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North American Mythology / Re: North American Mythology
« on: August 03, 2019, 08:29:22 PM »

this is clearly the meaning of the Modoc myth of Kumush, the
creator, who annihilated by fire the beautiful blue man, but could
not destroy the golden disk which was his life, and so used it to
transform himself into the empyrean (Curtin , pp. 39-45). Doublet
suns and moons, in the worlds below and above our own, are fre-
quently mentioned; often the sun is supposed to pass to the under-
world after the day’s journey is completed, in order to return to his
starting-point; possibly the notion of an underworld whose days and
seasons interchange with ours (a Pacific-Coast notion) is due to the
assumption that the sun alternates in the world above and the world
below. Among the important sun-myths are: (a) the well-nigh uni-
versal story of the hero or heroic brothers whose father is the sun or
some celestial person closely akin to the sun (cf. Note 44); (b) the
Phaethon myth, common in the North-West, in which the Mink is
permitted to carry the sun-disk and, as a consequence, causes a con-
flagration; (c) the related legend of the creation of the sun, which,
until it is properly elevated, overheats the world; (d) traditions of
the theft of the sun, which are variants of the Promethean tale of
the theft of fire (cf. Note 51), Text references: Ch. 1 . v (Rink, No.
35; Rasmussen, pp. 173 - 74 ; Boas [a], pp. 597-98). — Ch. II. vi
{JR vi. 223; Converse, pp. 48-51; Hoffman , p. 209). — Ch.
III. i, vi (for the “Ball-Carrier” story, see Schoolcraft [a], part
iii, p. 318; Hoffman , pp. 223-38). — Ch. IV, ii (Mooney [a],
p. 340; , pp. 239-49, ^56; Lafitau, i. idy'-dS); iv. — Ch. V. vi
(Fletcher, pp. 30, 134-40; for Sun-Dance references see Note 39).
— Ch. VI. iii, iv (G. A. Dorsey [e], No. id; [h], Nos. 14, 15; [a],
pp. 212-13; Dorsey and Kroeber, Nos. 134-38; Simms, FCM ii,
No. 17; Mooney [c], pp. 238-39; Lowie [a], No. 18). — Ch. VII.


iii (Teit [a], No. 8; Lowie , No. 8; Powell, p. 24); Iv (Powell,
pp. 52-56). — Ch. VIIL ii, iii (James Stevenson, pp. 275-76); v
(Russell, p. 251; Lumholtz [a], i. 295 ff., 311; , pp. 357 ff.). —
Ch. IX. iii, iv, vi, vii. — Ch. X. vi (Goddard [c], Nos. 3, 4). — Ch.
XL iv, V (Boas [j], pp. 28-36; [g], v. 2; viii. 2; xv. i; xviii, i; xx. i, la;
xxii. I, 19; xxiii. i, 3, 4; Swanton [a], p. 14. For the Mink cycle:
Boas [g], xvii. i; xviii. 7; xx. 2, 3; xxi. 2; xxii. i, 2; Boas and Hunt
, pp. 80-163; Boas [j], p. 95).

14. Stars and Constellations. — No group of myths is more
uniform on the North American continent than those relating to
constellations; usually they are extremely simple. The Great Bear,
Pleiades, and Orion’s Belt are the groups most frequently men-
tioned; and the commonest tale is of a chase in which the pursued
runs up into the sky, followed by eternally unsuccessful pursuers.
This myth seems quite natural as a description of Ursa Major —
the four feet of a fleeing quadruped (usually in America, too, a bear),
and three pursuers. Equally obvious is the conception of Pleiades as a
group of dancers, or of Corona Borealis as a council circle. Of the stars,
Venus, as morning star, which is generally regarded as a young war-
rior, messenger of the Sun, and the Pole Star, believed by the Pawnee
to be the chief of the night skies, are the only ones widely indi-
vidualized in myth. The Milky Way is universally the Spirit Path.
Star-myths are especially abundant and vivid among the Pawnee
(cf. Ch. VI. iii). Text references: Ch. I. v (Rink, pp. 48, 232; Boas
[a], p. 636; Rasmussen, pp. 176-77, 320). — Ch. II. vi (Converse,
pp. 53-63; Smith, pp. 80-81; cf. E. G. Squier, American Review^
new series, ii, 1848, p. 256). — Ch. V. viii (Fletcher, p. 129.
G. A. Dorsey [e] states that the Evening Star is of higher rank among
the Pawnee. The legend of Poia has been made the subject of an
opera by Arthur Nevin and Randolph Flartley. The version here
followed is that of Walter McClintock, The Old North Trails ch.
xxxviii. Other versions are Grinnell [a], pp. 93-103; Wissler and
Duvall, ii. 4. The story belongs to a wide-spread type; cf. G. A.
Dorsey [e]. No. 16, and note 117; [f]. Nos. 14, 15; Note 36, infra.
For constellation-myths see Fletcher, p. 234; Lowie [a], p. 177;
McClintock, pp. 488-90; J. 0 , Dorsey [d], p. 517). — Ch. VI. i
(Morice, Transactions of the Canadian Institute^ v. 28-32); iii (G. A.
Dorsey [e], No. i, and Introd.); iv (see Note 13 for references); v (G.
A. Dorsey [e], No. 2; [g]. No. 35). — Ch. VIIL v (Lumholtz [a],
pp. 298, 3 1 1, 361, 436). — Ch. IX. iii, vi.

15. Cosmogony. — American cosmogonies ought perhaps to be
described as cosmic myths of migration and transformation. In a
few instances (notably the Zuni cosmogony and some Californian
legends) there is a true creation ex nihilo; but the typical stories



are of sky-world beings who descend to the waters beneath and
magically expand a bit of soil into earth, or the characteristically
southern tale of an ascent of the First People from an underground
abode, followed by a series of adventures and transformations which
make the world habitable. The cataclysmic destruction of the first
inhabitants by flood, sometimes by fire, is universal in one form or
another; it is succeeded by the transformation of the survivors of
the antediluvian age into animals or men, by the creation of the
present human race, and frequently by a confusion of tongues and
a dispersion of peoples. There can be no doubt as to the truly aborig-
inal character of all these episodes, though in some instances the
native stories have clearly been coloured by knowledge of their
Biblical analogues. See Notes 6, ii, 31, 40, 49, 57, 70. Text refer--
ences: Ch. 1 . v. — Ch. III. i (Hewitt [a] gives an Onondaga, a
Seneca, and a Mohawk version of the Iroquois genesis, the first
of these being the one here mainly followed; other authorities on
Iroquoian cosmogony are: Hewitt and ‘‘Cosmogonic Gods of
the Iroquois,” in Proceedings of the American Association for the Ad-
vancement of Science^ 1895; Brebeuf, on the Huron, JR x, 127-39;
Brinton [a], pp. 53-62; Parkman [a], pp. Ixxv-lxxvii; Hale, JAFL
i. 177-83; Converse, pp. 31-36; Schoolcraft [a], part iii, p. 314;
and, for the Cherokee, Mooney , pp. 239 ff.); ii (important sources
on Algonquian cosmogony are: JR^ Index, “Manabozho”; Charle-
voix, Journal historique, Paris, 1840; Perrot, MSmoire^ English
translation in Blair, i. 23-272; Schoolcraft [a], i.; Brinton [d];
Rand; Hoffman [a], ; A. F. Chamberlain, “Nanibozhu amongst
the Otchipwe, Mississagas, and other Algonkian Tribes,” in JAFL
iv. 193-213). — Ch. IV. iv (Mooney , pp. 239-49; Gatschet [a],
; BusHnell [a], ). — Ch. V. ix (Fletcher and La Flesche,
pp. 63, 570). — Ch. VI. i (Morice, “Three Carrier Myths,” in
Transactions of the Canadian Institute^ v.; Lofthoxjse, “Chipewyan
Stories,” in ib. x.); ii (Lowie [a]. Nos. i, 2, 22, et al.; Will and
Spinden, pp. 138-41; Fletcher and La Flesche; J. O. Dorsey

[a] ; Eastman ; see Mooney [c], p. 152, for a Kiowa instance);
iii (G. A. Dorsey [e], No. i, is the authority chiefly followed here
for one of the finest of American cosmogonic myths); vii (G. A.
Dorsey , pp. 34-49). — Ch. VIII. ii (Matthews [a]); v (Russell,
pp. 206-38; cf. Lumholtz [a], pp. 296 ff.; , pp. 357 ff-); vi (Bourke

; Kroeber ; DuBois; James, chh. xii, xiv). — Ch. IX. vi
(M. C. Stevenson , pp. 26-69; Voth, Nos. 14, 15, 37); vii (M. C.
Stevenson [a], [c]; Cushing , [c]). — Ch. X. iii. — Ch. XL vi (see
Note 48 for references).

16. Origin of Death. — Stories of the origin of death are found
from Greenland to Mexico. What may be termed the Northern type

X — 20

28 o


represents a debate between two demiurgic beings, one arguing for
the bestowal of immortal life upon the human race, the other in-
sisting that men must die; sometimes the choice is determined by-
reason, sometimes by divination maliciously influenced. A South-
Western type tells of a first death, caused by witchcraft or malice,
which sets the law. On the Pacific Coast the two motives are com-
bined; the first death is followed by a debate as to whether death
shall be lasting or temporary; and often a grim reprisal upon the
person (usually Coyote) who decrees the permanency of death
appears in the fact that it is his child who is the second victim.
Other motives are occasionally found. These myths seem to be typi-
cally American. Text references: Ch. 1 . v (Rasmussen, pp. 99-102;
Rink, p. 41). — Ch. III. vii {JR vi. 159). — Ch. VI. v (G. A. Dor-
sey [e]. No. 2; [g]. No. 35; Wissler and Duvall, i. 3, 4; Dorsey
and Kroeber, No. 41). — Ch. VII. v (Powell, pp. 44-45; cf. Lowie

, No. 2). — Ch. VIII. ii (Matthews [a], “Origin Myth”); v (God-
dard [a]. No. i); vl (DuBois). — Ch. IX. vi. — Ch. X. iii (Dixon [d],
Nos. I, 2); vii (Kroeber [c]. Nos. 9, 12, 17, 38; Dixon , No. 7;

[c] , No. 2; Frachtenberg [a], No. 5; Curtin [a], pp. 163-74; , pp,
60, 68; Goddard , p. 76). — Ch. XL vi (Boas [g], xxiv. i); vii
(Boas [g], xiii. 2, 6b).

17. Miscegenation. — Stories of supernatural and unnatural
marriages and sexual unions are very common. Sometimes they
are legends of the maid who marries a sky-being and gives birth to
a son who becomes a notable hero; sometimes a young man weds
a supernatural girl, as the Thunder’s Daughter or the Snake Girl,
thereby winning secrets and powers which make him a great theur-
gist; sometimes it is the marriage of the dead and the living; fre-
quently the union of women with animals is the theme, and a
story found the length of the continent tells of a girl rendered preg-
nant by a dog, giving birth to children who become human when she
steals their dog disguises. This legend is frequently told with the
episode found in the tradition of the incest of sun-brother and moon-
sister: the girl is approached by night and succeeds in identifying
her lover only by smearing him with paint or ashes. See Notes 13,
32, 50. Text references: Ch. 1 . v (Rasmussen, p. 104; Boas [a], p.
637; Rink, No. 148). — Ch. II. vi (Mooney , pp. 345-47). — Ch.
IV. ii (Mooney , p. 256). — Ch. VL i (Morice, Transactions of
the Canadian Institute^ v. 28-32). — Ch. IX. vii (M. C. Stevenson
[c], p. 32; Cushing , pp. 399 ff.). — Ch. X. v (Dixon [c], No.
7; , Nos. X, 2; Curtin [a], “Two Sisters”).

18, Transmigration. — Belief in the possibility of rebirth is gen-
eral, although some tribes think that only young children may be
reincarnated, and certain of the Californians who practise crema-



tion bury the bodies of children that they may the more easily be
reborn. Again, rebirth is apparently easier for souls that have
passed to the underworld than for those whose abode is the sky.
The Bella Coola allow no reincarnation for those who have died a
second death and passed to the lowest underworld. See Notes 10,
20, 46. Text references: Ch. I. vi (Rasmussen, p. 116). — Ch. V. ii,
viii (J. 0 . Dorsey [d], p. 508). — Ch. XL iv (Boas [j], pp. ay-zS).

19. Cannibals and Man-Eaters. — Cannibals occur in many
stories. Three forms of anthropophagy, practised until recently by
North American tribes, are to be distinguished: (i) the devouring
of a portion of the body, especially the heart or blood, of a slain
warrior in order to obtain his strength or courage (cf. JR i. 268;
De Smet, p. 249); (2) ceremonial cannibalism, especially in the
North-West, where it is associated with the Cannibal Society; (3)
cannibalism for food. This latter form, except under stress of famine,
is rare in recent times, although archaeological evidence indicates
that it was formerly wide-spread. The ill repute borne by the
Tonkawa is an indication of the feeling against the custom, which,
on the whole, the cannibal-myths substantiate (cf. Ch. VIII. v).
In many legends the anthropophagist’s wife appears as a protec-
tor of his prospective victim, as in European tales of ogres, and it
is interesting to find the ‘‘Fe fo fum” episode of English folk-lore
recurring in numerous stories. The grisly “cannibal babe’’ tradi-
tion of the Eskimo has a kind of parallel in a Montana tale (Ch.
VIL vi); while the obverse motive, of the old female cannibal who
lures children to their destruction, is a frequent North-West story. •
Legends of man-eating bears and lions are to be expected; the man-
devouring bird of the Plateau region is more difficult to explain,
though the idea may be connected with that of the Thunderbird
and the destructiveness of lightning. See Notes 2, 37. Text refer--
ences: Ch. I. vi (Rasmussen, p. 186; Rink, No. 39). — Ch. IV. vii.
— Ch. VII. iii (Teit [a], No. 8); vi (O. D. Wheeler, The Trail of
Lewis and Clark^ New York, 1904, ii. 74; cf. McDermott, No. 5,
where Coyote takes vengeance on the babe). — Ch. VIII. ii. — Ch.
XL ii (Boas [f], pp. 372 - 73 ; Igl Sj 6, 7; [j], pp. 83-90; Boas
and Hunt [a]); iii (Boas [f], pp. 394-466; [g], xv. 9; xvii. 8, 9; xx. 8;
SwANTON [a], ch. xi).

20. Names and Souls. — Ghosts and souls are very generally
distinguished. The disembodied soul, or spirit, is mythically con-
ceived as related to fire and wind, and as transiently human in
form, sometimes as a manikin. Names also have a kind of person-
ality. Individuals believed to be the reincarnation of one dead are
given the same appellation as that borne by him, and Curtin tells
a story of a babe that persistently cried until called by the right name



(, p. 6). A curious custom of renaming a living man after a dead
chief, that the character and traits of the departed may not be
lost, is described by the Jesuit Fathers {JR xxii. 289; xxvi. ISS™'63).
See Notes 12, 18, S3- references: Ch. 1 . vi (Stefansson, pp.

395-400). — Ch. III. V (De Smet, pp. 1047-53). — Ch. V. ii. —
Ch. VIL vi (Lowie , Nos. 38, 39; Teit , pp. 342, 358; [d],
p. 611). — Ch. XI. iii (Boas [f], pp. 418 ff.; [j], p. 37); vii (Boas
[f], p. 482; [g], xiiL 2, 6; Swanton [a], p. 34 )-

21. Ordeals. — Ordeals may be classified as follows: (i) initia-
tion trials and tortures, of which flogging and fasting are the com-
monest methods; (2) trials of a warrior’s fortitude, in the forms
of torture of captives, expiatory sacrifices and purifications of men
setting out on the war-path, and fulfilment of a vow for deliverance
from peril or evil; the famous Sun-Dance tortures belong to the
latter class; body scarring and the offering of finger-joints are fre-
quent modes of expiation; (3) punishment for crime, especially mur-
der; (4) mourning customs involving mutilation and hardship, par-
ticularly severe for widows; (5) duels, especially the magical duels
of shamans, which range from satirical song-duels to contests of skill
resulting in degradation or even death for the defeated. Text refer^
ences: Ch. 1 . vi (Rasmussen, p. 312). — Ch. V. vi. — Ch. IX. iv. —
Ch. X. vi (Frachtenberg [a]. No. 4).

22. Orphans and Poor Boys. — Tales of orphans and poor boys
who are neglected and persecuted form a whole body of litera-
ture, second in extent only to the “Trickster-Transformer” stories.
The return of the hero, after a journey to some beneficent god, who
often is his father, and his subsequent elevation to power, as a chief
or medicine-man, are recurrent motives. The whole group might
be called Whittington stories, but there are many variations. Text
references: Ch. I. vi. — Ch. IV. vii. — Ch. VI. vii (G. A. Dorsey
[e] makes a class of “Boy Hero” stories, many of them tales of
orphans). — Ch. VIII. iv.

23. The Five Nations, or tribes of the original Iroquois Confed-
eracy, included the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca;
later the Tuscarora were admitted, whence the league is also called
the Six Nations.

24. Agriculture. — Pumpkins, squash, beans, sweet potatoes,
and tobacco are other crops cultivated in various localities by the
aborigines. Wild rice and the seeds of grasses were gathered; roots
and wild fruits were eaten; in the maple-tree zone maple sugar is a
native food, and particularly in the far West acorn meal forms an
important article of aboriginal diet. It seems certain that the Algon-
quians came from the north and learned agriculture of the south-
ern nations, especially the Iroquois. The northern Algonquians ~



Montagnais, etc. — practised no agriculture when the Jesuits began
missionary work among them, though the cultivation of maize was
well established among the New England tribes before the appear-
ance of the Colonists. The introduction of maize among the Chippewa
is remembered in the myth of Mondamin (cf. Brinton [d], ch. vi,
and Perrot, Memoir ch. iv, English translation in Blair, i).
The Omaha, Navaho, and a number of other tribes among whom
agriculture is recent have traditions or myths recording the way
in which they first learned it. See Notes 35, 39. Text references:
Ch. II. i. — Ch. III. ii. — Ch. V. i. — Ch. IX. i.

25. Areskoui. — Lafitau, i. 126, 132, 145, discusses Areskoui, or
Agriskoue, whom he regards as an American reminiscence of the
Greek Ares. This seems to be the primary ground for the assertion
that Areskoui is a god of war, though it is to a degree borne out by
the nature of the allusions to him in the Jesuit Relations^ especially
Jogues’s letter (JR xxxix. 219). The members of the Huron mission,
who had a better chance to understand this deity, evidently con-
sidered him a supreme being, or Great Spirit; cf. with the passage

North American Mythology / Re: North American Mythology
« on: August 03, 2019, 08:28:44 PM »



an evil reputation. The tendency toward formal and hereditary
priesthoods is naturally confined to the socially advanced peoples
(of whom the Creek and Pueblo are examples), while “mystery”
societies and ceremonies, the aim of which is spiritual and physical
well-being, and often material prosperity in addition, occur in all
but the lowest tribal stocks. The principal text references are: Ch,
1 . iii. — Ch. IV. vii (Mooney , p. 392). — Ch. VI. vi (G. A.
Dorsey , pp. 46-49). — Ch. VII. vii (Mooney [d], for trans-
lated songs, pp. 958-1012, 1052-55). — Ch. VIII. iv (Matthews [a],
“Natinesthani,” “The Great Shell of Kintyel”; [c], “The Vision-
ary,” “So,” “The Stricken Twins,” “The Whirling Logs”; James
Stevenson, “The Floating Logs,” “The Brothers”; cf. Goddard
[a], Nos. 18, 22, 23). — Ch. IX. iii (M. C. Stevenson [c], pp. 32-33,
62-67, 289-90; Fewkes [a], pp. 310-11). — Ch. X. ii. — CL XL iii
(SwANTON [a], pp. 163-64; Boas [f]).

6. Great Spirit. — The Greenlander’s Tomarsuk is another ex-
ample of the faineant supreme being for which Lang so astutely
argued {Myth, Ritual and Religion, 3d ed., London, 1901, Introd.),
citing Atahocan and Kiehtan as early instances. Writers on Ameri-
can Indian religion frequently assert that the idea of a “Great
Spirit” is not aboriginal (cf. Brinton [a], p. 69; Fewkes [f], p. 688).
Thus Morgan (Appendix B, sect. 62): “The beautiful and elevating
conception of the Great Spirit watching over his red children from
the heavens and pleased with their good deeds, their prayers, and
their sacrifices, has been known to the Indians only since the Gospel
of Christ was preached to them.” Yet in the section just preceding,
on Indian councils, he says: “The master of ceremonies, again ris-
ing to his feet, filled and lighted the pipe of peace from his own fire.
Drawing three whiffs, one after the other, he blew the first toward
the zenith, the second toward the ground, and the third toward the
Sun. By the first act he returned thanks to the Great Spirit for the
preservation of his life during the past year, and for being permitted
to be present at this council. By the second, he returned thanks to
his Mother, the Earth, for her various productions which had minis-
tered to his sustenance. And by the third, he returned thanks to the
Sun for his never-failing light, ever shining upon all.” No one ques-
tions the aboriginal character of this pipe ritual, its pre-Columbian
antiquity, or its universality (cf., e. g., De Smet, Index, “Calumet”);
and equally there is abundant evidence that Morgan’s interpreta-
tion of its meaning is correct: the first whiff is directed to the Great
Spirit, the Master of Life, whose abode is the upper heaven. Very
commonly this being is referred to as “Father Heaven,” and invari-
ably he is regarded as beneficent and all-seeing, and as “pleased
with the good deeds of his red children.” The only truth in the as-



sertion that the Indian’s idea of a Great Spirit is derived from white
missionaries is that the Indian conception is less anthropomorphic
than that commonly entertained by an unphilosophic white (though
it is one that would have been readily comprehended by the Stoics
of antiquity, and would not have seemed remote to the thought of
Plato or Aristotle). If a separation of ideas be made, and the Bibli-
cal epithet “Heavenly Father” be understood for what it doubtless
originally was, a name for a being who was (i) the sky-throned ruler
of the world, and (2) its creator, a better comprehension of Indian
ideas will follow; for it is rare in America to find Father Heaven in
the creative rdle (the Zuni and Californian cosmogonies are excep-
tions). It is partly for this reason that he plays so small a part
in myth; he belongs to religion rather than to mythology proper.
Lang is probably wrong in regarding the Supreme Being as fainSa 7 it,
a do-nothing; occasionally the Indian expresses himself to this
effect, but no one can follow the detail of Indian ritual without
being impressed by his intense reverence for the Master of Life and
his firm conviction in his goodness. That the Indian more often
addresses prayer to the intermediaries between himself and the
ruler of the high heaven, or makes offerings to them, is as natural
as that a Latin should approach his familiar saints. A particularly
good bit of evidence, if more were needed, for the aboriginal char-
acter of the heaven-god is given by S wanton ([a], p. 14). “The-
Chief-Above” is the Haida name for God, as taught them by the
missionaries; “ Power-of-the-Shining-Heavens ” is their aboriginal
Zeus: “Some Masset people once fell to comparing The-Chlef-Above
with Power-of-the-Shining-Heavens in my presence. They said
they were not the same. The idea that I formed of their attitude
toward this being was, that, just as human beings could ‘receive
power’ or ‘be possessed’ by supernatural beings, and supernatural
beings could receive power from other supernatural beings, so the
whole of the latter got theirs in the last analysis from the Power-of-
the-Shining-Heavens.” The same idea of a hierarchy in space with
the heaven-god at its summit appears in the ritual of the Midewiwin,
in the Hako Ceremony, and in the Olelbis myth. These are only a
few instances from different parts of the continent; there are numer-
ous other examples, for wherever the breath of Heaven is identi-
fied with the descent of life from on high, and the light of day is
regarded as the symbol of blessings bestowed upon man, the con-
ception of Father Heaven, the Great Spirit, is found. See Notes 13,
15, 25, 26, 30, 34, 63. Text references: Ch. 1 . iii (cf. Boas [a], p. 583:
“The Central Eskimo . , • believe in the Tornait of the old Green-
landers, while the Tornarsuk (i. e. the great Tornaq of the latter)
is unknown to them”). — Ch. 11 . ii {JR xxxiii. 225); iv (see Note



28). — Ch. V. iii (Fletcher, pp. 27, 216, 243); iv (Morice ;
De Smet, p. 936; Eastman , pp. 4--6). — Ch. VIL v. — Ch. IX.
iii (M. C. Stevenson [c], pp. 22-24). — Oh. X. iii (Kroeber [c],
pp. 184, 348; [e], p. 94; Goddard , No. i; Gatschet [c], p. 140;
Curtin [a]; , pp. 39-45). — Ch. XL iv (Swanton [a], pp. 13-15,
190; , p. 284; [c], pp. 26-30).

7. Goddesses. — There are several occurrences in North Ameri-
can mythology of a goddess as the supremely important deity of a
pantheon. Nerrivik, ‘Tood Dish,’^ is the epithet given by Rasmus-
sen to the divinity called Arnarksuagsak, ‘'Old Woman,” by Rink,
Arnakuagsak by Thalbitzer, and Sedna and Nuliajoq by Boas. Her
character as the ruler of sea-food sufficiently accounts for her impor-
tance in the far North. A somewhat similar goddess appears among
the North-West Coast tribes; she is the owner of the food animals
of the sea which come forth from a chest that is always full (Boas
[g], XX. 7). Foam Woman, the Haida ancestral divinity, is perhaps
the same personage. The Bella Coola deity, Qamaits, who dwells
in the highest heaven, belongs to a different class; apparently she is
the one example of a truly supreme being in feminine form in North
America, for she is a cosmic creator and ruler rather than a food-
giver; on the other hand, the fact that she has a lake of salt water
as her bath may indicate a marine origin. In the South-West god-
desses are important both in cosmogony and in cult. There is no
higher personage in the Navaho pantheon than Estsanatlehi, and
her doublets in Pueblo myth enjoy nearly equal rank. Again it is
her association with food-giving from which this goddess derives
her status, for in the South-West the Great Goddess of the West
presides over the region whence come the fructifying rains. Cos-
mogonic Titanesses occur in many myths, in almost every instance
as personifications of the Earth, which in turn is almost universally
recognized as the great giver of life and food. See Notes 34, 35, 43.
Text references: Ch. I. iii (cf. Rasmussen, pp. 142, 151; Rink, p. 40;
Boas [a], pp. 583-87), — Ch. VI. vii. — Ch. VIII. i (Matthews
[a]). — Ch. IX. V (see Note 35 for references), vi, — Ch. XL ii:
The marine god of the North-West Coast is a masculine equivalent
of Sedna (Boas [f], p. 374; [g], passim); iv (Boas [j], pp. 27-28).

8. The Perilous Way. — Descriptions of the dangers besetting
the journey to the Land of Spirits, whether for the dead souls that
are to return no more, the adventurous spirits of shamans, or the
still more daring heroes of myth who seek to traverse the way in the
flesh, are found in practically all Indian mythologies. The analogues
with Old-World myth will occur to every reader. The special perils
associated with the moon in journeys to the sky-world are interest-
ingly similar in Greenland and on the North-West Coast. Cf. Notes



10, 42, 53. Text references: Ch. 1 . lii, iv. — Ch. Ill, vil {JR vi. 181;
Converse, pp. 51-52; De Smet, p. 382). — CL VIL vi. — CL
VIIL ii. — Ch. X. vi, — Ch. XL v.

9. Water Monsters. — There is a striking similarity in the per-
sonnel of the mythic sea-powers among the Eskimo and on the
North-West Coast, nearly every type of being in the one group hav-
ing its equivalent in the other — mermen, phantom boatmen, mouth-
prowed and living boats, and, most curious of all, the Fire-People.
Nowhere else in North America, except for the Nova Scotian Mic-
mac, has any considerable body of marine myths been preserved.
Everywhere, however, there are well defined groups of under-water
beings, sometimes reptilian or piscine, sometimes human in form.
Among the important myths in which under-water monsters are
conspicuous are: (a) the common legend of a hero swallowed by a
huge fish or other creature (not always a water-being; cf. Note 41),
from whose body he cuts his way to freedom, or is otherwise released;
(b) the flood story, in which the heroes brother, or companion, is
dragged down to death by water monsters which cause the deluge
when the hero takes revenge upon them (see Note 49); (c) the
South-Western myth of the subterranean water monster who threat-
ens to inundate the world in revenge for the theft of his two children,
and who is appeased only by the sacrifice of other two children or of
a youth and a maid (cf. Note 29). Text references: Ch. I. iv (Rink,
p. 46; Rasmussen, pp. 307-08). — Ch. II. vii. — CL III. iv. — Ch.
IV, vi (Mooney , pp. 320, 349). — Ch. V. ix (J. O. Dorsey [d],
p. 538; Fletcher and La Flesche, p, 63). — CL VIIL i. — CL
X. iv.

