Music: Morning Song by Red Tail Chasing Hawks
"Sister-in-law, let us get clover. I like clover," Bear said to Deer. The Deer replied, "Yes, we will eat clover." Bear said, "We will leave these girls
(Fawns) at home. They always follow you." She told the Fawns, "We go to eat clover. Clover is high enough to eat now, I think. You girls stay at
home until we return."
Bear said to her sister-in-law, "Let's go. We will be back tonight." Then they went below to eat clover.
After they had gone below, Bear said, "Let's sit down and rest." Then she continued, "Examine my head, examine my head. I must have lice on my
head." Deer replied, "Yes, yes, come here and I will look for lice." Then she found lice on Bear's head. She found large frogs on Bear's head. When she
found the frogs, she picked them off and threw them away. Bear asked her, "What is it that you throw away? Are you throwing away my lice?" Deer
replied, "No, you hear the leaves dropping." Bear said, "Take them all out. I have many lice."
Then Deer removed them all. Bear asked, "What are you throwing away?" Deer replied, "I throw away nothing. You hear pine cones dropping from
the tree." Bear said, "I think that you throw away my lice." Deer retorted, "No, those are pine cones dropping from the trees."
"Remove them all, then," said Bear, "remove them all. My head feels light, since you have finished picking the lice from it." Deer threw away the
frogs, threw away large frogs.
Bear said to Deer, "Let me examine your head." Deer said, "All right." Bear examined Deer's head and said, "There are many." Deer's lice were
wood-ticks and Bear proceeded to take them from Doe's head.
Then Bear said, "There are many. I do not think I can get them all by picking. You have many. Let me chew these lice and your many lice. That is the
only way I can remove them. You have many lice. I do not think that I have removed them all. There are many. Stoop and I will chew your hair. Do
not be afraid. Stoop and let me try.
Then Deer stooped. She thought Bear's intentions were good. Bear examined her hair for awhile, and then chewed. Instead of chewing Deer's hair,
Bear bit her neck, killing her.
Bear ate all of Deer, except the liver, which she took home. She placed the liver in a basket and put clover on top of it. Then she went home. She
proceeded homeward after sundown, carrying the clover in the basket with the liver in the bottom of the basket.
Arriving at home, she told the Fawns to eat the clover. She said to them, "Your mother has not yet come; you know She is always slow. She always
takes her time in coming home." Thus spoke Bear to the Fawns, when she arrived home.
The Fawns ate the clover. After they had eaten it, they saw the liver in the bottom of the basket. The younger one found it. She told the older one,
"Our aunt killed our mother. That is her liver." The older Fawn said to her younger sister, "Our aunt took her down there and killed her. We had
better watch, or she will kill us, too."
They continued to eat the clover after finding the liver. Then the younger one said, "What shall we do? I fear she will kill us, if we stay here. We had
better go to our grandfather. Get ready all of our mother's awls. Get all of the baskets. Get ready and then we will go. We will go before our aunt
kills us. She killed out mother. I think it is best for us to go."
"Do not forget to take the awls," said the older Fawn, for she was afraid of being overtaken by Bear. The Fawns started with the baskets and awls,
leaving one basket behind. Their aunt, Bear, was not at home when they left. When she returned, she looked about, but saw no Fawns. Then Bear
discovered their tracks and set out to follow them. After she had tracked them a short distance, the basket, left at home, whistled. Bear ran back to
see if the Fawns had returned. In the meantime the Fawns proceeded on their journey, throwing awls and baskets in different directions. Again,
Bear started from the house. As she proceeded the awls whistled. Bear, thinking that the Fawns were whistling, left the trail in search of them.
The Fawns said, "We go to our grandfather."
As Bear followed them along the trail, the baskets and awls whistled and delayed her. Whenever Bear heard the whistles, she became angry and ran
in the direction from which the sound proceeded. She of course saw nothing and returned to the trail. She heard a whistle in the direction of the
stream. She ran toward it, but when she arrived there, saw nothing.
When she did not find the girls she became angry. She said, "Those girls are making fun of me." Then she shouted, "Where are you, girls? Why don't
you meet me?" The awls only whistled in response and Bear ran toward the sound. Then she became, still angrier and said to herself, "If I capture
you girls, I will eat you. If I find you girls, I will eat you."
Bear continued to track the Fawns. She found the trail easily and saw their tracks upon it. She said, "I have found the marks that will lead me to
them." She heard more whistling and that enraged her. "If I catch them, I shall eat them." She heard more whistling and that enraged her. Then she
jumped on to a tree and bit a limb in two. It made her furious to hear the whistling. She said to herself, "If I ever catch those girls, I shall eat them."
The baskets continued to whistle on both sides of the trail; making her very angry, and retarding her progress. The Fawns had many baskets.
They followed the long trail until they arrived at a river. Bear was far behind. On the opposite side of the river they saw their grandfather, Daddy
Long-legs. They told him that Bear had eaten their mother and that they wanted to cross the river in order to escape from her. Their grandfather
extended his leg across the river so that they might walk across on it. Then they crossed on their grandfather's leg. In the meantime Bear continued
to track them. She still followed false leads because of the whistling or the baskets and awls. The following of false leads delayed her.
The Fawns said to their grandfather, Daddy Long-legs, "Let her cross the river. She follows us." Bear was still coming along the trail. The baskets,
the soap-root bushes, and the awls continued to whistle, causing her delay. The Fawns had many baskets, soap-root bushes, and awls.
After the Fawns had crossed the river, Bear arrived at the bank. She asked Daddy Long-legs, "did the girls come by this place?" He replied, "Yes."
then Bear told Daddy Long-legs, "The girls ran away from me." Daddy Long-legs asked, "Where is their mother?" Bear replied, "Their mother is sick.
That is why she did not come, and that is why I seek the girls. She told me to bring them back."
Bear then asked Daddy Long-legs to put his leg across the river, so that she night cross. He said, "All right," and stretched his leg across the river.
Then Bear walked on Daddy Long-legs leg. When she reached the middle, Daddy Long-legs gave a sudden spring and threw her into the air. She fell
into the river, and had to swim to the opposite shore.
She found again the track of the Fawns. Wherever the track was plain she ran rapidly to make up for the time lost. The numerous awls, which the
Fawns had thrown to each side of the trail, whistled as before.
"Hurry, sister, we near our grandfather's (Lizard's) house," said the older Fawn to the younger. Bear became exceedingly angry and shouted in her
"Hurry, she comes; hurry, sister, she comes. We would not like to have her catch us before we reached our grandfather's," said the older Fawn. Then
the Fawns threw awls and baskets to each side of the trail anew. As they approached their grandfather's house, Bear gained upon them. As Bear saw
them nearing their grandfather's she, shouted again in her anger.
The Fawns at last arrived at their grandfather's assembly house, and asked him to open the door. The grandfather told the Fawns, "My door is on the
north side of the house." The Fawns ran to the north side, but found no door. Then they called again, "Hurry, grandfather, open the door." He said,
"My door is on the east side of the house." Then they ran to the east side, but found no door. Then they ran around the house. They found no door.
They called again to their grandfather. He said, "My door is at the top of the house. Come in through the top."
