The Story Of The Creation
Category: STORIES OF THE FIRST NIGHT
Source: Aw-aw-tam Indian Nights
In the beginning there was no earth, no water--nothing. There was
only a Person, uh-wert-a-Mah-kai (The Doctor of the Earth).
He just floated, for there was no place for him to stand upon. There
was no sun, no light, and he just floated about in the darkness,
which was Darkness itself.
He wandered around in the nowhere till he thought he had wandered
enough. Then he rubbed on his breast and rubbed out moah-haht-tack,
that is perspiration, or greasy earth. This he rubbed out on the palm
of his hand and held out. It tipped over three times, but the fourth
time it staid straight in the middle of the air and there it remains
now as the world.
The first bush he created was the greasewood bush.
And he made ants, little tiny ants, to live on that bush, on its gum
which comes out of its stem.
But these little ants did not do any good, so he created white ants,
and these worked and enlarged the earth; and they kept on increasing
it, larger and larger, until at last it was big enough for himself
to rest on.
Then he created a Person. He made him out of his eye, out of the shadow
of his eyes, to assist him, to be like him, and to help him in creating
trees and human beings and everything that was to be on the earth.
The name of this being was Noo-ee (the Buzzard).
Nooee was given all power, but he did not do the work he was created
for. He did not care to help Juhwertamahkai, but let him go by himself.
And so the Doctor of the Earth himself created the mountains and
everything that has seed and is good to eat. For if he had created
human beings first they would have had nothing to live on.
But after making Nooee and before making the mountains and seed for
food, Juhwertamahkai made the sun.
In order to make the sun he first made water, and this he placed in
a hollow vessel, like an earthen dish (hwas-hah-ah) to harden into
something like ice. And this hardened ball he placed in the sky. First
he placed it in the North, but it did not work; then he placed it in
the West, but it did not work; then he placed it in the South, but
it did not work; then he placed it in the East and there it worked
as he wanted it to.
And the moon he made in the same way and tried in the same places,
with the same results.
But when he made the stars he took the water in his mouth and spurted
it up into the sky. But the first night his stars did not give light
enough. So he took the Doctor-stone (diamond), the tone-dum-haw-teh,
and smashed it up, and took the pieces and threw them into the sky to
mix with the water in the stars, and then there was light enough. 
And now Juhwertamahkai, rubbed again on his breast, and from the
substance he obtained there made two little dolls, and these he laid
on the earth. And they were human beings, man and woman.
And now for a time the people increased till they filled the earth. For
the first parents were perfect, and there was no sickness and no
death. But when the earth was full, then there was nothing to eat,
so they killed and ate each other.
But Juhwertamahkai did not like the way his people acted, to kill
and eat each other, and so he let the sky fall to kill them. But
when the sky dropped he, himself, took a staff and broke a hole thru,
thru which he and Nooee emerged and escaped, leaving behind them all
the people dead.
And Juhwertamahkai, being now on the top of this fallen sky, again made
a man and a woman, in the same way as before. But this man and woman
became grey when old, and their children became grey still younger,
and their children became grey younger still, and so on till the
babies were gray in their cradles.
And Juhwertamahkai, who had made a new earth and sky, just as there had
been before, did not like his people becoming grey in their cradles, so
he let the sky fall on them again, and again made a hole and escaped,
with Nooee, as before.
And Juhwertamahkai, on top of this second sky, again made a new heaven
and a new earth, just as he had done before, and new people.
But these new people made a vice of smoking. Before human beings
had never smoked till they were old, but now they smoked younger,
and each generation still younger, till the infants wanted to smoke
in their cradles.
And Juhwertamahkai did not like this, and let the sky fall again,
and created everything new again in the same way, and this time he
created the earth as it is now.
But at first the whole slope of the world was westward, and tho
there were peaks rising from this slope there were no true valleys,
and all the water that fell ran away and there was no water for the
people to drink. So Juhwertamahkai sent Nooee to fly around among
the mountains, and over the earth, to cut valleys with his wings,
so that the water could be caught and distributed and there might be
enough for the people to drink.
Now the sun was male and the moon was female and they met once a
month. And the moon became a mother and went to a mountain called
Tahs-my-et-tahn Toe-ahk (sun striking mountain) and there was born her
baby. But she had duties to attend to, to turn around and give light,
so she made a place for the child by tramping down the weedy bushes
and there left it. And the child, having no milk, was nourished on
And this child was the coyote, and as he grew he went out to walk
and in his walk came to the house of Juhwertamahkai and Nooee, where
And when he came there Juhwertamahkai knew him and called him
Toe-hahvs, because he was laid on the weedy bushes of that name.
But now out of the North came another powerful personage, who has
two names, See-ur-huh and Ee-ee-toy.
Now Seeurhuh means older brother, and when this personage came
to Juhwertamahkai, Nooee and Toehahvs he called them his younger
brothers. But they claimed to have been here first, and to be older
than he, and there was a dispute between them. But finally, because he
insisted so strongly, and just to please him, they let him be called
JUHWERTA MAHKAI'S SONG OF CREATION
Juhwerta mahkai made the world--
Come and see it and make it useful!
He made it round--
Come and see it and make it useful!
NOTES ON STORY OF CREATION
The idea of creating the earth from the perspiration and waste cuticle
of the Creator is, I believe, original.
The local touch in making the greasewood bush the first vegetation
is very strong.
In the tipping over of the earth three times, and its standing right
the fourth time, we are introduced to the first of the mystic fours
in which the whole scheme of the stories is cast. Almost everything
is done four times before finished.
The peculiar Indian idea of type-animals, the immortal and supernatural
representatives of their respective animal tribes, appears in Nooee and
Toehahvs, and here again the local color is rich and strong in making
the buzzard and the coyote, the most common and striking animals of
the desert, the particular aides on the staff of the Creator.
Might not the creation of Nooee out of the shadow of the eyes of the
Doctor of the Earth be a poetical allusion to the flying shadow of
the buzzard on the sun-bright desert?
In the creation of sun and moon we find the mystic four referred to
the four corners of the universe, North, South, East and West, and
this, I am persuaded, is really the origin of its sacred significance,
for most religions find root and source in astronomy.
In the dropping of the sky appears the old idea of its solid character.
In the "slope of the world to the Westward" there is something
curiously significant when we remember that both the Gila and Salt
Rivers flow generally westward.
Nooee cuts the valleys with his wings. It would almost appear that
Nooee was Juhwertamahkai's agent in the air and sky, Toehahvs on earth.
The night-prowling coyote is appropriately and poetically mothered
by the moon.
And here appears Eeeetoy, the most active and mysterious personality
in Piman mythology. Out of the North, apparently self-existent,
but little inferior in power to Juhwertamahkai, and claiming greater
age, he appears, by pure "bluff" and persistent push and wheedling,
to have induced the really more powerful, but good-natured and rather
lazy Juhwertamahkai to give over most of the real work and government
of the world to him. In conversing with Harry Azul, the head chief's
son, at Sacaton, I found he regarded Eeeetoy and Juhwertamahkai as
but two names for the same. And indeed it is hard to fix Eeeetoy's
place or power.
Next: The Story Of The Flood