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Myths and Legends of our Own Land, by Charles M. Skinner, [1896], at


Many fantastic accounts of the origin of man are found among the red tribes. The Onondagas say that the Indians are made from red earth and the white men from sea-foam. Flesh-making clay is seen in the precipitous bank in the ravine west of Onondaga Valley, where at night the fairies "little fellows" sport and slide. Among others, the Noah legend finds a parallel. Several tribes claim to have emerged from the interior of the earth. The Oneidas point to a hill near the falls of Oswego River, New York, as their birthplace; the Wichitas rose from the rocks about Red River; the Creeks from a knoll in the valley of Big Black River in the Natchez country, where dwelt the Master of Breath; the Aztecs were one of seven tribes that came out from the seven caverns of Aztlan, or Place of the Heron; and the Navajos believe that they emerged at a place known to them in the Navajo Mountains.

In the under world the Navajos were happy, for they had everything that they could wish: there was no excess of heat or cold, trees and flowers grew everywhere, and the day was marked by a bright cloud that arose in the east, while a black cloud that came out of the west made the night. Here they lived for centuries, and might have been there to this day had not one of the tribe found an opening in the earth that led to some place unknown. He told of it to the whole tribe. They set off up the passage to see where it led, and after long and weary climbing the surface was reached. Pleased with the novelty of their surroundings, they settled here, but on the fourth day after their arrival their queen disappeared.

Their search for her was unavailing until some of the men came to the mouth of the tunnel by which they had reached the upper land, when, looking down, they saw their queen combing her long, black locks. She told them that she was dead and that her people could go to her only after death, but that they would be happy in their old home. With that the earth shut together and the place has never since been open to the eye of mortals. Soon came the cannibal giants who ravaged the desert lands and destroyed all of the tribe but four families, these having found a refuge in a deep canon of the Navajo Mountains. From their retreat they could see a beam of light shining from one of the hills above them, and on ascending to the place they found a beautiful girl babe.

This child grew to womanhood under their care, and her charms attracted the great manitou that rides on a white horse and carries the sun for a shield. He wooed and married her, and their children slew the giants that had destroyed the Navajos. After a time the manitou carried his wife to his floating palace in the western water, which has since been her home. To her the prayers of the people are addressed, and twelve immortals bear their petitions to her throne.



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