Knowledge Comes to the World

Knowledge comes to the world


In the beginning there was nothing but an ocean of saltwater. In its depths two brothers lived. The oldest was Tcaipakomat.  They came to the surface and Tcaipakomat kept his eyes closed but his younger brother opened his and was blinded by the saltwater.


Tcaipakomat saw that there was nothing so he made a lot of red ants. They clumped up and formed land. Then he made certain blackbirds with flat bills but there was no light. The birds could not see so they got lost and could not find their roost. So Tcaipakomat took three kinds of clay red, yellow and black and made the moon and threw it up into the sky where it stuck.


He could see but not very well so he made the sun and threw it up into the sky. He then fashioned a man from the light colored clay and took a rib from him and made a woman. The children of this couple were Ipai, People. They lived to the East at a mountain called Wikami. This is the place where everything was created and where the spirits of the dead go.


A big snake called Maihaiowit lived out in the oceans. He was Tcaipakomat in another form. Knowledge of singing, dancing, basket making and everything else resided in the great snake’s body. The people wanted to hold a morning ceremony and had made the ceremonial house, the wukeruk, but did not know what else to do. So they sent for Maihaiowit to give them the dances.


Another sea monster was going to swallow the people so a wonderful medicine man turned himself into a bubble and was swallowed by the monster. He went north, south, east and west but could not get out. So he got a blue flint and broke it to make a sharp edge and cut his way out.


He went to Maihaiowit’s house and told him that the people wanted to hold a wukeruk ceremony but did not know how to sing or dance. So the snake followed him to Wikami where the people were and went into the Wukeruk house. He coiled and coiled in there and the people became afraid so they threw fire on top of the house. The snake burst in the fire and all learning came flying out. Each tribe got one thing. Some knew the wildcat dance, another the Wukeruk. Others were good at Peon, some became medicine men and orators. After the house burned up the people scattered to all directions with their new knowledge.


TT Waterman recorded this story from an old man from Campo who called himself Kamiyai.

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