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Creation Myths of Primitive America, by Jeremiah Curtin, [1898], at

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After each name is given that of the creature or thing into which the Personage was changed subsequently.

Chuhna, spider; Haka hasi, loon; Hitchinna, wildcat; Jamuka, acorn worm; Juka, silkworm; Metsi, coyote; Tsanunewa, fisher (a bird); Tsore Jowa, eagle.


At some distance east of Jigul matu, lived old Juka. He had a great many sons and two daughters--a big house full of children.

Juka's two daughters were Tsore Jowa, the elder, and Haka Lasi, the younger. After a time Haka Lasi fell in love with her brother Hitchinna. One day she fell asleep and dreamed that he had married her.

Metsi lived, too, in Juka's house. He was no relative; he just lived as a guest there.

One day all the men were out hunting. It was then that Haka Lasi saw Hitchinna in a dream. She began to sing about him, and she sang: "I dream of Hitchinna; I dream that he is my husband. I dream of Hitchinna; I dream that he is my husband."

All the men came back from the hunt at night. At daylight next morning they went to swim, and Tsore Jowa made ready food for them. Haka Lasi

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took a very nice staff in her hand, and went on top of the sweat-house. She looked in and sang,--

"Where is my husband? Send him up here to me. I will take him away. We must go on a journey. Where is my husband? Send him up here to me."

All knew that she had no husband.

"You have no husband," said they.

Hitchina was lying in one corner wrapped up in the skin of a wildcat.

"You have no husband in this house; all here are your brothers," said Juka.

"I have a husband, and I want him to come here to me," answered Haka Lasi.

"Well," said the eldest son, "I will go up to her. Let us hear what she will say." He went up.

"You are not my husband," said Haka Lasi. "Do not come near me."

She drove that one down, and called again: "Where is my husband? Send him up to me."

"Go you," said Juka to the second son.

"I don't want you," said Haka Lasi to the second son.

She refused one after another, and drove them away until none was left but Hitchinna. Juka went then to Hitchinna and said,--

"My son, get up and go to her; it looks as though you were the one she wants."

"He is the one," said Haka Lasi; "he is my husband. I want him to go away with me."

Hitchinna said not a word, but rose, washed, dressed himself nicely, and went to the woman.

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"The sun is high now," said Haka Lasi; "we must go quickly."

She was glad when taking away the one she wanted. They travelled along, and she sang of Hitchinna as they travelled, sang of him all the time. They went a long distance, and at night she fixed a bed and they lay down on it.

Young Hitchinna could not sleep, he was frightened. When Haka Lasi was asleep, he rose very quickly, took a piece of soft rotten wood, put it on her arm where she had held his head, covered it, and then ran away quickly, hurried back toward Juka's sweat-house with all his might. About daylight he was at the sweat-house.

Now Chuhna, Juka's sister, lived with him. She was the greatest person in the world to spin threads and twist ropes. She had a willow basket as big as a house, and a rope which reached, up to the sky and was fastened there.

"My nephew," said she to Hitchinna, "I will save you and save all from your terrible sister. She will be here very soon; she may come any moment. She will kill all in this house; she will kill every one if she finds us here. Let all go into my basket. I will take you up to the sky. She cannot find us there; she cannot follow us to that place."

"I will lie lowest," said Metsi. "I am a good man, I will go in first, I will go in before others; I will be at the bottom of the basket."

Metsi went in first; every one in the sweat-house followed him. Then Chuhna ran up, rose on her rope, and pulled the basket after her.

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The sweat-house was empty; no one stayed behind. Chuhna kept rising and rising, going higher and higher.

When Haka Lasi woke up and saw that she had a block of rotten wood on her arm instead of Hitchinna, she said,--

"You won't get away from me, I will catch you wherever you are."

She rushed back to the sweat-house. It was empty; no one there. She ran around in every direction looking for tracks, to find which way they had gone. She found nothing on the ground; then she looked into the sky, and far up, very high, close to the sun. she saw the basket rising, going up steadily.

Haka Lasi was raging; she was so awfully angry that she set fire to the house. It burned quickly, was soon a heap of coals.

The basket was almost at the sky when Metsi said to himself, "I wonder how far up we are; I want to see." And he made a little hole in the bottom of the basket to peep through and look down.

