Yana Texts, by Edward Sapir, , at sacred-texts.com
I shall commence my myth.
The Flint people were living at Djô'djanu. 27 The Flint people quarreled with the Grizzly Bear people. All the Flint people dwelling together had a sweat-house. They used to go to hunt deer, but four were always missing when they returned home. The Grizzly Bears lay in wait for the Flint people, the Grizzly
[paragraph continues] Bears killed the Flint people. All the Flint people living together were very numerous and had a sweat-house. Some were, missing when they returned home, until the Grizzly Bears had, killed all the Flint people. There was just one that returned home. An old woman was sitting inside the sweat-house, Rock Woman, and all the Flint people living together, it is said, were her children. They did not come home from the deer hunt; indeed, they were all killed, the Grizzly Bears killed them all.
Now the old woman was weeping. "Hehe'?! Where can they all have gone?" wept that old woman, waiting for them to come back home. The Grizzly Bears had killed all the Flint people. The old woman, weeping, stayed home by herself, all alone, all her children having been killed. She had quivers hanging, many were the quivers hanging close together, with bows and arrows. Now the old woman was all alone, weeping, being the only Flint, person.
"I shall not die," had said (one of the Flint people), leaving' word behind to her. He hung up a bow, a coarse-sinewed bow up yonder on the south side, while she cried, continuing to weep, sitting inside the sweat-house. The Grizzly Bears were looking into the sweat-house. "I spit out spittle on the ground, on the south side. If I die, pray look at it, grandmother! I shall come to life again from my spittle. Pray look at it! Pray look at it!", She did so in the middle of the night, looking at it. There were no men in the sweat-house, all having been eaten up, the Grizzly Bears having eaten them up. The old woman put pitch on herself as sign of mourning. Suddenly the spittle bawled out. A person came to life again in the middle of the night. "Where is it?" she said. "Who is the child?" "Unā'! unā'!" it said. It was indeed the spittle that had already come to life again. The old woman arose, took the boy up in her arms, and wrapped him up in a blanket. The old woman washed him, carrying him about in her arms. She washed him in the night. "Grand-mother!" "Keep quiet! There are Grizzly Bears outside."
When it was daylight he who had come back to life was crawling about; when the sun was overhead he was already grown up. "Give me a bow," he said, being already grown up. He
looked to the south side, looking at the bow. "Grandmother! I shall go outside to play, grandmother." "No," she said, speaking to Flint Boy, "danger lies outside." "What is it, grandmother?" "All of our people were eaten up," she said, speaking to the young man. She would not let him go outside, saying, "Do not go outside! Outside lies danger." "What is it, grandmother?" "Do you not see that our people are not here in the sweat-house?" "I am not afraid, grandmother." He put out his hand for the bow and said, "I shall go outside. Whose bow is this?" he asked. He took down the quiver hanging on the south side. the bow was so long, short, a coarse-sinewed bow, an ugly bow. "I shall shoot arrows in play. I shall not go far off." "Yes, yes, yes," she said. She believed him.
He pulled out a bow from the quiver. He stretched it, and his bow broke. "Hê!" he said, "that was no man," for he had broken his bow. He took out another bow and stretched it also. He stretched and broke another bow, in this way breaking all the bows. "They were no men. I have broken all their bows." Now he put out his hand for the coarse-sinewed bow. He bent it to himself, it was strong. Again he bent it to himself, it was strong. It did not break, for it was strong. He laughed. "Grandmother, truly it is strong." He laughed, and bent it to himself again, put his feet down on it, pulling at it, so as to break the bow. He put the coarse-sinewed bow down on a rock. "It is strong, grandmother," he said, while the old woman kept on weeping, crying. "This one was a man. Hêhê! Why did he die? Grandmother, I am not able to break it." He put the bow on a rock, and lifted up a big rock; he tried to break the bow by throwing the rock down on it. The coarse-sinewed bow bounced up. "Grandmother, I shall go outside. I shall go around to shoot small game outside. I shall take the bow along, grandmother. I shall not go far off." "Yes! Do not start to go far away. Danger lies outside. Grizzly Bears are waiting for you outside." Now he was the only one. "Yes, grandmother, give me three arrows. Look up the smoke-hole of the sweat-house at the jack-rabbit!" He went outside. Now he shot his arrows, went about shooting at jack-rabbits. (When he returned inside
he said,) "Grandmother! What might that be looking in from above?" "What does he look like? What do his eyes look like?" "His eyes are small; he is small-eyed." "So!" she said. "Perhaps that one is dangerous. Indeed, perhaps that one is a Grizzly Bear, a small-eyed Grizzly Bear." "Grandmother! What is that above?" "What is he like?" "His eyes are big." "So! Perhaps that one is a jack-rabbit, it is jack-rabbits that have big eyes.