The Fawns climbed to the top of the house and entered through the smoke hole. Their grandfather asked why they had come to see him. The Fawns
told him, "Bear killed our mother." The grandfather asked, "Where is Bear?"
The Fawns said, "Bear took our mother down to the clover. She ate mother there. Then she returned to the house and told us to eat the clover which
she brought. While we were eating the clover from the basket, we found the liver of our mother in the bottom under the clover at the bottom of the
basket. The clover was on top of it." Thus spoke the Fawns to their grandfather. He asked them again, "Where is Bear?"
The Fawns replied, "She follows us. She comes. Yes, she comes."
The Lizard, their grandfather, threw two large white stones into the fire. The Fawns sat by and watched him while he heated the two white stones.
While he heated the stones, Bear came. She had followed the tracks of the Fawns to their grandfather's assembly house. Bear said to herself, "I think
they went to their grandfather's." Meanwhile Lizard heated the white stones.
After looking around the assembly house, Bear called to Lizard, "Did the Fawns come here?" Lizard said, "Yes. Why?" "Well, I wish to take them
home," said Bear. Lizard asked, "Why do you wish to take them home?" The Bear replied, "I wish to take them home to their mother. Where is your
Lizard told her that the door was on the north side of the assembly house. She ran to the north side, but found no door. She called again, "Where is
the door?" "It is on the west side of my assembly house<" said Lizard. Bear was very angry, but she ran to the west side of the house. She found no
door there, so she asked again. Lizard said, "It is on the east side of my assembly house." Again she found no door, and she became exceedingly
angry and asked him crossly, "Where is the door?" Lizard replied, "Run around the assembly house and you will find it." She ran around the house
four times, but to no avail. In more of a rage than ever, she asked Lizard, "Where is your door?" Then Lizard told her that it was at the top of the
assembly house. Bear climbed to the top and found the opening.
Upon finding the opening, she shouted and said, "I shall eat those girls." Lizard only laughed. Bear asked how she should enter. Lizard said, "Shut
your eyes tight and open your mouth wide, then you enter the quicker."
Bear shut her eyes tight and shoved her head through the smoke hole with her mouth wide open. Lizard called to her, "Wider." Then Lizard took those
two white stones, which he had heated, and threw one of the them into her mouth. It rolled into her stomach. He threw the second one. It remained
in her mouth. Bear rolled from the top of the assembly house dead.
Lizard told his granddaughters, "She is dead." Then Lizard went outside and skinned Bear. After skinning her, he dressed the hide well. He cut it into
two pieces, making one small piece and one large piece.
He gave the large hide to the older Fawn and the small hide to the younger. He said to them, "Take care of those hides." Then he told the older Fawn
to run and discover what sort of a sound the hide made when she ran. The older Fawn ran and the sound was very loud. Then the Lizard told the
younger Fawn to run. Her made a fairly loud sound, but not so loud as that of the older Fawn.
Old Lizard laughed, saying, "The younger one is stronger than the older." Then he told them to run together. He pointed to a large tree and told them
to try their strength against the tree. The older one tried first. She ran against it, splintering it a little. The the younger girl ran against the tree at its
thickest part. She smashed it to pieces.
Lizard laughed again and said, "You are stronger than your sister." Then he told both to run together. They ran about and kicked the tree all day
long. Lizard returned home and, upon arriving there, said, "The girls are all right. I think I had better send them above."
The Fawns said to Lizard, "We are going home." Lizard asked them not to go. He said, "I shall get you both a good place. I am going to send you
girls above." Then the girls went up. They ran around above and Lizard heard them running. He called them Thunders. He said, "I think it is better
for them to stay there. They will be better off there." Lizard closed the door of his assembly house. Rain began to fall. The girls ran around on top,
and rain and hail fell.
|Bear and the Fawns
A Miwok Legend
|Bridal Veil Falls
A Miwok Legend
Hundreds of years ago, in the shelter of the Yosemite valley, lived Tu-tok-a-nula and his tribe. He was a wise Chief, trusted and loved by his people,
always setting the right example by preserving crops and game for the winter.
While he was hunting one day, he saw the lovely guardian spirit of the valley for the first time. His people called her Ti-sa-yac. Tu-tok-a-nula felt she
was the most beautiful creature he had ever seen. Her skin was like milk, her hair was golden as the afternoon sun, and her eyes were bluer than the
sky. Her voice, as sweet as the song of the thrush, drew him toward her. But as he reached out to her she rose up toward the heavens and vanished.
From that moment, the Chief knew no peace and he no longer cared for the well-being of his people.
Without his guidance, Yosemite became like a desert. When Ti-sa-yac came again after a long time, she broke into tears. Bushes were growing
where corn had once flourished, and bears foraged where the huts had been. On a mighty dome of rock, she knelt and prayed to the Great Spirit
above, asking him to restore virtue to the land.
The Great Spirit granted her pleas. Stooping from the sky, he spread new life of green on the valley floor. He struck a thunderous blow against the
mountains and broke a pathway for all the melting snow to flow. The water ran and danced downward, collecting in a lake below and flowing off to
gladden other land.
The birds returned with their songs, the flowering plants began to blossom once more, and corn soon grew tall. When the Yosemite people returned
to their valley, they gave the name of Ti-sa-yac to what is now called South Dome, where the guardian spirit had knelt and prayed.
Then the Chief came home again. When he heard what the beautiful spirit maiden had done, his love for her became stronger than ever. Climbing to
the top of a rock that rose thousands of feet above the valley, he carved his likeness into the stone with his hunting knife. He wanted his tribe to
remember him after he departed from the earth.
Tired from his work, the Chief sat at the foot of Bridal Veil Fall. Suddenly he saw a rainbow arching over the figure of Ti-sa-yac, who was shining
from the water. She smiled and beckoned to him. With a cry of joy, Tu-tok-a-nula leapt into the waterfall and disappeared with his beloved.
The rainbow quivered on the cascading water, and the sun set.
|Creation of Man
A Miwok Legend
After Coyote had completed making the world, he began to think about creating man. He called a council of all the animals. The animals sat in a
circle, just as the Indians do, with Lion at the head, in an open space in the forest.
On Lion's right was Grizzly Bear, next Cinnamon Bear; and so on to Mouse, who sat at Lion's left.
Lion spoke first. Lion said he wished man to have a terrible voice, like himself, so that he could frighten all animals. He wanted man also to be well
covered with hair, with fangs in his claws, and very strong teeth.
Grizzly Bear laughed. He said it was ridiculous for any one to have such a voice as Lion, because when he roared he frightened away the very prey
for which he was searching. But he said man should have very great strength; that he should move silently, but very swiftly; and he should be able to
seize his prey without noise.
Buck said man would look foolish without antlers. And a terrible voice was absurd, but man should have ears like a spider's web, and eyes like fire.
Mountain Sheep said the branching antlers would bother man if he got caught in a thicket. If man had horns rolled up, so that they were like a stone
on each side of his head, it would give his head weight enough to butt very hard.
When it came Coyote's turn, he said the other animals were foolish because they each wanted man to be just like themselves. Coyote was sure he
could make a man who would look better than Coyote himself, or any other animal. Of course he would have to have four legs, with five fingers.
