MYTHS AND TALES.
Yīmantūwiñyai.--Creator and Culture Hero.
It was at Tcōxōtewediñ he came into being. From the earth behind the inner house wall he sprang into existence. There was a ringing noise like the striking together of metals at his birth. Before his coming smoke had settled on the mountain side. Rotten pieces of wood thrown up by someone fell into his hands. Where they fell there was fire.
After him there grew the Kīxûnai everywhere in the world. Some of these who were bad he did not like. There was no food as yet in the world. One of the Kīxûnai had it in his keeping. He had all the deer confined inside of a mountain through the side of which was a door. Yīmantūwiñyai, not liking this, started out through the world to find a remedy. In the middle of the world he sat down. When he looked this way (toward Hupa) he saw a madroña tree. He took a piece of bark from it the length of the back-strap of a deer and put it in his quiver. Starting out again he came to the house of the Kīxûnai who was guarding the deer and entered. After sitting there sometime he put his hand into his quiver and drew out the madroña bark which had become sinew. "Deer must have grown also where that man lives," thought the Kīxûnai. Then Yīmantūwiñyai said, "I am hungry for fresh venison, I am tired of dry meat."
The Kīxûnai went to secure the deer and Yīmantūwiñyai watched to see which way he went. He saw him open a door in the side of a mountain where he kept the deer, never letting them go out to feed. When Yīmantūwiñyai had found out what he wished to know he ran back to the house. He carried his quiver outside and put it on the roof that it might be at hand when he needed it. When the Kīxûnai had brought in the deer, Yīmantūwiñyai said, "I am going out to swim because I am going to eat venison." 1 As he passed out he took down his quiver from the roof and went to the door behind which the deer were confined. Looking into his quiver he saw there had grown in it the herb, wild ginger, with which he was to entice the deer out and cause them to scatter. When he had placed this before the door, the deer came out and scattered over the country this way toward the north. Everywhere they were feeding about. Wherever the Kīxûnai had come into existence they were eating venison.
When Yīmantūwiñyai came back to Tcōxōtewediñ it occurred to him that there should be salmon. Someone had them shut up in the world across the ocean toward the north. It was a woman who guarded them. When Yīmantūwiñyai came to the place where she lived, he went in and addressed her as his niece. She gave him fresh salmon for the evening meal. The next day, having spent the night there, he told her he would like some eels. When she went to catch them he followed to spy upon her. Having found out what he wished to know he ran back and went into the sweat-house. The woman brought back the eels and dressed them. When she had them ready she called to him to come in. He went in and ate the eels. After he had remained there two nights he was again hungry for salmon. When she went for them he followed to see what she would do. He saw there the fishing boards projecting out over the water and many nets leaning up near by. There were also nets for surf fish there. He came back to the house.
The next time he was hungry for surf fish. He watched her get them as he had done before. When she had brought them up she cooked them for him between two sticks. He had now found out what to do. He made a flute and then smoked himself in the sweat-house. When he was done with the sweating he talked to the flute, telling it to play when he had gone out. 1 In the evening, he went and looked about everywhere to see where he had best dig the outlet. He saw the digging at one place would be easy. He went back to the house and sharpened a stick. He told the flute to play and went out taking with him his quiver which he left on the roof. Then he went where the fish were. There in a lake were all kinds which live under water. Beginning at a certain rush he dug an outlet. When the ditch was finished he took out the rush also. Then the water carrying the fish with it ran out encircling the world.
When he came back by the house he picked up his quiver and followed along beside the stream to teach the people how to prepare the fish for food. The woman ran along after the salmon that used to be hers, crying: "Wût-te wût-te my salmon." It was salmon's grandmother 1 who used to own the salmon. When Yīmantūwiñyai came along he saw fish had already been eaten. He saw eels had been cut. "Not that way, this way you should cut them," he said, cutting them with a knife of white stone. At another place he saw they were cutting surf fish which had come ashore. "Not that way, "he said, "this way you must dry them"; and he scattered them whole on the grass. He came back to Tcōxōtewediñ. Salmon's grandmother came on to Hupa following her fish. She still comes in the fifth month.
