Creation...

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The WorldMaker's Song sung by Tom Epperson

" I am Leona Morales and I want to tell you a story that my old people told me."

Leona Peconom Morales

Leona Peconom Morales (1900-1985)

Introduction

(WorldMaker's Song played here is sung by the late Tom Epperson)

 

Leona Peconom Morales, who narrated this Northern Maidu creation story, was born in 1900 and lived most of her life in Susanville, California, where she died in 1985. Leona Morales' mother, Roxie Peconom, was born in Susanville around 1851 and died there in 1958. Leona's daughter, Viola Williams (born 1919), and son, Ron Morales (born 1938), live today in Susanville where they raised their families.

 

Ron Morales

Ron Morales

 

George Peconom photo

George Peconom

This lineage, which also included Leona's brother, George Peconom (1877-1972), knew intimately the world of Maidu myths, legends, and local knowledge. Through their interest in and reverence for Maidu culture, they have preserved this precious text and make it available for others to appreciate.

 

Leona Morales' narrative, recorded by her in 1976, is a major contribution to primary sources on the Northern Maidu creation cycle. Although Leona spoke and understood the Maidu language, she chose to record this testimony in English.

At the time of the Gold Rush, when outsiders poured into their homeland, the Northern or Mountain Maidu, who then numbered perhaps around 3000 persons, lived in a series of mountain valleys known today as American Valley (near Quincy), Indian Valley (near Greenville), Genesee Valley (near Taylorsville), Big Meadows (now covered by Lake Almanor), Mountain Meadows (near Westwood), and Honey Lake Valley (near Susanville).

Published sources on Northern or Mountain Maidu mythology include Roland B. Dixon's three monographs, Maidu Myths (1902: 33-118), The Northern Maidu (1905: 333-342), and Maidu Texts (1912), and William F. Shipley's Maidu Texts and Dictionary (1963). In 1991 William Shipley published a new translation of myths and legends originally recorded by Dixon in 1902 and 1903 from Tom Young, "a half Maidu, half Atsugewi man, who, possessed an extensive knowledge of the myths of the Maidu" from Genesee in Plumas County, California (Dixon 1912: 1). Shipley's book, entitled The Maidu Indian Myths and Stories of Hanc'ibyjim, is a marvelous source on Maidu myth and culture.

In a 1903 essay entitled "System and Sequence in Maidu Mythology" the Harvard anthropologist, Roland B. Dixon, observed a four-period sequence in Maidu creation narratives. In the first period, Kodoyanpe (the Earthmaker) and the Coyote arrive in a dugout canoe on a vast sea. Eventually they see what appears to be a bird's nest floating in the distance. Earthmaker makes land by stretching this nest in five directions until it is so large that no one can see the extent of it. Next, the Earthmaker makes the first creatures and then plants the germs of the first people who will come later. The third period is one of strife, when the first creatures are transformed into the animals known today, and various evil monsters are driven away to prepare the world for people as we know them. Fourth, comes the period of final conflict when Coyote defeats Earthmaker who withdraws toward the East as humans emerge from where their germs had been buried long ago.

Leona Peconom's narrative blends elements of Dixon's third and fourth periods of Maidu creation mythology when Earthmaker travels through the Maidu homeland destroying monsters that would make life unbearable for his people who have yet to come: "Kodoyanpe travels through the region ... slaying monsters and evil beings that would ... make life too dangerous for mortal men, now soon to appear. Starting on the upper North Fork of the Feather River, he follows this stream on to Big Meadow, and from thence goes on toward Honey Lake .... he passed on eastward to Reno, and thence always eastward till he disappeared toward the country of the rising sun." (Dixon 1903: 34). This narrative gives the events of Earthmaker's journey from the area near present-day Quincy to beyond the eastern limits of Honey Lake valley.

(Recorded by Leona Morales in 1976)

[ Leona Morales recorded two accounts of the same creation story. The main text was recorded in 1976. Excerpts from the other, probably recorded around this same time, have been inserted in brackets. ]

 

I was born in 1900 and I know a lot of my old people. My mother (Roxie Peconom) told me the story about a Maker who made this world.. They called him Kodomyeponi. The Maidu called him that. My aunt tod me stories about it and my uncle. So I pieced the stories together and I think I got it just about down pat.

