Source: Creation Myths Of Primitive America
After each name is given that of the creature or thing into which the
personage was changed subsequently.
=Hawt=, lamprey eel; =K├║litek=, a white feather in the tail of =Komos
Kulit=, the black vulture; =Nomhawena=, an earthworm; =Pom Pokaila=,
earth old woman; =Sas=, sun; =Tichelis=, ground squirrel;
=Tulchuherris=, etymologically, a person or thing that has been dug
up; =Winishuyat=, foresight.
* * * * *
It was not in the east, nor the north, nor the south, but in the west,
on a flat called Eli-Tsarauton (root flat), that a little old woman
lived very long ago. No person lived on that flat but this old woman,
whose name was Nomhawena Pokaila. She was called also Pom Pokaila.
This old woman had lived ten summers and ten winters on that flat, and
one summer more; she dug roots there all this time, for roots were her
food. The flat was broad, and she had dug, beginning at the edge and
going round and round, till at last there was only a small piece left
undug, and that was in the middle.
One morning, when she thrust her stick into the ground deeply, she
heard a cry like that of a little child. She stopped and listened;
heard the cry far down in the earth. She didn't know what to make of
it, but thought: "Whatever this is I will dig it out."
She thrust her root stick down as far as she could at one side of the
spot where the noise was, and worked hard, took much earth out; then
she heard the cry a little forward, and dug forward. She went next to
the opposite side and dug all around the cry, dug till the middle of
the afternoon, but found nothing. Then she dug around again, thrust
the stick deeper in the first spot, and said, "I must find that, I
must have it."
She thrust the stick down deeper,--got nothing. She went on the other
side, pushed the stick still deeper, and turned over the great lump of
earth that was in the middle. Under this she found a little boy. The
moment she saw him she heard a noise like thunder far off in the east,
at Saskewil, the place where Sas lives. When she raised him to the
surface, she heard this noise a second time.
The baby's head, as she raised him to the surface, was to the east,
his feet to the west; underground his head was to the south, and his
feet to the north.
"Tsok tso, tsok tso!" (good baby, good baby), said the old woman,
fondling him in her arms. She took the buckskin apron from her back,
laid it on the ground, put the little boy on it, and wrapped him up
carefully. Then she fondled him again, saying, "Tsok tso, tsok tso!"
and said, "I am old, I am your grandmother;" and she carried him to
her house. She took water and washed him, washed all his body. Every
morning she washed him. She could not sleep at night, she was so
anxious. She watched him all the time. All night, all day she
watched, never put him on the ground, but washed him much, saying,--
"I wish you to grow quickly. You are the only person seen here. I wish
you to walk soon."
In five weeks after she had found him he could walk a little and talk
some. When he was able to talk well, the old woman said,--
"Now, my grandson, I will tell you a thing which you must remember.
When you play around outside the house, never go to the east, never go
toward Saskewil, where Sas lives. Play in the north or the south or
the west, but never go east."
The boy grew fast and was able to play. As his grandmother was telling
him always not to go east, he said to himself,--
"I wonder why my grandmother tells me not to go east. I'd like to know
One morning the boy went to play, went south from the house a short
distance, and heard a voice, heard some one shouting, calling from
some place, he didn't know where this voice was. He listened, and soon
heard it a second time. It came from above, from the sky. He saw no
one, but the voice said,--
"Little boy, your name is Tulchuherris. I know you, Tulchuherris. You
are the first person in this place, the greatest. You must do what you
can to live. You must do your best to conquer. You are Tulchuherris."
The boy heard and understood. He went home, but said nothing to his
grandmother, said nothing of that voice in the sky that had called
She told him again, as before, not to go east. She told him this many
times. Now he was almost a young man, he had grown so fast. It was
nearly spring, and the old woman talked to him seriously. When he had
been with her all the winter, she said:
"My grandson, I suppose you wish to know something. I am going to talk
to you. You will soon be full grown. I will let you know why I have
told you so often not to go east. You wished to know why, now I will
"A long time ago all my people--my son, my brother, my relatives--went
away off to the east and never came back again. I was left here alone.
There is a great house off in the east there, called Saskewil. A big
old man, Sas, with his wife and two daughters, live in it. All my kin
went to that place and were killed there. When any one goes into
Saskewil, the old woman, Sas's wife, sits on the east of the door,
which is open to the south; her daughters sit on the west side. The
old woman sits with her back toward the wall and her face to the
north. She never looks backward, but when a visitor is inside a while
and is sitting, she turns slowly, puts her hands to each side of her
eyes, bringing her finger-tips to meet in the middle of her forehead,
and glares with big eyes at the stranger. He looks at her then and
drops dead. There is a power in her eyes that kills him. Sas has
something in his nose. He takes this, rolls it on his knee, and snaps
it at people who go to his house. Nobody sees him do this, but he
kills many people in that way.
"Now, my grandson, you know why I do not wish you to go east. I will
tell you more. There was a man, the best of my people; he went to
Saskewil, he went to the east and was killed there. I am sorry for
him, I grieve for him yet. I am mourning now for him. He was your own
brother, the one that I grieve most of all for. He was my grandson.
His name was Kulitek Herit. You are large now, strong enough to hear
this, and I tell you."
After the old woman had told him of the people who had died in going
to Saskewil, Tulchuherris answered,--
"I am sorry for my brother. I am sorry that he was killed. Now, my
grandmother, I must see what I can do."
He went out of the house then, went west and found a kind of white
wood, brought it home and made an arrow,--a smooth, very small arrow;
he painted this arrow red, blue, and black, painted it on the end and
fastened feathers to it. Then he made a bow of wood which he found in
the same place, far away west, and painted it nicely on the outer
Next morning before daylight, he went a short distance to the south
from his grandmother's, took his bow and arrow, strung the bow and
shot his arrow toward the east.
After the little arrow had left the bow it became a humming-bird as it
went through the air. Before the bird reached Sas's house it turned to
an arrow again.