That instant the basket burst open; all came out, poured down, a great stream of people, and all fell straight into the fire of the sweat-house.

Now, Tsore Jowa was outside on top of the basket. She caught at the sun, held to it, and saved herself.

Hitchinna went down with the rest, fell into the burning coals, and was burned like his brothers.

Haka Lasi was glad that they had not escaped her; she took a stick, fixed a net on it, and watched.

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All were in the fire now and were burning. After a while one body burst, and the heart flew out of it. Haka Lasi caught this heart in her net. Soon a second and a third body burst, and two more hearts flew out. She caught those as well as the first one. She caught all the hearts except two,--Juka's own heart and his eldest son's heart.

Juka's heart flew high, went away far in the sky, and came down on the island of a river near Klamath Lake. It turned into Juka himself there. He sank in the ground to his chin; only his head was sticking out.

The heart of the eldest son flew off to the foot of Wahkalu and turned to be himself again. He fell so deep into the earth that only his face was sticking out on the surface.

Now Haka Lasi put all the hearts which she had caught on a string, hung them around her neck, and went to a lake east of Jigulmatu. She wanted to live at the bottom of the lake, but could not find a place deep enough. So she went northwest of Klamath Lake to Crater Lake, where she could live in deep water.

Two Tsanunewa brothers lived near the lake with their old grandmother. One morning early these brothers were out catching ducks, and just at daybreak they heard some one call.

"Who is that?" asked the elder brother. "I don't know," answered the younger.

Soon they saw Haka Lasi spring up on the water and call. She had a large string of hearts around her neck. Then she sank again in the water.

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[paragraph continues] Again she came up at some distance and called a second time.

Now Tsore Jowa came down from the sun and went to the old sweat-house, where she found nothing but a heap of bones and ashes. Putting pitch on her head and on her arms, and strips of deerskin around her neck with pitch on them, she cried and went around mourning. After a time she began to look for her sister. She went everywhere; went to Klamath Lake.

For some time the two Tsanunewa brothers had heard a voice singing,--

"Li-wa-éh, li-wa-há,
 Li-wa-éh, li-wa-há."

This was old Juka. He was lying in the ground where he had fallen, and was crying.

Tsore Jowa searched, inquired, asked every one about Haka Lasi, and told what she had done,--that she had killed her own brothers and father.

Tsore Jowa came at last to the house of the two Tsanunewa brothers one day about sunset, and spoke to their grandmother. "My sister, Haka Lasi, has killed all my brothers and my father," said she; and she told the whole story.

The old woman cried when she heard what Tsore Jowa told her. The two brothers were away hunting; they came home about dark with a large string of ducks. "This woman," said the grandmother, "is looking for her sister, who has killed all her people."

The two brothers cried when the story was told to them. When they had finished crying, they

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said to the old woman. "Cook ducks and let this woman have plenty to eat."

When all had eaten, the two brothers said to Tsore Jowa: "Tell us what kind of a person your sister is. Which way did she go?"

"I don't know which way she went," said Tsore Jowa.

"Three days ago," said the elder brother, "just as daylight was coming, we saw a woman jump up in the lake where we were fishing. She seemed to have large beads around her neck. That woman may be your sister."

"Catch that woman for me. I will give you otter-skins and beads. I will give bearskins. If you wish, I will stay with you here, if you catch her."

"We want no beads nor otter-skins nor bearskins," said the brothers.

"What do you want?"

"We want red deer-bones and green deer-bones; small, sharp ones to stab fish with."

"You shall have all you want of both kinds," said Tsore Jowa.

Next morning she set out with a sack, went away to high mountains, gathered deer-bones, red and green leg-bones, and put them in her sack. At sunset she went back to the house, with the sack full.

The two brothers were glad, now. The elder took red, and the younger green bones. (The fat on the leg-bones of deer turns some red and others green.)

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"You must catch her bad sister for Tsore Jowa," said the old woman to her grandsons.

All that night the brothers sat sharpening the bones and then fastening them to the spear-shafts. They did not stop for a moment. "Let us go now; it is near daylight," said the elder brother.

