Music:  E she no by R. Carlos Nakai
The California big trees are sacred to the Monos, who call them "woh-woh-nau," a word formed in imitation of the hoot of the owl

Bad luck comes to those who cut down the big trees, or shoot at an owl, or shoot in the presence of the ow.

In old days the Indians tried to persuade the white men not to cut down the big trees.  When they see the trees cut down they call after the white men.  
They say the owl will bring them evil.
California Big Trees

A Paiute Legend
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A Paiute Legend
The coyote, like his brother the wolf, was a spiritual being.  In the beginning the coyote left his homeland in the Americas and traveled East-ward
across the ocean in the direction of the rising sun.  In distant land, he acquired a bride and with her had a great number of children.  These children
were Indians, the forefathers of the great tribes that were to inhabit the North and South American continents.

Preparing to return home, the coyote put them all in a wosa, a woven willow basket jug with a cork.  Before his journey, he was instructed not to
open the jug until he reached his country in the Rockies and the Great Basin.

Being a sly and curious person, and hearing singing and the beating of drums within the wosa, the coyote thought it would not hurt to take a peek
when he arrived back on the Eastern coast of the American continent.  But when he opened the jug, the children inside jumped out and scattered in all
directions across North and South America.

By the time he got the cap back on, the only two persons who remained in the wosa were the Western Shoshone and the Paiute.  These he brought
home with him.  When he reached the Great Basin, he opened the jug, and out fell the last two children.  They, at once, began to fight.

The coyote kicked them apart and said to them, "You two are my children.  Even though the rest got away, you two will be able to fight against the
best and beat them."

Thus, the Western Shoshone and Paiutes, or the Newe and Numa peoples, who now live in California, Nevada, Idaho, Utah, and Oregon, began as
allies and populated the Great Basin.
Coyote and Sun

A Paiute Legend
A long time ago, Coyote wanted to go to the Sun.  He asked Pokoh, Old Man, to show him the trail.  Coyote went straight out on this trail and he
traveled it all day.

But Sun went round so that Coyote came back at night to the place from which he started in the morning.

The next morning, Coyote asked Pokoh to show him the trail.  Pokoh showed him, and Coyote traveled all day and came back at night to the same
place again.

But the third day, Coyote started early and went out on the trail to the edge of the world and sat down on the hole where the sun came up.

While waiting for the sun he pointed with his bow and arrow at different places and pretended to shoot.  He also pretended not to see the sun.  When
Sun came up, he told Coyote to get out of his way.

Coyote told to him to go around; that it was his trail.  But Sun came up under him and he had to hitch forward a little.  After Sun came up a little
farther, it began to get hot on Coyote's shoulder, so he spit on his paw and rubbed his shoulder.

Then he wanted to ride up with the sun.  Sun said, "Oh, no", but Coyote insisted.  So Coyote climbed up on Sun, and Sun started up the trail in the sky.
 The trail was marked off in steps like a ladder.  As Sun went up he counted "one, two, three," and so on.  By and by Coyote became very thirsty, and
he asked Sun for a drink of water.

Sun gave him an acorn-cup full.  Coyote asked him why he had no more.  About noontime, Coyote became very impatient.  It was very hot.  Sun told
him to shut his eyes.  Coyote shut them, but opened them again.  He kept opening and shutting them all the afternoon.

At night, when Sun came down, Coyote took hold of a tree.  Then he clambered off Sun and climbed down to the Earth.
Song of the Ghost Dance

A Paiute Legend
The snow lies there - ro-rani!
The snow lies there - ro-rani!
The snow lies there - ro-rani!
The snow lies there - ro-rani!
The Milky Way lies there.
The Milky Way lies there.

"This is one of the favorite songs of the Paiute Ghost Dance.  ... It must be remembered that the dance is held in the open air at night, with the stars
shinning down on the wide-extending plain walled in by the giant Sierras, fringed at the base with dark pines, and their peaks white with eternal

"Under such circumstances this song of the snow lying white upon the mountains, and the Milky Way stretching across the clear sky, brings up to
the Paiute the same patriotic home love that comes from lyrics of singing birds and leafy trees and still waters to the people of more favored regions...

"The Milky Way is the road of the dead to the spirit world."
The Woman and the Giants

A Paiute Legend
Once there lived a giant named Tse'nahaha who killed people by looking at them.  He always carried a big basket of thorns on his back.  When he
caught anyone, he threw them over his back into the basket.

A group of Indians were playing the hand game in a certain house, and were having a good time.  They had stationed a woman outside to watch for
Tse'nahaha.  After a while, she heard Tse'nahaha coming.  He was talking to himself and singing.  The woman tried to warn the people that the giant
was coming, but they did not hear her.  Tse'nahaha was getting closer.  The woman became frightened, and jumped into a little pit and pulled a
basket over herself.

She heard Tse'nahaha come up and stop.  He stooped down and crawled into the doorway of the house and looked around.  Twice he made a sucking
noise with his lips.  When he looked at anyone in the house, that person died at once.  The others noticed the dead ones staring and said, "What are
you people looking at?  What is there worth looking at?"  Then they, too looked at Tse'nahaha and died.  Soon they were all dead.  Only a little baby
was left inside, sleeping.  Tse'nahaha went away.

The baby commenced to cry.  It was almost daylight now.  The baby crawled over to the people and pushed them over.  Then the woman left the pit
and went inside, but she did not look at the dead people.  She called the baby, and said, "Let's go away."  She set the house on fire, took the baby, and
went away.  With her digging-stick, she dug kani'd while the baby slept and ate.

