Pomo Creation Story I I – – adapted from the telling of Edwin Loeb
Coyote had no wife but he had a son named Thunder Man. They lived together. Thunder Man went out to fish, beginning at the South Pole and traveling North. At each stream he set out basket traps and build a dam. He had no luck until one day he, his wife and Coyote came to Big River where he set out a trap. It grew into a large oak which is there to this day. After this he went home. He helped Coyote check the dam. He saw that the sticks were tied with snakes and this caused him to faint. Thunder Man went to check on Coyote and in the basket he found a whale which he dragged to shore. He cut off the tail. Thunder Man’s wife went out together wood. She was unable to lift the basket with the tail in it. When she checked Coyote was hanging on the bottom of it. Coyote jumped up and seized the woman. Thunder Man’s wife was crying when he got home but she did not tell him what had happened. Thunder Man cooked the whale’s tail in a hole in the ground. He threw Coyote in the fire and covered it with ashes. He dug his way out but his fur was all singed. Thunder Man’s wife became pregnant and kept on crying. Thunder Man pulled and kicked his wife out. She clung to trees and bushes but he kicked her further towards the ocean. Thunder Man kept pursuing his wife forcing her to the cliffs. He kicked her into the ocean where she gave birth to a seal on some rocks. That is how seals started. Thunder Man called for his wife to come back but she would not come. He threw sticks at her. Each stick turned into a different fish. Thunder Man went home and ate the whale’s tail, giving none to Coyote. Then he took out his robes and baskets and sang love songs. Skunk girls and female birds and animals came in. When the female Mallard ducks came in he stopped singing. He said, “Something stinks.” It was the skunk girls. Thunder Man told everyone to help themselves to the whale’s tail. They were bashful but finally Crow Girl ate some. Thunder Man tied the Mallard girls with hairs from his head because he wished them to be his wives. To Coyote he gave Toad Woman who was not a beauty. Thunder Man put beads on the neck, waists, and wrists of the Mallard Girls. All the rest departed except for Frog Woman. Thunder Man gathered wood by taking a large rock and breaking a tree. He gathered three or four days’ worth of wood. He stayed with his wife for four days and then left with all his fur robes and bead nets. He left wearing all of them. Thunder Man walked on top of the water. He had four hairpins which he stuck at equal distances across the water. Then he went under the water. The fourth hairpin began to cry out. Coyote heard this and imitated his son, wearing his finest robes. He stepped across the water, stepping each time on a hairpin. Coyote built a boat of tule and stuck the four hairpins into it. When he was finished he pointed the boat East but not but did not get in. Thunder Man came out from under the water and caused it to thunder, rain and hail. Coyote said, you can make it rain but you are no longer my son. The storm destroyed the boat. Thunder Man raised Coyote up into the air. Coyote cried, “Son, Son, Son.” Coyote said that Thunder Man’s wives would turn into birds and that his frog wife would stay under the water. He wished that they all would have a hard time. Coyote continued into the heavens, stopping four times. Finally, he went right up into it and was never heard from again.
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.
Salinan creation story adapted from the telling of JA Mason
The old woman of the sea, Jealous Eagle, took her basket in which she carried the sea and poured it over the land. The sea rose to nearly the top of Santa Lucia Peak where Eagle and the other animals were. Eagle told Puma to lend him his whiskers so that he could lasso the basket. He did, the sea quit rising and the old woman died. Eagle then told Dove to bring some mud from which he formed the world. He took elder sticks and formed a woman and two men. They had no life so they entered the sweat lodge. Prairie Falcon told Coyote to bring some barsalido. Coyote brought another kind of wood and Prairie Falcon told him again bring me some barsalido. Then they all sweated and Eagle blew on the elder sticks and they lived. Then they held a fiesta.
Wishosk creation story adapted from the telling of Alfred Kroeber
At first only the ground was visible. There were no trees, rivers, people. There was no ocean. Gudatrigakwitl was sorry for this. He decided to make a boat. Without tools he spread his hand. He made people but they weren’t right and they all died. Originally he wanted humans to have 10 lives. But he discovered he could not do this. He gave humans game and fish and trees. He created humans in a fog so no one would see his creation. He created plants for medicine. He wanted that there be dances. He made it so that people would call him and there would be a dance. He made deer and acorns. He took a stick and made it so that there would be fire. He told the people to call him for dances and when they were badly off. He made all this and lastly made humans. People only called him when they are badly off. He exists and does not change from the old times. He does not get sick or die.
