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The Dawn of the World, by C. Hart Merriam, [1910], at



Among the low hills about four miles south of Clear Lake is the site of an ancient Indian settlement named Tu'-le-yo'-me poo-koot. It was the ancestral home of the Tu'-le-yo'-me or O'-lā-yo-me tribe, the last vanishing remnant of which is now located on Putah Creek a few miles east of Middletown.


Ol'-le the Coyote-man

Wek'-wek the Falcon, grandson of Ol'-le

Hoo-yu'-mah the Meadowlark

Lah'-kah the Canada Goose

Sah'-te the Weasel-man, who set the world on fire

Hoo-poos'-min brothers, two, small Grebes or Hell-divers (Podilymbus podiceps)

We'-ke-wil'-lah brothers, two, little Shrews (Sorex) who stole the fire

Kah'-kah-te the Crow, whose fire was stolen by the We'-ke-wil'-lah brothers

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A LONG time ago, before there were any than people, Ol'-le the Coyote-man and his grandson, Wek'-wek the Falcon, lived together at Tu'-le-yo'-me. In those days Wek'-wek hunted Hoo-yu'-mah the Meadowlark and ate no other game, and Ol'-le the Coyote-man ate nothing at all.

One day Wek'-wek said: "Grandfather, I want to see what is on the other side of Mel'-le-a-loo'-mah15 I want to see the country on the other side."

"All right," answered Ol'-le.

So the next morning Wek'-wek set out and crossed over the Mel'-le-a-loo'-mah hills to Coyote Valley, and a little farther on came to a small lake called Wen'-nok pol'-pol, at the south end of which was a pretty pointed mountain called Loo-peek'-pow-we. On the lake were great numbers of ducks and geese. Up to this time he had never killed any of these-he had killed only Hoo-yu'-mah the Meadowlark.

He went back to Tu'-le-yo'-me, and told his grandfather what he had seen, and asked how he

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could get the ducks and geese. His grandfather answered: "A long time ago my father taught me how to make low'-ke the sling, and how to put loo'-poo the small stone in it, and how to aim and fire by swinging it around and letting fly." Then Ol'-le took kol the tule and made a low'-ke of it for Wek'-wek. The next morning Wek'-wek took the low'-ke and loo'-poo and went back to Wen'-nok-pol'-pol, the little lake, and stood on top of Loo-peek'-pow-we the sharp-pointed mountain at the south end of the lake, from which he could see over all the valley. The flat ground at the base of the mountain was covered with geese of the black-neck kind called Lah'-kah. At the foot of the peak was a small flat-topped blue oak tree, the kind called moo-le16 When the geese, which were walking on the ground, came up to this tree, Wek'-wek took careful aim with his low'-ke and let fly and the stone flew down among them and killed more than two hundred, and then came back to his hand. He at once fired again and killed several hundred more. He then gathered them all and packed them on his head back to Tu'-le-yo'-me and gave them to his grandfather, Ol'-le the Coyote-man.

Next morning when Wek'-wek was sitting on top of the roundhouse he saw someone coming. It was Sah'-te the Weasel-man, who lives under the

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<i>Ol'-le</i> the Coyote-man and <i>Wek'-wek</i> the Falcon-man at their Roundhouse
Click to enlarge

Ol'-le the Coyote-man and Wek'-wek the Falcon-man at their Roundhouse


ground; he passed on to the south without stopping. Wek'-wek said, "This looks like a man. Who is this man? Tomorrow morning I'll go and see." So next morning he went out again and sat on top of the roundhouse. Soon he saw Sah'-te coming; he came from the north and went off to the south. Then Wek'-wek also went south; he went to the sharp peak, Loo-peek'-pow'-we, and saw Sah'-te pass and go still farther south.

