Yosemite > Library > Miwok Myths > Abstracts >
1. The Theft of Fire. Geese and others gather in all assembly house in the hills. They lack fire. Lizard discovers fire emerging from -ill assembly house in the valley. Flute-player (Mouse) goes to steal fire. He finds the entrances of the assembly house guarded by Bear, Rattlesnake, Mountain Lion, and Eagle. He enters through the smoke hole by cutting the feathers of Eagle’s wing. He fills with fire four flutes with which he escapes. On the homeward journey he is pursued by Rain and Hail. Hail catches him, but Flute-player has concealed his flutes in the water and denies having the fire. He is met by Coyote, who has become impatient. After his arrival, Flute-player plays his flutes on top of the assembly house dropping coals through the smoke hole. Coyote interrupts him before he finishes. Because of the interruption, some people receive no fire. Those in the middle of the assembly house receive fire, cook their food, and talk correctly. Those on the sides (distant tribes) receive none, eat raw food, and talk differently.
2. Bear with the Fauns. Bear invites her sister-in-law, Deer, to gather clover. They louse each other. Bear kills Deer by biting her neck, eats her, and takes home the liver in a basket of clover, which she gives to Deer’s two daughters. The Fawns recognize the liver and decide to escape. They take with them their mother’s baskets, awls, and brushes, which they throw off the trail as they flee. As Bear pursues, these objects whistle and decoy her from the trail. The Fawns cross a river on the stretched leg of their grandfather, Daddy Longlegs. When Bear crosses, he withdraws his leg and she falls in the river. The Fawns reach the assembly house of Lizard, another grandfather, who shelters them and heats two white stones. On Bear’s arrival she is told to enter through the smoke hole with her mouth open and eyes closed. Lizard then throws the hot stones down her throat. After her death, he dresses her hide and cuts it. The larger piece he gives to the older Fawn, the smaller piece to the younger. He tells them to run and discover the sound they make. The smaller hide makes the louder noise. When they run against a tree, the younger Fawn shatters it more completely. Lizard send the Fawns above and they become Thunders.
3. Yayali, the Giant. The Giant enters the hills in search of human victims. Chipmunk, imagining that his wife’s brother approaches, answers the Giant’s calls. As he brings the Giant to his assembly house the latter kills him with a stone from his burden basket. Chipmunk is eaten by the Giant, who marries his widow. She hides Chipmunk’s daughter in a pit, feeding her venison. The woman pretends to eat the human flesh and pine nuts obtained by the Giant, but in reality eats only venison and pine nuts obtained by Chipmunk. She gives birth to two giants.
Chipmunk’s brother dreams of him and visits him. He finds the doors of Chipmunk’s house blocked with boulders to prevent the escape of Chipmunk’s widow. Chipmunk’s brother prepares to kill the Giant. He digs holes and sharpens a manzanita stick. He sends his sister-in-law to her father. She takes her daughter and a deer skin of crushed obsidian. The Giant returns and tries to capture Chipmunk’s brother, who escapes by jumping into his holes. He tells the Giant that he will allow himself to be captured after the Giant dances. From the roof he decapitates the Giant, whose head projects through the smoke hole when he dances.
The Giant’s brothers, following a dream, visit their brother’s house, and unknowingly eat his flesh which Chipmunk’s brother has scattered about on trees and rocks. The youngest Giant discovers his brother’s head. Following dreams, the Giants pursue Chipmunk’s widow, who escapes repeatedly by throwing crushed obsidian in their eyes. She reaches the house of Lizard, her father, who spits on the house and turn it to stone. He calls upon the wind, the snow, the hail, and the flood to destroy the Giant’s brothers. They blow back the wind, melt the snow by shouting, and stop the hail by shouting. The flood drowns them.
4. The Making of Arrows. Two brothers, Prairie Falcon and Dove, decide to hunt, but lack weapons. They throw their grandmother into the water, taking her tooth for a knife and pulling sinew from her limbs. They make a bow and arrows. Their grandmother enters the water and becomes Beaver. The two brothers have a contest, shooting twice to the east end of the world, and twice to the west end. The arrows strike together. The brothers race to them, both running at the same speed. The second time that they shoot west the arrows strike in a bush, the root of which they eat while digging.
Their grandmother causes the water to drown Prairie Falcon. Dove rolls about the country crying for his dead brother and bruising and cutting himself. He meets Spark, whom he sends to visit the old woman who is crushing bones. A small bone flies forth which Spark seizes and places on an arrow. He shoots it to Dove, who picks it up. The point transforms itself into Prairie Falcon, who cries over his brother Dove’s injuries. The various birds contribute one feather apiece with which Dove is rehabilitated. The brothers travel about the world visiting the rocks which bruised Dove. They fail to secure the return of their grandmother, who remains in the river is Beaver. Thenceforth all people make arrows.
5. Prairie Falcon’s Marriage. Chief Prairie Falcon marries Green Heron’s daughter, also Meadowlark. Chief Eagle takes Meadowlark. Prairie Falcon in anger travels about the world. He threatens to kill his unfaithful wife if she follows him, but changes his mind when his sister says that his wife will save his life. Returning, he visits his sister, who tells her husband, Lizard, to restrain his (logs, which are rattlesnakes and bears.
