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Whenever we walk on the Earth, we should pay attention to what is going on. Too often our minds are somewhere else, thinking about the past or thinking about the future. When we do this, we are missing important lessons. The Earth is a constant flow of lessons and teachings, which also include a constant flow of positive feelings. If we are aware as we walk, we will gather words for our lives, the lessons to help our children; we will gather feelings of interconnectedness and calmness. When we experience this, we should say or think thoughts of gratitude. When we do this, the next person to walk on the sacred path will benefit even more.

DRUMMINGS -
Call Sky Dancer at 727/343-4638 for Wolf's Heart Lodge (mixed) and Sons of the Earth (men only) Drumming Lodge dates, location and time


The Chumash have a story... It begins with a worm who is eaten by a bird. The bird is eaten by a cat whose self-satisfaction is disrupted by a mean-looking dog. After devouring the cat, the dog is killed by a grizzly bear. About that time comes a man who kills the bear and climbs a mountain to proclaim his superiority. He ran so hard up the mountain that he died at the top. Before long the worm crawled out of the man. We are all related. -
Kote Katah - Chumash



Blood, sweat, and tears... the story of all Native America.

We survive together or not at all.

Lets put down the small stones between us.

And come together, for it is what the Creator has in store for us.

If we unite, we will be blessed.

It has been said...
It will be done.


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Legends & Tales
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A boy heard the voice of the whippoorwill one night and went out to find where he was singing. He had to walk quite a ways through a big field, because the song of the whippoorwill carried so well in the wind he sound much closer then he really was. And on the way the boy found a well worn trail, so he stayed on it for a while. And sitting in the middle of the trail was coyote, and coyote was singing too. He turned and saw the boy and he said "Why are you follow me?" The boy was frightened and said "Well the trail you made happened to be a short and easy way through this field. Then coyote asked "Well if your not following me then why are you here?"

"Well I heard the beautiful song of the whippoorwill and wanted to watch him sing." "Well do you not think my songs are beautiful?", said coyote. "Oh", said the boy, "there good but I hear you all the time. I much prefer the songs of the whippoorwill" This made coyote furious and he was jealous of the whippoorwill's song. He said "Listen to my night song you might like this one" And he pulled back his head and yodeled out a tune. The boy covered his ears and politely said, "Thank you for the song, but I must be going now." "Well", coyote said, "I can show you a short cut to the whippoorwill boy, and where he sings is just over there." Pointing his claw, smiling out of the side of his mouth. The boy paused, looked around, he knew the night was passing fast so he agreed to follow coyote. But coyote's trail was rough and rocky. And the boy fell in quite a few gopher holes along the way.

Coyote turned around and laughed and he yelled to the boy. "Were almost there, hurry up." Coyote was at a full trot but the boy had just fallen again and hurt his knee. And by the time he got to the place where the whippoorwill had been singing all night, it was morning. Whippoorwill was gone. And so was coyote, in fact he could hear coyote's songs in another field. So the boy turned and headed for home, covered with burrs, misq bites and a skinned up knee. And it was many summers later when the boy became a wiser man. And he realized, there are no shortcuts to find something you really love. But there are many trails in this life. So you must stay true to your path, and always keep and eye out for coyote.


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Long, long ago, the earth was deep beneath the water. There was a great darkness because no sun or moon or stars shone. The only creatures living in this dark world were water animals such as the beaver, muskrat, duck and loon. Far above the water-covered earth was the Land of the Happy Spirits, where the Great Spirit dwelled. In the center of this upper realm was a giant apple tree with roots that sank deep into the ground. One day the Great Spirit pulled the tree up from its roots creating a pit in the ground. The Great Spirit called to his daughter, who lived in the Upper World. He commanded her to look into the pit. The woman did as she was told and peered through the hole. In the distance, she saw the Lower World covered by water and clouds.

The Great Spirit spoke to his daughter, telling her to go into the world of darkness. He then tenderly picked her up and dropped her into the hole. The woman, who would be called Sky Woman by those creatures watching her fall, began to slowly float downward. As Sky Woman continued her descent, the water animals looked up. Far above them they saw a great light that was Sky Woman. The animals were initially afraid because of the light emanating from her. In their fear, they dove deep beneath the water. The animals eventually conquered their fear and came back up to the surface. Now they were concerned about the woman, and what would happen to her when she reached the water.

The beaver told the others that they must find a dry place for her to rest upon. The beaver plunged deep beneath the water in search of earth. He was unsuccessful. After a time, his dead body surfaced to the top of the water. The loon was the next creature to try to find some earth. He, too, was unsuccessful. Many others tried, but each animal failed. At last, the muskrat said he would try. When his dead body floated to the top, his little claws were clenched tight. The others opened his claws and found a little bit of earth. The water animals summoned a great turtle and patted the earth upon its back. At once the turtle grew and grew, as did the amount of earth. This earth became North America, a great island.

