Sacred Texts  Native American  California  Index  Previous  Next 
Buy this Book at

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

p. 137


p. 140

(Buzzard's son said to his people,) "Now dig for roots! They are ripe already. Let us climb sugar pines. We shall move tomorrow and you will settle down there. Now I shall climb for sugar-pine nuts, they are ripe already. The people will all come there, and we shall settle down there where there is a nice spring, I think the people will come here. We shall wait for them." Many were the people that came together. (The chief said,) "Now let us climb for sugar-pine nuts, and take food along." (To the women he said,) "Now you will dig for tiger-lilies. Now procure food for yourselves. Probably you will not like to climb (sugar-pines). If you finish it, they will have food for themselves."

(They all went off to Silver Lake 216 to get sugar-pines nuts. Buzzard's son told his wife not to venture into the water, but when he was gone she said,) "I should like to go into the water there. Let me see! Let us go to drink." "Do not go to drink," (she was told). "Why should I be afraid? I shall go to drink." She saw logs bobbing up and down in the water. "Let me see!" she said. "I can swim across yonder to the west." They missed her and looked around. "Let me see!" she said, "I shall try it. I can swim out of the water." "You would not be able to swim out of the water," (she was told). She took off her skirt, (saying,) "I shall swim into the water. Just see me!" She swam to the west. They were many who saw her. Now she sank right between the logs. "I told you that before," (she was told). Her buckskin skirt and tassels beaded with pine nuts remained as she had left them. Then they cried. "Why is it that you are crying?" (Buzzard's Son asked them). "She is sinking." "I told you, 'Do not take her to the water!' It is your fault. It

p. 141

would have been good if I had been there myself. To think that I should have come here just for that! I shall stop (climbing for sugar-pine nuts). Let us look for her! Pray do so, to see if I can find her. Let us try it. She is a good girl." (He said to one,) "Run back to the people! They shall come here." He ran back, telling them to come. "Yes," they said. "Let me see!" he said, "I will try to save her." They drew off the water by means of a ditch. "You will probably not be able to draw it off, you will not draw off the water," (they said to him). "What, now, shall we do? Do you all clean out the ditch! I hardly think we shall be able to find her. We shall not find her. She must have sunk straight down, she must have sunk right between the two logs. That is a bad place."

They all went back home, parting from one another. Some stayed together right there. "No longer," (he said), "shall I procure winter food for myself. Now I have done with that. Alas! I was happy, I did not think that this would happen to me. Now I shall have done." "Why, pray," (her mother said to him,) "did you let her go off? You should have taken water while on your way. You were foolish." "I did not know. I should have gone with her, but she just rain off by herself. She should have told me, 'Let us go and drink.' She was angry. I am not good. My heart feels grieved." They all arrived home, they lay down in the ashes in the fireplace. 217 Also the men did so. Her people, those who had climbed for (sugar-pine nuts), cried. They piled the pine-nuts into the fire. 218

(Before she had left, Buzzard's wife) had said, "Perhaps I shall not again enter the house. I dreamt that I was dying. Pray burn up all of these things." "I am afraid," (said her mother,) "of your speaking in that manner." "We shall probably be away two months climbing for (sugar-pine nuts)," (said her daughter,) "and I shall perhaps die. I shall not again enter my house." "I shall cry because you speak in that manner," (said her mother). "Truly, you shall indeed find it out." Her mother wept. Now she is dead. Her hair now comes flying back

p. 142

home. It comes blown back home. (She had said,) "I shall surely have died if my hair comes hither, blown back by the wind." "Take along with you," (said her mother,) "your tasseled buckskin skirt and your apron fringed with white grass. Put your beads about your neck." "Yes," she said. "Now, mother," she said, "good-bye! 219 You shall not see me again." "I am afraid," (said her mother). "Stay at home. I am afraid for you." "Father, do not feel bad. Just cry a little bit for me. You shall grow old. Mother! pray do not cry much. If you see people eating, do not go over to the next house. If you see food over there, pray hold your head down. 220 You were happy in raising me. I did not think before that I should take a husband."


137:215 It is curious that in the telling Betty Brown left out all the names of the characters. It was only when the text was gone over for purposes of translation that it was found what animals she had in mind. The chief is Buzzard's son (ma‘ts!k‘ili'lla), his wife is an insect with long blue wings (p‘a‘k!a'nna perhaps Dragon Fly), her father is Woodpecker (ts*!urā'du). The text is distressingly elliptical in narrative.

140:216 The Yana name is Tc‘ā'p!ulxa. it is situated about eight miles southeast of Round Mountain, at a height of approximately 3700 feet.

141:217 As sign of mourning.

141:218 It would have been unlucky to use them.

142:219 The literal translation is, "Now stay!"

142:220 I.e., do not look on greedily when others eat.

Next: XII. Coyote, Heron, and Lizard