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

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Outline of Creation Myth of the Northern Mewuk as related at Wal'le in the upper foothills immediately south of the Mokelumne River


Oo-soo'-ma-te the Grizzly Bear-woman

Hoi-ah'-ko the First People

Pe-ta'-lit-te the Little Lizard-man

Suk'-ka-de the Black Lizard-man

Yu'-kah-loo the Meadowlark-man

Followed by a corresponding myth of the Pā'-we-nan tribe of Midoo stock from Poo-soo'-ne, at the junction of the American River with the Sacramento.

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OO-SOO'-MA-TE the Grizzly Bear and Hoi-ah'-ko the First People made the first Mewuk [Indian people]. When the Mewuk were made they had no hands to take hold of things. Then Pe-tā'-lit-te the Little Lizard and Suk'-ka-de the Black Lizard gave them hands with five fingers.

When the first Mewuk [Indian] died, Suk'-ka-de the Black Lizard was sorry and set to work to bring him back to life. But Yu'-kah-loo the Meadowlark came and drove him away, saying, "Mewuk ut'-tud-dah, Mewuk tuk'-tuk-ko"--meaning, People no good, people smell.

NOTE--The Pā'-we-nan, who lived on the Sacramento and Feather Rivers from the junction of American River northward nearly to the Yuba, hold a belief which, while in some respects strikingly similar, is in other respects widely different. They say:

In the beginning Hi'-kaht the great chief said that when a person died, he should come to life on the fourth day thereafter, and should live again.

Then Hool the Meadowlark-man said No; he

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did not want Nis'-se-nan' [people] to live again after they were dead. He said Nis'-se-nan' were no good and by and by would smell; they had better stay dead.

Yawm the Coyote-man agreed with Hool the Meadowlark-man--he did not want people to live again; he wanted them to stay dead.

Yawm the Coyote-man had a daughter of whom he was very fond.

Hi'-kaht the great chief, after hearing Yawm say that he wanted people to stay dead after they died, went out into the brush and took a branch of a plant called Sak-ki-ak and laid it in the trail. In the night the plant turned into Koi'-maw the rattlesnake. The next morning Yawm's daughter came along the trail and Koi'-maw bit her and she died.

Yawm the Coyote-man found the dead body of his daughter and felt badly. He picked her up and said, "In four days you will come to life again."

But Hi'-kaht replied, "No, she will not come to life again. You said that when people died you wanted them to stay dead. So your daughter will stay dead and will not live again."

This is the reason why everybody stays dead after they die and nobody lives again.

Next: The Coyote and the Lizard