A little way from Saskewil old Sas had his sweat-house with only one
door to it. That door looked toward the south. The arrow dropped east
of the door and stuck fast in the ground there. It dropped before
daybreak, while Sas was in the sweat-house. He heard something fall
outside the door, something that struck the ground with weight like a
great rock. He knew not what to think. He had never heard such a noise
When daylight came old Sas rose and went out of the sweat-house. He
had slept all the night there. He looked around to see what had made
the great noise, and saw the little arrow. He looked at the arrow,
went up, grasped it, tried to pull it out. He took a firm hold, tried
hard, twisted and pulled, but could not draw the arrow. He rested and
then did his best. He pulled, braced himself. His hands slipped and he
fell on his back.
Sas had to leave the arrow where it was; he could not draw it out. He
went to his house, where his wife and daughters were. The two girls
were very beautiful. Sas took his old wooden pipe, filled it with
tobacco, and began to smoke.
"My old woman," said he, "and my daughters, I will tell you what I
have seen just now. I have seen a thing such as I have not seen for a
long time, a very long time. Long ago I used to see things such as I
have seen just now outside my sweat-house. Something must be wrong.
Some one must be thinking of us, some one must be thinking of our
house. I believe that some day soon we shall see some person coming. I
saw a little arrow, and tried to pull it out of the ground, but I was
not able. I tried till I fell and hurt my back. Now, my daughters, you
may go if you wish, and look at that arrow."
The girls went out, they looked at the arrow, and said, "Oh, that is a
nice arrow;" and they tried to pull it out of the ground. It did not
come, and they went back to their father's house.
"Now, my grandmother," said Tulchuherris in Eli Tsarauton, "I am going
to leave you. I am going away. I am going to the east. I am going to
The old woman did not like to lose her grandson.
"Oh, my grandson," said she, "you will be killed. You will never come
back to me."
"My grandmother, I am going," said Tulchuherris. "I am going, for I
must go, and I will do the best I can."
He went west, and found flint, put pieces of it on each finger, made
finger-nails of it, and made them very sharp. Then he went west a
second time, got the marrow of Hunhunut (no one knows now what
creature Hunhunut is), brought home the marrow, rubbed it between his
hands, then rubbed himself with it, face, head, all his body except
A third time he went west, and took a little bush full of thorns, each
about an inch and a half long, made leggings and a shirt of this
thorn-bush. A fourth time he went west, and picked out in a gulch the
firmest green water-stone. Of this green stone he made shoes. A fifth
time he went west, and took a western panther as dog. A sixth time he
went, and took a northern fox as dog. A seventh time he went west, got
a sky spear pole, and a sky spear head, and a sky strap for the spear
The old woman had a Winishuyat hidden away, and when she could not
stop her grandson from going she gave him this Winishuyat, which he
tied in under his hair on the top of his head. The hair was gathered
over it and tied so that no one could untie it but Tulchuherris, and
no one could see Winishuyat, who was like a little man, as big as a
thumb. Winishuyat could talk to Tulchuherris and tell him everything,
warn him of every danger. He always called him "my brother." When
Tulchuherris was ready, he said,--
"My grandmother, I must go, and you will stay here while I am gone."
He stood up then to start, and his grandmother said,--
"My grandson, I cannot go out for wood, I am too old, I am too weak. I
am not able to bring wood, and my fire will die."
Tulchuherris put down his quiver with his bow and went to the forest.
He pulled up many of the biggest trees by the roots and bound them in
a bundle. He brought the bundle to the house, put the trees on the
fire, and said,--
"Now you have plenty of firewood, my grandmother, and I am going."
When he had gone a little way the old woman screamed: "My grandson,
come back; the fire is dying!"
He put down his quiver and bow near his two dogs, went back, and saw
that the fire was dying. The whole great bundle of trees which he had
brought was burned out. Tulchuherris went then and pulled up by the
roots great trees, larger than the first, and brought two bundles; put
these on the fire--a great many trees. He was the strongest person in
the world, and could do that.
"Now I am going!" said he. His two dogs stood waiting at the bow and
the quiver. He had gone farther than the first time, he had gone about
twice as far, when the old woman screamed,--
"My grandson, the fire is out!"
Tulchuherris put down his quiver and bow again, left the dogs with
them, and hurried back. He found every tree burned and the fire going
out. He stood there and thought and thought. At last he said,--
"I don't know what to do. I can't find wood enough, and I can't leave
my grandmother without a fire."
Then Winishuyat said,--
"Tulchuherris, if you don't know how to keep a fire for your
grandmother, I will tell you. Go out here anywhere. You will find wild
sunflower roots, plenty of them. Put one handful of those roots on the
fire, and it will not go out again."
Tulchuherris went and dug the roots; brought two handfuls; put them on
the fire so that they would burn slowly, the ends touching the fire.
Then he said,--
"I am going, grandmother. Take good care of yourself."
He went to where his quiver and bow and dogs were; then he looked
back. His grandmother said nothing. She did not call to him this time.
He went farther, looked back, listened, no call came. He went still
farther, listened, all was silent; went farther yet, stopped,
listened, heard nothing, made up his mind that all was right with his
grandmother, and went on till he had gone a long distance, listened a
fourth time, heard nothing. After this he went quickly till about
midday, when he looked ahead and saw a great rock standing straight up
in front of him, small at the top and very high. He looked and saw
some one standing on the very summit. The rock was higher than a big
pine-tree. A very old man was standing on the top of it.
Tulchuherris could go neither to the north nor the south, the rock was
straight in his road. He looked everywhere for a passage, but could
see none. He looked on the left side, all was dark; on the right, all
was dark,--dark everywhere. There was light only in the road which
went up the rock and over it.
The old man on the rock, when Tulchuherris came near, called out,--
"My grandson, come right up to me; there is no other road where people
travel. When you are here, you will pass down on the other side
"I will go to you," said Tulchuherris.
When he had said "I will go to you," Winishuyat, the little man under
his hair, said,--
"My brother, be careful, he is going to kill you."
"Here," said Winishuyat, "is the place where our people came in time
past. Many were killed here. They went to the old man; he threw them
down and killed them. If you go to that old man, my brother, he will
sway this big rock. In one flash he will throw you into a dark place
at the side where you cannot see bottom. Run to the rock quickly, kick
it. If not, he will kill us. This old man was sent here by Sas, he was
sent here to kill us."
