The Dawn of the World, by C. Hart Merriam, , at sacred-texts.com
A TALE OF THE SOUTHERN MEWUK
As told by the Mariposa Mewuk
Too'-le the Evening Star, a Chief of the First People
He-le'-jah the Cougar or Mountain Lion, another Chief, and partner of Too'-le
Kah'-kool the Raven, who became a great hunter
To-lo'-mah the Bobcat
Yu'-wel the Gray Fox
A LONG time ago Too'-le the Evening Star lived at Oo'-tin [Bower Cave, on the Coulterville road to Yosemite]. He-le'-jah the Mountain Lion lived with him. They were chiefs and partners and had a room on the north side of the cave. There were other people here also To-lo'-mah the Wild Cat, Yu'-wel the Gray Fox, Kah'-kool the Raven, and many more.
They used to send out hunters for meat. One of these, Kah'-kool the Raven, complained to Too'-le and He-le'-jah that he could not come near enough the game to shoot; the animals saw him too easily--he was too light colored. So he decided to make himself black; he took some charcoal and mashed it in a basket and rubbed it all over his body wherever he could reach, and had the others help put it on his back where he could not reach. When he was black all over he went hunting and killed two or three animals the first day, for now they could not see him.
One day Kah'-kool went to Big Meadows and climbed on top of Pile Peak, and when the moon rose, he saw away in the east two big things like ears standing up. He had never seen anything like
them before and ran back to Oo'-tin and told the Chiefs. He said the animal must be very big and very wild, for it turned its big ears every way. He wanted to see it.
Every evening he went back to the peak and saw the ears in the east, and each time they were a little nearer. But he did not yet know what the animal was. Then he went again and this time the ears were only two or three miles away, and he ran back quickly and told the Chiefs that the new animals were coming. They were Deer coming over the mountains from the east; they had never been here before.
The next morning Kah'-kool went out and for the first time in his life saw a bunch of Deer; but he did not know what they were. He saw that they stepped quickly, and that some of them had horns. So he ran back and told Too'-le and He-le'-jah what he had seen, and said that the new animals looked good to eat and he wanted to kill one.
"All right, "answered the Chiefs, "If you see one on our side 13 go ahead and kill him."
So the next morning Kah'-kool again went out and saw that the animals had come much nearer and were pretty close. He hid behind a tree and they came still nearer. He picked out a big one and shot his arrow into it and killed it, for he wanted
Click to enlarge
Kah'-kool the Raven-Hunter bringing in his first Deer. ''He-le'-jah said it was a Deer and was good to eat.''
to try the meat. He watched it kick and roll over and die, and then went back and told the Chiefs that he had killed one and wanted two men to go with him and fetch it. The Chiefs sent two men with him, but when they got there they had nothing to cut it with and had to carry it home whole. One took it by the front feet, the other by the hind feet; they carried it to the cave and showed it to the Chiefs.
He-le'-jah said it was a Deer and was good to eat, and told the people to skin it. They did so and ate it all at one meal.
Next morning Kah'-kool returned alone to the same place and followed the tracks and soon found the Deer. He hid behind a tree and shot one. The others ran, but he shot his arrows so quickly that they made only a few jumps before he had killed five--enough for all the people. He did not want to kill all; he wanted to leave some bucks and does so there would be more.
This time the Chiefs sent five men with Kah'-kool. They took flint knives and skinned the Deer and carried home all the meat and intestines for supper and breakfast.
Chief Too'-le the Evening Star told Kah'-kool that he wanted to see how the Deer walked, and would hunt with him. Kah'-kool replied that he was too light--too shiny--and would scare the Deer. Too'-le said he would hide behind a tree and not show himself. So he went, and Kah'-kool kept him
behind. But he was so bright that the Deer saw him and ran away. Too'-le said, "What am I going to do?" Kah'-kool made no answer; he was angry because he had to go home without any meat.
Next morning Too'-le went again. He said he was smart and knew what he would do. The Deer had now made a trail. Too'-le dug a hole by the trail and covered himself up with leaves and thought that when the Deer came he would catch one by the foot. But when the Deer came they saw his eye shine and ran away.
The next morning he tried again. He said that this time he would bury himself eye and all, and catch a Deer by the foot. Kah'-kool answered, "You can't catch one that way, you will have to shoot him." But Too'-le dug a hole in another place in the trail and covered himself all up, eye and all, except the tips of his fingers. The Deer came and saw the tips of his fingers shine and ran away. So again the hunters had to go back without any meat.
Then Too'-le the Evening Star said, "I'm going to black myself with charcoal, the same as Kah'-kool did." He tried, but the charcoal would not stick--he was too bright. He said, "I don't know what to do; I want to kill one or two Deer." Then he tried again and mashed more charcoal and put it on thick. The others helped him and finally made him black all over. Too'-le did not know that the Deer could smell him, and again hid on
the trail. The Deer came again. This time the doe was ahead, the buck behind. The leader, the doe, smelled him and jumped over him; the buck smelled him and ran back. So this time also Too'-le and Kah'-kool had to go home without meat.
The next morning Too'-le tried once more. He had two men blacken him all over. Then he went to the trail and stood still between two trees. But the Deer smelled him and swung around and ran away and went down west to the low country. This discouraged him so that he did not know what to do, and he gave up hunting and stayed at home.
Then Kah'-kool began to hunt again; he went every morning alone and killed five or ten Deer. The people ate the meat and intestines and all, but did not have enough. Then Kah'-kool worked harder; he started very early in the morning, before daylight, and killed twelve to fifteen Deer every day. This was too much for him and before long he took sick and could not hunt at all.
Then the Chiefs and all the others had nothing to eat and did not know what to do. Too'-le asked He-le'-jah, and He-le'-jah asked Too'-le, what they should do. He-le'-jah said he would stay and kill his own Deer and eat the liver only--not the meat--and would eat it raw. Too'-le said he would go up into the sky and stay there and become the Evening Star. And each did as he had said. So the rancheria at Oo'-tin was broken up.
94:13 Meaning "on our side" of the tribal boundary line. This line now separates the territory of the Middle Mewuk from that of the Mono Lake Piutes.