Man should have a strong voice, but he need not roar all the time with it.
And he should have feet nearly like Grizzly Bear's, because he could then stand erect when he needed to. Grizzly Bear had no tail, and man should not
have any. The eyes and ears of Buck were good, and perhaps man should have those.
Then there was Fish, which had no hair, and hair was a burden much of the year. So Coyote thought man should not wear fur. And his claws should
be as long as the Eagle's, so that he could hold things in them. But no animal was as cunning and crafty as Coyote, so man should have the wit of
Then Beaver talked. Beaver said man would have to have a tail, but it should be broad and flat, so he could haul mud and sand on it. Not a furry tail,
because they were troublesome on account of fleas.
Owl said man would be useless without wings.
But Mole said wings would be folly. Man would be sure to bump against the sky. Besides, if he had wings and eyes both, he would get his eyes
burned out by flying too near the sun. But without eyes, he could burrow in the soft, cool earth where he could be happy.
Mouse said man needed eyes so he could see what he was eating. And nobody wanted to burrow in the damp earth. So the council broke up in a
Then every animal set to work to make a man according to his own ideas. Each one took a lump of earth and molded it just like himself. All but
Coyote, for Coyote began to make the kind of man he had talked of in the council.
It was late when the animals stopped work and fell asleep. All but Coyote, for Coyote was the most cunning of all the animals, and he stayed awake
until he had finished his model. He worked hard all night. When the other animals were fast asleep he threw water on the lumps of earth, and so
spoiled the models of the other animals. But in the morning he finished his own, and gave it life long before the others could finish theirs. Thus man
was made by Coyote.
|Historic Tradition of the Upper Tuolumne
A Miwok Legend
There is a lake-like expansion of the Upper Tuolumne some four miles long and from a half mile to a mile wide, directly north of Hatchatchie Valley.
It appears to have no name among Americans, but the Indians call it O-wai -a- nuh, which is manifestly a dialectic variation of a-wai'-a, the generic
word for "lake." Nat Screech, a veteran mountaineer and hunter, states that he visited this region in 1850, and at that time there was a valley along
the river having the same dimensions that this lake now has. Again, in 1855, he happened to pass that way and discovered that the lake had been
formed as it now exists.
He was at a loss to account for its origin; but subsequently he acquired the Miwok language as spoken at Little Gap, and while listening to the
Indians one day he overheard them casually refer to the formation of this lake in an extraordinary manner. On being questioned they stated that
there had been a tremendous cataclysm in that valley, the bottom of it having fallen out apparently, whereby the entire valley was submerged in the
waters of the river.
As nearly as he could ascertain from their imperfect methods of reckoning time, this occurred in 1851; and in that year, while in the town of Sonora,
Screech and many others remembered to have heard a huge explosion in that direction which they then supposed was caused by a local earthquake.
On Drew's Ranch, Middle Fork of the Tuolumne, lives an aged squaw called Dish-i, who was in the valley when this remarkable event occurred.
According to her account the earth dropped in beneath their feet, and waters of the river leaped up and came rushing upon them in a vast, roaring
flood, almost perpendicular like a wall of rock.
At first the Indians were stricken dumb, and motionless with terror, but when they saw the waters coming, they escaped for life, though thirty or
forty were overtaken and drowned.
Another squaw named Isabel says that the stubs of trees, which are still plainly visible deep down in the pellucid waters, are considered by the old
superstitious Indians to be evil spirits, the demons of the place, reaching up their arms, and that they fear them greatly.
|How El Capitan Grew
A Miwok Legend
In a valley of California called Ahwahanee, which the white people call Yosemite, is a big rock called Too-Tock-Awn-oo-Lah. The white people call
this rock El Capitan. In the olden days, when Awahnee was young, Too-Tock-Awn-oo-Lah was a tiny rock no taller than your own head. The
people, Yo-Ho-Me-Tik Indians, told a little tale of how this tiny rock grew into a big mountain in one night. I will tell you this tale.
One day Grizzly Bear and her two baby cubs were taking a walk by the Merced River. They had been digging up roots, searching for bugs and
worms. So, they were very tired. They approached a large flat rock along the Merced River and laid down to rest for awhile. The following morning,
Grizzly Bear and her two baby cubs awoke. They looked around curiously. Overnight, that flat rock had grown into a large mountain and was high
enough to touch the moon. Because of this, they could not find their way to Ahwahanee. So, they waited.
The old bird and animal people of Ahwahanee were stunned to see that the mother bear and her cubs were on top of the rock. They wanted to help the
mother bear and her cubs, but no one could reach them. They all tried to climb it, but could not reach the top. Mouse tried first, but he could not climb
even half of the way. Rat was next. He climbed a little higher. Then Mountain Lion, Fox, Crow and many others tried. But not one could climb to the
top of the rock! All of the animal people were discouraged! How could they help the bears down from the rock?
At last, after all the rest had failed, here came Too-Tock, the green measuring worm. "I can climb the rock to save the bears!", Worm said. They all
laughed at the little worm, but the little worm tried anyway to provide himself right. As he climbed he sang a little song. He had been climbing for
days until at last he had reached the top of the rock. But it was too late. He had not been able to save the bears, because they had starved to death.
Too-Tock brought a rib bone down from the top to prove he had made it. They were all stunned to see him with the rib bone. They danced around
and held a memorial. Since then, the great rock has been called Too-Tock-Awn-oo-Lah in honor of the little worm.
|How Tol-le-loo Stole Fire
A Miwok Legend
Long before the Alisal rancheria was established, the Valley People lived in California's San Joaquin Valley, about a day's walk from the eventual site
of Alisal and not far from the present town of Stockton. Their chiefs were Wek-wek, the Falcon, and We-pi-ah-gah, the Golden Eagle.
Their neighbors to the east, the Mountain People, lived in darkness in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Although, they wanted fire, the Mountain People
did not know where or how to obtain it. O-la-choo, the Coyote-man, tried to find it but failed. Eventually, Tol-le-loo, the White-footed Mouse,
discovered that the Valley People had fire, and O-la-choo sent him to steal it.
Taking his elderberry flute with him, Tol-le-loo traveled west until he reached the homes of the Valley People. Arriving outside their roundhouse,
Tol-le-loo sat down and began to play his flute. Finding the music pleasant to listen to, the Valley People invited Tol-le-loo to come inside and continue
his playing. Soon all the people began to feel sleepy. Now Wit-tah-bah the Robin was pretty sure that Tol-le-loo was planning on stealing their fire, so
he spread himself over the embers to protect it. And that is why the robin's breast is red today.
Tol-le-loo kept playing his flute, and pretty soon everyone, including Wit-tah-bah the Robin, had fallen asleep. Seizing this opportunity, Tol-le-loo ran
up to the sleeping Wit-tah-bah, and cut a small hole in his wing. Then he crawled through the hole and placed the fire inside his flute. Running out of
the roundhouse, he climbed to the top of Mount Diablo, where he built a great fire that lit up the entire countryside, including the blue Sierra Nevada
mountains to the east where the Mountain People lived.