10. Abode of the Dead. — Cavernous underworlds, houses in
heaven, the remotely terrene village beyond the river, or the earthly
town on the other side of the western sea are all included in the
American’s mythic homes of the dead. In the Forest and Plains
regions a western village, situated beyond a river which the living
cannot cross even if they win to its banks, is perhaps the most
common idea, though throughout this portion of the continent the
Milky Way is the “Pathway of Souls.” In the South-West the sub-
terranean land of souls is usual, and on the Pacific the spirits of the
dead are supposed to fare to oversea isles ; but nowhere is there great
consistency of belief. The idea of divergent destinies for different
classes of people finds what is doubtless its most primitive form in
the notion that those who die by violence, especially in war, and
women in child-birth have a separate abode in the after-life. The
Eskimo, Tlingit, and Haida place the dwelling-place of persons so
dying in the skies, and it is interesting to note that the same dis-
tinction was observed by the Aztecs, who believed that men dying



in battle, persons sacrificed to the gods (except underworld gods),
and women dead in child-birth all went to the house of the Sun,
others to a subterranean Hades. The Norse Valhalla is a European
counterpart, though it is difficult to say whether the American in-
stances had any clearly conscious moral value in view. The Zufil
make a similar discrimination for a different reason, the souls of the
members of the Bow priesthood going to the sky-world, but only
because of their office as archers and hence as lightning and storm-
bringers. A further Zuni distinction limits entrance to the Dance-
House of the Gods, inside a mountain, to initiates in the Kotikili.
A moral value is clear enough in the Tlingit conception of the judge-
ment of Nascakiyetl, and in this and other North-West notions it
appears that the possibility of rebirth is more or less dependent upon
the abode attained, though it may be doubted whether the mode of
death is not really the final crux even here, the mutilated and slain
finding reincarnation more difficult. One of the most ghastly of
North American superstitions is the belief that scalped men lead a
shadowy life (ghosts rather than spirits) about the scenes where they
met their fate, but this properly belongs to ghost-lore. See Notes

47 ? S3- references: Ch. I. iv. — Ch. III. vii (Perrot, Memoire^
English translation in Blair, i. 39; JR x. 153-55; Rand, Nos. x,
XXXV, xlii; Hoffman , pp. 118, 206). — Ch. IX. iii, vii (M. C.
Stevenson [c], p. 66). — Ch. X. vii. — Ch. XI. iii (Boas [g], xxv.
3); vii (Boas [g], zv. i; [j], pp. 37-38; Swanton [a], pp. 34-36; [d],
p. 81).

II. The Cosmos. — All American tribes recognize a world above
the heavens and a world below the earth. Many of them multiply
these worlds. Thus the Bella Coola believe in a five-storey universe,
with two worlds above and two below our earth. Four worlds above
and four below is a recorded Chippewa and Mandan conception,
and in the South-West the four-storey underworld is the common
idea. It is of extraordinary interest to find the same belief in Green-
land. The fact that the earth is divided into quarters, in the Indian’s
orientations, and that offerings are made to the tutelaries of the quar-
ters in nearly every ritual, may be the analogy which has suggested
the multiplication of the upper and under worlds, but it is at least
curious that the conception of a storeyed universe should be so. defi-
nite among the Northern and North-Western Coast peoples, with
whom the cult of the Quarters is absent or rare. The notion of a
series of upper worlds appears in the rituals of some Plains tribes;
thus the Pawnee recognize a “circle” of the Visions (apparently the
level of the clouds), a “circle” of the Sun, and the still higher “circle”
of Father Heaven; and the Chippewa believe in a series of powers
dwelling in successive skyward regions. It is possible that the analogy


of this upper-world series has been symmetrically extended to the
world below, and yet it is the four-fold underworld that recurs
most definitely. See Notes 6, lo, 31, 66, 68. Text references: Ch. 1 .
iv. — Ch. IL V (45 BBE, p. 21; Mooney , pp. 236-40, 430,
note i). — Ch. V. ix (J. 0. Dorsey [d], pp. 520-26; Fletcher and
La Flesche, pp. 134-41; cf. J. 0. Dorsey , [e]). — Ch. VI. ii
(Will and Spinden); iii (G. A. Dorsey [e], note 2, states that
‘^Tirawahut’’ refers to “^^the entire heavens and everything con-
tained therein”; Tahirussawichi, the Chaui priest quoted in 22
JRBE, part 2, p. 29, said: “Awahokshu is that place • . . where
Tirawa-atius, the mighty power, dwells. Below are the lesser powers,
to whom man can appeal directly, whom he can see and hear and
feel, and who can come near him. Tirawahut is the great circle in
the sky where the lesser powers dwell.”). — Ch. VII. iii (Teit [a],
p. 19, and Nos. 2, ro, 27, 28; , p. 337; Mason, No. 26). — Ch. VIII.
ii. — Ch. IX. ii (Cushing ; M. C. Stevenson , [c]; Fewkes
[a], [e]). — Ch. XL iv (Swanton [a], ch. ii; [e], pp. 451-60; Boas
Ul PP- 27-37)-

12. Ghosts. — The ghost or wraith of the dead is generally con-
ceived to be different from the soul, and is closely associated with the
material remains of the dead. Animated skeletons, talking skulls,
and scalped men are forms in which the dead are seen in their former
haunts; sometimes shadows and whistling wraiths represent the de-
parted. In a group of curious myths the dead appear as living and
beautiful by night, but as skeletons by day. Marriages between the
dead and the living, with the special tabu that the offspring shall
not touch the earth, occur in several instances, as the Pawnee tale
(Ch. VI. v) or the Klickitat story of the girl with the ghost lover
(Ch. VIL vi), for which Boas gives a Bella Coola parallel in which
the offspring of the marriage is a living head that sinks into the earth
so soon as it is inadvertently allowed to touch the ground ([g], xxii.
17). See Notes 8, 20, 53. Text references: Ch. I. iv. — Ch. VI. v
(G. A. Dorsey [g], Nos. 10, 34; [e]. No. 20; Grinnell [c], "'The
Ghost Wife”). — Ch. VII. vi (see Notes 20, 53 for references). —
Ch. VIII. i.

13. Sun and Moon. — The sun is the most universally venerated
aboriginal deity of North America; and this is true to such an extent
that the Indians have been reasonably designated " Sun-Worshippers.”
Nevertheless, there are many tribes where the sun-cult is unimpor-
tant, but on the other hand, there are well defined regions where it
becomes paramount, particularly among the southern agricultural
peoples. The moon is regarded as a powerful being, yet quite fre-
quently as a baneful or dangerous one (cf. Note 8). Usually the sun
is masculine and the moon feminine, though in a curious exception



(Cherokee, Yuchi) the sun is the woman and the moon the man;
in the South-West and North-West both are generally described as
masculine. Husband and wife is the usual relation of the pair, and
the Tlingit explain the sun’s eclipse as due to a visit of wife to hus-
band; but in a myth which is told by both Eskimo and Cherokee,
sun and moon are brother and sister, guilty of incest (cf. Note 17).
In the South-West, and more or less on the Pacific Coast, the sun
and moon are conceived as material objects borne across the sky by
carriers, and the yearly variations of the sun’s path are explained
by mechanical means — poles by which the Sun-Carrier ascends to
a sky-bridge,. which he crosses and which is as broad as the ecliptic,
etc. While the sun is a great deity — “Father Sun” — he is seldom
truly supreme; he is the loftiest and most powerful of the interme-
diaries between man and Father Heaven, and both he and the moon
are invariably created beings. Sometimes, however, the sun seems
to be regarded as the life of heaven itself, and as its immortal life;

North American Mythology / Re: North American Mythology
« on: August 03, 2019, 08:25:39 PM »


In no section of America is the belief in possession by spirits
and spiritistic powers more deeply seated than in the North-
West; shamanism is the key to the whole conception of life
which animates myth and rite. Scarcely any idea connected
with spiritualism is absent: stories of soul-journeys are fre-
quent, while telepathic communication, prophetic forewarnings
of death and disaster, and magic cures through spirit aid are
a part of the scheme of nature; there are accounts of crystal-
gazing, in which all lands and events are revealed in the trans-
lucent stone, which recurs again and again as a magic object;
and there are tales of houses haunted by shadows and feathers,
of talking skulls and bones that are living beings by night,
and of children born of the dead, which are only abortively
human. There is also a kind of psychology which is well de-
veloped among some tribes.®® The disembodied soul is not a
whole or hale being: “Why are you making an uproar, ghosts?
You who take away men’s reason!” is a fragment of Kwakiutl
song; and a certain story tells how a sick girl, whose heart was
painted, went insane because the colouring was applied too
strongly. The Haida have three words for “ soul ” ; two of these
apply to the incarnate soul, and are regarded as synonyms;
the third designates the disembodied soul, although the latter
is not the same as the ghost, which is marked by a distinct
name. A curious feature of Haida psychology is that the word
for mind is the same as that for throat — less strange, perhaps,
when we reflect upon the importance of speech in any descrip-
tion of the mind’s most distinctive power, that of reason.

The origin of death is explained in many ways.'® A Tlingit
story has been given, and a Nootka tale tells of a chieftain
who kept eternal life in a chest; men tried to steal it from him


and almost succeeded, but their final failure doomed them to
mortality. A significant Wikeno (Kwakiutl) myth recounts the
descent from heaven of two ancestral beings who wished to
endow men with everlasting life, but a little bird wished death
into the world: “Where will I dwell,” he asked, “if ye always
live.? I would build my nest in your graves and warm me.”
The two offered to die for four days, and then arise from the
tomb ; but the bird was not satisfied, so finally they concluded
to pass away and be born again as children. After their death
they ascended to heaven, whence they beheld men mourning
them; whereupon they transformed themselves into drops of
bipod, carried downward by the wind. Sleeping women in-
breathe these drops and thence bear children.

The abodes of the dead are variously placed.^® Beneath the
sea is one of the most frequent, and there is an interesting story
telling of the waters parting and the ghost, in the form of a
butterfly, rising before a young man who sat fasting beside
the waters. The Haida believe that the drowned go to live with
the killer whales; those who perish by violence pass to Taxet’s
house in the sky, whence rebirth is difficult, though not impos-
sible for an adventurous soul; while those who die in the sick-
bed pass to the Land of Souls — a shore land, beyond the
waters, with innumerable inlets, each with its town, just as in
their own country. Although the dying could decide for them-
selves to what town in the Land of Souls they wished their
own spirits to go, there is occasionally, nevertheless, an appor-
tionment of the future abode on a moral basis; thus, in Tlingit
myth, after Nascakiyetl has created men, he decrees that when
the souls of the dead come before him, he will ask: “What were
you killed for.? What was your life in the world.?” Destiny is
determined by the answer; the good go to a Paradise above;
the wicked and witches are reborn as dogs and other animals.
The Bella Coola assign the dead to the two lower worlds, from
the upper of which alone is return possible through reincarna-
tion. An old woman who, in trance, had seen the spirit world,

X — 19


described it as stretching along the banks of a sandy river.
When it is sumnaer in the world above, it is winter in the earth
below (an idea which appears in Hopi conceptions of the world
order); and the ghosts, too, are said to walk with their heads
downward. They speak a different language from that in the
world above, and each soul receives a new name on entering
the lower realms.

The ever-recurring and ever-pathetic story of the dead wife
and of her grieving lord’s quest for her — the tale of Orpheus
and Eurydice — appears in various forms in the North-West.*®
Sometimes it is the story of a vain journey, without even a
sight of the beloved, though the Land of the Dead be dis-
covered; sometimes the searcher is sent back with gifts, but
not with the one sought; sometimes the legend is made a part
of the incident of the carved wife — the bereaved husband
making a statue of the lost spouse, which may show a dim
and troubled life, as if her soul were seeking to break through
to him; and again it is the true Orphean tale with the partial
success, the tabu broken through anxiety or love, and the spirit
wife receding once more to the lower world. It is not necessary
to invoke the theory of borrowings for such a tale as this ; the
elemental fact of human grief and yearning for the departed
will explain it. Doubtless a similar universality in human na-
ture and a similar likeness in human experiences will account
for the multitude of other conceptions which make the mythic
universe of the men of the Old World and the men of the New
fundamentally and essentially one.



I. Spelling. — Kahluna {kavdlundk^ qadluna are variants) is
the Eskimo’s word for “white man”; kablunait is the plural. Simi-
larly, tornit {tunnit) is the plural of tunek {tuniq, tunnek); tornait of
tornak {tornaq, tornat ) ; angakut of angakok^ other forms of which are
angekkoky angatkuk^ angaqok^ etc. These differences in spelling are
due in part to dialectic variations in Eskimo speech, in part to the
phonetic symbols adopted by investigators. Their number in a
language comparatively so stable as is Eskimo illustrates the diffi-
culties which beset the writer on American Indian subjects in choos-
ing proper representation for the sounds of aboriginal words. These
difficulties arise from a number of causes. In the first place, aboriginal
tongues, having no written forms, are extremely plastic in their
phonetics. Dialects of the same language vary from tribe to tribe;
within a single tribe different clans or families show dialectic pecu-
liarities; while individual pronunciation varies not only from man to
man but from time to time. In the second place, the printed records
vary in every conceivable fashion. Divergent systems of trans-
literation are employed by different investigators, publications, and
ethnological bureaux; translations from French and Spanish have
introduced foreign forms into English; usage changes for old words
from early to later times; and finally few men whose writings are
extensive adhere consistently to chosen forms; indeed, not infre-
quently the form for the same word varies in an identical writing.
In formulating rules of spelling for a general work, a number of
considerations call for regard. First, it is undesirable even to seek
to follow the phonetic niceties represented by the more elaborate
transliterative systems, which represent sound-material unknown in
English or other European tongues. Aboriginal phonetics is impor-
tant to the student of linguistics; it is unessential to the student
of mythology; and it is detrimental to that literary interest which
seeks to make the mythological conceptions available to the general
reader; for the mythologist or the literary artist a symbol conform-
ing to the genius of his own tongue is the prime desideratum. In
the light of these considerations the following rules of spelling for
aboriginal terms have been adopted for the present work:

(i) In the spelling of the names of tribes and linguistic stocks the
usage of the Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico (50



BBE) has been chosen as the standard. The same form (as a rule)
is used for the singular and for the collective plural; also, frequently,
for the adjective.

(2) Where a term has attained, through considerable usage, a
frequent English form, especially if this has literary (as distinct
from scientific) sanction, such form is preferred. This rule is neces-
sarily loose and difficult to apply. Thus the term manito^ which has
many variants, is almost equally well known under the French
form manitou, for which there is the warrant of geographical usage.
Again, Manabozho is preferred to Nanabozho (used for the title of
the article in jo BBE) for the reason that Manabozho is more widely
employed in non-technical works.

(3) In adaptations of transliterations all special characters are
rendered by an approximation in the Anglo-Roman alphabet and
all except the most familiar diacritical marks are omitted. This is
an arbitrary rule, but in a literary sense it seems to be the only one

(4) Vowels have the Italian values. Thus tipi replaces the older
form teepee. Changes of this type are not altogether fortunate, but
the trend of usage is clearly in this direction. In a few cases (notably
from Longfellow’s Hiawatha) older literary forms are kept.

2. Monsters. — Monstrous beings and races occur in the my-
thology of every American tribe, and with little variation in type.
There are: (a) manlike monsters, including giants, dwarfs, cannibals,
and hermaphrodites; (b) animal monsters, bird monsters, water
monsters, etc.; (c) composite and malformed creatures, such as one-
eyed giants, headless bodies and bodiless heads, skeletons, persons
half stone, one-legged, double-headed, and flint-armoured beings,
harpies, witches, ogres, etc. As a rule, these creatures are in the
nature of folk-lore beings or bogies. In some cases they have a clear-
cut cosmologic or cosmogonic significance; thus, myths of Titans
and Stone Giants are usually cosmogonic in meaning; legends of
serpents and giant birds occur especially in descriptions of atmos-
pheric and meteorological phenomena; the story of the hero swal-
lowed by a monster is usually in connexion with the origin of ani-
mals.^ See Notes 9, 12, 19, 32, 36, 37, 38, 40, 41, 49, 50, 64. The
principal text references are: Ch. I. i (cf. Rink, Nos. 54, 55). — Ch.
IL vii. — Ch. IV. vi (Mooney , pp. 325-49). — Ch. V. ii (Jette
[a]). — Ch. VII. ii (Lowie . Nos. 10-15, 3^; Teit [a]. Nos. 29-30;
Powell, pp. 45-49). — Ch. VIIL i, ii. — Ch. IX. vi (Cushing [c],
Lummis, Voth). — Ch. XL iv.

3. Animism. — The Eskimo’s Inue belong to that universal group
of elementary powers commonly called “animistic,” though some
writers object to this term on the ground that it implies a clear-cut



spiritism in aboriginal conceptions (cf. Clodd, Hartland, et aL, in
Transactions of the Third International Congress for the History of
Religions j Oxford, 1908; Marett, Threshold of Religion, London, 1909;
Lang, ^‘Preanimistic Religion,” in Contemporary Review, 1909; see
also, Powell, i ARBE, pp. 29-33). Taking anima in its primitive
sense of ‘^breath,” “wind,” no other word seems really preferable as
a description of the ancient notion of indwelling lives or powers in
all things, — “panzoism,” if that term be preferred. The American
forms under which this idea appears are many, manito, orenda, and
wakanda being the terms most widely known. The application of
the words varies somewhat, (a) Manito, the Algonquian name, desig-
nates not only impersonal powers, but frequently personified beings,
(b) Orenda, an Iroquoian term, is applied to powers, considered as
attributes, (c) Wakanda, the Siouan designation, connotes, in the
main, impersonal powers, though It is sometimes used of individuals,
and apparently also for the collective or pantheistic power of the
world as a whole. Usually in Indian religion there is some sense of
the difference between a personality as a cause and its power as an
attribute, but in myths the tendency is naturally toward lively per-
sonification. Cf. Note 4. Text references: Ch. 1. iii {inua, plural
inue, is cognate with inuk, “man,” and means “its man” or “owner”).
— Ch. 11. iii (Brinton [a], p. 62; Hewitt [a], pp. 134, 197, note a;
JR V. 157, 17s; Ixvi. 233 ff.). — Ch. V. ii (Jette [a], ); iv (Fletcher
and La Flesche, pp. 597-99). — Ch. VIIL i (Matthews [a]). —
Ch. X. V. — Ch. XI. ii (Boas [f]; Swanton [a], chh. viii, ix); iv
(S WANTON [e], p. 452).

4. Medicine. — The term “medicine” has come to be applied
in a technical sense to objects and practices controlling the animistic
powers of nature, as the Indian conceives them. “Medicine” is,
therefore, in the nature of private magical property. It may exist
in the form of a song or spell known to the owner, in the shape of a
symbol with which he adorns his body or his possessions, or in the
guise of a material object which is kept in the “medicine-bag,” in
the “sacred bundle,” or it may be present in some other fetishistic
form. It may appear in a “medicine dance” or ceremony, or in a
system of rites and practices known to a “medicine lodge” or so-
ciety. The essential idea varies from fetishism to symbolism. On
the fetishistic level is the regard for objects themselves as sacred
and powerful, having the nature of charms or talismans. Such
fetishes may be personal belongings — the contents of the “medicine-
bag,” etc. (sometimes even subject to barter) — or they may be
tribal or cult possessions, such as the sacred poles and sacred bundles
of the Plains tribes, or the fetish images, masks, and sacra of the
Pueblo and North-West stocks; a not infrequent form is the sacred



drum or rattle. Symbolism is rarely absent even from the fetishistic
object, and usually the fetish is lost in the symbol, which is the
token of the union of interests between its owner and his “helper/’
or tutelary. It is in this latter sense, as designating the relation
between the owner and his guardian or tutelary, that the Algon-
quian term “totem” is most used. The totem is not a thing mate-
rially owned, as is the fetish; it is a spirit or power, frequently an
animal-being, which has been revealed to the individual in vision as
his tutelary, or which has come to him by descent, his whole clan
participating in the right. The Tornait of the Eskimo belong to this
latter class; the word “totem,” however, is not used in connexion
with such guardians, and indeed is now mainly restricted to the tute-
laries of clans, right to which passes by inheritance. Text references:
Ch. 1 . iii. — Ch. V. V (De Smet, pp. 1068-69). — Ch. VIL vi. —
Ch. IX. iii (Cushing [a]; M. C. Stevenson [c]; Fewkes, passim).

5. Shamanism. — The terms applied to Indian priests and wonder-
workers are many, but they do not always bear a clear distinction
of meaning. The word “shaman” is especially common in works on
the Eskimo and the North-West tribes; “medicine-man” is used
very largely with reference to the eastern and central tribes; “priest”
is particularly frequent in descriptions of Pueblo institutions. In
general, the following definitions represent the distinctions implied:

(a) Shaman. A wonder-worker and healer directly inspired by a
“medicine ’’-power, or group of such powers, “shamanism” signify-
ing the recognition of possession by powers or spirits as the primary
modus operandi in all the essential relations between man and the

(b) Medicine’-Man, Doctor. Not radically different from shaman,
though the employment of naturalistic methods of healing, such as
the use of herbal medicines, the sweat-bath, crude surgery, etc., is
often implied, especially where the term “doctor” is employed.

(c) Priest. One authorized to preside over the celebration of tradi-
tional ceremonies. Such persons must be initiates in the society or
body owning the rites, which are sometimes shamanistic in char-
acter, though more frequently the shaman is supposed to get his
powers as the result of an individual experience.

Every degree of relationship is found for these offices. In tribes
of low social organization (e. g. the Eskimo and the Californians)
the shaman is the man of religious importance; in tribes with well
developed traditional rites the priestly character is frequently com-
bined with the shamanistic (as in the North-West); still other peo-
ples (as the Pueblo) elevate the priest far above the medicine-man,
who may be simply a doctor, or medical practitioner, or who, on
the shamanistic level, may be regarded as a witch or wizard, with

North American Mythology / Re: North American Mythology
« on: August 03, 2019, 08:24:43 PM »



of the mosquito, for in a myth frequent throughout the North-
West these insects spring from the ashes to which the Cannibal
is reduced in the effort to destroy herd’’ Various inferior gods,
including the Fates and the ten deities presiding over the great
ceremonies, dwell in the House of Myths; at the rear of it are
two rooms, in the first of which lives the Cannibal, organizer of
the Cannibal Society, and in the second another ecstasy-giv-
ing god: these two are the sons of Senx and Alkuntam. In-
tercessors and Messengers, Sun Guardians and Sky Guardians
(whose business it is to feed the sky continually with firewood),
the Flower Goddess, and the Cedar-Bark Goddess are other per-
sonages of the Bella Coola pantheon. Four brothers, dwellers
in the House of Myths, gave man the arts, teaching him carv-
ing and painting, the making of canoes, boxes, and houses,
fishing, and hunting.*® They are continually engaged in carv-
ing and painting, and seem to be analogous to the Master Car-
penter, who often appears in Haida myths. Earth, in Bella
Coola lore, is the home of a multitude of spirits — chiefly
Animal Elders — and in the ocean are similar beings, though
there seems to be no power corresponding to the Haida Nep-
tune, The-Greatest-One-in-the-Sea. The two underworlds
have their own raison d^Hre, the upper one belonging to reve-
nant spirits, who are at liberty to return to heaven, whence
they may be reborn on earth; and the lower being the abode
of those who die a second death, from which there is no re-


The place of sunrise, according to the Bella Coola, is guarded
by the Bear of Heaven,*® a fierce warrior, inspirer of martial
zeal in man; and the place of sunset is marked by an enor-
mous pillar which supports the sky. The trail of the Sun is a
bridge as wide as the distance between the winter and summer
solstices; in summer he walks on the right-hand side of the
bridge, in winter on the left; the solstices are “where the sun



sits down.” Three guardians accompany the Sun on his course,
dancing about him; but sometimes he drops his torch, and then
an eclipse occurs.

Not many Pacific-Coast tribes have as definite a concep-
tion of the Sun’ as this, and generally speaking the orb of day
is of less importance in the myths of the northern than in those
of the southern stocks of the North-West. It is conceived both
as a living being, which can even be slain, and as a material
object — a torch or a mask — carried by a Sun-Bearer. One
of the most wide-spread of North-Western legends is a Phae-
thon-like story of the Mink, son of the Sun, and his adventures
with his father’s burden, the sun-disk. A woman becomes preg-
nant from sitting in the Sun’s rays; she gives birth to a boy,
who grows with marvellous rapidity, and who, even before he
can talk, indicates to his mother that he wants a bow and ar-
rows ; other children taunt him with having no father, but when
his mother tells him that the Sun is his parent, he shoots his
arrows into the sky until they form a ladder whereby he climbs
to the Sun’s house; the father requests the boy to relieve him of
the sun-burden, and the boy, carelessly impatient, sweeps away
the clouds and approaches the earth, which becomes too hot
— the ocean boils, the stones split, and all life is threatened;
whereupon the Sun Father casts his offspring back to earth
condemning him to take the form of the Mink. In some ver-
sions the heating of the world results in such a conflagration
that those animal-beings who escape it, by betaking themselves
to the sea, are transformed into the men who thereafter people
the earth. It is obvious that in these myths we have a special
North-Western form of the legend of the Son of the Sun who
climbs to the sky, associated with the cataclysm which so fre-
quently separates the Age of Animals from that of Man.

A curious Kwakiutl tradition tells of a Copper given up by
the sea and accidentally turned so that the side bearing a pic-
tured countenance lay downward; for ten days the sun failed
to rise or shine: then the Copper was laid face upward, and the


light again appeared. It would seem from this that copper is
associated with the sun. Other myths tell of a hero who marries
a copper woman, whose home — an underworld or undersea
mansion — is also made of copper. The connexion of the bones
of the dead with an abundance of food and mineral wealth
would imply that the hero of this tale, Chief Wealthy, is a
kind of Pluto. One of the most widely disseminated of North-
Western legends, in which the Raven is usually the principal
figure, tells of a time when darkness reigned throughout the
world. The sun, or daylight, was kept imprisoned in a chest,
under the jealous protection of a chieftain. The hero of the
story realizes that daylight cannot be obtained by force, so he
enters the womb of the chieftain’s daughter when she comes
to the spring for water; thence he is born, an infant insatiate
until he gets possession of the precious box, from which the
light is freed. A Salish version makes the Gull the guardian of
the chest; the Raven wishes a thorn into the Gull’s foot; then
he demands light to draw the thorn; and thus day and light
are created. Still another tale (which seems to be derived
from the South-West) narrates how the Raven bored his way
through the sky or persuaded the beings above to break it
open, thus permitting sunlight to enter the world below.

The origin of fire®^ is sometimes associated with the sun, as in
a Salish account which tells how men lived “as in a dream”
without fire until the Sun took pity upon them and gave it to
them; but in very many North-Western myths the element is
secured, curiously enough, from the ocean — perhaps a remi-
niscence of submarine volcanoes. Thus another Salish story
recounts how the Beaver and the Woodpecker stole fire from
the Salmon and gave it to the ghosts; the Mink captured the
head of the ghost-chief and received fire as its ransom. Possibly
the salmon’s red flesh may account for its connexion with the
igneous element, but the most plausible explanation of the fire
as the gift of the sea is in the popular tale which ascribes its
theft to the stag. An old man had a daughter who owned a


Haida crests, from tatu designs. Upper left, the
Sun; right, Moon and Moon Girl. Central, left,
Eagle; right, Sea-Lion. Lower, left, Raven; right,
Killer Whale. After MAM viii, Plate XXL


wonderful bow and arrow; in the navel of the ocean, a gigan-
tic whirlpool, pieces of wood suitable for kindling were carried
about, and when the daughter shot her arrows into this mael-
strom the wood was cast ashore, and her father lit a huge fire
and became its keeper; but the stag, concealing bark in his
hair, entered by craft, lay down by the flame as if to dry him-
self, caught the spark, and made off with the treasure.

The Sun and the Moon are sometimes described as hus-
band and wife, and the Tlingit say that eclipses are caused by
the wife visiting her husband. Again, they are the “eyes of
heaven,” and it is quite possible that the prominence of eyes
and eyelashes in North-Western myth is associated primarily
with these heavenly bodies. The Sun’s rays are termed his
eyelashes; one of the sky-beings recognized by the Haida is
called Great Shining Heaven, and a row of little people is said
to be suspended, head down, from his eyelashes. The Haida,
Kwakiutl, and Tlingit believe that they see in the moon figure
a girl with a bucket, carried thither by the Moon; and the
Kwakiutl have also a legend of his descent to earth, where
he made a rattle and a medicine lodge from an eagle’s beak and
jaw, and with the power so won created men, who built him a
wonderful four-storeyed house, to be his servants. An interest-
ing Tsimshian belief makes the Moon a kind of half-way house
to the heavens, so that whoever would enter the sky-world
must pass through the Home of the Moon. The Keeper of
this abode is Pestilence, and with him are four hermaphrodite
dwarfs.®^ When the quester appears, he must cry out to the
Keeper, “I wish to be made fair and sound”; then the dwarfs
will call, “ Come hither, come hither!” If he obeys them, they
will kill him; but if he passes on, he is safe.® A certain hero
found his way to the Moon’s House by the frequent mode of
the arrow ladder, and was there made pure and white as snow.
Finally the Keeper sent him back to the world, with the com-
mand: “Harken what you shall teach men when you return
to Earth. I rejoice to see men upon the Earth, for otherwise



there would be no one to pray to me or to honor me. I need and
enjoy your worship. But when you undertake to do evil I will
thwart you. Man and wife shall be true to one another; ye
shall pray to me; and ye shall not look upon the Moon when
attending to nature’s needs. I rejoice in your smoke. Ye shall
not spend the evening in riotous play. When you undertake
to do what I forbid I will deny you.” This revelation of the
law is a truly primitive mixture of morality and tabu, based
upon the do ut des relationship of god and man so succinctly
expressed in a Haida prayer recorded by Swanton: “I give this
to you for a whale; give one to me, Chief.”


