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A Native American Story of Creation

When Tu-chai-pai made the world, the earth was the woman, the sky was the man. The sky came down upon the earth. The world in the beginning was a pure lake covered with tules. Tu-chai-pai and his younger brother, Yo-ko-mat-is, sat together, stooping far over, bowed down by the weight of the sky. The Maker said to his brother, "What am I going to do?"

"I do not know," said Yo-ko-mat-is.

"Let us go a little farther," said the Maker.

So they went a little farther and sat down to rest. "Now what am I going to do?" said Tu-chai-pai.

"I do not know, my brother."

All of this time the Maker knew what he was about to do, but he was asking his brother's help. Then he said, "We-hicht, we-hicht, we-hicht," three times. He took tobacco in his hand. and rubbed it fine and blew upon it three times. Every time he blew, the heavens rose higher above their heads.

Younger brother did the same thing because the Maker asked him to do it. The heavens went higher and higher and so did the sky. Then they did it both together, "We-hicht, we-hicht, we-hicht," and both took tobacco, rubbed it, and puffed hard upon it, sending the sky so high it formed a concave arch.

Then they placed North, South, East, and West. Tu-chai-pai made a line upon the ground.

"Why do you make that line?" asked younger brother.

"I am making the line from East to West and name them so. Now you make a line from North to South."

Yo-ko-mat-is thought very hard. How would he arrange it? Then he drew a crossline from top to bottom. He named the top line North, and the bottom line South. Then he asked, "Why are we doing this?"

The Maker said, "I will tell you. Three or four men are coming from the East, and from the West three or four Indians are coming."

The brother asked, "Do four men come from the North, and two or three men come from the South?"

Tu-chai-pai said, "Yes. Now I am going to make hills and valleys and little hollows of water."

"Why are you making all of these things?"

The Maker explained, "After a while when men come and are walking back and forth in the world, they will need to drink water or they will die." He had already made the ocean, but he needed little water places for the people.

Then he made the forests and said, "After a while men will die of cold unless I make wood for them to burn. What are we going to do now?"

"I do not know," replied younger brother.

"We are going to dig in the ground and find mud to make the first people, the Indians." So he dug in the ground and took mud to make the first men, and after that the first women. He made the men easily, but he had much trouble making women. It took him a long time.

After the Indians, he made the Mexicans and finished all his making. He then called out very loudly, "People, you can never die and you can never get tired, so you can walk all the time." But then he made them sleep at night, to keep them from walking in the darkness. At last he told them that they must travel toward the East, where the sun's light was coming out for the first time.

The Indians then came out and searched for the light, and at last they found light and were exceedingly glad to see the Sun. The Maker called out to his brother, "It's time to make the Moon. You call out and make the Moon to shine, as I have made the Sun. Sometime the Moon will die. When it grows smaller and smaller, men will know it is going to die, and they must run races to try and keep up with the dying moon."

The villagers talked about the matter and they understood their part and that Tu-chai-pai would be watching to see that they did what he wanted them to do. When the Maker completed all of this, he created nothing more. But he was always thinking how to make Earth and Sky better for all the Indians.


How the Bear Lost His Tail

A long time ago, Bear had a beautiful, long, furry tail. He thought it was really cool. He laid it out behind him and people had to walk round it.

He asked everyone: "Don't you think my tail is the most beautiful tail you've ever seen?"

People thought Bear was very vain, but they were frightened of his big claws and didn't want to make him angry.

So they told him he looked totally cool with his big, black, shiny tail. One cold winter's day, Bear went lumbering down to the lake.

Fox was sitting on the frozen water, surrounded by fish. He knew that Bear was hungry, and decided to play a trick on him. "Hello brother Fox ," said Bear, his mouth watering.

"Where did you get all those fish?"

"I caught them," said Fox, pointing to a hole in the ice.

"But you don't have anything to fish with," said Bear.

"I used my tail," said Fox.

Bear was totally blown away by this. "You used your Tail?" he shouted.

"Sure. It's the best thing for catching fish. Shall I show how? Then you'll always have as many fish as you want to eat."

