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The Flood and the theft of Fire

A Tolowa Legend

Along time ago there came a great rain. It lasted a long time and the water kept rising till all the valleys were submerged, and the Indian tribes fled to the high lands.

But the water rose, and though the Indians fled to the highest point, all were swept away and drowned-all but one man and one woman. They reached the very highest peak and were saved. These two Indians ate the fish from the waters around them.

Then the waters subsided. All the game was gone, and all the animals. But the children of these two Indians, when they died, became the spirits of deer and bear and insects, and so the animals and insects came back to the Earth again.

The Indians had no fire. The flood had put out all the fires in the world. They looked at the moon and wished they could secure fire from it. Then the Spider Indians and the Snake Indians formed a plan to steal fire. The Spiders wove a very light balloon, and fastened it by a long rope to the Earth. Then they climbed into the balloon and started for the moon. But the Indians of the Moon were suspicious of the Earth Indians. The Spiders said, "We came to gamble." The Moon Indians were much pleased and all the Spider Indians began to gamble with them. They sat by the fire.

Then the Snake Indians sent a man to climb up the long rope from the Earth to the moon. He climbed the rope, and darted through the fire before the Moon Indians understood what he had done. Then he slid down the rope to Earth again. As soon as he touched the Earth he traveled over the rocks, the trees, and the dry sticks lying upon the ground, giving fire to each. Everything he touched contained fire. So the world became bright again, as it was before the flood.

When the Spider Indians came down to Earth again, they were immediately put to death, for the tribes were afraid the Moon Indians might want revenge.

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