Wek'-wek returned to Tu'-le-yo'-me and presently saw Sah'-te come and go north again toward Clear Lake. Wek'-wek wanted to find out where Sah'-te lived, so he went up to Clear Lake and at the head of Sulphurbank Bay he found Sah'-te's lah'-mah (roundhouse). He said to himself, "Now I've got you," and went into Sah'-te's house. But Sah'-te was not at home. Wek'-wek looked around and saw a great quantity of hoo'-yah, the shell beads or money. It was in skin sacks. He took these sacks--ten or twelve of them--and emptied the shell money out on a bear skin robe and packed it on his head back to Tu'-le-yo'-me. But he did not take it in to show his grandfather; he hid it in a small creek near by and did not say anything about it.

When Sah'-te came home he found that his beads were gone. "Who stole my beads?" he asked.

He then took his yah'-tse [the stick the people used to wear crossways in a twist of their back hair] and stood it up in the fire, and oo'-loop the flame climbed it and stood on the top. He then

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took the yah'-tse with the flame at one end and said he would find out who stole his shell money. First he pointed it to the north, but nothing happened; then to the west, and nothing happened; then east; then up; then down, and still nothing happened. Then he pointed it south toward Tu'-le-yo'-me and the flame leaped from the stick and spread swiftly down the east side of Lower Lake, burning the grass and brush and making a great smoke.

In the evening Wek'-wek came out of the roundhouse at Tu'-le-yo'-me and saw the country to the north on fire. He went in and told his grandfather that something was burning on Clear Lake.

Ol'-le the Coyote-man answered, "That's nothing; the people up there are burning tules."

Ol'-le knew what Wek'-wek had done, and knew that Sah'-te had sent the fire, for Ol'-le was a magician and knew everything, but he did not tell Wek'-wek that he knew.

After a while Wek'-wek came out again and looked at the fire and saw that it was much nearer and was coming on swiftly. He was afraid, and went back and told his grandfather that the fire was too near and too hot and would soon reach them. After a little he went out again and came back and said, "Grandfather, the fire is coming fast; it is on this side of the lake and is awfully hot."

Ol'-le answered, "That's nothing; the people at Lower Lake are burning tules."

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But now the roar and heat of the fire were terrible, even inside the roundhouse, and Wek'-wek thought they would soon burn. He was so badly frightened that he told his grandfather what he had done. He said, "Grandfather, I stole Sah'-te's hoo'-yah and put it in the creek, and now I'm afraid we shall burn."

Then Ol'-le took a sack and came out of the roundhouse and struck the sack against an oak tree, and fog came out. He struck the tree several times and each time more fog came out and spread around.

Then he went back in the house and got another sack and beat the tree, and more fog came, and then rain. He said to Wek'-wek, "It is going to rain for ten days and ten nights." And it did rain, and the rain covered the whole country till all the land and all the hills and all the mountains were under water--everything except the top of Oo-de'-pow-we (Mount Konokti, on the west side of Clear Lake) which was so high that its top stuck out a little.

There was no place for Wek'-wek to go and he flew about in the rain till he was all tired out. Finally he found the top of Oo-de'-pow-we and sat down on it and stayed there.

On the tenth day the rain stopped, and after that the water began to go down and each day the mountain stood up higher. Wek'-wek stayed on the mountain about a week, by which time the

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water had gone down and the land was bare again. In Clear Lake near Oo-de'-pow-we is an island which was the home of two small grebes, diving birds, called Hoo-poos'-min. They were brothers and had a roundhouse, and in the roundhouse a fire. Wek'-wek went there and stayed two or three days, and then said he was going back to Tu'-le-yo'-me.

"All right," answered the Hoo-poos'-min brothers, "but don't tell Ol'-le that we have fire."

"All right," answered Wek'-wek, and he went off to Tu'-le-yo'-me to see Ol'-le, his grandfather.

When Wek'-wek arrived Ol'-le asked: "Who are you? I'm Ol'-le, and I live at Tu'-le-yo'-me."

Wek'-wek answered, "I'm Wek'-wek and I also live at Tu'-le-yo'-me."