The most characteristic feature of the mythology of the
North-West is the cycle of legends of which the hero is the
Raven ^ — the Yeti of the Northern tribes. Like Coyote in
the tales of the interior. Raven is a transformer and a trickster
— half demiurge, half clown; and very many of the stories that
are told of Coyote reappear almost unchanged with Raven as
their hero; he is in fact a littoral and insular substitute for

Nevertheless, he is given a character of his own. Like Coyote,
he is greedy, selfish, and treacherous, but gluttony rather than
licentiousness is his prevailing vice. He is engaged in an in-
satiable food-quest: “Raven never got full,” says a Tlingit
teller, “because he had eaten the black spots off of his own toes.
He learned about this after having inquired everywhere for
some way of bringing such a state about. Then he wandered
through all the world in search of things to eat.” The journeys
of Raven form the chief subject of most of the myths ; he trav-
els from place to place, meets animals of every description, and
in contests of wit usually succeeds in destroying and eating
them or in driving them off and securing their stores of food.
As is the case with Coyote, he himself is occasionally over-


come, but always manages to make good his escape, even
(again like Coyote) returning to life after having been slain.
A touch of characteristic humour is added to his portrait by
the derisive “Ka, ka,” with which he calls back to his oppon-
ents as he flies away — frequently through the smoke-hole, to
which he owes his blackness, having once been uncomfortably
detained in this aperture.

Despite all their ugliness and clownishness, the acts of Raven
have a kind of fatefulness attached to them, for their conse-
quence is the establishment of the laws that govern life, alike
of men and animals. A Haida epithet for Raven is He-Whose-
Voice-is-Obeyed, because whatever he told to happen came to
pass, one of his marked traits being that his bare word or even
his unexpressed wish is a creative act. In one Haida version
there is a suggestion of Genesis in the Raven’s creative lacon-
ism: “Not long ago no land was to be seen. Then there was a
little thing on the ocean. This was all open sea. And Raven
sat upon this. He said, ‘Become dust.’ And it became Earth.”
The Haida, Swanton says, make a distinction between the
events in the flrst portion of the Raven story — the truly crea-
tive acts — and the mad adventures of the later anecdotes : the
flrst division is called “the old man’s story,” and the chiefs
will not allow the young men to laugh while it is being told,
hilarity being permissible only during the latter part.

Raven is not, apparently, an object of worship, although it
is said that in former times people sometimes left food on the
beach for him. Rather he is numbered among those heroes of
the past about whom indecorous tales may be narrated without
sullying the spirit of reverence which attaches to the regnant
gods. One of the most comprehensive of Raven stories — a
Tlingit version — states that at the beginning of things there
was no daylight; the world was in darkness.^® In this period
lived Raven-at-the-Head-of-Nass, who had in his house the
sun, moon, stars, and daylight. With him were two aged men,
Old-Man-Who-Foresees-All-Trouble-in-the-World and He-

26 o


Who-Knows-Everything-that-Happens, while Old-Woman-Un-
derneath was under the world. Raven-at-the-Head-of-Nass
had a sister, who was the mother of many children, but they
all died young, the reason, according to the legend, being the
jealousy of her brother, who did not wish her to have any male
offspring. Advised by Heron, who had already been created,
she circumvented his malicious intent by swallowing a red-
hot stone, as a consequence of which she gave birth to Yeti,
the Raven, who was as hard as rock and so tough that
he could not easily be killed. Nascakiyetl (Raven-at-the-
Head-of-Nass) thereupon made Raven the head man over the
world. Nascakiyetl appears as the true creator in this myth,
however, for it is he who brought mankind into existence.
He undertook to make people out of a rock and a leaf at the
same time, but the rock was slow and the leaf quick; there-
fore human beings came from the latter. Then the creator
showed a leaf to the new race and said, “You see this leaf.
You are to be like it. When it falls off the branch and rots
there is nothing left of it.” And so death came into the world.^®
A striking Tsimshian myth tells how a woman died in the
throes of child-birth; how her child lived in her grave, nour-
ished by her body; how he later ascended to heaven, by means
of Woodpecker’s wings, and married the Sun’s daughter; and
how her child by him was cast down to earth and adopted by
a chieftain there, but abandoned because the gluttonous in-
fant ate the tribe out of provisions; this child was the Raven.
Usually, however, the myth begins abruptly with the wander-
ing Raven. The world is covered with water and Raven is
seeking a resting-place. From a bit of flotsam or a rocky islet
upon which he alights he creates the earth. His adventures,
creative in their consequences rather than in Intention, follow.
He steals the daylight and the sun, moon, and stars from an
old man who keeps them in chests or sacks and who seems
to be a kind of personification of primeval night. Raven’s
mode of theft being to allow himself to be swallowed by the


Chilkat blanket. The design is interpreted as a
Killer Whale motive. Above the lower fringe arc
two kites in profile. Above these the mouth and
teeth of the whale, whose nostrils are central in the
mouth. The whale’s eyes are just above, the figure
between them representing water from the blowhole,
which is indicated by the central human face. The
body of the whale is denoted by the upper face, the
figures on either side of the two faces representing
fins. The upper eyes represent the lobes of the whale’s
tail; the figure between them, the dorsal fin. After
MAM xn^ Plate XXVII.


old man’s daughter, from whom he is born again. He steals
water from its guardian, the Petrel, and creates the rivers and
streams, and he forces the tide-keeper to release the tides. He
captures fire from the sea and puts it in wood and stone for the
use of man. He seizes and opens the chest containing the fish
that are to inhabit the sea, also creating fish by carving their
images in wood and vivifying them; or he carries off the Sal-
mon’s daughter and throws her Into the water, where she be-
comes the parent of the salmon klnd.^^ In addition he enters
the belly of a great fish, where he kindles a fire, but his ever-
present greed causes him to attack the monster’s heart, thereby
killing It; he wishes the carcass ashore, and is released by the
people who cut up its body. In some versions the walrus is
Raven’s victim, the story being a special North-West form of
the myth of the hero swallowed by the monster, which is found
from ocean to ocean In North America. Finally, in various ways
he is responsible for the flood which puts an end to the Age
of Animal Beings and inaugurates that of Men.'*® A Haida
legend repeats the Tlingit tale of the jealous uncle, who is
here Identified with the personified Raven, Nankilstlas (He-
Whose-VoIce-is-Obeyed) . The sister gives birth to a boy, as
a result of swallowing hot stones, but the uncle plots to de-
stroy the child, and puts on his huge hat (the rain-cloud?),
from which a flood of water pours forth to cover the earth.
The infant transforms himself Into Yeti, the Raven, and flies
heavenward, while the hat of Nankilstlas rises with the Inun-
dation; but when Yeti reaches the sky, he pushes his beak
into it and, with his foot upon the hat, presses Nankilstlas
back and drowns him. This tale appears in many forms in
the North-West, the flood-bringing hat often belonging to the
Beaver. After the deluge, the surviving beings of the first
age are transformed into animals, human beings are created,
with their several languages, and the present order of the world
is established — all as in Californian myths. One curious in-
version of events, in a Kwakiutl story, tells how the ante-



diluvian wolves, after the subsidence of the flood, took off their
wolf-masks and became human beings.^®

North American Mythology / Re: North American Mythology
« on: August 03, 2019, 08:23:50 PM »


excellence in art, and more than one myth is adorned with
tales of houses in which the sculptured pillars or the painted
pictures are evidently alive, while stories of living persons
rooted to the floor apparently have a similar origin. The carv-
ing of a wife out of wood is a frequent theme, and occasionally
she, like Galatea, is vivified; when the husband’s name is
Sitting-on-Earth, we may suspect that here, too, we have a
myth connected with the house-post. In creation stories the
first human pair are sometimes represented as carved from
wood by the demiurge and then endowed with life, although
this may be a version of the Californian legend of the creation
of men from sticks, modified by a people with a native genius
for wood carving.


Of even greater ceremonial significance than the possession
of crests is membership in the secret societies of the North-
West. Everywhere in North America, as the clan system loos-
ens in rigidity, the Medicine Lodge or the Esoteric Fraternity
grows in importance. In its inception the medicine society is
seldom unrelated to the clan organization, but it breaks free
from this either in the form of a ceremonial priesthood, as
among the Pueblo, or in that of a tribal or inter-tribal religious
order, as in the mystery societies of the Great Plains. Among
the peoples of the North-West the fraternities have had a de-
velopment of their own. Apparently they originated with the
Elwakiutl tribes, among whom the social organization Is either
a compromise or a transitional stage between the matrilinear
clans of the northward stocks and the patriarchal family or
village-groups of the southerly Coast-Dwellers. Membership
in the secret societies Is in a sense dependent upon heredity,
for certain of the tutelary spirits of the societies are supposed
to appear only to members of particular clans or families; but
with this restriction the influence of the clan upon society


membership ends. Perhaps no sharper indication of the differ-
ence could be given than the very general custom of changing
the names of the society members, during the season of their
ceremonials, from their clan names to the spirit names given
them at the time of their initiation; the family system tem-
porarily yields place to a mystic division into groups defined by
patron spirits, the genii or guardians of the societies.

These spirits are distinguished from the totems that mark
descent in that the latter are not regarded as giving continued
revelations of themselves: the totem appeared to the ancestor
and revealed his mystery, which then became traditionary;
the spirits of the societies manifest themselves to, and indeed
must take possession of, every initiate; they still move among
men, and the ceremonials in their honour take place in the
winter season, when these supernatural beings are supposed to
be living in association with their neophytes.’’® The most
famed and dreaded of the secret society tutelarics is the Canni-
bal, whose votaries practise ceremonial anthropophagy, biting
the arms of non-initiates (in former times slaves were killed
and partly eaten).’’® Cannibals are common characters in the
myths of the North-West, as elsewhere; but the Cannibal of
the society is a particular personage who is supposed to dwell
in the mountains with his servants, the man-eating Grizzly
Bear and the Raven who feeds upon the eyes of the persons
whom his master has devoured, and who is a long-beaked bird
which breaks men’s skulls and finds their brains a daintymorsel.
The cult of the Cannibal probably originated among the Heil-
tsuk Kwakiutl, whence it passed to neighbouring tribes in com-
paratively recent times. The Warrior of the North is a second
spirit, his gifts being prowess in war, and resistance ^to wounds
and disease. Still others are the Bird-Spirit which makes one
able to fly, and the ghosts who bestow the power of returning
to life after being slain. The Dog-Eating Spirit, whose votaries
kill and eat a dog as they dance, is the inspirer of yet another
society with a wide-spread following. The more potent spirits


Kwakiutl ceremonial masks. Upper, an ancestral
or totemic double mask, the bird mask, representing
the totem being opened out to show the inner man-
faced mask. Lower, mask representing the Sisiutl,
or double-headed and horned serpent. After MAM
viii, Plates XLIX, LX.


e regarded as malignant in character, but there are milder
ings and gentler forms of inspiration derived from the greater
iwers, some of these latter types belonging to societies exclu-
tqIj for women.

The winter ceremonials, accompanying initiations into the
sret societies, are the great festivals of the North-West,
ley are made the occasion for feasts, mask dances of the clan
itiates in honour of their totems, potlatches, with their rival-
;s, and varied forms of social activity and ceremonial puri-
ation. The central event, however, is the endowment of the
ophyte with the powers which the genius of the society is be-
ved to give. The underlying idea is shamanistic;® the initiate
ust be possessed by the spirit, which is supposed to speak and
t through him: he must become as glass for the spirit to
ter him, as one myth expressively states. The preparation
the. novice is various: sometimes he is sent into the wilder-
ss to seek his revelation; sometimes he is ceremonially killed
entranced; but in every instance seizure by the controlling
irit is the end sought. The Haida call this “the spirit speak-
g through” the novice; and an account of such possession
' the Cannibal Spirit, Ulala, is given by Swanton: “The one
lo was going to be initiated sat waiting in a definite place.
2 always belonged to the clan of the host’s wife. When the
ief had danced around the fire awhile, he threw feathers upon
e novice, and a noise was heard in the chiefs body. Then
e novice fell flat on the ground, and something made a noise
side of him. When that happened, all the ‘inspired’ said,
o and so fell on the ground.’ A while after he went out of
e house. Walala (the same as Ulala) acted through him.
le novice was naked; but the spirit-companions wore dancing
irts and cedar-bark rings, and held oval rattles (like those
ed by shamans) in their hands. Wherever the novice went in,
e town people acted as if afraid of him, exclaiming, ‘ Hoy-hoy-
ly-hoy hiya-ha-ha hoyil’ Wherever he started to go in, the
irit-companions went in first in a crowd. All the uninitiated

X — 18


hid themselves; not so the others. When he passed in through
the doorway, he made his sound, ^ Ap ap ap!’ At the same time
the Walala spirit made a noise outside. As he went around the
fire he held his face turned upward. In his mouth, too, some-
thing (a whistle) sounded. His eyes were turned over and
showed the whites.’’ The cannibal initiate among the Kwakiutl
is called ‘‘hamatsa”; and Boas has recorded (Report of the
United States National Museum^ 1895, pp. 458-62) a number
of hamatsa songs which reveal the spirit of the society and its
rites better than mere description. The poetry of the North-
West tribes, like their mythology, seems pervaded with a spirit
of rank gluttony, which naturally finds its most unveiled ex-
pression in the cannibal songs: —

Food will be given to me, food will be given to me, because I ob-
tained this magic treasure.

I am swallowing food alive: I eat living men.

I swallow wealth; I swallow the wealth that my father is giving
away [in the accompanying Potlatch].

This is an old song, and typical. A touch of sensibility and a
grimly imaginative repression of detail is in the following: —

Now I am going to eat.

My face is ghastly pale.

I shall eat what is given to me by Baxbakualanuchsiwae.

Baxbakualanuchsiwae is the Kwakiutl name for the Cannibal
Spirit, and the appellation signifies ^^the first to eat man at the
mouth of the river,” i. e., in the north, the ocean being con-
ceived as a river running toward the arctic regions. In some
of the songs the cosmic significance of the spirit is clearly set
forth: —

You will be known all over the world; you will be known all over the
world, as far as the edge of the world, you great one who safely
returned from the spirits.

You will be known all over the world; you will be known all over
the world, as far as the edge of the world. You went to Bax-
bakualanuchsiwae, and there you first ate dried human flesh.


You were led to his cannibal pole, in the place of honor in his house,
and his house is our world.

You were led to his cannibal pole, which is the milky way of our

You were led to his cannibal pole at the right-hand side of our world.

From the abode of the Cannibal, the Kwakiutl say, red
smoke arises. Sometimes the “cannibal pole” is the rainbow,
rather than the Milky Way; but the Cannibal himself is re-
garded as living at the north end of the world (as is the case
with the Titanic beings of many Pacific-Coast myths), and it is
quite possible that he is originally a war-god typified by the
Aurora Borealis. A Tlingit belief holds that the souls of all who
meet a violent death dwell in the heaven-world of the north,
ruled by Tahit, who determines those that shall fall in battle,
of what sex children shall be born, and whether the mother
shall die in child-birth.^® The Aurora is blood-red when these
fighting souls prepare for battle, and the Milky Way is a huge
tree-trunk (pole) over which they spring back and forth. Boas
is of opinion that the secret societies originated as warrior
fraternities among the Kwakiutl, whose two most famed tute-
laries are the Cannibal and Winalagilis, the Warrior of the
North. Ecstasy is supposed to follow the slaying of a foe;
the killing of a slave by the Cannibal Society members is in
a sense a celebration of victory, since the slave is war booty;
and it is significant that in certain tribes the Cannibals merely
hold in their teeth the heads of enemies taken in war.


The usual primitive conception of the world’s form prevails
in the North-West. It is flat and round below and surmounted
above by a solid firmament in the shape of an inverted bowl. As
the people of this region are Coast-Dwellers, Earth is regarded
as an island or group of islands floating in the cosmic waters.
The Haida have a curious belief that the sky-vault rises and



falls at regular intervals, so that the clouds at times strike
against the mountains, making a noise which the Indians say
they can hear. The world above the firmament is inhabited,
and one Haida myth (which closely resembles the Pueblo
cosmogony) tells of Raven, escaping from the rising flood in
the earth below, boring his way through the firmament and
discovering five successive storeys in the world above; a five-
row town is the more characteristically North-West concep-
tion, given in another version. The Bella Coola believe that
there are five worlds, one above the other, two being heaven-
worlds, two underworlds, and our Earth the mid-world — an
arrangement which is of significance in their theology. Belief
in an underworld, and especially in undersea towns and coun-
tries, is universal in this region; while the northern tribes all
regard the Earth itself as anchored in its mobile foundation by
a kind of Atlas, an earth-sustaining Titan. According to the
Haida, Sacred-One-Standing-and-Moving, as he is called, is the
Earth-Supporter; he himself rests upon a copper box, which,
presumably, is conceived as a boat; from his breast rises the
Pillar of the Heavens, extending to the sky; his movements are
the cause of earthquakes. The Bella Coola, following a myth
which is clearly of a South-Coast type, also believe in the Earth-
Titan, who is not, however, beneath the world, but sits in the
distant east holding a stone bar to which the earth island is
fastened by stone ropes; when he shifts his hold, earthquakes
occur. The Tsimshian and Tlingit deem the Earth-Sustainer
to be a, woman. The earth, they say, rests upon a pillar in
charge of this Titaness, Old-Woman-Undemeath;'^ and when
the Raven tries to drive her from the pillar, earthquake follows.

The sun, moon, stars, and clouds are regarded as material
things, — sometimes as mechanically connected with the firma-
ment; sometimes as the dwellings of celestial creatures; some-
times, as in the South-West, as masks of these beings.^® The
winds are personified according to their prevailing directions,
but there is little trace in the North-West of the four-square


conception of the world, amounting to a cult of the Quarters.®^
As might be expected among seafarers, tide-myths are common.
Among the southern tribes animal heroes control the movement
of the sea, as in the Kwakiutl story of the Mink who stole the
tail of the Wolf that owned the tides, and caused them to ebb
or flow by raising or lowering it. In the north a different con-
ception prevails : the Haida regard the command of the tide as
the possession of an Old Man of the Sea, from whom the ebb
and flow were won by the craft of the Raven, who wished to
satisfy his gluttony on the life of the tide-flats ; the. same story
is found among the Tlingit, who, however, also believe the
tide to issue from and recede into a hole at the north end of
the world, an idea which is similar to the Bella Coola notion
of an undersea man who twice a day swallows and gives forth
the waters.

The universe so conceived is peopled by an uncountable
number of spirits or powers, whom the Tlingit call Yek.®
According to one of Swanton’s informants, everything has
one principal and several subordinate spirits, “and this idea
seems to be reflected in shamans’ masks, each of which repre-
sents one main spirit and usually contains effigies of several
subsidiary spirits as well.” There is a spirit on every trail, a
spirit in every fire, the world is full of listening ears and gazing
eyes — the eyes so conspicuous in the decorative emblems of
the North-West. Earth is full and the sea is full of the Keres
loosed by Pandora, says Hesiod, and an anonymous Greek
poet tells how the air is so dense with them that there is no
chink or crevice between them; for the idea is universal to

Among these spirits appear, up and down the Coast, almost
every type of being known to mythology.® There are the one-
eyed Cyclops, the acephalous giant with eyes in his breast;
the bodiless but living heads and talking skulls, sea-serpents,
mermen, Circes, the siren-like singers of Haida lore, anthro-
pophagi of many types. Harpy-like birds, giants, dwarfs.



treasure-wardens, witches, transformers, werefolk, ghosts, and
a multitude of genii locorum, to say nothing of magically
endowed animals, birds, and fishes. The Haida even have
a double nomenclature for the animal kinds; as “Gina teiga”
they are creatures of their several sorts, and the proper prey
of the hunter; as “Sgana quedas” they are werefolk or man-
beings, capable of assisting the human race with their magic
might.'*® The Haida make another interesting distinction be-
tween the world-powers, classifying them, as their own tribes
are divided, into Ravens and Eagles; and they also arrange
the ruling potencies in a sort of hierarchy, sky, sea, and land
having each its superior and subordinate powers.

The greatest of these potencies is a true divinity, who is
named Power-of-the-Shining-Hcavens,® and who, in a prayer
recorded by Swanton, is thus addressed: “ Power-of-the-Shin-
ing-Heavens, let there be peace upon me; let not my heart be
sorry.” He is not, however, a deity of popular story, although
a legend is told of his incarnation. Born of a cockle-shell which
a maiden dug from the beach, he became a mighty getter of
food; a picturesque passage tells how he sat “blue, broad and
high over the sea”; and at his final departure for heaven, he
said, “When the sky looks like my face as my father painted
it there will be no wind; in me (i. e., in my days) people will
get their food.” It is Power-of-the-Shining-Heavens who de-
termines those that are to die, although Wigit, another celestial
deity, who is the same as the Raven, is the one who apportions
the length of life of the new-born child, according as he draws
a long or a short stick from the faggot which he keeps for this
purpose. The Tsimshian have a conception of the sky-god
similar to that of the Haida, their name for him being Laxha.

The idea of a Fate in the sky-world, deciding the life of
men, is common to the northern tribes. Tahit, the Tlingit
divinity of this type, has already been mentioned; and the
same god (Taxet, “the House Above”) is recognized by the
Haida, though here he is the one who receives the souls of



those slain by violence, rather than the determiner of death.
The Bella Coola have an elaborate system of Fates. When
Senx creates the new-born child, an assistant deity gives it its
individual features, while a birth goddess rocks It in a pre-
natal cradle; and this is true also of animals whose skins and
flesh are foreordained for the food and clothing of man. Death,
according to the Bella Coola, is predestined by the deities who
rule over the winter solstice (the season of the great cere-
monies) : two divinities stand at the ends of a plank, balanced
like a seesaw, while the souls of men and animals are collected
about them; and as the plank rises or falls, the time of the pass-
ing of the souls is decided.

It is among the Bella Coola that the hierarchic arrangement
of the world-powers has reached, apparently, the most system-
atic and conscious form on the North Pacific. As stated above,
this tribe separates the universe into five worlds or storeys,
two above and two below the earth. In the upper heaven re-
sides Qamaits,^ who is also called “Our Woman” and “Afraid-
of-Nothlng.” The house of this goddess is in the east of the
treeless and wind-swept prairie which forms her domain, and
behind her home is the salt-water pond in which she bathes
and which forms the abode of the Sisiutl. In the beginning of
the world she is said to have waged war against the moun-
tains, who made the world uninhabitable, and to have con-
quered them and reduced them in height. Qamaits is regarded
as a great warrior, but she is not addressed in prayer, and her
rare visits to earth cause sickness and death. In the centre of
the lower heaven stands the mansion of the gods, called the
House of Myths. Senx, the Sun,^® Is master of this house, “the
Sacred One” and “Our Father” are his epithets; and it is to
him that the Bella Coola pray and make offerings. Almost
equal In rank to Senx is Alkuntam, who, with the sun, presided
over the creation of man.^® Alkuntam’s mother is described
as a Cannibal, who inserts her long snout into the ears of men
and sucks out their brains. She seems to be a personification

North American Mythology / Re: North American Mythology
« on: August 03, 2019, 08:23:02 PM »


loved ones depart, and over and again occurs the story of the
quest for the dead, at times almost in the form of Orpheus and
Eurydice.^® Thus the Yokut tell of a husband grieving beside
his wife’s grave, until, one night, her spirit rises and stands
beside him. He follows her to the bridge that arches the river
separating the land of the living from the realm of them that
have passed away, and there wins consent from the guardians
of the dead for her return to earth, but he is forbidden to sleep
on the return journey; nevertheless, slumber overtakes him
on the third night, and he wakes in the morning to find that
he lies beside a log. The Modoc story of Kumush and his
daughter and of the creation of men from the bones of the dead
is surely akin to this, uniting life and death in one unbroken
chain. This conception is brought out even more clearly in
a second version of the Yokut tale, wherein the man who has
visited the isle of the dead tells how, as it fills, the souls are
crowded forth to become birds and fish.

That the home of those who have gone hence should lie
beyond the setting sun is a part of that elemental poetry by
which man sees his life imaged and painted on the whole field
of heaven and earth: the disk of morning is the symbol of
birth, noon is the fullness of existence, and evening’s decline is
the sign of death. But dawn follows after the darkness with a
new birth, for which the dead that be departed do but wait
— where better than in those Fortunate Isles which all men
whose homes have bordered on the western sea have dreamed
to lie beyond its gleaming horizons?




F rom Puget Sound northward to the neighbourhood of
Mt. St. Elias and the Copper River the coast is cut hy
innumerable fiords and bays, abutted by glaciated mountains,
and bordered by an almost continuous archipelago. The rainy
season is long and the precipitation heavy on this coast, which,
on the lower levels, is densely forested, conifers forming the
greater part of the upper growth, while the shrubbery of bushes
furnishes a wealth of berries. The red cedar {Thuja flicata)
is of especial importance to the natives of the coast, its wood
serving for building and for the carvings for which these people
are remarkable, while its bark is used for clothing, ropes, and
the like. Deer, elk, bear, the wolf, the mountain goat, the
beaver, the mink, and the otter inhabit the forest, the hills,
and the streams, and are hunted by the Indians; though it is
chiefly from the sea that the tribes of this region draw their
food. Besides molluscs, which the women gather, the waters
abound in edible fish ; salmon and halibut, for which the coast
is famous, herring, candlefish, from which the natives draw the
oil which is an important article of their diet, and marine
mammals, such as the seal, sea-lion, and whale. The region is
adapted to support a considerable population, even under
aboriginal conditions of life, while at the same time its easy
internal communication by water, and its relative inacces-
sibility on the continental side, encourage a unique and special

Such, indeed, we find. While no less than siz linguistic divi-


sions are found on the North-West Coast, accompanied by a
corresponding diversity of physical types, the general cul-
ture of the region Is one, and of a cast unlike anything else
on the continent. Its foundation is maritime, the Indians of
this region building large and shapely canoes, and some tribes,
such as the Nootka and Quileute, even attacking the whale
in the open sea. Villages are built facing the beach, and the
timber houses, occupied by several families, represent the high-
est architectural skill of any Indian structures north of the
pueblos. The wood-working craft is nowhere in America more
developed, not only in the matter of weapons and utensils,
but especially in carvings, of which the most famous exam-
ples are the totem-poles of the northern tribes. Work in
shell, horn, and stone is second in quality only to that in wood,
while copper has been extensively used, even from aboriginal
times. Basketry and the weaving of mats and bark-cloth are
also native crafts. In art the natives of the North-West at-
tained a unique excellence, their carvings and drawings show-
ing a type of decorative conventionalizing of human and animal
figures unsurpassed in America, as is also the skill with which
these elements are combined. The impulse of this art is almost
wholly mythical, and it finds its chief expression in heraldic
poles, grave-posts, and house-walls, in ceremonial masks and
rattles, and in the representation of ancestral animals on
clothing and utensils.

The social structure of the peoples of the North-West re-
flects their advancement In the crafts. The majority of the
tribes are organized into septs and clans determining descent
and marriage relations. In the northern area descent is counted
matrillnearly, in the southern by the patrilinear rule. The
Kwakiutl have an institution which seems to mark a transi-
tion between the two systems: descent follows the paternal
line, but each individual inherits the crest of his maternal
grandfather. In some village-groups parents are at liberty to
place their children in either the maternal or the paternal


clan. Clan exogamy is the rule. Within the tribe the various
clans are not of equal status; consequently, there is a similar
gradation in the rank of the nobles who are the clan heads
or chiefs. These nobles are the real rulers of the North-West
peoples, whose government is thus of an oligarchic type. Clan
membership carries with it the right to use the ancestral crest,
certain totems involving the privileges of rank, while others
mark plebeian caste. Slavery is another institution prominent
in the North-West, slaves being either prisoners of war or
hopeless debtors.

Perhaps the most distinctive feature of these tribes is the
Potlatch. Primarily this word designates a festival at which
a chieftain or a man of means distributes a large amount of
property, often the accumulation of years. These riches are
not, however, a free presentation, since the recipients are bound
to return, with interest, the gifts received, so that a wealthy
man thus ensures to himself competence and revenue, as well
as importance in the tribal councils. Rivalry of the intensest
sort is generated between the great men of the several clans,
each striving to outdo the others in the munificence of his
feasts, which thus become a matter of family distinction, enti-
tled to record on the family crest. The recognized medium of
exchange is the blanket, but a curious and interesting device is
the “Copper” — the bank-note of the North-West — a ham-
mered and decorated sheet of copper of a special form, having
the value of many hundred or of several thousand blankets,
according to the amount offered for it at a festal sale. These
Coppers are, in fact, insignia of wealth; and since the destruc-
tion of property is regarded as the highest evidence of social
importance, they are sometimes broken, or even entirely de-
stroyed, as a sign of contempt for the riches of a less able rival.

