Native American Legends
The Origin of Summer and Winter
An Acoma Legend
The Acoma chief had a daughter named Co-chin-ne-na-ko, called Co-chin
for short, who was the wife of Shakok, the Spirit of Winter. After
he came to live with the Acomas, the seasons grew colder and colder.
Snow and ice stayed longer each year. Corn no longer matured. The
people soon had to live on cactus leaves and other wild plants.
One day Co-chin went out to gather cactus leaves and burn off the
thorns so she could carry them home for food. She was eating a singed
leaf when she saw a young man coming toward her. He wore a yellow
shirt woven of corn silk, a belt, and a tall pointed hat; green
leggings made of green moss that grows near springs and ponds; and
moccasins beautifully embroidered with flowers and butterflies.
In his hand he carried an ear of green corn with which he saluted
her. She returned the salute with her cactus leaf. He asked, "What
are you eating?" She told him, "Our people are starving
because no corn will grow, and we are compelled to live on these
"Here, eat this ear of corn, and I will go bring you an armful
for you to take home with you," said the young man. He left
and quickly disappeared from sight, going south. In a very short
time, however, he returned, bringing a large bundle of green corn
that he laid at her feet.
"Where did you find so much corn?" Co-chin asked.
"I brought it from my home far to the south," he replied.
"There the corn grows abundantly and flowers bloom all year."
"Oh, how I would like to see your lovely country. Will you
take me with you to your home?" she asked.
"Your husband, Shakok, the Spirit of Winter, would be angry
if I should take you away," he said.
"But I do not love him, he is so cold. Ever since he came
to our village, no corn has grown, no flowers have bloomed. The
people are compelled to live on these prickly pear leaves,"
"Well," he said. "Take this bundle of corn with
you and do not throw away the husks outside of your door. Then come
tomorrow and I will bring you more. I will meet you here."
He said good-bye and left for his home in the south.
Co-chin started home with the bundle of corn and met her sisters,
who had come out to look for her. They were very surprised to see
the corn instead of cactus leaves. Co-chin told them how the young
man had brought her the corn from his home in the south. They helped
her carry it home.
When they arrived, their father and mother were wonderfully surprised
with the corn. Co-chin minutely described in detail the young man
and where he was from. She would go back the next day to get more
corn from him, as he asked her to meet him there, and he would accompany
"It is Miochin," said her father. "It is Miochin,"
said her mother. "Bring him home with you."
The next day, Co-chin-ne-na-ko went to the place and met Miochin,
for he really was Miochin, the Spirit of Summer. He was waiting
for her and had brought big bundles of corn.
Between them they carried the corn to the Acoma village. There
was enough to feed all of the people. Miochin was welcome at the
home of the Chief. In the evening, as was his custom, Shakok, the
Spirit of Winter and Co-chin's husband, returned from the north.
All day he had been playing with the north wind, snow, sleet, and
Upon reaching the Acoma village, he knew Miochin must be there
and called out to him, "Ha, Miochin, are you here?" Miochin
came out to meet him. "Ha, Miochin, now I will destroy you."
"Ha, Shakok, I will destroy you," replied Miochin, advancing
toward him, melting the snow and hail and turning the fierce wind
into a summer breeze. The icicles dropped off and Shakok's clothing
was revealed to be made of dry, bleached rushes.
Shakok said, "I will not fight you now, but will meet you
here in four days and fight you till one of us is beaten. The victor
will win Co-chin-ne-na-ko."
Shakok left in a rage, as the wind roared and shook the walls of
White City. But the people were warm in their houses because Miochin
was there. The next day he left for his own home in the south to
make preparations to meet Shakok in combat.
First he sent an eagle to his friend Yat-Moot, who lived in the
west, asking him to come help him in his fight with Shakok. Second,
he called all the birds, insects, and four-legged animals that live
in summer lands to help him. The bat was his advance guard and shield,
as his tough skin could best withstand the sleet and hail that Shakok
would throw at him.
On the third day Yat-Moot kindled his fires, heating the thin,
flat stones he was named after. Big black clouds of smoke rolled
up from the south and covered the sky.
Shakok was in the north and called to him all the winter birds
and four-legged animals of winter lands to come and help him. The
magpie was his shield and advance guard.
On the fourth morning, the two enemies could be seen rapidly approaching
the Acoma village. In the north, black storm clouds of winter with
snow, sleet, and hail brought Shakok to the battle. In the south,
Yat-Moot piled more wood on his fires and great puffs of steam and
smoke arose and formed massive clouds. They were bringing Miochin,
the Spirit of Summer, to the battlefront. All of his animals were
blackened from the smoke. Forked blazes of lightning shot forth
from the clouds.
At last the combatants reached White City. Flashes from the clouds
singed the hair and feathers of Shakok's animals and birds. Shakok
and Miochin were now close together. Shakok threw snow, sleet, and
hail that hissed through the air of a blinding storm. Yat-Moot's
fires and smoke melted Shakok's weapons, and he was forced to fall
back. Finally he called a truce. Miochin agreed, and the winds stopped,
and snow and rain ceased falling.
They met at the White Wall of Acoma. Shakok said, "I am defeated,
you Miochin are the winner. Co-chin-ne-na-ko is now yours forever."
Then the men each agreed to rule one-half of the year, Shakok for
winter and Miochin for summer, and that neither would trouble the
other thereafter. That is why we have a cold season for one-half
of the year, and a warm season for the other.
Also Read Creation
Of Summer And Winter
Native American Legends
Back to Top
Other Native American Legends