Yīmantūwiñyai started up the Klamath river. When he came to Orleans Bar he found two women had come into existence there. These women were well behaved and always stayed in the house. Yīmantūwiñyai wanted in someway to meet them. Picking up a stick he wished it would become a canoe and it did. Then he wished for a lake and the lake was there. Putting the canoe in the water he transformed himself into a child and seated himself in it. At earliest dawn the women came along and saw him there. They started to catch the canoe and secure the baby, but the boat avoided them. They made the circuit of the lake wading or swimming after it. When they were about to catch it, the water broke out of the banks and they failed. They wen back and lived where they had before. Yīmantūwiñyai then went on up the Klamath until he came to Somes where two more women had come into existence. Here he played the lover. He made a dam that there might be a lake there also. He planned that there should be a road under this dam. He did this for the sake of the women. He made a small boat and put it in the water on the further side, but to no purpose, for the women did not come out. Then because he failed to entice them out he tore the dam down and turned back. 1 When he came again to Orleans Bar he saw someone making a white stone knife. "What are you doing?" he asked. "We are going to cut those women open," they said. "Hold on," said Yīmantūwiñyai, and he began. to plan how birth should take place. First he thought it might be from the woman's shin. After thinking about it again he looked into his quiver. He saw there a net-sack had grown. This he thought would become the uterus forming a part of woman and from it birth should take place. 2 From there he went back to his home.
He thought he would now go toward the south. He made baskets and gave them away. 3 Then he came up along the Trinity until he came to Sugar Bowl. There he made a dam and then went back down on the other side of the river until he came to Xonsadiñ. Two women were soaking acorn meal at this place. He climbed up the steep bank and went toward the top of Bald Hill. Wherever he turned to look back the ground rose up making little knolls. From the top of the hill he looked back at the dam he had made. He thought it looked so good with the falling water that even a newly made widow would think of many things, if she should see it, and would sing love songs. As this would not do he went back and made the ridge which stands in front of it so the water-fall could not be seen. Then he made a butte on each side at Djictañadiñ from which he might look. He made a canoe and started toward the south thinking he might have intercourse with some woman. Failing in this he took away the buttes and went back down the river.
When he got back to TakimiLdiñ the people were making so much noise that the birds flying over nearly dropped dead. 1 Someone came over from Bald Hills. When they looked up a cloud had risen. "It is disease that is coming; Come make a dance," said Yīmantūwiñyai. The Kīxûnai danced in the large house circling around the fire. "Let me find a dancing place," thought Yīmantūwiñyai. Coming up on a bank some distance down the river he thought that would be the place. He called out "Salmon," and a salmon came ashore. Going further down he called, "Water," and water boiled out of the ground.
Going on down to Miskût he called again, "Water." It did not appear. There he made the place for the final dance. Then he went back to TakimiLdiñ. The next day they danced again. When they looked they saw the cloud had drawn back. They danced for five days and it continued to go back. 'Then they danced in the house five days by jumping. Afterwards they had a jumping dance at Miskût. "That way it will be," he thought, "if disease comes." Then he went south until he came to Leldiñ. 2
As he was going along south he saw someone coming toward him carrying a load. He had no eyes. When he met him he said, "Eh! Old man, the load has nearly worn you out." The old man sat down, falling over as he did so. "Help me carry it," he said. "All right," said Yīmantūwiñyai. "Push the load on me," said Yīmantūwiñyai sitting under it. When he pushed it on him he untied the strap. Yīmantūwiñyai jumped out and the pieces stuck up in the ground right where he had been. Yīmantūwiñyai stood facing him. It was black obsidian he was carrying. With them he used to kill people to eat. The blind man felt around for his victim saying, "I always catch them, this one I did not catch." Then he arranged the obsidians as usual. Yīmantūwiñyai said, "Come, it is your turn." "No,"' said the old man. "Anyway," he said, "come let me push it on you." No," said the old man, "nobody pushes it on me." Nevertheless Yīmantūwiñyai threw him under it and pushed the load on him. They stuck into him cutting him all to pieces.
