
The earth was shaken by an earthquake, but it stood. Then Coyote
said: "I must shout too." He shouted and the earth shook
a very little. Now it was good. Then they came out of the tree on
the ground. Close to where this tree stood there was a lake. The
eagle said: "We will live here." Then they had a house
there and lived there.
Now every evening when the sun went down tokho
came there and went into the water in the lake. Coyote wanted to
catch it. The eagle asked him: "How will you do it?"
Coyote said: "Well, I will do it."
He went off into the brush, rolled string on his thigh, and made
it into a snare, which he put into the water. Tokho came, entered
the water, and was caught. Coyote tried to take hold of it, but
it was too hot. He could not touch it. It was like fire. Only after
the sun came up was he able to take hold of it.
Now, after he had held it all night, the tokho said to him: "Take
me to the house."
Coyote asked it: "What does tokho mean?" It said: "I
am tobacco. Give me to the prairie falcon."
Coyote brought it to the house and said: "Who wants this?"
The eagle did not want it. None of the seven wanted it except the
prairie falcon. He said: "I will take it."
Coyote asked it: "What are you good for?"
The tobacco said: "I am good for many things. If there is
anything you want to have, use me, and then whatever it is that
you wish will be so."
The prairie falcon said: "I will try it." At night he
took a little of the tobacco in his mouth and blew out: "Pu!
I want it to rain." Then it began to rain. It rained all night.
Then Coyote said: "We will make a woman of a deer." Then
they killed a deer. They put it under a blanket of tules. It was
entirely covered. When the morning star came it got up. It was a
person now. It was a woman. Coyote said:
"I will sleep with her."
That night he slept with her. In the morning he was dead. The woman
was not hurt. The prairie falcon took a sharp water-grass.
He said: "Stick it in his anus and he will get up."
One of them put it in. Coyote got up hurriedly. "Ah, I was
sleepy," he said. He said: "That is not good. It is not
sweet. All men will die. We shall have to do it differently."
Then he killed her.
He left her under the blanket over night. Then he said: "Tonight
I will try it again." Then he slept with her. In the morning
he got up early. "This is all right," he said. "This
is good. We will let it be like that." This is how people came
to be: deer was the mother. They made her by means of tobacco, blowing
[spitting] it out while they said what they wished. But the prairie
falcon ate nothing but tobacco. He lived on that. Thus the earth
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