During all this time, Sky Woman continued her gentle fall. The leader of the swans grew concerned as Sky Woman's approach grew imminent. He gathered a flock of swans that flew upward and allowed Sky Woman to rest upon their back. With great care, they placed her upon the newly formed earth. Soon after her arrival, Sky Woman gave birth to twins. The first born became known as the Good Spirit. The other twin caused his mother so much pain that she died during his birth. He was to be known as the Evil Spirit.

The Good Spirit took his mother's head and hung it in the sky, and it became the sun. The Good Spirit also fashioned the stars and moon from his mother's body. He buried the remaining parts of Sky Woman under the earth. Thus, living things may always find nourishment from the soil for it springs from Mother Earth. While the Good Spirit provided light, the Evil Spirit created the darkness. The Good Spirit created many things, but each time his brother would attempt to undo his good work. The Good Spirit made the tall and beautiful trees, including the pines and hemlock. The Evil Spirit, to be contrary, stunted some trees or put gnarls and knots in their trunks. Other trees he covered in thorns or poisoned their fruit. The Good Spirit made bear and deer. The Evil Spirit made poisonous animals such as lizards and serpents to destroy the animals created by his brother.

When the Good Spirit made springs and streams of pure crystal water, the Evil Spirit poisoned some and placed snakes in others. The Good Spirit made beautiful rivers. The Evil Spirit pushed rocks and dirt into the rivers creating swift and dangerous currents. Everything the Good Spirit made his wicked brother attempted to destroy. After the Good Spirit completed the earth, he created man out of red clay. Placing the man upon the earth, the Good Spirit instructed the man about how he should live. The Evil Spirit made a monkey from sea foam.

Upon completion of his work, the Good Spirit bestowed a protecting spirit upon all of his creations. This done, he called his brother and told him he must cease making trouble. The Evil Spirit emphatically refused. The Good Spirit became enraged at his brother's wickedness. He challenged his evil twin to combat. The winner would become the ruler of the world.

For their weapons they used the thorns of the giant apple tree. The battle raged for many days. The Good Spirit triumphed, overcoming his evil brother. The Good Spirit took his place as ruler of the earth and banished his brother to a dark cave under the ground. In this cave the Evil Spirit was to remain. The Evil Spirit, however, has wicked servants who do his bidding and roam upon the earth. The wicked spirits are able to take any form and cause men to do evil things.

This is the reason that everyone has both a good heart and a bad heart. Regardless of how good a man is, he still possesses some evil. The reverse also is true. For however evil a man may be, he still has some good qualities. No man is perfect. The Good Spirit continues to create and protect mankind. It is the Good Spirit who controls the spirits of good men upon their death. His wicked brother takes possession of the souls of those who are evil like himself. And so it remains.



IN THE DARK - Charles - BearsRoad - Dunning
There was a time in the beginning when Creation was new when the sky above the world's crust was black as black as the deep waters beneath it. There was no light there were no stars and the skies were as dark as the deep waters where turtles swam. The Hopi grandparents who told this story to their grandchildren a long time ago lived in the dark beneath the world's crust. The grandparents of the families who swam, and the ones who flew, and the ones who ran on the world's crust lived in the dark beneath Creation.

There were three caves beneath this world's floor the floor of each cave was built on the roof of the one beneath it. The first cave was cramped and it could not hold the Hopi grandparents and the grandparents of all the Creator's children. Those grandparents filled the first world with their children and they crowded the darkness of the first cave that carried Creation on its roof. Those hungry grandparents held themselves together with the miserable rags of believing darkness was the only world.

There was no place in the first cave where those grandparents could turn without stepping on a fin, or a wing, or a foot, or tripping over themselves in their turning. Those grandparents stepped on each other, and they tripped over each other, and they shoved each other into the corners of the cave. There was no place to stand, or sleep, or sit, in the cave at the bottom of Creation without standing, or sleeping, or sitting in a river of slop and stink.

The grandparents lived in disgust and filled the cave with complaining and they whispered to each other in the dark and they waited. The grandparents whispered to each other in the slop and the stink "Were we born to live like his ?" "Isn't there something better ?"

The Two Brothers
There were Two Brothers, because there always are Two Brothers, because that's the way these things go. One brother was older and one was younger. Those Two Brothers went to the wise men of the grandparents of the people who would come to be the Hopi who lived in the cave at the bottom of Creation.

The First Brother spoke and he said, "Let it be tried and seen." And the Second Brother added, "Yes, let it be tried and seen. Then it shall be well. By our wills it shall be well." And the wise men who were the high men of the grandparents of the Hopi who would come to be said, "Let it be tried and seen." The Two Brothers who are the heroes of this story who had whispered in the dark of dreams of going anywhere at all took heavy hammers and began to work.