When Wek-wek the Falcon awoke and saw the fire on Mount Diablo, he knew that Tol-le-loo had stolen the Valley People's fire. So he set out after
Tol-le-loo, and eventually caught him. Tol-le-loo denied having taken the fire, and told Wek-wek to search him if he doubted him. Wek-wek searched
but could not find the fire because it was inside Tol-le-loo's flute. So Wek-wek tossed Tol-le-loo into some water and let him go on his way.
Tol-le-loo climbed out of the water, and continued east to the mountains, all the while carrying the fire in his flute. Arriving home, he took the fire out
of the flute, and placed it on the ground. Then covering it with leaves and pine needles, he wrapped it up in a small bundle.
Le-che-che the Hummingbird and another bird went after it, but they could not catch it and returned empty-handed.
O-la-choo the Coyote-man could smell the fire, and wanted to steal it. He approached the bundle, and pushed it with his nose, preparing to swallow it.
Suddenly, however, the fire shot up into the sky and became the Sun.
The people took the fire that was left and put it into two trees, the buckeye and the incense cedar, where legend says it still resides. From that time on,
the Mountain People made their fire drills from the wood of these two trees.
|Legend of Tis-Se'-Yak
(South Dome and North Dome)
A Miwok Legend
Tis-Se'-Yak and her husband journeyed from a country very far off, and entered the valley of the Yosemite foot-sore from travel. She bore a great
heavy conical basket, strapped across her head. Tis-Se'-Yak came first.
Her husband followed with a rude staff and a light roll of skins on his back. They were thirsty after their long journey across the mountains. They
hurried forward to drink of the waters, and the woman was still in advance when she reached Lake Awaia. Then she dipped up the water in her basket
and drank of it.
She drank up all the water. The lake was dry before her husband reached it. And because the woman drank all the water, there came a drought. The
earth dried up. There was no grass, nor any green thing.
But the man was angry because he had no water to drink. He beat the woman with his staff and she fled, but he followed and beat her even more.
Then the woman wept. In her anger she turned and flung her basket at the man. And even then they were changed into stone. The woman's basket
lies upturned beside the man. The woman's face is tear-stained, with long dark lines trailing down.
South Dome is the woman and North Dome is the husband. The Indian woman cuts her straight across the forehead, and allows the sides to drop
along her checks, forming a square face.
|Legend of Tu-Tok-A-Nu'-La (El Capitan)
A Miwok Legend
Here were once two little boys living in the valley who went down to the river to swim. After paddling and splashing about to their hearts' content, they
went on shore and crept up on a huge boulder which stood beside the water.
They lay down in the warm sunshine to dry themselves, but fell asleep. They slept so soundly that they knew nothing, though the great boulder grew
day by day, and rose night by night, until it lifted them up beyond the sight of their tribe, who looked for them everywhere.
The rock grew until the boys were lifted high into the heaven, even far up above the blue sky, until they scraped their faces against the moon. And still,
year after year, among the clouds they slept.
Then there was held a great council of all the animals to bring the boys down from the top of the great rock. Every animal leaped as high as he could up
the face of the rocky wall. Mouse could only jump as high as one's hand; Rat, twice as high,
Then Raccoon tried; he could jump a little farther. One after another of the animals tried, and Grizzly Bear made a great leap far up the wall, but fell
back. Last of all Lion tried, and he jumped farther than any other animal, but fell down upon his back.
Then came tiny Measuring-worm, and began to creep up the rock. Soon he reached as high as Raccoon had jumped, then as high as Bear, then as high
as Lion's leap, and by and by he was out of sight, climbing up the face of the rock.
For one whole snow, Measuring-Worm climbed the rock, and at last he reached the top. Then he wakened the boys, and came down the same way he
went up, and brought them down safely to the ground. Therefore the rock is called Tu-Tok-A-Nu'-La, the measuring worm. But white men call it El
Here is the same story again. Told slightly differently.
Two young and curious Indian boys, long ago, lived in Yosemite Valley. They were always exploring faraway places, climbing ledges where later they
needed rescue, yet they continued their adventures.
One day, they came upon a new lake and decided to swim across to a large rock. When they reached the opposite shore, they climbed to the top of the
huge rock to rest in the sunshine, but soon they fell asleep. On and on they slept through that night, the next, and the next night, until many moons had
come and gone.
Can you imagine what happened to that rock? It kept right on growing and growing, rising higher and higher, until the faces of the two Indian boys
brushed the sky.
Of course their families were distraught in the beginning, but finally gave up hope of ever seeing their two lost sons again.
Now it happened that many animals had heard from their ancestors about what had happened to the lost Indian boys. At a council gathering of the
animals, they were wondering how they could help bring the boys down as the huge rock had grown into a giant granite mountain.
All of the animals decided to have a contest. Every creature would try to jump up to the mountain top. Poor little mouse could only jump a foot, larger
rat leaped two feet, strong raccoon much higher, grizzly bear made a mighty leap, but he was too heavy, mountain lion took a long run and jumped, but
he fell down flat on his back. None could jump high enough.
Insignificant little measuring-worm came late to the contest. Everyone explained to him their predicament. None could leap high enough to the top of
the mountain to rescue the two boys.
Measuring-worm decided to try. Step by step, inch by inch, little by little he began measuring his way up the granite wall that reached to the sky. He
went so high that he was out of sight!
Up and up he crawled through many sleeps and through many moons, almost through a whole snow. Measuring-worm kept on crawling and at last
reached the top of the giant mountain, whose magic somehow allowed the boys to remain boys!
What fun they experienced on the way down! Measuring-worm led them on a continuous, circuitous slide around and around the slippery snowy sides
of the mighty mountain. They laughed and screamed with delight at the adventure they were having.
At last, measuring-worm and the two Indian boys were safe on the ground again. Their animal friends gathered to welcome them down from the sky,
as well as the elders and braves of the Yosemite tribe.
From that day on to this, the great granite mountain has been called by the Indians Tu-Tok-A-Nu'-La, which means " measuring-worm." Later, the
Spaniards named the mountain El Capitan, a name that now appears on most maps of the Yosemite National Park.
|Legend of Tu-Tok-A-Nu'-La (El Capitan)
A Miwok Legend
|Lizard and Fox
A Miwok Legend
Lizard said, "I am going to see the worms." "Do not come near me. Do not come near me," said Worm. "You do not smell good," Lizard said, when he
saw Worm. "Keep away from me. Keep away from me. Do not come near me. Keep away from me. Keep away from me. I do not want that grass
after it is cooked. It does not smell good." Worm was on the fire. "I did not like him after I had a good look at him," said Lizard. He said that from the
top of a big log. He did not like to drink water. He did not want to drink water. Water did not smell good. "Keep away, Tarantula. That grass smells
bloody," said Lizard. He spoke this, because he did not like grass.
Thus spoke Lizard when he sang about his food below. "I am going below," said Lizard, "I go there to eat worms. Then I will return and see where Fox is
going to hunt." Thus sang Lizard from the top of the log.
Lizard did not like seed. He did not like grass. Thus he sang from the top of the log. When Tarantula brought him food, he said, "Keep away from me.
Keep away from me. I do not like grass. I would rather eat worms below." Thus sang Lizard about his food below.