"Yes please," said Bear in his deep, gruff voice. His mouth watered again.

Fox pointed to the hole in the ice. "There's no fish left in there. Let's go to another part of the lake where there's more."

Trying not to laugh, Fox led Bear to a shallow part of the lake. Bear dug a hole in the ice with his claws.

"Now, sit with your back to the hole and drop your beautiful tail into the water," said Fox. "You'll feel when a fish bites. Then you can pull your tail out with the fish on the end of it."

Bear wanted the fish big time.

He put his tail into the icy water. "Now," said Fox, "this is important. You must sit very still and only think about fish. Pretend to count the fish you catch with your tail. The more you count, the more you will catch."

The Bear scratched himself with pleasure. "My tail will catch more fish than any other."

"Sit still," said Fox."I'll watch from those trees, so I don't scare thefish."

Bear sat very still and thought about fish jumping onto his tail. He counted each one. It was very tiring. He fell asleep. It became very cold and started to snow. Fox went back to his house, taking his fish with him.

A few hours later, Fox came back to the lake.

Bear was still asleep and snoring. His black fur coat was white with snow.

Fox laughed so much he fell over on his back with his legs waving in the air. "This is such a cool trick," gasped Fox. Then he stopped laughing and quietly snuck up on Bear.

He shouted, "Bear! Bear! I can see a fish on your tail. Can you feel it?"

Bear woke up with a fright and felt a sharp pain in his frozen tail. "I can feel it!" he shouted. He leaped up and his frozen tail snapped off.

All that was left was a small stump where his beautiful long, black tail had been.

"My tail! My beautiful tail," he wailed. Fox, the trickster, ran away laughing.

And that's why bears now only have short tails. If you ever hear a bear groaning, it's because he remembers his big, black, beautiful tail. And it's also the reason why you won't see Bear and Fox having lunch together! Fox knows he would be lunch.


Pah-To, The White Eagle

In the days of our grandfathers' grandfathers, the peaks now called Mount Hood and Mount Adams stood much closer to the Columbia River than they do today. Mount Hood, called Wy-east, stood on the south bank, facing Mount Adams, Pah-To, on the north bank.

Between the two peaks was a bridge, where big rocks formed an arch. One base of the bridge rested on Wy-east, the other on Pah-To. For many years the rock bridge stood there. Beneath it, the waters of the great river flowed peacefully. Canoes went up and down the river without danger from the rocks and rapids that have been there in our time.

Some people in the canoes admired the big arch over their heads and were proud of the Great Power Above that had made it. Other people were afraid. When they were travelling up or down the river, all except the oarsmen would get out of the canoes when they neared the spot. They would walk to the opposite side of the bridge and reenter the canoes there. All would pray for the oarsmen, because the medicine men of the tribe prophesied that some day the bridge would fall.

Our grandfathers and our great-uncles tell us about the long, dark journey under the bridge. They tell us that the river used to be peaceful where we now see rapids and waterfalls.

But mountains did not let the river remain at peace. Each peak was the home of a powerful spirit, and the spirits were jealous of each other. Each was proud of its beautiful home, and each envied the beauty and grandeur of the other. Sometimes they became so jealous and so angry that they threw hot rocks at each other.

The Great Power Above was made unhappy by their frequent quarrels. But he thought that he would let them fight until they grew weary of fighting. Then they would become friends and would stay at peace with each other.

Instead, the mountain spirits became more and more quarrelsome. They became angry more and more often. They shook the earth. They sent forth fire and smoke, and they threw hot rocks across the river. At last the mountain peaks were set on fire, and a lake near the bridge was drained into the river.

Once more the fighting mountains made the earth tremble. This time they shook it so hard that the earth and the trees along the banks of the river slid into the water. The foundations of the bridge were loosened, the arch lost its balance, and the rocks fell into the river. There they made rapids and many waterfalls.

The Great Power Above was so angry that he determined to punish the mountain spirits. He came down from the sky and stood by the river. There he picked up Pah-To and hurled it as far as he could northeast of where he stood. Then he lifted Wy-east and hurled it as far as he could southwest of where he stood.

