Raven Steals Daylight From The Sky

Long, long ago the world was as black as Raven. It was so dark the Animal People often lost track of their children, bumped into one another looking for food, and had to talk constantly to stay together. This perpetual darkness made them very unhappy.

The Frog People sat in dugout wooden canoes and waited patiently for clear nights when bright stars would light up the waters. Then they went spearfishing. But they had to contend with Raven who harassed them constantly for food.

The Moon Epic

Old Moon had two daughters who were devoted to each other. They shared chores at home, dug wild camass bulbs in the mountain meadows together, and whispered their secrets back and forth.

One day, after they had spent more time talking than digging, it became too dark to go home. So they settled down among the tall blue and white camass flowers to spend the night. But the sisters could not sleep. Instead, they lay awake staring up at the thick black sky that sparkled with tiny stars.

Tolowim-Woman and Butterfly-Man

Long ago, a young girl they called Tolowim-Woman lived in a large pit-house that was nestled in the California foothills. She was a dutiful wife and mother and did her share of the sewing and acorn-grinding. But the long hours of darkness indoors, when the only light came from the flame of the fire, made her restless and moody. She wanted to be outdoors running free.

In spring, Tolowim-Woman’s young husband went off to greet the salmon as they began their journey inland from the sea. She stayed at home to care for their young son and to do chores with the other women. But she longed to go into the hills and walk among the fresh bright-colored spring irises.

Springtime was Tolowim-Woman’s favorite time of year. She remembered her own mother carrying her up the same path in her cradleboard, and she remembered the little grey squirrels that darted back and forth behind her mother’s back showing off their quickness.

How The World was Made

When all the world was water, the animals lived in the sky beyond the rainbow where everyone complained about being cramped for space. “It is much too crowded up here,” said Grandfather Buzzard. “Why don’t we find out what is down there under the water?”

“I will go. I will go,” clicked Beetle as he extended his little forelegs as far as they would go. Grandfather Buzzard agreed that since Beetle belonged in the water, he should go. “See what you can find down there,” said Grandfather Buzzard, and he waved good-bye.

Beetle dove from the sky and floated slowly to earth. He landed on top of the water and whirled around and around and around. When he found an opening in the surface, he kicked his little hind legs in the air and dove under. After awhile, Beetle surfaced, his forelegs coated with soft mud.

Buffalo Husband

One morning when the prairie grass glistened with early frost, a young Blackfeet woman got up and slipped quietly out of her tipi. She was on her way to the stream when a small pebble dropped from the sky. Surprised, the young woman looked up. There high above her on the edge of the nearby cliff was a great herd of buffalo, the first to appear since spring.

“Jump,” she called to them. “Jump. Please jump. Our people are very hungry.” But the buffalo just paced back and forth along the cliff ’s edge. Finally, in desperation, the young woman called out to them, “If you jump, I will marry one of you.”

A huge cloud of dust rose above the cliff as the heavy animals pushed and shoved one another to position themselves. Then they began to tumble over the edge, and their giant bodies rained down onto the prairie below.

Winter-man's Fury

Long ago, when big winters stayed on the southern plains most of the year, Air was always restless. Wind, Rain, Sun, and Snow were supposed to take turns visiting the Cheyennes. But Snow bullied everyone and took up more than his share of time.

Wind, when it got over the top of the great Rocky Mountains, was so pleased to be free that it whirled across the prairie and made the stout little grasses blow dizzily back and forth. Sometimes Wind blew hard and cold.

Other times it blew soft and warm. Gentle or fierce, Wind stayed around as long as it could. Rain, on the other hand, came only in summer. It stayed until the tightly bundled roots of prairie grasses came alive. Then it headed eastward. And Sun appeared.

The Kschinas are Coming

When the world was still new, before large game animals had come to the Hopi people, mice were the only source of meat. But trapping mice took a great deal of time and patience and wound up providing very little meat for the trappers’ efforts.

Shilko, the cleverest young fellow in his group, was always coming up with new ways to trick mice. “It is time to go trapping,” he said, and he walked among his friends waving a small stick with a string attached.

“What does Shilko plan for today?” asked one of the boys as he eyed Shilko’s stick.