Yosemite > Library > Dawn of the World > Rock Giant >
There was a great Giant who lived in the north. His name was Oo-wel'-lin, and he was as big as a pine tree. When he saw the country full of people he said they looked good to eat, and came and carried them off and ate them. He could catch ten men at a time and hold them between his fingers, and put more in a net on his back, and carry them off. He would visit a village and after eating all the people would move on to another, going southward from his home in the north. When he had gone to the south end of the world and had visited all the villages and eaten nearly all the people—not quite all, for a few had escaped—he turned back toward the north. He crossed the Wah-kal'-mut-ta (Merced River) at a narrow place in the canyon about six miles above Op'-lah (Merced Falls) where his huge footprints may still be seen in the rocks, showing the exact place where he stepped from Ang-e'-sa-wā’-pah on the south side to Hik-kā’-nah on the north side. When night came he went into a cave in the side of a round-topped hill over the ridge from Se-saw-che [a little south of the present town of Coulterville].
The people who had escaped found his sleeping place in the cave and shot their arrows at him but were not able to hurt him, for he was a rock giant.
When he awoke he was hungry and took the trail to go hunting. Then the people said to Oo'-choom the Fly: “Go follow Oo-wel'-lin and when he is hot bite him all over, on his head, on his eyes and ears, and all over his body, everywhere, all the way down to the bottoms of his feet, and find out where he can be hurt.
“All right,” answered Oo'-choom the Fly, and he did as he was told. He followed Oo-wel'-lin and bit him everywhere from the top of his head, all the way down to his feet without hurting him, till finally he bit him under the heel. This made Oo-wel'-lin kick. Oo'-choom waited, and when the giant had fallen asleep bit him under the heel of the other foot, and he kicked again. Then Oo'-choom told the people.
When the people heard this they took sharp sticks and long sharp splinters of stone and set them up firmly in the trail, and hid nearby and watched. After a while Oo-wel'-lin came back and stepped on the sharp points till the bottoms of his feet were stuck full of them. This hurt him dreadfully, and he fell down and died.
When he was dead the people asked, “Now he is dead, what are we to do with him?”
And they all answered that they did not know.
But a wise man said, “We will pack wood and make a big fire and burn him.”
Then everyone said, “All right, let’s burn him,” and they brought a great quantity of dry wood and made a big fire and burned Oo-wel'-lin the Giant. When he began to burn, the wise man told everybody to watch closely all the time to see if any part should fly off to live again, and particularly to watch the whites of his eyes. So all the people watched closely all the time he was burning. His flesh did not fly off; his feet did not fly off; his hands did not fly off; but by and by the whites of his eyes flew off quickly—so quickly indeed that no one but Chik'-chik saw them go. Chik'-chik was a small bird whose eyes looked sore, but his sight was keen and quick. He was watching from a branch about twenty feet above the Giant’s head and saw the whites of the eyes fly out. He saw them fly out and saw where they went and quickly darted after them and brought them back and put them in the fire again, and put on more wood and burnt them until they were completely consumed.
The people now made a hole and put Oo-wel'lin’s ashes in it and piled rocks on the place and watched for two or three days. But Oo-wel'-lin was dead and never came out.
Then the wise man asked each person what he would like to be, and called their names. Each answered what animal he would be, and forthwith turned into that animal and has remained the same to this day.
This was the beginning of the animals as they are now-the deer, the ground squirrel, the bear, and other furry animals; the bluejay, the quail, and other birds of all kinds, and snakes and frogs and the yellowjacket wasp and so on.
Before that they were Hoi-ah'-ko-the FIRST PEOPLE.