Sacred Texts  Native America  California  Index  Previous  Next 
Buy this Book at

Creation Myths of Primitive America, by Jeremiah Curtin, [1898], at


Love of this sort, of a sister for a brother, is found in European lore occasionally, and is, of course, a survival from a very remote past. In this myth it is the love of one of the first people, a female, afterward turned into a loon, for her brother, who was afterward turned into a wildcat.

Bringing to life is one of the most familiar performances in American mythology as well as in Keltic. In Yana it is done by kicking or turning over a corpse with the foot; by boiling in water, sometimes one hair, sometimes the heart; or by striking the corpse with a twig of the red rosebush. In Keltic it is most frequently done by the stroke of a Druidic or magic switch, which resembles the Yana method with the rose twig. The red rose has

p. 525

significance, no doubt. In Keltic we are not told the kind of wood from which the Druidic switch was taken.

In Seneca myths raising from the dead was very impressive. Sometimes the dry, fleshless bones of hundreds and hundreds of the first people were found lying in a heap or close together. The hero, another of the first people, pushes a hickory-tree as if to throw it on them, crying at the same time, "Rise up! or the tree will fall on you." That moment all the dry bones sprang up, took on flesh, and assumed their old forms immediately. Indian humor creeps out sometimes by giving us two lame people of the uprisen company. In the hurry and rush, while the dry bones are arranging themselves, two legs get astray; two personages have each one leg which is his own and one which belongs to his neighbor.

Next: Juiwaiyu