The brothers pounded on the high stone ceiling of the first world in the dark beneath Creation until they had hammered through to the second cave and had made a hole in its floor. Then the Two Brothers stood next to the hole they had hammered through to the next world and looked down on the cave where Creation began. It was a long way down and many of the grandparents were too old to climb through the hole to the second cave. So, the Two Brothers looked for a ladder for the grandparents to climb but there were no ladders not in any of the corners of the cave.

Then, the Two Brothers looked for a long rope to pull the grandparents out of the dark into the second cave but wherever they looked there were no ropes. Without ropes without ladders the Two Brothers decided to cut down some plants that grew in the cave. Maybe those plants would strong enough to carry the grandparents to the second cave away from the first. The Two Brothers cut down plant after plant hoping each would be strong enough to carry the grandparents but none of them were. At last, they came to the last plants and those plants were canes like the reeds that grow in marshes with joints like the rungs on a ladder.

That reed still grows in clumps in the backwaters of the Colorado and it has grown there since the Two Brothers left it there. The Two Brothers had great hopes for the last plant the one that looked like a jointed marsh reed and the Two Brothers cut the reeds and pulled them to the hole they had cut in the rocks. Some of the reeds were too short to reach the hole in the first cave's ceiling and most of the other reeds were too flimsy but one reed was not too short and it would do. The Two Brothers tested the reed. They climbed up it to the hole they had cut in the ceiling of the cave and they climbed back down into the dark again.

The Second Cave
The grandparents of the Hopi who were not born and the grandparents of the families who swam, and the ones who flew, and the ones who ran on the world's crust climbed up the jointed reed to the second cave. After a little while most of the grandparents had climbed up into the second cave but some of them were still on the ladder. There was no light and those first grandparents feared there would not be enough room in the second cave.

They shook the jointed reed and pulled it out and those who were following after them fell back into the dark beneath them and were lost. Stories say that those who fell off the ladder found a second way out of the cave and became the grandparents of people who live in other places. Some stories say they traveled east and other stories say they traveled west and there are other stories that talk of angry people deep in the caves beneath the earth. The grandparents of the Hopi who were not born and the grandparents of the families who swim, and the ones who fly, and the ones who run on the world's crust lived in the second world for a long time.

In time the second cave became filled with too many men, and too many women, and people with fins, and wings, and four feet living in the slop and stink and the noise and dark. The grandparents complained and whispered that nothing had changed and they stepped on each others' toes and tripped over each other in the dark. The Second Brother said, "Let it be tried and seen." The First Brother climbed up the reed ladder and pierced a hole in the roof of the second cave. The Second Brother shoved the long jointed ladder through the hole his brother had cut in the roof and into the third cave that was built on the roof of the second.

The Third Cave
The grandparents of the coming Hopi, and the grandparents of the flying families, and the swimming families, and the families who ran on four feet climbed into the third cave. The third cave was bigger than the second cave and the second cave had been bigger than the first and there was enough room for the moment. Even though this third world was larger, it was just as dark as the first and second caves that were buried beneath it. The Two Brothers searched the far corners of the cave and in their exploration the First Brother found fire. The Second Brother made a torch and the torch lit the third world.

The torch light changed life and soon fires were set and dried sticks became fires and the dark cave danced with light and shadows. Men piled stones on stones and built homes and kivas in the round belly of the world in the cave where light had been found. Women planted gardens and the corn and melons grew by the fire light and hunger became another bad dream. All of that was good and the Two Brothers didn't recognize that bad days had come with the torch light.

Women danced in the light and gave up their children for the drums and dancing and twisting circles on the third cave's floor. Women made clothes and when they were dressed in black velvet and wore netted cotton shawls their own husbands couldn't tell them from their sisters. So the men sat alone while the women danced in their black velvet dresses and netted cotton shawls and their children went hungry. There was no day and the night was lit with torches and the third cave was filled with the voice of drums and the cadence of stamping, dancing women's feet.

The Hopi grandmothers danced on the floors of the men's stone kivas and the drum's voice was silent only when the grandmothers slept. The Hopi grandfathers tended their little ones and when those babies cried because of their hunger, their fathers carried them to their dancing mothers. When the men entered the kivas carrying their crying babies their mothers heard their little ones crying then they nursed their babies. But when the little ones were full and their crying was past the Hopi women returned to the drum and the stamping dance on the kiva's stone floor. The Hopi men cared for their babies but the crying babies and the dancing women made the grandfathers look for light and a way out of the third cave's darkness.

This World's Crust
The Hopi men took their wives from their dancing and they set up the jointed reed ladder and the Two Brothers led them onto this world's crust, but this world was as dark as the third cave. The sky above the world's crust was black as black as the deep waters beneath it and there was no light and there were no stars and the skies were dark and closed in with shadows. The grandparents of the Hopi people lit fires and worked with torches beside the stone homes they built on this world's crust.

