Miwok Creation Stories

Miwok Creation of Man after the telling of C Hart Merriam

After the world cooled Falcon went to Mount Diablo to see his father Condor and his grandfather, Coyote. He asked Condor how he could make the Indian people. He told Falcon that he did not know but his grandfather, Coyote could tell him. Coyote said, “First you must provide everything, everywhere so they can live.” Falcon said he wanted to do it. Coyote said I must catch Turkey Buzzard, Raven and Crow but to do that I must pretend to be dead. So Coyote pretended to be dead. Turkey Buzzard, Raven and Crow all alighted and Coyote caught them. Coyote called Falcon and told him to pick the feathers off the birds and not to lose a single one. The next morning Coyote and Falcon traveled around and planted three feathers at all the places they wanted people to be. One feather was for the chief, one for the woman chief, and one for the poor. The next morning the feathers turned into Indian people. This is the way the different rancherias came to be. Then Coyote and Falcon turned into the forms they have today.

How the people got fire

Fire was first made by the doctor birds at the birth of Falcon. Then it was made by North Giant. After North Giant died the fire burned up the world and died out, except for that of the star women who live far off to the east where the sun comes up by an elderberry tree. Coyote said, “We must steal the fire.” Falcon asked how. “Send Hummingbird, he is faster than you.” Hummingbird darted off to the east where he waited till he saw a spark which he grabbed and brought back to Falcon and Coyote. He held it under his chin which is why you will see a mark there today. Falcon asked, “Where shall we put it?” Coyote said to put it in the buckeye tree where an Indian can get it when he wants it.

Originally the whole world was dark. Coyote and Lizard tried to make Indian people, each like himself. Lizard said of Coyote’s people, “How can a man hold anything?” Coyote and Lizard quarreled and Coyote tried to kill Lizard but he hid in a crack in a rock. They argued and Lizard won so that people have five fingers. They saw smoke in the Valley and sent White Footed Mouse with his flute to get fire. Eagle was chief of the Valley people and Falcon lived with him. White Footed Mouse took out his flute to play. It made everybody sleepy and happy. When everybody was asleep White Footed Mouse stole two coals from the fire which he put in his flute. Eagle had sealed the door with a feather blanket but White Footed Mouse cut a hole in it and ran towards the mountains. The people awoke and found the fire gone so they sent the fastest ones after him. These were Hail and Shower. White Footed Mouse saw them coming so he put one coal in the buckeye and threw the other one in the water. They caught him but could not find the fire so they let him go. Then White Footed Mouse took the coal from the buckeye and took it to the mountain people where they built a fire in their roundhouse. Only people in the middle of the roundhouse could speak. Those on the outside were so cold that their teeth were chattering. They separated into four groups from the four sides of the house. One was from the north, one from the south, one from the east, and one from the west. There was one from the middle. They all began to speak differently, which is why the Miwok people are broken out into five languages.

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