Now Flint Boy went out. "Grandmother, I shall go to the south," he said. "I shall go about." "Yes, go about!" "Grandmother, have you any acorn bread?" "Yes." Then she gave him her acorn bread in one round lump. He put his acorn bread 28 inside his blanket, and held it wrapped up here. Now he went off, far away to the south. He came to a halt, looking down hill to the south. There was smoke and many Grizzly Bear women were building a fire, while it was raining, as it is now. 29 The Grizzly Bear women were twenty in number and were digging up earth-worms. Flint Boy went to the fire, built by the Grizzly Bear women. There was nobody at the fire now, as the Grizzly Bear women were occupied in digging up earth-worms. The Grizzly Bear women had stuck their teeth in the ground in a circle about the fire. 30 Flint Boy laughed and said, as he stood near the fire, "Hê!" The Grizzly Bear women thereupon turned around to look. "Who is it?" they said. "Well! Come on, all of you." Flint Boy seized all the Grizzly Bear teeth that had been stuck out to dry, so that they were deprived of their teeth. Now they came back together. "Well! Give me something to eat. I am hungry," said he, lying. The Grizzly Bear women were afraid, for they did not have their teeth. They whispered among themselves: "Who is it? (aloud:) We have no food. We would give you something to eat, but we have no food." "Yes," Flint Boy said, "you are afraid, are you
not?" "We are not afraid." "Are you not hungry? I carry ground acorn bread with me." "Yes," said the Grizzly Bear women. Flint Boy intended to kill the Grizzly Bear women; they did not have their teeth. "I have some acorn bread." "Where is it?" said the Grizzly Bear women. Flint Boy put his hand inside the blanket, and drew forth his acorn bread. He gave each one of them to eat, and they ate of it. "I shall go back home," said Flint Boy. Thus he spoke to the Grizzly Bear women, bidding them adieu. Flint Boy went off back home and came back to his grandmother. "Grandmother! I have seen many women." The Grizzly Bear women were all sick now at the fire, for the acorn bread had made them sick. The women fell back and all died, as they had really eaten flint.
"I shall go to get ma'ls*unna roots, I shall go to dig up roots with a stick." She told Flint Boy, "Stay at home!" "Yes," said Flint Boy. Now she went off to dig roots with a stick. It was spring, and the ma'ls*unna roots were sprouting up out of the ground. Now the old woman dug up roots with her stick, while she carried a pack-basket on her back. Flint Boy, now all alone, stayed at home and looked all around inside. The ma'ls*unna roots were sprouting up out of the ground. The old woman saw them and dug them up. "Unā'! unā'! unā'!" said something which was sprouting up. Indeed it was anew-born babe. The old woman was frightened and dug the child up with a stick. "Heh!" said the old woman, looking at it. "Hehe'! What am I going to do with it?" She took it up in her arms and put the child that she had found down into her pack-basket. The old woman went off home. "Grandmother! Have you come back home already?" "Yes." "Unā'! unā'! unā'!" it said outside. "Grandmother, what is that that is coming?" "I found that one." "Where was it?" "I was digging up roots, when suddenly it cried." "Indeed, grandmother, wash it, maybe that one is a person." She did so, washing him. He also did not grow as people generally do; he grew up quickly.
Now Flint Boy went off, went outside. "Grandmother, I should like to take him along." "Yes," said the old woman, "Please do not go far away. Take care! Stay right around
here, a little ways to the east." "What is your name?" Flint Boy asked the child. "My name is Little Gray Squirrel," 31 "Grandmother, what do you say to it? I shall take him along." "Go off to a great distance." "Grandmother, I wish to make a dog. We have no dog. What do you say to that!" "Do so! Make it, make it, make it!" "I shall go to hunt deer," said Flint Boy, asking her. She assented. Now they went off to a great distance to the east, going to hunt deer. Flint Boy sat down on a mountain. "You! What would you do?" he asked the boy. "I want to make a dog of you. What, pray, would you say if you should bark?" He did not talk. "Oh, I should talk in any way at all." "I want to hear it," said Flint Boy. "Bark!" "Hū', hū! hū!" Flint Boy was frightened as the dog barked. The earth shook while the dog barked. The sound went from there to the north, it went from there to the south, it went from there to the east, it went from there to the west. 32 Flint Boy looked at him and said, "It is good now."
Now Flint Boy went off with his dog as far as up on the mountain here to the west. 33 "I want a woman," said Flint Boy, talking within his heart; so he took a wife. When it was daybreak he went up on the mountain to the west, taking the woman and his dog with him. The dog lay curled up beside the house. "Listen," he said to his wife, "I shall go out to hunt deer. I think this is a good place, here on the south, is it not?" "Yes," she answered. "I shall not take the dog along with me. Tie him down to the ground, for he might run off after me.