They started. When they reached the lake, they went out on the water. Every morning at daybreak Haka Lasi sprang up to the surface and called from the lake. The elder brother took a stem of tule grass, opened it, placed it on the water, made himself small, and sat down in the middle of it. The younger brother fixed himself in another stem of tule in the same way. The two tule stems floated away on the water, till they came near the place where the brothers had seen Haka Lasi spring up the first time.

"Let me shoot before you," said the elder brother.

"Oh, you cannot shoot; you will miss her," said the younger. "Let me shoot first. You will miss; you will not hit her heart."

"I will hit," said the elder.

They watched and watched. Each had his bow drawn ready to shoot. Daylight came now. Haka Lasi rose quickly, came to the top of the water, and held out her arms before calling.

The younger brother sent the first arrow, struck her in the neck; the elder shot, struck her right under the arm. Haka Lasi dropped back and sank in the water.

The brothers watched and watched. After a time

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they saw two arrows floating, and were afraid they had lost her. She had pulled them out of her body, and they rose to the surface. After a while the body rose. Haka Lasi was dead.

The brothers saw that she had a great many hearts on a string around her neck. They drew her to the shore then, and carried her home. They left the body hidden outside the house, and went in.

"We did not see her," said the elder Tsanunewa, to his grandmother.

All sat down to eat fish, and when they were through eating, the elder said to Tsore Jowa, "Come out and see what we caught this morning."

She ran out with them, and saw her dead sister with a string of hearts on her neck. Tsore Jowa, took off her buckskin skirt, wrapped up the body, and put it in the house. She counted the hearts.

"My eldest brother's heart is not here, and my father's is not here," said she.

"Every morning we hear some one crying, far away toward the north; that may be one of them," said the two Tsanunewas.

Tsore Jowa started out to find this one, if she could, who was calling. She left the body and hearts at the old grandmother's house, and hurried off toward the north. She heard the cry soon and knew it. "That is my father," said she.

Tsore Jowa came near the place from which the cry rose; saw no one. Still she heard the cry. At last she saw a face; it was the face of Juka, her father.

Tsore Jowa took a sharp stick and dug. She dug

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down to Juka's waist; tried to pull him up, but could not stir him. She dug again, dug a good while; pulled and pulled, until at last she drew him out.

Juka was very poor, all bones, no flesh at all on him. Tsore Jowa put down a deerskin, wrapped her father in it) and carried him to the old woman's house; then she put him with Haka Lasi's body, and carried them home to the old burned sweat-house east of Jigulmatu.

She was crying yet, since one brother was missing. She put down the basket in which she had carried them, hid it away, covered it carefully.

At the foot of Wahkalu lived a certain Jamuka, an old man who had a wife and two daughters.

"Bring in some wood," said the old man one day to his daughters,

The two girls took their baskets and went to bring wood. Soon they heard some one singing,--

"I-nó i-nó, I-no mi-ná
 I-nó i-nó, I-no mi-ná."

"Listen," said the younger sister; "some one is singing."

They listened, heard the singing; it seemed right at the foot of Wahkalu. They went toward the place from which the sound came.

"That is a nice song," said the younger sister. "I should like to see the one who sings so."

They went near, saw no one yet. "Let us take the wood home," said the elder sister, "then come back here; our father may be angry if we stay away longer."

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They took the wood home, put it down, and said nothing. Both went back to the place where the singing was and listened. At last the younger sister came to the right place, and said, "I think this is he who is singing."

There was a head sticking out of the ground, and the face was covered with water. The man had cried so much that he looked dirty and ugly.

The sisters took sharp sticks, and dug all around the head. dug deeply. They could not pull out the person; they had only dug to his waist when night came and they must go.

"Why did you stay out so late?" asked their father.

"We heard some one singing, and wanted to know who it was, but were not able. We will go back in the morning and search again."

"That is well," said Jamuka. He had heard how Juka's sons had been killed. "Perhaps one of those people is alive yet," said he; "you must look for him."

They went early next morning to dig, and drew the man out. They took off their buckskin skirts then. and wrapped him up carefully. He was nothing but bones, no flesh at all on his body. The younger sister ran home to get wildcat skins to wrap around him.

"We have found a man, but he is all bones," said she to her father.

"Take good care of the stranger, feed and nurse him well," said Jamuka; "he may be Juka himself, and he is a good man."

