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The Coyote and the Lizard

Fragment of a Creation Story of the Northern Mewuk

From Aw'kim in the upper foothills between Middle and South Forks of Cosumnes River

Personages

O-lā'-choo the Coyote-man
Pe-tā'-le the Lizard-man
Yu'-ka-loo the Meadowlark-man

With a note on a Southern Nissenan creation myth in which the Moon figures as one of the early divinities

The Coyote and the Lizard

O-la'-choo the Coyote-man and Pe-tā'-le the little Lizard-man made the world and everything in it.

After they had done this, Pe-tā'-le wanted to turn into the Moon but O-lā'-choo the Coyote-man and Yu'-ka-loo the Meadowlark-man would not allow him to do so. 9


Footnotes

59:9 This reference to the moon is the only one I have discovered among the Mewuk creation myths. But the next people on the north—the Nissenan—count the Moon-man among the early divinities. The Southern Nissenan give the following account of the creation of man:

In the beginning, Pombok the Moon-man, O'-leh the Coyote-man, and Pit-chak the Lizard-man decided to make people but differed as to what the first man should be like, for each of the three wanted man to be like himself.

After they had argued a long time they finally agreed that man should have a round face like the Moon-man, but they could not agree as to his hands. Coyote-man insisted that he should have paws like his own, but Lizard-man said that paws would be of no use-that man should have five fingers so he could take hold of things. Finally Lizard-man carried his point and gave man five long fingers like his own.

Coyote-man never forgave him, and to this day the Coyote hunts the lizard and kills him whenever he can.


Next: How the People Got Five Fingers; How they Obtained Fire; and How They Broke up into Tribes

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