Atsugewi Creation Story–Adapted from the Telling of Roland Dixon
Originally all was water. In the clear sky a cloud formed. It turned into Coyote. Then a fog formed and became Silver Fox. They thought of a canoe which they made their home. They floated in it for many years till they became tired of it. Silver Fox told Coyote to lie down and go to sleep. When he did Silver Fox combed out Coyote’s hair and rubbed it between his hands flattening out and laid it on the water where it covered all the surface. He then thought of a tree and it appeared. Then he thought of shrubs and rocks and they appeared. He used the rocks to weigh down the film on the water so it did not ripple in the wind. Thus, it became the world. The canoe floated to the edge of it and Silver Fox woke up Coyote, saying that they were going to sink. Coyote woke up and saw cherries and plums overhead and heard crickets. He ate the cherries and plums and crickets. Coyote wanted to know what place it was. Silver Fox denied knowing where it was, denying that he made it. They landed and built a sweat lodge and lived in it. After a while they decided to make people, taking service berry twigs and sticking them on the inside of their house. The twigs became all the nonhuman persons, the animals, except for the deer which is like deer are today. Pine Martin was chief and Eagle, his sister was the woman chief. They went out hunting and killed a deer and had plenty to eat. The only thing was that the points of the arrows were of pine bark because they did not know where obsidian was. Ground Squirrel knew where obsidian was by a lake where Obsidian Old Man lived in a sweat house. Ground Squirrel brought the old man some roots which he liked very much. He sent Ground Squirrel to get some more. But while he was getting roots Grizzly Bear came and scared him saying, “Let me sit in your lap.” He ate the roots. Ground Squirrel went back to the sweat house, but with few roots. He told Obsidian Old Man what had happened. The old man said that he would go out the next day. They did and Ground Squirrel gathered roots and Grizzly Bear came up and sat on his lap and ate them. Obsidian Old Man came near and Grizzly Bear got up to fight. He slashed at him but cut himself to pieces. Ground Squirrel and Obsidian Old Man went home, ate the roots and went to sleep. In the morning Ground Squirrel pretended to be sick. The old man was suspicious but said he would get some wood. The old man snuck back to spy on Ground Squirrel who groaned and vomited up green substance. The old man thought he really was sick but Ground Squirrel had fooled him. The old man went for wood and Ground Squirrel stole obsidian points from him and ran off. The old man came back and found Ground Squirrel gone so he ran after him. He nearly caught him but Ground Squirrel ran down a hole. The old man dug after him and nearly caught him but he got away and ran down another hole. The old man gave up and went home. Ground Squirrel crossed the river and put down his points and went to the sweat house where he went to sleep. Cocoon slept there too. The people came in with deer and Ground Squirrel and Cocoon cut it into thin slices. Then Ground Squirrel went back and got the arrow points and gave them to everybody who tied them to the tips of their arrows.
Cupeño creation story adapted from the telling of EW Gifford
Originally it was a dark void. A bag hung in space which divided into two halves. One half was Coyote, the other Wildcat. They argued about who was older. Coyote spoke first so he was the elder. The people did not come from Coyote and Wildcat. They came from the mud. Humans understand Coyote because he spoke first.
Wiyot creation story adapted from the telling of Gladys Reichard
The first people were born not right and were free. Above Old Man thought, How will they get rid of them? Condor knew that water would come. Condor’s sister got in a basket. It was tossed around and then came to rest. She got out on land. The furry people were no more. Condor saw birds, wild pigeons, turtledoves. He flew around and then saw coon tracks. Condor called his sister, she did not answer. He married her and she became pregnant. People were born. They began to talk and Above Old Man was content with them.