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They wrapped the man in wildcat skins. A great stream of water was running from his eyes, and deer came down the hill to drink of that water.

The girls lay on each side of the man, and gave him food; stayed all night with him. Next morning they went home for more food.

"Feed him, give him plenty," said Jamuka; "he may get health and strength yet."

The sisters went back and stayed a second night. The man began to look better, but he cried all the time, and many deer came to drink the water that flowed from his eyes. The girls went home the second morning. "The man looks better," said they to their father.

"I have heard," said old Jamuka, "that Juka's sons were killed. This must be one of them."

They went back right away, and stayed another day and night with the stranger. The man looked as though he might get his health again. He began to talk. "Has your father a bow and arrows?" asked he of the sisters.

"He has; he has many."

"Bring me a bow and arrows; many deer come near me to drink, I may shoot one."

They took the man's words to their father. Jamuka gave them a bow and some arrows, and they went back to the sick man.

"You may go home to-night," said he. "I wish to be alone."

The girls left him. At sundown a great buck came and drank of the tears, he killed him; later another came, he killed that one; at midnight a third

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came, he killed the third; now he had three. At daylight a fourth buck was killed; he had four now. "That is enough," thought he.

When the girls came and saw four great bucks lying dead near the stranger, they were frightened; they ran home and told their father. Old Jamuka was glad when they told him. He sharpened his knife, hurried out to the woods and looked at the stranger. "That is Juka's son," said he; "take good care of him, daughters."

Jamuka dressed the deer, carried them home, and cut up the venison for drying. Next evening Juka's son sent the girls home a second time, and killed five great deer that night. Next morning the girls came to see him, and ran home in wonder.

Their father was very glad. He dressed the five deer as he had the four, and cut up the venison.

Tsore Jowa was hunting everywhere all this time to find her brother. She had left the hearts, her sister's body, and her father hidden away carefully; had done nothing yet to save them.

The night after Juka's son killed the five deer the two girls took him home to their father. He was well now and beautiful, in good health and strong. He cried no more after that. A salt spring was formed in the place where he had fallen and shed so many tears. The spring is in that place till this day, and deer go in herds to drink from it. People watch near the spring and kill them, as Juka's son did. Tsore Jowa went to every house inquiring about her brother. At last she came to Jamuka's house, and there she found him. She was glad

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now and satisfied. She left her brother with his two wives and hurried home.

Tsore Jowa made in one night a great sweat-house, prepared a big basket, and filled it with water. When the second night came, she dropped hot stones into the water; put all the hearts into the basket. Opening her sister's body, she took out her heart and put it in with the others. At this time the water in the basket was boiling. She covered the basket and placed it on top of the sweat-house. Then she went in, lay down and slept.

The water was seething all night. At daybreak the basket turned over, and there was a crowding and hurrying of people around the sweat-house. They began to talk briskly.

"We are cold, we are cold!" said they. "Let us in!"

Soon broad daylight came. Tsore Jowa opened the door, and all crowded into the sweat-house. Tsore Jowa said not a word yet. All the brothers came; behind them Haka Lasi. She looked well, she was good. Her heart was clean; there was nothing bad now in it.

"Where is our eldest brother?" asked all.

"He is well; I have found him. He has two wives," said Tsore Jowa.

Juka was in good health and strong. She had washed him and given him good food.

All were happy, and they went hunting.

"I think your husband would like to go home," said Jamuka one day to his daughters.

Juka's son and his two wives set out to visit his

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father; Juka saw his son coming; took a big blanket quickly, caught him, placed him in it, and put him right away.

Now the wives of Juka's son came in and sat down in the house. Two other brothers took them for wives. They stayed a long time, never saw their first husband again. Old Juka kept him secreted, made him a Weănmauna, a hidden one.

After a time the two women wished to go home to visit Jamuka. They took beads and blankets, nice things of all kinds, and went to their father at the foot of Wahkalu.

"We have never seen our husband," said they, "since we went to his father's. We have new husbands now."

"I think that is well enough," said Jamuka.

His father has put him away. His brothers are as good for you as he was."

The sisters agreed with their father, and went back and lived at Juka's house after that.

Next: The Dream of Juiwaiyu and his Journey to Damhauja's Country