Tarantula asked Lizard, "Why don't you like the food that I eat?" Lizard replied, "It does not smell good to me. I am going. I am going. The ground is
"Be sure to return," said Tarantula, "for Fox is going to hunt." "I go below to eat worms," said Lizard, "I shall return." Thus spoke Lizard when he was
starving. "I am going below, then I will return. There is no food for me here." Tarantula said, "You shall surely return, because Fox is preparing to hunt
in the hills."
Fox was preparing to hunt. He said, "I wonder if Mountain Lion is ready? Are all of you hunters ready? Mountain Quail may go with us. Skunk may
go with us. Coyote may go with us. Wolf may go with us. We are going to hunt deer. Put Skunk on the lower side of the hill. Dove may go with us.
Hummingbird may go with us. They may all run on the hill. Crow may go with us."
"I shall kill a large deer," said Mountain Lion, when Fox told him that he might hunt. Mountain Lion continued, "Confine Night Hawk, for he is likely to
steal from us, if we leave the camp. I am going ahead. I know where the big deer stay. Do not take Night Hawk with you, because he might take a whole
deer in his mouth. I shall kill a large deer for us. I shall kill no small deer," boasted Mountain Lion. So spoke Mountain Lion, when he prepared to hunt
for the large deer. He said, "I am going into the hills ahead of the rest, to get a large deer for us."
Mountain Quail said, "I will break the neck of the large deer. I will break the neck. I will break it,I will break it." Thus spoke Mountain Quail before he
started. He continued, "You people cannot enter the brush. I will enter the brush. I fear nothing. I do not think that you people are brave enough to
enter the brush. I shall enter the brush between those mountains I shall break his neck. I shall break his neck, when I meet him in the brush, when I meet
the large deer in the brush. I think that the rest of you are not brave enough to enter the brush between those great mountains. I am the one who always
enters the brush." So spoke Mountain Quail, while he traveled toward the brush between those great mountains. "I am going into that brush. I think
you people are afraid to enter that brush, for fear that you might meet a bear." So spoke Mountain Quail.
Bald Eagle said, "I am going too. I shall kill a large deer also. I do not think you people can find a large deer. I do not think you can fan the large deer. I
do not think you can fan the large deer. When I fan him, I shall put him to sleep. Then I shall kill him. You tried to get ahead of me by leaving me behind.
You must think that I am too old. I shall fan the big deer with my two wings, from both sides of the hill. From both sides I will fan him with my two
wings. I am going. I am going to help you find the deer. I know where the deer stay. I will find them before you do. I shall fan the large deer with my
two wings. When I see one I shall put him to sleep. I shall fan him. I shall fan him." Thus spoke Bald Eagle, when he prepared to hunt, when he told the
Mountain Lion to prepare. Thus he spoke. Thus he spoke. "I am going. You people stay on each side of the creed and I will fan him with both my wings
from the middle."
Wolf said, "I shall chase him until I run him down. I shall chase the fawns, which sneak away from the big ones. If they escape from you hunters, I will
chase them." So spoke Wolf, as he prepared to hunt with Mountain Lion. "I will run them over the hills. Just watch me. I will collect the deer in one
place. I will run from sundown until sunrise, so that you hunters can kill them while I sleep. I will gather them in the night. Then when you start, send
Skunk to me. If they escape from you, awaken me and I will pursue them until I capture them," said Wolf.
Coyote said, "I shall be there when the deer run. I shall eat them, while they run. There is no use of you hunters running, while I am there. You know
that I am a good runner. If the deer get away from you, I shall chase them. I shall chase them. I shall chase them. I shall chase them. I shall chase them
whether the ground is rough or smooth. I shall capture them just the same." So spoke Coyote before the party set out. "I will bite the leg of the deer while
he runs. The deer will have no chance to escape," said Coyote.
"I shall go with you, for I can find the deer in any place. I can find then anywhere. I know how to find them. I shall look down from the hills just before
sunrise. I can find more deer than all of you. I will eat nothing but deer's eyes," said Crow, for he was very fond of them. "when we hunt, I shall find the
deer for you. I know how to find them. When we return, all that you need give me are the deer's eyes. Perhaps you do not believe that I can find deer. I
can find the deer before sunrise or after sundown. Eagle thinks that he is the only one who can find deer. I shall go with you. I shall find those deer for
you. I excel Eagle in finding deer."
Fox prepared the men to hunt. He said, "We are going. Get ready. Get ready. Get ready, Mountain Quail. Get ready, Eagle. Get ready, Coyote. Get
ready, Wolf. Awaken Skunk, prepare him, for he must walk on the side of the hill. Keep track of Night Hawk. Keep him hidden, for he is likely to
swallow a whole deer." So spoke Fox when he became the head chief and when he prepared his people for the hunt. "Gather Mountain Lion, Coyote, and
Wolf on one side of the hill in an open place, They are good hunters."
Black Fox said, "I always go into the difficult places. I am going, too. I am going into the middle of the brush, when we hunt. I shall scent the deer from
there. I shall enter the deep canyons and look for their tracks." So spoke Black Fox. Mountain Lion warned him, "You must be careful, when you enter
the hills." "I fear nothing," Black Fox retorted. "I will enter the thickest brush. I will enter the brush and drive out the deer." So spoke Black Fox to Fox.
Fox said that he was ready to start whenever his men were. "You must keep the big deer separate," he said to Black Fox. Black Fox said, "I shall start
ahead and enter the hills. When you are ready, send Mountain Quail to awaken me."
Skunk said, "Just watch me hunt. I am going out to kill deer, I get them from both sides. After you have separated the large deer, tell me where they are
and I will eject my fluid upon them. I will kill them all. I will make the fluid, which I eject upon them, very strong. But I want someone to carry me,
because I cannot walk fast. I will have a load on me, anyway. I want to be sure to get a number of deer with my fluid. From the north side, I will eject
my fluid. From the west side, I will eject my fluid. From the east side, I will eject. From the south side, I will eject. After you have gathered the deer,
carry me to the place where they are. I will take my son-in-law with me. I will dance on the top of a small rock, singing my song."
Dove said, "I shall eat seed before I go. I shall eat seed before I go. I shall run. I shall run after I eat the seed. You people cannot run. You stay in the
brush." Thus spoke Dove to Chief Fox. "If a deer escapes from you, I shall capture him," continued Dove. "If you people eat the deer, I shall eat the seed. I
shall help you to obtain the deer." When Dove was ready, he said, "Let us go. Let Hummingbird come with me." dove took Hummingbird with him,
when he went ahead of the rest of the party. He said to Hummingbird, "Let us race. We will see who kills a deer first. Let us race. Let us race."
Hummingbird accepted the challenge.
Hummingbird said, "When I ran a race with Dove, I traveled quite fast. We were just about even at the end. I will try to eat the seeds that Dove eats. I
will also eat flowers. I shall run another race with him. I shall run a race with him to then end of the world. I shall not go only to the middle of the world
in my race with Dove. I shall race him to the end of the world. When he and I race, it is a tie. I shall run a race to the end of the world. If he ties me
again, then he and I will travel together for all time. If he ties me, he and I will return and Fox to kill the deer. He and I eat the seeds and flowers. Let
him try the flowers and I will try the seeds.
