(Panamint Valley, California. Shoshoni)
The birds and animals were men. At one time there was no fire in this country.
Lizard was lying in the sun to keep warm. As he lay there he noticed something falling slowly from the sky. When it came to the earth, all the people ran over and looked at it. They said, "What, is this?" Coyote said, "Don't you know what this is?" They said, "No." Coyote said, "This is an ash from a fire in another country. What are we going to do about it? Somebody must go far up in the sky to find out from where it came. Who can go?" Hummingbird said, "I can go."
Hummingbird started up in the sky, while everybody watched him. Coyote tipped his head and squinted one eye, watching him with the other. When Hummingbird was far up in the sky, Coyote saw him look toward the north, then turn and look toward the east. Then he looked toward the south, and, finally, turned toward the west. He continued to look a long time toward the west. Soon he came down.
When he was on the earth again, everybody gathered around him. Coyote said, "What about it? What did you see?" Hummingbird said that he had seen a. big body of water in the west. There were many people on the shore, dancing around a huge fire. Coyote said, "We must go over and get the fire."
They started toward the west. On the way Coyote stationed the people at intervals. When they got near the fire, Coyote made himself false hair out of string. There were many people dancing around the fire. Coyote joined them and began to dance, but they did not recognize him. All night as he danced, Coyote tried to catch the fire in his false hair. When it was nearly morning, he caught the fire and fled. The people had now lost their fire, and began to chase him.
Coyote ran to the first man he had posted and passed the fire on to him. This man ran with it to the next man, and in this way it was relayed from one to another until it was passed to Jackrabbit. Jackrabbit put it on his tail, making his tail black.
Rat had a house on the top of a tall rock with a smooth, vertical face. He sat in his house, while Jackrabbit was coming with the fire. The pursuers made hail fall. This hurt Jackrabbit so that he squealed as he ran. Rat heard this and came down to meet him. He took the fire from Jackrabbit, dodged his pursuers, and scrambled up to his house. The fire burned a red place on his breast.
The people below said, "Catch him, but do not kill him. We want the fire." Rat remained in his house and put the fire into a large pile of brush. The people below pleaded with him to give them some fire. Rat threw the brush in all directions. The brush now has the fire in it. You can get it out by making a fire drill of the brush.