The Hopi grandparents found tracks in the dark and the tracks they found were the tracks of the Master of Death who ruled this world where no one lived. The Two Brothers followed the tracks of the Master of Death and the tracks led east into the dark where the Hopi feared to go. This world's crust swam with shadows and the Hopi grandparents and the Two Brothers huddled by their fires and shook in their houses of piled stones. The shadows surrounded those old ones and water surrounded the shadows and the tracks of the Master of Death led the grandparents into the waters that lapped this world's crust.

Grandmother Spider and the Moon
Five guides had climbed with the Hopi old ones from the cave worlds beneath the earth. There were mother Spider and her webs, Coyote and his mica eyes, and Vulture, and Locust, and Swallow. The Two Brothers questioned these guides and asked the five to teach them to make light and their guides tried many ways but this world remained in shadows. Spider was the first to try. She spun a web of pure white cloth and the cloth shone in the dark but it wasn't bright enough. But because she had been the first to try Spider became the people's grandmother as they walked on this world's crust and she is even now.

The men searched this world's shadows until they found a white doe's skin which was not broken or torn in any spot and the Hopi grandfathers made a shield case from the skin. The Hopi women painted the doe skin with crushed turquoise and the shield case glowed with light that filled the world and the Spider's cloth faded in its light. The Two Brothers set the shield in the eastern sky, and they said it was the Moon and the moon shines white and blue and fills the night with shining turquoise light.

Coyote and the Stars
While Coyote was rehearsing his tricks in the cave world in Creation's belly he had stolen very heavy jar made of stone and Coyote was tired of carrying that stone jar. Coyote set the jar on the ground and left it there and he tried to walk away from it but Coyote's curiosity wouldn't leave him alone and he walked back to the jar. The jar sat in the moonlight that had taken the place of the darkness, and Coyote pried the stone jar's top open and it exploded in his face.

Shining stars of fire and sparking comets flew from the stone jar and burned an arc across the shadows in the sky. As they flew into the sky the flaming stars singed Coyote's face and now Coyote has a black face and the shining stars and sparking comets flew up into the sky. The moon's light and the bright stars showed the Two Brothers and the Hopi grandparents that this world was a tiny place surrounded by deep waters, and the water made the world cold with a damp wind.

Vulture Spreads His Long Wing Feathers
The Hopi old ones asked Vulture to help them, and Vulture spread his long wing feathers and he fanned the cold waters, and the water blew away to the east and the west. Mountains appeared over the waves of cold water and the Two Brothers cut river beds through the heart of the mountains and the cold water filled the rivers. The rivers carved their paths deeper and deeper into the mountains until the gorges and canyons and valleys were cut into the face of this world.

This is the way the land was formed it was dried by the great beating wings of Vulture it was made from mountains standing above cold waters when the rivers were cut into their hearts. The rivers have for run to the Ocean Sea for ages and this world's crust has grown dry and is continuing to dry and the water is still running off the land.

The Hopi Grandfathers Track Death
The Two Brothers and the Hopi grandfathers tracked the Master of Death in the light of the moon and the stars over the new land that grew in the west. The Hopi men followed Death's tracks when they left the three caves and his tracks became their teachers over the waters in the west. The water flowed into the Western Sea and after the water was gone the Hopi grandparents found the world's crust was left soft and damp before it dried to stone.

The tracks of those old ones, and the tracks of the families with fins, and the ones with wings, and the ones who ran on the world's crust lie between the Western Sea and the place where the Hopi first entered this world. The world's crust has turned to stone since the days of the first people, and all those tracks are kept in stone as fresh as they were when they were left there. The Two Brothers and the Hopi grandparents followed the Master of Death's track until they saw Death only a short distance away from them and they hurried and caught up to him.

The Daughter of Somebody-or-Other
Two little girls were traveling with the Hopi grandparents. One of the little girls was the beautiful child of a great Hopi wise man. The other was a daughter of somebody-or-other whose name was forgotten but this second little girl was not beautiful, and she was jealous of the wise man's child. The second child's jealousy made a hole in her chest where her heart should have been and the Master of Death used this forgotten daughter to bring Death to the wise man's child.

This death was the first death among the Hopi and upon the earth's crust and the men watched the beautiful child lying there still and cold. They waited for her to awaken but the little girl slept on in Death and the Hopi wise man became angry, and cried, "Where is my daughter ?" The Hopi grandparents looked at the wise man and his child sleeping in Death and they looked at each other and the wise man stood a long time in the presence of Death. The wise man decided "I will mold a ball of my sacred cornmeal, and I will throw my corn meal ball up into the air, and when it comes down it will hit one of you on the head."

