Creation Myths of Primitive America, by Jeremiah Curtin, , at sacred-texts.com
Kol Tibichi was born at Norpat Kodiheril on Wini Mem, just before daylight. When a small boy, he used to go out by himself. If he went to play with other boys sometimes, he would not stay with them. He went out of sight, disappeared, and was lost. Then his father or mother or others would find him in this place or that unexpectedly. Sometimes they found him at home, sometimes at a distance, far away in some gulch or on some mountain. It happened that his mother would look at his bed in the night-time and see him there sleeping. She would look again and find that he was gone. She would look a third time, and find him just as at first. In the day he would be seen in one place and be gone the next moment.
Once he was playing with children; they turned aside to see something, then looked at him. He was gone. After a while they saw him in the water under the salmon-house. Another time he disappeared.
"Where has he gone?" asked one boy.
"I cannot tell," answered another.
Soon they heard singing.
One asked, "Do you hear that?
"Yes," said the other; "where is it?
They listened and looked. Soon they saw Kol Tibichi sitting near the north bank of the river, under water.
"We must run and tell his father and mother."
Two of the boys ran to tell his father and mother.
"We lost your son," said they. "He went away from us. We looked for him a long time and could not find him. Now we have found him; we have seen him sitting under water; we don't know what he is doing."
His mother hurried out; ran to the river.
"We think he must be dead," said people who had gathered there. "We think that some yapaitu [spirit] has killed him."
They soon saw that he was alive; he was moving. "Come, my son," called his mother, stretching her hands to him,--"come, my son; come out, come to me." But he stayed there, sitting under water.
A quarter of an hour later they saw that the boy had gone from the river. The people heard singing in some place between them and the village. They looked up and saw that the boy was half-way home and going from the river.
"That is your son," called they to the woman.
"Oh, no," said the woman; but she ran up and found that it was her son.
Another time the boy goes south with some children. These lose him, just as the others had. In half an hour they hear singing.
"Where is he?" ask some.
"On this side," says one.
"On that," says another.
South of the river is a great sugar-pine on a steep bank. They look, and high on a limb pointing northward they see him hanging, head downward, singing.
They run to his mother. "We see your son hanging by his feet from a tree."
The woman hurries to the river, runs in among the rocks and rubbish around the tree, reaches toward the boy, throws herself on the rocks, crying, "Oh, my child, you'll be killed!"
In a moment he is gone; there is no sign of him on the tree. Soon a shouting is heard at the house: "My wife, come up; don't cry, our son is here!"
She crawls out of the rocks and dirt, runs home, finds the boy safe with his father.
The people began now to talk of the wonderful boy. Soon every one was talking of him. There were many people in the place. Norpat Kodiheril was a very big village.
"Some yapaitu is going to take that boy's life," said they; "some yapaitu will kill him."
One morning the boy went down on the north side of the river with children, but apart from them, behind, by himself. He looked up, saw a great bird in the air flying above him. "Oh, if I had those wing feathers!" thought the boy. Then he blew upward and wished (olpuhlcha). That moment the great bird Komos Kulit fell down before him. just after the bird fell he heard a voice in the sky, a voice high, very high up, crying,--
"Now, you little man, you must call yourself
[paragraph continues] Kol Tibichi. You are to be the greatest Hlahi [doctor] on Wini Mem."
"Look at that boy!" cried the other boys. "See! he has something."
They were afraid when they saw the great bird, and the boy stretching the wings and handling the wonderful Komos Kulit. Some of them ran to his mother and said to her,--
"Your son has a very big bird. It fell down from the sky to him. We are afraid of that bird. We could not lift such a big bird."
Old people ran down; saw the boy handling Komos Kulit. "How did you get that bird?" asked they. "Did he fall to you?"
"Yes. I saw the shadow of a big bird on the ground. I looked up. It fell, and was here."
The old people talked,--talked much, talked a long time. There were many of them.
"We do not know what to do; we do not know what to think. We do not know why that bird fell," said some. "We ought not to talk about the bird, but we ought to think about this boy, find out what he is doing."
"Oh," said others, "he made that bird fall by blowing at it. That boy will be a great Hlahi."
The boy killed the bird with a yapaitu dokos (spirit flint); he wanted its wings.
The father and mother of the boy said: "Two wise men should pull out the longest wing feathers for the boy. He wants them; he wants them to keep."
"Let that be done," said the people; and they
found two men to pull out the two longest wing feathers. The boy went to one side while they were pulling them, pretended not to see or care what they were doing; but the two men knew that he knew why he did so. When the two men had pulled out the feathers, the boy said to his father,--
"I like those feathers; save them for me; I want them."