Of the stocks of the North-West the most northerly is the
Koluschan, comprising the Tlingit Indians, whose region ex-
tends frond the Copper River, where they border upon the
Eskimoan Aleut, south to Portland Canal. The Skittagetan



stock, of the Queen Charlotte Islands and the southern part
of Prince of Wales Island, is formed of the Haida tribes; while
on the opposite mainland,. following the Nass and Skeena riv-
ers far inland, is the district of the Tsimshian and other Chim-
mesyan peoples. South of these begin the territories of the
Wakashan stock, which extend on the mainland to Johnston
Strait and, beyond, over the whole western part of the is-
land of Vancouver. Powell divided this stock into the Aht
and Haeltzuk (Bellabella) tribes, but later authorities prefer
Kwakiutl and Nootka, the latter holding the seaward side of
Vancouver. The fifth group comprises the Coast Salish: a
northern division, about Dean Inlet and the Salmon and Bella
Coola rivers, adjoining the Wakashan territories; a central di-
vision extending from the head of the Strait of Georgia south-
ward to Chinook lands about the Columbia; and a southern
group holding the Oregon coast south of the Chinook peoples.
A single tribe, the Quileute, about Cape Flattery in Wash-
ington, represents the almost extinct Chimakuan stock. In
general, the culture of the Tlingit and Haida tribes show
an identity of form which distinguishes them as a group from
the like community manifested by the Tsimshian, Kwakiutl,
Nootka, and North-Coast Salish.


The ceremonies of the tribes of the North-West fall into
two classes, following their social and ceremonial organi?:ation.
The social division into clans, which are matrilinear and exo-
gamic in the north, while patrilinear or mixed systems prevail
in the south, finds outward expression in totemic insignia and
in ceremonial representations of the myths narrating the be-
ginnings of the septs. These origins are ascribed to an ancestor
who has been initiated by animal-beings into their mysteries,
or dances, thus conferring upon him the powers of the initiating
creatures; the animals themselves are not regarded as ancestral,


Frame of Haida house with totem-pole. After
MAM viii, Plate XL


nor are the members of the clan akin to the totemic being,
except in so far as they possess the powers and practise the
rites obtained through the ancestral revelation. The manner of
revelation is precisely that in which the Indian everywhere in
North America acquires his guardian or tutelary, his personal
totem : in fast or trance the man is borne away by the animal-
being, taken perhaps to the lodge of its kind, and there given
an initiation which he carries back to his people. The dis-
tinctive feature of the North-Western custom, however, is
that a totem so acquired may be transmitted by inheritance,
so that a man’s lineage may be denoted by such a series of
crests as appears upon the totem-pole.®^ Correspondingly, the
number and variety of totemic spirits become reduced, ani-
mals or mythic beings of a limited and conventionalized group
forming a class fixed by heredity. Yet the individual character
of the totem never quite disappears; what is transmitted by
birth is the right to initiation into the ancestral mysteries;
without this ceremony the individual possesses neither the use
of the crest nor knowledge of its myths and songs.

The animal totems of the Tlinglt, as given by Boas, are
the Raven and the Wolf; of the Haida, the Raven and the
Eagle; of the Tsimshian, Raven, Eagle, Wolf, and Bear; of
the Heiltsuk Kwakiutl, Raven, Eagle, and Killer Whale; while
the Haisla (like the Heiltsuk Kwakiutl of Wakashan stock)
have six totems, Beaver, Eagle, Wolf, Salmon, Raven, and
Killer Whale. Among the remaining tribes of the region —
Nootka, Kwakiutl, and Salishan — family crests, rather than
clan totems, are the marks of social distinction; but even in
the north, where the totemic clan prevails, crests vary among
the clan families: thus, the families of the Raven clan of the
Stikine tribe of the Tlinglt have not only the Raven, but also
the Frog and the Beaver, as hereditary crests.

In addition to acquisition by marriage and inheritance,
rights to a crest may pass from one family or tribe to another
through war; for a warrior who slays a foe is deemed to have


acquired the privileges of the slain man’s totem; if this be one
foreign to the conqueror’s tribe, slaves may be called upon
to give the proper initiation, which is still essential. Thus the
rights to certain crests pass from clan to clan and from tribe to
tribe, forming the foundation for a kind of intertribal relation-
ship of persons owning like totems. Wars were formerly waged
for the acquisition of desired totemic rights, and more than
once, the legends tell, bitter conflicts have resulted from the
appropriation of a crest by a man who had no demonstrable
right to it, for no prerogatives are more jealously guarded in
the North-West. Only persons of wealth could acquire the
use of crests, for the initiation must be accompanied by feast-
ing and gift-giving at the expense of the initiate and his kin-
dred. On the other hand, the possession of crests is a mark of
social importance; hence, they are eagerly sought.-
The origin of crests was referred to mythic ancestors. The .
Haida are divided into Eagles and Ravens. The ancestress of
the Raven clan is Foam Woman, who rose from the sea and is
said to have had the power of driving back all other super-
natural beings with the lightnings of her eyes; Foam Woman,
like Diana of the Ephesians, had many breasts, at each of
which she nourished a grandmother of a Raven family of the
Haida. The oldest crest of this clan is the Killer Whale, whose
dorsal fin, according to tradition, adorned the blanket of one
of the daughters of Foam Woman; but they also have for crests
the Grizzly Bear, Blue Hawk, Sea-Lion, Rainbow, Moon, and
other spirits and animals. Curiously enough, the Raven crest
among the Haida does not belong to families of the Raven clan,
but to Eagles, whose ancestor is said to have obtained it
from the Tsimshian. All the Eagles trace their descent from
an ancestress called Greatest Mountain, probably denoting a
mainland origin of this clan, but the Eagle is regarded as the
oldest of their crests. The animals themselves are not held to
be ancestors, but only to have been connected in some signifi-
cant fashion with the family or clan progenitor; thus, an Eagle


chief appeared at a feast with a necklace of live frogs, and his
family forthwith adopted the frog as a crest.

Many creatures besides animals appear as totemic or family
crests, and the double-headed snake (represented with a head
at each end and a human head in the middle), known to the
Kwakiutl as Sisiutl, is one of the most important of these
beings.®® A Squawmish myth tells of a young man who pur-
sued the serpent Senotlke for four years, finally slaying it;
as he did so, he himself fell dead, but he regained life and, on
his return to his own people, became a great shaman, having
the power to slay all who beheld him and to make them live
again — a myth which seems clearly reminiscent of initiation
rites. The Sisiutl is able to change itself into a fish, whose flesh
is fatal to those who eat it, but for those who obtain its super-
natural help it is a potent assistant. Pieces of its body, owned
by shamans, are powerful medicine and command high prices.
The Bella Coola believe that its home is a salt-water lake be-
hind the house of the supreme goddess in the highest heaven,
and that the goddess uses this mere as a bath. The skin of the
Sisiutl is so hard that it cannot be pierced by a knife, but it
can be cut by a leaf of holly. In one Bella Coola myth the
mountain is said to have split where it crawled, making a
passage for the waters of a river. It would appear from these
and other legends that the Sisiutl, like the horned Plumed
Snake of the Pueblos, is a genius of the waters, perhaps a
personification of rain-clouds. A Comox tradition, in many
ways analogous to the South-Western story of the visit of the
Twin Warriors to the Sun, tells of the conquest of Tlaik, chief
of the sky, by the two sons of Fair Weather, and of the final
destruction of the sky-chief, who is devoured by the double-
headed snake — a tale which suggests clearly enough the efface-
ment of the sun by the clouds.

Another being important in clan ritual is the Cannibal
woman (Tsonoqoa, Sneneik),^® whose offspring are represented
as wolves, and in whose home is a slave rooted to the ground



from eating the food which the demoness gave her. This anthro-
pophagous monster dwells in the woods and carries a basket
in which she puts the children whom she steals to eat, and she
also robs graves; but at last she is slain by a sky-boy to whose
image, reflected in the water, she makes love. Komokoa, the
Rich One,'^ is the protector of seals, and lives at the bottom
of the sea; the drowned go to him, and stories are narrated
of persons who have penetrated to his abode and afterward
returned to give his crest to their descendants. A frequent form
of legend recounts how hunters harpoon a seal and are dragged
down with incredible velocity until the home of Komokoa is
reached; there they are initiated, and receive crests and riches
with which they go back to their kindred, who have believed
them long since dead. The Thunderbird,^^ described as a huge
creature carrying a lake on its back and flashing lightnings from
its eyes, is also a crest, traditions telling of clan ancestors being
carried away to its haunts and there initiated. Whales are said
to be its food, and the bones of cetaceans devoured by it may
be seen upon the mountains. Monstrous birds are of frequent
occurrence in the myths of the North-West, as in California,
many of them seeming to derive their characteristics from the
Thunderbird, while the latter is sometimes asserted to resemble
types of the Falconidae, as the hawk or the eagle.

The wooden masks, carved and painted, employed in the
initiation ceremonies connected with the clan totems are the
ritual representations of the clan myth.®® Many of these
masks are double, the inner and outer faces representing two
moods or incidents in the mythic adventure. Frequently the
outer is an animal, the inner a human, face — a curious ex-
pression of the aboriginal belief in a man-soul underlying the
animal exterior. Masks are not regarded as idols; but that a
kind of fetishistic reverence attaches to wood-carvings of super-
natural beings in the North-West is shown by the number of
myths telling of such figures manifesting life. “The carvings on
the house posts wink their eyes,” is a Haida saying denoting

North American Mythology / Re: North American Mythology
« on: August 03, 2019, 08:22:16 PM »


tance of the action: it is as if the motives and deeds of the
natural world were being tried out, fitted, like vestments, now
upon this type of being, now upon that, with a view to the dis-
covery of the most suitable character. It indicates, too, that
the tales are probably far older than the environment, which
they have been gradually transformed to satisfy. To be sure,
certain elements are constant, for they represent unchangeable
factors in human experience — as the relation of Earth and
Sky, Light and Darkness, Rain, Fire, Cloud, and Thunder;
but the animal personalities, and to a less extent the monstrous
beings, vary for the same plot in different tribes and differ-
ent tellings — vary, yet with certain constancies that deserve
note. Coyote, over the whole western half of North America,
is the most important figure of myth: usually, he is not an
edifying hero, being mainly trickster and dupe by turns; yet
he very generally plays a significant role in aiding, willy-nilly,
the First People to the discovery of their final and appropriate
shapes. He is, in other words, a great transformer; he is fre-
quently the prime mover in the theft of fire, which nearly all
tribes mark as the beginning of human advancement; and in
parts, at least, of California, his deeds are represented as al-
most invariably beneficent in their outcomes; he is a true, if
often unintentional, culture hero. Other animals — the Elk,
the Bear, the Lion — are frequent mythic figures, as are cer-
tain reptiles — the Rattlesnake, the exultant Frog Woman,
who floats on the crest of the world-flood, and the Lizard who,
because he has five fingers and knows their usefulness, similarly
endows man when the human race comes to be created. But
it is especially the winged kind — the birds — that play, after
Coyote, the leading roles in West-Coast myth. The Eagle, the
Falcon, the Crow, the Raven, and to a less degree the Vulture
and the Buzzard, are most conspicuous, for it is noticeable
that among birds, as among animals, it is the stronger, and
especially the carnivorous, kinds that are the chiefs of legend.
Nevertheless, this is no Invariable rule, and the Woodpecker,


whose red head-feathers were used as money among the Cali-
fornian tribes, the Humming-Bird, and indeed most other birds
known to them, figure in the myths of the region. Nor are
smaller creatures — the Louse, the Fly, and the Worm — too
insignificant for the maker of traditions.

All of these beings, in the age of the First People, were
human in form; the present order of existence began with their
transformation into the birds and animals we now know. In
West-Coast myth, this metamorphosis often follows directly
upon the cataclysm of fire or flood by which the First World
was destroyed, thus giving the two periods a distinctness of
separation not common in Indian thought. In many versions
the transformation is the work of the world-shaper — Coyote
or another — as in the myth of Olelbis, who apportions to
each creature its proper shape and home after the earth has
been restored. Even more frequently there is a contest of
some sort, the outcome of which is that victor and vanquished
are alike transformed. This may be a battle of wits, as in the
Coos story of the Crow whose voice was thunder and whose
eyes flashed lightning:®^ a certain man-being persuaded the
Crow first to trade voices with him, and then to sell the light-
nings of his eyes for the food left by the ebb-tide, whereupon
the Crow degenerated into what he now is, a glutton with a
raucous voice, while the man became the Thunderer. Again,
the struggle may be of the gaming type: in a Miwok legend
Wek-wek, the Falcon, participated with a certain winged giant,
Kelok, in a contest at which each in turn allowed himself to
be used as a target for red-hot stones hurled by his opponent;
through over-confidence Wek-wek is slain, but he is restored to
life again by Coyote, who is shrewd enough to beat the giant
at his own game; while from the body of the slain monster is
started the conflagration that destroys the world.®® In a third
case, the contest is one of sorcery: the story of the Loon Woman
tells how she fell in love with the youngest of her ten brothers
as they danced in the sweat-lodge; by her magic she com-


pelled him to accompany her, but he escaped, and the brothers,
with the aid of their elder sister. Spider Woman, ascended to
heaven in a basket; Loon Woman perceived them, set fire to
the sweat-house, and all save the Eagle fell back into the flames;
their bodies were burned and Loon Woman made herself a neck-
lace of their hearts. Nevertheless, her triumph was brief, for
the Eagle succeeded in slaying her, and placing her heart along
with those of his brothers in a sweat-house, brought them all
back to life, but with the forms and dispositions which they
now possess.

The creation of the human race ™ marks the close of the age
of the First People. Usually the World-Maker is also the shaper
of men, and it is the West-Coast mode to conceive the process
quite mechanically: men are fashioned from earth and grass,
or appear as the transformations of sticks and feathers; the
Kato story is altogether detailed, telling how Nagaitcho made
a trachea of reed and pounded ochre to mix with water and
make blood. A more dignified creation was that of Gudatri-
gakwitl, the Wishosk Maker, who used no tools, but formed
things by spreading out his hands. “When Gudatrigakwitl
wanted to make people, he said, ‘I want fog.’ Then it began to
be foggy. Gudatrigakwitl thought: ‘No one will see it when
the people are born.’ Then he thought: ‘Now I wish people to
be all over, broadcast. I want it to be full of people and full
of game.’ Then the fog went away. No one had seen them
before, but now they were there.” Most imaginative of all is
the Modoc myth, recorded by Curtin. Kumush, the man of
the beautiful blue, whose life was the sun’s golden disk, had a
daughter. He made for her ten dresses: the first for a young
girl, the second the maturity raiment in which a maiden
clothes herself when she celebrates the coming of womanhood,
the third to the ninth festal and work garments such as women
wear, the tenth, and most beautiful of all, a burial shroud.
When the girl was within a few days of maturity, she entered
the sweat-house to dance; there she fell asleep and dreamed



that some one was to die, and when she came out she demanded
of Kumush her burial dress. He offered her each of the others
in turn, but she would have only this ; when she had donned It,
she died, and her spirit set out for the west, the home of them
that had passed away. Kumush, however, would not let her
go alone, and saying, “ I know all things above, below, and in the
world of ghosts; whatever is, I know,” he accompanied her
down into the caverns of the dead. There father and daughter
dwelt, by night dancing with the spirits, which became skeletons
by day. But Kumush wearied of this, and determined to return
to earth and restore life upon It. He took a basketful of the
bones and set out, but they resisted and dug sharply Into his
body. Twice he slipped and fell back, but the third time he
landed in the world above, and sowing there the bones of the
ghosts, a new race sprang up from them — the race of men who
have since inhabited the earth.


In the beginning the First World was without light or heat;
blackness and cold were ever)rwhere, or if there were light and
warmth, they were distant and inaccessible: “the world was
dark and there was no fire; the only light was the Morning,
and it was so far away in the high mountains of the east that
the people could not see it; they lived in total darkness” —
with this suggestive image of valley life begins a Miwok tale
of the theft of Morning. Sometimes it is Morning or Day-
light that is stolen, sometimes it Is the Sun, oftenest it is Fire;
but the essential plot of the story seldom varies : on the con-
fines of the world there is a lodge in which the Light or the Fire
is guarded by jealous watchmen, from whom their treasure
must be taken by craft; generally, the theft is discovered and a
pursuit is started, but relays of animals succeed in bearing off
a fragment of the treasure.

Coyote is the usual plotter and hero of myths of fire and light.



In a dramatic Kato story he dreams of the sun In the east.^^
With three mice for companions he sets out, coming at last to
the lodge where two old women have the sun bound to the
floor. When they sleep, the mice gnaw the bands that hold the
sun, and Coyote seizes it, pursued by the awakened women,
whom he changes into stone. From the stolen sun he fashions
all the heavenly bodies: ^^Moon, sun, fly into the sky. Stars
become many in it. In the morning you shall come up. You
shall go around the world. In the east you shall rise again in
the morning. You shall furnish light.’’ Not always, however,
is the venture so successful; in the Mlwok tale the stealing
of the sun results in the transformation of the First People into
animals, and the like metamorphosis follows on the theft of
fire as narrated by the Modoc. Sometimes the fire-origin story
is literal and simple, as in the Wishosk legend of the dog who
kindled the first flame by rubbing two sticks; sometimes it is
dramatic and grim, as in the duel of magicians, which the Coos
tradition narrates, in which one is eaten by maggots till he is
nothing but bones, before he finally succeeds in so terrifying
his opponent that the latter flees, and his wealth of fire and
water — a unique combination — is taken.^^ Again, there are
poetic versions — the Shasta story which makes Pain and his
children the guardians of fire; or the Miwok tale of the Robin
who got his red breast from nestling his stolen flame, to keep
it alive; or that of the Mouse who charmed the fireowners with
music and hid a coal in his flute.

The Maidu, naturally enough, make Thunder and his Daugh-
ters (who must be the lightnings) the guardians of fire.®^ They
tell, in a hero story, how the elder of two brothers is lured away
by, and pursues, a daughter of Thunder. He shoots an arrow
ahead of her, and secures it from her pack-basket (the storm-
cloud) without harm. He makes his way through a briar field
by the aid of a flint which cuts a path for him. Protected by
moccasins of red-hot stone, he follows her through a field of
rattlesnakes, and when he finds her he cuts off the serpent teeth



?which surround her vagina (a variant of one of the most wide-
spread of North American myth-incidents) . On his moccasins
he crosses a frozen lake, and with the assistance of a feather —
the universal symbol of life — he fords a deep river and passes
the Valley-of-Death-by-Old-Age.® Arrived at the house of
Thunder, he avoids poisoned food, breaks a pitch-log for
firewood, escapes a water monster that nearly drowns him,
and slays a grizzly bear which pursues him, when on a deer-
hunt, by shooting it in the left hind foot, its only vulnerable
spot. These labours performed, the North American Hercules
takes the daughter of Thunder to wife, and returns to his

This is one of the many hero tales in which the West-Coast
mythology is rich. The red-hot moccasins suggest the personi-
fication of volcanic forces, so that the whole myth may well
be the story of a volcano, wedded to its lightnings, cleaving
lake and river and valley, and overcoming the mighty of earth.
A similar origin may be that of the Miwok giant Kelok, hurl-
ing his red-hot rocks and setting the world ablaze — surely a
volcanic Titan.

Another type of hero is the child of the Sun.^® The Maidu
story of the exploits of the Conquerors, born a't one birth to
Cloud Man and a virgin, is strikingly like the South-Western
tales of the divine twins, sons of the Sun; and a somewhat
similar legend is narrated by the Yuki.^ The kind of hero
more distinctive of the West Coast, however, is “Dug-from-
the-Ground.” In the Hupa recension a virgin, forbidden by
her grandmother to uproot two stocks (the mandrake super-
stition), disobeys, and digs up a child. He grows to manhood,
visits the sky-world, and finally journeys to the house of the
sun in the east, where he passes laborious tests, and in the game
of hockey overcomes the immortals, including Earthquake and
Thunder. Tulchuherris is the Wintun name for this hero; he
is dug up by an old woman, and when he emerges a noise like
thunder is heard in the distant east, the home of the sun.



Curtin regards Tulchuherris as the lightning, born of the fog
which issues from the earth after sunrise.

In another story, one of the most popular of Californian
tales,®^ the Grizzly Bear and the Doe were kindred and friends,
living together and feeding in the same pasture. One day
while afield the Bear killed the Doe, but her two Fawns dis-
covered the deed, and beguiling the murderess into letting them
have her cub for a playmate, they suffocated it in a sweat-
house. Pursued by the Bear, they were conveyed to heaven
by a huge rock growing upward beneath them ; and there they
found their mother. The story has many forms, but the Fawns
are always associated with fire. Sometimes they trap the
mother bear, but usually they kill her by hurling down red-
hot rocks. They themselves become thunders, and it is in-
structive that the Doe, after drinking the waters of the
sky-world, dies and descends to earth — clearly she is the
rain-cloud and her Fawns are the thunders. The legend of
the heaven-growing rock, lifting twins to the skies, occurs
more than once in California, most appropriate surely when
applied to the great El Capitan of the Yosemite.'^^

It is perhaps too easy to read naturalistic interpretations
into primitive myth. In many instances the meaning is un-
mistakably expressed and seems never to be lost, as in the
Promethean theft of fire; but in others — and the hero of
Herculean labours is a fair example — it is by no means cer-
tain that long and varied borrowing has not obscured the
original intention. Volcanic fire, lightning, and sunlight itself
seem to be the figures suggesting the adventures; but it may
well be that for the aboriginal narrators these meanings have
long since vanished.


The source of death, no less than the origin of life, is a riddle
which the mind of man early endeavours to solve; and in the



New World, as sometimes in the Old, the event is made to
turn upon a primal choice. In the New-World tales, however,
it is not the creature’s disobedience, but deliberate selection
hy one of the primal beings that establishes the law. The typ-
ical story is of a conflict of design : the Author of Life in-
tends to create men undying, but another being, who is Coyote
far more often than any other, jealous of the new race, wishes
mortality into the world, and his wish prevails. In very many
versions, neither rational nor ethical principle is concerned in
the choice; it is a result of chance; but on the West Coast not
a few examples of the legend involve both reason and morals.
As it is told, one of the First People loses a child; its resurrec-
tion is contemplated; but Coyote interferes, saying, “Let it re-
main dead; the world will be over-peopled; there will be no
food; nor will men prize life, rejoicing at the coming of chil-
dren and mourning the dead.” “So be it,” they respond, for
Coyote’s argument seems good. But human desires are not
satisfied by reason alone, as is shown in the grimly ironical
conclusion; Coyote’s real motive is not the good of the living;
selfishness and jealousy prompt his specious plea; now his own
son dies, and he begs that the child be restored to life; but
“Nay, nay,” is the response, “the law is established.”

The most beautiful myth of this type that has been recorded
is Curtin’s “Sedit and the Two Brothers Hus,” of the Wintun.
Sedit is Coyote; the brothers Hus are buzzards. Olelbis,
about to create men, sends the brothers to earth to build a
ladder of stone from it to heaven; half way up are to be set a
pool for drink and a place for rest; at the summit shall be two
springs, one for drinking and the other for bathing — internal
and external purification — for these are to be that very Foun-
tain of Youth whose rumour brought Ponce de Leon from Spain
to Florida. When a man or a woman grows old, says Olelbis,
let him or her climb to Olelpanti, bathe and drink, and youth
will be restored. But as the brothers build. Coyote, the tempter,
comes, saying, “I am wise; let us reason”; and he pictures con-



temptuously the destiny which Olelbis would bestow: “Sup-
pose an old woman and an old man go up, go alone, one after
the other, and come back alone, young. They will be alone as
before, and will grow old a second time, and go up again and
come back young, but they will be alone, just the same as at
first. They will have nothing on earth whereat to rejoice. They
will never have any friends, any children ; they will never have
any pleasure in the world; they will never have anything to
do but to go up this road old and come back down young
again.” “Joy at birth and grief for the dead is better,” says
Coyote, “for these mean love.” The brothers Hus are con-
vinced, and destroy their work, though not until the younger
one says to Coyote: “You, too, shall die; you, too, shall lie
in the ground never to rise, never to go about with an otter-
skin band on your head and a beautiful quiver at your back!”
And when Coyote sees that it is so, he stands muttering:
“What am I to do now.^ I am sorry. Why did I talk so much.^
Hus asked me if I wanted to die. He said that all on earth
here will have to die now. That is what Hus said. I don’t
know what to do. What can I do?” Desperate, he makes him-
self wings of sunflowers — the blossoms that are said always
to follow the sun — and tries to fly upward; but the leaves
wither, and he falls back to earth, and is dashed to death.
“It is his own deed,” says Olelbis; “he is killed by his own
words; hereafter all his people will fall and die.”

Such is the origin of death; but death is, after all, not the
end of a man; it only marks his departure to another world
than this earth. The body of a man may be burned or buried,
but his life is a thing indestructible; it has journeyed on to
another land. The West-Coast peoples find the abode of the
dead in various places.^® Sometimes it is in the world above,
and many are the myths detailing ascents to, and descents
from, the sky; sometimes it is in the underworld; oftenest, it
is in the west, beyond the waters where the sun is followed by
night. Not always, however, are mortals content to let their

North American Mythology / Re: North American Mythology
« on: August 03, 2019, 08:21:35 PM »

than help the beneficent intentions of the creator, toll, pain,
and death being due to his Interference. “I was the oldest in
the olden time, and if a person die he must be dead,” says
Coyote to Earth-Maker in a Maidu myth, reported by Dixon.^®
The first act of this Maidu creation already implies the covert
antagonism ;

“When this world was filled with water, Earth-Maker floated
upon it, kept floating about. Nowhere in the world could he
see even a tiny bit of earth. No person of any kind flew about.
He went about in this world, the world itself being invisible,
transparent like the sky. He was troubled. ‘ I wonder how, I
wonder where, I wonder in what place, in what country we
shall find a world!’ he said. ‘You are a very strong man, to
be thinking of this world,’ said Coyote. ‘I am guessing in
what direction the world is, then to that distant land let us
float!’ said Earth-Maker.” The two float about seeking the
earth and singing songs : “ Where, 0 world, art thou ? ” “ Where
are you, my great mountains, my world mountains?” “As
they floated along, they saw something like a bird’s nest.
‘Well that is very small,’ said Earth-Maker. ‘It is small. If
it were larger I could fix it. But It Is too small,’ he said. ‘ I
wonder how I can stretch It a little!’ . . . He extended a rope
to the east, to the south he extended a rope, to the west, to
the northwest, and to the north he extended ropes. When all
were stretched, he said, ‘Well, sing, you who were the finder
of this earth, this mud! “In the long, long ago, Robin-Man
made the world, stuck earth together, making this world.”
Thus mortal men shall say of you, in myth-telling.’ Then
Robin sang, and his world-making song sounded sweet. After
the ropes were all stretched, he kept singing; then, after a time,
he ceased. Then Earth-Maker spoke to Coyote also. ‘Do
you sing, too,’ he said. So he sang, singing, ‘My world where
one travels by the valley-edge; my world of many foggy
mountains; my world where one goes zigzagging hither and
thither; range after range,’ he said, ‘I sing of the country I



shall travel in. In such a world I shall wander,’ he said. Then
Earth-Maker sang — sang of the world he had made, kept
singing, until by and by he ceased. ‘Now,’ he said, ‘it would be
well if the world were a little larger. Let us stretch it!’ ‘Stop!’
said Coyote. ‘ I speak wisely. The world ought to be painted
with something so that it may look pretty. What do ye two
think?’ Then Robin-Man said, ‘I am one who knows nothing.
Ye two are clever men, making this world, talking it over;
if ye find anything evil, ye will make it good.’ ‘Very well,’
said Coyote, ‘I will paint it with blood. There shall be blood
in the world; and people shall be born there, having blood.
There shall be birds born who shall have blood. Everything —
deer, all kinds of game, all sorts of men without any exception
— all things shall have blood that are to be created in this
world. And in another place, making it red, there shall be red
rocks. It will be as if blood were mixed up with the world,
and thus the world will be beautiful!’ ” After this Earth-Maker
stretched the world, and he inspected his work, journeying
through all its parts, and he created man-beings in pairs to
people earth’s regions, each with a folk speaking differently.
Then he addressed the last-created pair, saying: “‘Now,
wherever I have passed along, there shall never be a lack of
anything,’ he said, and made motions in all directions. ‘The
country where I have been shall be one where nothing is ever
lacking. I have finished talking to you, and I say to you that
ye shall remain where ye are to be born. Ye are the last people;
and while ye are to remain where ye are created, I shall return,
and stay there. When this world becomes bad, I will make it
over again; and after I make it, ye shall be born,’ he said.
(Long ago Coyote suspected this, they say.) ‘This world will
shake,’ he said. ‘This world is spread out flat, the world is
not stable. After this world is all made, by and by, after a
long time, I will pull this rope a little, then the world shall
be firm. I, pulling on my rope, shall make it shake. And
now,’ he said, ‘there shall be songs, they shall not be lacking,



ye shall have them/ And he sang, and kept on singing until he
ceased singing. ^Ye mortal men shall have this song,’ he said,
and then he sang another; and singing many different songs,
he walked along, kept walking until he reached the middle
of the world; and there, sitting down over across from it, he

In another myth of the Maidu, Earth-Maker descends from
heaven by a feather rope to a raft upon which Turtle and a
sorcerer are afloat. Earth-Maker creates the world from mud
brought up by the Turtle, who dives for it, and Coyote issues
from the Underworld to introduce toil and death among men.
The Maidu Earth-Maker has close parallels among neigh-
bouring tribes,® perhaps the most exalted being Olelbis, of the
Wintun: ^^The first that we know of Olelbis is that he was in
Olelpanti. Whether he lived in another place is not known,
but in the beginning he was in Olelpanti (on the upper side),
the highest place.” Thus begins Curtin’s rendering of the myth
of creation. The companions of Olelbis in this heaven-world
— completing the triad which so often recurs in Californian
cosmogonies — are two old women, with whose aid he builds
a wonderful sweat-house in the sky: its pillars are six great
oaks; its roof is their intertwining branches, from which fall
endless acorns; it is bound above with beautiful flowers, and
its four walls are screens of flowers woven by the two women;
‘‘all kinds of flowers that are in the world now were gathered
around the foot of that sweat-house, an enormous bank of
them; every beautiful color and every sweet odor in the world
was there. The sweat-house grew until it became wonder-
ful in size and splendour, the largest and most beautiful thing
in the world, placed there to last forever — perhaps the most
charmingly pictured Paradise in Indian myth.

