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Kol Tibichi

Source: Creation Myths Of Primitive America

Kol Tibichi was born at Norpat Kodiheril on Wini Mem, just before
daylight. When a small boy, he used to go out by himself. If he went
to play with other boys sometimes, he would not stay with them. He
went out of sight, disappeared, and was lost. Then his father or
mother or others would find him in this place or that unexpectedly.
Sometimes they found him at home, sometimes at a distance, far away in
some gulch or on some mountain. It happened that his mother would look
at his bed in the night-time and see him there sleeping. She would
look again and find that he was gone. She would look a third time, and
find him just as at first. In the day he would be seen in one place
and be gone the next moment.

Once he was playing with children; they turned aside to see something,
then looked at him. He was gone. After a while they saw him in the
water under the salmon-house. Another time he disappeared.

"Where has he gone?" asked one boy.

"I cannot tell," answered another.

Soon they heard singing.

One asked, "Do you hear that?"

"Yes," said the other; "where is it?"

They listened and looked. Soon they saw Kol Tibichi sitting near the
north bank of the river, under water.

"We must run and tell his father and mother."

Two of the boys ran to tell his father and mother. "We lost your son,"
said they. "He went away from us. We looked for him a long time and
could not find him. Now we have found him; we have seen him sitting
under water; we don't know what he is doing."

His mother hurried out; ran to the river.

"We think he must be dead," said people who had gathered there. "We
think that some yapaitu [spirit] has killed him."

They soon saw that he was alive; he was moving. "Come, my son," called
his mother, stretching her hands to him,--"come, my son; come out,
come to me." But he stayed there, sitting under water.

A quarter of an hour later they saw that the boy had gone from the
river. The people heard singing in some place between them and the
village. They looked up and saw that the boy was half-way home and
going from the river.

"That is your son," called they to the woman.

"Oh, no," said the woman; but she ran up and found that it was her

Another time the boy goes south with some children. These lose him,
just as the others had. In half an hour they hear singing.

"Where is he?" ask some.

"On this side," says one.

"On that," says another.

South of the river is a great sugar-pine on a steep bank. They look,
and high on a limb pointing northward they see him hanging, head
downward, singing.

They run to his mother. "We see your son hanging by his feet from a

The woman hurries to the river, runs in among the rocks and rubbish
around the tree, reaches toward the boy, throws herself on the rocks,
crying, "Oh, my child, you'll be killed!"

In a moment he is gone; there is no sign of him on the tree. Soon a
shouting is heard at the house: "My wife, come up; don't cry, our son
is here!"

She crawls out of the rocks and dirt, runs home, finds the boy safe
with his father.

The people began now to talk of the wonderful boy. Soon every one was
talking of him. There were many people in the place. Norpat Kodiheril
was a very big village.

"Some yapaitu is going to take that boy's life," said they; "some
yapaitu will kill him."

One morning the boy went down on the north side of the river with
children, but apart from them, behind, by himself. He looked up, saw a
great bird in the air flying above him. "Oh, if I had those wing
feathers!" thought the boy. Then he blew upward and wished
(olpuhlcha). That moment the great bird Komos Kulit fell down before
him. Just after the bird fell he heard a voice in the sky, a voice
high, very high up, crying,--

"Now, you little man, you must call yourself Kol Tibichi. You are to
be the greatest Hlahi [doctor] on Wini Mem."

"Look at that boy!" cried the other boys. "See! he has something."

They were afraid when they saw the great bird, and the boy stretching
the wings and handling the wonderful Komos Kulit. Some of them ran to
his mother and said to her,--

"Your son has a very big bird. It fell down from the sky to him. We
are afraid of that bird. We could not lift such a big bird."

Old people ran down; saw the boy handling Komos Kulit. "How did you
get that bird?" asked they. "Did he fall to you?"

"Yes. I saw the shadow of a big bird on the ground. I looked up. It
fell, and was here."

The old people talked,--talked much, talked a long time. There were
many of them.

"We do not know what to do; we do not know what to think. We do not
know why that bird fell," said some. "We ought not to talk about the
bird, but we ought to think about this boy, find out what he is

"Oh," said others, "he made that bird fall by blowing at it. That boy
will be a great Hlahi."

The boy killed the bird with a yapaitu dokos (spirit flint); he wanted
its wings.

The father and mother of the boy said: "Two wise men should pull out
the longest wing feathers for the boy. He wants them; he wants them to

"Let that be done," said the people; and they found two men to pull
out the two longest wing feathers. The boy went to one side while they
were pulling them, pretended not to see or care what they were doing;
but the two men knew that he knew why he did so. When the two men had
pulled out the feathers, the boy said to his father,--

"I like those feathers; save them for me; I want them."

