Sacred Texts  Native American  California  Index  Previous  Next 


The boys were getting older now, and their hair was growing very long. It was down to their knees, but their mother told them she could not cut their hair because she was not a man. She told them, however, to get up very early the next morning and go to the place where there was an eagle's nest, and to bring the eagles home to her.

So they got up very early in the morning and went to the place where there was a nest of crows. "Perhaps this is what she means," they said; so they took the crows home with them and asked her if that was what she meant.

"No, that is wrong," said the mother, and she threw the crows away.

So then they went again till they came to the place where there was a horned owl's nest. "This must be the one," they said, and they took it home to their mother; but she said that was not the right one, and she threw it away.

And they started out again and found the common owl in its nest and took it home to their mother; but she said that was not the one, and threw it away.

p. 226

Then they went again, and came to a nest of young buzzards, some of which were sitting on the tree. "We must be right now," they but the mother said that was not said, and took the buzzard home, an eagle, and she threw the buzzard away.

"Wait now till morning," said their mother. So they slept all night, and very early in the morning went on their way until they came to a stream of water, and on the other side was a high mountain.

They crossed the stream and climbed the mountain, and not far beyond sat down to rest.

Their mother had told them to wait in this spot to see what would happen.

Soon a white eagle came flying towards its nest with a deer in its claws. They watched it until they saw it fly into its nest. Then there came a black eagle with a big hare in its talons, and it flew in the same direction. So they followed its course until they came to the foot of a great rock, very steep and high, and on top of it was the eagle's nest, with two young ones in It. One was white and one was black and they flew about on top of the rock. But the boys could not catch them, for the rock was too steep to climb. (Song.)

"I wonder why mother sent us here on such an errand," said the boys. (Song.) They tried and tried to climb the rock, but it was too steep, and they fell back time after time, and all the while the eagles were growing older.

The boys began to cry and lament; and they stood and held their hands to the east, and got some white clay and with it they painted their cheeks. Then they held their hands to the west, and got some black clay. These were signs of sorrow and mourning. Tears ran down their cheeks. (Song.)

At last they determined that come what might they would climb the steep rock. "You go first," said the older. "No, it is you who must try it first." So they disputed for a time, till at last the younger started to climb the rock. On he went until with just one step forward he lost his balance and fell to the ground, where he was broken in pieces.

Song: A-ma-te-kis-ma, etc.

He lay at the foot of the rock with all his bones broken, but the older brother, who was a witch, sat down beside him and put all the bones together one by one. Then he spoke to him and told him to wake up. "Why, I have just been asleep," said the younger brother. "No, you were dead, but I made you alive again," said the older. "Now I will try to climb the rock myself. Turn your back and by no means look at me until I give you leave."

So the older brother stood and held up his hands to the sky and brought down a big red snake. The younger brother looked around

p. 227

and saw that the steep rock was full of red snakes, whose heads stuck out of every crevice, and the elder climbed among the snakes until he reached the top.

On top the rock was covered with snakes of all sorts, red snakes and gopher snakes and rattlesnakes, and the boy sat on the edge of the rock looking at the eagles' nest, but afraid to go near it for fear of the snakes.

Make haste and throw down the eagles," said the younger from the foot of the rock.

Song: Ha-mat-a-ku-ti-yai, etc.

The older sang a song to the snakes telling them he would not hurt them, but only wanted to catch the eagles. (Song.)

So he caught the eagles and tied their feet together.

Song: Ha-kán-a-mo-kán.

As he started down the rock he threw the eagles to the ground, and both of them flew directly to the feet of the younger, who caught them and refused to give them to his brother.

"Give me my eagles," said the older.

"No, I shall keep them for myself," said the younger. After a while, however, he agreed to give up the black eagle to his brother.

"And now you had better run home as fast as you can," said the older, "for if I am not mistaken it is going to rain." (Song.)

So the older brother held up his hands to the west and brought the rain. The clouds floated in and the sky was covered with them, and it began to rain in torrents just on the path where the younger brother was going. He tried to find shelter here and there, but the rain beat in everywhere. All this time the older brother went another road in the sunshine. He was very angry at his brother because he kept the white eagle from him.

Song: A-kwe-kwa
Ha-mat-a-whan, etc.
                       (About a dozen lines.)

The younger brother suffered very much in the storm with the white eagle he was carrying. (Song.)

It rained so hard that at last the white eagle died. He was sitting on the ground beside the dead eagle when his brother went by looking at it.

The younger brother grew very angry. "You need not look so scornfully at me," he said. "You think I am young and cannot do anything, but you shall see that I can do things as well as you." So he stood and held up his hand to the north and called the thunderstorm to come (Song), and quick clouds came, and it rained very hard on the road the older brother took. The younger went another way

p. 228

where the sun shone bright and hot. He was hunting and killing rabbits as he went along. (Song.) "I told you what I was going to do," he said in his song.

The elder brother was suffering in the storm, from which he could find no shelter. He tried to shield the black eagle from the rain; but this he could not do, and the black eagle was already dying. (Song.)

At last the black eagle died and the brothers met again. "Why did you do this thing?" each asked the other. "I never heard of relatives treating each other so." So they shook hands and were friends again.

Then they made ready to bury the eagles. They dug a big hole, but the earth was black, and they said that that was not a fit place to bury the eagles. Gophers and rats would dig their bones and eat them. So they took them up and went to a place where the ground was yellow, and there they buried them. They made a great big hole and went down into it and buried the eagles there. Each brother cut off his own hair and dressed the eagles with it when they buried them.

Song: He-ko-ma-ta-ma, etc.

The sun was setting and it was growing late, so they went home and lay down one on either side of the fire.

The mother was cooking their supper, but when she brought it to them they would not eat.

"What ails you, my sons?" she said. "Here is the supper I cooked for you and for no one else, and in spite of all my pains you will not eat my food. Have you been fighting, and are you hurt?"

(Song.) The mother began to sing that the eagles were coming, but the oldest son woke from his sleep and told his mother she ought not to say what could not be true, for the eagles were dead. So he lay down again.

(Song.) But the mother sang and danced and said that the eagles were coming. The boys made no answer, but laid there quietly.

Song: "I tell you, my sons, that the eagles are coming," repeated the mother.

"Get up and see if the eagles are coming," said the older to his brother. So the younger went out to look, and there was the white eagle coming, just as it was before it was buried. Then the elder brother got his eagle back too, and the mother scolded them for doing such things to each other. This ends the story of the eagles.

Next: The Story of the Chaup (Continued)