Other creators, in the myths of this region, are Taikomol,
He-Who-Goes-Alone, of the Yuki; Yimantuwinyai, Old-One-
Across-the-Ocean, of the Hupa; K’mukamtch, Old Man, of
the Klamath, tricky rather than edifying in character; and the



Wishosk Maker Gudatrigakwitl, Old-Man-Above, who per-
forms his creative work by “joining his hands and spreading
them out.” Among these the Hupa creator seems not to have
existed forever: “It was at Tcoxoltcwedin he came into being.
From the earth behind the inner house wall he sprang into
existence. There was a ringing noise like the striking together
of metals at his birth. Before his coming smoke had settled on
the mountain side. Rotten pieces of wood thrown up by
someone fell into his hands. Where they fell there was fire.”
This surely implies a volcanic birth of the universe, natural
enough in a land where earthquakes are common and volcanoes
not extinct. Something of the same suggestion is conveyed by
a myth of the neighbouring Coos Indians, in which the world
is created by two brothers on a foundation of pieces of soot
cast upon the waters.'** In this Kusan myth the third person
of the recurrent Californian triad is a medicine-man with a
red-painted face, whom the brothers slay, spilling his blood in
all directions — an episode reminiscent of the role of Coyote in
the Maidu genesis. When the world Is completed, the brothers
shoot arrows upward toward the heavens, each successive bolt
striking into the shaft of the one above, and thus they build
a ladder by means of which they ascend into the sky.


The notion of cataclysmic destructions of the world by flood
or fire, often with a concomitant falling of the sky, is frequent
in West-Coast myth. Indeed, many of the creation-stories
seem to be, in fact, traditions of the re-forming of the earth
after the great annihilation, although in some myths both the
creation and the re-creation are described. One of the most
interesting is the genesis-legend of the Kato, an Athapascan
tribe closely associated with the Porno, who are of Kulanapan

The story begins with the making of a new sky, to replace


the old one, which is soon to fall. ^^The sandstone rock which
formed the sky was old, they say. It thundered in the east; it
thundered in the south; it thundered In the west; It thundered
in the north. ‘The rock is old, we will fix it,’ he said. There
were two, Nagaitcho and Thunder. ‘We will stretch it above
far to the east,’ one of them said. They stretched it.®^ They
walked on the sky.” So the tale begins. Nagaitcho, the Great
Traveller, and Thunder then proceed to construct an outer
cosmos of the usual Californian type: a heaven supported by
pillars, with openings at each of the cardinal points for winds
and clouds and mist, and with winter and summer trails for
the sun’s course. They created a man and a woman, presum-
ably to become the progenitors of the next world-generation.
Then upon the earth that was they caused rain to fall: “Every
day it rained, every night It rained. All the people slept. The
sky fell. The land was not. For a very great distance there was
no land. The waters of the oceans came together. Animals of
all kinds drowned. Where the water went there were no trees.
There was no land. . . . Water came, they say. The waters
completely joined everywhere. There was no land or mountains
or rocks, but only water. Trees and grass were not. There were
no fish, or land animals, or birds. Human beings and animals
alike had been washed away. The wind did not then blow
through the portals of the world, nor was there snow, nor
frost, nor rain. It did not thunder nor did it lighten. Since
there were no trees to be struck, it did not thunder. There
were neither clouds nor fog, nor was there a sun. It was very
dark. . . . Then it was that this earth with its great, long
horns got up and walked down this way from the north. As It
walked along through the deep places the water rose to Its
shoulders. When It came up into shallower places, it looked
up. There is a ridge in the north upon which the waves break.
When it came to the middle of the world, In the east under the
rising of the sun, it looked up again. There where it looked up
will be a large land near to the coast. Far away to the south it



continued looking up. It walked under the ground. Having
come from the north it traveled far south and la7 down.
Nagaitcho, standing on earth’s head, had been carried to the
south. Where earth lay down Nagaitcho placed its head as it
should be and spread gray clay between its eyes and on each
horn. Upon the clay he placed a layer of reeds and then another
layer of clay. In this he placed upright blue grass, brush, and
trees. ‘I have finished,’ he said. ‘Let there be mountain
peaks here on its head. Let the waves of the sea break against

The Wintun creation-myth, narrated by Curtin, possesses
a plot of the same type. Just as he perceives that the end
of the First World and of the First People is approaching,
Olelbis, He-Who-Sits-Above, builds his paradisic sweat-house
in the sky-world to become a refuge for such as may attain to
it. The cataclysm is caused by the theft of Flint from the
Swift, who, for revenge, induces Shooting Star, Fire Drill,
and the latter’s wife, Buckeye Bush, to set the world afire.®^
“Olelbis looked down into the burning world. He could see
nothing but waves of flame; rocks were burning, the ground
was burning, everything was burning. Great rolls and piles
of smoke were rising; fire flew up toward the sky in flames, in
great sparks and brands. Those sparks are sky eyes, and all
the stars that we now see in the sky came from that time when
the first world was burned. The sparks stuck fast in the sky,
and have remained there ever since. Quartz rocks and fire in
the rocks are from that time; there was no fire in the rocks
before the world fire. . . . During the fire they could see noth-
ing of the world below but flames and smoke.” Olelbis did not
like this; and on the advice of two old women, his Grand-
mothers, as he called them, he sent the Eagle and the Humming-
Bird to prop up the sky in the north, and to summon thence
Kahit, the Wind, and Mem Loimis, the Waters, who lived be-
yond the first sky.® “The great fire was blazing, roaring all
over the earth, burning rocks, earth, trees, people, burning



everything. Mem Loimis started, and with her Kahit. Water
rushed in through the open place made by Lutchi when he
raised the sky. It rushed in like a crowd of rivers, covered the
earth, and put out the fire as it rolled on toward the south.
There was so much water outside that could not come through
that it rose to the top of the sky and rushed on toward Olel-
panti. . . . Mem Loimis went forward, and water rose moun-
tains high. Following closely after Mem Loimis came Kahit.
He had a whistle in his mouth; as he moved forward he blew
it with all his might, and made a terrible noise. The whistle
was his own; he had had it always. He came flying and blow-
ing; he looked like an enormous bat with wings spread. As
he flew south toward the other side of the sky, his two cheek
feathers grew straight out, became immensely long, waved up
and down, grew till they could touch the sky on both sides.”
Finally the fire was quenched, and at the request of Olelbis,
Kahit drove Mem Loimis, the Waters, back to her underworld
home, while beneath Olelpanti there was now nothing but naked
rocks, with a single pool left by the receding waters. The myth
goes on to tell of the refashioning and refurnishing of the world
by Olelbis, assisted by such of the survivors of the cataclysm
of fire and flood as had managed to escape to Olelpanti. A
net is spread over the sky, and through it soil, brought from
beyond the confines of the sky-capped world, is sifted down to
cover the boulders. Olelbis marks out the rivers, and water is
drawn to fill them from the single lakelet that remains. Fire,
now sadly needed in the world, is stolen from the lodge of Fire
Drill and Buckeye Bush — the parents of flame — without
their discovering the loss (an unusual turn in the tale of the
theft of fire). The earth is fertilized by Old Man Acorn and
by seed dropping down from the flower lodge of Olelbis in
the skies. Many animals spring into being from the feathers
and bits of the body of Wokwuk, a large and beautiful bird,
with very red eyes; while numerous others are the result of the
transformations wrought by Olelbis, who now metamorphoses



the survivors of the first world Into the animals and objects
whose nature they had In reality always possessed.^^ A par-
ticularly charming episode tells of the snaring of the clouds.
These had sprung into being when the waters of the flood struck
the fires of the conflagration, and they were seeking ever to
escape back to the north, whence Kahit and Mem Loimis had
come. Three of them, a black, a white, and a red one, are cap-
tured; the skin of the red cloud is kept by the hunters, who
often hang it up in the west, though sometimes in the east;
the black and the white skins are given to the Grandmothers
of Olelbis. “Now,” said the two old women, “we have this
white skin and this black one. When we hang the white skin
outside this house, white clouds will go from it, — will go
away down south, where its people began to live, and then they
will come from the south and travel north to bring rain.
When they come back, we will hang out the black skin, and
from it a great many black rain clouds will go out, and from
these clouds heavy rain will fall on all the world below.”
The Pacific Coast is a land of two seasons, the wet and the
dry, and these twin periods could scarcely be more beautifully


A little reflection upon the operations of animistic imagina-
tion will go far to explain the conception of a First People,
manlike In form, but animal or plant or stone or element in
nature, which is nowhere In America more clearly defined than
on the West Coast.® The languages of primitive folk are built
np of concrete terms; abstract and general names are nearly
unknown; and hence their thought is metaphorical in cast and
procedure. Now the nearest and most intelligible of meta-
phors are those which are based upon the forms and traits of
men’s own bodies and minds: whatever can be made familiar
in terms of human instinct and habit and desire is truly
familiar, — “Man is the measure of all things,” and primitive



mythic metaphor is the elementary form of applying this stand-
ard. At first it is the activities rather than the forms of things
that are rendered in terms of human nature; for it is always
the activities, the powers of things, that are important in
practical life; the outward, the aesthetic, cast of experience
becomes significant only as people advance from a life of
need to a life of thought and reflection. Hence, at first,
mythopoetic fancy is content to ascribe human action and
intention, human speech and desires, to environing creation;
the physical form is of small consequence in explaining the
conduct of the world, for physical form is of all things the
most inconstant to the animistic mind, and it is invariably
held suspect, as if it were a guise or ruse for the deluding of the
human race. But there comes a period of thought when anthro-
pomorphism — an aesthetic humanizing of the world — is as
essential to mental comfort and to the sense of the intelligi-
bility of nature as is the earlier and more naive psychomor-
phism: when the phantasms, as well as the instincts and
powers, of the world call for explanation.

Such a demand, in its incipiency, is met by the conception
of the First People. This is a primeval race, not only regarded
as human in conduct, but imagined as manlike in form. They
belong to that uncertain past when all life and all nature were
not yet aware of their final goal — a period of formation and
transformation, of conflict, duel, strife, of psychical and physi-
cal monstrosities, before the good and the bad had been clearly
separated. “As the heart is, so shall ye be,” is the formula ever
in the myth-maker’s half unconscious thought, and the whole
process of setting the earth in order seems to consist of the
struggle after appropriate form on the part of the world’s
primitive forces.^®

West-Coast lore is in great part composed of tales of the
First People, and it is instructive that the stories and events
in this mythology are far more constant than are the personali-
ties of the participants. This harks back to the prime impor-


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« on: August 03, 2019, 08:20:42 PM »



“‘Even so,’ said the Sky-father; ‘Yet not alone shalt thou
helpful be unto our children, for behold!’ and he spread his
hand abroad with the palm downward and into all the wrinkles
and crevices thereof he set the semblance of shining yellow
corn-grains ; in the dark of the early world-dawn they gleamed
like sparks of fire, and moved as his hand was moved over the
bowl, shining up from and also moving in the depths of the
water therein. ‘See!’ said he, pointing to the seven grains
clasped by his thumb and four fingers, ‘by such shall our chil-
dren be guided; for behold, when the Sun-father is not nigh,
and thy terraces are as the dark itself (being all hidden therein),
then shall our children be guided by lights — like to these lights
of all the six regions turning round the midmost one — as in
and around midmost place, where these our children shall
abide, lie all the other regions of space! Yea! and even as these
grains gleam up from the water, so shall seed-grains like to
them, yet numberless, spring up from thy bosom when touched
by my waters, to nourish our children.’ Thus and in other ways
many devised they for their offspring.”

The Zuni legend continues with events made familiar in
other narratives. As in the Navaho Genesis, the First People
pass through four underworlds before they finally emerge on
earth: “the Ashiwi were queer beings when they came to this
world; they had short depilous tails, long ears, and webbed feet
and hands, and their bodies and heads were covered with moss,
a lengthy tuft being on the fore part of the head, projecting
like a horn”; they also gave forth a foul odour, like burning
sulphur, but all these defects were removed by the Divine
Ones, under whose guidance the emergence and early journey-
ing of the First People took place. These gods, Kowwituma and
Watsusi, are twins of the Sun and Foam, and are obviously
doublets of the Twin Gods of War (whose Zuni names are
variants of those known to the Sia), by whom they are later
replaced.^^ Other incidents of the Zuni story tell of the origins
of institutions and cults near the place of emergence, of the



hardening of the world, of the search for the Middle Place,
and of the cities built and shrines discovered on the way.
Incidents of the journey include the incest of a brother and
sister, sent forward as scouts,^’ to whom a sterile progeny
was born, and who created Kothluwalawa, the mountain
home of the ancestral gods; the accession and feats of the
diminutive twins, the Gods of War; the coming of the Corn
Maidens, already recounted; the flood and the sacrifice of a
youth and a maid, which caused the waters to recede; the
assignment of languages and the dispersal of tribes; stories
of Poshaiyanki,®^ the culture hero, and of the wanderings
of Kiaklo, who visited Pautiwa, the lord of the dead, and re-
turned to notify the Ashiwi of the coming of the gods to endow
them with the breath of life “so that after death they might
enter the dance house at Kothluwalawa before proceeding to
the undermost world whence they came.”

In the cosmogonies of the Pueblo dwellers, thus sketched,
the events fall into two groups: gestation of life in the un-
derworld and birth therefrom, and the journey to the Middle
Place — Emergence and Migration, Genesis and Exodus. The
historical character of many of the allusions in the migration-
stories has been made plausible by archaeological investiga-
tions, which trace the sources of Pueblo culture to the old
cliff-dwellings in the north. Characteristically these abodes are
in the faces of canyon walls, bordering the deep-lying streams
whose strips of arable shore formed the ancient fields. May it
not be that the tales of emergence refer to the abandonment of
these ancient canyon-set homes, never capable of supporting
a large population? Some of the tribes identify the Sipapu
with the Grand Canyon — surely a noble birthplace! — and
when in fancy we see the First People looking down from the
sunny heights of the plateau into the depths whence they had
emerged and beholding, as often happens in the canyons of the
South-West, the trough of earth filled with iridescent mist, with
rainbows forming bridgelike spans and the arched entrances



to cloudy caverns, we can grasp with refreshened imagination
many of the allusions of South-Western myth. Possibly a
hint as to the reason which induced the First People to come
forth from so fairylike an abode is contained in the Zuhi
name for the place of emergence, which signifies “an opening
in the earth filled with water which mysteriously disappeared,
leaving a clear passage for the Ashiwi to ascend to the outer

One other point in South-Western myth is of suggestive in-
terest. This is the moral implication which clearly appears
and marks the advancement of the thought of these Indians
over more primitive types. In the world below the First People
dwelt long in Paradisic happiness; but sin (usually the sin of
licentiousness) appeared among them, and the angry waters
drove them forth, the wicked being imprisoned in the nether
darkness. The events narrated might be ascribed to mission-
ary influence, were it not that these same events have close
analogues far and wide in North American myth, and for the
further fact of the pagan conservatism of the Pueblos. That
the people are capable of the moral understanding implied is
indicated by the reiterated assertion of priest and story that
'‘the prayer is not effective except the heart be good.”




A GLANCE at the linguistic map of aboriginal North
America will reveal the fact that more than half of the
radical languages of the continent north of Mexico — nearl7
sixty in all — are spoken in the narrow strip of territory extend-
ing from the Sierras, Cascades, and western Rockies to the
sea, and longitudinally from the arid regions of southern Cali-
fornia to the Alaskan angle. In this region, nowhere extending
inland more than five degrees of longitude, are, or were, spoken
some thirty languages bearing no relation to one another, and
the great majority of them having no kindred tongue. The
exceptional cases, where representatives of the great continen-
tal stocks have penetrated to the coast, comprise the Yuman
and Shoshonean tribes occupying southern California, where
the plateau region declines openly to the sea; small groups of
Athapascans on the coasts of California and Oregon; and the
numerous Salishan units on the Oregon-Washington coast and
about Puget Sound.

It is this latter intrusion, the Salishan, which divides the
Coast Region into two parts, physiographically and ethnically
distinct. From Alaska to Mexico the Pacific Coast is walled
off from the continental interior by high and difficult moun-
tain ranges. There are, in the whole extent, only two regions
in which the natural access is easy. In the south, where the Si-
erra Nevada range subsides into the Mohave Desert, the great
Southern Trail enters California; and here we find the ab-
origines of the desert interior pressing to the sea. The North-



ern, or Oregon, Trail follows the general course of the Missouri
to its headwaters, crosses the divide, and proceeds down the
Columbia to its mouth; and this marks the general line of
Salishan occupancy, which extends northward to the more
difficult access opened by the Fraser River. The Salishan
tribes form a division, at once separating and transition-
ally uniting a northern and a southern coastal culture of
markedly distinct type. Indeed, the Salish form a kind of
key to the continent, touching the Plains civilization to the
east and that of the Plateau to the south, as well as the two
coastal types; so that there is perhaps no group of Indians
more difficult to classify with respect to cultural relationships.

The linguistic diversity of the southern of the two Coast
groups bounded by the Salish is far greater than that of the
northern. In California alone over twenty distinct linguistic
stocks have been noted, and Oregon adds several to this score.
Such a medley of tongues is found nowhere else in the world
save in the Caucasus or the Himalaya mountains — regions
where sharply divided valleys and mountain fastnesses have
afforded secure retreat for the weaker tribes of men, at the
same time holding them in sedentary isolation. Similar con-
ditions prevail in California, the chequer of mountain and
valley fostering diversity. Furthermore, the nature of the lit-
toral contributed to a like end. The North-Western coast,
from Puget Sound to Alaska, is fringed by an uninterrupted
archipelago; the tribes of this region are the most expert In
maritime arts of all American aborigines; and the linguistic
stocks, owing to this ready communication, are relatively few.
From the mouth of the Columbia to the Santa Barbara Is-
lands, on the contrary, the coast is broken by only one spacious
harbour — the bay of San Francisco — and little encourage-
ment is offered to seafarers. Among the tribes of this coast the
art of navigation was little known: the Chinook, on the Colum-
bia, and the Chumashan Indians, who occupied the Santa
Barbara Islands, built excellent canoes, and used them with



skill; but among the intervening peoples rafts and balsas, crud-
est of water transports, took the place of boats, and even sea-
food was little sought, seeds and fruits, and especially acorn
meal, being the chief subsistence of the Californian tribes.

In the general character of their culture the tribes of
this region form a unity as marked as is their diversity of
speech. Socially their organization was primitive, without
centralized tribal authority or true gentile division. They
lived in village communities, whose chiefs maintained their
ascendancy by the virtue of liberal giving; and a distinctive
feature of many of the Californian villages was the large
communal houses occupied by many families. Grass, tule,
brush, and bark were the common housing materials, for
skill in woodworking was only slightly advanced; northward,
however, plank houses were built, such as occur the length
of the North-West Coast. Of the aboriginal arts only basket-
making, in which the Californian Indians, and especially the
Athapascan Hupa, excel all other tribes, was the only one highly
developed; pottery-making was almost unknown. In other
respects these peoples are distinctive: they were unwarlike
to the point of timidity; they did not torture prisoners; and
in common with the Yuman and Piman stocks, but in con-
trast to most other peoples of North America, they very gen-
erally preferred cremation to burial. Intellectually they are
lethargic, and their myths contain no element of conscious
history; they regard themselves as autochthones, and such
they doubtless are, in the sense that their ancestors have con-
tinuously occupied California for many centuries. Physical
and mental traits point to a racial unity which is in part borne
out by their language itself; for although their speech is now
divided into many stocks between which no relationship can
be traced — a clear indication of long and conservative segre-
gation, — yet there is a similarity in phonetic material, the
Californian tongues being notable, among Indian languages,
for vocalic wealth and harmony.





The religious life and conceptions of the Californian tribes
reflect the simplicity of their social organization. In northern
California and Oregon the religious life gains in complexity
as the influence of the North-West becomes stronger, and a
similar increase in the importance of ceremonial is observed in
the south; but in the characteristic area of the region, central
California, the development of rites is meagre. The shaman
is a more important personage than the priest and ritual is
of far less consequence than magical therapy; in fact, the Cali-
fornian Indians belong to that primitive stratum of mankind
for which shamanism is the engrossing form of religious inter-
est, the western shamans, like the majority of Indian “medi-
cine-men,” acquiring their powers through fast and vision In
which the possessing tutelary is revealed.®

Of ceremonies proper, the most distinctive on this portion
of the Coast Is the annual rite in commemoration of the dead,
known as the “burning” or the “cry” or the “dance of the
dead.” This is an autumnal and chiefly nocturnal ceremony in
which, to the dancing and wailing of the participants, various
kinds of property are burned to supply the ghosts; the period
of mourning Is then succeeded by a feast of jollity. In few
parts of America are the tabus connected with the dead so
stringent: typical customs Include the burning of the house
in which death occurs; the ban against speaking the name of
the deceased, or using, for the space of a year, a word of
which this name is a component; and the marking of a widow
by smearing her with pitch, shearing her hair, or the like,
until the annual mourning releases her from the tabu. Such
usages, along with cremation, disappear as the North-West is

A second group of rites have to do with puberty. Her first
menstruation is marked by severe tabus for the girl concerned;
and a dance is given when the period is passed. Boys undergo

X — 16



an initiation into the tribal mysteries, the ceremony including
the recounting of myths. Rites of this character are not al-
ways compulsory, nor are they limited to boys, since men who
have passed the age period without the ceremony sometimes
participate later. The body of initiates forms a kind of Medi-
cine Society, having in charge the religious supervision of the
village. Still a third ceremonial group includes magic dances
intended to foster the creative life of nature, the number of
such rites varying from tribe to tribe.

Ceremonial symbolism, so elaborate in many portions of
America, is little developed in the West-Coast region. Picto-
graphs are unknown and fetishes little employed; nor is there
anything approaching in character the complicated use of
mask personations which reaches its highest forms in the
neighbouring South-West and North-West. Mythic tales and
ritual songs have a similar inferiority of development, the ex-
tremes of the region, north and south, showing the greatest
advancement in this as in other respects. In one particular
the Californians stand well in advance: throughout the cen-
tral region, their idea of the creation is clearly conceptualized;
and it is their cosmogonic myths, with the idea of a definite
and single creator, which form their most unique contribution
to American Indian lore. The creator is sometimes animal,
sometimes manlike, in form, but he is usually represented as
dignified and beneficent, and there is an obvious tendency to
humanize his character.

Northern California and Oregon, however, know less of such
a single creator. In this section stories of the beginnings start
with the Age of Animals — or rather, of anthropic beings who
on the coming of man were transformed into animals — whose
doings set the primeval model after which human deeds and
institutions are copied. Here is a cycle assimilated to the
myth of the North-West, just as the lore of the south Cali-
fornian tribes approaches the type of the plateau and desert


Maidu image for a woman, used at the Burning
Ceremony in honour of the dead (see p. 215).
After BAM xvii, Plate XLIX.


Maidu image for a man, used at the Burning Cere-
mony in honour of the dead. After BAM xvii,




In the congeries of West-Coast peoples it is inevitable that
there should be diversity in the conception of creation and
creator, even in the presence of a general and family likeness.
But the differences in the main follow geographical lines. To
the south, while creation is definitely conceived as a primal
act, the creative beings are of animal or of bird form, for the
winged demiurge is characteristic of the Pacific Coast through-
out its length.^® In the central region of California and Oregon
the creator is imaged in anthropomorphic aspect, the animals
being assistants or clumsy obstructionists in his work. To the
north, and along the coast, the legend of creation fades into a
delineation of the First People, whose deeds set a pattern for

Tribes of the southerly stocks very generally believed in
primordial waters, the waters of the chaos before Earth or of
the flood enveloping it. Above this certain beings dwell — the
Coyote and the birds. In some versions they occupy a moun-
tain peak that pierces the waves, and on this height they abide
until the flood subsides; in others, they float on a raft or rest
upon a pole or a tree that rises above the waters. In the latter
case, the birds dive for soil from which to build the earth; it
is the Duck that succeeds, floating to the surface dead, but
with a bit of soil in its bill — like the Muskrat in the east-
ern American deluge-tales. The Eagle, the Hawk, the Crow,
and the Humming-Bird are the winged folk who figure chiefly
in these stories, with the Eagle in the more kingly role; but
it is Coyote — though he is sometimes absent, his place being
taken by birds — who is the creator and shaper and magic
plotter of the way of life.

In the region northward from the latitude of San Francisco
— among the Maidu, Porno, Wintun, Yana, and neighbouring
tribes — the Coyote-Man, while still an important demiurgic
being, sinks to a secondary place; his deeds thwart rather



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was related they were sent, at the command of the Sun priest,
to lead them to the people. The Maidens came and danced
before them all in a court decorated with a meal-painting of
cloud-symbols. But as they danced the people fell asleep, for
it was night, and during their slumber Payatamu, the diminu-
tive flower-crowned god who plays his flute in the fields, caus-
ing the flowers to bloom and the butterflies to crowd after
him (Pied Piper and god Pan in one), came near and saw the
Maidens dancing. He thought them all beautiful, but deemed
the Yellow Corn Maiden the loveliest of all. They read his
thoughts, and in fear kept on dancing until he, too, fell asleep,
when they fled away, by the first light of the morning star,
to the Mist and Cloud Spring, where the gods, in the form of
ducks, spread their wings and concealed the Maidens hiding
in the waters. But famine came to the people, and in their dis-
tress they called upon the Gods of War to find the Corn Maid-
ens for them. These two besought Bitsitsi, the musician and
jester of the Sun Father, to aid them, and he from a height
beheld the Maidens beneath the spreading feathers of a duck’s
wings. In their kiva the Ashiwanni were sitting without fire,
food, drink, or smoke: “all their thoughts were given to the
Corn Maidens and to rain.” Bitsitsi, borne by the Galaxy,
who bowed to earth to receive him, went to the Maidens with
the message of the Ashiwanni, which he communicated with-
out words; “all spoke with their hearts; hearts spoke to hearts,
and lips did not move.” He promised them safety and brought
them once more to the Ashiwi, before whom they enacted the
ceremonial dance which was to be handed down in the rites
of their descendants. Even Payatamu assisted. His home is a
cave of fog and cloud with a rainbow door, and thence he came
bringing flutes to make music for the dancers. “The Corn
Maidens danced from daylight until night. Those on the north
side, passing around by the west, joined their sisters on the
south side, and, leaving the hampone [waving corn], danced in
the plaza to the music of the choir. After they had all returned


Altar of the Antelope Priests of the Hopi. The
central dry-painting represents rain-cloiuls and light-
ning. About this arc arranged symbols of vegetation,
prayer sticks, offerings of meal, etc. After /y JR Blij
Plate XLVI.



to their places the Maidens on the south side, passing by the
west, joined their sisters on the north, and danced to the music,
not only of the choir, but also of the group of trumpeters led
by Payatamu. The Maidens were led each time to the plaza by
either their elder sister Yellow Corn Maiden, or the Blue Corn
Maiden, and they held their beautiful thlawe (underworld plant
plumes) in either hand. The Corn Maidens never again ap-
peared to the Ashiwi.”