Maidu creation story adapted from the telling of Roland Dixon
In the beginning Earth Maker and Coyote floated in a canoe on the sea. They sought land and after some time saw something that resembled a bird’s nest. Earth Maker attached ropes to the nest that stretched to the East, West, North, South and Northwest. They sang and through the songs Coyote created a world that is rough and hard to travel through. This showed Coyote’s evil qualities. Earth Maker told Coyote to lie on his face and he stretched the mass all directions so that no and can be seen of it. Coyote took off to tour the land and left Earth Maker alone. Earth Maker created two tiny figures, barely bigger than a seed. He planted these under a gopher hill and traveled about planting figures like this all over the place. He said that each pair would become people and grow and have children and that their children would have children. He made as many pairs as there are tribes and people. He built the house and dwelled there a long time. Coyote came back and built a house near there too. Earth Maker named all the people which were animals. Earth Maker called a counsel and persuaded the nonhuman persons to destroy Coyote who is evil. They destroyed all the Coyotes except one which they catch. They try various ways to destroy Coyote but he escapes. Earth Maker brought a flood. All the animals escaped in a canoe and Coyote managed to get in it unseen. Earth Maker gave up and created a wife and told Coyote to do the same. There will be another race of people – the human beings. Coyote caused life for humans to be difficult and that they shall die rather than living forever as Earth Maker had wished. Earth Maker gave up and left and left a reed that turned into a rattlesnake that killed Coyote’s son. Coyote tried to follow him and repented saying that human should live forever and life should be easy but Earth Maker didn’t hear. Coyote turned back. Earth maker traveled around destroying monsters that would make life dangerous for humans and created a lake that would bestow eternal life. Coyote went around and destroyed all that Earth Maker has done, including the lake. He boasted how clever he was. Earth Maker went to the East and disappeared. Coyote went to the West and disappeared.
Maidu creation story adapted from the telling of Roland Dixon.
In the beginning all was dark – there was only water and there was no sun, moon or stars. A raft drifted in from the north that held Turtle and Father of Secret Society. From the sky a rope of feathers came down with Earth Initiate on it. He tied it to the raft. For a long time he did not speak until Turtle asked him if he could create some land so that he could come out of the water. Turtledove asked whether there would be people. Earth Initiate said he did not know. Turtle told Earth Initiate to tie the rope to him as he was going to dive to the bottom. “One tug and the line is not long enough to pull me out. Two tugs I reach the bottom so pull me up.” Turtle dove and was gone six years. When he got back he had only a little earth under his nails. Earth Initiate took the earth, rolled it in his palms and put it in the stern of the raft. He checked it four times – each time it grew larger until it filled the world. The raft was a ground. Turtle asked that there be light. Earth Initiate looked to the east and said he would ask his sister to rise. She rose and set. Father of Secret Society cried because it was dark. Earth Initiate said he would ask his brother to rise. Then the moon rose. Earth Initiate called out all the stars by name. Then he made a tree grow. Turtle and Father of the Secret Society sat in the shade of the tree. It produced 12 different types of acorns. They went off to see the world. Coyote and Rattlesnake came up from under the ground. All five of them built huts and Earth Initiate made the birds and the trees and the animals. Earth Initiate made the deer and he and Coyote were at Marysville Buttes when Earth Initiate said he would make people. He made a man and a woman of red clay. They were quite handsome but he did not finish their hands. Coyote suggested they should have hands like his. Earth Initiate said no – and made hands like his own so that if they were chased by bears they could climb trees. The man was called Ku’ksu and the woman MorningStar woman. Coyote tried to make people but created glassy eyed ones. Earth Initiate told Ku’ksu to go to a lake and take all the people with him. He grew old on the way there. He fell into the lake but emerged young again. Earth Initiate told people if they grew old to come to the lake and they would be made young again. Everybody lived easily but Coyote thought it was not good. He told the people to have a burning which began with games – beginning with a foot race. Ku’ksu was sad and did not participate because he knew what was going to happen. Rattlesnake told him he knew what to do. He hid along the course of the foot race. He bit Coyote’s son. He died. That was the first death. Coyote cried and all the people cried. Coyote begged Ku’ksu to bring his son to life. He gave him beads and bear claws. Ku’ksu dug a grave and laid the body in and said that is how things were to be done. The people had a burning but started speaking different languages. Ku’ksu spoke to them all because he could speak all the languages. He called the different tribes by their names and sent them in different directions. Ku’ksu went away to his spirit house where he sat and ate with the son of Coyote. Coyote tracked him there. Coyote wanted to go in and eat spirit food. Ku’ksu said no – it was Coyote’s fault. There would be trouble and death. Only when earth Initiate comes again will everything be made over. Coyote went and told the people the way it would be but wanted to kill himself to join his son and Ku’ksu and eat spirit food. He jumped off a high place and died but when he got to the spirit house Ku’ksu and Coyote’s son had left and gone up above.
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.