The Hopi men listened, "I will know that the one that my corn meal strikes is the man whose evil magic has led my daughter into Death." So, the Hopi wise man molded a ball he made it from sacred corn meal sprinkled with yellow pollen and that wise man threw his molded ball into the air. The ball arched up into the moonlight and hung among the stars and when the sacred corn meal fell, it struck the jealous little girl in her head. Then the wise man looked into the face of the daughter of somebody-or-other and whispered to her "Have you caused this thing, my daughter's Death"

The Hopi wise man looked at the little girl the daughter of somebody-or-other with his father's empty heart. He called a council of the Hopi. Those Hopi old ones believed the wise man's corn meal test and they might have killed her the daughter of somebody-or-other but she asked for their mercy and just a little time. The daughter of somebody-or-other led the wise men and the Hopi grandparents to the edge of the hole they had come from and asked them to look down into it. Look down into this hole, If you can look into it and still want to kill me, I will die." said the daughter of somebody-or-other. The wise man and the Hopi grandparents listened to this daughter of somebody-or-other and they looked down into the hole that led back into the cave world.

That wise man and those Hopi grandparents saw beds of wildflowers that bloomed in everlasting summer and the wise man's daughter dancing through the flowers. The wise man's daughter was filled with the spirit of the wildflowers and didn't look back at her father and the Hopi old ones who were looking in at her. This world had nothing to offer the wise man's daughter "Do you see her," said the daughter of somebody-or-other, "this is the way that it will always be for the children of the Hopi people." The Hopi grandparents understood what the daughter of somebody-or-other had taught them "This is the way it is when we die. We will return to this world that we have come from, and we will be happy."

"Where is there room for fear? Why should we anticipate Death with dread?" The Hopi men did not kill the little girl who was the daughter of somebody-or-other. The children of the second little girl became the world's searchers and finders and men and women of power and they grew in numbers. The children of the daughter of somebody-or-other are still living with us and her children still have dreadful and wonderful skills as their mother had before them.

Locust and Death
The Two Brothers led the Hopi old ones westward and as they went along they discovered Locust was traveling with them The men asked, "Where did you come from?" Locust smiled at the Hopi as if they were his children "Don't you remember? I have been with you and your other teachers since we climbed out of the third world."

"I came to be useful and to teach you to live on this world's crust." But the Hopi men, who didn't believe he could teach them anything, said, "Locust, go back to the place you came from." Locust smiled and followed along with the Hopi grandparents and the Two Brothers and paid no attention to their demands and the men became angry with Locust. They pushed him away but Locust came back the Hopi men shook their fists in Locusts face and he smiled. At last, some of the young men attacked Locust they shot arrows into him and some of the arrows passed through his heart and his blood ran from his body and pooled on the path.

Locust died but after a while had passed and it was a long time Locust climbed up from the road and stood on his feet. Locust was alive again just as alive as he had been before Locust looked like he had before except for one thing Locust had turned black. The Hopi grandparents turned to each other, "Though we killed him, Locust is alive," they said. "We have shot our arrows through him and his blood has poured out on the ground." "In fact, Locust can be useful and has much to teach the Hopi children who are following us. Locust will come with us as far as we go."

"No one other than this Locust can give life back to himself. Even when he has been killed Locust understands the secret of life." "If Locust knows how to return life to himself even when he is dead then he must how to give life away to others and how to take it back from them." "Locust, come with us and teach us the secrets of Death and reward us with the medicine of immunity and the arts of immortality." The first Locust that entered this world when he followed the Hopi grandparents as they climbed out of the third cave was colored white.

The grandchildren of Locust are still white when they are born as their grandfather was the grandchildren of Locust die as he did too. But when these locusts have been dead for a long time they return to life and are colored black as that Locust who is their grandfather. We have inherited Locust's medicine which is the secret of life and the power over Death which makes the Hopi Creator's blessed children.

The Spirit of Dew and the Swallow
Those grandparents who would become the Hopi journeyed a far ways, and they became hungry on their road because they had left their planting seed behind. The Hopi grandmothers mourned their forgotten seeds left behind in the dark of the third cave until the Spirit of Dew sent them the Swallow. The Swallow flew back across the land to the hole in the ceiling of the third world and she flew back into the dark of the third cave and brought back the corn seed to the Hopi women.

The Spirit of Dew planted the corn seed in the crust of this world and then He sang a prayer over the seeds that Swallow had salvaged. The seed heard the song that the Spirit of Dew sang and the song became the seed's strength and the corn grew and produced an ear of corn in a single day. As the Hopi women followed the path through this world they took only enough seed with them for one day's planting and depended upon the Spirit of Dew.

He sang the corn to its full growth at the end of every day when the Hopi had traveled far enough and the Spirit of Dew brought them fresh corn every morning. The Spirit of Dew gave this corn seed to the mothers of the Corn Clan and taught them to feed the Hopi who were coming into the world. But there were troublemakers maybe the children of the daughter of somebody-or-other who played with power as children play and slowed the corn's growth. The grown grows slower now than it did when the Spirit of Dew sang over it and when the rain doesn't fall in time the corn stand still in the corn patches.

