Creation Myths of Primitive America, by Jeremiah Curtin, , at sacred-texts.com
This beautiful myth, in which wind and water are the moving characters, needs little if any explanation, save in one point, that relating to the Hlahi, commonly called doctor by white men. The word Shaman used in Siberia describes his position accurately. He is not the master of spirits exactly, but he is the favorite and friend of one or of more spirits; that is, of such spirits as promised him their co-operation at the time when he became a Hlahi. If this person observes the rules of life that are always imposed on him who enjoys the friendship of this or that spirit (these rules refer mainly to food agreeable to the spirit), and does what is needful when the spirit is invoked (the needful, in this case, includes smoking and dancing), together with chanting the song of this spirit (every spirit has its own song), the spirit will come at his call.
Sanihas Yupchi smokes and dances; the Tsudi girls sing or chant. The name Sanihas Yupchi means the archer of Sanihas; Sanihas means daylight or the entire light of day from dawn till darkness,--in other words, all the light that Sas the sun gives between one night and another,--though Sanihas, daylight, is always represented as a person, and not the product of Sas's activity. This Sanihas Yupchi, the archer of daylight, the usher of the dawn, is no other than Tsaroki Sakahl, who has a white stripe on his back, the messenger who was sent by Torihas to invite Katkatchila to the hunt which caused the burning of the world in "Olelbis." He appears also as the envoy who ran in darkness on the gleaming sand trail to invite Hawt to Waida Dikit's green and red house, where the world concert was held, at which Hawt proved to be the greatest musician in existence.
In the note to "Kol Tibichi" will be found an account of bow the Hlahi receives the aid and co-operation of spirits.
Most interesting beliefs are connected with Wokwuk, the son of Olelbis and Mem Loimis. The Wintus believe Wokwuk to be the greatest source of power and wealth.
According to "Olelbis," different bits of Wokwuk came down to the earth and were turned into elk and various valuable creatures; the tip of Wokwuk's little finger became the earthly Wokwuk.
Wintus told me that if a man were to see the earthly Wokwuk, who was made from the tip of Wokwuk's little finger, he would grow immensely rich from the good luck which the sight would bring him. The last Wokwuk seen appeared a little over a hundred years ago. The story of its appearance is as follows:--
One day an old woman at a village called Tsarken, about twenty miles north of Redding, went for wood. Soon she ran home almost breathless, leaving her basket behind.
"Oh, my grandson," cried she to the chief, "I am frightened. My grandfather and grandmother used to say to me when I was a girl, 'You will see a wonderful thing some day.' I have just seen something wonderful on the hill. I believe it is a Wokwuk. Old people told me that if a Wokwuk is seen he will stay in one place a long time. I think this Wokwuk will stay, and wants us to see him."
The chief made a beautiful shed of small fir-trees, covered it with fir branches, and placed sweetly smelling herbs in it; he sent for neighboring chiefs, and next day all went in their best array to the Wokwuk, bearing water in the finest basket of the village, and carrying a large oak slab and a rope. They found the Wokwuk facing north, and went near him. The chief lighted his pipe, blew the smoke toward every side, and said to the Wokwuk,--
"You have come to see us; we have come to salute you. You have come to show yourself. You are a great person, and all the Wintus in the country will hear of you; all the chiefs in every place will speak of you. I am glad that you are here. I am glad that you have come to my country."
He talked more to the Wokwuk; spoke very nicely. Next be took water in his mouth and blew it around in every direction. After that the chief smoked a fragrant root instead of tobacco, blowing the smoke toward the Wokwuk, speaking to him with great respect.
"Now we will take you home with us," said the chief They carried the oak slab to the Wokwuk; be did not stir. They
pushed him onto the slab, tied one leg to it, then took him home, placed the slab in the shed, and untied the Wokwuk. He remained two months there, never ate anything, never tried to escape.
Every morning they talked to the Wokwuk. During two months no one went to hunt, no one ate Venison or sucker fish. Finally, all the Wintus were invited and all the Yanas,--a great assembly. They saluted the Wokwuk, each chief addressed him; last of all came a chief from Wini Mem, named Tópitot, leading a black bear. This bear walked erect like a man. He had bands of porcupine quills around his fore and hind legs, and a buckskin band covered with the red scalps of woodpeckers around his head. The bear bowed down to the Wokwuk, and the chief addressed him. When other chiefs spoke to the Wokwuk during the two previous months, he never raised his head or gave a sign of answer; but when Tópitot had finished, he raised his head and gave out a sound which was loud and long.
Next morning the chief of the village wished good luck to all, then he brought a rope, hung Wokwuk to a tree, and took his life. He plucked him, gave the quills to the chiefs, including himself, cut off the head, kept it; the body he carried to an ant-hill; when the ants had taken all the flesh, the bones were separated from each other and given to each chief.
When the chiefs went home, they spoke to the quills and bones as if praying, at first every morning, then once a week, then once a month, and continued this for a long time. After that each put away his bone or his quill in a triple covering. The bone or feather was wrapped first in a cover of the red scalps of woodpeckers sewed together; outside that were two mats made of reeds.
The owner of a Wokwuk bone or quill does not show it to any one, not even to his wife or children. When he dies he leaves it to a son, or, if he has no son, to a daughter. The possession of Wokwuk relics gives luck, but the owner must never eat venison or sucker; these are offensive to Wokwuk.
Five years after the quills were put away only the stems of them were left; five years later they were as fresh as if just plucked. If the quills were to be exposed before people, the people would all die; if to one person, that person would perish.
The owner of a quill or bone unwraps it occasionally, places water near it, and talks to it, saying: "Give us good luck; make us well. I give you water, you give us strength." If he points the relic and mentions a person's name, saying, "Make him sick," that man will die surely.
If the owner of a Wokwuk relic dies without heirs, the bone or quill is sunk in a sacred spring; if it were buried with the owner, all would get sick and die.
Both feathers and bones grow old in appearance, and later on they are as fresh looking and perfect as ever.