Prairie Falcon starts for the place where his father died. He (sic—jbh) wife follows. He goes south. Upon his return he finds that his wife has followed him, so he sets out to overtake her. Together they visit his father, Owl. Lizard throws fire, causing a conflagration. Prairie Falcon escapes by flight. His wife escapes by pulling two hairs, which become a lake, in which she submerges herself. Aided by the winds, Prairie Falcon and wife pass through a hole which closes and opens. At his father’s village, he finds that Chief Mountain Sheep’s people wish to play games with him, the loser to forfeit his life. Chief Mountain Sheep demands the loan of Prairie Falcon’s wife and sends in exchange another woman with whom Prairie Falcon declines to sleep. Prairie Falcon objects to sending his wife to Mountain Sheep’s house, and in vain offers a string of beads in lieu of her.
Gopher aids Prairie Falcon by digging tunnels on Mountain Sheep’s side of the. field. Following football games which Prairie Falcon wins, he shoots Mountain Sheep.
He tells his sister that he killed the people at the other village. She tells him not to speak thus in the presence of Lizard. Prairie Falcon is offended and leaves home, going to his father-in-law, Green Heron, and remaining two days. His father, Dove, and Coyote urge him to marry a girl with whom he has been going.
6. The Flood. Chiefs Prairie Falcon and Eagle and their people take refuge upon a high mountain to escape a flood. Coyote is unable to go because he has lost a leg. He escapes by clinging to a log. On the mountain dwells Rattlesnake. The waters rise higher, necessitating a second flight. Flicker carries Rattlesnake, who bites him. Rattlesnake is dropped and drowns. The refugees find a piece of dry land, The entire world is flooded. Prairie Falcon sends forth Dove to discover if human beings survive. Later Prairie Falcon sends forth Dove and Hummingbird to bring mud. He tells them not to eat seeds or suck flowers.
7. The Repeopling of the World. Following the flood there, are no human beings. All have drowned. Chief Eagle asks Coyote to resurrect mankind. Coyote does so by singing many days, following the advice of a skeleton which appears in a dream.
8. The Search for the Deer. The deer hide themselves in various caves in the mountains. The people starve. The hunters, Mountain Lion, Fox, Wild Cat, Black Fox, and Crow, search in vain for deer. Crow does not return. Others search for him. A second Crow, brother of Crow who fails to return, searches for him and for the deer. From a mountain top be discovers the deer in a cave. The people surround the cave and young Mountain Lion enters to start the slaughter. He faints from the heat and his father, Chief Mountain Lion, rescue’s him. All deer escape. Some people die of starvation. None return home because weak with hunger. Chief Mountain Lion proceeds homeward alone. He meets Skunk, who demands a ride on his back, agreeing to save the lives of some of the people. The Chief gives him a ride. Skunk tells the Chief that he does not care if all of the people die, so long as he rides across the river. The chief pretends to stumble. Skunk falls into the river and drowns. Across the river the chief meets the first Crow descending a hill with deer. The remaining people are saved.
9. Salamander and Chipmunk. Salamander tells Chipmunk that he failed to obtain a big deer. Chipmunk sets out in search of his father. He meets two Deer women, who capture him and take him to the sky. Their father throws ropes to them with which to lash Chipmunk. Chipmunk refuses to eat seed. He kills their father after fattening him by singing. Two of Chipmunk’s brothers, Brown Bird and Tuyipitina, search for him in vain. His older brother climbs to the sky and rescues him. The two brothers escape by clinging to arrows which strike at their home. At home Chipmunk builds a fire into which he throws Salamander, whom he blames for his troubles.
10. Lizard and Fox. Lizard goes below to eat worms. Tarantula tells him to be sure to return, as Fox is to hunt. Fox assembles the hunters. Each boasts of his prowess and of what he intends to do in the deer hunt. Mountain Lion, Mountain Quail, Bald Eagle, Wolf, Coyote, Crow, Skunk, Dove, Hummingbird, Brown Wren, California Jay, and Turkey Vulture participate in the hunt. Turtle promises to carry water for the hunters. Fox orders that Night Hawk be left home, for fear that he might swallow the largest deer whole. Races between Dove and Hummingbird and an arrow-dodging contest between Brown Wren and Jay are discussed.
Each hunter obtains one deer. Fox waits until the lost deer are passing, With one arrow he kills four deer in four canyons. While they skin the deer, Skunk visits his son-in-law, Fox, and asks that he be allowed to ride on top of the pile which Fox is to carry. While Skunk and Fox threaten to shoot each other with their fluid and arrows respectively, Night Hawk takes the largest deer in his mouth. When accused of theft by Fox, Night Hawk denies it.
11. Valley Quail’s Adventures. Young Valley Quail visits his father in the mountains. He carries in a bag his father’s “poison,” which consists of yellowjackets and other stinging insects. At his bidding the insects kill various animals. Coyote insists that he has food in his bag. Quail allows Coyote to open it and the insects sting him to death. Other creatures killed are deer, bears, mountain lions, mountain sheep, rattlesnakes, an immense fabulous rattlesnake named and black bears. Valley Quail’s father is surprised that his son arrives safely. His son demonstrates his use of the poison. He plans to return on the following day.
12. Thc Theft of Fire. A brief version of 1, also accounting for buckeye fire drill.
13. Bear and the Fawns. A brief version of 2, plus suffocation of Bear Cubs.
14. Yayali, the Giant. A very brief version of 3, in which Giant is burned to death.