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Yana Texts, by Edward Sapir, [1910], at


p. 45

Flint Rock had his sweat-house at Mount Shasta. Flint Rock was a chief and lived there at Mount Shasta. "I shall send word to people for them to come," said the chief, named Flint Rock Chief. "I intend to have a dance," said the chief. "Do you go to the south and tell the people to come, far away in the south. Who is it that can run, so as to go and tell the people in the south? Go tell them to come! Go tell the Geese people to come! Go tell the Crane people to come! Go tell the White Geese to come! Go tell the Heron People in the south to come!" "It is I who shall go to tell them. I am a good runner," said Humming-bird. "So!" said the chief, "do so! Go tell them to come!" "What is it that I shall say?" said Humming-bird. "Pray tell them people are having a dance. Pray tell them Flint Rock Chief is having a dance." Humming-bird wrapped a wildcat skin about his head and made himself all ready.

Off he flew, flew to the south. The Geese people were living in the south, the Geese people lived there in great numbers. There was a sweat-house, and Humming-bird flew about over the smoke-hole of the sweat-house. "Bū's*, bū's*, bū's*, bū's*," he said, for that was Humming-bird's way of talking. He was talking to the Geese, telling them the news. Many were the people that looked at Humming-bird, flying about at the smoke-hole. "What sort of person can that be talking? His language is not understood.

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[paragraph continues] Perhaps he has come to tell us something, but we do not understand his language. "Bū's*, bū's*, bū's*, bū's*," Humming-bird kept saying, talking at the smoke-hole of the sweathouse. "What he says is unintelligible," said the Geese and White Geese, said the Herons, said the Whistling Swans.

Coyote was living with them. "Hehe'?! This language is not understood. I cannot make out what he is saying. Go and talk to Coyote. He is always saying that he understands every language. Go tell him to come." Someone was sent to tell Coyote to come. (On arriving at Coyote's house he said,) "You! You have been sent for." "What's that?" said Coyote. "Indeed, somebody has flown up to here, and nobody understands his language." "Indeed! It is I who understand the speech of far to the north." Now Coyote arose and went into the sweathouse. Coyote sat down inside, and Humming-bird kept saying, "Bū's*, bū's*, bū's*, bū's*," flying around over the smoke-hole. "We do not understand him," said the people there. Coyote sat down, bung his head down, and listened. "Hä!" said Coyote, and he lifted up his eyes. He reported the news to the Geese people. "Flint Rock Chief has sent for you to come," said Coyote. "This one says that you should peel bark off the trees, to make string. That is what this humming-bird says." 68 "Indeed!" said the people of the south. "He sends for you. This one says that you should take bark off of bā'ni 69bushes so as to make string," said Coyote, reporting to them what he had heard. "He wants you to start out today," said Coyote. "That's all that humming-bird has to say."

"Bū's*, bū's*, bū's*," Humming-bird kept saying, flying about over the smoke-hole. The Geese people said, "Hehe'?! he would be flying off back home, if his language had been understood. It seems that you do not understand Humming-bird's words, that is why he does not fly off. If you had understood his language, he would have flown bock home." Coyote said no more. (The

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chief said,) "Go and tell Meadow-lark Woman about it. She always says that she can understand the language of the far north." A certain man ran off to tell Meadow-lark Woman about it. "He wants you to come." "Who is it that wants me to come?" "It is Goose Chief that wants to have you come. We do not understand Humming-bird's language, and so he has sent for you." Coyote went off home, and now the woman came. She did not enter the sweat-house. Meadow-lark Woman talked with Humming-bird; Meadow-lark talked her own language in speaking outside the house with Humming-bird. They flew up together in the air, talking to each other. Now Humming-bird flew off home in the air, flew back home to the north.

The woman came down and sat in the sweat-house, the sweathouse of the Geese. "He came to tell you," she said, reporting to them what she had heard, "he came from Flint Rock Chief to tell you. He says that Flint Rock Chief is having a dance, that he has been sent after you; that is what Humming-bird says." Goose Chief said, "Indeed! Put your feather headdresses outside to give them an airing! Hang your head-bands around! Wash your necklaces of shell beads! My people, let us go there to have a dance. Her words, telling us of Hummingbird's message, are good. Look at Coyote going off home! He did not tell that to us. Coyote was lying." Many were the people that started off. Now they were all dressed up. "Put nets on your heads. Put on your white head-bands. Put beads about your necks," (said Goose Chief). Now they came from the south, and camped over night at Cī'p!a.51 "Let us rest here over night. Early in the morning let us practice dancing here. Let us go north dancing. Who is it that will lead the dance?" "I shall be the one to lead the dance," said Coyote. "No. It is the chief that shall lead in the dance." "No," said Coyote, "It is I who will lead the dance, for I am a chief." "Do you think that he who is not a chief leads in a dance?" (they said to him.) "Hê!" said Coyote, "they call me chief. Far off in the east they tell me that I am a chief," said Coyote. "They call me chief far off in the south. they call me chief far off in the west, they call me chief far off In the north. I travel all around in every

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direction," said Coyote. "I have never before heard people calling me Coyote. Today for the first time I heard myself called dog," said Coyote. "Well! Go ahead, lead us in the dance."