Fox said, "Tell Hummingbird not to get in the middle. Tell him not to get in the middle. The men had better not travel too fast at first, for they will have
plenty of running after we enter the hills." So spoke Chief Fox when he prepared his hunters, He said to Mountain Lion and Eagle, "Get ready. Take up
certain stations, where the deer come out." He told Wolf to take his station near a place, where the deer always come out. "Dove and Hummingbird are
to run first," he told Chief Mountain Lion. Chief Fox told his men to get ready, when he prepared to hunt deer. "I see that all of you are willing to hunt,"
Brown Wren said, "Coyote and I shall race. I do not think that Coyote can beat me running. When I come home, I will race with California Jay. I will
see how fast Jay can run. Jay and I will try each other in a shooting contest, to see who is the better. Jay and I will shoot at each other with arrows to
see who can jump about the quicker. If he excels me at jumping, then perhaps he can hit me. I shall shoot four arrows and he will shoot four. I shall give
him the first shot. Then I will shoot at him. I do not know who will be next in the running of races. I fear that Jay will not get out of the way in time,
when I use my arrow."
California Jay said, "I do not think that you can hit me. You can try and try. Thus I will sing, when I dodge your arrows. Thus I will do. I tire you. I do
not believe that you can hit me. I eat nothing but acorns. That is what makes me so lively. If I am seated when the deer come out of the brush, I am not
going to arise. I will kill the deer without arising. Thus I will handle the deer, when they come out of the brush. Are you a good dodger? Are you a good
dodger? You are going to fight me with the arrow," he said to Brown Wren. "I shall dodge you while I am seated. I shall dodge you while I am seated. I
do not think that you can hit me after I have arranged my hair. You can try. You can try, but you will find that I am a good dodger."
Turkey Vulture said, "That is the way I shall do, when I put the deer to sleep. Thus shall I do. Thus shall I do. I shall look for the deer in the hills. Thus
shall I do, when I hunt them in the brush. You will find them, when the blood turns into a rainbow. Then you will find them. I shall do my best. I shall
do my best to be the first to obtain a deer. If I find dead deer after you return home, I shall eat them," Thus spoke Turkey Vulture. Thus he spoke, as they
journeyed into the hills and as he looked for dead animals in the hills. He continued, "I find the dead animals from the high mountains. When I see the
blood, I shall come and tell you. When I look for deer, I wheel in one place. When the sun rises, you will see the blood turn into a rainbow." So spoke
Turkey Vulture to Fox.
Turtle said, "I will obtain water for the men when they are in the hills. I will obtain water for them, when they hunt. I will obtain water to wash the
intestines. I will carry water for the hunters. I always carry water. I do not have to hunt with the men." Thus spoke Turtle, as he returned to the water.
"I shall get no deer. I shall get no deer," he said. Turtle always carried water for the hunters. He always carried water. He knows how to carry water.
He sings all the while, that he carries water. All that he does is to sing beside the water. He sings that he is to carry water.
Fox told his hunters to go and they all departed. All of the deer passed by Fox. All of the deer passed by Fox. He paid no attention to them, but just
watched them. The deer scattered. Each of the other hunters obtained one. Most of the deer passed by Fox. He just watched them until the last came. As
the last one approached, he put his arrow in the bow and shot it. The arrow passed through the deer and penetrated all of the deer that were in line. In
four gulches were four different deer that Fox killed. That many deer he obtained with one arrow. The feat showed that Fox was a better hunter than the
Then Skunk visited his son-in-law (Fox), while they skinned the deer. He said to his son-in-law, "May I ride on top of the pack when you carry it?" Thus
spoke Skunk to his son-in-law. His son-in-law replied, "You will be too heavy on top of the deer. I have all that I can carry without you," so said Fox to
Skunk became angry. He said to his son-in-law, "don't say that to me. If you don't carry me, I will eject my fluid upon you." Fox retorted, "Don't say
that to me. I will kill you. Don't eject your fluid upon me. If you do, I will kill you. I will kill you with an arrow." "Don't say that," said Skunk. "I do not
wish to die. There is no one here to help me, if you shoot me with an arrow."
Fox said to Skunk, "Night Hawk has the largest deer in his mouth. Hurry, help me skin this deer, or Night Hawk will get them all. Before we started I
told you to leave Night Hawk home." fox went to prevent Night Hawk from eating the largest deer. Night Hawk told Fox that he had nothing in his
mouth. "The only thing I have in my mouth is something which belongs to my uncle. I have nothing of yours in my mouth." So said Night Hawk, when
Fox threatened to kill him. Fox threatened to kill him, if he did not return the deer. While Fox was talking to Night Hawk, Skunk skinned the deer.
|The Bear and Deer Children
A Pohonichi Miwok Legend
The thunderers were two boys with supernatural powers. Their mother was the deer. The grizzly bear also had two children. The two women went to
the creek looking for clover. Now they loused each other.
Then the bear bit the back of the deer's neck and killed her. The two deer-children made a little sweat-house. After the bear had killed and eaten their
mother, they killed the two bear-children in this sweat-house with fire.
Then they struck the ground and made a noise and fled to their grandfather. He was powerful and had a large sweat-house. The bear pursued them. She
had nearly caught them when they escaped into the sweat-house. The bear put in her head looking for them. Her hind legs were still outside.
The boys' grandfather had supernatural powers with fire; his amulet was a white rock at the top of the house. When all the bear's body except her hind
legs was in the house as she looked about for the two boys, the white fire-rock entered her anus and burned her to death inside. Then the two young deer
After awhile they also had supernatural powers. They made so much noise in the house that their grandfather was afraid. They went up above, where
they still are.
The half-Chukchansi from which the Pohonichi tales just given were obtained did not seem to know any story of the stealing of the sun, of a hero who is
dug out of the ground as a child, and of a contest between the coyote and the lizard determining the shape of the human hand.
|The Beginning of the World
A Pohonichi Miwok Legend
Before there were people there was only water everywhere. Coyote looked among, the ducks and sent a certain species [Chukchansi: yimeit] to dive.
At first is said it was unable to. Then it went down. It reached the bottom, bit the earth, and came up again.
Coyote took the earth from it and sent it for chanit [Yokuts name] seeds. When the duck brought these he mixed them with the earth and water. Then the
mixture swelled until the water had disappeared.
The earth was there.
|The Beginning of Thunder
A Miwok Legend
Bear's sister-in-law, Deer, had two beautiful daughters, called Fawns.
Bear was a horrible, wicked woman, and she wanted the Fawns for herself. So this is what she did. One day she invited Deer to accompany her when she
went to pick clover, The two Fawns remained at home. While resting during the day, after having picked much clover, Bear offered to pick out lice from
Deer's head. While doing so she watched her chance, took Deer unaware, and bit her neck so hard that she killed her. Then she devoured her, all excepting
the liver. This she placed in the bottom of a basket filled with clover, and took it home. She gave the basket of clover to the Fawns to eat. When they asked
where their mother was, she replied, "She will come soon. You know she is always slow and takes her time in coming home." So the Fawns ate the clover,
but when they reached the bottom of the basket, they discovered the liver. Then they knew that their aunt had killed their mother.