The new corn doesn't fill the ear and when the growing time is short and cold there are not enough melons or squash to put by and the Hungry Moon is long. Perhaps if it had not been for the children of the daughter of somebody-or-other who the Hopi grandparents let live the Hopi would not need to tend their corn patches in the summer. But that is a question for another day because the Hopi women tend their gardens and water the corn when the rain is slow in coming and the Hopi men carry food with them when they travel.

Their Mother's Magic
Perhaps if the children of the daughter of somebody-or-other had not played with their mother's magic the Hopi's road would have been easier. But that is not the way things happened and those magic making children of their mother made trouble with the people who had lived here before long before those old men left the cave. Those first people who lived on the path that led across this world's crust attacked the Hopi grandparents and their children. The Hopi began to understand a little of the skills of war. They built houses and towers of stones piled on tops of stones to protect themselves.

Those Hopi grandfathers piled up their stone towers and built their stone houses on the tops of high mountains and climbed to them on hidden paths. Those Hopi people hid from the people who lived in the land before them and built stone houses hidden in caves and on the steep cliffs of secret canyons. Those few Hopi old people who climbed up the ladder into the fourth world slept in peace in their hidden places. That is the story of the path that led from one cave to the next and across the worlds crust and the Two Brothers and the Hopi grandparents.

The reed ladder that the Two Brothers made and the old people climbed up and came out in that place the New People call the Grand Canyon. The Two Brothers led the remaining Hopi generations to the place the Creator had made for them and their children now live on three stone tables on the Three Mesas in the north and the east of Arizona.


How the Kingfisher Got His Bill
Story From James Mooney's "History, Myths, And Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees"

Some old men say the Kingfisher was meant in the beginning to be a water bird but as he had not been given either webbed feet or a good bill he could not make a living. The animals held a council over it and decided to make him a bill like a long sharp awl for a fishgig (fish spear). So they made him a fishgig and fastened it on the front of his mouth. He flew to the top of a tree, sailed out and darted down into the water, and came up with a fish on his gig. And he has been the best gigger ever since.

Some others say it this way: A Blacksnake found a Yellowhammer's nest in a hollow tree, and after swallowing the young birds, coiled up to sleep in the nest, where the mother bird found him when she came home. She went for help to the Little People, who sent her to the Kingfisher. He came, and after flying back and forth past the hole a few times, made one dart at the snake and pulled him out dead. When the animals looked they found a hole in the snake's head where the Kingfisher had pierced it with a slender tu-ga-lu-na fish, which he carried in his bill like a lance. From this the Little People concluded that he would make a first-class gigger if he only had the right spear, so they gave him his long bill as a reward.



THE HUNTER AND THE ALLIGATOR - a traditional Southeast story

This is the way we heard this story. This is the way it is told.

There was a young Calusa hunter. He was big and strong, and he was handsome. Women looked at him when he walked by, but then they shook their heads and turned their eyes away. Everyone in the Calusa village shook heads when the young hunter walked by. Though he was big and strong and handsome, he was a terrible hunter. He did everything he could to be a good hunter. He practiced every day. When it came to shooting at sawgrass targets, he was the best shot in the village. His bowstring was always tight, and his arrow points were sharp. The young hunter listened to everything his father told him, but something always went wrong.

When he went out duck hunting, his dogs ran in circles and frightened ducks away. When he went out fishing, fish wouldnít bite. When he went out deer hunting, he stepped on sticks, and the sticks broke. Deer heard him coming, and they ran away. Sometimes he lost his way and became lost in the woods for days until he found his way home. The young hunter was tired of being a terrible hunter and having everybody in the village looking at him in that terrible way and turning away from him so they wouldnít make him feel bad by staring at him.

One day he said to himself, Ö Today is the last day. Either I find a deer today and bring it home, or I will never go out to hunt again. Then he decided, I wonít come home from hunting. Iíll just walk away and never see this place again. The young Calusa hunter looked around. He loved his village and his family. He wanted to be a good hunter. He walked out into the cedar trees that day, and he tried to do everything right, but that day was just like every other day.

The deer heard him coming.

Wherever he stepped, sticks broke and snapped. The day passed. The hunter had walked a long way and was far away from all the places heíd ever been. He didnít recognize anything. He came to a place where it looked like it hadnít rained for days. Maybe it hadnít rained for weeks, or months. It might have been dry even longer than that. From the way things looked, it might not have rained for a year or even more. The grass was withered. The flowers were dry and brown. The treesí leaves had fallen from the trees, and the trees were naked. The ground was cracked, and the hunter kicked up dust clouds wherever he stepped.

