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The material on which this paper is based was collected in the years 1901 to 1906 as part of the work of the Ethnological and Archaeological Survey of California carried on by the University of California's Department of Anthropology, which owes its existence and continued support to the interest of Mrs. Phoebe A. Hearst.

California presents three principal ethnological divisions. First, in the extreme northwest of the state, bordering on the Pacific Ocean and Oregon, is a small area whose native culture is fundamentally isolated to an unusual degree. Second, in the region commonly known as Southern California, that is to say the territory south of Tehachapi pass in the interior and of Point Concepcion on the coast, there is some diversity of ethnological conditions, but the area as a whole is quite distinctly marked off from the remainder of the state. Third, there is the remaining two-thirds of the state, an area which has been called, in an ethnological sense, and in distinction from the Northwestern and Southern areas, the Central region. This central region consists of what is ordinarily known as northern California and central California, two areas of about equal extent lying north and south of the latitude of San Francisco. Northern California is constituted by the Sacramento valley and the adjacent portions of the Sierra Nevada and Coast Range; central California, by the San Joaquin valley and the parts of the same mountain ranges contiguous to it. The Sacramento valley drains southward, the San Joaquin valley northward. The drainage of both enters the ocean at San Francisco; so that the selection of this

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city to mark the separation of the northern odd southern halves of the Central region is not fortuitous.

The of northwestern California is still rather imperfectly represented by collections of traditions, but its general characteristics have been discussed in a paper on "Wishosk Myths" in a recent number of the Journal of American Folklore.[1] The mythology of the Central region, both northern and southern, is treated in the present paper. That of the northern half is comparatively well known through several collections, and will be summarized here. That of the southern half,--south central California,--is very little known, but is illustrated by the new material which constitutes the present paper. The mythology of Southern California is quite distinct from that of the Northwestern and Central regions, and deserves separate discussion.[2]


There are two principal published collections of myths from the Indians of the northern half of the Central region: Dixon's "Maidu Myths"[3] and Curtin's "Creation Myths of Primitive America."[4] These two works illustrate the mythology of three linguistic families, the Maidu, Wintun, and Yana. Smaller publications, together with the various material available to the author as a result of the work of the Ethnological and Archaeological Survey of California, serve to give some idea of the traditions of this whole northern Central region. The most general characteristics of this mythology include a marked development of true creation ideas, with the participation of Coyote in a role more or less opposed to that of the Creator; the absence of migration or historical traditions; the importance of hero and destroyer myths, and the general prevalence of animal characters. These

[1. XVIII, 85, 1905.

2. See Journ. Am. Folk-Lore, XIX, 309, 1906.

3. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist., XVII, 33-118, 1902. Compare also Some Coyote Stories from the Maidu Indians of California, Journ. Am. Folk-Lore, XIII, 267-270, 1900; System and Sequence in Maidu Mythology, ibid., XVI, 32-36, 1903; and Mythology, 333-342, of the Northern Maidu, Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist., XVII, 119 seq.

4. Boston, 1898.]

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characteristics as compared with the mythological traits of Northwestern California have been set forth in the before-mentioned paper on Wishosk Myths. It remains now to examine and summarize this north Central material in order to compare it more fully with the material which was obtained and is here newly presented from the south Central region.


With a few exceptions, the Maidu myths given by Dr. Dixon were collected at two points, Genesee in Plumas county and Chico in Butte county. They are representative therefore of two of the three principal divisions of the Maidu, the northeastern and the northwestern. In the northwestern division Dr. Dixon distinguishes between the inhabitants of the Sacramento valley and those of the foothill region. Chico being situated on the Sacramento river, the myths obtained there would seem to represent the valley half of this division. The tales from the northeastern and northwestern divisions are given intermingled by Dr. Dixon, though always with indication of the place of origin of each story. In spite of the greater incompleteness of the Chico or northwestern series, it parallels the northeastern, so that the character common to both is perhaps brought out more strongly by considering them separately; and this will here be done.

The northeastern Maidu series, though the fuller, is represented by a creation myth, number 2, that is either incomplete or less typical than the northwestern one given by Dr. Dixon. The principal character, Earth-namer or Earth-maker, plays the part of a transformer rather than of an actual creator. The origin of the physical world is also not accounted for by the myth. The relation of the transformer-creator to Coyote, and the conceptions displayed as to the destiny of man, however, affiliate this northeastern myth with the northwestern one. A version of this myth by Powers, mentioned below, amplifies the present one by narrating also the creation of men from sticks.[1] The next most

[1. Elsewhere, p. 336, Dr. Dixon says that the creator placed small wooden figures in the ground, to grow into men at the end of the mythic era.]

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important northeastern Maidu tale, that of the conqueror, number 3, tells of a supernaturally born destroyer, conqueror, and avenger. After recounting the origin of this hero, the myth consists of a series of detached incidents of adventure, all more or less of the same nature. Next follows the account of the theft of fire from its original owner, number 5. The story of Thunder and his daughter, number 6, has for its essence the successful escape of the hero from dangers caused by his father-in-law, whom he finally overcomes. This type of myth is one of the most favored, not only, as will be seen, in this region of California, but in other parts of North America, such as the Plains and the North Pacific Coast. The story of the Loon-woman, number 7, is apparently confined to a circumscribed region in northern California, but within this is quite typical. Its fundamental idea, that of love between a brother and sister , has equivalents in the mythology of most tribes on the continent of North America. In northern California Curtin gives this particular Loon-woman form from the Yana, and Dr. Dixon mentions it as found among the Achomawi. It occurs also among the Karok of northwestern California. The story of the sun and moon, number 8, first part, has for its chief episode a conflict between the sun and the frog. The tale of the bear and deer children, number 9, is, as noted by Dr. Dixon, a great favorite in northern California. The bear kills the deer; the deer children kill the bear children, flee, and finally escape the pursuing bear. It will be seen below that this story is found also in certain parts of south central California; and it occurs among at least some of the tribes of northwestern California. Within these limits, although frequently connected with distinct and unrelated episodes, it shows everywhere fundamentally the same form. Moreover this tale is one of the few characteristic of California and found also outside the state." A number of short Coyote stories given by Dr. Dixon, number 10, 1-7, 16., are similar to the Coyote and trickster stories found in a generally similar form everywhere in North America. In a number of these from the northeastern Maidu there is a contest between Coyote and an

[1. As far north as the Kwakiutl and the Thompson River Indians. See the parallels given by Dixon, p. 341.]