"We had better watch out, or she will kill us too," they said to one another. They decided to leave without saying anything and go to their grandfather. So
the next day when Bear was away they got together all the baskets and awls which belonged to Deer and departed. They left one basket, however, in the
house. When Bear returned and found the Fawns missing she hunted for their tracks and set out after them. After she had tracked them a short distance,
the basket, left at home, whistled. Bear ran back to the house, thinking the Fawns had returned. But she could not find them and so set out again,
following their tracks.
The Fawns, meanwhile, had proceeded on their journey, throwing awls and baskets in different directions. These awls and baskets whistled. Each time
Bear thought that the Fawns were whistling, and left the trail in search of them. And each time that Bear was fooled in this manner, she became angrier
She shouted in her anger. "Those girls are making a fool of me. When I capture them I'll eat them." The awls only whistled in response and Bear ran
toward the sound. There was no one there. Finally, the Fawns, far ahead of Bear, came to the river. On the opposite side they saw Daddy Longlegs. They
asked him to stretch his leg across the river so that they might cross safely. They told him that Bear had killed their mother and they were fleeing from her.
So when Bear at last came to the river, Daddy Longlegs stretched his leg over again, but when the wicked aunt of the two Fawns, walking on his leg,
reached the middle of the river, Daddy Longlegs gave a sudden jump and threw her into the river. But Bear did not drown.
She managed to swim to the shore, where she again started in pursuit of the Fawns. But the Fawns were far ahead of their aunt, and soon reached their
grandfather's house. Their grandfather was Lizard. They told him of the terrible fate which had overtaken their mother.
"Where is Bear?" he asked them. "She is following us and will soon be here," they replied. Upon hearing this Lizard threw two large white stones into the
fire and heated them. When Bear arrived outside of Lizard's house she could not find the entrance. She asked Lizard how she should enter, and he told her
that the only entrance was through the smoke-hole, so she must climb on the roof and enter that way. He also told her that when she entered she must
close her eyes tightly and open wide her mouth. Bear did as she was instructed, for she was very anxious to get the two Fawns, whom Lizard had told her
were in his house. But as Bear entered, eyes closed and mouth open, Lizard took the red hot stones from the fire and thrust them down her throat. Bear
rolled from the top of Lizard's house dead. Lizard then skinned her and dressed her hide, after which he cut it in two pieces, one large and one small. The
larger piece he gave to the older Fawn, the smaller piece to the younger. Then Lizard instructed the girls to run about and see what kind of noise was
made by Bear's skin. The girls proceeded to run around, the skins making all kinds of loud noises. Lizard, watching them, laughed and said to himself,
"The girls are all right. They are Thunders. I think I had better send them up to the sky." When the Fawns came to Lizard to tell him that they were going
to return home, he said, "Do not go home. I have a good place for you. I shall send you to the sky." So the girls went up to the sky. There Lizard could
hear them running about. Their aunt's skin, which they had kept, makes the loud noises, that we call thunder. When the Fawn girls ran around in the sky
Rain and Hail fell. So now whenever the girls (Thunders, as Lizard called them) run around above, rain begins to fall.
|The Origin of Death
A Pohonichi Miwok Legend
When the first person died Coyote was south of him, the meadow-lark to the north. Now the dead person began to stink. The meadow-lark smelled it. He
did not like it. Coyote said: "I think I will make him get up."
The meadow-lark said: "No, do not. There will be too many. They will become so many that they will eat each other.
Coyote said: "That i nothing. I do not like people to die."
But the meadow-lark told him: "No, it is not well to have too many. There will be others instead of those that die. A man will have many children. The
old people will die but the young will live."
Then Coyote said nothing more. So from that time on people have always died. Coyote said: "It will be best to put them into the fire." And so the dead are
|The Origin of Yosemite
A Miwok Legend
Long, long ago before the white man came to the West, a large happy tribe of peaceful Indians lived among the trees of beautiful Oak Canyon. This
spectacular place is now known as Yosemite Valley, situated in Yosemite National Park, California.
In the beginning these peaceful Indians were called Ah-wah-nees, meaning "Deep Grass Valley," which was the first name given to Yosemite Valley.
It is of interest to note that because of a printer's error at a later date, the spelling of the tribe's name was inadvertently changed to Yosemite. Now
Yosemite National Park identifies the original home of the Ah-wah-nee band (Yosemite), southern division of the Miwok Tribe.
Today, the California State flag carries a picture of the grizzly bear as a reminder of the State's official animal, Yo Semitee.
Ah-wah-nees were proud of their Chief, a tall and young athletic man. Early one spring morning, he started off with his spears in hand to hunt for trout in
the nearby lake known as Sleeping Water.
Imagine his astonishment when he rounded a large boulder and came face to face with an enormous grizzly bear, probably just out of its winter
Such an unexpected meeting caused both of them to rear back in stunned surprise. Immediately, however, all of the fighting spirit within each arose. They
attacked one another furiously! The Chief realized his fighting power was not equal to the great strength of the grizzly.
"What can I do to help myself?" he wondered.
At that moment, he saw an oak limb within reach and grabbed it for a weapon.
"I must do everything possible to subdue this bear, even if it means my own death," he thought while he fought. "I am determined that future Ah-wah-nee
children will always remember the proud and brave blood that flowed in the veins of their ancestors."
He pounded heavy blows, one after another, upon the head of the grizzly bear. In return, the young Chief received innumerable cuts from the bear's teeth
and claws. They exchanged blows that could have been death blows to either one, if each had not been determined to survive. The grizzly bear's hunger
drove him to attack; the Chief's pride, courage, and great height strengthened his defense.
On and on they fought. Then when the Chief saw the eyes of the bear glaze with a cold stare, he knew his great moment had come. With his club raised
overhead, the Chief brought down a whopping smash upon the head of the bear, who then slowly slumped to the ground. The Chief charged in to finish the
task, making sure the grizzly bear was dead.
Exhausted, the young Chief withdrew a short way to rest, but kept his eyes upon the grizzly bear in case it revived. After some time, when he was certain of
the bear's death, the Chief stepped forward and skinned the animal.
Later, dragging the bearskin behind him, the Chief returned to his village and proclaimed his victory. Young and old braves gathered to welcome him and
to praise his success. The young braves took off, following the trail where the bearskin dragged upon the ground. They found the grizzly bear before any
other wild animal had a chance to claim it. Immediately, they set to work and butchered the bear and them carried the parts back to their camp.
In the meantime, the braves prepared a huge fire and sent young runners to the outlying camps, inviting all the people to an evening of feasting.
The victory of their young Chief over the enormous grizzly bear astounded all of the Ah-wah-nees. They cheered and cheered, their admiration for their
great Chief. They renamed their hero, Chief Yo Semitee, which means "Grizzly Bear."
Following the feast, the entire tribe gathered for a victory dance, attired in all their fine beads and fine feathers. Chief Yo Semitee sat and overlooked the
celebration, smoking the peace pipe with his tribal council. More feasting and dancing continued most of the night, as Ah-wah-nees showed their affection
for their young and strong Chief.
Yo Senitee's children, and finally all of the tribe, became known as Yo Semitees in honor of their brave Chief.
|The Theft of Fire
A Pohonichi Miwok
At first there was no fire. The turtle had it all. He sat on it and covered it up. He lived far up in the east in the mountains. Coyote went to that place. He lay
down like a piece of wood. The people who lived there came by and saw him. "I am going to take this piece of wood," they said.
