American Indian Stories Order of Things, Age of Animal Heroes

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Native American Navaho

Go to: Animal Heroes - Navaho Index

There was a plan from the stars down. The woman's strength was not to be as great as the man's strength. They could not attend to the planting and harvesting as the men could, therefore men would be worth more than women. And the plan was that women would propose marriage to men; but the Coyote came and said: "Brothers, listen, I have just married a woman." Again he spoiled their plan. Men propose marriage to women; but because of the older plan there are still cases where women go after men. Then not long after that, that which the bird, chishgahi, said came true; but they still thought it unwise to have babies born in the new way. Just then the Coyote came and said: "Brothers, I have a little baby."

Then they planned how a husband and a wife should feel toward each other, and how jealousy should affect both sexes. They got the yucca and the yucca fruit, and water from the sacred springs, and dew from all the plants, corn, trees, and flowers. These they gathered, and they called them tqo alchin, sacred waters. They rubbed the yucca and the sacred waters over the woman's heart and over the man's heart. This was done so they would love each other; but at the same time there arose jealousy between the man and the woman, his wife.

After that they planned how each sex would have its feeling of passion. A medicine was made and it was given to the man and to the woman. This medicine was for the organs of sex. The organ of the man would whistle; and then the organ of the woman would whistle. When they heard this each organ gave a long, clear whistle. After that they came together and the sound of the whistle was different. That is why the voices of the young boy and maiden are different; and it is why their voices change.

They planned that the rainbow should be used for a path whenever there was a deep canyon to cross; and it was to be thrown over a river and used as a bridge.

The gopher was told to remain hidden from the sun because he had caused toothache. That is why he stays down in the earth and seldom ventures out during the daytime.

First Man called the birds to him and said: "You who have wings, go to the mountains for your food and good living." So they went to the mountains. To each bird was given a name, and to each was given the directions of his way of living.

Then all the different types of lizards came. They were sent to the cliffs and told to make their homes among the rocks; and to every type of lizard was given a name.

First Man called the beavers and the otters and the underwater animals; and they were given their names and sent to the rivers and waters that would become their homes.

First Man and First Woman called the chiefs. First they called the wolf. They told him that, although he was a chief, he had done wrong, he had stolen. They told him that he should be called ma'itso, the big wanderer. "You shall travel far and wide over the face of the earth," they said.

The snake was called. They told him that because he could not travel the year round he would be given a bag of medicine, and, as he had no place to which he could tie it, they put it in his mouth. First Man gave this to him and told him that should the snake wish to harm someone he should swell this poison and cast it out. But for its possession he must pay by traveling but 6 months of the year.

Then First Man called another chief. "Come here, old man," he said. When this being came, First Man said that he should be named ma'i, the coyote. But the coyote got angry and said: "Such a name!" And he declared that he would not have it; and that he would leave; but First Man called him back and told him that he would also be known as Atse'hashke', First Angry. After that the coyote felt better. He thought that he had a great name given him, and he went happily away, for he was told that he would know all the happenings on the face of the earth.

The bear was the next chief to be called. He was given a name but be was not satisfied. He became so angry that First Man used the word "shash" to quiet him. The bear repeated it four times, and he said that it had a strange sound, and when one said it aloud one had an awesome feeling. So he went off well content that "shash" should be his name.

Up to this time all beings were people and could remove their coat forms at will; but because of wrongdoing they were made to keep their coats; and they were made to keep to their kind and to live among themselves in different parts of the earth.

When all the birds and animals had started out on their way, First Man called one little, gray bird back. It was tse na'olch'oshi, the little canyon wren, who had carried the cliff rock up from the Yellow World. First Man told him that, since he had been responsible for the cliffs he should make his home among the cliff rocks. And should anyone ever harm him he would have the power of getting even with him. That is why falling rocks sometimes harm people or animals.

All the people that First Man and First Woman named and sent forth now live on the earth. This is the way they planned the order of things.

note: Ma'i, the Coyote, is not to be confused with the Great Coyote or Wolf. This is the Coyote called First Angry or the Scolder, and appears in Zuni and other myths.

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