I'll tell the story about the Maker, the man that made this world. He said one day - I don't know what time it was - the birds and the flowers and even the brooks were singing. Even the little animals were so happy, dancing around. This is the story that was told to me. They were just singing, even the brooks were singing, trees were swaying, and the leaves were dancing in the trees. They were so happy. They saw a bright light in the west and said, "That's what the old one told us. When we see the bright light in the west, he says, He's coming. He's coming. He's going to make this world right." For his people, the old one told us that one day He would come. Now, I don't know what the old one was, but that's the way the story goes. Oh, he said, the birds were singing, everybody was just so happy because they had seen the light in the west. A real bright light, kept getting brighter and brighter. It seems like it started from Quincy way. Here was this man. He had a light over his head. He was walking. He had a cane.

I asked my old aunt, my uncle, and my mother what He looked like. My old aunt was an Indian who had never seen the Bible or heard about the Bible, and neither had my old uncle. But mother later in life knew about it. My old aunt told me He was a man. He was a tall man. He had a cane. He had the most beautiful buckskin dress on. And, she said, the fringe on the buckskin was made of fine shell strips. When He walked they made the most beautiful sound. And I said, "How did He look?" My old aunt told me that He was supposed to have long hair and He had a beard. My uncle told me the same thing.

They said the He came around this side, this country over in there - Seelom." He looked around and saw those deep canyons and said, "Seelom".

The Maker's trail

He walked around over the hill and came to a place where there were a lot of big red ants. They had a little mound there with a cave in it that they lived in. He said, "These ants would pee on the little animals, birds, or whatever they could find, and drag them into their cave. Now, when my people come, I don't want anyrhing like this here. He stomped (the ants) on the ground and said, "Their juice will always come out of the ground and it will be good for people to drink. When my people come, I want them to drink it. It will be good for their bodies." That was supposed to be the little soda spring out on this side of Quincy, on the old dirt road that went from Greenville to Quincy. That's where the little old soda springs are supposed to be.

The Maker looked around and He said, "There are a lot of acorn trees for my people in through here." And He said, "I'm going to make a little place down along the creek, along the river. I want my people, after they fish and hunt, to have a nice place to lay down. It won't be a steep place." He made a little meadow, a flat place, and said, "My people will call this Wohs-lum Koyom. That's what my people will call it. Up here where I stomped these ants in their cave, where the soda springs are going to be - my people are going to call this place Jajuyam."

He looked around and walked down ... to where the two rivers met, one from Quincy and one from Greenville, I guess - Indian Valley. He said, "Here's where the good clean water will always flow together. They're going to flow on down the canyon and on to the big, big waters. But my people will fish along these rivers. When my people come, I want everything to be just so. I'm bringing my people, here."

He ... came around and walked and walked and He came to this one place. Here was a great big, old snake monster laying right there by the river. It was too lazy to move. He just laid there and put his tail up into the air. When any animals came near, or birds, he would hit them with his tail, and that's the way he would eat. He made his living just by doing that. The Maker says, "Well, this won't be good when my people come. I'm going to put an end to you." And, he said, he pierced the monster with his cane. He had a big cane, a good-sized cane with a sharp end on it. He took that and pierced this old monster's heart, and a lot of milk came out. A lot of - not blood, but milk - just poured all over. He told the little animals and the birds, "This is good for you." They all got around there, just drinking the milk. That's why a lot of little animals and little birds have got a little white breast, and a little white on their breasts - they drank the milk. The old skunk, he ran in there, and he said he was just drinking the milk, and he ran out to tell his people, "Come on, come on my friends, lets go get some milk." Then he ran back in there. That's the reason that the skunk has two white stripes down his back, where the milk spilled on it. Maker says, "Well, you'll always be known as Min-min-nam-ohm, milk rock. "You are always going to be white, you're white, you're going to be white." That is right on the turn, that big white rock there.He called that Min-min-nam-ohm.

The Maker came around the trail to where there was a great big rock on the hillside and the most beautiful water. Oh, the water came out there so pretty. Underneath that there was a cave. He said you could hear the most beautiful songs, someone singing. And, he said, there was another monster in there. She was supposed to have been a woman, whatever she was. He said, "We're not going to have this. I'm going to put an end to this when my people come. You're not going to be here." He rolled the rock down and put her in the cave and stopped it up. She could never come out again. This made the most beautiful falls. He said, "This falls will be for my people when I bring them here."