The mountain peaks stand there today, watching from a distance the Columbia River on its way to the sea.


Gluscabi and the Wind Eagle

Abnaki

Long ago, Gluscabi lived with his grandmother, Woodchuck, in a small lodge beside the big water. One day Gluscabi was walking around when he looked out and saw some ducks in the bay.

I think it is time to go hunt some ducks, he said. So he took his bow and arrows and got into his canoe. He began to paddle out into the bay and as he paddled he sang:

Ki yo wah ji neh yo ho hey ho Ki yo wah ji neh Ki yo wah ji neh.

But a wind came up and it turned his canoe and blew him back to shore. Once again Gluscabi began to paddle out and this time he sang his song a little harder:

Ki yo wah ji neh yo ho hey ho Ki yo wah ji neh Ki yo wah ji neh.

But again the wind came and blew him back to shore. Four times he tried to paddle out into the bay and four times he failed. He was not happy. He went back to the lodge of his grandmother and walked right in, even though there was a stick leaning across the door, which meant that the person inside was doing some work and did not want to be disturbed.

Grandmother, Gluscabi said, What makes the wind blow?

Grandmother Woodchuck looked up from her work. Gluscabi, she said, Why do you want to know?

Then Gluscabi answered her just as every child in the world does when they are asked such a question.

Because, he said.

Grandmother Woodchuck looked at him. Ah, Gluscabi, she said. Whenever you ask such questions I feel there is going to be trouble. And perhaps I should not tell you. But I know that you are so stubborn you will never stop asking until I answer you. So I shall tell you. Far from here, on top of the tallest mountain, a great bird stands. This bird is named Wuchowsen, and when he flaps his wings he makes the wind blow.

Eh-hey, Grandmother, said Gluscabi, I see. Now how would one find that place where the Wind Eagle stands?

Again Grandmother Woodchuck looked at Gluscabi. Ah, Gluscabi, she said, Once again I feel that perhaps I should not tell you. But I know that you are very stubborn and would never stopasking. So, I shall tell you. If you walk always facing the wind you will come to the place where Wuchowsen stands.

Thank you, Grandmother, said Gluscabi. He stepped out of the lodge and faced into the wind and began to walk.

He walked across the fields and through the woods and the wind blew hard. He walked through the valleys and into the hills and the wind still blew harder. Now the foothills were becoming mountains and the wind was very strong. Soon there were no longer any trees and the wind was very, very strong. The wind was so strong that it blew off Gluscabis moccasins. But he was very stubborn and he kept walking, leaning into the wind. Now the wind was so strong that it blew off his shirt, but he kept on walking.

Now the wind was so strong that it blew off all his clothes and he was naked, but he still kept walking. Now the wind was so strong that it blew off his hair, but Gluscabbi still kept walking, facing into the wind. The wind was so strong that it blew off his eyebrows, but still he continued to walk. Now the wind was so strong that he could hardly stand. He had to pull himself along by grabbing hold of the boulders. But there, on the peak ahead of him, he could see a great bird slowly flapping its wings. It was Wuchowsen, the Wind Eagle.

Gluscabi took a deep breath, Grandfather! he shouted.

The Wind Eagle stopped flapping his wings and looked around. Who calls me Grandfather? he said.

Gluscabi stood up. Its me, Grandfather. I just came up here to tell you that you do a very good job making the wind blow.

The Wind Eagle puffed out his chest with pride. You mean like this? he said and flapped his wings even harder. The wind which he made was so strong that it lifted Gluscabi right off his feet, and he would have been blown right off the mountain had he not reached out and grabbed a boulder again.

Grandfather!!! Gluscabi shouted again.

The Wind Eagle stopped flapping his wings. Yes? he said.

Gluscabi stood up and came closer to Wuchowsen. You do a very good job of making the wind blow, Grandfather. This is so. But it seems to me that you could do an even better job if you were on that peak over there.

The Wind Eagle looked toward the other peak. That may be so, he said, but how would I get from here to there?

