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

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After each name is given that of the creature or thing into which the personage was changed subsequently.

Chikpitpa, young weasel; Jahtaneno, a kind of shell creature; Metsi, coyote; Ichpul, frog; Sukónia, a name of pine martin, whose ordinary name is Demauna; Tsoré Jowá, a kind of eagle.


Old Jahtaneno had a great many daughters, and all but two of these were married.

At that time Sukonia was a great chief in this country about us. He had a large sweat-house, and many people to serve him.

One day Jahtaneno called his daughters and said: "My girls, I want you to go to Sukonia's house. I have heard that he is very rich; go and see him. He has no wife yet; he may marry you. Rise early in the morning, bathe, comb your hair, go and see the chief Sukonia."

The two sisters made no answer, said nothing, obeyed their father. They rose early next morning, bathed, combed their hair, painted their faces red (young people painted red always). Their mother gave each girl a nice basket; she hung beads on their necks, and put food in their baskets.

"If any man meets you on the road," said Jahtaneno, at parting, "do not look at him. A

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man richly dressed and wearing many beads will come toward you, will speak to you; do not look at that man; he is no one but Metsi."

The two girls began to sing when they started, and their song was:--

"Au ni á, au ni á, mo a wé, he ló,
 Au ni á, au ni á, mo a wé, he ló"

They went northeast, the way which the old man had told them to go. He warned them further, saying,--

"There is a house this side of Sukonia's, and not very far from it; two women live in that house, two old maids. Be sure not to stop at that house. Do not go near these women; pass their place quickly, do not stop before it, do not talk to the women. They are bad, evil women. If you go into their house, you will never come out of it; if you go, you will be killed there."

Jahtaneno's daughters started, walked away quickly, singing as they went,--

"Au ni á, au ni á, mo a wé, he ló,
 Au ni á, au ni á, mo a wé, he ló"

Metsi heard the song; he listened and said to himself:--That is a good song, that is nice singing; I like to hear that song. I think those two girls are going to the chief I think they are going to visit Sukonia Mujaupa. Now, otter-skins be here before me, and beads in plenty, and beautiful shells."

He wished for all other things that he liked. Metsi dressed himself richly and waited.

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Jahtaneno's daughters walked and walked on without stopping, met no one on the way till they came to where Metsi was waiting. The younger sister was walking ahead; she saw Metsi at one side of the trail, but would not look at him a second time. The elder sister looked a second and a third time.

"I think that is Sukonia Mujaupa," said she.

"Your father would not say so," answered the younger sister; "that is Metsi."

But the elder sister liked the stranger's appearance; she looked at him many times.

"I think this is Sukonia," said she.

"Come on with me," said the younger sister.

"Have you lost your eyes? That is Metsi."

The younger girl was ahead now some distance; the elder stopped to look at the stranger more closely.

"Which way are you going?" asked Metsi.

"Our father sent us to Sukonia the chief."

"Oh, I am chief," said Metsi; "you are to come with me. I will start for home very soon."

"My sister is ahead, she is waiting. I must hurry and tell her first. I will come back to you then."

She caught up with her sister and said: "I will go with this man; this is Sukonia, the chief He said he was chief"

"You must have lost your mind," answered the younger sister; "that is Metsi. He is no chief, he is not Sukonia."

The elder sister went with the younger, but she

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wanted to go back to Metsi, she wished to go with him; she liked his dress, his words pleased her, she believed him. Both went on, though the elder went against her will.

"You will see two black bearskins hanging over the sweat-house door," said the father, when his daughters were starting. "Stop there; that is Sukonia's house, that is the house to which you are going."

Toward sunset they came near the place where the Ichpuls lived.

"Let us stop here," said the elder sister, "and get something to eat. I am hungry."

"Our father told us to pass this house; he told us not to stop near it, not to go to it, not to look at it," said the younger sister; and she went on without looking, she went straight ahead.

The elder sister followed her, but followed unwillingly. At last both came near Sukonia's, and saw the two bearskins hanging out over the sweat-house.

Chikpitpa, Sukonia's little brother, was on the roof, and Tsore Jowa, his sister, was at work making a house for herself a little way off at one side. Chikpitpa ran into the house, calling loudly,--

"Two girls are coming! Two girls are coming with baskets!"

The old man, Sukonia's father, brought bearskins for the young women to sit on, and waited. The sisters came in and took the places shown them. Chikpitpa was in a corner when the sisters sat down. He ran to one and then to the other, looked at them,

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sat on their laps. He was very glad that the sisters had come; he liked to be with them and talk to them.

Old Sukonia went out and called to Tsore Jowa, "Come! my daughter; bring food to our guests, to the young women who have come to us."

She brought deer's marrow; she brought other kinds of food, too. The sisters had put down their baskets outside, near the door. On the way they had said to the baskets, "Let the food in you be nice;" and when leaving them at the door, they said, "Be large and be full."

The two small baskets stood outside now, very large and full of every good food. Sukonia came home with his men about sunset. Chikpitpa sprang up to the roof of the house, and called to his brother,--

"Two guests have come to our house. Two women are sitting inside. They are sitting in your place."

The men came in, and Sukonia sat down with the sisters. They pleased him; he liked their looks.

"Have you brought food to our guests?" asked Sukonia.

"I brought some," said Tsore Jowa.

"Oh, give more. Bring plenty of everything!"

