[Notes by LKG]
This story is part of the Mississippi Valley / Great Lakes unit. Story source: Myths and Legends of the Mississippi Valley and the Great Lakes, edited by Katharine Berry Judson (1914).
When the earth was first made, the Creator of All Things placed it under the water. The fish were first created.
But when the Creator wanted to make men, there was no dry land. Therefore Crawfish was sent down to bring up a little earth. He brought up mud in his claws. Immediately it spread out and the earth appeared above the waters. Then the Great Mystery made men. He made the Chitimachas. It was at Natchez that he first made them.
He gave them laws but the people did not follow the laws. Therefore many troubles came, so that the Creator could not rest. Therefore the Creator made tobacco. Then men could become quiet and rest.
Afterwards he made women, but at first they were like wood. So he directed a chief to teach them how to move, and how to cook, and to sew skins.
Now when the animals met the Chitimachas, they ridiculed them. For these men had no fur, and no wool, and no feathers to protect them from storms, or rain, or the hot sun. The Chitimachas were sad because of this.
Then the Creator gave them bows and arrows, and taught them how these things should be used. He told them that the flesh of the animals was good for food, and their skins for covering. Thus the animals were punished.
The Creator taught them also how to draw fire from two pieces of wood, one flat and the other pointed; thus they learned to cook their food.
The Creator taught them also to honor the bones of their relatives and, so long as they lived, to bring them food.
Now in those days, the animals took part in the councils of men. They gave advice to men, being wiser. Each animal took especial care of the Chitimachas. Therefore the Indians respect the animals which gave good advice to their ancestors, and this aids them even today in time of need.
The Creator also made the moon and the stars. Both were to give life and light to all things on earth. Moon forgot the sacred bathing, therefore he is pale and weak, giving but little light to man. But Sun gives light to all things. Sun often stops on her trail to give more time to the Indians when they are hunting, or fighting their enemies. Moon does not, but always pursues his wife over the sky trail. Yet he can never catch up with her.
The mounds in the Chitimacha country are the camping places of the spirit sent down by the Creator to visit the Indians. This spirit taught the men how to cook their food and to cure their wounds. He is still highly honored.
Next: The Great Flood