Gluscabi smiled. Grandfather, he said, I will carry you. Wait here. Then Gluscabi ran back down the mountain until he came to a big basswood tree. He stripped off the outer bark and from the inner bark he braided a strong carrying strap which he took back up the mountain to the Wind Eagle. Here, Grandfather, he said, let me wrap this around you so I can lift you more easily. Then he wrapper the carrying strap so tightly around Wuchowsen that his wings were pulled in to his sides and he could hardly breathe. Now, Grandfather, Gluscabi said, picking the Wind Eagle up, I will take you to a better place. He began to walk toward the other peak, but as he walked he came to a place where there was a large crevice, and as he stepped over it he let go of the carrying strap and the Wind Eagle slid down into the crevice, upside down, and was stuck.

Now, Gluscabi said, it is time to hunt some ducks.

He walked back down the mountain and there was no wind at all. He walked till he came to the treeline and still no wind blew. He walked down to the foothills and down to the hills and the valleys and still there was no wind. He walked through the forests and through the fields, and the wind did not blow at all. He walked and walked until he came back to the lodge by the water, and by now all his hair had grown back. He put on some fine new clothing and a new pair of moccasins and took his bow and arrows and went down to the bay and climbed into his boat to hunt ducks. He paddled out into the water and sang his canoeing song:

Ki yo wah ji neh yo ho hey ho Ki yo wah ji neh Ki yo wah ji neh.

But the air was very hot and still and he began to sweat. The air was so still and hot that it was hard to breathe. Soon the water began to grow dirty and smell bad and there was so much foam on the water he could hardly paddle. He was not pleased at all and he returned to the shore and went straight to his grandmothers lodge and walked in.

Grandmother, he said, What is wrong? The air is hot and still and it is making me sweat and it is hard to breathe. The water is dirty and covered with foam. I cannot hunt ducks at all like this.

Grandmother Woodchuck looked up at Gluscabi. Gluscabi, she said, what have you done now?

And Gluscabi answered just as every child in the world answers when asked that question, Oh, nothing, he said.

Gluscabi, said Grandmother Woodchuck again, Tell me what you have done.

Then Gluscabi told her about going to visit the Wind Eagle and what he had done to stop the wind.

Oh, Gluscabi, said Grandmother Woodchuck, will you never learn? Tabaldak, The Owner, set the Wind Eagle on that mountain to make the wind because we need the wind. The wind keeps the air cool and clean. The wind brings the clouds which give us rain to wash the Earth. The wind moves the waters and keeps them fresh and sweet. Without the wind, life will not be good for us, for our children or our childrens children.

Gluscabi nodded his head. Kaamoji, Grandmother, he said. I understand.

Then he went outside. He faced in the direction from which the wind had once come and began to walk. He walked through the fields and through the forests and the wind did not blow and he felt very hot. He walked through the valleys and up the hills and there was no wind and it was hard for him to breathe. He came to the foothills and began to climb and he was very hot and sweaty indeed. At last he came to the mountain where the Wind Eagle once stood and he went and looked down into the crevice. There was Wuchowsen, the Wind Eagle, wedged upside down.

Uncle? Gluscabi called.

The Wind Eagle looked up as best he could. Who calls me Uncle? he said.

It is Gluscabi, Uncle. Im up here. But what are you doing down there?

Oh, Gluscabi, said the Wind Eagle, a very ugly naked man with no hair told me that he would take me to the other peak so that I could do a better job of making the wind blow. He tied my wings and picked me up, but as he stepped over this crevice he dropped me in and I am stuck. And I am not comfortable here at all.

Ah, Grandfath....er, Uncle, I will get you out.

Then Gluscabi climbed down into the crevice. He pulled the Wind Eagle free and placed him back on his mountain and untied his wings.

Uncle, Gluscabi said, It is good that the wind should blow sometimes and other times it is good that it should be still.

The Wind Eagle looked at Gluscabi and then nodded his head. Grandson, he said, I heat what you say.

So it is that sometimes there is wind and sometimes it is still to this very day. And so the story goes.

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