His father took the feathers home and saved them.

Another time this boy was walking up Wini Mem--some time before he had
been at a Hlahi dance, and had seen there beautiful collars of
flicker-tail feathers, and remembered them. He walked forward and said
to himself,--

"I wonder where that man found those feathers. I would like to have
feathers like them."

"Pluck a bunch of grass with your mouth," said the yapaitu, "drop it
into your hand, and look at it."

He did so, and flicker feathers were in his hands. He counted them,
and found five hundred. "These are nice feathers; I will keep them,"
said the boy.

"Kol Tibichi is your name," said the yapaitu. "You will be the
greatest Hlahi on Wini Mem, but you must obey us. You must listen to
our words, you must do what we tell you."

Kol Tibichi took the flicker feathers and walked westward, walked
across a wide gulch till he came to a black-oak tree above Norpat

"I like that oak-tree," said Kol Tibichi. "I think that is a good
place for my mother to get acorns." He blew then, and said: "You must
be very big, wide, and high, give many acorns every fall. I will call
your place Olpuhlchiton" (blowing upward place, i. e. wishing

He went home then, and gave the flicker-tail feathers to his mother.
"Now, my mother," said he, "I wish you to keep these feathers for me."

"Where did you find them, my son?" asked she. "You are always doing
something. You did not find these yourself; the yapaitu got them. I
will keep them. I am sorry for you, but I cannot stop what you are
doing. You cannot stop it yourself. But I will keep these feathers for
you; I will keep them safely."

All the people talked much of Kol Tibichi now.

Once there was a doctor's dance, and the boy remained at home till one
night when the yapaitu came to him and he began to hlaha. His father
and mother did not know what the trouble was.

"Bring him here," said the oldest doctor.

"He is a Hlahi," said the doctors, when they saw him. "Sak hikai [the
rainbow] is his yapaitu. You must give him to us till the yapaitu
leaves him. While the yapaitu is with him, let him stay inside."

They were five or six days making Hlahis (doctors). The boy stayed in
the sweat-house six days, never eating, never drinking; some others
ate and drank, but Kol Tibichi neither ate nor drank.

"Something must be done to make that yapaitu leave him. You must put a
band around Kol Tibichi's head," said the chief, "and the yapaitu will
leave him."

They got a white wolf-tail headband. The yapaitu did not go. "This is
not the right kind of a headband," said the doctor, after a while.
They tried fox, wildcat, coyote, a white-deer band, without effect.

"We don't know what he wants," said some Hlahis.

Next they tried otter, fisher, coon, badger, black bear, grizzly bear,
silver-gray fox, mink, beaver, rabbit, red-headed woodpecker.

"What does he want?" asked some.

"Now," said the old doctor, "you ought to know that this boy should
have food and drink, and he cannot have them till the yapaitu goes.
You should know that the headband that his yapaitu wants is a tsahai
loiyas" (woman's front apron made of maple bark, painted red).

They brought this apron, made the headband, and tied it on his head.

"This is the one," said the yapaitu.

Kol Tibichi began to sing; the Hlahi danced a few minutes. The boy
blew then, and the yapaitu left him. Kol Tibichi ate venison first and
drank water, then took other kinds of food. From that time on Kol
Tibichi was a Hlahi.

Soon after the great Hlahi dance, perhaps two weeks, Notisa, chief of
Norpat Kodiheril, fell sick; he began to have a bad feeling at midday,
and in the evening all his friends thought he would die. In the early
night people in Norpat Kodi saw a light going to Kol Tibichi's house.

"People are coming; there must be some one sick in the village," said
the boy's father and mother. "People are coming. See, there is a big
light moving this way."

Two men came to the door. "Come in," said Kol Tibichi's father. "We
thought some one was sick when we saw your light coming."

"We are here because Notisa is sick," said the men. "He got sick at

The two men spread out a marten skin and said: "We brought this to
show it to you and your son. We have heard that he is a powerful
Hlahi. The chief gave us this skin to show you. We are afraid that
Notisa will die. We want your son to go with us to see him."

They gave the skin to Kol Tibichi. It was the best skin in the chief's

"We will go," said Kol Tibichi's father. "I do not say that my son is
a Hlahi, but he can do something."

They waked the boy, made him ready to go. "Come," said his mother; and
she carried him to the chief's house.

"My mother, put me down," said Kol Tibichi, when they had come near
the house.

"I do not like to put you down," said the mother.

"Put me down, put me down a moment," said the boy.

