Creation Myths of Primitive America
Format: Global Grey free PDF, epub, Kindle ebook
Pages (PDF): 384
Publication Date: 1898
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Despite the title, which suggests that this is a comprehensive study of Native American creation myths, this is actually a very good set of animal myths from two tribes of California, the Wintu and Yana. These tribes inhabited the northern Central Valley; the Yana are closely related to the Yahi, the tribe of Ishi, the 'last wild Indian'. Also, these are not creation myths per se; they are tales from an epic cycle about the proto-animal inhabitants of the California dreamtime, the beings who existed before the arrival of humans. That said, this is a very reputable collection which is cited to this day in scholarly papers about native California.
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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. He was in Olelpanti before there was anything down here on the earth, and two old women were with him always. These old women he called grandmother, and each of them we call Pakchuso Pokaila.
There was a world before this one in which we are now. That world lasted a long, long time, and there were many people living in it before the present world and we, the present people, came.
One time the people of that first world who were living then in the country about here were talking of those who lived in one place and another. Down in the southwest was a person whose name was Katkatchila. He could kill game wonderfully, but nobody knew how he did it, nor could any one find out. He did not kill as others did; he had something that he aimed and threw; he would point a hollow stick which he had, and something would go out of it and kill the game. In that time a great many people lived about this place where we are now, and their chief was Torihas Kiemila; these people came together and talked about Katkatchila.
Some one said: "I wonder if he would come up here if we sent for him."
"Let us send for him," said Torihas; "let us ask him to come; tell him that we are going to have a great dance. To-morrow we will send some one down to invite him."
Next morning Torihas sent a messenger to invite Katkatchila; he sent Tsaroki Sakahl, a very quick traveller. Though it was far, Tsaroki went there in one day, gave the invitation, and told about Torihas and his people.
"I agree," said Katkatchila. "I will go in the morning."
Tsaroki went home in the night, and told the people that Katkatchila would come on the following day.
"What shall we do?" asked they.
"First, we will dance one night," said the chief; "then we will take him out to hunt and see how he kills things."
Katkatchila had a sister; she had a husband and one child. She never went outdoors herself. She was always in the house. Nobody ever saw the woman or her child.
When Katkatchila was ready to start he told his sister that he was going, and said to his brother-in-law: "I am going. You must stay at home while am gone."
The sister was Yonot. Her husband was Tilikus.
Katkatchila came to a hill up here, went to the top of it, and sat down. From the hill he could see the camp of the people who had invited him. He stayed there awhile and saw many persons dancing. It was in summer and about the middle of the afternoon. At last Katkatchila went down to where they were dancing, and stopped a little way off. Torihas, who was watching, saw him and said,--
"Come right over here, Katkatchila, and sit by me."
Olelbis was looking down from Olelpanti at this moment, and said to the old women, "My grandmothers, I see many people collected on earth; they are going to do something."
Katkatchila sat down and looked on. Soon all the people stopped dancing and went to their houses. Torihas had food brought to Katkatchila after his journey. While he was eating, Torihas said to him,--
"My grandson, I and all my people have lived here very long. My people want to dance and hunt. I sent one of them to ask you to come up here. They will dance to-night and go hunting to-morrow."
Torihas stood up then and said,--
"You my people, we will all dance to-night and to-morrow morning we will go to hunt. Do not leave home, any of you. Let all stay. We will have a great hunt. Katkatchila, will you stay with us?" asked he. "I shall be glad if you go and hunt with us."
"I will go with you," said Katkatchila. "I am glad to go."
They danced all night. Next morning, after they had eaten, and just as they were starting off to hunt, the chief said to his people,--
"I will send my grandson with Katkatchila, and some of you, my sons, stay near him."
Some said to others: "When Katkatchila shoots a deer, let us run right up and take out of the deer the thing with which he killed it, and then we won't give it back to him." "Do you stay with him, too," said Torihas to Kaisus, who was a swift runner.
The whole party, a great many people, went to Hau Buli to hunt. When they got onto the mountain they saw ten deer. Katkatchila shot without delay; as soon as he shot a deer fell, and Kaisus, who was ready, made a rush and ran up to the deer, but Katkatchila was there before him and had taken out the weapon.
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