Then, He came up the Feather River toward Crescent Mills. He looked around and named the big mountain (Mount Hough) between Taylorsville and Quincy: "This is going to be known as Who-na-na-sim-gohdom." (Map location 7). "That means danger, something not right for my people. So I'll name it that. This country here will be known as Who-na-na-sim-gohdom. My people will always look out for this. They know this is going to be a place where grizzly bears, bears, mountain lions and big rattlesnakes, things like that, have their country. They'll have this place. When my people come they will look out for them."

He came around to the place they call Forgay Point. and Crescent Mills. He stood on the little hill there, then looked around and said, "My people will call this Jol-jolim, this point here. (map location 8) Over there (He pointed toward Genesee or Yotamoton). My people will live there and they're going to call that Tosin-kojom (map location 9), Indian Valley. The Indian name for Greenville [Indian] valley, that whole valley there, that is supposed to be Tosin-kojom.

Then he looked way up Indian valley toward Diamond Mountain. "My people are going to live there. My people are going to call it Hoptnomee (map location 10) That's where they are going to live." He looked around and said that all of the country on the back of Greenville on clear to Ingles on those ridges and up through there is going to be Benew-au-wok-dowim (map location 10) "That's where you don't get any big wind storms. It's going to be kind of mild in through that part of the country. Benew-au-wok-dowim, the Indians are going to call it, Benew-au-wok-dowim.

He came around Greenville, right where Greenville town now is, looked around, and said, "Over in there, the north part [of Greenville], up underneath the hill, my people are going to call that Kaw-tahsim, that's where the big snow ends. There is going to be deep snow in there, but it's going to end there. They are going to call it Kaw-tahsim. And the creek that comes down from the mountain, that is going to be Hol-ga-sewim, that's the name the Indians will call it." Of the hill on the south side of Greenville, He said, "When my people come here they are going to make a lot of baskets. They are going to need their baskets. This is where they' are going to pick [materials for] their baskets. Here is where they are going to get their white grass. Down in the valley there will be a lot of willows."

The fox and coyote and wolf always followed Earthmaker in the back. They always wanted to argue with him, but He wouldn't pay any attention to them. So the old coyote turned around and he says, "Yeah, I'll fix them willows." And ... he got there and peed on some willows. Well, those are the red willows. They're no good. The gray willows are what the Indians picked to make baskets with.

They [fox, coyote, wolf] were known as the three cousins - always ready to argue with Him. But He never paid any attention to them. They always stayed way in the back. The three cousins couldn't go up the hill because they were too lazy. They left the Geetakon-yamani alone, that white grass mountain over there. He said they came on up Wolf Creek, and halfway between Wolf Creek and Lake Almanor, as they call it now, He got tired. The Maker got tired, and He says, "Well, I'm going to make me a resting place here." He says he found a big old rock.

My mother [Roxie Peconom] saw this rock. I remember seeing it as a little girl. He says, "This is going to be a resting place. This is going to be my peoples' healing rock. Whenever they're feeling sick, feel down, and don't feel good, they will come here and they will break boughs off the trees." That place is called Yomeem-ohm, my people call it Yomeem-ohm now. It is a rock. It isn't such a big rock. But it's like a couch. I remember seeing that rock. And then he said He rested there and said, "It's going to be a healing rock for my people."

Photo of Roxie Peconom

Roxie Peconom

[Well - the Maker, after He took a rest on the healing rock, says, "This is going to be a healing rock. Whenever Indians - whenever my people were sick and needed healing, this is where they would come and lay down and pray. And they'd get their healing." I know a few people who did that.]

And then He went on up between the creek and where Lake Almanor is now. He said there was - there is, I've seen this rock - a jagged rock. The Indians had a story about that rock, how a bear, two cubs, a mother deer and two little fawns, and when... - I'll go into the story later. This rock, they call it Om-willi-um-cas-domo (map location 14) It meant a rock that went way up in the air and whirled around. The Maker saw there the little animals and big animals were playing. Those that knew the magic word would get on that rock and the rock would go up. He says, "We're not going to have this anymore. I'm going to put this rock on the ground. I'm going to put this [diamond] in the middle of the rock and it'll always hold it down." He put a diamond inside of that big rock and pushed it down into the ground. I remember my sister, when I went to school in Greenville, the Indian Mission [school] she came after us with a buggy and horse. This is about 1912. That was where the old road was. That was the only road that came up from Greenville. She stopped and said, "I'm going to show you kids where this rock is, Om-willi-um-cas-domo." She took us up the road there. I remember seeing that rock. It was kind of a jagged rock sticking up from the ground. She says, "You will always remember this. Do you know the story of the bear and the deer?" We said, "Oh yeah." So that was that..

