Native American Legends
The Earth-Hardening after the Flood
A Sia Legend
After the flood, the Sia returned to Ha-arts, the Earth.
They came through an opening in the far north. After they had remained
at their first village a year, they wished to pass on, but the Earth
was very moist and Utset was puzzled how to harden it.
Utset called Cougar. She said, "Have you any medicine to harden
the road so that we may pass over it?" Cougar replied, "I
will try, mother." But after going a short distance over the
road, he sank to his shoulders in the wet Earth. He returned much
afraid and told Utset that he could go no farther.
Then she sent for Bear. She said, "Have you any medicine to
harden the road?" Bear started out, but he sank to his shoulders,
and returned saying, "I can do nothing."
Then Utset called Badger, and he tried. She called Shrew, and he
failed. She called Wolf, and he failed.
Then Utset returned to the lower world and asked Sussistinnako
what she could do to harden the Earth so that her people might travel
over it. He asked, "Have you no medicine to make the Earth
firm? Have you asked Cougar and Wolf, Bear and Badger and Wolf to
use their medicines to harden the Earth?"
Utset said, "I have tried all these."
Then Sussistinnako said, "Others will understand." He
told her to have a woman of the Kapina (spider) clan try to harden
When the woman arrived, Utset said, "My mother, Sussistinnako
tells me the Kapina society understand how to harden the Earth."
The woman said, "I do not know how to make the Earth hard."
Three times Utset asked the woman about hardening the Earth, and
three times the woman said, "I do not know." The fourth
time the woman said, "Well, I guess I know. I will try."
So she called together the members of the Spider society, the Kapina,
and said, "Our mother, Sussistinnako, bids us work for her
and harden the Earth so that the people may pass over it."
The spider woman first made a road of fine cotton which she produced
from her own body, and suspended it a few feet above the Earth.
Then she told the people they could travel on that. But the people
were afraid to trust themselves to such a frail road.
Then Utset said, "I wish a man and not a woman of the Spider
society to work for me."
Then he came. He threw out a charm of wood, latticed so it could
be expanded or contracted. When it was extended it reached to the
middle of the Earth. He threw it to the south, to the east, and
to the west; then he threw it toward the people in the north.
So the Earth was made firm that the people might travel upon it.
Soon after Utset said, "I will soon leave you. I will, return
to the home from which I came."
Then she selected a man of the Corn clan. She said to him, "You
will be known as Ti-amoni (arch-ruler). You will be to my people
as myself. You will pass with them over the straight road. I give
to you all my wisdom, my thoughts, my heart, and all. I fill your
mind with my mind."
He replied: "It is well, mother. I will do as you say."
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