Native American Legends
The creation of Man-Kind and the Flood
A Pima Legend
After the world was ready, Earth Doctor made all kinds of animals
and creeping things. Then he made images of clay, and told them
to be people. After a while there were so many people that there
was not food and water enough for all.
They were never sick and none died. At last there grew to be so
many they were obliged to eat each other. Then Earth Doctor, because
he could not give them food and water enough, killed them all. He
caught the hook of his staff into the sky and pulled it down so
that it crushed all the people and all the animals, until there
was nothing living on the earth. Earth Doctor made a hole through
the earth with his stick, and through that he went, coming out safe,
but alone, on the other side.
He called upon the sun and moon to come out of the wreck of the
world and sky, and they did so. But there was no sky for them to
travel through, no stars, and no Milky Way. So Earth Doctor made
these all over again. Then he created another race of men and animals.
Then Coyote was born. Moon was his mother. When Coyote was large
and strong he came to the land where the Pima Indians lived.
Then Elder Brother was born. Earth was his mother, and Sky his
father. He was so powerful that he spoke roughly to Earth Doctor,
who trembled before him. The people began to increase in numbers,
just as they had done before, but Elder Brother shortened their
lives, so the earth did not become so crowded. But Elder Brother
did not like the people created by Earth Doctor, so he planned to
destroy them again. So Elder Brother planned to create a magic baby.
. . .
The screams of the baby shook the earth. They could be heard for
a great distance. Then Earth Doctor called all the people together,
and told them there would be a great flood. He sang a magic song
and then bored a hole through the flat earth-plain through to the
other side. Some of the people went into the hole to escape the
flood that was coming, but not very many got through. Some of the
people asked Elder Brother to help them, but he did not answer.
Only Coyote he answered. He told Coyote to find a big log and sit
on it, so that he would float on the surface of the water with the
driftwood. Elder Brother got into a big olla which he had made,
and closed it tight. So he rolled along on the ground under the
olla. He sang a magic song as he climbed into his olla.
A young man went to the place where the baby was screaming. Its
tears were a great torrent which cut gorges in the earth before
it. The water was rising all over the earth. He bent over the child
to pick it up, and immediately both became birds and flew above
the flood. Only five birds were saved from the flood. One was a
flicker and one a vulture. They clung by their beaks to the sky
to keep themselves above the waters, but the tail of the flicker
was washed by the waves and that is why it is stiff to this day.
At last a god took pity on them and gave them power to make "nests
of down" from their own breasts on which they floated on the
water. One of these birds was the vipisimal, and if any one injures
it to this day, the flood may come again.
Now South Doctor called his people to him and told them that a
flood was coming. He sang a magic song and he bored a hole in the
ground with a cane so that people might go through to the other
side. Others he sent to Earth Doctor, but Earth Doctor told them
they were too late. So they sent the people to the top of a high
mountain called Crooked Mountain. South Doctor sang a magic song
and traced his cane around the mountain, but that held back the
waters only for a short time. Four times he sang and traced a line
around the mountain, yet the flood rose again each time. There was
only one thing more to do.
He held his magic crystals in his left hand and sang a song. Then
he struck it with his cane. A thunder peal rang through the mountains.
He threw his staff into the water and it cracked with a loud noise.
Turning, he saw a dog near him. He said, "How high is the tide?"
The dog said, "It is very near the top." He looked at
the people as he said it. When they heard his voice they all turned
to stone. They stood just as they were, and they are there to this
day in groups: some of the men talking, some of the women cooking,
and some crying.
But Earth Doctor escaped by enclosing himself in his reed staff,
which floated upon the water. Elder Brother rolled along in his
olla until he came near the mouth of the Colorado River. The olla
is now called Black Mountain. After the flood he came out and visited
all parts of the land.
When he met Coyote and Earth Doctor, each claimed to have been
the first to appear after the flood, but at last they admitted Elder
Brother was the first, so he became ruler of the world.
Native American Legends
Back to Top
Other Native American Legends