Not all myths connected with the maize are as innocent or
poetic as this. The witches that gave the seed to the Corn
Maidens were the two last comers from the Underworld at the
time of the emergence. At first the Ashiwi were in favour of
sending them back, but the witches told them that they had in
their possession the seeds of all things, in exchange for which
they demanded the sacrifice of a youth and a maid, declar-
ing, “We wish to kill the children that the rains may come.”
So a boy and a girl, children of one of the Divine Ones, were
devoted, and the rain came, and the earth bore fruit — bitter
fruit it was, at first, till the owl and the raven and the coyote
had softened and sweetened it. Here we have one of the many
legends of the South-West telling of the sacrifice of children to
the Lords of the Waters which seem to point to a time when
the Pueblo dwellers and their neighbours, like the Aztecs of the
south, cast their own flesh and blood to the hard-bargaining

The one theme of Pueblo ritual is prayer for rain. When
asked for an explanation of his rites, says Fewkes {Annual
Report of the Smithsonian Institution, 1896, pp. 698-99),
there are two fundamentals always on the lips of the Hopi
priest. “We cling to the rites of our ancestors because they
have been pronounced good by those who know; we erect our
altars, sing our traditional songs, and celebrate our sacred
dances for rain that our corn may germinate and yield abun-
dant harvest.” And he gives the call with which the town crier
at dawn announces the feast:



All people awake, open your eyes, arise.

Become children of light, vigorous, active, sprightly.

Hasten clouds from the four world quarters ;

Come snow in plenty, that water may be abundant when summer

Come ice, cover the fields, that the planting may yield abundance.
Let all hearts be glad!

The knowing ones will assemble in four days;

They will encircle the village dancing and singing their lays . . .
That moisture may come in abundance.


No Indians are more inveterate and accomplished tellers of
tales than are the Pueblo dwellers. Their repertoire includes its
full quota of coyote traditions and stories of ghosts, bugaboos,
cannibals, ogres,* and fairies, as well as legends of migration
and clan accession, of cultural innovations and the found-
ing of rites, the historical character of which is more or less
clear. But for insight into fundamental beliefs the cosmogonic
myths of these, as of other peoples, are the most valuable of all.
To be sure, not all the beings who play leading roles in cos-
mogony are equally important in cult: many of them belong to
that “elder generation” of traditionary powers which appear
in every highly developed mythic system; and often the po-
tencies for which there is a real religious veneration are sym-
bolized in myth by more or less strange personifications — as
Spider Woman, in the South-West, appears to be only an image
of the Earth Goddess, suggested by the uncannily huge earth-
nesting spiders of that region. Nevertheless, it is to cosmog-
onies that we must look for the clearest definition of mythic

In their general outlines the cosmogonies of the Pueblo
dwellers are in accord with the Navaho Genesis, with which
they clearly share a common origin. They differ from this,
and among themselves, in the arrangement and emphasis of
incidents, as well as in dramatic and conceptual imagination.



The cosmogony of the Sia is very near in form to that of the
Navaho. The first being was Sussistinnako, Spider, who drew
a cross in the lower world where he dwelt,®® placed magic
parcels at the eastern and western points, and sang until two
women came forth from these, Utset, the mother of Indians,
and Nowutset, the parent of other men. Spider also cre-
ated rain, thunder, lightning, and the rainbow, while the two
women made sun and moon and stars. After this there was
a contest of riddles between the sisters, and Nowutset, who,
though stronger, was the duller of the two, losing the contest,
was slain by Utset and her heart cut from her breast.®® This
was the beginning of war in the world. For eight years the
people dwelt happily in the lower world, but in the ninth a
flood came and they were driven to the earth above, to which
they ascended through a reed.'*® Utset led the way, carrying
the stars in a sack; the turkey was last of all, and the foaming
waters touched his tail, which to this day bears their mark.'*^
The locust and the badger bored the passage by which the
sky of the lower world was pierced, and all the creatures
passed through. Utset put the beetle in charge of her star-
sack, but he, out of curiosity, made a hole in it, and the stars
escaped to form the chaotic field of heaven, although a few re-
mained, which she managed to rescue and to establish as con-
stellations.^* The First People, the Sia, gathered into camps
beside the Shipapo, through which they had emerged, but they
had no food. Utset, however, “ had always known the name
of corn,” though the grain itself was not in existence; accord-
ingly, she now planted bits of heart, and, as the cereal grew, she
said, “This corn is my heart, and it shall be to my people as
milk from my breasts.” ®® The people desired to find the Middle
Place of the world, but the earth was too soft, and so Utset
requested the four beasts of the quarters — cougar, bear, wolf,
and badger — to harden it; but they could not, and it was
a Spider Woman and a Snake Man who finally made a path
upon which the people set forth on their journey. The quar-



rel of the men and women, their separation, and the birth of
cannibal beings from the women — events which the Navaho
place in the Underworld — now occur; a little while later the
sexes reunite, and a virgin, embraced by the Sun, gives birth
to Maasewe and Uyuuyewe, the diminutive twin Warriors,
who visit their Sun Father, and are armed to slay the monsters,
as in Navaho myth.^ After the departure of the Warrior
Twins, the waters of the Underworld began to rise, and the
people fled to the top of a mesa, the flood*® being placated only
by the sacrifice of a youth and a maiden. When the earth
was again hardened, the people resumed their search for the
Middle Place, which they reached in four days and where they
built their permanent home. Shortly afterward a virgin gave
birth to a son, Poshaiyanne,®® who grew up, outcast and neg-
lected, to become a great magician; gambling with the chief,
he won all the towns and possessions of the tribe, and the people
themselves, but he used his power beneficently and became a
potent bringer of wealth and game. Finally, he departed, prom-
ising to return; but on the way he was attacked and slain by
jealous enemies. A white, fluffy eagle feather fell and touched
his body, and as it came in contact with him, it rose again,
and he with it, once more alive. Somewhere he still lives, the
Sia say, and sometime he will come back to his people. Here
we meet a northern version of the famous legend of Quetzal-

Hopi myths of the beginnings contain the same general in-
cidents. In the Underworld there was nothing but water; two
women, ^ Huruing Wuhti of the East and Huruing Wuhti of
the West, lived in their east and west houses, and the Sun made
his journey from one to the other, descending through an open-
ing in the kiva of the West at night and emerging from a simi-
lar aperture in the kiva of the East at dawn. These deities
decided to create land, and they divided the waters that the
earth might appear. Then from clay they formed, first, birds,
which belonged to the Sun, then animals, which were the prop-



erty of the two Women, and finally men, whom the Women
rubbed with their palms and so endowed with understanding.’®
At first the people lived in the Underworld in Paradisic bliss,
but the sin of licentiousness appeared, and they were driven
forth by the rising waters, escaping only under the leadership
of Spider Woman, by means of a giant reed, sunflower, and
two kinds of pine-tree."^ Mocking-Bird assigned them their
tribes and languages as they came up, but his songs were ex-
hausted before all emerged and the rest fell back into nether
gloom. At this time death entered into the world, for a sorcerer
caused the son of a chief to die. The father was at first deter-
mined to cast the guilty one back into the Sipapu, the hole of
emergence, but relented when he was shown his dead son
living in the realm below; “That is the way it will be,” said
the sorcerer, “if anyone dies he will go down there.”

The earth upon which the First People had emerged was
dark and sunless,’® and only one being dwelt there. Skeleton,
who was very poor, although he had a little fire and some maize.
The people determined to create Moon and Sun, such as they
had had in the Underworld, and these they cast, with their
carriers, up into the sky. They then set out to search for the
sunrise, separating into three divisions — the White People
to the south, the Indians to the north, and the Pueblos in
the centre. It was agreed that whenever one of the parties
arrived at the sunrise, the others should stop where they
stood. The whites, who created horses to aid them, were the
first to attain their destination, and when they did so a great
shower of stars informed the others that one of the parties had
reached the goal, so both Indians and Pueblo dwellers settled
where they now live. The legends of the flood and of the
sacrifice of children are also known to the Hopi, while the
Warrior Brothers — Pookonghoya and Balongahoya — per-
form the usual feats of monster-slaying.^^ Additional incidents
of a more wide-spread type are found in Hopi and other Pueblo
mythologies: the killing of the man-devouring monster by



being swallowed and cutting a way to light, thus liberating the
imprisoned victims; the creation of life from the flesh of a
slain animal; the freeing of the beasts from a cave, to people
the world with game; the adventures of young hunters with
Circe-like women of the wilderness — all of them myths which
represent the detritus of varied cosmogonies.


Of all the Pueblo tales of the origin of the universe the Zuni
account is the most interesting, for it alone displays some power
of metaphysical conceptualization. “In the beginning Awona-
wilona with the Sun Father and the Moon Mother existed
above, and Shiwanni and Shiwanokia, his wife, below. . . .
(Shiwanni and Shiwanokia labored not with hands but with
hearts and minds ; the Rain Priests of the Zuili arc called Ashi-
wanni and the Priestess of Fecundity Shiwanokia.) . . . All
was shipololo (fog), rising like steam. With breath from his
heart Awonawilona created clouds and the great waters of
the world. . . . (He-She®'‘ is the blue vault of the firmament.
The breath-clouds of the gods are tinted with the yellow of the
north, the blue-green of the west, the red of the south, and the
silver of the east of Awonawilona. The smoke clouds of white
and black become a part of Awonawilona; they are himself, as
he is the air itself; and when the air takes on the form of a
bird it is but a part of himself — is himself. Through the light,
clouds, and air he becomes the essence and creator of vege-
tation.) . . . After Awonawilona created the clouds and the
great waters of the world, Shiwanni said to Shiwanokia, ‘I,
too, will make something beautiful, which will give light at
night when the Moon Mother sleeps.’ Spitting in the palm of
his left hand, he patted the spittle with the palm of his right
hand, and the spittle foamed like yucca suds and then formed
into bubbles of many colors, which he blew upward; and thus
he created the fixed stars and constellations. Then Shiwanokia



said, ‘See what I can do,’ and she spat into the palm of her
left hand and slapped the saliva with the fingers of her right,
and the spittle foamed like yucca suds, running over her hand
and flowing everywhere; and thus she created Awitelin Tsita,
the Earth Mother.”

Light and heat and moisture and the seed of generation —
these are the forces personified in this thinly mythic veil. In
the version rendered by Cushing there is a still more sin-
gle beginning: “Awonawilona conceived within himself and
thought outward In space, whereby mists of increase, steams
potent of growth, were evolved and uplifted. Thus, by means
of his innate knowledge, the All-container made himself in per-
son and form of the Sun whom we hold to be our father and
who thus came to exist and appear.^® With his appearance
came the brightening of the spaces with light, and with the
brightening of the spaces the great mist-clouds were thickened
together and fell, whereby was evolved water in water; yea,
and the world-holding sea. With his substance of flesh out-
drawn from the surface of his person, the Sun-father formed
the seed-stuff of twin worlds, impregnating therewith the great
waters, and lo! in the heat of his light these waters of the sea
grew green and scums rose upon them, waxing wide and
weighty until, behold! they became Awitelin Tsita, the ‘Four-
fold Containing Mother-earth,’ and Apoyan Tachu, the ‘All-
covcrlng Father-sky.’ From the lying together of these twain
upon the great world-waters, so vitalizing, terrestrial life was
conceived; whence began all beings of earth, men and the crea-
tures, in the Four-fold womb of the World. Thereupon the
Earth-mother repulsed the Sky-father, growing big and sink-
ing deep into the embrace of the waters below, thus separat-
ing from the Sky-father in the embrace of the waters above.

“As a woman forebodes evil for her first-born ere born, even
so did the Earth-mother forebode, long withholding from birth
her myriad progeny and meantime seeking counsel with the
Sky-father. ‘How,’ said they to one another, ‘shall our chil-



dren, when brought forth, know one place from another,
even by the white light of the Sun-father?’ . . . Now like
all the surpassing beings the Earth-mother and the Sky-father
were changeable, even as smoke in the wind; transmutable
at thought, manifesting themselves in any form at will, like
as dancers may by mask-making. . . . Thus, as a man and
woman, spake they, one to another.

“‘Behold!’ said the Earth-mother as a great terraced bowl
appeared at hand and within it water, ‘this is as upon me the
homes of my tiny children shall be. On the rim of each world-
country they wander in, terraced mountains shall stand, mak-
ing in one region many, whereby country shall be known from
country, and within each, place from place. Behold, again!’
said she as she spat on the water and rapidly smote and stirred
it with her fingers. Foam formed, gathering about the terraced
rim, mounting higher and higher. ‘Yea,’ said she, ‘and from
my bosom they shall draw nourishment, for in such as this
shall they find the substance of life whence we were ourselves
sustained, for sec!’ Then with her warm breath she blew
across the terraces; white flecks of the foam broke away, and,
floating over above the water, were shattered by the cold
breath of the Sky-father attending, and forthwith shed down-
ward abundantly fine mist and spray! ‘Even so, shall white
clouds float up from the great waters at the borders of the
world, and clustering about the mountain terraces of the hori-
zons be borne aloft and abroad by the breaths of the surpass-
ing soul-beings, and of the children, and shall hardened and
broken be by thy cold, shedding downward, in rain spray, the
water of life, even into the hollow places of my lap! For therein
chiefly shall nestle our children, mankind and creature-kind,
for warmth in thy coldness.’ . . . Lo ! even the trees on high
mountains near the clouds and the Sky-father crouch low
toward the Earth-mother for warmth and protection! Warm
is the Earth-mother, cold the Sky-father, even as woman is
the warm, man the cold being! . . .

North American Mythology / Re: North American Mythology
« on: August 03, 2019, 08:11:30 PM »



who are admitted into Kothluwalawa after death. The other
fraternities of Zuhi have in charge the service of animal, not
anthropic, deities — beings regarded rather as powerful inter-
mediaries between men and gods, and as magical assistants
of hunters and doctors, than as rulers of creation. In the Hopi
towns priests and fraternities likewise form the sacerdotal
organization, though with a clearer dependence upon what
is evidently a more ancient and primitive system of clan


Agriculture makes a people not only non-migratory, but
close observers of the seasons, and hence of the yearly stations
of the sun. The count of time by moons is sufficient for nomadic
peoples, or for tribes whose subsistence is mainly by the chase,
but in a settled agricultural community the primitive lunar
year is sooner or later replaced by a solar year, determined by
the passage of the sun through the solstitial and equinoctial
points. The lunar measure of time will not be abandoned,
but it will be corrected by the solar, and gradually give way
to the latter. Such, indeed, is the outline of all calendric

The Zuni year is divided into two seasons, inaugurated by
the solstices, each of which is composed of six months — luna-
tions, subdivided into three ten-day periods. The significa-
tions of the month names are interesting: the month of the
winter solstice, which is the beginning of the year, is called
Turning-Back, in reference to the Sun Father’s return from
the south; it is followed by Limbs-of-the-Trees-Broken-by-
Snow, No-Snow-in-the-Road, Little-Wind, Big-Wind, and No-
Name. For the remaining half of the year, these appellations,
though now inappropriate, are used again, the months of the
second half-year being, strictly speaking, nameless. A similar
duplication occurs in the Hopi calendar, where the names of
five moons are repeated, but in summer and winter rather


Wall decoration in the room of a Rain Priest,
Zuili. Beneath the cloud-symbols are Plumed Ser-
pents, while a sacred Frog, wearing a cloud cap and
shooting forth lightnings, stands on their protruding
tongues. After 2j ARBR, Plate XXX VL

^ ';JBi




than in the solstitial division, which, however, plays an impor-
tant role in the ferial calendar. Fewkes records an interesting
remark that may give the true reason for the arrangement:
“When we of the upper world are celebrating the winter Pa
moon,” said the priest, “the people of the under world are
engaged in the observance of the Snake or Flute [summer fes-
tivals], and vice versa.” The priest added that the prayer-
sticks which were to be used by the Hopi in their summer
festivals were prepared in winter during the time when the
underworld folk were performing these rites. “From their
many stories of the under world,” writes Fewkes, “I am led to
believe that the Hopi consider it a counterpart of the earth’s
surface, and a region inhabited by sentient beings. In this
under world the seasons alternate with those in the upper
world, and when it is summer in the above it is winter in the
world below.” Ceremonies are said to be performed there,
as here.

Both Zuni and Hopi have priests whose special duty it is to
observe the annual course of the sun, and hence to determine
the dates for the great festivals of the winter and summer
solstices.^® The Zuhi sun priest uses as his gnomon a petrified
stump which stands at the outskirts of the village, and at which
he sprinkles meal and makes his morning prayers to the sun,
until, on the day when that luminary rises at a certain
point of Corn Mountain, the priesthood is informed of the
approaching change. Every fourth morning, for twenty days,
the sun priest offers prayer-plumes to the Sun Father, the
Moon Mother, and to departed sun priests; on the twentieth
morning he announces that in ten days the rising sun will
strike the Middle Place, in the heart of Zuni, and the ceremony
will begin. This rite occupies another twenty-day period, be-
ginning with prayers to the gods and ending in days of carnival
and giving; during this time the gods are supposed to visit
the town, images and fetishes are brought forth and adorned,
prayer-plumes are deposited by each family in honour of its



ancestral rain-bringers, boys arc initiated by ceremonial flog-
ging,®’- the sacred fire is kindled by the fire-maker, and there
is a great house cleaning, moral as well as physical, for per-
sonators of the gods make it a part of their duty to settle
family quarrels and to reprimand the delinquents, young and
old. At each solstice the sun is believed to rest in his yearly
journey (the Hopi speak of the solstitial points as “houses”);
when the sun strikes a certain point on Great Mountain five
days In succession, the second change of the year takes place.
The ceremonies of the summer solstice include pilgrimages to
shrines and elaborate dances, and this is also the season when
it Is especially lucky to fire pottery, so that all the kilns are
smoking. An Instructive feature Is the igniting of dried grass
and trees and bonfires generally; for the Zuni believe clouds
to be akin to smoke, and by means of the smoke of their
fires they seek to encourage the Uwannami to bring rain.®*
The ceremony of the summer solstice, in fact, is the inaugura-
tion of the series of masques in which they, in common with
the other Pueblos, implore moisture from heaven for the crops
that are now springing up.

The Hopi sun priests make use of thirteen points on the
horizon for the determination of ceremonial dates. Their ritual
year begins in November with a New Fire ceremony, which
is given in an elaborate and extended form every fourth year,
for it then includes the Initiation of novices into the fraterni-
ties. Other cer monies are similarly elaborated at these same
times; while still other rites, as the Snake- and Flute-Dances,
occur in alternate years. The Hopi year is divided into two
unequal seasons, the greater festivals occurring in the longer
season, which includes the cold months. Five and nine days
are the usual active periods for the greater festivals, though
the total duration from the announcement to the final purifica-
tion is in some instances twenty days. Of the greater festivals,
the New Fire ceremony of November is followed at the winter
solstice by the Soyaluna, in which the germ god is supplicated



and the return of the sun, in the form of a bird, is dramatized;
the Powamu, or Bean-Planting, comes in February, its main
object being the renovation of the earth for the coming sow-
ing and the celebration of the return of the Katcinas, to be
with the people until their departure at Niman, following the
summer solstice; the famous Snake-Dance of the Hopi alter-
nates with the Flute-Dance in the month of August. These are
only a few of the annual festivals, a striking feature of which
is the arrival and departure of the Katcinas. The period dur-
ing which these beings remain among the Hopi is approxi-
mately from the winter to the summer solstice, and it may be
supposed that their absence is due in some way to their func-
tion as intercessors for rain during the remaining half-year.
A secondary trait, found only in Katcina ceremonies, is the
presence of clowns or “Mudheads” — a curious type of fun-
maker whose presence in Zuni Cushing ascribes to the ancient
union of a Yuman tribe with the original Zuhian stock.

Neither Zuni nor Hopi succeed in entirely co-ordinating the
primitive lunar and solar years. The lunations and sun-
stations are observed, rather than counted in days; appar-
ently no effort is made to keep a precise record of time nor
to correct the calendar, unless indeed the uncertainty which
Fewkes found among the Hopi priests as to the true number
of lunations in the year, twelve according to some, thirteen
and even fourteen according to others, may represent such an
attempt. On a sun shrine near Zuni there are marks said to
represent year-counts; certain it is that few North American
Indians have a more ancient and verifiable tradition than is
possessed by the Pueblo dwellers.®^

Analogies between the Pueblo periods and festivals and
those of the more civilized peoples of ancient Mexico seem to
point to a remote identity — the five-, nine-, and twenty-day
periods,®® the general character of many of the rites and
mythological beings, the significance of the heart as the seat
of life.®® But one in search of parallels need not confine him-


self to the New World. The great summer solstice festival of
the Celts, with its balefires, is of a kind with that of the Zuhi,
while the purification ceremonies of the winter solstice have
points of identity with the Roman Lupercalia, the Anthesteria
of the Greeks, and similar festivals, which close analysis would
multiply. The quadrennial and biennial character of many
Pueblo ceremonies, as well as the division into greater and lesser
rites, are still other noteworthy analogues of Greek usage.


Perhaps no feature of Pueblo culture is more distinctive
than the calendric arrangement of their religious rites. Other
tribes in North America have ceremonies as elaborate as any
in the pueblos, and probably in most cases these rituals are
regarded as appropriate only to certain seasons of the year,
but it is not generally the season that brings the performance:
sickness and the need for cure, the fulfilment of a vow, the
munificence or ambition of a rich man, are the commoner oc-
casions. In the pueblos, on the other hand, not a moon passes
without its necessary and distinctive festivals, which are fruit
of the season rather than of individual need or impulse, thus
marking a great step in the direction of social solidarity and
cultural advancement.

The origin of these ceremonies harks back to the genesis of
the tribes. Most of these are formed of an amalgam of clans
which from time to time have joined themselves to the initial
tribal nucleus, and have eventually become welded Into a single
body. Each of these clans has brought to the tribe Its own rites,
the mythic source of which is zealously recounted; and thus
the general corpus of the tribal ritual has been enriched. But
the joining of clan to tribe has entailed' a modification: by
adoption and Initiation new members have been added, from
without the clan, to the ceremonial body, and eventually (a
process which seems to have gone farthest in ZunI) a cult



society, or fraternity, has replaced the clan as the vehicle of
the rite; again, clans with analogous or synchronous rites
have united their observances into a new and complicated
ceremony, partly public, partly secret — for the esoteric as-
pect is never quite lost, each organization having its own rites,
such as the preparation of ceremonial objects, the erecting of
altars, etc., shared only by its initiates and usually taking place
in its proper kiva.

A famous ceremony of the type just named is the Snake-
Dance of the Hopi Indians, the most examined of all Pueblo
rites.®“ This ritual occurs biennially in five of the Hopi vil-
lages; remnants of a similar observance have been recorded
from Zufii and the eastern group of pueblos; and it is probable
that a form of it was celebrated in pre-Columbian Mexico.
The participants in the Hopi Snake-Dance are the members of
two fraternities — the Snake and the Antelope — each of which
conducts both secret and public rites during the nine days of
the festival. In the early part of the ceremony serpents are
captured in the fields and brought to the kiva of the Snake
priests, where the reptiles undergo a ritual bathing and tending;
the building of the Snake altar, with personifications of the
Snake Youth and Snake Maid, the initiation of novices, the
singing of songs, and the recitation of prayers are other rites
of the secret ceremonial. The Antelope priests meantime erect
their own altar, on which are symbols of rain-clouds and light-
ning, as well as of maize and other fruits of the earth; and
lead in a public dance in which symbols of vegetation and water
are displayed. The Antelope priests, moreover, are the first
to appear in the public dance on the final day, when the snakes
are brought forth from the Snake kiva. These are carried in
the mouths of the dancing Snake priests, who are sprinkled
with meal by the women; and finally the serpents are taken
far into the fields and loosed, that they may bear to the Powers
Below the prayers for rain and fertility which is the object
of the whole ceremony.


The symbolism of the Snake-Dance is in part explained by
the myth which, in varying versions, the Hopi tell of the Snake
Youth and Maid. It is a story very similar to the Navaho tale
of the Floating Log. A youth, a chief’s son, spent his days
beside the Grand Canyon, wondering where all the water of
the river flowed to and thinking, “That must make it very
full somewhere.” Finally, he embarks in a hollow log and is
borne to the sea, where he is hailed by Spider. Woman, who
becomes his wizardly assistant. Together they visit the kiva
of the mythic Snake People, at the moment human in shape,
who subject the young man to tests, which, with the aid of
Spider Woman, he successfully meets. The Snake People then
assume serpentine form; at the instigation of Spider Woman
he seizes the fiercest of these, whereupon the reptile becomes
a beautiful girl who, before the transformation, had caught the
youth’s fancy. This is the Snake Maid, whom he now marries
and leads back to his own country. The first offspring of this
union is a brood of serpents ; but later human children are born,
to become the ancestors of the Snake Clan. In some versions,
the Snake Maid departs after the birth of her children, never
to return; or her offspring are driven forth, from them spring-
ing a strange goddess of wild creatures, a sorceress who gam-
bles for life with young hunters, and who carries a child that
is never born.

In this mythic medley it is easy to see that the forces of
generation are the primary powers. The Snake Maid, from the
waters of the west, is the personification of underworld life,
the life that appears in the cultivated maize of the fields and
the reproduction of animals in the wilds (there are many in-
dications that other animals besides snakes were formerly im-
portant in the rite). Fewkes regards her as the Corn Goddess
herself and in one Hopi myth a Corn Maid is transformed into
a snake.®® The Snake Youth is probably a sky-power, for in
at least one version the Sun-Man bears the youth on his back
in his course about the earth. The significance of the antelope



in the ceremony is not so clear, though the altar of the Ante-
lope priests is obviously associated also with the powers of fer-
tility; but it may not be amiss to assume that the horn of the
antelope, like the horn of the ram in Old-World symbolism,
is also a sign of fertility; certainly the conception of descent
from an ancestral horn is not foreign to South-Western myth.^“

The Flute Ceremony, which alternates with the Snake-
Dance, has a similar purpose, though here the emblem of the
Sun, an adorned disk encircled by eagle feathers and streamers.
Is significant of the pre-eminence of the Powers Above; and
in the LalakontI, which follows, in September, the Flute or
Snake Ceremony of August, the women, who have charge of
the festival, erect an altar on which images of the Growth God-
dess and the Corn Goddess are conspicuous.’' In this ritual the
women dance, carrying baskets, while the two Lakone maids,
adorned with horn and squash-blossom symbols of fertility,
throw baskets and gifts to the spectators — all a dramatic plea
for a bountiful harvest.

The Corn Maidens®® are omnipresent in Pueblo rites, one of
the most sacred and guarded of the Zuni ceremonials being the
quadrennial drama representing their visit to their ancestors,
an observance occurring, like the Snake-Dance, in August.
When their fathers issued from the lower world, the Zuni say,
the ten Corn Maidens came with them and for four years ac-
companied them, unseen and unknown, but at Shipololo, the
Place of Fog, witches discovered them and gave them seeds
of the different kinds of maize and the squash. Here the Maid-
ens remained while the AshiwI, the fathers of the Zuni, con-
tinued on their journey; they whiled away their hours bathing
in the dew and dancing in a bower walled with cedar, fringed
with spruce, and roofed with cumulus cloud; each maiden held
in her hand stalks of a beautiful plant, with white, plumelike
leaves, brought from the lower world. Once the Divine Ones,
twins of the Sun and Foaming Waters, while on a deer hunt,
found the Maidens in their abode, and when their discovery

North American Mythology / Re: North American Mythology
« on: August 03, 2019, 08:09:19 PM »


of a group of clans, originally exogamous and frequently,
though not invariably, with matrilinear descent. There is no
inferiority of the women to the men, though there is a divi-
sion of privilege: the family home is the property of the wife,
but in each pueblo there is a type of building — varying in
number from one, in the smaller, to a dozen or more in the
larger villages — called the “kiva,” which is characteristically
the men’s house. The kiva is partly temple, partly club-
house or lounging room; the more primitive type is circular,
the later rectangular, like the houses; sometimes it is sub-
terranean. In the kiva men gather for work or amusement,
and in the kiva occur the secret rites of the various fraternities
and priesthoods. Women are rarely admitted, except in those
pueblos where they have a kiva of their own, or rites demand-
ing one. It is regarded as probable that the kiva is the original
nucleus of the pueblo — the primitive “men’s house,” con-
verted into a temple, around which first grew the fortified
refuge, and later the settled and permanent town.