The afternoon sun beat on the hunter. The river that should have been filled with water was empty. The pond where the river used to empty itself was nothing but dry cracked mud. There were white fish bones and strings of withered duck weed sitting on the dry pond bottom. In the middle of the pond where the water had been deepest, there was a last trace of mud, but even that mud was dry. There was a she alligator in the middle of the dried mud. The alligator was hugging the mud. She was tired out. Flies were buzzing around the alligator. The flies were waiting for her to breathe her last breath, and she just about had. Because the man was not a careful hunter, he stepped on another stick, and the stick snapped. The alligatorís eyes cracked open, and patches of dusty dry mud appeared around her eyes.

The alligator groaned, Let me alone, man. Leave me be. Let me die. The man asked the alligator, What happened? Why is this place so dry> The alligator groaned again. Then she sighed, and shook her head, and said, This place is dry, because it stopped raining. Sometimes it stops raining. Thatís the way things are. I am the last living alligator in this pond, and I wonít be alive much longer. Now, please go away and leave me alone, so I can get on with dying. The young hunter started to turn away from that dried up pond and the dying alligator, but something bothered him and the hunter turned back. He said to the alligator, Can I carry you away from here? Can I take you where there Is fresh water?

The alligator said, Leave me be or take me with you. If you donít take me with you, Iíll die. The young hunter thought, and he looked at the dry pond and the cracked mud and the dying alligator. He said, Mother alligator, I donít trust you half as much as maybe I should. I know youíre hungry, and you might just as soon make a meal of me as not. But I donít feel right about leaving you here to die. Iíll agree to carry you on with me, but you have to agree to having your legs tied up and your jaws tied shut before I agree to carry you away. The alligator, who had no choice, answered, Do what you have to do.

The hunter tied the alligatorís legs up, and he tied the alligatorís jaw shut. He picked the alligator up and carried her out of the dry pond. The hunter hoisted the alligator onto his shoulder Ö I told you he was big and strong Ö and walked on carrying the alligator with him. The young Calusa hunter, hadnít seen anybody all that day, and he hadnít talked to anybody for a long time because, even though he was big and strong and handsome, he was embarrassed of being such a terrible hunter. He started to tell the alligator how poor a hunter he was. I practice, he said. I listen to everything my father tells me, but something always goes wrong.

Some days, my dogs run in circles, and they chase the ducks away. Other days, the fish wonít bite. I step on sticks, and the sticks break, and warn the deer, and the deer hear me coming and run away. Some days I even lose my way and even get lost in the woods for days until I find my way home. The young hunter told the alligator he was tired of being a terrible hunter.

Because she was tied up, the alligator didnít have any choice but listen. After the hunter had run out of words, the alligator started flopping her tail and mumbling through her tied-up jaws. The hunter looked at the alligator. He put her down, and loosened the alligatorís jaws, but he left her feet tied. The alligator started to talk. The alligator told the man, I understand from what you have said that your father has forgotten to tell you one thing. I know what it is. If you do what I say, IĎll teach you how to hunt deer. You can keep my legs tied, but leave my jaws free and Iíll teach you everything I know as we walk along. When you get a deer, all you have to do is take me to a river full of fresh water and turn me loose.

The young hunter listened and thought and nodded his head. He told the alligator that her plan sounded fair. He picked the alligator back up, and they walked on. Now, listen to me and keep your eyes open, said the alligator, Iíll show you the deer I have in mind for you. Look around you. They came to a doe. She stood in the middle of a sawgrass meadow. The man looked at the alligator and said, Why alligator, this is wonderful. I donít believe Iíve ever been this close to a deer, and I owe it all to you.

The alligator said, Now, listen to me. Look at this deer. This doeís a young mother. Sheís healthy and has many years of bearing fawns ahead of her. If you kill this doe, you will kill all of those fawns who havenít been born. There will be many less deer for other hunters to find. That made sense to the hunter, and he nodded. The alligator said, Now, listen to me and keep your eyes open.

Look around you. The hunter nodded to the alligator. He picked her up, and they walked on. As the hunter and the alligator passed the doe standing in the grassy meadow, she looked at them, and she bent her head and she ate. They walked west. ext, they came to a half-grown buck standing in under some trees at the eastern edge of a cypress and mangrove swamp. The man said, Well, alligator, this must be the deer you wanted to show me.

The alligator shook her head again, and she said, Now, listen to me, hunter. This is not your deer either. This is a young buck. He has years ahead of him. Heíll father herds of fawns, and if you kill him now, those herds will never be born. There will be many less deer for other hunters to find. That made sense to the hunter, and he nodded again.

The alligator said, Now, listen to me and keep your eyes open. Look around you.

The hunter nodded to the alligator, picked her up again, and they walked on. They walked into the woods, and the hunter felt deer all around him. He heard the dried leaves crunching as the deer walked near him and the alligator, though he didnít see them. The trees thinned out, and the few trees that remained were dead. They were skeleton trees. After a while, the hunter and the alligator came to a circle of white sand. The circle was surrounded by more skeletons of cypress and mangrove trees.

