Maidu Texts (and Folklore)
MAIDU TEXTS - 18 Maidu Folktales and Legends
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33% of the publishers profit from the sale of this book will be donated to charities.
A GREAT READ FOR ALL AGES
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.
33% of the net sale will be donated to the American Indian Education Fund.
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Excerpt from MAIDU TEXTS
ONCE UPON A TIME Night-Hawk-Man lived in a sweat-house. Opposite from him lived another man, also having a sweat-house. This man killed many deer. Then people heard of this. "That man is a man who kills much game, they say," said they, gossiping together.
So (a man) spoke. "My two daughters, ye must go," said he. "And going and arriving there, when ye reach there, two black-bear hides will be tied up by the smoke-hole of the house," he said. "Black-bear hides will be hung up by the door. There (at that place) ye two will arrive. But on the opposite side there is a bad man (Night-Hawk-Man), who kills nothing; and thither ye two must not go," said he.
Then they said, "Very well!" and went off. Meanwhile Night-Hawk-Man saw them, and, having carried over those black-bear hides, tied them up at his sweat-house smoke-hole. He untied the black-bear hides and hung them up by his door. Then, having gone inside the house, he played the flute.
Meanwhile the two women arrived. "Here it was he told us to come," they said, and they both crawled in. They sat down on each side of the one who was continually playing the flute. Meanwhile the other man came back from hunting to the opposite (house). And he came across, and carried back his black-bear hides; coming across, he took down and carried over his black-bear hides.
Now it was night, and the man opposite (Night-Hawk) slept with the two women. When he got up in the morning, the two women crawled out. Then (they saw) the two black-bear hides were tied up opposite, the black-bear hides were hung up (at the) opposite (house).
The two (women) saw them. So, "To which one were we to come?" one said. Then the younger sister spoke.
"To that (house) we were to come," she said. "That was the one, and we have come to another," said she. "Whither ought we to go? Shall we stay here?" she said.
Then the elder sister said, after they had stood about waiting, "We will go to the place where we ought to have gone." So they went across. "This (other) man, stealing these things and hanging them up at his house, (it was on this account that) we came to the other," they said, talking to themselves. "So let us crawl in, and sit down," (one) said. Then the other said, "Very well."
So they crawled in, and sat down, one on each side. And then not long after, (Night-Hawk-Man) began to sing. Then the wind blew. Meanwhile he sang, and it blew, it rained, and still he kept singing. It rained, it rained harder. Next day he still sang. Again it rained hard, it rained harder and harder.
The river rose, and still it rained. It pelted harder on the roof. Meanwhile he sang again. Now for the first time (?) the water began to conic into the house. Still he kept singing, and the water came into the house. Then by and by they (the two women), the sisters of these many men, having arisen, went across. And having gone in, they broke off by a blow the neck of the one who was always singing.
"The evil Night-Hawk-Man long ago, getting angry because of women, caused the water to rise in flood. That is what you are," they said. "You shall be one who shall not disturb mortal men," they said. "You are Night-Hawk, you shall be a bird, unable to do anything," they said. "It shall be a world where, lying to women, (people) can marry them." Thus they caused it to be.
Then they crossed back to the same place again (whence she came). Having killed him completely, they crossed over. Then, that rainy country having stilled (?), they kept silent. It cleared off; and they, having entered, always remained in their house, in the olden time. The end, it is said.
Table of Contents for MAIDU TEXTS
|CREATION MYTH. Part I.|
|CREATION MYTH. Part II.|
|COYOTE AND MUSKRAT.|
|COYOTE, THE MOUNTAIN-TOSSING PEOPLE, AND THE WIND-MAN.|
|THUNDER-BOY AND LIZARD-MAN.|
|THUNDER-BOY AND LIZARD-MAN (variant).|
|THUNDER AND MOSQUITO, AND THE THEFT OF FIRE.|
|SUN-MAN AND FROG-WOMAN.|
|THE GIRLS WHO MARRIED THE STARS.|
|MOUNTAIN-LION AND HIS CHILDREN.|
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