Going on to the south he saw someone trying to catch passing travellers with a hook. When Yīmantūwiñyai came where he was, he grasped the hook and allowed himself to be drawn quite close; then he let go. The old man said as the other had, "I always catch them, this one I did not catch." Yīmantūwiñyai standing facing him said, "Come, let me catch you." "No," said the old man, "nobody helps me hook." Nevertheless Yīmantūwiñyai took the hook out of his hand and caught him. "People will travel the trails in safety," said Yīmantūwiñyai. There mustn't be those who eat people."
As he went on walking toward the south he saw someone making a seesaw 1 by the roadside. When Yīmantūwiñyai came there he caught the pole with which the person was seesawing, causing him to jump off. "Sit on it for me," he said. Yīmantūwiñyai sat on it. He untied the lashing, but Yīmantūwiñyai jumped off in time. Yīmantūwiñyai stood facing him. That one, who also was blind, felt around for his supposed victim saying, "I always catch them, this one I didn't catch." "Come," said Yīmantūwiñyai, "let me seesaw with you." "No," he said. Nevertheless Yīmantūwiñyai put him on it and untied the lashing. He was cut to pieces. That was because the seesaw was made of obsidian. "The creaking of trees as they rub together you may become," he said. "There must not be those who eat people."
As Yīmantūwiñyai went along he was surprised to see someone splitting logs. He thought to himself, "I will go where he is." When he got there he said, "Old man are you splitting logs here?" "Yes," said the old man. That one too had no eyes. "I am trying to split here," he said, "but it won't split for me. Come, jump in the opening for me." "Yes," Yīmantūwiñyai said. When the blind man had set the wedge he pounded the log open. Then he said, "Come, get in between." Yīmantūwiñyai got in but jumped out to one side as it sprang to after him. "Dûl" it rang out. Yīmantūwiñyai stood facing him. Then the old man took a big basket-pot and set it under to catch the blood. Yīmantūwiñyai stood watching him. Then he set the wedge again and pounded the log open. He felt around saying, "I always catch them, this one I didn't catch." Come, you do it," said Yīmantūwiñyai. "No, I never do that way," he said. Nevertheless Yīmantūwiñyai pushed him in and let it spring to upon him. "You may become a borer and live in trees," he told him. "There must not be those who eat people. When they are going to build a house they may split logs but they must not kill people this way."
As he went walking along he heard laughing. Farther along he saw a fire blazing. He went and stood there. No one was about. He looked around but saw only soaproots scattered there. Someone pushed him toward the fire but he jumped over it. He felt himself pushed toward the fire again. Finally he was tired out with jumping. Then he picked up the soaproots which were scattered about and threw them into the fire. "A-lo-lo-lo" they said. He found out that the soaproots were accustomed to eat people. "Become food," he said. "There must not be those who eat people." Then they became soaproots.
As Yīmantūwiñyai was walking along toward the south he saw three women coming carrying loads. When he met them lie said, "Without food I have come." They gave him some bulbs which he ate and liked very much. He ran back and by going around got ahead of them again. He defecated there and said to the faeces, "Become Yurok." The Yurok went along with him. When he met the women again he said, " They are traveling without having eaten." The women left food for them. Finally in this manner he ate up all the food they were carrying. He made there every kind of language, Karok, Yurok, Shasta, Tolowa, Mad River, Southfork, New River, and Redwood; so many he made. 1
He went on toward the south where he saw a house. When be went in he saw a kinaLdûñ girl sitting there. She got up and grave him nuts of the sugar pine and hazel to eat. While he was eating he became thirsty. The girl took the basket-bucket and went to bring water for him. When she had gone Yīmantūwiñyai wished that a grey-back louse would bite her. Feeling the bite she sat down to find her tormentor, forgetting the water she had set out to bring. Yīmantūwiñyai, taking advantage of her absence, took all the food of every kind and ate it up. He then went on toward the south. The girl came up from the spring and said, "Here, is the water, take it," passing it in. When she went in and looked about she saw her food was all gone. "I wish all the creeks would dry up ahead of you," thought the kinaLdûñ girl. As Yīmantūwiñyai was walking along he heard the murmuring of a creek. "I am going to have a drink," he thought. When he got there it was dry. He went on toward the south. He heard another creek. He ran to it only to find it dried up. He was nearly dead for water. He thought the next time he would throw a deerskin blanket into the water. He kept on toward the south. He heard another creek as he was walking along. He ran there with the skin but the creek had dried up. He threw the skin into the dry bed of the stream. He went on toward the south. He thought about his quiver. He resolved to throw that in. When he heard the next creek he fixed it ready and ran there with it. He threw it into the dry bed where it stuck up. Failing in this attempt he picked it up and went on. He heard another creek and thought he would try shooting in an arrow from which the fore-shaft had been removed. With the socket he thought he might dip up the water. He shot it in. It stuck up in the dry place. He pulled it out and went on. As he was walking along toward the south he heard a bull frog croaking. There must be a lake there, he thought. He did not run this time. Coming down to the outlet of the pond he put down his mouth and drank and drank and drank.