As she was living this way, another giant, Pu'wihi came along.  Pu'wihi picked up the baby, holding his head between his second and third fingers,
and carried him over to the woman.  He said to her, "Where are you from?"  She answered, "I am from that house over there --the one with the
smoke coming out.  There are many men in it."  The giant went toward the house.  The woman was very frightened and tried to hide.  She set her
digging-stick in a clump of wild oats and vaulted as far as she could.

When the giant came back from the house he did not see her.  He looked all around.  He was furious and twisted his nose in anger.  He found the wild
oats and saw the mark of her stick.  This showed in which direction she had jumped, and he went to a big flat rock.  She had gone under this rock,
and was crying.

The giant took the rock away and uncovered her, but it was dark by this time.  He said, "I'll get her in the morning.  Now I'll make a fire and grind up
this baby."  He found a large flat rock, ground up the baby, and ate him.  He was having a fine time and lay there, singing.  The woman could hear
him.  After a while he went to sleep.  Then the woman got up and made another jump toward the east, to the house of her aunt.

When the woman came to her aunt's house, she was safe.  The giant could not see the mark of her stick to find out which way she had jumped because
this time she had jumped from a rock.

The Paiute Indians come from this woman.
Why the North Star Stands Still

A Paiute Legend
Long, long ago, when the world was young, the People of the Sky were so restless and traveled so much that they made trails in the heavens.  Now, if
we watch the sky all through the night, we can see which way they go.

But one star does not travel.  That is the North Star.  He cannot travel.  He cannot move.  When he was on the Earth long, long ago, he was known
as Na-gah, the mountain sheep, the son of Shinoh.  He was brave, daring, sure-footed, and courageous.  His father was so proud of him and loved
him so much that he put large earrings on the sides of his head and made him look dignified, important, and commanding.

Every day, Na-gah was climbing, climbing, climbing.  He hunted for the roughest and the highest mountains, climbed them, lived among them, and
was happy.  Once in the very long ago, he found a very high peak.  Its sides were steep and smooth, and its sharp peak reached up into the clouds.  
Na-gah looked up and said, "I wonder what is up there.  I will climb to the very highest point."

Around and around the mountain he traveled, looking for a trail.  But he could find no trail.  There was nothing but sheer cliffs all the way around.  
This was the first mountain Na-gah had ever seen that he could not climb.

He wondered and wondered what he should do.  He felt sure that his father would feel ashamed of him if he knew that there was a mountain that his
son could not climb.  Na-gah determined that he would find a way up to its top.  His father would be proud to see him standing on the top of such a

Again and again he walked around the mountain, stopping now and then to peer up the steep cliff, hoping to see a crevice on which he could find
footing.  Again and again, he went up as far as he could, but always had to turn around and come down.  At last he found a big crack in a rock that
went down, not up.  Down he went into it and soon found a hole that turned upward.  His heart was made glad.  Up and up he climbed.

Soon it became so dark that he could not see, and the cave was full of loose rocks that slipped under his feet and rolled down.  Soon he heard a big,
fearsome noise coming up through the shaft at the same time the rolling rocks were dashed to pieces at the bottom.  In the darkness he slipped often
and skinned his knees.  His courage and determination began to fail.  He had never before seen a place so dark and dangerous.  He was afraid, and
he was also very tired.

"I will go back and look again for a better place to climb," he said to himself.  "I am not afraid out on the open cliffs, but this dark hole fills me with
fear.  I'm scared!  I want to get out of here!"

But when Na-gah turned to go down, he found that the rolling rocks had closed the cave below him.  He could not get down.  He saw only one thing
now that he could do:  He must go on climbing until he came out somewhere.

After a long climb, he saw a little light, and he knew that he was coming out of the hole.  "Now I am happy," he said aloud.  "I am glad that I really
came up through that dark hole."

Looking around him, he became almost breathless, for he found that he was on the top of a very high peak!  There was scarcely room for him to turn
around, and looking down from this height made him dizzy.  He saw great cliffs below him, in every direction, and saw only a small place in which
he could move.  Nowhere on the outside could he get down, and the cave was closed on the inside..;

"Here I must stay until I die," he said.  "But I have climbed my mountain!  I have climbed my mountain at last!"

He ate a little grass and drank a little water that he found in the holes in the rocks.  Then he felt better.  He was higher than any mountain he could see
and he could look down on the Earth, far below him.

About this time, his father was out walking over the sky.  He looked everywhere for his son, but could not find him.  He called loudly, "Na-gah!  
Na-gah!"  And his son answered him from the top of the highest cliffs.  When Shinoh saw him there, he felt sorrowful, to himself, "My brave son can
never come down.  Always he must stay on the top of the highest mountain.  He can travel and climb no more.

"I will not let my brave son die.  I will turn him into a star, and he can stand there and shine where everyone can see him.  He shall be a guide mark
for all the living things on the Earth or in the sky."

And so Na-gah became a star that every living thing can see.  It is the only star that will always be found at the same place.  Always he stands still.  
Directions are set by him.;  Travelers, looking up at him, can always find their way.  He does not move around as the other stars do, and so he is
called "the Fixed Star."  And because he is in the true north all the time, our people call him Qui-am-i Wintooki Poot-see.  These words mean "the
North Star."

Besides Na-gah, other mountain sheep are in the sky.  They are called "Big Dipper" and "Little Dipper."  They too have found the great mountain and
have been challenged by it.  They have seen Na-gah standing on its top, and they want to go on up to him.

Shinoh, the father of North Star, turned them into stars, and you may see them in the sky at the foot of the big mountain.  Always they are traveling.  
They go around and around the mountain, seeking the trail that leads upward to Na-gah, who stands on the top.  He is still the North Star.
Paiute Legends