The 18 texts and folklore stories in this book were collected by linguist, Roland B. Dixon at the beginning of the 20th century. Of particular interest in Native American folklore is their Creation Myths. The volcano, Mount Lassen (also known as Lassen Peak), erupted often enough in prehistoric times to form the mountain, so it is little wonder the Indians in the northeast corner of California believed the world began there at the desire of a Great Man back when the earth resembled a molten mass. When it cooled, they believed that the deity made a woman to live with him, and from those two came all humans, including the Maidu.

In these texts Coyote plays the central character. He is first seen in the company of Earth-Maker, giving him advice about how to build the world. The Maidu tales of Coyote are well known for being exceptionally transgressive; he is constantly seducing women by guile and deceit. While these stories are very entertaining, they shouldn't be taken to imply that this was normal behavior for Maidu. The trickster figure is an anti-hero, used as a way of defining the limits of what is acceptable.

A second belief existed among some Maidu as to their origin. This legend starts with the belief that the tribe once inhabited the Sacramento Valley. One day an immense body of water overcame everyone, and everything in the valley was swept away. This ocean covered the entire valley and allowed only two persons to escape. The Great Man blessed this pair and they produced offspring from which the present people came.

Whatever the truth, the Maidu Texts are an important part of Native American folklore. So join with us and journey back to a time when these stories were told around campfires, to the delight of young and old alike.

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