He rolled over there. He could not get up. The birds began to fly up and he said, "Pick my stomach open." Buzzard sat there first. "Pick my stomach open," he told him. Buzzard flew up and kept thinking, "He is peeking under his arm; is he dead or is he yet alive?" Then he went to him and laid out all the tools he was going to pick with. He picked with the last one which he took out. Then he picked his stomach opened and Yīmantūwiñyai got up. He looked around and was surprised to see a hollow tree standing there. He crawled into that and went to sleep.
When he woke up he found it had grown together in front of him. Sapsucker lit on the tree and began to peck. "Do it a little harder," said Yīmantūwiñyai. He was frightened and flew away. Larger woodpecker did that and then yellowhammer. This time Yīmantūwiñyai kept quiet. He pecked until a chip flew off. Then largest woodpecker jumped on and pecked until he pecked it open. In that way Yīmantūwiñyai got out.
"Come to me," he said. Then all kinds of birds flew to him. He made a bill for buzzard. At first he made crow into a large woodpecker. "Fly up there," he told him and he flew up. Then he flew back and said, "Make me red all over. If a man kills me he will be rich at once." 1 Yīmantūwiñyai pounded up some charcoal and dusted it over him. "Come fly up there," he said, and he flew up. "Ka ka ka" he said and became crow. He made largest woodpecker, eagle, yellowhammer, little woodpecker and all kinds as many as fly. When he had finished he went on toward the south.
As he was walking along he thought, "I wish I had a dog to go along with me." Then he defecated and said to the faeces, "Become a dog." They became a dog. "There is a dog at the place where I am going," he thought. When he got there a dog was lying on the house. Yīmantūwiñyai's dog crawled under him in fright. The one that was on the house got up. The house, though made of blue-stone, gave a creak. It was a "lion" that was lying on the house. The one with Yīmantūwiñyai became a "lion" also. "Let our two pets fight," said the host. "No," said Yīmantūwiñyai, "tomorrow they will fight." He told his dog to paw the ground in the morning. The next morning he pawed the dirt. The one that was lying on the house got up and shook himself. The one by the sweat-house entrance got up and shook himself. Then Yīmantūwiñyai's dog jumped upon the house and they commenced to fight. They chased each other to the sky. "Let us see whose dog's blood drops first," said the host. To this Yīmantūwiñyai agreed. Soon the host's pet dropped down dead. Yīmantūwiñyai 's dog they saw coming along with his face half covered with blood. He ran back to his master.
It was at the edge of the world toward the south that they had the fight. When Yīmantūwiñyai looked back the way he had come he was surprised to see smoke. When anything is about to come into existence its smoke appears. Indians were to appear. He started back toward the north. When he got down to Leldiñ he found the Kīxûnai preparing for a journey. They were going to the world across the ocean northward. He traveled with them down this way toward Hupa. At Tcōxoltcwediñ they camped. In the morning they started out in boats and went across the ocean to the north. Yīmantūwiñyai went back with them.
