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Yana Texts, by Edward Sapir, [1910], at


p. 31

There was no fire. It is true that people had a kind of fire, but it was not hot. The people went to hunt and kill deer, they went to get salmon, and the women went to get sunflower seeds. The people roasted deer meat, but it was never done. People fetched home salmon and cooked it over the fire, but it was never done. They ate salmon and deer meat raw. The women just slightly browned the sunflower seeds; they were never done. "Hehe'?!" said the men, "I do not like this fire. I am tired now of eating deer meat raw. Hehe'?! there must be fire somewhere around here. There may be fire off to the east, east over the mountains; there may be fire in the south; there may be fire off to the west; there may be fire in the north." The people came together to talk together in council. "Let us look for fire," they said. "Every night, when the sun has already set and it is dark, go up to the north and stay on top of the mountain," one man was told. "Yes," he said.

Every night when it was dark this one man sat there. He stayed and looked to the east. There was no fire in the east, no fire was to be seen. He looked to the north; there was no fire in

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the north. He looked to the west, there was no fire, he did not see any fire. He looked to the south. There there was indeed some fire. There was a light in the south, the fire was seen coming up in sparks. Down in the south they had good fire. This one man now returned home. Many were the people gathered together. "I have seen fire," he said. "Indeed! Where is it? Where is the fire?" "In the south. It is faraway from here." "Let us go and steal it," they said. "Yes, who is the good runner?" (said the chief). "I" (said Fox). "It is I who know how to run." "Who else is a good runner?" "I" (said another). There were two who knew how to run well. "What is your name?" (asked the chief of the first). "Fox." "What is your name?" he asked of the second). "‘A'iwi?auna." 48 "Yes, it is good now."

Behold! The men went off, five of them. They walked in a circle around the village. "Where shall we go?" (they asked one another). "Let us go to the south under the ground." The five men proceeded south under the ground, went off south in the night-time. Arriving in the south, they came up from the ground at K!ū'wiha. 49 Coyote was sleeping; (on their arrival) he arose and said, "Well, where are the people all going to?" "I do not know," said the people there, talking to Coyote. Coyote talked to the rocks, talked to the cooking-basket, talked to the house. "You, tell me, Rock! where are they all going to?" "I do not know," said the rock, said the house. "Where are they all going to?" (he asked the) brush for cleaning acorn flour. "They have all gone out to hunt deer." "Hê!" (exclaimed Coyote), "Why didn't they tell me that?" Now Coyote went to the east, but the five men had already gone a great distance to the south. Coyote ran around the village in a circle, but did not find any tracks. Coyote asked the acorn mortar, "Mortar Woman! Where have the five men all gone to?" "They have all gone to the south." "Indeed!" "Yes." Now Coyote ran,

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running off to the south after them. Coyote found their tracks as he ran after them. The five men had already traveled a great distance, but Coyote caught up with the five men. "Hä!" Coyote shouted in a whisper, "do you wait for me!" The five men looked back (and said in displeasure to one another), "Oh! Coyote has been coming after us." The five men went off to the south day and night, while Coyote came after them. "Huh!" Coyote panted, "I am tired. "Heh!" said Coyote, "Why didn't you tell me about it!" The five men did not talk, for they were angry.

They reached the fire village, arrived in the middle of the night. The light from the fire came up out of the sweat-house. They stole the fire while the people that owned it were all lying asleep on the ground. They went up on a hill to the south of the sweat-house. There lay a chunk of burning coal inside of the sweat-house. It was two of the men, Fox and ‘A'iwi?auna, who stole the fire. "How are we going to manage it? You go inside," he said to Fox. He looked inside in the night, and climbed down through the smoke-hole. The people that had the fire were all asleep. Fox put his hand out for the fire, picked it up, and jumped quickly out of the sweat-house. He carried the fire out with him, having stolen it. They ran to the north. "Run! run, all of you!" (said ‘A'iwi?auna). "When you are tired out, throw the fire to me." They kept running to the north, while Coyote kept running back after them. When they had run back as far as Balê'ha, 50 Coyote said, asking Fox, "Well! Give me the fire. I shall carry the fire in my hand," said Coyote. "Look out!" said Fox, "you might drop it down on the ground, you might burn your hand." "What did I go off to the south for? I shall tell the people when I return home, I shall say that I carried fire. 'I have carried fire!' I shall tell them." They ran back home from the south, they ran back as far as K!ū'wiha. "Give me the fire," said Coyote. Coyote was given the fire (as Fox called out to him), "Hold out your hand." Coyote held out his hand as he was told. Fox was still carrying his fire in

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his hand. "Here it is, take it to yourself," (he said. and) gave it to him. Coyote took the fire, while Fox and ‘A'iwi?auna rushed off. They have thrown their fire to Coyote, as they come running back home from the south.