"Pray do not play with the dog," she said to the people there, tying the dog down to the ground. "He might run off after him," said his wife, speaking to his people. "Yes, yes, we shall not play with the dog." (Before he went off) Flint. Boy played
with him. "Bark!" he said, and the dog barked "Hū', hū', hū', hū'!" The earth shook; the people were afraid while the dog barked. They in the north heard the dog barking, they in the east heard the dog barking, the south people heard it, they to the west over the mountains heard it.
Now Flint Boy went off to hunt deer to the south. He went off leaving two women behind him in the house. (When he had gone) they whispered to one another, "What do you think? Let us turn the dog loose." They did so and began to play with him. One of the women spoke to the dog, saying, "Bark!" While Flint Boy was away, the dog barked as he had done before, and his speech was like thunder. Flint Boy heard his dog barking. Now the dog ran away, looking for Flint Boy's footsteps. The women called to the dog to come back, but he kept on barking after Flint Boy. "Hū', hū'!" said the dog, crying. All at once there appeared a fog. It did not rain, but the fog just moved about. "Hū', hū'!" he kept on saying, while he ran off. The two women cried, but the dog kept on barking, "Hū', hū'!" up above; he was now heard to bark, running off up to the sky. The dog melted away into the fog, rising up; indeed he was now flying up to the sky. People hear the dog barking in the sky. 34
6:3a The nine gatā'?i myths here given were obtained in December, 1907, just north of and across the Sacramento river from Redding, Shasta County. The informant was Sam Batwī, one of the four or five Indians still left that have a speaking knowledge of this dialect and probably the only one that is at all acquainted with the mythology. His original dialect was the now extinct Southern Yana, spoken south of Battle creek, but having early in life moved north to the Cow creek country in the neighborhood of the present hamlet of Millville, he learned to use the Central or gatā'?i dialect (called gatā'?a by the Northern Yana of Montgomery creek and Round Mountain) and seems now unable to make fluent use of his former dialect.
The Central and Northern Yana texts not only supplement each other in regard to dialect, but also serve to illustrate the differences between the men's and women's forms of the language (except that of course in conversational passages the use of sex forms depends upon the circumstances of the case--women under all circumstances and men in speaking to women use the female, men in speaking to men use the male forms). However, Sam had a tendency to slip into the use of female forms, probably owing to the fact that he had been for a long time accustomed to use his language chiefly in talking to his wife, who had died but a short time before these texts were dictated. When his attention was called to these lapses, he admitted the charge, and jocosely explained them as due to a too frequent dreaming and thinking about women.
6:26 This myth corresponds to that of "The Hakas and the Tennas" (i.e., "The Flints and the Grizzly Bears") in Curtin's Creation Myths of Primitive America," pp. 297-310 (notes on p. 521). Curtin's Haka and Hakaya'mchiwi correspond to ha'ga and hagaya'mtc!iwi; Tenna is ten?na (te'nna in garī'?i); Tsuwalkai is djuwa'lk!ai(na); Dari Jowa', probably incorrectly translated as "eagle," is doubtless dā'ridjuwa, "gray squirrel," in this version Thunder's own name; Teptewi (p. 304) is te'p!diwi. Curtin's explanation of the myth (p. 521) as a nature allegory representing the struggle of fire or lightning, with which he identifies flint, and the clouds, which for unknown reasons the grizzly bears are supposed to represent, is altogether unwarranted. On the whole the two versions correspond satisfactorily; the latter portion of both, pp. 309-10 of Curtin and pp. 21-22 of this volume, is an apparently quite unconnected account of the origin of thunder, a child dug up from the ground.
17:27 A mountain east of Buzzard's Roost (or Round Mountain) near the headwaters of Montgomery creek, at which Terry's sawmill is now situated.
20:28 This "acorn bread" was really made of ground flint.
20:29 It happened to be raining when this story was dictated. Sam Batwī was fond of illustrating his narratives by gestures, references to which are to be found here and there in the texts.
20:30 In Curtin's version (p. 305) the teeth are hung up on a tree near the fire.
22:31 Sam Batwī found it at least curious that the newly-dug-up child should have known its own name, though none had been bestowed upon it. He suggested no explanation.
22:32 This sort of emphasis on the cardinal points seems characteristic of northern California. The Yana texts give numerous examples of the formulaic rigmarole. In this passage there is the implied conclusion that the incident explains why nowadays dogs are found to bark in every direction.
22:33 The reference is to Bally Mountain, about 14 miles west of Redding, where the myth was told. Bally Mountain is in Wintun territory.
23:34 As thunder.