Then he thought, "How is it going to be with the Indians who are to appear?" "I am going around the world," he thought, "and measure it. They will renew their youth." 2 He started around the world to measure it. When he got to the place west of us on the other side, The Maiyōtel began to talk about him. "He must not do this thing he is attempting," they said. "I wish someway we could stop him. It is women that he can't resist," said the Maiyōtel. As Yīmantūwiñyai was walking along he saw a woman lying in the trail waiting for him. He stepped over her and walked on. Soon he saw a second woman. With her he dallied. She caught him and swam back with him through the water north to the world beyond the ocean. Through his own weakness and the plots of his enemies he failed to arrange for Indians to renew their lives upon earth. He came back here again to a place south of the Big Lagoon. There he placed a sweat-house and a house in which the people should dance. "Here," he said, "they will dance if anything goes wrong with the ocean. If the water rises up they will dance here and it will settle down again." Then he went back to the northern world beyond the ocean.
He thought again about the coming of men. "In that place they will come into existence before my eyes," he thought. "I will go back to the place where I was born." He came back to Xoñxauwdiñ where the jealous man lived. No one ever saw his wife. Sand was scattered all around the house that the tracks of intruders might be seen. When birds walked on it they died. Blood ran out their mouths. Yīmantūwiñyai took ten elder sticks and slipped one over the other. These he pushed down his throat. Then he opened the door and went in. He seated himself beside the wife. The jealous man came out of the sweat-house and noticed that someone had been around. The door was open. He went in and saw a man sitting by his wife. He looked him in the eye. 1 Then he felt in his quiver and drew out an arrow. "Not that one," said Yīmantūwiñyai. He pulled out another. "No," said Yīmantūwiñyai. Finally he had pulled out all but one. Then he pulled out the xoñxanwdiñ arrow. 2 "That is the one," said Yīmantūwiñyai. "Shoot into my mouth." Then the jealous man shot him in the mouth. Yīmantūwiñyai tumbled out of the smoke-hole and rolled all around the place in frenzy. When lie came under a pepperwood tree he came to his senses. He thought he had been killed. He drew out the elder sticks, and found all of them were burned through. He took out the arrow-head also. The place where he rolled around can be seen yet. An herb 3 grew up there. He put some of it in his mouth. He caused that plant to be a medicine. 4
He came back to Tcōxoltcwediñ. He saw a man and a woman had grown there. He came up the Trinity to Miskût. He found again a man and a woman. At TakimiLdiñ several had grown. He went on south to Leldiñ. There Indians had come into existence. He went on to XonteLtcitdiñ. There he rested and smoked his pipe. On looking toward the south he saw someone in the distance fishing. When he went up the stream and crossed over, the man was gone. Yīmantūwiñyai looked about. Only the board on which he fished was there; the net was gone. Salmon scales were scattered about. He looked for him everywhere in vain. Then he took off his belt and stepped into the water. Entering the eddy he struck the water with his belt. Then he could see under the water. Toward the south he saw someone sitting with one leg each side of the fire. He went to him and addressed him. He did not reply. Everyway he spoke to him but failed to get an answer. Then he threw him into the fire. He burned up. That was salmon's heart. Yīmantūwiñyai carried the salmon out, built a fire, cooked the salmon, and ate it.
Then he went on south to the world's edge. When he got there bluejay, a woman who would become a Wintûn, was there. She greeted Yīmantūwiñyai as her nephew. "All kinds of people have grown at the places you have passed," she said. "Yes, they had grown here and there as I came along," said Yīmantūwiñyai. "Did you eat along with them?" asked bluejay. "Yes," said Yīmantūwiñyai.
Then he started back this way from the south. At XonteLme he camped. The next night he spent at Southfork. The following day he came down to Xowûñkût. He felt sleepy, so lying down by the trail he went to sleep. When he woke up he felt heavy. He could not roll over. He went to sleep again. When he woke up a second time, his belly was so swollen that it fairly loomed up over him. He looked around and saw redwood sorrel 1 had grown up there. He chewed that and it cured him. He made that to be everybody's medicine. He got up. "This plant will be Indian's medicine," he said. Then he went back to Tcōxōltcwediñ where he spent the night. The next day he went back across the ocean to the north where he became lost from men. He went to his grandmother 2 and said: "I have made the medicines for Indians."