The Well-Baked Man
A Pima Legend
The creation of the white man is depicted here, as in many other tales, as one of the Creator's slight mistakes.
The Magician had made the world but felt that something was missing. "What could it be?" he thought. "What could be missing?" Then it came to him that what he wanted on this earth was some beings like himself, not just animals. "How will I make them?" he thought. First he built himself a horno, an oven. Then he took some clay and formed it into a shape like himself.
Now, Coyote was hanging around the way he usually does, and when Magician, who was Man Maker, was off gathering firewood, Coyote quickly changed the shape of the clay image. Man Maker built a fire inside the horno, then put the image in without looking at it closely.
After a while the Magician said: "He must be ready now."
He took the image and breathed on it, whereupon it came to life.
"Why don't you stand up?" said Man Maker. "What's
wrong with you?" The creature barked and wagged it's tail.
"Ah, oh my, Coyote has tricked me," he said. "Coyote
changed my being into an animal like himself."
"Coyote said, "Well, what's wrong with it? Why can't I have a pretty creature that pleases me?"
"Oh my, well, all right, but don't interfere again." That's why we have the dog; it was Coyote's doing.
So Man Maker tried again. "They should be companions to each other," he thought. "I shouldn't make just one." He shaped some humans who were rather like himself and identical with each other in every part.
"What's wrong here?" Man Maker was thinking. Then he saw. "Oh my, that won't do. How can they increase?" So he pulled a little between the legs of one image, saying: "Ah, that's much better." With his fingernail he made a crack in the other image. He put some pleasant feeling in them somewhere. "Ah, now it's good. Now they'll be able to do all the necessary things." He put them in the horno to bake.
"They're done now," Coyote told him. So Man Maker took them out and made them come to life.
"Oh my, what's wrong?" he said. "They're underdone; they're not brown enough. They don't belong here--they belong across the water someplace." He scowled at Coyote. "Why did you tell me they were done? I can't use them here."
So the Magician tried again, making a pair like the last one and placing them in the oven. After a while he said: "I think they're ready now."
"No, they aren't done yet," said Coyote. "You don't want them to come out too light again; leave them in a little longer."
"Well, all right," replied Man Maker. They waited, and
then he took them out. "Oh my. What's wrong? These are overdone.
They're burned too dark." He put them aside. "Maybe I
can use them some other place across the water. They don't belong
For the fourth time Man Maker placed his images inside the oven. "Now, don't interfere," he said to Coyote, "you give me bad advice. Leave me alone."
This time the Magician did not listen to Coyote, but took them out when he himself though they were done. He made them come to life, and the two beings walked around, talked, laughed, and behaved in a seemly fashion. They were neither underdone nor overdone.
"These are exactly right," said Man Maker. "These
really belong here; these I will use. They are beautiful."
So that's why we have the Pueblo Indians.
--Based on fragments recorded in the 1880's.
Return to Pima Legends