His father took the feathers home and saved them.
Another time this boy was walking up Wini Mem--some time before he had been at a Hlahi dance, and had seen there beautiful collars of flicker-tail feathers, and remembered them. He walked forward and said to himself,--
"I wonder where that man found those feathers. I would like to have feathers like them."
"Pluck a bunch of grass with your mouth," said the yapaitu, "drop it into your hand, and look at it."
He did so, and flicker feathers were in his hands. He counted them. and found five hundred. "These are nice feathers; I will keep them," said the boy.
"Kol Tibichi is your name," said the yapaitu. "You will be the greatest Hlahi on Wini Mem, but you must obey us. You must listen to our words, you must do what we tell you."
Kol Tibichi took the flicker feathers and walked westward, walked across a wide gulch till he came to a black-oak tree above Norpat Kodiheril.
"I like that oak-tree," said Kol Tibichi. "I think that is a good place for my mother to get
acorns." He blew then, and said: "You must be very big, wide, and high, give many acorns every fall. I will call your place Olpuhlchiton" (blowing upward place, i. e. wishing place).
He went home then, and gave the flicker-tail feathers to his mother. "Now, my mother," said he, "I wish you to keep these feathers for me."
"Where did you find them, my son?" asked she. "You are always doing something. You did not find these yourself; the yapaitu got them. I will keep them. I am sorry for you, but I cannot stop what you are doing. You cannot stop it yourself. But I will keep these feathers for you; I will keep them safely."
All the people talked much of Kol Tibichi now.
Once there was a doctor's dance. and the boy remained at home till one night when the yapaitu came to him and he began to hlaha. His father and mother did not know what the trouble was.
"Bring him here," said the oldest doctor.
"He is a Hlahi," said the doctors, when they saw him. "Sak hikai [the rainbow] is his yapaitu. You must give him to us till the yapaitu leaves him. While the yapaitu is with him, let him stay inside."
They were five or six days making Hlahis (doctors). The boy stayed in the sweat-house six days, never eating, never drinking; some others ate and drank, but Kol Tibichi neither ate nor drank.
"Something must "be done to make that yapaitu leave him. You must put a band around Kol Tibichi's head," said the chief, 'and the yapaitu will leave him."
They got a white wolf-tail headband. The yapaitu did not go. "This is not the right kind of a headband," said the doctor, after a while. They tried fox, wildcat, coyote, a white-deer band, without effect.
"We don't know what he wants," said some Hlahis.
Next they tried otter, fisher, coon, badger, black bear, grizzly bear, silver-gray fox, mink, beaver, rabbit, red-headed woodpecker.
"What does he want?" asked some.
"Now," said the old doctor, "you ought, to know that this boy should have food and drink, and he cannot have them till the yapaitu goes. You should know that the headband that his yapaitu wants is a tsahai loiyas" (woman's front apron made of maple bark, painted red).
They brought this apron, made the headband, and tied it on his head.
"This is the one," said the yapaitu.
Kol Tibichi began to sing; the Hlahi danced a few minutes. The boy blew then, and the yapaitu. left him. Kol Tibichi ate venison first and drank water, then took other kinds of food. From that time on Kol Tibichi was a Hlahi.
Soon after the great Hlahi dance, perhaps two weeks, Notisa, chief of Norpat Kodiheril, fell sick; he began to have a bad feeling at midday, and in the evening all his friends thought he would die. In the early night people in Norpat Kodi saw a light going to Kol Tibichi's house.
"People are coming; there must be some one
sick in the village," said the boy's father and mother. "People are coming. See, there is a big light moving this way."
Two men came to the door. "Come in," said Kol Tibichi's father. "We thought some one was sick when we saw your light coming."
"We are here because Notisa is sick," said the men. "He got sick at noon."
The two men spread out a marten skin and said: "We brought this to show it to you and your son. We have heard that he is a powerful Hlahi. The chief gave us this skin to show you. We are afraid that Notisa will die. We want your son to go with us to see him."
They gave the skin to Kol Tibichi. It was the best skin in the chief's house.
"We will go," said Kol Tibichi's father. "I do not say that my son is a Hlahi, but he can do something."
They waked the boy, made him ready to go.
"Come," said his mother; and she carried him to the chief's house.
"My mother, put me down," said Kol Tibichi, when they had come near the house.
"I do not like to put you down," said the mother.
Put me down, put me down a moment," said the boy.
His mother put him down. Then he saw some one looking around Notisa's house, pushing about, looking, watching in the dark, lurking around, holding arrows. This was a yapaitu, ready to shoot Notisa and kill him.