Where the pagan religion of the Pueblo dwellers persists
— and in matters of belief they have shown themselves to be
among the most conservative of Indians — their elaborate and
spectacular rites are in charge of fraternities or priesthoods,
each with its own cult practices and its proper fetes in the
calendar. These festivals are devoted to the three great ob-
jects of securing rain, and hence abundant crops, healing the
sick, and obtaining success in war. Practically all Pueblo men
are initiates into one or more fraternities, to some of which
women are occasionally admitted. In certain pueblos, as the
Hopi, the fraternities appear to have originated from the war-
rior and medicine societies of the various clans, such socie-
ties being found in almost every Indian tribe; in others, clan
origin cannot be traced if it ever existed, admission being
gained either by the exhibition of prowess (as formerly in the
warrior societies), by the fact of being healed by the rites of the
fraternity, or by some such portent as that to which is ascribed


the Znm Struck-by-Lightning fraternity, which was founded
by a number of Indians, including, besides ZunI men, one
Navaho and a woman, who were severely shocked by a thun-
derbolt.®^ In many of the fraternities there are orders or steps
of rank, and the head men or priests of the societies hold a
power over the pueblo which sometimes amounts, as at Zuni,
to theocratic rule. In spite of differences of language and ori-
gin, the general resemblances of the Pueblos to one another,
in the matter of ritual and myth as in outward culture, is
such as to make of them an essential group. At least this is
indicated from the results which have been recorded for Sia,
Zuni, and the Hopi towns — of Keresan, Zunian, and Shosho-
nean stock respectively — which are the only groups as yet
deeply studied.


The symbolism of the World-Quarters, of the Above, and
of the Below is nowhere more elaborately developed among
American Indians than with the Pueblos.®^ Analogies are drawn
not merely with the colours, with plants and animals, and
with cult objects and religious ideas, but with human society
in all the ramifications of its organization, making of mankind
not only the theatric centre of the cosmos, but a kind of elab-
orate image of its form.

According to their Genesis, the ancestors of the Pueblo
dwellers issued from the fourfold Underworld through a Si-
papu, which some regard as a lake, and thence journeyed in
search of the Middle Place of the World, Earth^s navel, which
the various tribes locate differently; in Zuni, for example, it is
in the town itself. The world is oriented from this point and
the sunrise — east is “the before,” as in the ancient lore of
the Old World — the four cardinals, the zenith, and t|ie nadir
defining the cosmic frame of all things. It may be of interest
to note that if these points be regarded as everywhere equi-
distant from the centre, and that if they then be circumscribed


1 86

by circles in every plane about the centre, the resulting figure
will be a sphere; and it is not improbable that from such a
procedure arose the first conception of the spherical form of
the universe; the swastika and the swastika inscribed in a
circle are cosmic symbols in the South-West as in many other
parts of the world, and while no Indians had attained to the
concept of a world-sphere, the Pueblos at least were upon
the very threshold of the idea.®® Each of the six regions — the
Quarters, the Above, and the Below — possesses its symbolic
colour; in the Zuni and Hopi systems, the white of dawn is
the colour of the East; the blue of the daylit sky is the tint
of the West, toward which the sun takes his daily journey;
red, the symbol of fire and heat, is the hue of the South; and
yellow, for sunrise and sunset, perhaps for the aurora as well,
is the Northern colour; all colours typify the Zenith; black
is the symbol of the Nadir. As the colours, so the elements are
related to the Quarters ; to the North belongs the air, element
of wind and breath, for from it come the strong winter winds ;
the West is characterized by water, for in the Pueblo land rains
sweep in from the Pacific; fire is of the South; while the earth
and the seeds of life which fructify the earth are of the East.
In their rituals the Zuni address the points in this order:
prayer is made first to the Middle Place, then to the North
with whom is the breath which is the prime essential of life,
to the West whose rain-laden clouds first break the hold of
winter, to the South, the East, the Zenith, the Nadir which
holds in its bosom the caverns of the dead, and once again
the Middle Place. The tribal clans are grouped and organ-
ized with respect to these same points, while human activities,
as represented by the fraternities having them symbolically in
charge, are similarly oriented — war is of the North, peace and
the chase of the West, husbandry of the South, rite and medi-
cine of the East; to the Zenith belong the life-preservers, and
to the Nadir the life-generators, for not only do the dead de-
part thither to be born again, but it is from Below that the



ancestors of all men first came; to the Middle Place, the heart
or navel of the world, belong the “Mythic Dance Drama
People,” representing all the clans, and having in charge the
presentation of the masques of the ancestral and allied divin-
ities. This sevenfold division is reflected in the six kivas and
shrine of the Middle Place of the town itself; and may be
associated with the original seven towns of the ancestral com-
munity, for it is taken as established that the Seven Cities of
Cibola, whose fame brought Coronado and his expedition from
the south, were the ancestral pueblos of the present Zuni.®’'


In such a frame are set the world-powers venerated by the
Pueblo dwellers. These cosmic potencies may be classed in
two great categories : the gods, which represent the powers and
divisions of nature; and the Katcinas, primarily the spirits of
ancestors, but in a secondary usage the spirit-powers of other
beings, even of the gods.

Father Sun*® and Mother Earth are the greater deities of the
pantheon; but each is known by many names, and may indeed
be said to separate into numerous personalities — among the
Hopi, for example, the Sun is called Heart of the Sky, while
Mother of Germs or Seed, Old Woman, Spider Woman, Com
Maid, and Goddess of Growth are all appellations of the Earth.®^
Superior even to this primeval pair, the Zuni recognize Awona-
wilona, the supreme life-giving power, the initiator and em-
bodiment of the life of the world, referred to as He-She, whose
earliest avatar was the person of the Sun Father, but whose
pervasive life is confined to no one being.® No similar Hopi
being is reported.

Along with the Sun are other celestial gods, the Moon
Mother and the Morning and Evening Stars, the Galaxy,
Pleiades, Orion, Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, the Polar Star,*^
and the knife-feathered monster whom the Zuni name Achi-



yalatopa.®® Sun and Moon are masked by shields as they trav-
erse the skies, but, little by little, Awonawilona draws aside
the veil from Moon Mother’s shield and as gradually replaces
it, thus imaging the course of man’s life from infancy to the
fulness of maturity and thence to the decline of age. These,
with the meteorological beings, the cloud-masked rain-bring-
ers, are the di superi, “Those Above.” The di inferi, “Those
Below,” dwellers in the bosom of Mother Earth, include the
twin Gods of War,®® who in the years of the beginnings de-
livered mankind from the monsters; the Corn Father and Corn
Mother, the latter being Earth or Earth’s Daughters;®® and the
mineral “Men” and “Women” representing Salt, Red Shell,
White Shell, and Turquoise;®^ as well as the animal-gods, or
Ancients, which are the intermediaries between men and the
higher gods, and which also act as the tutelaries or patrons
of the several fraternities.^® Another deity, associated with
both the subterranean and the celestial powers, is the Plumed
Serpent, called Koloowisi by the Zuhi, Palulukoh by the
Hopi.®® This god is connected both with the lightning and with
fertility; a moving serpent is a natural symbol for the zigzag
flash of lightning, and it is probably this analogy which has
given rise in the South-West to the myth of sky-travelling
snakes; on the other hand, lightning is associated with rain-
fall, and rain, according to the South-Western view, is carried
aloft from the subterranean reservoirs of water; the connexion
of rain with fertility is obvious; in the Zuni initiation of boys
into the Kotikili (of which all who may enter the Dance-House
of the Gods, after death, must be members), Koloowisi is repre-
sented by a large image from whose mouth water and maize
issue, and in the highly dramatic Palulukonti of the Hopi
Indians there are several acts which seem to represent the
fructification of the maize by the Plumed Snake. Possibly
this deity is of Mexican origin, for far to the south, among
the Mayan and Nahuatlan peoples, the Plumed Serpent is a
potent divinity.


Zufii masks for ceremonial dances. Upper mask
of a Warrior God; lower, mask of the Rain Priest
of the North. After *?,’ JRBE^ Plates XVI, LIV.
See Note 65 (pp. 309~“io),and compare Frontispiece
and Plates HI, IV, VII, XXXI.


The second great group of higher powers is composed of the
ancestral and totemic Katcinas which play an important part
in the Pueblo scheme of things.®® “While the term Katcina,”
says Fewkes, “was originally limited to the spirits, or personi-
fied medicine power, of ancients, personifications of a similar
power in other objects have likewise come to be called Katcinas.
Thus the magic power or medicine of the sun may be called
Katcina, or that of the earth may be known by the same
general name, this use of the term being common among the
Hopis. The term may also be applied to personations of these
spirits or magic potencies by men or their representation by
pictures or graven objects, or by other means.” The number
of Katcinas is very great, for every clan has its own, not to be
personated by members of any other clan; while others are
introduced by being adopted as a result of initiation into the
rites of neighbouring pueblos. In general, the Katcinas are
anthropomorphic. In ritual and in picture they appear as
masked, and to their representation is due the long series of
masques which characterize Pueblo ceremonial life.

The mask is certainly more than a symbolic disguise. The
mythology of the South-West, despite the extensive appear-
ance of animal-powers and the use of animal fetishes, is pre-
dominantly anthropomorphic in cast: the Sun and the Moon
are manlike beings, hidden by shields; clouds are shields or
screens concealing the manlike Rain-Bringers. The Hopi place
cotton masks upon the faces of their dead, and the Zuni
blacken the countenances of their deceased chieftains. Now
the dead depart to the Underworld “ (though the Zuni be-
lieve that members of the warrior society, the Bow Priesthood,
ascend to the Sky, thence to shoot their lightning shafts, while
the Rain-makers roll their thunderous gaming stones), there
to become themselves rain-bringers, or at least more potent
intercessors for rain than are their mortal brethren. “The
earth,” Mrs. Stevenson writes, “is watered by the deceased
Zuni, of both sexes, who are controlled and directed by


a council composed of ancestral gods. These shadow people
collect water in vases and gourd jugs from the six great waters
of the world, and pass to and fro over the middle plane,
protected from the view of the people below by cloud
masks.” These six great waters are the waters of the six
springs in the hearts of the six mountains of the cosmic
points. The Uwannami, as the Zuni name these shadowy
rain-makers, are carried by the vapour which arises from
these springs, each Uwannami holding fast a bunch of breath-
plumes®® to facilitate ascension. Clouds of different forms
have varying significance: cirrus clouds tell that the Uwan-
nami are passing about for pleasure; cumulus and nimbus
that the earth Is to be watered. Yet it is not from, but
through, the clouds that the rain really comes: each cloud is
a sieve into which the water is poured directly or sprinkled
by means of the plumed sticks, such as the Zuni use in their
prayers for rain. Of this same tribe Mrs. Stevenson says again:
“These people rarely cast their eyes upward without invoking
the rain-makers, for in their arid land rain is the prime object
of prayer. Their water vases are covered with cloud and rain
emblems, and the water in the vase symbolizes the life, or
soul, of the vase.” This picturesque conception of the office of
the ancestral gods is not shared by the Hopi, who regard the
rain as coming directly from a special group of gods, the Omo-
wuhs; but the Hop! do believe that the dead are potent in-
tercessors with these deities, and they call the mask which is
placed over the face of the deceased a “prayer to the dead to
bring rain.”

Pueblo maskers personate divine and mythological beings of
many descriptions, as well as the ancestral dead, and to the
masks themselves attaches a kind of veneration, due to their
sacred employment. Besides the masks, however, many other
objects are used as ritualistic sacra. Sticks painted with sym-
bolic colours, and adorned with plumes which convey the
breath of prayer upward to the gods, are offered by the thou-



sand, the placing of such prayer-plumes at notable shrines
being a feature of the ceremonial life of each individual.®®
The fraternities, or cult societies, erect elaborate altars, sand-
paintings, images, and symbolic objects, indicating the powers
to which they are devoted. Meal and pollen, seeds, cords of
native cotton, maize of various colours, tobacco in the form of
cigarettes, and stone implements, nodules, and figures are all
important adjuncts of worship. What are called fetishes are
employed in numbers, and vary in character from true fetishes
to true idols. Many of the stone fetishes are private prop-
erty, of the nature of the “medicine” universal in North
America.^ Others are properties of the fraternities, and are in
the keeping of certain priests or initiates who bring them forth
on the occasion of the appropriate festivals. Still others are of
the nature of tribal palladia, in charge of the higher priest-
hoods. Thus, at Zuni, the images of the Gods of War (wooden
stocks with crudely drawn faces, such as must have been the
most ancient xoana) are under the guardianship of the Bow
Priesthood, who are servants of the Lightning-Makers.®^

In Zuni the supreme sacerdotal group consists of the Ashi-
wanni, the rain priesthood, which comprises fourteen rain
priests, two priests of the bow, and the priestess of fecun-
dity.® Six of the rain priests are known as Directors of the
House, this house being the chamber which marks the Middle
Place of the world, in which is kept the fetish of the rain
priests of the North, who are supposed to be exactly over the
very heart of the world. The priest of the sun and the direc-
tor and deputy of the Kotikili, added to the Ashiwanni, form
the whole body of Zuni priests duplicating in the flesh the
Council of the Gods, which assembles in Kothluwalawa, the
Dance-House of the Gods. The Kokko constitute the entire
group of anthropic gods worshipped by the Zuni. The Koti-
kili is the society of those who may personate them in masques
(including in its membership all of the men and a few of the
women of Zuni) ; and it is only the members of the Kotikili

North American Mythology / Re: North American Mythology
« on: August 03, 2019, 08:08:27 PM »



Woman’s magic, he defeated the Bumble-Bees and Tumble-
Weeds who were the Eagles’ foemen, and in return was given
the sacred rite. He, however, used his powers to trick the
Pueblo people into surrendering their wealth to him; and in a
great shell which he obtained from them he was lifted by
ropes of lightning up into the heavens, surrounded by his
treasure.®® The story recalls similar ascents in the legends of
northern Indians.

Of all the ritual myths of the Navaho the most pathetic is
the story of the Stricken Twins.^ They were children of a
mortal girl by a god; and in childhood one was blinded, the
other lamed. Driven forth by relatives too poor to keep them,
they wandered from one abode of the gods to another in search
of a cure, the blind boy carrying the lame. At each sacred place
the Yei demanded the fee of jewels which was the price of
cure, and when they found that the children had nothing sent
them on with ridicule. Their father, Hastsheyalti, secretly
placed food for them, for he wished to keep his paternity con-
cealed, and finally gave them a cup containing a never-failing
supply of meal.®^ After twice making the rounds of the sacred
places, rejected at all, the children’s paternity was discovered,
and the gods, taking them to the sweat-house, undertook to
heal them, warning them that they must not speak while there;
but when the blind one became faintly conscious of light, in
joy he cried, “Oh, younger brother, I see!”; and when the
lame one felt returning strength, he exclaimed, “Oh, elder
brother, I move my limbs!” And the magic of the gods was
undone. Again blind and halt, they were sent forth to secure
the fee by which alone they could hope for healing. The gods
aided them with magic, and they tricked the wealthy Pueblo
dwellers into giving them the needed treasure. Provided with
this, they returned once more to the abode of the Yei, and
in an elaborate ceremony — a nine days’ rite — they were at
last made perfect. The ritual they took back to their people,
after which they returned to the gods, one to become a rain



genius, the other a guardian of animals.®® In this myth the
abodes of the Yei are usually represented as crystal-studded
caverns, which are entered through rainbow doorways. An
interesting feature, as touching the primitive philosophy of
sacrifice, is the reason given by the Yei for refusing a cure:
you mortals, they say, have certain objects, tobacco, pollen,
feathers, jewels, which we lack and desire; in return for our
healing, you should give them to us: do ut des. The gods of
the Navaho are not represented as omnipotent, nor as much
more powerful than men: to save the passenger in the floating
log from capture by mortals, they must resort to the magic
device of raising a storm and concealing their hero — as Aeneas
is driven forth by the angry waves, or as Hector is hidden
from peril in a cloud.


The mythology of the Apache, who like the Navaho are of
Athapascan stock, is of the same general character as that of
their kindred tribe, except that it lacks the organization and
poetry of Navaho myth, and in general reflects the inferiority
of Apache to Navaho culture. The same gods reappear, fre-
quently with the same names; similar stories are told of them,
though in a fragmentary fashion; rites and ceremonies show
many common elements. Occasionally, an Apache version re-
veals a dramatic superiority to the Navaho, as in the Jicarilla
story of the emergence, where a feeble old man and old woman
were left behind when the First People ascended into this world.
“Take us out,” they called, but the people heeded them not,
and the deserted ones cried after them, “You will come back
here to me”; and now they are rulers of the dead in the
lower world.^® Such improvements, however, are incidental;
the bulk of Apache lore is on an inferior level, with an emphasis
on the coarser elements and on the unedifying adventures and
misadventures of Coyote.


Similar in grade Is the mythology of the other two wide-
spread stocks of the South-West, the Piman and Yuman,
who occupy the territories to the west and south-west of the
Navaho country, far into Mexico and Lower California, and
who form, in all probability, the true autochthones of the
arid region. In material culture these peoples are perhaps
superior to the Apache, their hereditary foe, for they are suc-
cessful agriculturists on the scale which their lands permit;
yet they are in no sense the equals of the Navaho. Their
mythology and religion have been slightly reported, but enough
is known to make clear the general relations of their ideas.

Among tribes of the Piman stock Sun, Moon, and Morning
Star are the great deities governing the world, while Earth
Doctor and Elder Brother are the important heroes of demiur-
gic myth.'® The Moon is the wife of Father Sun, the pair being
identified by some of the half-Chrlstlanized Mexican peoples
with the Virgin and the Christian God. Coyote is the son of
Sun and Moon according to the Pima, and all the tribes of
this stock have their full quota of tales of Coyote and his
kindred. The Devil is a mighty power in the eyes of the
Tarahumare, a Mexican tribe of Piman stock, and no mean
antagonist for Tata Dios (“Father God”), whom he 'slays
twice before he is finally cast down. Death, It may be noted,
is no annihilation in Piman view, for, as one shaman remarked,
“the dead are very much alive. ” It is among the Cora of Mex-
ico, that Chulavete, the Morning Star,'^ is most Important,
though the other tribes recognize him (or her, for with the
Pima “Visible Star” is a girl). Star-myths are found In various
tribes, an interesting instance being the legend, which occurs
in analogous forms in Tarahumare and Tepehuane lore, of
the women who commit the sin of cannibalism and flee from
their husbands into the heavens; there they are transformed
into stars, the Pleiades or Orion’s Belt, while the husband who
has vainly pursued them is changed into a coyote. The use of
the cross,®' apparently an ancient and indigenous symbol of



the Sun Father, and the cult of the peyote (a species of plant,
especially the cactus Lophophora Williamsiiy used to exalt and
intensify the imaginative faculties) are features of the ritual
of tribes of this stock; the peyote, deified as Hikuli, the four-
faced god who sees all things, being one of the important deities
of the pagan Tarahumare.

Piman cosmogony contains the typically south-western
ascent of the First People from the Underworld and the uni-
versal story of the deluge, but the form and embellishment of
these incidents are original. As told by a shaman of the Pima
tribe: ^^In the beginning there was nothing where now are
earth, sun, moon, stars, and all that we see. Ages long the
darkness was gathering, until it formed a great mass in which
developed the spirit of Earth Doctor, who, like the fluffy wisp
of cotton that floats upon the wind, drifted to and fro without
support or place to fix himself. Conscious of his power, he
determined to try to build an abiding place, so he took from
his breast a little dust and flattened it into a cake. Then he
thought within himself, ‘Come forth, some kind of plant,’
and there appeared the creosote bush.” Three times the earth-
disk upset, but the fourth time it remained where he had re-
placed it. “When the flat dust cake was still he danced upon
it singing:

^ Earth Magician shapes this world.

Behold what he can do!

Round and smooth he molds it.

Behold what he can do!

‘Earth Magician makes the mountains.

Heed what he has to say!

He it is that makes the mesas.

Heed what he has to say!

‘Earth Magician shapes this world;

Earth Magician makes its mountains;

Makes all larger, larger, larger.

Into the earth the magician glances;

Into its mountains he may see.’ ”


Assuredly this is an extraordinary genesis, with its con-
ception of a primeval void and fiat creation, to come from
the untaught natives, and it is possible that mission teachings
may have influenced its form, though the matter seems to
be aboriginal. The story goes on with the creation of insects;
then of a sky-dome which the Earth Doctor commanded Spider
to sew to the earth around the edges; then of sun, moon, and
stars, the two first from blocks of ice flung into the heavens, —

“I have made the sun!

I have made the sun!

Hurling it high

In the four directions.

To the east I threw it

To run its appointed course,” —

the stars from water which he sprayed from his mouth. Next
Earth Doctor created living beings, but they developed canni-
balism and he destroyed them. Then he said: “I shall unite
earth and sky; the earth shall be as a female and the sky as a
male, and from their union shall be born one who shall be a
helper to me.®^ Let the sun be joined with the moon, also even
as man is wedded to woman, and their offspring shall be a
helper to me.” Earth gave birth to Elder Brother, who in
true Olympian style later became more powerful than his
creator; and Coyote was born from the Moon. Elder Brother
created a handsome youth who seduced the daughter of South
Doctor, and the unrestrainable tears of the child of this union
threatened to destroy all life in a mighty flood.^® Elder Brother,
however, escaped by enclosing himself in a pot which rolled
about beneath the waters; Coyote made a raft of a log; while
Earth Doctor led some of the people through a hole which he
made to the other side of the earth-disk. After the flood Elder
Brother was the first of the gods to appear, and he therefore
became the ruler. He sent his subordinates in search of earth’s
navel, and when the central mountain had been discovered,
they set about repeopling the world.


Apache medicine-shirt, painted with figures of
gods, centipedes, clouds, lightning, the sun, etc.
After p JRBE, Plate VI.



myth continues with incidents having to do with the
of fire and the cremation of the dead; the freeing of the
[s, by the wile of Coyote/® from the cave in which they
mprisoned; the coming of the wicked gambler, who is
defeated and is changed into a vicious, man-devouring
the birth and destruction of a cannibal monster, Ha-ak,
e origin of tobacco from the grave of an old woman who
Dlen Ha-ak’s blood; and finally the destruction of Elder
;r by the Vulture, his journey to the underworld, and his
to conquer the land with the aid of some of the ante-
ins who had escaped to the other side of the world.


tribes of the Yuman stock — of which the Mohave,
)pa, Havasupai, Walapai, Diegueno, and Yuma proper
; most important in the United States — occupy terri-
stending from the southern Californian coast and the
ula of Lower California eastward into the arid high-
Geographically they are thus a connecting link between
bes of the South-West and the Californian stocks, and
:ustoms and beliefs show relation to both groups; but
raditions assign their origin to the inland, and because
and of their great territorial extension, which is in con-
7ith the limited areas held by the stocks of the coastal
they may best be classed with the tribes of the desert

little that is recorded of their mythology tells of a time
Earth was a woman and Sky was a man.®^ Earth con-
(some say from a drop of rain that fell upon her while
pt), and twin sons were bom of her (some say from a
0 ), Kukumatz and Tochipa (Mohave), or Hokomata and
pa (Walapai, etc.). Earth at this time was close in the
:e of Sky, and the first task of the twins was to raise
avens, after which they set the cardinal points, defined


the land, and created its inhabitants — though the Mohave
say that the First People were created by Mustamho, who was
himself the son of a second generation born of Earth and
Sky; and the Walapai tell how the first man, Kathatakanave,
Taught-by-Coyote, issued with his friend Coyote from the
Grand Canyon.

The Walapai myth goes on to recount how Kathatakanave
prayed to Those Above (the di superi) to create companions
for him; how Coyote broke the spell by speaking before all
men had been created and so slunk away, ashamed; how To-
chopa instructed the human race in the arts and was beloved
accordingly, and how Hokomata out of jealousy taught them
war and thus brought about the division of mankind. The
Havasupai tell also of the feud between the brothers, and that
Hokomata in his rage brought about a deluge which destroyed
the world.^^ Before the waters came, however, Tochopa sealed
his beloved daughter, Pukeheh, in a hollow log, from which
she emerged when the flood had subsided; she gave birth
to a boy, whose father was the sun, and to a girl, whose fa-
ther was a waterfall (whence Havasupai women have ever
been called “Daughters of the Water”); and from these two
the world was repeopled. In the Mohave version, Mustamho
took the people in his arms and carried them until the waters

The origin of death is told by the Dieguefio. “Tuchaipai
thought to himself, ‘If all my sons do not have enough food
and drink, what will become of them.?’” He gave men the
choice of living forever, dying temporarily, and final death;
but while they were debating the question, the Fly said,
“‘Oh, you men, what are you talking so much about.? Tell
him you want to die forever.’ . . . This is the reason why the
fly rubs his hands together. He is begging forgiveness of the
people for these words.”

Another myth, which the Yuman tribes share with the
Piman, tells of Coyote’s theft of the heart from a burning


corpse. As the Diegueho tell it, it is Tuchaipai, slain through
the malevolence of the Frog, whose body is placed upon the
pyre; the Mohave recount the same event of the remains of
Matyavela, the father of Mustamho, who may be a doublet
of Tuchaipai, or Tochipa. When the pyre is ready, Coyote is
sent away on an invented errand, for his presence is feared;
but seeing the smoke of the cremation, he hurries back in time
to snatch the heart from the burning body, and this he carries
off to the mountains. For this reason men hate the Coyote.’’

It is tempting to see in this myth, coming to peoples whose
kindred extend far into Mexico, some relation to the Nahua-
tlan human sacrifice, in which the heart was torn from the vic-
tim’s body, which was not infrequently thereafter burned.^®


O NE of the most interesting and curious groups of people,
not only of North America but of the world, is composed
of the Pueblo dwellers of New Mexico and Arizona. The
Pueblo Indians get their name (given them by the Spaniards)
from the fact that they live in compact villages, or pueblos,
of stone or adobe houses, which in some instances rise to a
height of five storeys. These villages suggest huge commu-
nal dwellings, or labyrinthine structures like the “house of
Minos,” but in fact each family possesses its own abode, the
form of building being partly an economy of construction,
but mainly for ready defence; for the pueblos are islets of
sedentary culture in the midst of what was long a sea of
marauding savagery. For this same protective reason sites
were chosen on the level tops of the mesas, or villages were
built in cliff walls, hollowed out and walled in (the “cliff
dwellings ” of the desert region have been identified as former,
and probably the earliest, seats of Pueblo culture) ; but under
the influence of their modern freedom from attack many of
the villages are gradually disaggregating into local houses.
Anciently the Pueblo territory extended from central Colorado
and Utah far south into Mexico; now about three hundred
miles separate Taos in the east from Oraibi in the west, while
the north and south distance, from Taos to Acoma, is half of
this. Within the modern area the pueblos fall into two main
groups: those of northern and central New Mexico, clustered
along the Rio Grande, and those of the Moqui or Hopi reserva-


tion in Arizona; between these, and to the south, are the large
pueblos of Laguna, Acoma, and Zuni, all in New Mexico.

The Pueblo tribes are of four linguistic stocks; three of them,
the Tanoan, Keresan, and Zuhian, are unknown elsewhere; the
fourth constitutes a special group of Shoshonean dialects, the
language of the Hopi of Arizona, related to the Ute and Sho-
shoni in the north and perhaps to the Aztec far to the south.
But if there is divergence in language, there is little difference
in the degree of aboriginal evolution (though power to pre-
serve it under the pressure of white civilization varies greatly) .
The most astonishing feature of this development is that it
is based primarily upon agriculture.^^ The Pueblo culture
is located, and apparently has evolved, in what is agricultu-
rally the least promising part of North America south of the
Arctic barren lands. The South-West is an arid plateau, wa-
tered by scant rains and traversed by few streams. Its one
favourable feature is that where water is obtainable for irri-
gation the returns in vegetation are luxuriant; but irrigation,
even where feasible, requires both toil and intelligence, and it
seems truly extraordinary that the most varied agriculture of
the continent, north of Mexico, should have developed in so
unpromising a region. It is not, however, surprising that the
religion of the Pueblo agriculturists should be found to centre
about the one recurrent theme of prayer for rain; to few other
peoples is a dry year so terrible.

But it is not alone in agriculture and housing that the Pueblo
dwellers show advancement. In the industrial arts of basketry,
pottery, weaving, and stone-working they were and are in the
forefront of the tribes, and it is altogether probable that it is
to the Pueblos that the neighbouring Navaho owe their skill
in these industries. In decorative art they display an equal
pre-eminence, both geometric and naturalistic design being
pleasingly adapted to their elaborate symbolism. Socially the
Pueblo dwellers form a distinctive group. Each village is a
tribal unit, with a republican system of government, formed

X — 14

North American Mythology / Re: North American Mythology
« on: August 03, 2019, 08:07:27 PM »

“ In my thoughts I approach.

The Sun-God approaches.

Earth’s end he approaches,

Estsanatlehi’s hearth approaches,

In old age walking the beautiful trail.



“In my thoughts I approach,

The Moon-God approaches,

Earth’s end he approaches,

Yolkai Estsan’s hearth approaches.

In old age walking the beautiful trail.”