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opponent. Sometimes Coyote is superior and sometimes he is worsted. The story of the woman who falls in love with the butterflies, number 12, seems quite specialized. The tale of the Frog-woman who acts the impostor for another woman, number 13, rests on an idea found elsewhere; but the association of the frog with this incident is quite typical of northern California. The tale of the lizard and the grizzly bear, number 16, is an animal tale of a certain simplicity. The grizzly bear having killed all the lizard's relatives except him and his grandmother, the lizard in revenge first reviles and then kills the bear. As will be seen, this story is paralleled in south central California. The several northeastern Maidu stories of the fish-hawk and the deer ticks, of the skunk and the beetle, and of the wolf making the snow cold, numbers 11, 17, 18, are comparatively trivial and humorous. In the tale of Big-belly's son, number 21, the essential element is again the idea of the revenging hero. In addition, the deceitful Frog-woman again appears. The story of the mountain lion, who deserts his wives, whereupon his children support themselves until they induce their father to return, number 22, has only general parallels in south central California and on the Plains. So far the northeastern Maidu stories.

The northwestern Maidu myths begin with a fully developed and typical creation myth, number 1. In the beginning everything is water. The creator descends from the sky and makes earth from mud for which the turtle has dived. He brings forth the sun and moon and makes the stars. He makes animals, makes people, and vivifies them. He fails, owing to Coyote's opposition, in making men immortal. Coyote suffers in the death of his own son for being responsible for bringing death into the world. Men come to speak different languages, and Kuksu, the first man, sends away the tribes with directions as to their life and customs. After this account of the creation, the next most important northwestern myth, number 4, is an exact parallel, in its general course, to the northeastern conqueror story, although the individual incidents mostly differ. Several Coyote tales, number 10, 10-15, are given. The first of these relates the theft of fire; the next, like a number from the northeastern Maidu, tells of contests of Coyote in which he is sometimes

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superior and sometimes inferior; and several other Coyote tales develop incidents of the well-known and wide-spread type of unsuccessful imitation. The story of the devouring head, number 14, is found in some form, and in a great many different connections, over the larger part of North America. The particular form that occurs here appears also among the neighboring Yana. The story of the stolen brother who was taken to the sky and finally recovered, number 15, has a number of parallels in northern California. Curtin gives a Wintun version and another was obtained by the author among the Salmon river Shasta. Similar mythical ideas, sometimes with the visit to the sky forming the principal feature and sometimes with this omitted, are found farther north on the Pacific Coast and to the east. The northwestern story of Thunder and his daughter, number 19, is perhaps a modified form of the evil father-in-law tale. At any rate it connects with it in being similar to the northeastern story of Thunder and his daughter, which belongs clearly to this type.

Several Maidu myths given by Stephen Powers,[1] while not forming a systematic collection, supplement Dr. Dixon's in a very satisfactory fashion. Powers distinguishes between the Maidu, corresponding to Dixon's northeastern and northwestern Maidu, and the Nishinam, who are Dixon's southern Maidu. From the former he gives the Kodoyanpe or creator and Onkoito or conqueror myths, in versions agreeing closely with Dixon's northeastern forms and in part amplifying them. A story of which the wild-cat is the hero, an animal myth of a younger brother[2] who succeeds through magical power, is not given by Dr. Dixon. Powers' southern Maidu myths are particularly valuable. One tells of the causation of death and cremation by Coyote, who argues against a return of man to life and prevails. When his own son is killed by a rattlesnake, Coyote is unable to undo his decision. In another story Coyote appears as the destroyer, by deceit, of a cannibal. In another tale, the theft of fire which is accomplished by the lizard results in a general conflagration. The bear and deer story is another one given.

[1. Tribes of California, Contrib. N. Am. Ethn. III: northern Maidu, 290, 292, 294; southern Maidu, 339, 341, 341, 342, 343, 344.

2. Related to the myth about the wild-cat and panther's magical control of the deer, found among the Shasta (Burns), Yuki, and Lassik (Goddard).]

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That of Aitut and Yototowi is interesting because it is a version of the tale of the visit to the dead characteristic of the San Joaquin valley. This is its northernmost occurrence known. This circumstance, and the fact that no creation myth is given by Powers, point to some mythological relationship of the southern Maidu with their neighbors the Miwok, corroborating Dr. Dixon's statements as to their culture in general.


Curtin's "Creation Myths of Primitive America" contains twenty-two tales, the first nine from the Wintun, the last thirteen from the Yana. The last of the Wintun stories is not a myth. The Wintun tales are told at great length, and therefore more than make up for their small number. They are all from the northern Wintun, apparently not far from the Shasta region; and as the Wintun family has a long narrow north and south distribution, Curtin's myths must not be regarded as typical of the entire stock.[1] There is every reason to believe from the general cultural relations that the mythology of the southernmost Wintun was nearer to that of the Pomo, and perhaps other adjacent groups, than to the northern Wintun material given by Curtin. In their form also Curtin's Wintun myths cannot be considered as typical of the character of the mythology of a large area any more than in their locality. It would appear from their general similarity that they may all have been obtained from a single individual of unusual power, not only of narration, but of mythological combination; and it is likely that the same tales as told by the majority of the Wintun of the region may have been much less developed both in detail and in arrangement. Finally, the systematization of this mythology as set forth in the author's introduction and notes must be kept carefully apart from the systematization actually present in the myths themselves.

[1. It appears accordingly that while the three stocks illustrated by the collections of Curtin and Dixon held the whole Sacramento valley region, the territory actually represented by the myths given in these collections comprises only a comparatively small part of the region, in a restricted area in northeastern California. This is a fact which must not be lost sight of in making comparisons.]

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The northern Wintun conception of Olelbis, "sitting in the above" or "he who is in heaven," shows a developed and a lofty conception of a creator. At the same time it is very noticeable that creation takes place not so much by actual making or calling into existence on the part of the supreme deity, as is the case among the Maidu, as by the origination of objects and faculties from a number of individual beings distinct from him and already endowed with certain powers. The water woman is the originator of water, the child of the fire-drill of fire, Old-man white-oak-acorn of oak trees, the cloud dogs of clouds. Similar characters are Wind, and Katkatchila, the "swift," from whom flint was obtained for the people of the world. The principal incidents of the long Olelbis myth, given in sequence rather than in the order of Curtin, are as follows:

Olelbis makes a great sweat-house in the sky with the help of two old women whom he calls his grandmothers. People steal flint from its possessor. In revenge he causes a world fire. Olelbis has Water-woman put it out. The earth being then bare, earth is brought on it and the mountains are made. This is done by order of Olelbis, but it is to be noted that the earth with which the world is covered, is not made by him but is found beyond the confines of the human world. Fire is obtained from the fire people by theft, though without the pursuit usually narrated in American myths of the theft of fire. Then rivers are made by Olelbis. The fish in them, however, spring from one fish left in a pool of water after the world fire and world flood. Then oaks are made through the power of Old-man-acorn. Deer, elk, shells, and other objects entering into Indian life are made from portions of the body of Wokwuk, a mythical bird with Olelbis. The cloud dogs are caught by Olelbis and the clouds made of their skins. Then Olelbis sends off the various people of the world of that time, each with his specific qualities, to turn into animals and inanimate objects.