His mother put him down. Then he saw some one looking around Notisa's
house, pushing about, looking, watching in the dark, lurking around,
holding arrows. This was a yapaitu, ready to shoot Notisa and kill

Kol Tibichi called his own yapaitu, who went to the one who was
watching and said: "What are you doing here? What do you want at this

"I am doing nothing," answered the yapaitu.

"You are waiting to do something. You want to do harm."

"Oh, no; I am only looking around here, just trying to find the door.
I wanted to see some one."

"You are ready to shoot a yapaitu dokos. You want to kill Notisa. You
are watching around here to kill him."

"Oh, no, I am not. I am just looking around, not doing anything."

"You are ready to kill Notisa, the chief. You are waiting to kill
him," said Kol Tibichi's yapaitu, who just took hold of the strange
yapaitu, twisted him, killed him right there, and buried him.

Kol Tibichi's mother took her son into the chief's house. The boy knew
what had been done. His yapaitu told him what he had done, and came in
with him. The boy sat down near Notisa.

People thought the chief ready to die, thought that he might die any
moment. "Let the boy put his hand on the sick man," said they.

"Put your hand on the chief," said the father. "You must do what you
can. You must try, do your best to cure him."

Kol Tibichi spat on his hands, passed them over Notisa's breast and
face. "I am sleepy, my mother, oh, I am so sleepy," said the boy, when
he had passed his hands over the chief.

"He cannot do more to-night," said the father. "We will go home."

Next morning people in the sweat-house heard a man talking outside. He
came in and said, "I am well!" This was Notisa.

"We are glad," said the people. "Kol Tibichi has saved you."

The boy grew up and became a great Hlahi. When twenty years old, he
was the greatest Hlahi on Wini Mem.

One year there was a Hlahi dance in El Hakam. Kol Tibichi was a man.
He was thirty years old then. He went to the dance. Tulitot was the
great Hlahi in that place, and he thought himself better than Kol
Tibichi. While dancing, Tulitot took a snake from his mouth, a large
rattlesnake, and held it in both hands as he danced. The snake was his
own child. Kol Tibichi looked, and thought he could do better; and,
dancing forward, he blew, as Hlahis do, and threw out long burning
flames on both sides of his mouth. All present were afraid, and with
Tulitot ran back before him in fear.

When the dance was over, Kol Tibichi went to Norpat Kodi and lived on,
a great Hlahi: lived till he was a hundred years of age and more. He
could not walk any longer. He knew that he could not live. "I cannot
live any more," said he. "My yapaitu tells me this,--I cannot walk. I
cannot do anything. My yapaitu tells me that I must leave Norpat
Kodiheril. [He was not sick, but decrepit.] My yapaitu is going to
take me and leave my bones in this place with you. When I go from my
body, do not bury it. Leave it on the ground out there. Let it lie one
night. Next morning you will see a large rock in place of it. When
people are sick, let them come and take a piece of the rock, or some
earth, or some moss from it; that will cure them."

"We will not do that," said Notisa, a son of the first chief; "we bury
every body, and we will bury yours like all others."

"Do not bury my bones," said Kol Tibichi.

"We should not like to see your bones all the time. We have no wish to
see a rock in place of them."

"Well, take my body to the black-oak tree, put it eight or ten feet
from the ground, leave it there one night; next morning you will see
water in a hollow of the oak. Any man may come and get that water, rub
it on his body, and drink some. It will cure him."

"No," said the chief, "we don't want to see the tree there every day.
We do not wish to look at it all the time."

"Dig a deep grave, then," said Kol Tibichi; "put my body in with
nothing around it. When you come to mourn, do not stand east of the
grave-mound. On the morning after my burial you will see a rainbow
coming out of the grave."

Kol Tibichi died. They did everything just as he told them. All saw
the rainbow and said, "We ought to have left his body above ground,
and to have done all that he asked of us at first. The yapaitu is
mourning for him."

The rainbow stood there two days and two nights at the grave, then
moved two feet eastward. Next morning it was four feet away, then
eight, going farther day by day till it was at the salmon-house where
Kol Tibichi used to go when a boy. It stood there by the salmon-house
five days. Next it was on the north bank of the river, then on the
hillside beyond, then on the hilltop, then on the mountain-slope, then
on the mountain-top. Next all the people in Norpat Kodiheril heard a
noise and knocking in the grave-mound one night, and early next
morning they saw an immense bird rising out of Kol Tibichi's grave.
First the head came, and then the body. At sunrise it came out
altogether, and flew to the sugar-pine from which Kol Tibichi had hung
head downward in childhood. It perched on the tree, stayed five
minutes, and then flew away, flew to the mountain, to the rainbow,
went into the rainbow. The bird and rainbow went away, disappeared
together. The bird was Komus Kulit. The rainbow was Kol Tibichi's

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