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

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Wek'-wek's Search for his Father

AH-HA'-LE the Coyote-man told the people that there were four holes in the sky--one in the north, one in the south, one in the east, and one in the west. In those days Tim-me-lā'-le the Thunder came out of the north hole in winter and went back about May, just as he does now.

At this time Wek'-wek the Falcon was not yet born. His father, Yi-'yil, had gone far away to the south, where he had been killed before Wek'-wek's birth.

When Wek'-wek was fourteen years old he already had two or three wives, one of whom was Yow'-hah the Mallard Duck. He asked her if she was old enough to have seen his father. She replied, "No."

He then traveled all about and asked all the people who his father was and where he had gone, but no one could tell him. Then he went out to search; he traveled north, south, east, and west, but could find no trace of his father and no one could tell him where he had gone.

Then Wek'-wek transformed himself into a witch doctor and said, "Now I know where my father went, I smell him."

At sundown he came home to Yow'-hah his wife,

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and when she had fallen asleep he took a forked limb of a tree and put it in the bed beside her. Then he went down into a hole in the ground and came up near the village [thus leaving no tracks]. Then he went south.

In the morning Yow'-hah awoke and found the forked limb and pushed it away saying, "What's the matter with my husband?" She asked his other wives if they had seen which way he went--"Which way did our husband go?" she asked.

They replied, "Go away, you live with him, we don't."

Then Yow'-hah went away and cried. She cried for a day or so, but no one could tell her which way Wek'-wek had gone.

She then took a crooked acorn stick and stuck it in the ground and the stick sprang south. Then she knew the way he had gone, and quickly prepared some baskets of food and set out to follow him.

After a while she overtook him, bringing him the food. By this time Wek'-wek was very tired and had fallen down on the side of the trail. He had a partner, Hoo-loo'-e the Dove, who accompanied him. He said to Hoo-loo'-e, "The old woman is coming behind; I am going to shoot her." But when she came he could not pull the arrow. She went to him and said, "You are hungry; I've brought you food."

He was angry and would not answer. He said

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to Hoo-loo'-e his partner, "You are hungry, you had better eat."

Hoo-loo'-e replied, "Yes, I think I am hungry."

"Well, eat," said Wek'-wek, and Hoo-loo'-e ate.

Wek'-wek was angry and would not eat. He told his wife to go home and not follow him. He said: "I go to a bad place; I follow my father; nobody can get through the hole in the sky; you go home."

She answered, "No, I'll not go home, I'll follow you."

Then Wek'-wek continued on the trail of his father.

Wek'-wek had an aunt, Ol'-lus muk-ki'-e the Toad-woman. Her husband was O-wah'-to, the big-headed Fire Lizard. He had a fire which he could send to burn people.

Wek'-wek told Hoo-loo'-e his partner to go around another way with Yow'-hah his wife while he stopped to talk to his aunt's husband, O-wah'-to. Again he told his wife to go home, but she would not. Then Wek'-wek went to the place where O-wah'-to lived. He saw his aunt Ol'-lus muk-ki'-e outside, cracking acorns, and went to her to get something to eat.

O-wah'-to, who was inside the house, called out "Who's there?" and his wife answered, "Nobody." Then he heard Wek'-wek take another step, and called out again, "Who's there?" and again his wife answered, "Nobody, only Oo'-choom the Fly." She whispered to Wek'-wek to step very

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softly and to eat very quickly--to hurry and eat and go.

But O-wah'-to heard him and exclaimed, "Somebody is out there sure," and he came out and saw Wek'-wek, and sent his fire to burn him.

Wek'-wek ran and ran as fast as he could and caught up with Hoo-loo'-e and Yow'-hah, but the fire chased them and burnt so quickly and came so fast that they had not time to reach the hole in the sky. So they turned and ran down to the low country and climbed up on a high rock; but the fire kept on and burned the rock. Then they rushed to the ocean, but the fire dashed after them and made the water boil. Then they hastened north to another big rock, as high as a hill, and climbed on top; but the fire pursued and burnt that rock also. Then they climbed up into the sky, but the fire pressed on and came so close that it singed the tail of Wek'-wek's quiver. Then they ran down into the low country again and found a crack in the ground and all three crawled into it. But the fire came and burnt down into the crack and drove them out.

By this time Wek'-wek's wife, Yow'-hah, had become very tired from so much running, and gave out. She said to her husband, "You are of no account. Why don't you put out that fire? I would like to see you make a pond half a mile wide."