Tulchuherris did not climb the rock, did not go to the old man; but he
rushed forward and gave the rock one great kick with his shoe of green
water-stone. The rock fell, and the old man fell with it,--fell into
the dark place. The rock never sprang back. It left a smooth road with
a ridge on each side of the place where it had been. Then the two dogs
ran forward, and Tulchuherris said to the old man,--
"Hereafter you will not be what you have been; hereafter you will be
nothing but a ground squirrel. You will live under rocks in the earth,
and the people to come will call you tichelis. You are not like me; I
am strong. You will be nothing hereafter but a poor little ground
Tulchuherris followed the dogs then. He looked back and listened; he
could hear at a great distance, he could hear all over the world. But
he heard no sound from his grandmother; so he went on till he came to
a large and broad river. There he saw a man standing. Tulchuherris
went nearer, looked up and down, but could see no place to cross the
river. The man saw him and said,--
"Grandson, you cannot pass this big river; you must get some one to
help you. I am the only one who ever crosses at this point. I can wade
right through the water. I carry over all who come here. If you wish,
I will take you to the other side; but you could never go alone; you
could never cross yourself."
Tulchuherris didn't know what to do, and stood thinking.
"Go on, my brother," said Winishuyat. "Let him carry you, though this
is one of the places where they killed many of our people who escaped
the old man on the rock. But this man cannot kill us. Let him carry
"Very well!" said Tulchuherris to the old man. "Carry me over, take me
across this river."
The old man came up and took him on his back. Tulchuherris had a
pointed bone in his bosom where he could get at it quickly. He had
brought this bone from Eli Tsarauton. The old man started into the
river. At first it was not deep, but in the middle of the stream the
water was up to his breast, and was growing deeper. Then it reached
his neck, and was rising. The dogs made a leap from one side of the
river to the other. The water was at the man's eyes now.
"Be careful, my brother," said Winishuyat, "be careful. This man
kills people in this way,--he drowns them, he will drown you right
away if you let him."
Tulchuherris took out his sharp bone, stabbed the man's breast two or
three times with it, wounded him, stopped him. Then he leaped from the
man's head to the other bank, where his dogs were. Tulchuherris stood
a moment looking at the wounded man. Then he said,--
"Hereafter you will not be what you have been. You will be nothing but
an eel. You will be a person no longer. You will be only an eel, the
people to come will call you hawt and will eat you."
Tulchuherris walked forward quickly after this. Sas's two daughters
heard every step he took, as though he had been near, though he was
far, very far away from them. They always heard men coming from the
west,--always knew when they were coming.
Tulchuherris walked quickly till almost evening, when he came to a
high ridge near Sas's house. Just as he reached the ridge he heard a
sort of clinking noise on the other side. He stopped and looked, but
saw no one. He was right at the spot where the noise was, but there
was no one in sight. The ridge was like a straight wall reaching north
and south farther than he could see, and high up out of sight, and
down into the ground. No one could go through, or go around, or dig
under that wall or climb over it. In the middle of the ridge was an
opening in which stood a great sugar pine, and in the pine was a
cleft large enough to let a person pass easily. When any one was
passing, and half-way through the cleft, the pine closed and crushed
him. The noise was made by a person hammering just beyond the wall.
Tulchuherris looked through and saw an arm, and while he was looking
his dogs sprang through the opening to the other side.
"What's this?" called the man, and he walked to the opening. "Ah, are
you there? Is that you, my son-in-law?"
Tulchuherris said nothing, but looked and saw piles of bones inside.
"Come right in this way, come in, my son-in-law," said the old man.
"Come in; you cannot pass at another place."
When the old man called out, "Come in, you cannot pass at another
place," Tulchuherris said, "I must pass here, but I am afraid."
"This is the road that all people take, my son-in-law. Come straight
through; have no fear, there is no danger."
The two dogs went up to the old man and smelled him. They growled, did
not like him, nor did the old man like the dogs. This old man was Sas
himself, he who lived in Saskewil.
"Now, my brother," said Winishuyat, "go ahead, go through as quickly
as you can. If you are slow, he will catch us. This is a place where
Sas has killed many of our people."
Tulchuherris took his bow and quiver in one hand, stood on one foot,
braced himself sidewise, made a spring, and went through in a flash.
That instant the tree closed with a great noise, became solid.
When Tulchuherris shot through, he went far off into the field, and
Sas didn't see him, he went past so swiftly. Sas heard the tree close,
and thought that Tulchuherris was caught in it. He looked at the tree
and began to talk.
"Well, my son-in-law, you are caught, now you are nobody. I am Sas.
You were weak, I am strong. You wore your grandmother's apron. You
knew nothing; I know everything."
Tulchuherris had come up, and was standing behind while old Sas was
talking. He listened, heard every word. After Sas had stopped talking,
"My father-in-law, to whom are you talking? What are you saying?"
"Ha!" cried Sas, turning quickly. "Son-in-law, I was talking to
myself. I was saying that I had done wrong to my son-in-law. I am old,
my heart is weak, my head is half crazy. I am blind, I did not know
what I was doing. I was saying that I had done wrong. You are my
son-in-law. I am old, I am weak, I am blind. My head is gray. I cannot
do much now. You see my house over there; it is a poor house; it is
poor because I am old. Go ahead; go in. I will follow as soon as I
Tulchuherris went ahead, and Sas followed slowly at a distance. The
dogs had run on, and were at the house already. On one side of the
door outside were ten grizzly bears, and ten on the other side. There
were rattlesnakes in the door and around it. Before Tulchuherris came
the panther dog had killed all the bears, and the fox dog all the
snakes and things poisonous. When he came near the house, he stood a
little way off and looked at his dogs. All around Sas's house he saw
great piles of bones lying about everywhere, the bones of his kindred.
He began to cry and lament for them.
When the dogs had cleared the way outside, they went into the house
and killed all the grizzlies and rattlesnakes there; the house was
full of them. Tulchuherris stood outside, crying over the bones of his
people. When he had cried enough, he went in. Old Sas's wife was
sitting on the east side of the door and his daughters on the west.
