The Flood And The Theft Of Fire
Source: Myths And Legends Of California And The Old Southwest
Tolowa (Del Norte Co., Cal.)
Along time ago there came a great rain. It lasted a long time and the
water kept rising till all the valleys were submerged, and the Indian
tribes fled to the high lands. But the water rose, and though the
Indians fled to the highest point, all were swept away and drowned-all
but one man and one woman. They reached the very highest peak and were
saved. These two Indians ate the fish from the waters around them.
Then the waters subsided. All the game was gone, and all the animals.
But the children of these two Indians, when they died, became the
spirits of deer and bear and insects, and so the animals and insects
came back to the earth again.
The Indians had no fire. The flood had put out all the fires in the
world. They looked at the moon and wished they could secure fire from
it. Then the Spider Indians and the Snake Indians formed a plan to steal
fire. The Spiders wove a very light balloon, and fastened it by a long
rope to the earth. Then they climbed into the balloon and started for
the moon. But the Indians of the Moon were suspicious of the Earth
Indians. The Spiders said, "We came to gamble." The Moon Indians were
much pleased and all the Spider Indians began to gamble with them. They
sat by the fire.
Then the Snake Indians sent a man to climb up the long rope from the
earth to the moon. He climbed the rope, and darted through the fire
before the Moon Indians understood what he had done. Then he slid down
the rope to earth again. As soon as he touched the earth he travelled
over the rocks, the trees, and the dry sticks lying upon the ground,
giving fire to each. Everything he touched contained fire. So the world
became bright again, as it was before the flood.
When the Spider Indians came down to earth again, they were immediately
put to death, for the tribes were afraid the Moon Indians might want
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