[After that He came on up toward what is now Lake Almanor. Between the lake and the healing rock there's kind of a jagged looking rock that sticks out of the ground. That was the rock that held the two little deer that crawled on top of the rock. It went up in the air when they said the magic word. He says that rock will go up no more. He was going to put a stop to that. He put a diamond in the middle of it to hold it down. The Indians claim that diamond is still there.]

Then He walked and He walked and He came up to where Lake Almanor is - that used to be Big Meadows. He says: "When my people come they are going to call this Na-gom." (Map Location 15) He looked at the big mountain on the north end: "That's going to be Nagom-yamanee". (Map Location 16) He stopped right there where the water goes down from the lake now, that flows down the canyon, and He says, "My people are going to call this Yawtim (Map Location 17). When He stopped there He saw a bunch of devilish-looking people. They were little dark people - had arms and legs like a human being. They had curly hair. They would set their hair afire and jump into - they had a pool there - they'd jump into that pool and wouldn't burn up. They put the fire out on their head. That was their game. Maker says: "My people will always remember you as Tosaedom. No Tosaedoms are going to be here when I bring my people here." He stomped them all into the ground. He told those that went into the water,"Well, you will always be those black pebbles down in the bottom of the water. You will never come back up again when my people come."

[Then He came on up to where Lake Almanor is. There was a big valley there. Right there where the water goes down the canyon, there were some people who lived there. They were kind of devilish people called Tosaedum. They would set their hair afire and jump in the water. He says: "You can't do that. When my people come, I'm going to put an end to this." He let them all jump in the water. They never did come back. That's the place they call Nevis. There used to be a hotel there years ago.]

And then He came around toward the north end, toward the big mountain there, round the valley. There used to be kind of a cliff where the old dusty road went by, below the highway, right underneath the water. He says: "They are going to call this Ju-ju-lim, because there was a bunch of birds that made that noise. He says, "They live here. My people are going to call them ju-ju-lim."

Then He came on at the end of the valley there towards the mountain. Among the trees he sees this big old green bullfrog sitting in the shade, and a big, long tongue. He'd stick his tongue out and anything within his reach, why, he would grab it, but with his tongue. That's how he was living. He says: "When my people come, you are not going to do this. You are so lazy. You don't want to go hunt for anything. You just lay there with your tongue out. So, you are going to always be known as a big bullfrog, Wel-keti-om (Map Location 18). That's what my people are going to call you, big old bullfrog rock." My sister showed us that rock, a great big old rock. There was green moss all over it. It almost looked like a bullfrog from off at the distance. When you got up close it was just a big rock.

[Then He came around this side of the valley .... there was a big old bullfrog. Oh, I've seen the rock. A great big old bullfrog. He says: You look like a rock from here'. You're going to always be a rock. You're not going to harm anyone." He put a stop to that. I've seen that big rock. It just had moss all over it. It 1ooked like a big old bullfrog.]

Then He says: "This part of the valley is going to be known as Humo-doyin. It's where my people are going to live. It's Humo-doyin. This whole valley is known as Nagam." He looked around and pointed toward where the city of Prattville is, then, before the wa(er [from Lake Almanor] covered it. He said: "Over there, my people are going to call that Dol de-nom (Map Location 19). When they come here they're going to call that Dol de-nom. Beyond Dol de-nom is going to be Kollbatin."That meant over toward Humbug Valley, and Humbug, up in through there. "That's Kollbatin country. My people will call that part of the country Kollbatin."

He looked around toward Chester and said: "Beyond Chester, that big snow mountain, that's going to be known as Kom-yamanee. This end of the valley is going to be known as Oydin-koyo [where Chester now is]," which means the valley above everything else, Oydin-koyo. Then He pointed his cane and says, "Over there." There used to be a mound. I remember seeing it before Lake Almanor was flooded. We stayed over there for two summers, my mother and I, with my sister,because she was working at the old hotel there [Yawtim]. She didn't like to sleep there at the hotel because there were too many bedbugs. She told us to come and camp out, so, we camped out at Dol-de-nom, Pratville, a little dusty town. A lot of Indians lived there. This was about 1912 or 1910. He stood there. There used to be a boat there. Right on the peninsula there was group of big tall pine trees, nice great big trees. There were no small ones among them. They were just all big pine, about 7 or 8 of them. He said, My people are going to call that Jam-bo-kinee (map location 20) [Nevis Island]. That's where they are going to stay because there are going to be lots of roots here, Jam-bo-kinee.