The two baskets which Jahtaneno's daughters had brought were carried into the house. The sisters invited all present to try their food. All the men ate food from the baskets and praised it, Sukonia, the chief, was pleased more and more with the sisters that evening, and married them.

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After all the people had eaten next morning, Sukonia went to hunt. He took many men with him.

That day Sukonia's sisters showed his wives every place in the house and outside it,--showed them where venison, roots, and acorns were kept; showed them where the water was. The spring was in the house in one corner, carefully covered.

After some days Sukonia said to his wives: "I want you to tell me what your father said when you were leaving him. When does he want you to go back? When does he wish you to visit him?"

"He did not tell us when to go to him. He did not tell us to go back at all, he only told us to come here; but we want to see him. We want to tell him how we live here."

"Well," said Sukonia, "go to-morrow; go to see your father. What does he eat? What does he like?"

"He eats salmon; he likes nice beads, furs, and shells."

"I will send him some of my meat, I will send him venison. I will send him beads and furs."

"May I go with my sisters-in-law?" asked Chikpitpa.

"No. I want you here," said Sukonia. "I want you here, my little brother."

The two women rose early next morning, and Tsore Jowa helped them to make ready. Sukonia gave them fat venison, and every kind of bright beads and rich presents for their father.

They started; went as far as the Ichpul house,

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where the two frog sisters lived. The two old maids were in the road and spoke to Sukonia's wives. They were very kind and pleasant.

"Put down your baskets and sit a while with us to talk," said they.

The Jahtaneno sisters were frightened. They did not wish to stop. They feared the Ichpul women, did not like to make them angry by refusing. They were afraid to sit down, afraid to refuse.

"Oh, how your hair looks! let me see your head," said one Ichpul woman to the elder sister.

"Oh, how your hair looks!" said the other to the younger sister; "let me look at your head."

"Put your head on my lap," said each Ichpul sister to each of Sukonia's wives.

Each was afraid, but still put her head on the old maid's lap. The Ichpul sisters killed Sukonia's wives, flayed their bodies, and put their skins on themselves.

About sunset next day the two frog women went to Sukonia's house; went in and sat where Jahtaneno's daughters had always sat; took the place of Sukonia's wives; looked just like them because they had their skins on.

About dusk Sukonia came home from the hunt. Chikpitpa, who ran ahead, rushed into the sweat-house to see if his sisters-in-law had come back from their father's. He saw the two women, looked at them; they seemed like his sisters-in-law, but when he came near he cried out at once,--

"Phu! they smell like frogs! The Ichpul sisters are here: these are the frog old maids!"

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He cried and ran out to meet his brother.

"Brother," said he, "the Ichpul women are in our house. They killed my sisters-in-law to-day. I know they did." And he kept crying, "They killed my sisters-in-law, they killed my poor sisters-in-law!" and he cried without stopping, cried bitterly.

The two old maids wearing the skins of Sukonia's wives were making acorn porridge. When it was almost ready, Sukonia looked at the two women. They seemed like his wives, and he was in doubt, till all at once he thought: "I will ask them to bring water from the spring. If they know where the water is, they are my wives; if not, they are false."

"Bring me water, my wife," said he to one of the women.

She stood up, took a water basket, turned toward the door, and said to Chikpitpa, "Come out with me for water, my little brother-in-law."

"Wait," said Sukonia. "You need not go now."

She came back to the fire and sat down with her sister. Sukonia knew now that those were strange women.

"Whip me," said Chikpitpa to his brother, "I will cry, roll around and kick. I will kick those nasty frogs! I will kill them."

When the acorn porridge was boiling hard, Sukonia struck Chikpitpa with a switch and scolded him: "Why are you crying? I can do nothing, you cry so."

The boy rolled on the floor, cried more than ever, kicked, rolled around, kicked as hard as he could,

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rolled toward the fire and kicked, kicked one woman into the boiling porridge, kicked the other one into the burning fire, and in this way he killed the false sisters.

Chikpitpa was glad; he laughed. Sukonia threw the two women out doors, and mourned all that night for his wives. Next morning early he rose and said, "Stay home to-day, all of you."

"Where are you going?" asked Chikpitpa.

"Stay here, my little brother," said Sukonia. "I am going somewhere."

Sukonia followed the trail of his wives, reached the place where the Ichpul sisters had stopped them, and found their dead bodies. He took out his bowstring of deer sinew, struck the two women, called them, raised them to life.

"How were you killed?" asked Sukonia; "how did it happen? Did you go to the Ichpul house?"

"We did not go to that house; those two women were out on the road and they stopped us. They asked us to sit down and talk with them. We were afraid to sit, afraid to refuse. We sat down, and they killed us."

Sukonia took his wives home. When they were in sight of the house, Chikpitpa was on the roof watching.

"Oh, those are your sisters-in-law," said he to Tsore Jowa; and he ran out to meet them.

"Go, now, to your father," said Sukonia, next morning. "Carry presents and venison to him, and be here at sunset."

The two sisters rose early, took two baskets, and

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started. At noon they were at their father's house. Old Jahtaneno was glad when he looked at his daughters and saw the nice presents.

"Our husband told us to go home to-day, and we cannot stay long with you."

They took back many presents from their father, and were home at sunset. They met no trouble on the way. The Ichpul sisters were dead, and Metsi did not meet them a second time.

Next: The Finding of Fire