When they saw Tulchuherris, the girls spread a mat, sat on it, and
told him to sit down between them.
"Now, my brother," said Winishuyat, "be careful of that old woman;
many of our people have been killed by her. If they were not killed
outside, she turned and looked at them, and they fell dead when they
saw her eyes."
While Tulchuherris was sitting with Sas's daughters, a large,
long-legged, red-backed, very venomous spider came on him; then
another and another. Many of these spiders crawled over him. He was
wearing his thorn shirt, and they could not poison him; they got
impaled on the thorns and died, every one.
Old Sas came at last, and when he walked into the house he took his
pipe, filled it with tobacco, and drew a few whiffs of smoke. Then he
"Take a smoke, my son-in-law; we cannot do without a pipe. It is best
to smoke first and talk of affairs after that."
Tulchuherris took the pipe and pretended to smoke. He was not smoking;
still smoke came, and the tobacco burned out. He gave the pipe back to
Sas. Sas's tobacco was made of people's flesh and of their bones
After Tulchuherris had given back the pipe, he took his beautiful
quiver, put in his hand, and took out his own pipe of green
water-stone, a solid piece, not very big, but tremendously heavy. He
took his own tobacco and put it into the pipe. His tobacco was the
same kind of marrow that he had rubbed on his face, and something
mixed with it (it is not known what that was). Tulchuherris lighted
the pipe, smoked a little, and said,--
"Here, my father-in-law, take a smoke. I am only a young man. You are
old, you are wise, you know everything. You say it is best for us to
take a smoke. I am young, do not know much, but I think this pipe and
tobacco are for talk. Smoke with me."
Sas took the pipe, but when Tulchuherris let go the old man could not
hold it. It was slipping and falling. When he tried to catch it, it
fell on his arm, threw him, and held him down.
Sas struggled to push the pipe off his arm, but had not strength
enough. Tulchuherris looked for a moment, then reached out his hand,
picked up the pipe, and asked,--
"Father-in-law, what is the matter? Take a good smoke. This is
Sas could not lift the pipe. Tulchuherris held it while the old man
was smoking. When Sas drew in the smoke and swallowed it, it hurt him
inside. The old man was choking. He fell on the ground, fell almost
into the fire. His breath was taken from him. Tulchuherris put the
"Oh, help me up, help me, my son-in-law," called Sas.
Tulchuherris helped him to rise, and then sat with the girls again.
"My old father, Sas," said his elder daughter, "what is the matter?
You have wanted this long time to see a man with strong arms. Why not
talk now with this one? You have been waiting a long time for such a
While they were sitting there, Winishuyat said: "My brother, look out
for the old woman. She is going to turn--be on your guard!"
Tulchuherris was ready. The old woman had not looked around since he
came. She had been sitting motionless. Now she began to turn slowly,
and Tulchuherris watched her. He sat with his right hand doubled up,
and before she could look into his eyes he snapped two flint
finger-nails at her, sent one nail into each of her eyes and put it
out. She fell dead and rolled into the fire.
Night came now, and Tulchuherris lay down on the bed prepared by Sas's
two daughters. They took their places, one on each side of him.
He never took out Winishuyat, he never let any one know of him. As
Tulchuherris lay on his back, he saw something over his head, hanging
from the roof of the house. Two obsidian knives were hanging together
by a very slender string of the inner bark of maple. Tulchuherris fell
asleep and slept until midnight. He was roused then by Winishuyat, who
said to him,--
"Oh, my brother, wake up. The string holding the knives is ready to
break. Wake up, my brother, wake up!"
Tulchuherris woke up.
"Turn over! turn over!" said Winishuyat.
Tulchuherris turned in a flash. That instant the knives fell, struck
the ground just at his back, and were broken to pieces, both knives at
This was another way of killing people. Strangers always slept soundly
on that bed with Sas's daughters, were struck while asleep by two
knives in the heart, and died the same moment.
Next morning after the knives fell, Sas rose and said,--
"Rise up, my son-in-law. I have a small sweat-house out here. I go
there to sweat every morning, and then to the river to swim. I swim in
the river every morning. We will sweat, and then swim."
Sas went ahead, he was first in the sweat-house. He made a very hot
fire of the bones of people whom he had killed,--there were piles of
those bones around everywhere. Tulchuherris went out of Saskewil into
"Now, my brother," said Winishuyat, when they were at one side in the
sweat-house, "this is the place where Sas has killed many people who
escaped in the house. He will smoke you to death if he can."
The sweat-house was built of bones, and was plastered outside with
mucus from Sas's nose, so that no smoke could escape through the
cracks. After Tulchuherris went in he saw how Sas made the fire. The
old man never used wood, always bones. He piled on bones; fat and
marrow came out of them, blazed up, made a great smoke, and the smell
of the smoke was not pleasant. After sweating for a while Sas said,--
"I am old now and weak, nearly blind. I cannot stand much. My head
aches. I must go out to rest. Stay here you and take a good sweat.
When you have finished, come out."
Old Sas went out. The door was small, he could barely crawl through
it. When outside, he lay across the door and stopped the passage with
his body, so that no one could go out and no smoke could escape. After
a time Tulchuherris said,--
"My father-in-law, I should like to go out. Go from the door, let me
pass, I have sweated enough."
"Oh, I am old and weak," answered Sas. "I am lying here to rest. When
I have rested some, my son-in-law, I will rise and let you out."
Tulchuherris was silent a little while longer. Then he groaned, "Oh,
I'm nearly dead!"
"My brother," asked Winishuyat, "do you want to die? Do you want old
Sas to kill you, to smoke you to death? You have no wish to die, I do
not want to die. We are strong people, stronger than Sas. I will tell
you how to go out. Take that Chirchihas bone which you have and make a
hole in the north side of the sweat-house."
Tulchuherris made a hole in the wall of the sweat-house. He spat then
and spoke to the spittle. "Make noise for an hour," said he, "and
groan just as I do--'enh, enh, enh!' Let Sas believe that I am here,
that I am dying."