The people started in to dance at Cī'p!a. "Inī'yaha," went Coyote's song. "Wê'yahinā' ‘inī'yahinā', wê'yahinā' ‘inī'yahinā', wê'yahinā' ‘inī'yahinā'," went Coyote's song, while they all danced. Now they proceeded north as they danced. Coyote danced in company with Meadow-lark Woman. Very pretty was that woman with her apron of rodent bones strung on buck-skin tassels and with a round tule basket-cap that she had on her head. As they proceeded north the Geese filed up in a long line from the south, dancing. All the Geese people, every sort of person that was there, had wings. Coyote alone did not have wings. Coyote led the dance singing away, while the Geese people filed up from the south, dancing as they proceeded north. "‘E‘, ‘e‘, ‘e‘, ‘e‘, ‘e‘," whispered the people. They flew up into the air, went right up, all of them, and continued their dance northwards while flying in the air.

Coyote looked up and found himself all alone, dancing on the ground; they had all left Coyote behind and were moving northwards in the air. "What are you doing?" said Coyote, talking up to them in the air, as he found himself abandoned by all. The Geese went right on to the north. Suddenly Coyote stopped dancing and started to run. Coyote ran to the north, came running after the people to one side. Coyote ran across the river, running down the mountains, running up the mountains. He looked very ugly, his legs were bruised with thorns, he was covered with blood, his feet were swollen, his legs were cut up by the rocks and scratched by the brush. Coyote was coming running after them, running all by himself now.

Now the Geese people arrived at Mount Shasta, at Flint Rock's sweat-house. They danced around the sweat-house on the ground. Coyote had not come; indeed he was dead, having been tired out and hungry. The South people danced around, dancing around together in a circle. When it was dark they stopped dancing. Flint Rock Chief spoke out loud, "Get wood! Build a fire in the sweat-house! These people will go inside."

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[paragraph continues] The South people entered, they were chuck full in the sweathouse. "Let us go outside," said the chief, talking (to his own people). "Let us make a fire outside in the night time." The sweat-house was crowded, the people filled it entirely. Those who belonged to that house all moved outside. There were the Geese people inside, all by themselves, sitting inside the sweat-house. Flint Rock Chief shut the door of the sweat-house, so the sweathouse was totally dark; there was no daylight whatever. The people outside, the owners of the sweat-house, were making much noise, having a good time. Three times it was day and three times it was night, and there was no daylight inside; it was always night. The people outside were having a good time pounding acorns and hunting deer.

"This looks bad. Daylight must have appeared long ago." The people inside felt around with their hands. There was no fire there and they were hungry and thirsty. "He has shut the door on us, he is angry at us," said they inside. "Four days and four nights have passed and there is no daylight yet. What shall we do? We are all going to be killed. Hehe'?! Would that I could get outside again! Have not any of you perchance a flint flaker? Have not any of you perchance a flaking maul?" "Yes," said Ma'ldama. 70 "I have a pitching tool." "I also have a pitching tool," said Bop?didjū's*i. 71 "Yes," said the chief, "it is you that always say that you have supernatural power." The pitching tool was like this here, 72 the flaking maul was like this here. 72 Those two men, little Bop?didjū's*i and Ma'ldama, had pitching tools. They arose in the sweat-house in the night that surrounded them all. The sweat-house was made entirely of flint rock, thick was the flint rock. They put out their hands inside and felt around all over. They were all like blind men. "Now! pound away!" This is how they did, pounding away at the flint rock to test for a thin spot. Now he pushed his pitching tool against the flint rock and pounded on it with his maul. This is how Ma'ldama did. 66

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[paragraph continues] "S* s*" said the chips of flint as the), fell to the ground. The flakes made a noise as they were thrown to the ground. Thus he kept it up all day, and little Bop?didjū's*i worked too. Every little while they pounded around with their hands to see flow thick it was. Now it became thin and they pounded away at that spot. "S*!" said the flint chips as they fell splintered off to the ground. They pounded with their hands to see how thick it was. "S*!" said the flakes falling down on the ground. Again they pounded with their pitching tools. Thus they did and burst right through the wall. Now they had made a hole right through. The light of day streamed in, it became daylight as soon as the hole had been burst through. The sweat-house was lit up. Now the people returned. They all came out again, returned out of the sweat-house. 73


35:67 This myth reads very much like an explanation or mythic rendition of the yearly migration of the geese and other aquatic birds to the north. The Geese people danced at Cī'p!a (see note 51) just as the geese of today frequent the same spot. It would be going too far, however, to maintain that the myth in its entirety is directly based on the observation of natural events. In its first portion it is strikingly similar to the beginning of Betty Brown's story of "Coyote, Heron, and Lizard" (no. XII).

46:68 Coyote's explanation of Humming-bird's message is of course an absurd invention on his part. The Geese people, according to him, are to go north in order to help the northern chief make string.

46:69 A brown-colored bush from the hark of which the Indians make string. Very possibly to be identified with Apocynum cannabinum, "Indian hemp."

49:66 Accompanied by tapping ruler on knife against window.

49:70 A bird of dark-brown color, of about the size of a meadow-lark.

49:71 An unidentified bug. The name means "one who chips off flint."

49:72 See note 64.

50:73 The ending seems abrupt even for an Indian story. Sam said that he never heard how the Geese people returned home but thought that the myth ended there he stopped.

Next: IV. Bluejay's Journey to the Land of the Moon