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How they got the Fire

The first fire was made by the Doctor Birds at the birth of Wek'-wek. The next fire was made by Ke'-lok the North Giant. After Ke'-lok’s death and after his fire had burnt up the world and had burnt itself out, there was no fire except that of the Hul-luk mi-yum'-ko, the Star-women, which was close by the elderberry tree, way off in the east where the Sun gets up.

O-let'-te said to his grandson, Wek'-wek: “Now we have people, and elderberry music for the people, but we have no fire for them to cook with; the Star-women have it; we must steal it.”

“How?” asked Wek'-wek.

“Send Koo-loo'-loo the Humming-bird; he is faster than you. Tell him to catch a little spark and bring it quickly,” replied O-let'-te.

“All right,” answered Wek'-wek, and he sent Koo-loo'-loo to fetch the fire. Koo-loo'-loo shot out swiftly and soon reached the Star-women by the elderberry tree in the far east, in the place where the Sun gets up. Here he hid and watched and waited, and when he saw a little spark of fire, he darted in and seized it and brought it back quickly to Wek'-wek and O-let'-te. He held it tight under his chin, and to this day if you look under the Humming-bird’s chin you will see the mark of the fire.

Then Wek'-wek asked: “Where shall we put it?”

O-let'-te answered, “Let us put it in oo'-noo, the buckeye tree, where all the people can get it.” So they put it in oo'-noo, the buckeye tree, and even now whenever an Indian wants fire he goes to the oo'-noo tree and gets it.

Fragment of a Hoo'-koo-e'-ko Version

I have discovered fragments of a similar myth among the nearly extinct Hoo'-koo-e'-ko north of San Francisco Bay. These people state that O'-ye the Coyote-man sent Koo-loo'-pis the Hummingbird far away to the east to steal the fire; that he brought it back to Coyote-man, and that Coyote-man put it into the buckeye tree. They state also that Wek'-wek once went a long way off and was killed, and that his grandfather, O'-ye the Coyote-man, went after him and restored him to life.


Next: How Kah'-kool the Raven Became a Great Hunter

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