A grandfather deer stood in the middle of the circle of white sand. His muzzle was gray, and the old buckís antlers were as big as small trees. He stomped the ground. He rattled his antlers and snorted at the hunter and the alligator. The alligator whispered, Here is your deer, hunter. This deer has lived many winters, and he is the father of many generations of deer. He has fought wolves and panthers and led his herd well. This grandfather deer has stood in this circle of sand for more years than you have lived.

He has been chief over all the deer yards in these woods we have been walking through. He is tired, and he is ready to give over his herds to his sons. You may kill this deer, but when you have killed him you must thank the deerís spirit for making you a hunter. You must thank him for allowing you to bring food back to your village. The young Calusa man nodded. He set the alligator down.

The hunter pulled one arrow from the quiver that rode on his back. He fitted the arrow to his bowstring and pulled the arrowís feathers past his ear and held it there. The grandfather deer pawed the ground and snorted. He turned and showed the hunter his side.The young man had a clear target. The young hunter let his arrow fly. The arrow flew straight to the old buck. The grandfather deer fell. The young man did what the alligator had told him. He thanked the deerís spirit for making him a hunter and for feeding the people in the Calusa village.

The hunter dressed the deer, and he prepared to carry it all the way back to his village. The alligator cleared her throat, Hunter, are you going to keep your promise to me? Are you going to take me to the water and set me free? The young hunter said, I will. Iíll carry you on one shoulder, and Iíll carry the deer on my other shoulder until I find fresh water where you can live.

The alligator laughed. She said, No, you wonít. I donít care how big and how strong you are, no one can carry me on one shoulder and this grandfather deer on the other. The young man nodded. The alligator understood these things better than he did. Then the alligator said, I understand a little bit about these woods, and just past those dead trees there is a river. Take me to the water, then come back for the deer. Make sure you hang it in a high tree, so nothing gets at it. The hunter did what the alligator told him to do.

He hung the deer in a high tree. Then he picked the alligator up. He carried her past the skeleton trees and took her to the river the alligator had said was there. The hunter untied the alligatorís front feet, and her back feet, and he set the alligator down in the river and thanked her. The alligator said, If you remember what you learned today, you will never be hungry.

Remember to look around you.

The alligator switched her tail, and she drifted off on the current. The young Calusa man watched the alligator go. He looked around him as he watched the alligator drift away. He recognized this stretch of river. It was the same river that ran by his village. He had walked in a long circle, and he was home. The young hunter went back through the dead cypress trees and the mangroves. He took the grandfather deer down from the high tree. He lifted the deer onto his shoulder and walked the short way to the village.His father greeted the young hunter when he entered the village circle.

The young hunter gave the deer to his mother. She called her sisters. That night there was dancing and singing and eating in the Calusa village. The young hunter taught the Calusa villagers to hunt the way the alligator had told him. He taught them that the alligator had told him never to kill does or young bucks, so there would always be herds of deer. He taught them that the alligator had told him to always thank the deer for their lives that they gave to the Calusa people so they wouldnít starve.

As long as they did what the alligator said, deer herds always came to the rivers to drink, and they filled the woods Ö and the Calusa never starved.

That is the way that story goes.

retold by Charles Ė tsu tse li Yona nv no hi Ė BearsRoad
28 August 2002


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HOW RAVEN HELPED THE ANCIENT PEOPLE
Told by a Puget Sound tribe

Long ago, near the beginning of the world, Gray Eagle was the guardian of the sun and moon and stars, of fresh water, and of fire. Gray Eagle hated people so much that he kept these things hidden. People liven in darkness, without fire and without fresh water.

Gray Eagle had a beautiful daughter, and Raven fell in love with her. At that time Raven was a handsome young man. He changed himself into a snow-white bird, and as a snow-white bird he pleased Gray Eagle's daughter. She invited him to her father's lodge.

When Raven saw the sun and the moon and the stars and fresh water hanging on the sides of Eagle's lodge, he knew what he should do. He watched for his chance to seize them when no one was looking. He stole all of them, and a brand of fire also, and flew out of the lodge through the smoke hole.

As soon a Raven got outside, he hung the sun up in the sky. It made so much light that he was able to fly far out to an island in the middle of the ocean. When the sun set, he fastened the moon up in the sky and hung the stars around in different places. By this new light he kept on flying, carrying with him the fresh water and the brand of fire he had stolen. He flew back over the land. When he had reached the right place, he dropped all the water he had stolen. It fell to the ground and there became the source of all the fresh-water streams and lakes in the world.

Then Raven flew on, holding the brand of fire in his bill. The smoke from the fire blew back over his white feathers and made them black. When his bill began to burn, he had to drop the firebrand. It struck rocks and went into the rocks. That is why, if you strike two stones together, fire will drop out. Raven's feathers never became white again after they were blackened by the smoke from the firebrand. That is why Raven is now a black bird.


 
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