"I'll try," he answered and shot an arrow of the kow'-woo wood (the buttonball bush) into the

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ground and water came up through the hole and continued to rise until they all stood in water, but still the fire beset them and made the water boil. Yow'-hah said she thought she would die. Then Wek'-wek shot an arrow into the ground in another place and a spring of water came and green stuff grew around the edges; but the fire continued and made the water boil as before.

Again Yow'-hah said, "You are of no account; you would die if I had not followed you."

Wek'-wek answered, "All right, you try."

Yow'-hah took a tule and threw it, and a big spring burst out, bordered all around with a broad belt of green tules; and they stepped into the spring and the fire could not reach them-it could not burn the green tules. So the fire went out and there was no more fire. Yow'-hah the old woman had stopped the fire. She was proud of this and said, "You see, if I had stayed at home you would be dead; if I go you will be all right." And the three continued on together.

By and by they came to the hole--the south hole in the sky. Then Wek'-wek said, "You two had better go home, you can't get through the hole."

His wife answered "No," and tried to go through but failed.

Wek'-wek shot an arrow through, but the hole closed so quickly that it caught the arrow and broke it. He again said to the others, "You can't get through." Then he tried and jumped so quickly

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that he went through. Then Hoo-loo'-e his partner tried, and likewise jumped very quickly and got through, and the sky did not catch him. Then Yow'-hah had to try again. Wek'-wek told her she must go through or go back. But she was too big and too slow. She said, "You will have to take me through." So he went back and got her and put her into his dog-skin quiver and jumped through with her. As they passed through, the hole closed and caught her feet and crushed them flat-that is why all ducks have flat feet.

Now all three were through.

In the south, beyond the hole in the sky, were other people. They had two chiefs, Ho'-ho the Turkey Buzzard, and Koo'-choo a huge shaggy beast of great strength and fierceness. Tap-pitch'-koo-doot the Kingbird lived there, and Hok'-ke-hok'-ke also.

Before Wek'-wek arrived, Captain Ho'-ho the Buzzard said to the people, "I dreamed that a north Indian is coming--the son of Yi'-yil, the man we burned. Everybody watch; maybe we shall have a good time again." So everybody watched.

After a while the watchers saw Wek'-wek coming. They saw him come through the hole. Then they ran back and told the people. This made the people happy, and they made ready to play the ball game.

When Wek'-wek reached the village he saw his father's widow there crying, with her hair cut short

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in mourning. He asked her, "Did my father die here?"

"Yes," she answered, and added, "Your father had plenty of money when he lost the game, but the chiefs Koo'-choo and Ho'-ho would not take the money; they were playing for his life; they wanted to burn him. Old Koo'-choo made a circle around the fire and made your father stand in the middle, and told him not to die too soon. After he had been burning a little while Koo'-choo asked how far the fire had burned, and Yi'-yil answered, 'to my knees, I'm going to die.'

"'No, don't die yet,' said Koo'-choo; and he asked again, 'How far has the fire burned now?'

"Yi'-Yil answered, 'to my belly, and I'm going to die now.'

"'No, don't die yet,' said Koo'-choo, and he asked again, 'How far has the fire burned now?'

"'To my heart,' replied Yi'-yil, 'and I'm going to die now.'

"'No, no,' again said Koo'-choo, 'don't die yet; how far has the fire burned now?'

"'To my shoulders and I'm going to die,' said Yi'yil.

"'No, don't die yet; how far has the fire burned now?'

"'To my mouth, and I'm going to die,' answered Yi'-yil.

"'No, not yet, there's plenty of time yet,' said Koo'-choo; 'how far has it burned now?'

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"'To my eyes, it's burning my eyes now and I'm going to die,' replied Yi'-yil.

"'No, no,' said Koo'-choo, 'don't die yet;' and when he saw that the fire had reached the top of Yi'-yil's head he asked again and for the last time, 'How far has it burned now?'

"There was no reply, and he knew, and all the people knew, that Yi'-yil was burned to death and was dead."

This is what Yi'-yil's widow, who had seen the burning, told Wek'-wek.

