North American Gods
Awonawilona (Pueblo Indians)
"The One Who Contains Everything." The Supreme God, the Creator
of All. Before the creation there was only Awonawilona; all else
was darkness and emptiness. Both male and female, Awonawilona created
everything from himself and taking form became the maker of light,
Breathmaker taught men to fish and dig wells, and made the Milky
Way. When the virtuous die, they follow the Milky Way to a glorious
city in the western sky.
Coyote (Southwestern Indians, but known in other areas as well)
A trickster, a clown. The creator and teacher of men. Like Loki,
Coyote is always lurking about, causing trouble and playing pranks.
To the Zunis, Coyote is a hero who set forth the laws by which men
may live in peace. The Pomo Indians maintain that Coyote created
the human race and stole the sun to keep them warm. The Montana
Sioux say that Coyote created the horse.
The Chinook tell how Coyote and Eagle went to the land of the dead
to bring back their dead wives. On reaching the land of the dead,
they found a meeting lodge lit only by the moon which lay on the
floor. Every night an old woman would swallow the moon and the dead
would appear in the meeting lodge. Recognizing their wives among
the spirits of the dead, the two gods devised a plan. The next day,
after the old woman had vomited up the moon and the dead had disappeared,
Coyote built a huge wooden box and placed in it leaves of every
kind of plant. Coyote and Eagle then killed the old woman, and Coyote
donned her clothes. When the time came, Coyote swallowed the moon.
The dead appeared, but Eagle had place the box outside the exit.
When Coyote vomited up the moon, the dead filed out and were trapped
in the box. Coyote pleaded to be allowed to carry the box, and Eagle
gave it to him. But Coyote couldn't waitto see his wife and opened
the box. The spirits of the dead rose up like a cloud and disappeared
to the west. So it is that people must die forever, not like the
plants which die in winter and are green again in a season.
Gahe Also Ga'an (Apache)
Supernatural beings who dwell inside mountains. The can sometimes
be heard dancing and beating drums. Because they can heal and drive
away disease, they are worshipped. In the ritual dances of the Chiricahua
Apache masked dancers painted a different color for each point of
the compass represent all the Gahe except the Grey One. The Grey
One, though he appears as a clown, is really the mightiest of all
Nature spirits which inhabit and control everything -- animal spirits,
spirits of departed ancestors, spirits of natural resources such
as wind, rain and thunder. Their exact number is not known, but
at least five hundred appear in the mythologies of the different
Sky spirit. In the beginning, Nesaru had charge over all creation.
Displeased with a race of giants in the underworld who would not
respect his authority, Nesaru sent a new race to the underworld
to replace them and sent a flood which destroyed the giants without
destroying the new men. When the new men cried out to be released
from the underworld, Nesaru sent the Corn Mother for their deliverance.
Olelbis (Wintun, Pacific Coast)
The Creator who lived in Olelpanti (Heaven) with two old women.
When the first people destroyed the world with fire, Olelbis sent
wind and rain to quench the flames, and repaired the earth. Olelbis
intended men to live forever. When they grew old, they were to climb
to heaven and join Olelbis in paradise. Olelbis set two vultures
to the task of building a ladder to Olelpanti for men to ascend,
but Coyote persuaded them to stop work.
Rabbit (Southeastern tribes)
Like Coyote and Michabo, a trickster god. Through a sly trick, Rabbit
brought fire to man.
Raven (Northwestern tribes)
Another trickster god. Very greedy, forever seeking food. Raven
stole the moon from a miser and placed it in the sky.
Thoume' taught the people to make clothing and fire, and how to
make love. After making the moon and the sun, Thoume' sent the trickster
god Kutnahin to teach medicine and food preparation to men. Kutnahin
traveled through the world disguised as a derelict covered with
Black Bear. A guardian. Symbol of long life, strength and courage.
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