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Native American Legends

The Thunder Twins

A Tachi Yokut Legend

All the land in the plains north of Tulare Lake where the Tachi lived in summer was burned bare. Nothing was growing there, no seeds and no tule. The people were starving. In the mountains to the west, where the Tachi lived in winter, there were two little twin boys.

They were covered with sores and stank. Whenever they had finished eating, their father whipped them out of the house. They came back crying, but their parents took no pity on them. Only their grandmother took care of them.

Now the chief of the people in the plains said to his people: "Go about the land and see if you cannot find food. We will move wherever anything is growing." Then runners went southwestward. There they found a high mountain and near it a little lake, which is now dry. There were tule roots and seeds to be had and the people moved there.

Now the father and mother of the two boys abandoned them. But their grandmother stayed with them and cried over them. For two years they lived in this way. Sometimes the old woman found a few tule roots, and with these she fed the boys and they grew.

Now, when they were two years older, they no longer wanted to eat anything. They turned into thunders. At a high mountain west of the north end of the lake is a spring. There the boys went and there they are living now. They told their grandmother: "Grandmother, next month we shall have many fish from that water." Then in a month the spring was full of fish. They caught them and dried them.

The boys did not eat any of them, for they had turned into supernatural beings. Now their mother's brother, who had gone away with their parents, came back, bringing the boys a little food. Then they shot him. They nearly killed him, but cured him again. He told them: "When your father and your mother come, kill them." Then he went back with the fish which they had given him.

When he returned, he told the people: "They are well off now. They have much to eat." Then the boys' father and mother went there with other people. The boys shot at them and killed their parents and those that went with them.

Next day those of the people who had not yet gone, said: "Perhaps they were given many fish and that is why they did not come back last night." But their mother's brother told them why they should not go to that place. So the remainder of the people stayed where they were and were not killed. The mountain where the thunder twins live is called Chenhali.

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