Coyote burned his hand and dropped his fire. The chunk of coal burst apart into several pieces. "M‘! du' du du du' du du! 50a said Coyote, for he had burned his hand. Everything burned all around, when the fire had been dropped. The fire burned in the south, the fire burned in the east, the fire burned off to the west, the fire burned in the north. It came burning up to this place here. The rocks burst from the heat, the water burned up. The mountain was all covered with smoke, it burned right across the Sacramento river, the people burned up. The two people (that had stolen the fire) rushed off, while the fire came burning after them. It burned and reached up to Eagles village at Cī'p!a. 51

"Hurry up, everybody! This place is burning, the people are burning. Whither shall we go? We can't move into the rocks, we can't move down into the round. Hurry up, all of you!" Spider was living with them. Hurry up, everybody! (Eagle said). "Have you strong rope?" (said Eagle to Spider). "Yes," said Spider. "Do you all go into my big tule basket. Stretch out!" (he said to the basket). They all went inside now, and Spider tied the tule basket on to the sky. Coyote lay down on his belly in the bottom of the tule basket. "Go ahead!" said Eagle. "Hurry up, everybody! This place is burning already." Now Spider pulled the rope up to the sky, pulled the people up. The people filled the tule basket; everybody had gone in to save themselves in the tule basket, together with their children. "Go ahead!" Spider was told. Now there was nobody left in the sweat-house. He pulled up the basket, pulled it up, way up to

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the sky. The fire was crackling all over this place. He had almost pulled the people who were running away from danger clear up to the sky when Coyote said, "Well! I am going to look down, my friends. I am going to see the fire, my friends." "Look out!" (said Eagle). "I shall just tear out a little hole in the basket. I want to see how the fire is burning down there. I shall look down to the ground through a tiny little hole," (said) Coyote, desiring to see the fire. He made a little rent in the tule basket, while Spider kept pulling at his rope. Coyote looked down, the fire was seen. He enlarged the rent in the tule basket. He looked down through the hole and said, "Hê! I see the fire. There is much fire." "Look out! you might fall down through the hole," (said Eagle). The hole spread out a little more so that the basket was now torn a good bit. Coyote fell down through the hole, fell right back down to the ground.

Fire-Drill Woman 52 was standing below and looked around. She looked up, saw the people falling down back to the ground. The people all burned up, burned up completely. Black Bear's eyes popped out way to the east, they popped way to the west, the eyes popped way to the north, his eyes popped to the south. He burned up, but his eyes popped off. 53 Spider remained in the sky.


23:47 The scene of this myth is laid at Bā'djiyu, an Indian village said to have been located above P‘ā'wi, a village on Clover creek at a distance of about eight miles from Millville. Curtin's myth of "The Finding of Fire" (op. cit., pp. 365-370 or no. XIII of this paper) is located at Pawi. The two versions agree fairly well in localization and content, the main differences being that the characteristic episode of the pursuit of the fire-thieves is lacking in Sam Bat‘wī's account (the omission is not accidental, for, when asked, Sam claimed there was no pursuit) and that Curtin's version makes no mention of the burning of the world and the consequent ascent to the sky. The latter episode, however, may have been borrowed from the Loon story (see note 52). Of the three fire-thieves in Curtin's story two, Ahalamila (fox, not gray wolf) and Metsi (coyote), are identical with ‘ahā'limilla and me'tc!i of Sam's version; the third, Shushu Marimi (dog woman), is replaced by ‘a'iwi?auna, perhaps the sandpiper. It is worthy of note that there are in Sam's as in Curtin's account really only three fire-stealing of the five men that start out only two are named, Coyote joining the party later on. For similar fire myths see Kroeber's "Ute Tales" (Journ. Am. Folk-Lore, XIV, 252); Kroeber's "Myths of South Central California" (Univ. Calif. Publ. Am. Arch. Ethn., IV, 211. Truhohi Yokuts with fox, road-runner, coyote, and crow as fire-thieves); Dixon's "Achomawi and Atsugewi Tales" (Journ. Am. Folk-Lore, XXI, 165, 175); and Dixon's "Maidu Myths" (Bull. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist., XVII, 65). Another Yana fire myth, constructed on Maidu lines, is referred to in Dixon's "Northern Maidu" (op. cit.), p. 339. The version contained in Dixon's manuscript Yana note-books, however, does not differ materially from that here given.

32:48 A bird described as brown in color, somewhat bigger than a snow bird, and running along the river shore. Perhaps the sandpiper. ‘aiwi?au- may be, either actually or by popular etymology, connected with ‘ai?au- "to carry fire."

32:49 An Indian village at North Fork of Battle Creek.

33:50 An Indian village at Mill creek, situated on a mountain several miles east of Tehama. It was considered by Sam Bat‘wī to be the farthest Yana point to the south.

34:50a It is very curious that practically the same exclamation (do' do do do do do) is used in a Takelma (southwestern Oregon) text by ghosts on catching fire. The resemblance becomes an identity if we remember that close o and open u are respectively lacking to Yana and Takelma.

34:51 An Indian village on the flat hill (the so-called "Bullskin") that forms the divide between Oak Run and Little Cow creek, removed about half a mile from the former stream. A small lake was situated near by, the resort in former days of countless geese as they migrated north in the spring. See p. 40, l. 1, and p. 142, l. 8.

35:52 Sam Bat‘wī claimed that Fire-Drill Woman was another name for ‘ak!ā'lisi, "Loon." This would make it plausible that the sky episode of this myth is really taken over from the identical incident in the Loon Woman story; see note 207 and Curtin's "Two Sisters, Haka Lasi and Tsore Jowall (op. cit.), pp. 409-10; also no. X of this paper.

35:53 This explains why black bears are to be found in every direction. No attempt was made to explain how two eyes could pop off in four directions.

Next: III. The Visit of the Geese People to Mount Shasta