Friday, June 6, 2014

Great Plains: Sacred Legend

This story is part of the Great Plains unit. Story source: Myths and Legends of the Great Plains by Katharine Berry Judson (1913).

Sacred Legend
Omaha

In the beginning the people were in water. They opened their eyes, but they could see nothing. As the people came out of the water, they first saw the daylight. They had no clothing. Then they took weeds and grasses and from them wove clothing.

The people lived near a large body of water; it was in a wooded country where there was game. The men hunted the deer with clubs; they did not know the use of the bow. The people wandered about the shores of the great water. They were poor and cold.

The people thought, “What shall we do to help ourselves?” So they began chipping stones. They found a bluish stone that was easily flaked and chipped, so they made knives and arrowheads out of it. But they were still poor and cold. They thought, “What shall we do?”

Then a man found an elm root that was very dry. He dug a hole in it and put a stick in and rubbed it. Then smoke came. He smelled it. Then the people smelled it and came near. Others helped him to rub. At last a spark came. They blew this into a flame.  Thus fire came to warm the people and to cook their food.

After this the people built grass houses; they cut the grass with the shoulder blade of a deer. Now the people had fire and ate their meat roasted. Then they grew tired of roast meat. They thought, “How shall we cook our meat differently?”

A man found a piece of clay that stuck well together. Then he brought sand to mix with it. Then he molded it as a pot. Then he gathered grass until he had a large heap of it; he put the clay pot into the midst of the grass and set it on fire. This made the clay hard. After a time he put water into the pot; the water did not leak out. This was good. So he put water into it and then meat into it, and put the pot over the fire. Thus the people had boiled meat to eat.

Now their grass coverings would grow fuzzy and drop off. It was hard to gather and keep these coverings. The people were not satisfied. Again they thought, “What can we do to have something different to wear?”

Before this, they had been throwing away the hides from the game which they killed. But now they took their stone knives to scrape down the hides and make them thin. They rubbed the hides with grass and with their hands to make them soft. Then they used the  hides for clothing. Now they had clothing and were warm.

Now the women had to break the dry wood to keep up the fires. They had no tools. So the men made a stone ax with a groove. Then they put a handle on the grooved stone and fastened it with rawhide. This was used. Then they wanted something better to break the wood. So they made wedges of stone.

Now the grass shelter came to pieces easily. Then the people thought, “What shall we do? How can we get something that will not come to pieces?” Then they tried putting skins on poles. First they tried deerskins. But they were too small. They tried elk skins. But they became hard and stiff in the rain and sun. Then they did not try skins longer. They used bark to cover the poles of their tepees.

But the bark houses were not warm. Then the people took the leg bone of the deer and splintered it So they made sharp pieces for awls. Then they took buffalo skins and sinews, and with the awl they fastened the skins together. So they made comfortable covers for their tepees.

(tipi)

Then a man wandered around a long time. One day he found some small pieces of something which were white, and red, and blue. He thought they must be something of great value, so he hid them in a mound of  earth. Now one day he went to see if they were safe. Behold! When he came to the mound, green stalks were growing out of it. And on the stalks were small kernels of white, and red, and blue. Behold! It was corn. Then the man took the corn, and gave it to the people. They tried it for food. They found it good, and have ever since called it their life.

Now when the people found the corn good, they thought to hide it in mounds as the first man had done. So they took the shoulder blade of an elk and made mounds. Then they hid the corn in it. So the corn grew and the people had food.

Now as the people wandered around, they came to a forest where the birch trees grew. There was a great lake there. Then they made canoes of birch bark. They traveled in them on the water. Then a man found two young animals. He carried them home. He fed them so they grew bigger. Then he made a harness which he placed upon them and fastened it to poles. So these animals became burden bearers. Before that, every burden had to be carried on the back. Now the dogs helped the people.




(900 words)





No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments for Google accounts; you can also contact me at laura-gibbs@ou.edu.