Tulchuherris slipped out through the hole, walked to the river, swam
there, washed himself clean, went back to Saskewil, and sat down with
his two wives, Sas's daughters. Sas heard the groaning of the spittle
inside and said to himself, "Tulchuherris is dying."
After a long time the noise stopped, and Sas said, "Tulchuherris is
dead." Then he went to the river, washed himself, and walked along
slowly toward the house. When he came near, he was saying,--
"Tulchuherris, you are nobody. I have finished you now. I am wiser
than you, stronger than you. You were brought up in your grandmother's
Tulchuherris heard him. When Sas was outside the door, he stood a
while and talked on,--
"You were dug out of the ground, Tulchuherris," said he. "You are
nobody. I have beaten you. You'll never trouble me again."
He started to go into the house, looked around, and saw Tulchuherris
sitting with his two daughters.
"Father-in-law, were you talking of me? What were you saying?" asked
Tulchuherris, when Sas had come in and sat down.
"Oh, my son-in-law, I cannot tell what I said, but I was thinking,
'Oh, I am so old, I know nothing. I am weak, I am blind. Sometimes I
do not know what I am doing. I think that I have done wrong to my
son-in-law, my poor son-in-law.'"
Soon after Sas went out, and at one side near the door he dug a grave
for the old woman, his wife. When he had dug it, he buried her and
with her all the bears and snakes, and said, "These are my children."
He put them in the same grave, and cried, singing as he cried,--
"Koki, koki, koki nom,
Koki, koki, koki nom."
(Creeping, creeping, creeping west,
Creeping, creeping, creeping west.)
While he was burying his wife and the bears and the snakes, he had
beaver teeth hanging on strings at the back of his head and on each
side of his face. After he had cried awhile he danced and sang, and
these teeth rattled as his head swayed from side to side. Then he went
into the house, sat down, looked at Tulchuherris, and said,--
"Tulchuherris, you are my son-in-law; your wives, those two women, are
my daughters. There are some things which they have wanted to play
with this long time, and they have begged me to go for them, but I am
old and blind; if I were to go I could not get what they ask for. My
daughters want pets. My son-in-law, on a small tree, not far from
this house, is a nest, and young woodpeckers chirp every day in it.
Your wives want these red-headed woodpeckers, but I am blind and old;
I cannot climb the tree, but you can get the woodpeckers. I will show
"Go ahead," said Tulchuherris, "show me the nest."
The tree was a mile away. Sas went to it and stopped. Tulchuherris
stood near. Both looked up, and Sas asked, "Do you see the nest?"
The tree was very straight, and so high that they could hardly see the
top of it; the trunk was as smooth as ice.
"My father-in-law," said Tulchuherris. "I do not think that I can go
up there; I do not believe that I can climb the tree."
"You can climb it if I help you," said Sas, who took out a rope made
of single hairs tied end to end, a great many of them tied together,
hairs from the heads of his daughters. He threw the rope very high
over a limb near the nest, and said: "Now, my son-in-law, I will hold
the rope; you climb."
Tulchuherris began to climb the rope. He went up, up, up, till he
reached the limb and stood on it. Sas was on the ground, holding the
other end of the rope. When Tulchuherris let go his hold, Sas pulled
the rope down, and left Tulchuherris on the limb very high in the air.
Sas turned home. When a short distance he said,--
"Now, Tulchuherris, you are nobody. Your grandmother, Nomhawena, is
old. She dug you out of the ground with a root stick. You grew up in
her petticoat. You are not strong, you are not wise, you are only
Tulchuherris. I am Sas."
When Tulchuherris looked down he was terrified, it was so far to the
"My brother," said Winishuyat, "we shall get down. Lengthen the
pointed bone which you have, and go higher."
Tulchuherris went to the nest, looked in, and saw a great many heads
peeping out in every direction,--all heads of rattlesnakes. He looked
awhile; could not think what to do.
"Make the bone long," said Winishuyat. Tulchuherris stretched the
bone. "Stick the bone into the head of each snake and gather them all
Tulchuherris did this quickly; had them all; then he slipped them off
and let them drop to the earth. After that he sat on the limb and
thought: "What shall I do now?"
"My brother," said Winishuyat, "what are you thinking of? Why not try
to do something? Do you want to die? If you cannot think of a way to
escape, I will tell you a way."
"Tell me, my brother."
"Stretch your right hand toward the west. Something will come on it."
Tulchuherris stretched his hand toward the west, where his grandmother
was, and immediately something came with a whirr and a flutter, and
settled on his arm like a bird. It was a sky-strap, blue like the sky,
narrow, and very strong. He fastened one end of it to the limb,
knotting it in such a way that he could untie it with a jerk at the
other end. He slipped down on it, and when on the ground jerked it
loose. He strung the snakes on the long bone, they were all dead, and
carried them to Sas's house. He laid them at the door, went in, sat
down, and then said to the two women,--
"I have the woodpeckers if you wish to play with them. If you don't
want them, you can send your father to look at them."
The girls told Sas. He went to the snakes and cried out: "Oh, my
son-in-law, you are killing all my children." Sas buried them in the
old woman's grave, and cried, and sang the same song over them as over
his wife and the bears. Then he danced, wearing the beaver teeth.
Next morning old Sas rose first, and said: "My son-in-law, be up. My
daughters always want me to fish and hunt; but I cannot fish now, I
cannot hunt. I am old and weak. My feet are tender, I cannot walk; my
head is dizzy. But you are young, my son-in-law. You can do many
things. If you wish to hunt, I will show you where to find game in
plenty. When I was young, I used to go to that place and kill game of
"I will go," said Tulchuherris.
When they were at the place, Tulchuherris saw only thick brush through
which no man could pass. There was only one narrow opening, one little
trail, and one tree at the end of it. "Stand against that tree," said
Sas. "When deer come, they always run past that tree. I will drive
deer in. You shoot."
Sas went north to drive deer in.
"Now, my brother," said Winishuyat, "be careful. You see the bones
around here. They are people's bones. When Sas could not kill people
elsewhere, he brought them to this place and killed them. He will
drive ten grizzly bears up to kill us, and eat us. Tell your panther
dog what to do."