Wek'-wek was very angry; he knew that the people wanted to burn him as they had burned Yi'-yil his father; and he made up his mind what he would do. He left his wife Yow'-hah with Koo'-choo and the others and told her to entertain them. He then, asked his father's widow which way they had taken his father to play the ball game. She told him, and he followed his father's trail. He found gopher holes in the trail, and holes the people had made for the ball to fall into so he would lose the game, and he filled them up. He came back over Koo'-choo's trail by daylight and found it all right-all the holes filled up and no holes left.

When he returned he found that the two firemen, Lol'-luk the Woodrat and No-put'-kul-lol the Screech Owl, had the fire all ready to burn him, but he said nothing.

Early next morning they all set out down the trail to play the ball game. Wek'-wek played so

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fast that old Koo'-choo became very tired and nearly gave out. He shot out a terrible skunk-like smell to make Wek'-wek sick, but Wek'-wek kept ahead and was not harmed.

Wek'-wek won the game and came back first; all the others were tired and Koo'-choo came in half dead.

When they had returned, Yow'-hah, Wek'-wek's wife, told Wek'-wek to burn Koo'-choo first.

Koo'-choo said to Wek'-wek: "You have won the game; everybody will bring you money; here is the money; you take it."

Wek'-wek answered, "No, I'll not take it. You would not take my father's money; you took his life."

Then they brought two more sacks full of money, but Wek'-wek pushed it away. He seized the two wicked chiefs, Koo'-choo and Ho'ho; he seized them by their arms and threw them into the fire that had been prepared for him, and took the others in the same way and threw them all in the fire. Some ran away and tried to hide, but Wek'-wek went after them and brought them back and threw them in the fire-men, women, and children--and burned them all. He then called the firemen to come--Lol'-luk the Woodrat and No-put'-kul-lol the Screech Owl--but they cried and refused to come. Then he took his bow and arrow and shot them and pitched them into the fire and they were burned like the rest.

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The only people not burned were two witch doctors--Pel-pel'-nah the Nuthatch and Choo-ta-tok'-kwe-lah the Red-headed Sapsucker. They lived in the big ceremonial house and never came out; they never ate and never drank. Wek'-wek asked them, "Shall I come in?"

They answered "Yes."

Wek'-wek went inside and said: "You two are witch doctors; you never eat and never drink and never see people. Do you think you can make my father live again? I'll pay you. I want to see my father. I want to see what he is like."

They answered that they would try. One said to the other: "We will try; yes, we must try; but how shall we do it?" Then they took a jointed rod of la'-hah (the wild cane) and put Yi'-yil's burnt bones in the hollow inside, and put three or four feathers on the outside, like an arrow. Then Choo-ta-tok'-kwe-lah asked Wek'-wek for his bow, and took it and shot the cane arrow high up into the air; and when it was way up, Yi'-yil came slowly out of the hole in the end and sailed around and around, coming lower and lower, till he came down where the others were.

Then Wek'-wek asked him, "Are you my father? You don't look as I supposed."

Yi'-yil answered, "Yes, I'm Yi'-yil your father."

Wek'-wek said, "I've burned all the people here. Will you go home with me? Are you sure you are my father?"

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"Yes," answered Yi'-yil, "I'm your father and I'll go home with you."

"All right," said Wek'-wek, "Let's go."

After a while, when they had gone a little way, Wek'-wek turned and said, "I think you had better not go with me. You look queer--only half like us. You go to the other side of the mountain down on the coast" (meaning Oo'-yum-bel'-le, Mount Diablo). Then Yi'-yil went back into the cane arrow, and Wek'-wek, his wife Yow'-hah, and his partner Hoo-loo'-e returned through the hole in the sky that they had gone through on their way south.

When they were on the other side, Wek'-wek said to his wife: "Old woman, you may have to run again. I'm going to kill O-wah'-to, my uncle-in-law, who chased us with fire and tried to destroy us when we were here before." So he sent Yow'-hah and Hoo-loo'-e ahead and told them to wait for him while he proceeded to O-wah'-to's place. He went there and shot O-wah'-to with an arrow and killed him dead the first shot.

Then they continued on, and when they had gone a few miles, they came to another fireman, whose name was Hos-sok'-kil-wah. Wek'-wek sent his wife and partner ahead as before while he went alone to fight Hos-sok'-kil-wah. He took an arrow with a point of white flint stone, and shot and killed Hos-sok'-kil-wah, who at once turned into the white flint fire rock. And so they continued, Wek'wek killing all the bad people on the way.

Next: Wek-wek's Search for his Sister