After this creation myth are told the following stories.

In the second, Water-woman, here the wife of Olelbis, is carried off by Wind. Water is reobtained from her.

In the third story, a woman called Norwan, of supernatural origin, is married, and, upon her deserting her husband at a

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dance, a battle occurs. The remainder of this long tale is filled with accounts of fighting of an epic character, three battles taking place altogether.

The fourth story, that of Tulchuherris, tells of the hero who is dug from the ground, a common conception both in northwestern and central California as well as elsewhere in America. In body, this myth belongs to the class telling of the successful overcoming by the hero of his evil father-in-law, who in this case is the sun. A number of the incidents, such as that of the swinging on a tree with the object of dashing the opponent against the sky, are favorites in north central as well as northwestern California.

The fifth story, that of Coyote and the buzzards, tells of the origin of death. Its form is quite philosophical, but the ideas it embodies are found throughout central California, and almost invariably associated with Coyote.

The sixth tale, that of Hawt, is one of character and supernatural powers rather than of plot or incidents. The hero is the lamprey eel.

The seventh story, that of Norwanchakus and Keriha, contains three principal and really distinct portions. The first narrates the theft of daylight, an idea found also among the coast Indians of northern California. The second is a contest of Keriha with the wasp. In the third part of the tale, Keriha, the younger brother, is stolen. His location is learned from the sun. The people then climb to the sky and he is rescued. This mythical idea has been mentioned in connection with the northwestern Maidu.

The eighth myth, that of wolf and Coyote, is again one of character rather than of plot. Coyote is inferior to the being whom he imitates. The making of persons from sticks, a common California conception, is also told.

A southern Wintun myth from middle Cache creek given by Stephen Powers' tells of a world conflagration started in anger, of its burning southward, of its extinction by Coyote, who thereupon also renews water, and of his creation of people from sticks. There is sufficient here to show that the northern Wintun

[1. Op. cit., 227.]

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Olelbis myth is not without some parallels in the southern part of the family; but the creator himself is replaced by Coyote. Dixon[1] mentions that among the southern Wintun there is little antithesis between creator and Coyote in the creation myth, and that the story of the theft of fire resembles the northern Maidu version more closely than does the northern Wintun one.


Curtin's Yana myths, though more numerous than his Wintun ones, are less distinctive. They represent evidently only part of the mythology of the tribe, for no creation myth is given. The last myth in the book has as its concluding incident the making of man from sticks, but only as an episode, and undoubtedly does not adequately represent the ideas of the Yana as to the creation. Most of the thirteen stories, and a great many of the episodes contained in them, have parallels among the Maidu or Wintun or both. The sixteenth story tells of the theft of fire. The contest of the hero with his father-in-law, and his final victory over him, are told in two stories, the tenth and twentieth. The eleventh story, that of the Hakas and the Tennas, the flints and the grizzly bears, and the twelfth, that of Ilhataina, tell of the revenge taken by the hero upon those who have destroyed his people. The hero of the latter tale has his origin by being dug out of the ground. The thirteenth tale, that of Hitchinna, is the familiar one of the rolling devouring head. The nineteenth, called that of the two sisters, is the loon-woman story that has been commented upon in connection with the Maidu. The incident of the frog-women acting as substitutes or imposters is found in the fifteenth story, that of Sukonia's wives. The remaining tales have little specific character, but are stories of fighting, fleeing from monsters, overcoming of dangers, and victory in gambling, with the supernatural and magical element strongly developed and at times rather extravagant. While the Yana material given by Curtin is not sufficient to allow of a statement of what elements that are found among neighboring tribes their mythology lacks; yet it is evident, if this material is

[1. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. XVII, 339, 340.]

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at all typical, that the Yana mythology contains probably no very important ideas that are specific to it and foreign to the Wintun and Maidu.

Dr. Dixon has collected myths among the Yana, but they are as yet unpublished. In the course of a general discussion he mentions the general close similarity between Yana, Achomawi, and northern Maidu mythologies. In regard to the creation--where Curtin's published material is deficient--he states that the Yana told of a primeval water, and of constant difference of purpose between the creator and Coyote. The Yana story of the theft of fire as outlined by Dr. Dixon differs from that told by Curtin. It is discovered mainly by the lizard, and the pursuers are hindered by having their dresses cut while asleep. According to Dr. Dixon, the bear and deer children story also belongs to the Yana.[1]


The mythology of the Achomawi or Pit River Indians, north of the Maidu, is nearly unknown. Powers[2] has a paragraph on their creation myth. Coyote made the earth by scratching it out of nothingness. The eagle continued and made the mountains. The eagle's feathers turned to vegetation--an idea with Wintun and Yuki parallels. Coyote and the fox made men; the former, after a dispute, prevailed and caused permanent death. Coyote stole fire. Dr. Dixon[3] states that the Achomawi tell the creation of men much like the northwestern Maidu: Coyote attempts to imitate the creator and makes deformed people through not restraining himself. Elsewhere[4] he says that the Achomawi account of the beginning of the world is similar to the Maidu one, but carries the origin back farther. A cloud forms and grows into the silver-gray fox, the creator. Then Coyote is formed. By thought the creator makes a canoe in which the two remain until they make the world. The antithesis between them is similar to that in Maidu creation myths. Altogether, according to Dr. Dixon, the mythology of the Achomawi

[1. Op. cit., 339, 340, 42.

2. Op. cit., 273.

3. Op. cit., 42, 71.

4. Ibid., 335.]

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and that of the northern Maidu and the Yana is much alike. A special form of the theft of fire and of the loon-woman myth has been found so far only among them; and in other tales, such as those of the bear and deer children, the sisters sent to marry the stranger, and the Coyote stories, there is also close similarity.

Of the mythology of the Shasta, Dr. Dixon says[1] that the creation myth is brief, undeveloped, and of a different type from that of the Maidu, Coyote being the creator as well as the trickster. He mentions a story of the theft of fire different from the characteristic version of the northern Maidu, Yana, and Achomawi, and says that the Shasta also tell the Loon-woman myth in a modified form.

Half a dozen Scott's Valley Shasta myths told by L. M. Burns[2] deal mostly with Coyote and contain no approach to a creation myth. One tells of the theft of fire by Coyote. In the others he is a trickster, usually coming out inferior. One tale is a version of the imposter frog-woman. The last of the myths has a dug-from-the-ground hero and belongs to the evil father-in-law type, with numerous analogues in northern California. There is also a version of the story of the actions of panther, wild-cat, and Coyote in connection with the supernatural control of the deer. This myth having been found also among the Maidu, Yuki, and Lassik, appears to be of general distribution in the northern Central region. The Shasta form agrees with the Maidu in making the wild-cat the recoverer of a magic ball controlling deer, whereas in the Yuki and Lassik versions he causes the loss of the power by yielding to Coyote.

Several Shasta myths collected by the author on Salmon river[3] also include no creation myth or mention of a creator. One of them gives the origin of death. The cricket's child dying, Coyote refuses to let it live again. Later his own child dies. Fire is stolen from across the ocean by the bluejay, robin, turtle, and ground-squirrel. They bring with them also acorns. There

[1. Op. cit., 339.

2. Land of Sunshine, XIV, 131, 132, 223, 310, 312, 397.

3. From a half-breed informant, whose maternal grandfather was from Salmon river, her maternal grandmother from Scott's Valley. She lives at Forks of Salmon. The places mentioned in the myths are mostly on the Salmon and its two main forks; one is on New river, two on the Klamath in Karok territory, none in Scott's Valley.]

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are northwestern resemblances in this myth. A fragment which tells how Coyote tried to make the white deer-skin dance near Sawyer's Bar on the north fork of the Salmon, but found the place too narrow; then tried Forks of Salmon; and finally the mouth of the Salmon, where the Karok actually make the ceremony; is distinctly northwestern in spirit. So is a story of a hero--from Karok territory--who was rejected by two sisters when he appeared covered with sores, but was accepted when the sores changed to woodpecker scalps, and who played shinny with the ten thunder brothers and beat them. A tale of a girl who turns to a devouring bear has many parallels in the interior of the continent. A story of the evil father-in-law, in this case the sun, and one of the brother who was stolen and recovered from the sky, are of north central California type, and of considerable similarity to Curtin's northern Wintun versions. Altogether the Salmon Shasta seem to have been under greater Karok influence than the main body of the stock farther east; this is natural, as they lived only a few miles from some of the most important places held by the Karok.

The absence of a true creator from Shasta mythology must not be regarded as necessarily all approximation to northwestern beliefs, for there are as yet no evidences of any Shasta equivalents of the characteristic northwestern culture-heroes.[1]

[1. Since the above was written Dr. Dixon has published in the American Anthropologist, n. s. VII, 607-12, 1905, an article discussing the mythology of the Shasta-Achomawi and its relation to the traditions of the neighboring peoples. No myths are given in detail, but the entire mythology is concisely summarized. Dr. Dixon finds considerable difference between the traditions of the Shasta and those of the Achomawi. He gives the creation of the latter much as it has been summarized above, except that Coyote is here said to have appeared from a cloud before the creator, the silver fox, arose from a fog. When the boat in which the two are drifting becomes worn out, the fox, while Coyote is asleep, combs out from his own body a mass of hair, forms it into a flat disk, sets it floating on the water, and on it places what are to be trees and plants. (This somewhat suggests the Yuki creation of the world from a basket.) After the making of mankind, the struggle between the creator and Coyote begins, Coyote wishing the conditions of life to be hard. He is successful, and death is brought into the world, although his own child is the first to die. The creator tries in vain to destroy Coyote. At this point the loon-woman myth is introduced. The animals, in trying to escape the loon, fall into the fire kindled by her, and are burned to death. The fox, however, restores their hearts to life and gives to each animal its peculiar characteristics.

Among the Shasta the dualism between the creator and Coyote, which, although more philosophical, is on the whole less developed among the Achomawi than among the Maidu, is entirely lacking. The Achomawi creation {footnote p. 182} episodes are also wanting among the Shasta, and there is no clear idea of a creator or origin. The most that has been found is a confused account of a flood. After the subsidence of the water the world is largely shaped by the eagle, who sends a boy and a girl who marry and originate the human race. There is little trace of the making of animals or anything else. Coyote assumes a very important rôle, in that he names the animals. Although he is responsible for the introduction of death into the world, the story is told differently than by the Achomawi or Maidu. The systematic orderly character of the mythology, which the Achomawi share with the Maidu, is entirely lacking among the Shasta, and creation ideas are as absent as in Northwestern California.

In the myths not dealing with creation, the Shasta and the, Achomawi are more similar to one another. Both possess many Coyote stories, the major part of which they have in common. The Achomawi, however, share a number of episodes in such stories with the Maidu and not with the Shasta. On the other hand, Coyote in a number of these tales among the Shasta is less purely a trickster than among the Achomawi, as he figures several times as an important character, a benefactor of mankind, and a destroyer of monsters. (The same evidently holds true among the Shasta as among other tribes where Coyote alone takes the place of the contrasting personages of the creator and himself, as among the Pomo, Southern Wintun, and Miwok: while he does not lose his tricky nature, he assumes at least certain of the more dignified attributes of the creator or culture-hero.)

Among miscellaneous tales the Achomawi possess the story of the loon-woman, the theft of fire, the two girls sent in search of a husband, the struggle between the lizard and the grizzly-bear, and the lost brother. In the course of the latter the mice ascend to the sky to seek information from the sun regarding the lost brother. Among the Shasta a number of such stories appear. That of the lost brother assumes a different form, being apparently part of a series of tales relating to two culture-hero brothers, one of whom wanders about the country killing monsters. The surviving brother's quest is more elaborately described, and the ascent to the sky is also expanded. A number of incidents in this story recall the type of tales characteristic of the region of western Washington. Other incidents in this and other stories also suggest connection with the Puget Sound region. There are some Wintun resemblances. There is but little which directly resembles the mythology of the Northwestern area, although the Shasta are in immediate contact with it.]

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The myths of the Lutuami, the Klamath Lake and Modoc Indians, who were on the whole inhabitants of Oregon rather than of California, are in part recorded in Gatschet's Klamath Indians of Southwestern Oregon;[1] but a much larger body of material that has been secured is still unpublished.[2] Lutuami mythology is quite unlike that of central California. The bear and deer children story occurs, but the general character of the mythology is much more reminiscent of the North Pacific Coast and the interior of North America, and in part directly of north-western

[1. Contrib. to N. A. Ethn., II, 1890, part 1, especially pp. 94 seq., lxxix seq.

2. Ibid., lxxviii: "Jeremiah Curtin . . . obtained over one hundred Modoc myths in 1883 and 1884, now forming part of the unpublished collection of the Bureau of Ethnology."]

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California. There is a creator, K'mukamtch, old man, but he is not the "good" creator of the Maidu, Wintun, Yuki, and Wishosk; he is deceitful, with the character of the typical culture-hero-trickster. His relation to his son Aishish, including a number of specific incidents, can be paralleled among the Indians of northwestern California, who, it should be remembered, live on the lower drainage of the river system of which the Lutuami hold the headwaters. The central California opposition between creator and Coyote is lacking, although Coyote occurs in many typical "Coyote-stories." The reduction by K'mukamtch of the female Coyote's twenty-four, and therefore unendurable, moons to twelve, shows perhaps a faint approximation to this antithesis. The origin of death from the wish of the mole and an insect, Coyote not being concerned in the matter, has parallels in northwestern California. Next to the K'mukamtch cycle, the most important series of Lutuami myths appears to be that of Marten, sometimes identified with K'mukamtch, and his younger brother Weasel. Marten is a trickster and destroyer; the point of his achievements is not so much the benefit resulting to the world from his riddance of it from evils, as the means of his superiority over them. He therefore corresponds more to the Manabozho and North Pacific Coast culture-hero type than to the Maidu Conqueror. Even in details,--the creation of man, the thunders, the firing of the sky, the failures of the trickster,--there are few Central Californian resemblances, but a number to the other culture regions mentioned. While the known Lutuami myth material is unfortunately very limited as compared with that which has been collected, it is sufficient to show that mythologically these people stood outside the Central Californian cultural type.


The Yuki are the first northern California people, of those so far discussed, the Coast Range instead of the Sacramento Valley or Sierra Nevada region. No account of their mythology has been published, but a summary is here given from material collected by the author. The creator and supreme deity

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of the Yuki is Taikomol, "He who goes alone." The usual antithetical relation of Coyote to the creator occurs, although on the whole Coyote's part is supplementary, rather than opposed, to that of the creator. The creation myth is long and contains many episodes that have little organic connection; so that the order of these varies in different versions, and sometimes even as told by the same narrator; but the episodes themselves are told with more uniformity.

In the beginning everything was water. On the water, in a fleck of foam, a down feather was circling. From this issued a voice and singing. This was the creator, Taikomol. Coyote is represented as being present, though in what form or resting on what is not told, and as seeing the birth or self-creation of Taikomol. The creator addresses him throughout as "mother's brother;" but this seems not to imply any conception of actual relationship between them, as mother's brother is the regular term of address used by all myth-beings for Coyote. He as regularly calls them "my sister's child." The creator after a time gradually assumes human physical shape, all the time singing and watched by Coyote. He thereupon forms the earth from a piece of coiled basket which he makes of materials and with an awl that he takes from his body. The earth is fastened and strengthened with pitch, and the creator thereupon travels over it four times from north to south with Coyote hanging to his body. He then fastens the earth at the four ends and makes the sky from the skin of four whales. After this he marries his sister, whose origin is not related and who is not mentioned again, and thus institutes cohabitation. Thereupon he makes people, according to a frequent Californian conception from sticks laid in the house over night, in the morning these sticks arise as people. Then follows a journey to the north, in which Coyote accompanies the creator, who, it is said, marries there. On the return, death is brought into the world through the instrumentality of Coyote, whose son dies and is buried by him. Taikomol offers to restore him to life, but Coyote insists that the dead shall remain dead. Then follows a long journey of the creator, still accompanied by Coyote, in the course of which he makes tribes in different localities, in each case by laying sticks

{p. 185}

in the house over night, gives them their customs and mode of life, and each their language. In some versions two episodes are made of these incidents. After this the creator makes mountains, springs, and streams, mainly from condor feathers. He then either makes, or, according to another account, instructs Coyote to make, the first ceremonies. Sometimes Coyote is represented as at first making the supernatural power of these ceremonies so strong that the human participants die in the course of them, whereupon the creator modifies them. The creator then journeys westward across the ocean to visit his sister, who, it is said, is not the one previously mentioned. He arranges for his brother to stand at the end of the world during summer and his sister during winter. Finally, having returned to this world, he ascends to the sky; and there he still is.

This creation myth is followed by a long Coyote culture-hero myth. The principal episodes that have been obtained in this are the following. The people, through the intelligence of Coyote and with him as helper, obtain fire by theft from the spider, who alone has kept it. Coyote leads a successful war expedition against a northern tribe by which visiting Yuki have been killed. He supernaturally learns of the existence of the sun, visits the people who keep it, steals it, and flees. He is killed, but succeeds in returning to life and escaping with the sun. He makes another journey, and, through the stratagem of assuming the shape of a woman, steals the moon and the morning-star. Having again been killed by the pursuers and returned to life, he thereupon causes the heavenly bodies to rise and fixes their courses. Another journey is made by him to the people who keep acorns, seeds, and other foods, and results in the acquisition of these for the people. According to one account he then makes people, as the creator is previously represented as having done; but through the lizard they are given a five-fingered hand instead of the fist with which Coyote had first provided them. Finally Coyote sends off the people of the world of that time to become animals, directing each with what qualities and in what manner to live.

The Yuki myths less directly connected than the foregoing with creation and the origin of culture, have not been obtained so completely. There appear to be numerous stories in which

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Coyote appears in a ridiculous character. There are also hero, adventure, and animal stories of the types found elsewhere in California. Perhaps the most important of these is a myth of the twins Burnt-sling and Hummingbird. These two boys, being dirty, are repudiated by their parents, and live with their grandmother. They develop great supernatural powers. Going out to hunt crickets, they make springs of water. When hunting butterflies, they kill condors in the sky. They are attacked by war parties from the north, and kill them by waving a supernatural wand. Other enemies that come against them from the north are killed with their slings. With these they shoot gaps and valleys into the mountains. With their slings they also break the sky, which is supported, and then repaired, by their grandmother the mole. They kill their evil parents, turning their father into harmless thunder. They make a lake, and, to terrify their grandmother, catch water monsters. Finally they travel north. They reach people who habitually kill some of their own number as if they were deer and then eat them. They teach these people to kill real deer and to eat human food. Finally the twins go to the sky. Of other Yuki stories a favorite tells of the wild-cat, the son of the panther. Coyote comes in the absence of the boy's elder brothers, persuades him to show how the deer are supernaturally brought, and kills one. The angered older brothers kill the wild-cat by burning him, but he is brought back to life.[1]

[1. Two bodies of myths from other tribes in the northern Coast Range have been published since the writing of this paper. Mr. S. A. Barrett has given "A Composite Myth of the Pomo Indians" of upper Clear lake, in the Journ. Am. Folk-lore, XIX, 37, 1906. Coyote, who is licentious, by trickery has two children, who are abused. In revenge Coyote sets fire to the world, escaping to the sky. He is sent back to earth by Madumda, his elder brother, the chief deity. Coyote eats the food he finds roasted, becomes thirsty, but cannot find drink until he reaches the ocean. He becomes sick, is doctored by Kuksu, a mythical and ceremonial character, and the water that flows from his belly forms Clear lake. What he has eaten turns to water animals. He builds houses, and from feathers placed in these makes people. Going to the owners of the sun, he causes them to sleep. The mice have gnawed the string by which the sun is hung, and Coyote brings it back to Clear lake. Various birds try, and the crow brothers succeed, in placing the sun in the sky. Coyote then transforms the people he has made into animals, assigning each its attributes.

Dr. P. E. Goddard gives a number of "Lassik Tales" from the Athabascans of Van Duzen and Dobbin creeks on the east side of lower Eel river, Humboldt county, in the Journ. Am. Folk-lore, XIX, 133, 1906. The first is a version of the story of panther, wild-cat, and Coyote found also among {footnote p. 187} the Yuki and in a somewhat different form among the Shasta and Maidu. Wild-cat and fox are forced by Coyote to show him how their elder brother kills (leer in a magic enclosure. Coyote bungles and the deer escape. Panther returns and kills his two younger brothers, but they return to life. The second tale is of the bear and deer children. As in many versions, the deer children finally escape over the neck or leg of the crane, who drops the pursuing bear into the river. The third story tells of the theft of the sun by Coyote disguised as a woman, much as in the Yuki and Porno versions. The fourth story relates bow the wren made a pet or dog of the grizzly bear. In the fifth the enemy are destroyed and the scalps of the slain recovered with the help of Coyote's trickery and the gnawing of bow-strings by the mice. The sixth tells how a boy and his grand-mother alone are not killed. The boy grows up, killing small animals. He is caught (presumably by tile slayer of his kindred), escapes, and the pursuer is killed by his grandmother while gambling. Dr. Goddard states that stories similar to these two are found among the Tolowa of Del Norte county. Parallels also occur to the fifth among the Shasta and Yana, to the sixth among the Maidu, the Yana, and the Yokuts. In the seventh story Thunder, gambling, wins from Coyote all his property, and then having told him the means of his winning, rises to the sky. According to the eighth, two brothers follow an elk until the elder becomes a tottering old man. He kills the elk that has impaled his brother, and turns to an otter. In the ninth, a tale rather than a myth, a dog returning from the hunt is asked how many deer have been killed. When he speaks, all who hear die.]

{p. 187}


While the northern half of the Central ethnological region of California is represented by collections of myths sufficiently numerous and large to allow of an estimate of the essential character of the mythology of this area, conditions are very different in the southern half of the same culture region. There is not a single noteworthy collection of native traditions from the entire territory extending from San Francisco and Sacramento on the north to Tehachapi on the south, a full third of the state. Four entire linguistic stocks, the Costanoan, Esselen, Salinan, and Yokuts, and parts of two others, the Miwok and Shoshonean, were embraced in this territory. A number of myths, singly and in small groups, have been published from various parts of this region, but they are neither numerous nor extensive, and some are not of much value.

Stephen Powers gives a few bits of mythology from the Miwok, the Yokuts, and the Shoshoneans of the San Joaquin valley.[1] His Miwok account of the creation shows little except the consequence, in the beliefs of these people, of Coyote, who is the creator of man. Powers' other Miwok stories are of small

[1. Op. cit., Miwok, 358, 366, 368, Yokuts, 383, Shoshonean, 394, 395.]

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value for purposes of comparison, being local legends referring to Yosemite. He gives one Yokuts story,--it is not stated from what locality,--which resembles one of the Yokuts versions of creation presented in this paper. At first, according to this account, there was only water, from which a "pole" stood up. On this were the hawk and the crow. These made various birds. Of these birds the duck dived and brought up earth from the bottom of the water. From this the world was made. Thereupon the hawk and crow made mountains of earth, the hawk the Sierra Nevada, the crow the Coast Range. The crow stole part of the, hawk's earth and therefore made his range the largest. The hawk, on discovering the trickery, interchanged the mountains, so that the Sierra Nevada is now higher than the Coast Range. In essentials this story appears to be a correct representation of the creation myth of one of the Yokuts tribes. The Shoshonean myth material. given by Powers is fragmentary and slight.

A number of Indian myths and traditions referring to Yosemite have been published in various connections.' Most of these are of the usual character of Indian local legends as they are commonly imagined and sometimes invented by the whites. Some others are more accurate, but as even the best have been obtained not with any idea of illustrating the life or thought of the Indians, but from narrower interests, they are unrepresentative of the general beliefs of the Indians.

Dr. J. W. Hudson has published 2 two versions of "In Indian Myth of the San Joaquin Basin,"--the visit to the dead of the dead in pursuit of a wife,--one version from the southern and the other from the northern part of Yokuts territory. This myth has close parallels in two versions presented in this paper. One of these, number 31, may have been obtained from the same informant as Dr. Hudson's Tule river version. He states that this story is found also among the Miwok; and, it will be recalled, Powers gives a southern Maidu version mentioned above.

Bancroft quotes from the Hesperian Magazine,[2] from an author who signs himself only with the initials H. B. D., a myth

[1. Perhaps the best are those given by Galen Clark in Indians of the Yosemite Valley, published by the author, Yosemite, 1904.

2. Journ. Am. Folk-Lore, XV, 104-106, 1902.

3. III, 326, 1859, in Bancroft, Native Races, III, 88.]

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the tribe or location or which is not stated, but which is of considerable importance because it is perhaps from the northern part of the Costanoan territory. The entire world, it is said, except the summits of Mt. Diablo and Reed Peak, was covered with water. Coyote was alone on the latter peak. A feather floated on the water. This turned to an eagle who joined Coyote. The two then sometimes went from one peak to the other. They created men, and the water abated. At first there were only two streams, Russian river and the San Juan (sic). Later the Golden Gate was formed and the San Joaquin and Sacramento rivers began to flow through it. The last part of this story is somewhat suspicious on account of the notions of geography that it introduces, as it is doubtful whether any Indian tribe of central California had knowledge of so extensive a tract of country as is implied. The first part of the story is however undoubtedly correct, and bears a close resemblance to the Costanoan creation myth given in this paper. The eagle appears as the leading one of the creators not only in the Costanoan but in the Miwok and Yokuts myths obtained by the author. His origin from a feather floating on the water is similar to the Yuki origin of the creator.

In the "History of Washington Township, Alameda County,"[1] is given a tradition of the Indians attached to Mission San Jose, relating the origin of death. While this mission was in Costanoan territory and many of its Indians were Costanoan, Indians of other families were also brought to it. Most of tile surviving Indians, now at Pleasanton and Niles, who were formerly at Mission San Jose, are Miwok. It is therefore uncertain whether this myth is Miwok or Costanoan. As given it relates that a woman lay in a trance and no one was to make a sound for four days. The lark, however, sang. The girl died and in consequence all people die. To-day when Indians kill a lark they strike its bill and say: "If you had not spoken we should not die." It will be seen that this tradition of the origin of death resembles, one from the Southern Miwok given in this paper.

In the same connection is mentioned an annual dance held by the San Jose Indians in September. Part of this was the Coyote dance, a rude sort of play, in which one of the favorite

[1. Published by the Country Club, 1904, p. 34.]

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characters was Cooksuy, a clown. This dance was said to have been made on account of the dead. The reference to Cooksuy allies the mythology of the people performing this dance, whoever they may have been, to the mythologies of northern central California. Among many of the Pomo, Wintun, Maidu, and perhaps Indians of other families, Kuksu is a personage of some mythological prominence and great ceremonial importance. It is very unusual in California to find a mythological or ceremonial name maintaining itself beyond the limits of a single linguistic family. The present reference shows that the name and conception of Kuksu evidently extended beyond the southern Sacramento valley and adjacent coast region to the region south, either in the. Sierra Nevada or on the coast.

A sentence written by Alexander Taylor[1] about the mythology of the Indians of Mission San Antonio, who are of Salinan family, is of particular importance. It shows the ideas of creation of these Indians to have been similar to those presented in this paper from the Costanoan Indians of Monterey. Taylor says that "one of their superstitions was that the humming bird was first brother of the coyote, and he was first brother to the eagle." This statement appears to contain absolutely all that is known of the mythology of the Salinan stock.

A Wükchamni Yokuts myth recently contributed to the Journal of American Folk-Lore by Mr. George W. Stewart of Visalia supplements a creation myth given in this paper from the same tribe, number 25. The world being without fire, the wolf, at the bidding of his brother Coyote, obtains some in the mountains, from which Coyote makes sun and moon. Coyote, under the direction of the eagle, and with the help of wolf and panther, makes streams, game, fish, and people. The people increase so that the creators leave and go to the sky, mountains, and plains; that is to say, become transformed to animals.

The myths here presented from south-central California were obtained, as stated, in the course of various investigations connected with the Ethnological and Archaeological Survey of California, and belong to Indians of the Costanoan, Miwok, Yokuts, and Shoshonean families.

[1. California Farmer, April 27, 1860.]

{p. 191}


The Costanoan myths are nothing but fragments, except for the creation myth, and this is brief. They are, however, perhaps the most important of all that are given, because of our almost complete ignorance of the ethnology of. these people and the slenderness of the prospect that much more material can be obtained. The numerous village communities of the Costanoan family, once extending from San Francisco to Monterey, and from the ocean to the San Joaquin river, have shrunk to a few dozen persons, all of them entirely civilized and living, as equals, among, the Mexican population of this region. The stories obtained were told in Monterey by two old women, Jacinta Gonzalez and Maria Viviena Soto. They include an origin myth, in which a trinity consisting of the eagle, the humming bird, and the coyote are the creators, and which begins with universal water, but with the creators on a mountain top instead of on a raft as among the Maidu, or on a tree as among the Yokuts. The diving for the earth is in consequence not told. The remaining stories all relate to Coyote. In the first he appears as the giver of culture to the people; it is evident that his part in Costanoan mythology was important. The other tales or fragments dealing with him are typical Coyote stories, and have no reference to origins.


The few Miwok stories given were obtained in the course of investigations among the northernmost Yokuts. They were told by two men living among the Chukchansi of Madera county, Bill White and Captain Charlie. Both of these men were half Pohonichi Miwok and half Yokuts in descent. The humming-bird of the Costanoan people disappears as a creator among the Miwok. The eagle is mentioned as chief in mythical times, but, at least in the stories told, about everything of consequence connected with creation is performed by Coyote. The Miwok creation myth mentioned as given by Powers is from a more northerly portion of the stock than that represented in the present paper, but shows Coyote in the same important role. The existence of primeval

{p. 192}

water, and a diving for the earth from which the world is made, are the only incidents contained in the fragment that was obtained by the author. A second story tells of the theft of fire by Coyote; and a third of the origin of death in connection with though not through him. All these ideas are typical of almost all parts of central California. It is illuminating that the fourth myth given, the. only one obtained not dealing with creation, is that of the bear and deer children.


The Yokuts myths, numbers 11 to 40, make up the bulk of this paper. They were obtained from individuals belonging to several tribes and in part are attributed by them to still other tribes.

The first four of these myths are from the Gashowu, now living south of the San Joaquin a few miles above Pollasky. They were obtained from a young man called Guadalupe and a blind old man named Bill. The account of the creation contains the ideas of the diving for the earth and the making and interchange of the mountains which are narrated also by other Yokuts. The version of the origin of death resembles that of the Pohonichi Miwok. Number 14, the longest of the Gashowu tales, is evidently a composite. Two of the elements composing it have not yet been found elsewhere in south central California, but are Paralleled among distant tribes. These are the marriage of Coyote to the woman with the rattlesnake, which has analogues, especially on the North Pacific Coast as far down as northwestern California, and the episode of the people who were so constructed that they could not eat, which has an Eskimo equivalent from Baffin Land.

The next ten of the Yokuts stories, numbers 15 to 24, were obtained from a man named Tom belonging to the Tachi. This tribe lived at the northern end of Tulare lake. The first four of these myths were stated by the informant not to belong to his people but to be stories of the Truhohi, a tribe mentioned also as Truhohayi or Tukhokhayi by other Indian informants, and now extinct. They inhabited the region near the southern end

{p. 193}

of Tulare lake. The principal origin stories told by this informant are among these four attributed to the Truhohi. The account of the making of the earth and mountains resembles that given by the Gashowu and the version told by Powers. Other of the Truhohi stories tell of the origin of fire, mainly through the instrumentality of Coyote; of the origin of death, for which, however, Coyote is not responsible; and of the origin of the sun. The remaining six stories of this group of ten are apparently true Tachi, and include an account of the origin of the milky way from a race of the antelope and the deer, a story which is interesting on account of the close parallel that it furnishes to myths of the Indians of the Plains; two other star myths, including one about the Pleiades; a story in which the prairie falcon figures as hero; a tale about twins of miraculous power, connected here, as often elsewhere in California, with thunder; and a typical version of the visit to the dead.

The following twelve stories, numbers 25 to 36, were obtained from Peter Christman, an Indian of the Yaudanchi or original Tule river tribe. This informant was not acquainted with the creation myth of his own people, but narrated a Wükchamni version which he had learned from a man named Jo living on the same reservation. The Wükchamni were a Kaweah river tribe just north of the Yaudanchi and spoke an almost identical dialect. The story of Mikiti, number 34, also seems not to be Yaudanchi. It is stated by the informant to have been learned by him from a man who was a Yauelmani Yokuts. The localities mentioned are, however, in the territory of the Paleuyami tribe, and is not unlikely that the myth belongs to these people. This is a story resembling some found among the Sacramento valley tribes, for instance Curtin's Yana myth of the Hakas and the Tennas. The hero, a boy, is brought up by his grandmother and kills those who have destroyed his relatives. The remaining stories of this group are apparently Yaudanchi. There is a version of the theft of fire, which is, however, accomplished by the rabbit, not by Coyote. Most of the stories deal either with the eagle or the prairie falcon. There is also a version of the visit to the dead.

The Yauelmani stories given, numbers 37 to 40, are from two

{p. 194}

informants, both on Tule river reservation. The original territory of the Yauelmani was south of Tule river, apparently about Kern river in the vicinity of Bakersfield and above to Gonoilkin. Number 37 was obtained from Cow, the oldest man on the reservation, and is a somewhat fuller account of the creation, with the usual prominence of the eagle and Coyote and the episode of the diving for the earth, than any of the other Yokuts versions obtained. The antithesis between the wolf and Coyote is interesting because it reappears in other parts of California. The dignity of character attributed to the prairie falcon is also noticeable. The following fragment, number 38, from the same informant, shows Coyote as the cause of death, and is interesting because it reveals the presence among these people of the wide-spread Californian belief of the origin of the human hand as patterned upon that of the lizard. The next two stories, numbers 39 and 40, were obtained from an informant named Chalola, also an old man. The first of these two is by far the longest myth in the entire collection, and appears to consist of three more or less separate series of incidents. It is doubtful how far the joining together of these is due to the individual narrator. The first part tells how Coyote caused the absence of the sun in order to avenge himself upon the people with whom he lived. In this part of the myth he is the hero. The second portion is much more loosely put together, and consists of a string of typical Coyote episodes, his character being throughout ridiculous. A sudden transition made from Coyote to the prairie falcon, leads to the third portion of this myth, which tells of the prairie falcon's loss of his eyes in gambling and his travels. This part of the story seems to be little else than a framework for a number of songs. The second Yauelmani story obtained from this informant, number 40, is also of some length and again has the prairie falcon as its hero.


Only one Shoshonean myth is given, the last in the collection. This is from the Gitanemuk or Gikidanum, a tribe on upper Tejon creek at the extreme southern end of the San Joaquin valley. Linguistically the Gitanemuk are very closely related

{p. 195}

to the Serrano of the San Bernardino mountains in Southern California. This story was obtained from the same Yauelmani informant, Chalola, who had lived for many years among the Gitanemuk. This one myth is not of a character to give any indication as to the general nature of the beliefs of the people to whom it belongs. It is apparently the first myth published not only from this tribe but from any of the Shoshonean groups of the southern San Joaquin-Tulare basin.

General Characterization.

From this new material the mythological beliefs of three of the linguistic families of South central California, the Costanoan, the Miwok, and the Yokuts, can be summarized and compared as follows with the beliefs of the Indians of northern Central California.

Among the Costanoan Indians the eagle, the humming-bird, Coyote are the creators. The eagle is the chief, the humming-bird the favorite, and Coyote both an object of ridicule and the originator of culture for the people. There is the general Californian conception of the origin of the world after a period of water; but the diving for the earth is not related.

The Miwok creation myths are characterized by the prominence of Coyote. The world begins with water, and the earth from which it is made is brought up by diving birds. Coyote seems to be responsible for most things, both in the physical world and in life of man. The presence, among the few myths collected from this people, of the bear and deer children story found throughout northern California, but not yet obtained among, the Yokuts to the south although a much larger body of myths was collected there, is perhaps indicative of a closer mythological relation of the Miwok to the north.

The Yokuts origin myths begin with water and a plurality of creators, of whom the eagle is the head. Coyote is also among them, and, while at times ridiculous in comparison with the others. is responsible for certain features of distinctively human life. There are stories of the theft of fire, and of the origin of death, which resemble those told in northern California. Hero

{p. 196}

stories recounting the miraculous origin of the hero and his numerous supernatural exploits, especially the destruction of monsters or rivals, appear to have been much less developed than in the Sacramento valley region. There is not one story that is clearly of this type among the twenty odd Yokuts myths obtained; whereas among the northern tribes such a tale is usually one of the most important next to the creation and culture myths. It is also noteworthy that the story of the evil father-in-law, which is so highly developed among the Maidu, Wintun, and Yana, is without a representative in the Yokuts collection. Instead of these type of myths, comparatively simple animal tales, without a very marked element of the supernatural, are found. In these the prairie falcon is a favorite hero. A mythological idea which has taken a special hold on the Yokuts is that of a man's visit to the world of the dead in pursuit of his wife.


Upon comparison, the several mythologies of the north and south halves of the Central ethnological region of California appear similar in the following respects: The possession of creation myths; the uniform antithesis, to a greater or less degree, of Coyote and the chief creator in these creation myths; the presence of numerous Coyote trickster stories; a considerable range of animal characters; certain ideas, also commonly held by the Indians of a large part of America, especially of the flood or primeval water, the theft of fire, and the origin of death, Coyote usually appearing in connection with the last two; and certain ideas of similar type which are more nearly confined to California, such as the origin of the human hand from the lizard in opposition to Coyote. In both north and south Central California there are no migration legends nor any long systematized myths giving the history of the people, of the type characterizing the Southwest and Southern California; nor is there a distinct culture-hero cycle such as is found almost everywhere on the Pacific Coast farther north than California; and finally, a well-developed idea of a previous race parallel to the present human race, but distinct from it in being the originators of things, is

{p. 197}

either wanting or much less clearly developed than in Northwestern California.

The following differences appear between the northern and southern halves of this Central region. In the south there are no developed or extensive creation myths. There is also scarcely a full creator. The eagle, who is most nearly such, is really only the chief among a number of equals. The mere fact that the creators are several, and that they are animals, must tend to minimize their distinctly creative qualities. Secondly, the hero stories and destroyer and transformer myths of the north are very little developed in the south. In place of the Maidu Conqueror, who destroys innumerable evils, the favorite hero of the San Joaquin valley Indians is the prairie falcon, who is represented as swift, silent, fierce, a successful gambler, and as living only on tobacco; but his exploits as compared with the startling and supernatural ones of the Maidu hero are such comparatively simple events as recovering his wife after she has been stolen, killing his enemies in battle, and losing his eyes in gambling. In this respect the simple Miwok and Tachi Yokuts stories of the supernatural Thunder twins are also typical of the south as com pared with the elaborate Yuki story of the twin children of Thunder. In the third place, episodes of magic are much less developed in the south than in the north, the stories being pitched throughout in a quieter and lower key. There are fewer fateful incidents dealing with life and death and involving supreme struggle and suspense. The tales are rather naïvely pleasant, with a semi-humorous element, and tell of but few contests except such as are more or less good-natured or peaceful. In a measure, of course, this contrast is due to the fact that the mythology of the south is, so far as collected, more broken under the influence of civilization than that of the north, and that in consequence aboriginal peculiarities and extravagances that once may have existed similar to those still found in the north, have now been lost or abbreviated. But after allowing for this factor it seems that a difference of tone must have existed between the two halves of the ethnic region even in former times. Among tales or incidents that occur in the north but seem to be either lacking or much less developed in the south or have not been

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found there, are the important story of the bear and deer children, which probably did not occur farther south than the Miwok; the equally important story dealing with the evil father-in-law, the peculiarly northern California story of the loon-woman; the story of the brother who ,vas stolen mid recovered from the sky; the impostor frog-woman; the devouring rolling head; and the hero who was dug from the ground. On the other hand the Indians of the northern half of the Central region show a different form of the story of the thunder twins, and lack entirely the peculiar southern Central conception of the character of the prairie falcon and the typical form of the tale of the visit to the dead.

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Next: 1.--Rumsien Costanoan. The Beginning of the World.