Sacred Texts  Native America  California  Index  Previous  Next 
Buy this Book at

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


THIS tale contains actions and a number of personages difficult to identify, because their names are merely epithets. Eltuluma means "he swims in," but who it is that swims in we know not. Keriha seems connected with ducks, from the fact that he wore a duck-skin all his life on earth, and, when he threw off this skin, all ducks were produced from it.

Norwanchakus means the southern end of that staff or stick to which was attached the net with which these two brothers dragged Pui Mem and Bohema Mem, and named each place from the thing which came into the net in front of it.

Nodal Monoko (the little man who ate so many salmon and sturgeons, and carried so many away in his bag) means "sweet

p. 509

in the south." He has another name, Nodal Wehlinmuk, which means "salt in the south." At first he is hostile to grizzly bears, but later has intimate relations with them and marries one. His acts point strongly toward electricity or lightning. His bag, in which the whole world could be put away, may well have been a cloud bag.

Norwinte means "seen in the south;" but, again, we have no knowledge of the person seen. Pom Norwanen Pitchen, the full name of Norwan, is also an epithet meaning "daughter of the land on the southern border," and would convey no information if it stood alone; but as Norwan, in addition to many other details, is also the dancing porcupine and the food-producing woman, we know who she is.

The existence of Puriwa and Sanihas (darkness and daylight) before the sun was in the world, is most interesting. This is one of many proofs that every phenomenon was considered to be independent. Daylight is a personage quite apart from the sun, who is merely that old Sas who fought with Tulchuherris, and who travels through the sky every day from east to west in utter loneliness. He carries that glowing torch which we see as he moves on his way through the sky; but the light of day is a separate personage. Similar considerations apply to Puriwa, darkness or night, who is also a distinct and independent entity.

The struggle between Keriha and Hubit has much charm for Wintus; they laugh heartily at the recital of it.

Next: Kele and Sedit