For Yolkai Estsan, too, became the bride of a god. But before
she departed for the divine lodge, she remained for some time
solitary. It was then, in the days of her loneliness, that Has-
tsheyalti came to her, and it was decided that a new race of
men should be created. With the assistance of all the gods a
man was formed from a white, and a woman from a yellow,
ear of maize. Niltshi gave them the breath of life; the Rock-
Crystal Boy gave them mind; the Grasshopper Girl gave them
voices. Yolkai Estsan gave them fire and maize, and married
the man to Ground-Heat Girl and the woman to Mirage Boy,
and from these two couples is descended the first gens of the
Navaho tribe — the House of the Dark Cliffs, “so named be-
cause the gods who created the first pair came from the cliff


In the Navaho Genesis, just recounted, there is a brief de-
scription of the creation of the Sun-Disk. A somewhat differ-
ent and fuller version, recorded by James Stevenson, is as

“The first three worlds were neither good nor healthful.
They moved all the time and made the people dizzy. Upon
ascending into this world the Navaho found only darkness
and they said, ‘We must have light.’” Two women were sum-
moned — Ahsonnutli (Estsanatlehi) and Yolaikaiason (Yolkai
Estsan) — and to them the Indians told their desire. “The
Navaho had already partially separated light into its several
colors. Next to the floor was white, indicating dawn; upon
the white blue was spread for morning; and on the blue yellow
for sunset; and next was black representing night. They had


prayed long and continuously over these, but their prayers
had availed nothing. The two women on arriving told the
people to have patience and their prayers would eventually
be answered.

Night had a familiar, who was always at his ear. This
person said, ^Send for the youth at the great falls. ^ Night sent
as his messenger a shooting star. The youth soon appeared
and said, ^Ahsonnutli has white beads in her right breast
and turquoise in her left. We will tell her to lay them on dark-
ness and see what she can do with her prayers.’ This she did.
The youth from the great falls said to Ahsonnutli, ^ You have
carried the white-shell beads and the turquoise a long time;
you should know what to say.’ Then with a crystal dipped
in pollen she marked eyes and mouth on the turquoise and on
the white-shell beads, and forming a circle round these with
the crystal she produced a slight light from the white-shell
beads and a greater light from the turquoise, but the light was

“Twelve men lived at each of the cardinal points. The forty-
eight men were sent for. After their arrival Ahsonnutli sang
a song, the men sitting opposite to her; yet even with their
presence the song failed to secure the needed light. Two eagle
feathers were placed upon each cheek of the turquoise and two
on the cheeks of the white-shell beads and one at each of the
cardinal points.®® The twelve men of the east placed twelve
turquoises at the east of the faces. The twelve men of the
south placed twelve white-shell beads at the south. The men
of the west placed twelve turquoises on that side, and the
men of the north twelve white-shell beads at the north, and
with a pollen-dipped crystal a circle was drawn around the
whole. But the wish remained unrealized. Then Ahsonnutli
held the crystal over the turquoise face, whereupon It lighted
into a blaze. The people retreated far back on account of the
great heat, which continued increasing. The men from the
four points found the heat so intense that they arose, but they
X— 13



could hardly stand, as the heavens were so close to them.
They looked up and saw two rainbows, one across the other
from east to west and from north to south. The heads and
feet of the rainbows almost touched the men’s heads. The
men tried to raise the great light, but each time they failed.

“Finally, a man and a woman appeared, whence they knew
not. The man’s name was Atseatsine [Atse Hastin] and the
woman’s name was Atseatsan [Atse Estsan]. They were
asked, ‘How can this sun be got up?’ They replied, ‘We
know; we heard the people down here trying to raise it, and
this is why we came.’ ‘Sunbeams,’ exclaimed the man, ‘I have
the sunbeams; I have a crystal from which I can light the sun-
beams, and I have the rainbow; with these three I can raise the
sun.’ The people said, ‘Go ahead and raise it.’ When he had
elevated the sun a short distance it tipped a little and burned
vegetation and scorched the people, for It was still too near.
Then the people said to Atseatsine and Atseatsan, ‘Raise the
sun higher,’ and they continued to elevate it, and yet it con-
tinued to burn everything. They were then called to lift it
higher still, but after a certain height was reached their power
failed; it would go no farther.

“The couple then made four poles, two of turquoise and two
of white-shell beads, and each was put under the sun, and with
these poles the twelve men at each of the cardinal points raised
it. They could not get it high enough to prevent the people
and grass from burning. The people then said, ‘Let us stretch
the world’; so the twelve men at each point expanded the
worId.“ The sun continued to rise as the world expanded, and
began to shine with less heat, but when it reached the meridian
the heat became great and the people suffered much. They
crawled everywhere to find shade. Then the voice of Dark-
ness went four times around the world telling the men at the
cardinal points to go on expanding the world. ‘I want all
this trouble stopped,’ said Darkness; ‘the people are suffering
and all is burning; you must continue stretching.’ And the



men blew .and stretched, and after a time they saw the sun
rise beautifully, and when the sun again reached the meridian
it was only tropical. It was then just right, and as far as the
eye could reach the earth was encircled first with the white
dawn of day, then with the blue of early morning, and all
things were perfect. And Ahsonnutli commanded the twelve
men to go to the east, south, west, and north, to hold up the
heavens [Yiyanitsinni, the holders up of the heavens], which
office they are supposed to perform to this day.’^


The myth of the creation of the sun, just quoted, gives a
vivid picture of a primitive ritual, with its reliance upon mi-
metic magic and the power of suggestion; the magic depicted
is that of the gods, but all Navaho ceremonials, and indeed
Indian rituals generally, are regarded as derived from the
great powers. The usual form of transmission is through some
prophet or seer who has visited the abodes of the powers, and
there has been permitted to observe the rites by means of
which the divine ones attain their ends. On returning to his
people, the prophet brings the ceremony (or ‘Mance,” as such
rites are frequently called, although dancing is commonly a
minor feature) to his people, where it is transmitted from gen-
eration to generation of priests or shamans. It is interesting to
note that among the Navaho it is usually the younger brother
of the prophet, not the prophet himself, who conducts the rite,
when once it is learned; ^ and it is their custom to choose
younger brothers to be educated as shamans (though the elder
brothers are not deterred from such a career, if they so choose)
the Navaho reason being that the younger brother is likely to
be the more intelligent.

Indian rites may be broadly divided into three classes: (i)
rites pertaining to the life-history of the individual — birth,
pubescence, death; and to social life — clan and fraternity



rites, rites for the making of war and the cementing of peace;
(2) rites connected with the elements and seasons, maize fes-
tivals, rain dances, the magic fructification of fields and the
magic invocation of game; and (3) mysteries or medicine rites,
designed to bring health, both physical and spiritual, and to
ensure life and prosperity to individual and tribe, — a thera-
peutic which recognizes that all men are at all times ailing and
in need of some form of divine aid. The various elements of
the different types interlace, but in general, those of the first
class fall into a biographical or an historical series, those of
the second class tend to assume a ferial character, and those
of the third class depend upon the chance of necessity or of
desire for their performance — upon the fulfilment of a vow,
the need of the sick for cure, or the like.

Navaho ceremonials are mainly of the latter kind and are in
sharp contrast to the calendric rites of their Pueblo neighbours.
They are medicine ceremonies, undertaken in the interest of
the sick, who individually defray the expenses, although the
rite is supposed to benefit the whole tribe; and they are per-
formed at no stated times, but only in response to need. There
is, however, some restriction: the Night Chant, the most popu-
lar of all Navaho ceremonies, may be held only in the winter,
when the snakes are hibernating — perhaps because serpents
are regarded as underworld-powers, and related to the malefi-
cent deities of the region of the dead; a similar motive pro-
duces a reverse effect on the Great Plains, where the Hako
Ceremony and the Sun-Dance are observed only when the
world is green and life is stirring.®®

The Night Chant, like some other Navaho ceremonies, has
a nine-day period. On the first day holy articles and the sacred
lodge are prepared; on the second, the sweat-house and the
first sand-painting are made, and the song of the approach of
the gods is sung: prayers and a second sweat-house are features
of the third day, while the fourth is devoted to preparations
for the vigil which occupies the fourth night, at which the


Navaho dry- or sand-painting connected with the
Night Chant ceremony. The encircling figure is the
Rainbow goddess. The swastika-like central figure
represents the whirling logs with Yei riding upon
them (see p. 173). At the East is Hastsheyalti
(white)*, at the West, Hastshehogan (black). Rain
spirits, with cloud-sacks and baskets, are North and
South. Symbols of vegetation are between the arms
of the cross. After MAM vi, Plate VL



sacred masks of the gods are sprinkled with pollen and water
and a communal supper is followed hy a banquet; the prin-
cipal feature of each of the next four days is the preparation of
an elaborate sand-painting of the gods, each picture symbo-
lizing a mythic revelation, and the touching of the affected
parts of the bodies of the sick with the coloured sands from
the analogous parts of the divine images; the ninth day is
devoted to preparations for the great ceremony which marks
the ninth night, at which the masque of the gods is presented.
It is from this masque of the ninth night that the Night Chant
gets its name, and this is the night, too, of that prayer to the
dark bird who is the chief of pollen which is perhaps the most
poetic description of the genius of thunder-cloud and rain in
Indian literature, and which runs thus, abridged from Mat-
thews’s translation : —

In Tsegihi,

In the house made of dawn,

In the house made of evening twilight,

In the house made of dark cloud,

In the house made of rain and mist, of pollen, of grasshoppers,
Where the dark mist curtains the doorway,

The path to which is on the rainbow,

Where the zigzag lightning stands high on top,

Where the he-rain stands high on top,

Oh, male divinity!

With your moccasins of dark cloud, come to us.

With your leggings and shirt and head-dress of dark cloud, come to

With your mind enveloped in dark cloud, come to us,

With the dark thunder above you, come to us soaring,

With the shapen cloud at your feet, come to us soaring.

With the far darkness made of the dark cloud over your head, come
to us soaring,

With the far darkness made of the rain and the mist over your head,
come to us soaring.

With the zigzag lightning flung out on high over your head,

With the rainbow hanging high over your head, come to us soaring.
With the far darkness made of the dark cloud on the ends of your


With the far darkness made of the rain and the mist on the ends of
your wings, come to us soaring,

With the zigzag lightning, with the rainbow hanging high on the
ends of your wings, come to us soaring.

With the near darkness made of the dark cloud of the rain and the
mist, come to us,

With the darkness on the earth, come to us.

With these I wish the foam floating on the flowing water over the
roots of the great corn.

I have made your sacrifice,

I have prepared a smoke for you,

My feet restore for me.

My limbs restore, my body restore, my mind restore, my voice re-
store for me.

Today, take out your spell for me,

Today, take away your spell for me.

Away from me you have taken it,

Far off from me it is taken,

Far off you have done it.

Happily I recover,

Happily I become cool,

My eyes regain their power, my head cools, my limbs regain their
strength, 1 hear again.

Happily for me the spell is taken off,

Happily I walk; impervious to pain, I walk; light within, I walk;
joyous, I walk.

Abundant dark clouds I desire.

An abundance of vegetation I desire.

An abundance of pollen, abundant dew, I desire.

Happily may fair white corn, to the ends of the earth, come with you,
Happily may fair yellow corn, fair blue corn, fair corn of all kinds,
plants of all kinds, goods of all kinds, jewels of all kinds, to the
ends of the earth, come with you.

With these before you, happily may they come with you,

With these behind, below, above, around you, happily may they come
with you,

Thus you accomplish your tasks.

Happily the old men will regard you,

Happily the old women will regard you,

The young men and the young women will regard you,

The children will regard you,

The chiefs will regard you,

Happily, as they scatter in different directions, they will regard you,
Happily, as they approach their homes, they will regard you.


May their roads home be on the trail of peace,

Happily may they all return.

In beauty I walk,

With beauty before me, I walk,

With beauty behind me, I walk.

With beauty above and about me, I walk.

It is finished in beauty,

It is finished in beauty.

The Tsegihi of the first verse of this impressive prayer is
one of the sacred places with which the Navaho country
abounds. The myths which explain most of their rites fre-
quently recount the visits of prophets to such places, and it
was from such a trip that the Night Chant was brought back:
a hunter found his arm paralysed when he attempted to draw
the bow upon four mountain sheep; after the fourth endeavour
the sheep appeared to him in their true form, as Yei, and con-
ducted him to their rocky abode, where he was taught the
mystery and sent home to his people. This same man became
a great prophet: he made a strange voyage in a hollow log,
with windows of crystal, guided by the gods; finally, at a
place sacred to the Navaho, a whirling lake with no outlet and
no bottom, he beheld the ‘^whirling logs’’ — a cross upon
which rode eight Yei, two on each arm; and by these he was
instructed in a mystery of healing, in which maize and rain and
life-giving magic play the chief roles. There are other myths
representing similar journeys in god-steered logs, from which
the hero returns with a magic gift: on one such trip, the prophet
is said to have gone as far as the sea — ^‘the waters that had a
shore on one side only” — and there to have learned the art
of mixing colours and the use of maize, a food till then unknown
to the Navaho.

Upon another myth is based the ceremony of the Mountain
Chant. Like the Night Chant, this rite is characterized by a
nocturnal masque of the gods, depicting the mythic adven-
ture, and in it the hero ascends to the world above the sky,
where the people were Eagles. Here, with the aid of Spider

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Navaho gods, from a dry- or sand-painting. The
figure with the rectangular head is a female divinity,
with arms covered with yellow pollen. The round-
headed figures are male deities, the one carrying a
lightning bow and a rattle, the other having a cloud-
sack on his back and a basket before him. The
colours and ornaments are symbolic of maize and
other vegetation, of rain, lightning, fertility, etc.
After MAM vi, Plate VIIL



have made the Navaho countrf picturesque; and
Powers, among whom -Tieholtsodi, of the watef® bent at \ t jc
earth, is the most powerful.®

The highest place in the Navaho pantheon is
natlehi,'^ the “Woman Who Changes ” — for, like the Phoenix,
when she becomes old, she transforms herself again into a
young girl and lives a renewed life.'*® Though she c>riginatc*d on
earth, her home is now in the west, on an island crealei.! ioi
her by the Sun-Carrier, who made her his wife, hroni that
direction come the rains that water the Navaho countr)* and
the winds that foretell the spring; and it is therefore appro-
priate that the goddess of nature’s fruitfulness should dwell
there. The younger sister of Estsanatlehi is Yolkai Estsan,
the White Shell Woman, wife of the Moon-Carrier, Klehanoai.
The white shell is her symbol, and she is related to the waters,
as her sister, whose token is the turquoise, is akin to the earth;
white is the colour of the dawn and the east, blue of luidtlay a mi
the south, and it is with the magic of these colour.s that tlu*
two sisters kindle the sun’s disk and the moon’s — althougdi,
according to Navaho myth, which is by no mcan.s alway.s
consistent, the Sun-God and the Moon-God were in c.^istence
before the sisters were created.

Of the male deities worshipped by the Navaho, the nuist
important are the brothers, Nayanezgani, Slayer of the ;\licn
Gods, and Thobadzistshini, Child of the Waters.** In .sotne
stories these are represented as twins of the Sun-Carrier and
Estsanatlehi; in others, Thobadzistshini is the child of Water
and Yolkai Estsan. These two brothers are the new genera-
tion of gods which overthrow the monsters and bring to an end
the Age of Giants. Their home is on a mountain in the centre
of the Navaho country, to which warriors betake thcinstilves
to pray for prowess and success in war. Klehanoai, the Moon-
Carrier, is sometimes identified with a deity by the nanie of
Bekotshidi, represented as an old man, and regarded as the
creator of many of the beasts, especially the larger game and


the domestic animals; his home is in the east, and many of the
Navaho think that he is the god worshipped by the white men.

Another mythic pair of importance are the First Man, Atse
Hastin, and the First Woman, Atse Estsan, who were created
in the lower world from ears of maize; it is they who led the
First People into the world in which we live. Coyote,^® who
is a conspicuous figure in adventures serious and ludicrous,
though he never plays the rUe of demiurge, such as he sustains
among many Indian tribes, is sometimes represented as ac-
companying these two Elders from the lower world. Spider
Woman is an underground witch (the large spiders of the
South-West make their nests in the ground), friendly with her
magic; and Niltshi, the Wind, saves many a hero by whispering
timely counsels in his ear. Other beings are little more than
lay figures : such are Mirage Boy, Ground-Heat Girl, White-
Corn Boy, Yellow-Corn Girl, Rock-Crystal Boy, Pollen Boy,
Grasshopper Girl, etc. — a few out of the multitude which
seem to be, in many cases, merely personifications of objects
important in ritual practices.

The most important cult-symbols employed by the Navaho
are arranged in groups according to their system of colour-
symbolism®^ — white, the mantle of dawn, for the east; blue,
the robe of the azure sky, for the south; yellow, the raiment
of the sunset, for the west; black, the blanket of night, for
the north. Thus, the “jewels” of the respective quarters are:
east, white shell beads and rock-crystal; south, turquoise;
west, haliotis shell (regarded by the Navaho as yellow); north,
black stones or cannel-coal.®'' Birds are similarly denoted by
the hues of their feathers; animals by their hides; maize by
the colour of its kernels — white, blue, yellow, and, for the
north, variegated (the north is sometimes all-colours, in-
stead of black). The colours are used also in the sand-paint-
ings, or drawings, which form an important and distinctive
feature of Navaho rites; and in the painting of the prayer-
sticks, frequently adorned with feathers,®® which, with pollen


and tobacco, in the form of cigarettes, are the principal articles
offered in sacrifice.®® Navaho rituals comprise many elaborate
ceremonies, a conspicuous feature of which are masques, or
dramatic representations of myths, in which the actors per-
sonate the gods. A convention of these masques is the repre-
sentation of male deities with rounded, and of female with
rectangular faces, a distinction which is maintained in the


The Navaho believe that the world is built in a sequence of
storeys, the fifth of these being the earth on which men now
dwell.^^ The genesis-legend of this tribe divides into four epi-
sodic tales, the first of which, the Age of Beginnings, narrates
the ascent of the progenitors of Earth’s inhabitants from storey
to storey of the Underworld, and their final emergence upon
Earth. The second, the Age of Animal Heroes, tells of the set-
ting in order of Earth, its illumination by the heavenly bodies,
and the adventures of its early inhabitants. The third,
the Age of the Gods, recounts the slaying of the giants and
other monsters by the War-Gods and the final departure of
the great goddess to the West. The fourth, the Patriarchal
Age, chronicles the growth of the Navaho nation in the days
of its early wanderings; to this age, too, belong most of the
revelations which prophets and visionaries bring back in the
form of rites, acquired in their visits to the abodes of the gods.

The lowest of the world-storeys, where the Navaho myth
begins, was red in colour, and in its centre was a spring from
which four streams flowed, one to each of the cardinal points,
while oceans bordered the land on all sides. Tieholtsodi, the
water monster, the Blue Heron, Frog, and Thunder were
chiefs in this world; while the people who “started in life
there” were ants, beetles, dragon-flies, locusts, and bats (though
some say First Man, First Woman, and Coyote were in ex-


istence even here). For the sin of adultery these people were
driven out by a flood raised by the Underworld gods/® and as
they flew upward, seeking a place of escape, a blue head was
thrust from the sky and directed them to a hole leading into the
next storey. This second world was blue, and was inhabited
by the Swallow People. Here they lived till, on the twenty-
fourth night, one of the strangers made free with the wife of
the Swallow chief; and they were commanded to leave. Again
they flew upward, and again a voice — that of Niltshi, the
Wind — directed them to an opening by which they escaped
into the third storey. Here they were in a yellow world, in-
habited by Grasshoppers; but exactly what happened in the
world below was repeated here, and once more directed by a
Wind they flew up into the fourth storey, which was all-

The fourth world was larger than the others and had a
snow-covered mountain at each of the cardinal points. Its in-
habitants were Kisani (Pueblo Indians), who possessed culti-
vated fields and gave the wanderers maize and pumpkins. The
four gods of this world were White Body, Blue Body, Yellow
Body, and Black Body, and these created Atse Hastin (First
Man) and Atse Estsan (First Woman), from ears of white and
yellow maize respectively.®® To this pair came five births of
twins, of whom the first were hermaphrodites,®^ who invented
pottery and the wicker water-bottle. The other twins inter-
married with the Mirage People, who dwelt in this world, and
with the Kisani, and soon there was a multitude of people
under the chieftainship of First Man.

“One day they saw the Sky stooping down and the Earth
rising to meet it.” At the point of contact Coyote and Badger
sprang down from the world above; Badger descended into
the world below, but Coyote remained with the people. It
was at this time that the men and women quarrelled and tried
the experiment of living apart; at first the women had plenty
of food, but eventually they were starving and rejoined the


men. Two girls, however, who were the last to cross the
stream that had separated the sexes, were seized by Tiehol-
tsodi, and dragged beneath the waters.^® Guided by the gods,
a man and a woman descended to recover them, but Coyote
surreptitiously accompanied them and, unperceived, stole two
of the offspring of the Water Monster. Shortly afterward, a
ffood was sent by the Monster, “high as mountains encircling
the whole horizon.” The people fled to a hill and various ani-
mals attempted to provide a means of escape by causing trees
to outgrow the rising- waters, but it was not until two men
appeared, bearing earth from the seven sacred mountains of
what is now the Navaho’s land, that a soil was made from
which grew a huge hollow reed, reaching to the sky.^ The
last of the people were scarcely in this stalk, and the opening
closed, before they heard the loud noise of the surging waters
outside. But there was still no opening in the sky above. They
sent up the Great Hawk, who clawed the heaven till he could
see light shining through; the Locust followed, and made a
tiny passage to the world above, where he was met by four
Grebes from the four quarters, and in a magic contest won
half of their world; finally, the Badger enlarged the hole so
that people could go through, and all climbed into the fifth
world, whose surface is our earth.

The place of emergence was an islet in the middle of a lake,
but the gods opened a passage, and they crossed to the shores.
It was here that they sought to divine their fate, and a hide-
scraper was thrown into the water: “If it sinks we perish, if it
floats we live.” It floated, but Coyote cast in a stone, saying,
?“Let me divine: if it sinks we perish, if it floats we live.” It
sank, and in answer to the execrations of the people, he said:

If we all live and continue to increase, the earth will soon be
too small to hold us. It is better that each of us should live
but a time on this earth and make room for our children.”

But the peril of the flood was not yet escaped, for waters
were observed welling up from the hole of emergence. Then

i 62


it was discovered that Coyote had with him the stolen off-
spring of Tieholtsodi. At once the people threw them into the
hole, and with a deafening roar the waters subsided. Shortly
after this, the first death occurred, and two hunters, looking
down into the lower world, beheld the deceased combing her
hair, as she sat beside a river. The two men died very soon;
so that the people knew that a ghost is a thing ill seen.

First Man and First Woman, Black Body and Blue Body,
built the seven mountains of the Navaho land, one at each
cardinal point, and three in the centre. “Through Tsisna-
dzini [Pelado Peak, New Mexico], in the east, they ran a bolt
of lightning to fasten it to earth. They decorated it with
white shells, white lightning, white corn, dark clouds, and he-
rain. They set a big bowl of shell on its summit, and in it they
put two eggs of the Pigeon to make feathers for the moun-
tain. The eggs they covered with a sacred buckskin to make
them hatch [there are many wild pigeons in this mountain
now]. All these things they covered with a sheet of daylight,
and they put the Rock-Crystal Boy and the Rock-Crystal
Girl into the mountain to dwell.” Mount Taylor, of the San
Mateo range, is the southern mountain, and this was pinned
to earth with a great stone knife, adorned with turquoise,
mist, and she-rain, nested with bluebird’s eggs, guarded by
Turquoise Boy and Corn Girl, and covered with a blanket of
blue sky. San Francisco, in Arizona, the mountain of the
west, was bound with a sunbeam, decked with haliotis shell,
clouds, he-rain, yellow maize and animals, nested with eggs
of the Yellow Warbler, spread with yellow cloud, and made the
home of White-Corn Boy and Yellow-Corn Girl. San Juan,
in the north, was fastened with a rainbow, adorned with black
beads, nested with eggs of the Blackbird, sheeted with dark-
ness, and made the abode of Pollen Boy and Grasshopper Girl.^^
In a similar fashion the three central mountains were built.

The Sun-Disk, the Moon-Disk, and the Stars were then made
by First Man and First Woman, and two men from among



the people were appointed to be the Sun-Carrier and the Moon-
Carrier,^® these being the same two men who had caused the
reed to grow, by means of which the folk had ascended from
the world below.

The earth was now formed, but its inhabitants were not yet
in order. The myth goes on to tell of the birth of the giants and
other man-devouring monsters — the dread Anaye.^® They
were the offspring of women who had resorted to evU prac-
tices during the separation of the sexes in the world below.
The first-born was the headless and hairy being, Theelgeth;
the second the harpylike Tsanahale, with feathered back; the
third was the giant whose hair grew into the rock, so that he
could not fall, and who kicked people from the cliff as they
passed; the fourth birth produced the limbless twins, the
Binaye Ahani, who slew with their eyes; and there were many
other monsters besides these, born of sinful women to become
destroyers of men.®

The next event in this age was the descent of a gam-
bler from the heavens, He-Who-Wins-Men, who enslaved the
greater part of mankind by inducing them to bet their free-
dom.®® Now we first hear of the beneficent Yei, Hastsheyalti
and Hastshehogan, with their assistants. Wind, Darkness, the
animal-gods, and others. By their aid a young Navaho de-
feated the Gambler, and with a magic bow shot him into the
sky whence he came, and whence he was sent back into the
world to become the ruler of the Mexicans.

Coyote®® now appears upon the scene in a series of ad-
ventures such as are told of him by neighbouring tribes; the
unsuccessful imitation of his host, in which Coyote comes in-
gloriously to grief in endeavouring to entertain, first Porcu-
pine, then Wolf, as they had entertained him; a tradition of
Coyote’s hunt, in which he rounds up game by driving them
with fire from a faggot of shredded cedar-bark — a story with
many resemblances to the Ute version of the theft of fire; the
tale of the blinding of Coyote, who attempts to imitate birds


whom he sees toss up their eyes and catch them again in the
sockets, and of the substitution of gum eyes, which melt as
fire is approached, for the eyes he has lost; the story of how
Coyote killed a giant by pretending to break and heal his own
leg, and inducing the giant to follow his example; and the
legend, which is apparently a version of the fire-theft tale, of
how Coyote marries a witch who is unable to kill him, is con-
cealed by her from her man-devouring brothers, steals fire
from their lodge, is persecuted by animals at the instigation of
the brothers, and is avenged by his wife, who is transformed
into a bear. The youngest brother, however, with the aid of
the winds, escapes the Bear Woman and eventually kills her,
causing her to live again in the form of the several animals,
which spring from the parts of her body as he cuts it up.

Here end the adventures of the Age of Animals. The ensuing
is the Age of the New Gods. The Yei, under the leadership
of Hastsheyalti, create Estsanatlehi — the great goddess who
rejuvenates herself whenever she grows old — from an image
of turquoise, and her sister, Yolkai Estsan, from white shell.
Each sister gives birth to a son; Estsanatlehi becomes the
mother of Nayanezgani, whose father is the Sun; Yolkai
Estsan of Thobadzistshini, Son of the Waters.^ Counselled
by Niltshi, the Wind, and aided by Spider Woman, who gives
them life-preserving feathers, the boys journey to the home
of the Sun-Carrier — passing, with magic aids, clashing rocks
which, like the Symplegades, close upon those who go between
them; a plain of knifelike reeds and another of cane cactuses,
which rush together and destroy travellers, and finally a des-
ert of boiling sands.® Bear guardians, serpent guardians, and
lightning guardians still bar their way to the Sun’s house,
but these, too, they overcome by means of the Spider’s spells.
In the lodge of the Sun, which is of turquoise and stands on
the shore of a great water, the children of the Sun-Carrier
conceal them in a bundle; but the Sun-Carrier knew of their
coming, and when he had arrived at the end of the day’s


journey, and had taken the Sun from his back and hung it on
a peg on the west wall of his lodge, he took down the parcel.
“He first unrolled the robe of dawn with which they were
covered, then the robe of blue sky, next the robe of yellow
evening light, and lastly the robe of darkness.” In a series of
tests he tried to slay the boys, but, finding at last that he could
not do so, he acceded to their request for weapons with which
to fight the beings that were devouring mankind — armour
from every joint of which lightning shot, a great stone knife,
and arrows of lightning, of sunbeams, and of the rainbow.
The brothers returned to earth on a lightning flash, and in a
series of adventures, like the labours of Hercules, cleansed the
world of the greater part of the man-devouring monsters which
infested it. On a second visit to the Sun, they received four
hoops by means of which their mother, Estsanatlehi, raised a
great storm which brought to an end the Age of Monsters and
formed the earth anew, shaping the canyons and hewing pil-
lars of rock from the ancient bluffs. “Surely all the Anaye
are now killed,” said Estsanatlehi; but Old Age, Cold, Poverty,
and Hunger still survived, and were allowed to live on; for
should they be slain, they said, men would prize neither life
nor warmth nor goods nor food.“

When this had been accomplished, the brothers returned to
the mountain which is their hoine, and whither warriors go to
pray for success in war.®* Then the Sun-God, after creating
the animals which inhabit the earth, departed for the far West
where he had made a lodge, beyond the waters, for Estsanat-
lehi, who became his wife and the great goddess of the west,
the source of the life-bringing rains. Every day, as he journeys
toward the west, the Sun-Carrier sings: