Sacred Texts  Native American  Southwest  Index  Previous  Next 

p. 4


Long, long ago, when everything began to live again after the flood, people came out (from Shipap) in the north. 10a Our Mother told the different peoples that they were brothers, and there was no separation between them. As they started south a little girl was left behind. Our Mother called, "Kotcimanyako, come here," and she gave her a little bag made of white hand-woven cotton to carry on her back. "Do not unwrap what is in this bag no matter what happens." She promised she would keep it wrapped carefully. Kotcimanyako started off. "Be careful, little daughter; do not unwrap what is in your bag." Again she promised not to uncover it. She did not know what it was she was carrying. As she went along she began to wonder why she couldn't unwrap her bundle, why she was strictly forbidden to peek into it. At last Kotcimanyako thought she would peep in and see what she was carrying. She stopped. She put her bundle on the ground and stooped over. She came to the last knot. It was overflowing. Still she didn't know what it was. She was frightened and tried to put them back in the bundle, but they all flew out into the sky and scattered all over the heaven. They were all to have had different names, and be put in special places, but now they were scattered. A few she succeeded in getting back into her bag, and when she came to the end of her journey, she unwrapped the few stars she still had in her bag and they were put in their right places. For this reason we know only a few stars by name: The Sling Shot Stars, the Pot-rest Stars, the Shield Stars (Dipper), and a few others--those are the only ones that we have names for.


In the beginning when the people started to come up from Shipap, our Mother said, "This witch shall not come out." The witch said, "But I want to go with the others." "You are not to go out." So the people started to go out. One of the men was chosen to put the stars in the sky. Coyote and all the four-legged animals in the world were in the room. They were all paired off, male and female. Even birds were in the room. Our Mother said to Coyote, "You are not to open the jar in the corner. You must be careful not to take off the cover." The man who was to put the stars out had hung the Seven Stars (Dipper), and the Three Stars (which are the sign that the Indians are to use three stones to support the pot for cooking). When he had put up the Pot-rest Stars, he hung the big Morning Star (Siwasila).

p. 5

In Shipap, Coyote could not stand still. As last he said to himself, "I'll go to the jar and see what he is making." Our Mother was not watching, so Coyote came to the jar, uncovered it, and all the stars jumped out. That is why the stars are spread everywhere in the sky. Our Mother said, "Coyote, you have done harm. In this way you shall get into mischief everywhere you are. Some days you will go hungry; some days you will get good things to eat; some days you will kill yourself." That is how Coyote got his bad luck. They opened the door for all the animals to come out, and they spread all over the world. That is why there will always be animals all over the earth.


4:9 Informant 1.

4:10 Informant 1, who told also the following variant. Notes, p. 204.

4:10a For the emergence, see text translation, p. 249.

Next: The Origin of Death