The Maker came around the peninsula to Big Springs and said: "This is going to be known as Besopenim (Map Location 21). This Big Springs, Besopenim, means water coming out from under the ground. There's going to be a lot of good fishing there for my people when they come."

Then, He came on over to Hamilton Branch, where the water from Clear Creek (Map Location 22) comes down, and said that was a pretty good size of a river. And, He says, there was some little black devilish-looking people again that had a boat there. They told him, he says: "Oh, you poor guy, you look tired. Let us take you across the water in our little boat. You look so worn out from traveling. You are so dusty." He talked so nice to the Maker. And He knew what they were up to. He says: "alright." He climbed in their boat and came on over. Halfway across the water, why, one of them says: "I'm going to lay down here and sleep." The Maker too put his arms under his head and laid there like he was asleep. One of the little guys jumped over and straddled him on his chest and felt him all around and told his friends: "He's a nice fat one. He's a good one. He'll be good eating." He took his knife and raised it way up in the air and was going to stab the Maker. When he came down with his knife it turned the other way and the little fellow got scared and jumped in the water. His friend sees this, and he too jumped in the water. The Maker says: ''Alright. You are always going to be in the water. You are never coming out. That's the way you are going to live. You are not going to be good for anything or anybody." We call them black skippers, the little bugs that jump around in the water, on the edge of streams, or lakes. The Indians have a name for it but I don't remember - been so long.

[The Maker came up to Hamilton Branch where some more little devilish people lived. There was kind of a big water there, where the water came down from Clear Creek. They'd let people if they wanted to go across - they would tell them: "Okay. I'll take you across because I know that you are tired. You can sleep as we take you across the water." The Maker laid down and pretended like He was asleep. One of the little guys said: "He's asleep. I'll jump on him. I'll fix him. He won't bother us any more." This little fellow straddled the Maker and started to stick a big knife into him, a big sharp instrument into his heart. The Maker - the big sharp stake or whatever it was - the blade just bent. It didn't go into the Maker's heart. He got up and said: "I know what was going on. I'm going to put you in the water forever. You'll never harm anybody when my people come." And that's how we got the little black things that jump around in the water. We call them skippers.]

 

Then He came on up and says: "Right down there." He pointed down toward Bill's place and says: "That's where my people, when they come, are going to rest there, lay in the shade after they come out of the water. That's going to be l'aned Poi-doh-win" (Map Location 23). That means where they come wading out of the water and lay and dry in the sun.

The Maker came on up to Clear Creek and said He got tired. He says: "This water it's warm. I'm going to make nice cold water. I want a good cold drink." He pointed over underneath the hill there. He says: "The water that comes from there will be nice and cold, where my people will get their drink. My people are going to call this place Om-yow-ken. Om-yow-ken. It's going to be where my people are going to get their cold drink - [the white people call this Clear Creek]."

Then the Maker came up and saw this little whirlpool in the ditch. They call it Goodrich Ditch that came down through the valley, through a big mountain mcadow. He said: "This will be no more - this old man won't sit here. I don't want him to sit here and feel bad because his daughter drowned in the whirlpool. I'm going to write on this rock here and tell my people never to go into that little pool." Whatever the man was I don't know. The Maker put this in writing. I asked my mother and my sister (i.e. Leona's sister, Lena ) - she's the one who told me - "What did He write, could you see it?" She said: "I saw the rock and if you are a Maidu Indian you can read t." That's the way I read it. She was a lot - twenty years - older than I was.

And then He came on up and pointed up on the hill there this side of that mountain that goes down by Lake Almanor, and says: "Up there, I want my people, the brave ones, to go up there. There is a lake up there. If someone wants the power of an Indian doctor, he'll go up there for forty days. When he comes back he'll get his song." Then He named the lake that's up in the mountains [Map Iocation 25, Homer Lake, or Chom-see-dohm, see Dixon 1905: 278-279].