"You, my dog," said Tulchuherris, "stand behind the tree till you see
a grizzly bear spring at me. I will dodge. He will miss and turn again
at me. Kill him when he turns."
Tulchuherris heard Sas driving bears in the distance. "Ha-ha, ho-ho!
Ha-ha, ho-ho!" shouted Sas.
"Be ready; they are coming!" said Winishuyat.
Tulchuherris heard Sas coming. Then he saw a grizzly, and another, and
another, till five were in sight. A little behind these were five
others. When the first bear came near, he bounded at Tulchuherris,
Tulchuherris dodged. The bear went past a good distance, and then
turned to spring back. That moment the panther dog seized him by the
throat and killed him. The second bear sprang at Tulchuherris. He
dodged; the bear passed, and turned to come back. The panther dog
seized and killed him right there. When he had chased the bears in,
Sas turned home, saying as he went,--
"You are in a good place to-day, Tulchuherris. I have you now where my
children will kill you. I know more than you; I am stronger than you.
I am Sas."
After ten bears were killed and no more came, Tulchuherris stood
awhile, and taking the bears in one hand by the paws, he walked home
with them; carried them as he would little birds. He put them at Sas's
door, went in, sat down, and said to his wives,--
"I have something outside. You call them deer, I give them another
name. But this is the only kind of deer that your father drove to me.
You eat this kind of deer, I suppose. Go and see them, or tell your
father to go."
Sas went out and saw the ten grizzly bears lying dead. "Oh, my
son-in-law," cried he, "you are killing all my children!" Then,
singing and crying, he buried the bears.
Next morning Sas rose early. "My son-in-law," said he, "there is
something which I would like you to do to-day. My daughters have been
asking me to do this for a long time; but I am too old. I will show
you a brush house. I made it to kill birds of every kind and all kinds
of game. It is near a spring at which birds meet to drink. Come; I
will show you the house and the spring."
"My brother, be careful to-day," said Winishuyat, at starting. "Sas is
taking us to Wintubos, where he has killed many people. There is no
water near that place; no spring; but the house is full of snakes,
poisonous things, and bears. Take both your dogs with you."
After Tulchuherris and Sas had gone a short distance, Sas stopped and
"My son-in-law, you see that little house down there? Go into it and
wait till you see some nice birds or game coming, then kill them. I
will go back. I am old and cannot stand or sit here and wait for you.
I will go home and lie down till you come."
Sas went home.
Tulchuherris went near the house, and stopped. The two dogs sprang
into the house at a leap, and killed all the snakes and the bears in
it. When the dogs had come out, Tulchuherris went in to look at the
house and the spring. He saw piles of bones everywhere. He cried when
he looked at them. There was no water in the spring. It was mud, thick
mud mixed with people's flesh. Tulchuherris looked toward the east,
and far away he saw an open plain. Soon he saw what seemed a small
speck at first. It was moving. As he watched, it came nearer, and he
saw it was a person. Now far away he saw something else. The first was
a small man; the second still smaller. Tulchuherris saw that they were
running toward him. They came near and stopped.
"Have no fear. Come up to me," said Tulchuherris.
The larger said: "O my brother, my brother, I am thirsty."
"Oh, my brother," said the smaller one, "we are very thirsty."
Their hair was clipped close to their heads. Tulchuherris stepped back
toward the north, struck the ground with his heel, and clear, cold
water sprang up in a stream. He drank himself, and said, "Come and
The first of these strangers was Anakurita (orphan), the second
Biahori (lone man); only these two were left of all people in those
parts. Sas had killed all the rest. "The last of our relatives were
killed at this spring," said they. "We alone are left. We are going
"If you come here again," said Tulchuherris, "do not go near the
spring at the house. That is a bad place. Drink this good water which
I have given you."
The two went away. Tulchuherris put the sharp end of his bone through
the heads of the snakes which the dogs had killed, there were hundreds
of them. The ten grizzly bears he carried home in one hand.
"I have something outside," said he to Sas's daughters. "You call them
birds, I believe; they are all the birds that I found at the brush
house. Tell your father to look at them."
Sas went out and began to cry. He enlarged his wife's grave and buried
them. "These are my children," said he; and he sang and danced as
Sas rose early next morning. "My son-in-law," said he, "your wives ask
me to get fish for them, but I am too old. When I was young I used to
fish, but now I cannot see. You are young; I will show you a good
place for trout. My old pole and spear points are there; you may use
They started, came to a river with a bridge over it formed of one
hair. "My brother," said Winishuyat, "this is a place where Sas has
killed many of our people."
"My son-in-law," said Sas, "cross this bridge and catch fish; I will
"Very well," answered Tulchuherris, who put his foot on the end of the
bridge and crossed with one spring. On the other side he went to the
fishing-hut, fixed so that a man could look up and down the river
while fishing. Tulchuherris had his own spear-shaft, a sky-pole; the
string was a sky-strap. He had his own point, too.
He waited for fish, and at last saw something come slowly from the
south. It stopped, and then looked at him. Tulchuherris saw a face and
a head with long hair tied in a knot with a band of woodpeckers'
scalps, a long band wound around many times. Tulchuherris wore just
such a band, but the scalps were of mountain woodpeckers.
"Ah, my brother-in-law," called out the person in the water, "let us
"I am sorry for you, my brother-in-law," said Tulchuherris. "I hate to
kill you, but I must, for my father-in-law sent me to kill you."
"Go ahead, go ahead," said Winishuyat. "Don't spare him. Sas says he
is a fish. He is Sas's son, Supchit. You must catch him or suffer."
Supchit turned, as it were, to go back. Tulchuherris hurled the pole,
speared him under the arm, and the point went through to his other
side. Supchit rushed toward the east with great force. Tulchuherris
held to the spear with one hand, grasped tule grass with the other,
used all his strength. Then he let the spear go, and held the strap.
Though strong, he could not stop Supchit. He was drawn into the water
to his waist, then to his breast, and at last to his chin.
