Myth-Folklore Unit: California and the Old Southwest

Overview.  The readings for this unit come from Judson's Myths and Legends of California and the Old Southwest. You will read myths and legends from tribes of New Mexico (Navajo and Pueblo Indians), Arizona (Pima), and California (KarokMiwokYokuts and many others). There are creation stories, along with many tales of Coyote the trickster. Both the creation stories and trickster stories explain how the world came to be: where the stars come from and why the sun is brighter than the moon, and why frogs have no tails and why the bluebird is blue, and so on. There is also a Navajo hero legend: the story of a boy who became a sheep and thus lived with the gods, learning their songs and medicine.

Language. Judson's book is an anthology of stories takes from various anthropological sources, written in a variety of styles. Some of the stories are told in a more traditional oral style, while other stories are edited in a style more like literary prose.

Story Length. All of the stories are single-page stories (and a few are very short).

Navigation. You will find the table of contents below, and you can also use this link to see the story posts displayed on two pages total: California and the Old Southwest. Click "Older Posts" at the bottom of that page to see the second page.

  1. Three Coyote Creation Stories
  2. The Creation of the World
  3. Spider's Creation
  4. The Great Fire; The Origin of Light
  5. Creation of Man
  6. Old Man Above and the Grizzlies
  7. The Creation of Man-kind and the Flood
  8. The Great Flood
  9. The Fable of the Animals
  10. The Course of the Sun
  11. The Theft of Fire
  12. Coyote, Tortillas, and Mesquite Beans
  1. Origin of the Sierra Nevadas and Coast Range
  2. Legend of Tu-tok-a-nu'-la (El Capitan)
  3. The Children of Cloud
  4. The Boy who Became a God
  5. Origin of the Raven and the Macaw
  6. Coyote and Hare; Coyote and Fawns
  7. Coyote and the Quails
  8. How the Bluebird Got its Color
  9. Coyote's Eyes
  10. Coyote as a Hunter
  11. How the Rattlesnake Learned to Bite
  12. Coyote and the Rattlesnake