"Oh yes," said Ol'-le, "you are Hoi'-poo (Captain) Wek'-wek."

"Yes," answered Wek'-wek.

At that time there were no real people in the world and Wek'-wek said, "There are no people; I'm lonesome; what are we going to do?"

Then Ol'-le told Wek'-wek to bring the feathers of the geese he had killed at Wen'-nok Lake. Wek'-wek did so, and they set out and traveled over the country. Wherever they found a good place for people Ol'-le took two feathers and laid them down side by side on the ground--two together side by side in one place, two together side by side in another place, and so on in each place

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Wek'-wek on the hilltop killing Geese with his Sling
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Wek'-wek on the hilltop killing Geese with his Sling


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where he wanted a rancheria; and at the same time he gave each place its name.

Next morning they again went out and found that all the feathers had turned into people; that each pair of feathers had become two people, a man and a woman, so that at each place there were a man and a woman. This is the way all the rancherias were started.

By and by all the people had children and after a while the people became very numerous.

Wek'-wek was pleased and said, "This is good." A little later he asked, "Grandfather, now that we have people, what are we going to do? There is no fire; what can we do to get fire?"

Ol'-le replied, "I don't know; we shall see pretty soon."

Ol'-le had a small box in his roundhouse and in it kept two little Shrew-mice of the kind called We'-ke-wil'-lah. They were brothers. Ol'-le said to them: "Kah'-kah-te the Crow has fire in his roundhouse, far away in the east; you go and steal it."

We'-ke-wil'-lah the little Shrew-mice said they would try, and set out on their long journey and went far away to the east and finally came to Kah'-kah-te's roundhouse. They heard Kah'-kah-te say, "kah'-ahk," and saw a spark of fire come out of the hole on top of the house. Then they went to a dead tree and got some too-koom' (the kind of buckskin that comes on dead wood) and cut off a

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piece and took it and climbed up on top of Kah'-kah-te's house and sat by the smoke hole and waited. After a while Kah'-kah-te again said "kah'-ahk," and another spark came out, but they could not reach it. But the next time Kah'-kah-te said "kah'-ahk" and another spark came out the little brothers caught it in their too-koom', the wood buckskin.

When they had done this they caught a little bug and pushed him in backward till he touched the spark. Then they said, "Let's go," and set out at once and traveled as fast as they could toward Tu'-le-yo'-me.

just then Kah'-kah-te the Crow came out of his house and in the darkness saw a little speck of light moving back and forth among the trees. It was the fire bug going home with the little Shrew brothers. Kah'-kah-te when he saw it cried, "Somebody has stolen my fire," and set out in pursuit.

The little brothers and the firefly were badly frightened and ran around a little hill so Kah'-kah-te could not see them, and hid under the bank of a dry creek. Kah'-kah-te hunted for them for some time but could not find them and went back to his house. His mate, who was inside, said, "Nobody stole our fire."

Kah'-kah-te answered, "Yes, someone stole it, I saw it go around." Then he went back into his house.

Then the We'-ke-wil'-lah brothers ran as fast

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as they could all the way back to Tu'-le-yo'-me and arrived there the same night. They said to Ol'-le, "Grandfather, look," and tossed him the too-koom'--the tree buckskin with the fire inside. He unrolled it and found the fire and took it out and made a fire on the ground.

Wek'-wek exclaimed, "That is good; I'm glad; now everybody can have fire."

Then Ol'-le put the fire in the oo'-noo (buckeye) tree, and told the people how to rub the oo'-noo stick to make it come out. From that time to this everybody has known how to get fire from the oo'-noo tree.


139:15 Mel'-le-a-loo'-mah is the name of the hill-country south of Lower Lake--between Lower Lake and Coyote Valley.

140:16 My informant pointed out this little old tree to me and said that when he was a little boy his father told him that it had always been there, just as it was in the days of Wek'-wek.

Next: How Cha'-ka the Tule-wren Shot out the Sun