"My brother," said Winishuyat, "do you wish to drown? Call your
gopher"--he had a gopher in his moccasin--"send him to fill up the
escapes, to block all the doors to Supchit's houses."
Tulchuherris sent his gopher to fill every hole, all Supchit's doors.
Sas was at home now. He heard the great struggle, and said,--
"Oh, Tulchuherris, my son will finish you. This is your last day."
The gopher stopped every opening, and Supchit went from place to
place. Every door was closed. He had to stay. Tulchuherris came out of
the water little by little, and pulled till he drew Supchit to the
bank, where he died. He carried him home in one hand, as if he had
been a small fish.
"My father-in-law," said Tulchuherris, "I saw no fish except one
little trout. I speared and brought home that little trout."
Sas went out; the two sisters went. "That is our brother!" cried they.
"That is my son," called out Sas, "the best son I had."
The old man buried Supchit with his head north, looking southward, and
sang the same song that he had sung for his wife and the grizzlies.
Sas and his daughters cut their hair in grief over Supchit.
"My son-in-law," said Sas, next morning early, "be up; I will show you
a place where I used to play often when I was young. I am old now, and
cannot play much, but I will show you the place, and I may play with
you a little."
"I will go," said Tulchuherris; and they started.
"Now, my brother," said Winishuyat, "we are going to the place where
Sas himself has always killed everyone who baffled him elsewhere. No
man has ever escaped from the place to which Sas is now taking you. He
will take you to a tree; he will ask you to climb it; he will bend it
and let it spring back again; he will kill you if you are not
They went to a very wide, level plain; in the middle of the plain
stood a tremendous, big pine-tree, leaning to one side somewhat.
"My son-in-law," said Sas, "when I was young I used to play here. I
cannot play much now, but I'll show you how to play."
"My brother," said Winishuyat, "I will tell you what to do. Sas will
try his best now to kill us. Do not kill him to-day; try him, lead him
on, make him go higher and higher on the tree, and wait till
Sas climbed the tree some distance and said: "Now, my son-in-law, I am
Tulchuherris seized the top of the tree, pulled it toward him a
little, and let it fly back. Sas kept his hold and slipped down.
"Now, my son-in-law, go up; go higher. I used to go very high when I
was young like you." Tulchuherris went to where Sas had been.
"Go higher," said Sas.
"I wanted to stay where you were," answered Tulchuherris; "but I will
go a little higher."
Sas took hold of the tree at the top, pulled it to the earth, and let
it go. It sprang back into the sky with a noise like thunder.
Tulchuherris held on and slipped down unhurt.
"Well, father-in-law," said Tulchuherris, "try again."
"I cannot go high," said Sas; "but I will go a little higher than I
did the first time. Don't give the tree a big pull." He went up.
"Go higher," said Tulchuherris.
"My son-in-law, I cannot go higher; I am old."
Tulchuherris teased him till he went a little higher; then he gave a
harder pull than before. Sas held on without trouble and slipped to
"Now," said Sas, "I'll give you a swing." Tulchuherris went up.
"Go higher," said Sas. He went higher.
"Go higher; you are young," urged Sas.
"I don't like to go up," said Tulchuherris. But he went a little
Old Sas gave a good pull, stronger than before. Tulchuherris held on
and came to the ground safely. Going to one side, he said: "Whu, whu!
let this day be made short!" So the day was made short; evening came
"Well, father-in-law, you try now."
"Very well," said Sas, "give me a small pull; my arms tremble; I am
old. I cannot hold on, I am so weak." Old Sas went up.
"Go higher," said Tulchuherris.
"I cannot; I'm old."
Tulchuherris pulled down the top of the tree, but not so far. While
he was pulling, Sas said: "Oh, my son-in-law, don't let it go hard."
Tulchuherris gave a pull that would leave Sas on the tree, and he came
"Now try once more," said Sas, "and we will go home."
"Very well," answered Tulchuherris.
"Now, my brother," said Winishuyat, "this is the last time to-day. He
will try hard to kill you. Jump off before he lets the tree go."
Tulchuherris went up two-thirds of the way. Sas pulled the tree to the
ground and thought that he would kill Tulchuherris surely; but just
before he let it go, Tulchuherris slipped off behind him and rushed
away. The tree flew up with the noise of heavy thunder. Sas looked
everywhere, but could not see Tulchuherris.
"Now, Tulchuherris," said he, "I have finished you at last. You are
nobody, you are dead;" and he started to go home, talking to himself
as he went.
"Father-in-law, what are you saying, to whom are you talking?"
Sas turned around, amazed. "Oh, my son-in-law, I am glad that you are
here. We must go home. We have no wood; we must get wood."
Tulchuherris thought: "My father-in-law wants to kill me. To-morrow I
will do what I can to kill him. When my grandmother spoke to me of
Sas, I knew nothing; I paid no heed to her. When she warned me, I did
not listen, I did not believe; but I see now that she spoke truly when
she told me of Sas's house."
He rose in the night, turned toward Sas, and said: "Whu! whu! I want
you, Sas, to sleep soundly."
Then he reached his right hand toward the west, toward his
grandmother's, and a stick came on it. He carved and painted the stick
beautifully, red and black, and made a fire-drill. Then he reached his
left hand toward the east, and wood for a mokos (arrow-straightener)
came on it. He made the mokos and asked the fox dog for a fox-skin.
The fox gave it. Of this he made a headband and painted it red. All
these things he put in his quiver.
"We are ready," said Tulchuherris. "Now, Daylight, I wish you to come
right away, to come quickly."
Daylight came. Sas rose, and they started soon after for the tree.
"My son-in-law, I will go first," said Sas; and he climbed the tree.
"Go higher!" said Tulchuherris. "I will not give a great pull, go up
He went high, and Tulchuherris did not give a hard pull. Sas came down
Tulchuherris now went high, almost to the top. Sas looked at him, saw
that he was near the top, and then drew the great pine almost to the
earth, standing with his back to the top of the tree. Tulchuherris
sprang off behind Sas and ran away into the field. The tree sprang
into the sky with a roar.
"You are killed now, my son-in-law," said Sas. "You will not trouble
me hereafter!" He talked on to himself, and was glad.
