Pomo Creation Story I

Pomo Creation Story I–adapted from the telling of Edwin Loeb

Originally there was no ocean. Coyote created it. He was thirsty and he came upon some swamp tussock plants which he pulled up. Water began to flow and he drank. The water continued to flow and raised him up as the ocean began to be. He said, “Water right here stop.” And it stopped where he was standing. Alone, Coyote gathered weeds but the water was too high so he commanded that it go down. Coyote built a sweat house after he came out of the ocean. He wished that the sticks of the sweat house would stand up and they did. He surrounded it with black feathers, which is why Indians are black. He commanded that the feathers would become people. He said that there should be a dance. He taught the people the dance songs and then he called for a feast. The people never gave Coyote anything from the feast. He became angry and because of this he started the world on fire. He rose on a fog that came. He wanted to put out the fire on the hilltops so he created a flood. It rained for five days and he allowed the flood to remain for four days. He caused the water to recede after which he created another race of people. He told him together mussels but they made fun of him which made him angry. Because of this he caused waves on the ocean. They overflowed into the woods but Coyote told it to stop. He then posted four men in the four directions and told them to blow to make winds. He said it would rain in the winter months. There was no daylight. Coyote told Thunder Man to make thunder but not to break the rocks or the trees. He commanded these things but the people did not believe them. Angry, he turned people into gophers, rabbits, and birds. He told them what to eat. He told him to try to put the sun in the sky. Buzzard did this. Coyote wished the stars to shine at night. Then he made the moon. The moon was to grow the food of the buckeye and acorns. He said that if the sun stayed in one place it would burn things up. He swayed to the east and to the west. The earth sank in the West. At the South he created Kuksu to watch over it. He made Kuksu a wife. He told them to do doctoring and people would mention their names. He made the song to cure blind people and the song for scared people. Coyote placed a man to the North, Cold Wind Man. He showed them how to create wind but he made it too strong and it sheared the earth. It formed hills. It was all flat before. Coyote went to the East where he called a man called Fire Man. He would be in charge of daylight and heat. Coyote named three people from the East: Daylight Man, Daylight Woman, and Fire Man. He told them to make daylight and dark of equal length. Coyote went to the North and West. Then Water Man came. The sun set in the West but stayed there. At the West Coyote called for Thunder Man who came and a bad storm came with him. Thunder Man made thunder but Coyote was afraid he would crack the earth. He gave Thunder Man the cocoon rattle and the whistle and the split stick rattle. He told him not to thunder too much for he would crack the earth. He said when the water came he was to let the salmon out. He told Fire Man, Daylight Man and Daylight Woman that he would make another race of people. He made each village. He told the people to build sweat lodges in their villages and to feast but not every day. He told him that there would be fire again and flood again if the people did not do right. He then named all the plants for the people to eat. They were to have dances for when the acorns grew so that there would be food the next year. Then Coyote went away and the people never saw where he went.

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