Kol Tibichi called his own yapaitu, who went to the one who was watching and said: "What are you doing here? What do you want at this house?
"I am doing nothing," answered the yapaitu.
"You are waiting to do something. You want to do harm."
"Oh no; I am only looking around here, just trying to find the door. I wanted to see some one.
"You are ready to shoot a yapaitu dokos. You want to kill Notisa. You are watching around here to kill him."
"Oh, no, I am not. I am just looking around, not doing anything."
"You are ready to kill Notisa, the chief. You are waiting to kill him," said Kol Tibichi's yapaitu, who just took hold of the strange yapaitu, twisted him, killed him right there, and buried him.
Kol Tibichi's mother took her son into the chief's house. The boy knew what had been done. His yapaitu told him what he had done, and came in with him. The boy sat down near Notisa.
People thought the chief ready to die, thought that he might die any moment. "Let the boy put his hand on the sick man," said they.
"Put your hand on the chief," said the father.
"You must do what you can. You must try, do your best to cure him."
Kol Tibichi spat on his hands, passed them over Notisa's breast and face. "I am sleepy, my mother, oh, I am so sleepy," said the boy, when he had passed his hands over the chief
"He cannot do more to-night," said the father. "We will go home."
Next morning people in the sweat-house heard a man talking outside. He came in and said, "I am well!" This was Notisa.
"We are glad," said the people. "Kol Tibichi has saved you."
The boy grew up and became a great Hlahi. When twenty years old, he was the greatest Hlahi on Wini Mem.
One year there was a Hlahi dance in El Hakam. Kol Tibichi was a man. He was thirty years old then. He went to the dance. Tulitot was the great Hlahi in that place, and he thought himself better than Kol Tibichi. While dancing, Tuletot took a snake from his mouth, a large rattlesnake, and held it in both hands as he danced. The snake was his own child. Kol Tibichi looked, and thought he could do better; and, dancing forward, he blew, as Hlahis do, and threw out long burning flames on both sides of his mouth. All present were afraid, and with Tulitot ran back before him in fear.
When the dance was over, Kol Tibichi went to Norpat Kodi and lived on, a great Hlahi: lived till he was a hundred years of age and more. He could not walk any longer. He knew that he could not live. "I cannot live any more," said he. "My yapaitu tells me this,--I cannot walk. I cannot do anything. My yapaitu tells me that I must leave Norpat Kodiheril. [He was not sick, but decrepit.] My yapaitu is going to take me and leave my bones in this place with you. When I go
from my body, do not bury it. Leave it on the ground out there. Let it lie one night. Next morning you will see a large rock in place of it. When people are sick, let them come and take a piece of the rock, or some earth, or some moss from it that will cure them."
We will not do that," said Notisa, a son of the first chief; "we bury every body, and we will bury yours like all others."
"Do not bury my bones," said Kol Tibichi.
"We should not like to see your bones all the time. We have no wish to see a rock in place of them."
"Well, take my body to the black-oak tree, put it eight or ten feet from the ground, leave it there one night; next morning you will see water in a hollow of the oak. Any man may come and get that water, rub it on his body, and drink some. It will cure him."
"No," said the chief, "we don't want to see the tree there every day. We do not wish to look at it all the time."
"Dig a deep grave, then," said Kol Tibichi, "put my body in with nothing around it. When you come to mourn, do not stand east of the grave-mound. On the morning after my burial you will see a rainbow coming out of the grave."
Kol Tibichi died. They did everything just as he told them. All saw the rainbow and said, "We ought to have left his body above ground, and to have done all that he asked of us at first. The yapaitu is mourning for him."
The rainbow stood there two days and two nights at the grave, then moved two feet eastward. Next morning it was four feet away, then eight, going farther day by day till it was at the salmon-house where Kol Tibichi used to go when a boy. It stood there by the salmon-house five days. Next it was on the north bank of the river, then on the hillside beyond, then on the hilltop, then on the mountain-slope, then on the mountain-top. Next all the people in Norpat Kodiheril heard a noise and knocking in the grave-mound one night, and early next morning they saw an immense bird rising out of Kol Tibichi's grave. First the head came, and then the body. At sunrise it came out altogether, and flew to the sugar-pine from which Kol Tibichi had hung head downward in childhood. It perched on the tree, stayed five minutes, and then flew away, flew to the mountain, to the rainbow, went into the rainbow. The bird and rainbow went away, disappeared together. The bird was Komus Kulit. The rainbow was Kol Tibichi's yapaitu.