"What are you saying, father-in-law?" asked Tulchuherris, coming up
Sas turned. "Oh, my son-in-law, I was afraid that I had hurt you. I
"Now, my brother," said Winishuyat, "Sas will kill you unless you kill
him. At midday he will kill you surely, unless you kill him. Are we
not as strong as Sas?"
"Father-in-law, try again; then I will go to the very top and beat
you," said Tulchuherris.
That morning Sas's elder daughter said to her sister, after Sas and
Tulchuherris had gone,--
"My sister, our father Sas has tried all people, and has conquered all
of them so far; but to-day he will not conquer, to-day he will die. I
know this; do not look for him to-day, he will not come back; he will
never come back to us."
Sas went up high. "I will kill him now," thought Tulchuherris, and he
was sorry; still he cried: "Go a little higher; I went higher, I will
go to the top next time. I will not hurt you, go a little higher."
Sas went higher and higher, till at last he said, "I cannot climb any
more, I am at the top; don't give a big pull, my son-in-law."
Tulchuherris took hold of the tree with one hand, pulled it as far as
it would bend, pulled it till it touched the earth, and then let it
fly. When the tree rushed toward the sky, it made an awful noise, and
soon after a crash was heard, a hundred times louder than any thunder.
All living things heard it. The whole sky and earth shook. Olelbis,
who lives in the highest place, heard it. All living things said,--
"Tulchuherris is killing his father-in-law. Tulchuherris has split
The awful noise was the splitting of Sas.
Tulchuherris stood waiting, waited three hours, perhaps, after the
earth stopped trembling: then, far up in the sky he heard a voice,
"Oh, my son-in-law, I am split, I am dead. I thought that I was the
strongest power living; but I am not. From this time on I shall say
Tulchuherris is the greatest power in the world."
Tulchuherris could not see any one. He only heard a voice far up in
the sky, saying,--
"My son-in-law, I will ask you for a few things. Will you give me your
Tulchuherris put his hand into his fox-skin quiver, took out the band,
and tossed it to him. It went straight up to Sas, and he caught it.
"Now will you give me your mokos?" Tulchuherris took out the mokos and
threw it. "Give me your fire-drill!" He threw that.
Another voice was heard now, not so loud: "I wish you would give me a
headband of white quartz." This voice was the smaller part of Sas.
When Tulchuherris had given the headband, he said,--
"My father-in-law, you are split--you are two. The larger part of you
will be Sas [the sun], the smaller part Chanahl [the moon, the white
one]; and this division is what you have needed for a long time, but
no one had the strength to divide you. You are in a good state now.
You, Chanahl, will grow old quickly and die; then you will come to
life and be young again. You will be always like that in this world.
And, Sas, you will travel west all the time, travel every day without
missing a day; you will travel day after day without resting. You will
see all things in the world as they live and die. My father-in-law,
take this, too, from me."
Tulchuherris threw up to Sas a quiver made of porcupine skin.
"I will take it," said Sas, "and I will carry it always."
Then Tulchuherris gave Chanahl the quartz headband and said,--
"Wear it around your head always so that when you travel in the night
you will be seen by all people."
Sas put the fox-skin around his head, and fastened the mokos crosswise
in front of his forehead. The fire-drill he fastened in his hair
behind, placing it upright. At sunrise we see the hair of the fox-skin
around Sas's head before we see Sas himself.
Next Tulchuherris threw up two red berries, saying,--
"Take these and make red cheeks on each side of your face, so that
when you rise in the morning you will be bright, and make everything
Tulchuherris went west and got some white roots from the mountain,
threw them to Sas, and said, "Put these across your forehead."
Next he stretched his right hand westward, and two large shells, blue
inside, came to his palm. He threw these to Sas and said,--
"Put these on your forehead for a sign when you come up in the
morning. There is a place in the east which is all fire. When you
reach that place, go in and warm yourself. Go to Olelpanti now.
Olelbis, your father, lives there. He will tell you where to go."
Sas went to Olelpanti, where he found a wonderful and very big
sweat-house. It was toward morning, and Olelbis was lying down,
covered with a blanket. While sleeping he heard a noise, and when he
woke he saw some one near him. He knew who it was. Sas turned to him
"My father, I am split. I thought myself the strongest person in the
world, but I was not. Tulchuherris is the strongest."
"Well, my son Sas," asked Olelbis, "where do you wish to be, and how
do you wish to live?"
"I have come to ask you," replied Sas.
"Well," answered Olelbis, "you must travel all the time, and it is
better that you go from east to west. If you go north and travel
southward, I don't think that will be well. If you go west and travel
eastward, I don't think that will be well, either. If you go south and
travel northward, I don't think that will be right.
"I think that best which Tulchuherris told you. He told you to go east
and travel to the west. He said that there is a hot place in the east,
that you must go into that place and get hot before you start every
morning. I will show you the road from east to west. In a place right
south of this is a very big tree, a tobacco tree, just half-way
between east and west. When you come from the east, sit down in the
shade of that tree, rest a few minutes, and go on. Never forget your
porcupine quiver or other ornaments when you travel.
"While coming up from the east, you will see thick brush along the
road on both sides. In that brush are the grizzly bears, your
children. Be on your guard against them; they would kill you if they
could. As you pass along, let your porcupine quiver touch the bushes;
that will keep the bears away. When you go far west to the great
water, jump into it; everybody will call that place Sasunhluaston. No
one in the world will believe you except Sedit. You and Sedit want all
things to die when they grow old. Go to the east; go into the hot
place every morning. There is always a fire in it. Take a white oak
staff, thrust the end of that staff into the fire till it is one
glowing coal. When you travel westward carry this burning staff in
your hand. In summer take a manzanita staff; put it in the fire, and
burn the end. This staff will be red-hot all the day.
"Now you may go east and begin. You will travel all the time, day
after day, without stopping. All living things will see you with your
glowing staff. You will see everything in the world, but you will be
always alone. No one can ever keep you company or travel with you. I
am your father and you are my son, but I could not let you stay with
Next: Sedit And The Two Brothers Hus