The Men Of The Early Times

: Myths And Legends Of California And The Old Southwest

Zuni (New Mexico)

Eight years was but four days and four nights when the world was new. It

was while such days and nights continued that men were led out, in the

night-shine of the World of Seeing. For even when they saw the great

star, they thought it the Sun-father himself, it so burned their eye-balls.

Men and creatures were more alike then than now. Our fathers were black,

like the caves
they came from; their skins were cold and scaly like

those of mud creatures; their eyes were goggled like an owl's; their

ears were like those of cave bats; their feet were webbed like those of

walkers in wet and soft places; they had tails, long or short, as they

were old or young. Men crouched when they walked, or crawled along the

ground like lizards. They feared to walk straight, but crouched as

before time they had in their cave worlds, that they might not stumble

or fall in the uncertain light.

When the morning star arose, they blinked excessively when they beheld

its brightness and cried out that now surely the Father was coming. But

it was only the elder of the Bright Ones, heralding with his shield of

flame the approach of the Sun-father. And when, low down in the east,

the Sun-father himself appeared, though shrouded in the mist of the

world-waters, they were blinded and heated by his light and glory. They

fell down wallowing and covered their eyes with their hands and arms,

yet ever as they looked toward the light, they struggled toward the Sun

as moths and other night creatures seek the light of a camp fire. Thus

they became used to the light. But when they rose and walked straight,

no longer bending, and looked upon each other, they sought to clothe

themselves with girdles and garments of bark and rushes. And when by

walking only upon their hinder feet they were bruised by stone and sand,

they plaited sandals of yucca fibre.