They took him home and put him in the fire. Coyote tried to get into the fire under the turtle. The turtle said, "Stop pushing me."
Now coyote got some of the fire. Then he ran down-hill with it westward into this country, where then there was no fire and it was cold. He caught a quail
and with its fat he made his fire blaze up. Now the people first all became warm. The Mono were far back up in the hills; the Chukchansi in the middle; the
Pohonichi were the ones who received the fire. Coyote was one of them. That is why the Mono cannot speak well; it is too cold where they live.
Coyote made the eagle the chief of the people. They enjoyed themselves and made dances. They were warm now because they had fire. They lived well.
They wore no clothes. Some men wore a blanket of rabbit skins or of deer skin; others wore nothing. They used hollow stones to cook in, made of soft red
stone. The eagle told them: "Go out and catch rabbits," and then they caught rabbits to eat. To get salt they went beyond the North Fork of the San
|Yellokin the Man-Eating Giant
A Miwok Legend
There once was a giant bird. The biggest bird in the world. He had a habit of carrying off children up to fourteen years old. He grabbed them by the top of
their heads and carried them up through a hole in the sky which was his home. Up there he killed and ate the children. The bird's wife was the
Toad-woman, the aunt of the Eagle. Yellokin, the giant bird, had stolen her from the earth and taken her up to his house above the sky. He did not kill her,
but kept her as his wife. Her brought her people to eat, but she would not eat them.
One day Yellokin caught Eagle by his head and carried him up through the sky. A boy saw this happen and shouted for people to help, but they could not kill
Yellokin. When Yellokin left Eagle, Eagle looked around and saw his aunt, Toad-woman. She told him to be careful because when Yellokin comes back he
will kill you. He will take you to a big tank of blood and ask you if you want to drink. You must say, "Yes," and pretend to reach down and tell him you
can't reach it, you're afraid of falling in. Ask him to show you how to get it. "Okay," said Eagle, "I will do that." Then his aunt gave him a big stone knife to
cut off Yellokin's head. Soon Yellokin returned and asked Eagle to drink the blood. Eagle told him he could not reach it, he was afraid of falling in. He then
asked Yellokin to show him how. When Yellokin leaned over and reached deep down in the tank, Eagle stabbed him in the head with the big knife. Yellokin
banged around in the tank, flapped his big wings, made a great noise and finally fell into the tank and died.
Coyote was down on Earth. Eagle was his uncle. Coyote asked some people, "Where is my uncle, Eagle?" The people told him that he had gone up to
Yellokin's house. Coyote looked, but didn't see the hole they had gone through. Coyote looked for a south hole, but he didn't see it. He looked at the north
hole in the Thunder Mountain, but it was too cold to go that way. Coyote ran in the village and sprang high in the air and made it in the hole in the sky, the
same hole Yellokin and Eagle were in. At the same time as Coyote sprang up, he saw Eagle stabbing Yellokin. Coyote saw him die. Who lost many people.
Then Eagle showed Coyote the tank of blood where Yellokin had done his killing.
After awhile, Coyote asked, "What are you going to do with Yellokin?"
Eagle said, "I am going to burn him, so he will not come to life again."
"No uncle, you had better not burn him," said Coyote.
Then Eagle asked, "What are you going to do with him?"
Coyote answered, "I think we should cut off his wings and take them down home and then we should plant the big feathers and grow trees and other plants.
Once we are done planting we can make more people." When he was done speaking, Coyote went down to earth through a hole of his own, he was a witch
doctor. After Coyote had left, Yellokin's wife Toad-woman asked Eagle how he was going to get down. "I don't know," answered Eagle. "I will take you
down," said Toad-woman. "How?" asked Eagle. "You will see," she replied. And she gathered the strong green grass that grow by the river, and made a
long rope out of it. With it Toad-woman lowered Eagle down to earth. Coyote planted the feathers from Yellokin's wings, and when they had come up, he
watched them grow into different types of plants and trees. Coyote told them all to bear seeds every year so people would have lots to eat. He also made
rivers and rocks. Now it was time to make people so he planted more feathers. Soon their villages were all over the land!
A Miwok Legend
Mr. Stephen Powers claims that there is no such word in the Miwok language as Yosemite. The valley has always been known to them, and is to this day,
when speaking among themselves, as A-wa'-ni. (Also been noted to be spelt as Ah-wah-nees meaning "Deep Grass Valley").
This, it is true, is only the name of one of the ancient villages which it contained; but by prominence it gave its name to the valley, and in accordance with
Indian usage almost everywhere, to the inhabitants of the same.
The word Yosemite is simply a very beautiful and sonorous corruption of the word for grizzly bear. On the Stanislaus and north of it, the word is
u-zu'-mai-ti; at Little Gap, 0-so'mai-ti; in Yosemite itself, u-zu'-mai-ti; on the South Fork of the Merced, uh-zu'-0mai-tuh.
"in the following list, the signification of the name is given whenever there is any known to the Indians:
"Wa-kal-la (the river), Merced River.
"Lung-u-tu-ku'-ya, Ribbon Fall.
"Po'-ho-no, Po-ho'-no (though the first is probably the more correct), Bridal Veil Fall....This word is said to signify 'evil wind.' The only 'evil wind' that an
Indian knows of is a whirlwind, which is poi-i'-cha or Kan'-u-ma.
"Tu-tok-a-nu'-la, El Capitan. 'Measuring-worm stone.'
"Ko-su'-ko, Cathedral Rock.
"Pu-si'-na, and Chuk'-ka (the squirrel and the acorn cache), a tall, sharp needle, with a smaller one at its base, just east of Cathedral Rock.
"Loi'-a, Sentinel Rock.
"Sak'-ka-du-eh, Sentinel Dome.
"Cho'-lok (the fall), Yosemite Fall. This is the generic word for 'fall.'
"Ma;-ta (the canon), Indian canon. A generic word, in explaining which the Indians hold up both hands to denote perpendicular walls.
"Ham'-mo-ko (usually contracted to Ham'-moak),...broken debris lying at the foot of the walls.
"U-zu'-mai-ti La'-wa-tuh (grizzly bear skin), Glacier Rock,...from the grayish, grizzled appearance of the wall.
"Cho-ko-nip'-o-deh (baby basket). Royal Arches. This...canopy-rock bears no little resemblance to an Indian baby-basket. Another form is
"Pai-wai'-ak (white water?), Vernal Fall.
"Yo-wai-yi, Nevada Fall. In this word is detected the root of Awaia, 'a lake' or body of water.
"Tis-se'-yak, South Dome.
"To-ko'-ye, North Dome, husband of Tisseyak.
"Shun'-ta, Hun'-ta (the eye), Watching Eye.
"A-wai'-a (a lake), Mirror Lake.
"Sa-wah' (a gap). a name occurring frequently.
"Wa-ha'-ka, a village which stood at the base of Three Brothers; also the rock itself. This was the westernmost village in the valley.
"There were nine villages in Yosemite Valley and . . . formerly others extending as far down as the Bridal Veil Fall, which were destroyed in wars that
occurred before the whites came."