Then the Maker came down this side of Goodrich. Way up on top of the hill there is a big rock. He went up there where two little woodchucks were sitting. One says: "Oh, are you tired? Come on in. Come on in. Our mother has gone hunting. Come on in and we'll get you something to eat. But first you lay down and sleep. Rest." The Maker knew what was what. He laid down there and one of the woodchucks went over there and felt him. He says: "You know, I think this man is so tired that he is just going to sleep. Maybe He won't wake up." His brother jumped over there and said: "Oh no, He ain't going to wake up now," He jumped over there with his old sharp stick, and it bent before it hit the Maker's heart'. The Maker said: "So, that's what you are. You are a watchdog. I know, it's alright. But I'm going to put an end to you. Instead of you eating anyhody, when my people come, they are going to eat you." He took the two of them - and when He killed them He put them head and feet down on the bottom and the mat on top and barbecued them in the pit, in the cave where this old - we call it -Pitnarasinn - it's just like a great big old dinosaur, a great big old Iizard that came here with these watchdogs, these two little woodchucks. She came there and said: "Oh, my boys, I am so hungry, I'm so tired, Did anybody, any of my friends come by while I was gone?" They didn't answer her. Oh, she said. They are out playing playing someplace like they always do. She went in there and said: "Oh, they just cooked me something before they went. They've been hunting. My nice boys." She dug it up and ate the ribs and the backs and everything and finally when she came to the head and feet she said: "Oh, my gosh! I ate my two little dogs. Who did this to me? Who did this?" She put her tail way up in the air and hit the ground, she was so mad. The Maker got up and said: "Okay, you are not going to be here any more. When my people come - my people are going to come - and you are not going to be here." He picked the old lizard up around his head and let it fly way up in the air, up in the sky. The Indians believe that he's the one that looks up at you from the moon. He threw him way up. He landed on the moon. That's the old lizard that you see up there. Whenever there is an eclipse of the moon the Indians believed that the old lizard was turning around. That's how he made the country grow dark - that old lizard up on the moon, turning and covering the sun.

Then the Maker came on up and pointed to a real sharp point on this side of Mountain Meadows. "Up there, I'm going to plant some roots," He said, "a healing root. You drink this root and if anything bothers you, boil these roots and drink it. It's going to clear your body out of whatever is wrong in your body, anywhere. Drink this root. It will do you good."

Then He came over Fredonyer and said: "Over in there, way down toward Diamond Mountain, that's where the people are going to hunt. That's where the bear will hibernate. They will sleep in wintertime. In springtime they will come out and there will be roots all over the hills. They can eat and won't bother anybody." He then came down toward Devil's Corral. "Oh, I'm so tired," He said, "I'm going to sit down here." He sat on a rock and that's where He left his foottprints. One is real clear. You can see the sandal mark. The other isn't so clear.

[He got tired and sat down on a rock. He put his foot down there and ate roots. He threw roots out in the country there, for there were hardly any then in the barren hillocks. He said, "This is where my people are going to come from over the hills and dig their roots". That is now by Willard's Place. He sat there and said, "You animals that eat with me will be good to my people and my people will take you for meat. You animals that don't want to eat with me - my people will have to watch out for you." He sat there and ate roots and scattered roots. Where He sat He put his feet on a big rock where to this day is his footprint. People have looked for it but they never could find it because my old brother covered it up.He heard that the highway men were going up there to dig it out so he went there one night and took all the markings away from it. You never could find it again, that footprint. Different ones say they found it, but they never find it. Anyway, He left his footprint there.]

[Then He come on down to Devil's Corral. Then at Devil's Corral was an old monster, old Takelkenmasy the Indians called him. It was a big old monster that lived along the creek. Devil's Corral was just a big, rocky canyon, a steep wall, just an awful place. You couldn't get through it. This old monster had a lot of little people who lived in the holes along the rock wall. He says, "We can't have this here when my people come." He called all the little mud swallows, all the little birds, to come bring their mud. He said, "Cover all those holes, all of them, so these little devils won't come out." He told the monster, "You are going to waste away. You are not going to be here when my people come. No one is going to feed you." That's the reason they call it Devil's Corral, or Pit-chee-lip-pim (Map Location 30). That's the word for mud swallows.]

Just all rocks. They said there were lots of holes in the rocks. A lot of little devils would come out. They were this big monster's children. The Maker called for all the mud swallows and said, "Just put mud in every hole. Don't miss one hole. We'll bury the old monster with mud and they'll never show up again in this canyon. When my people come... Now my people aren't going to be bothered by you any more." They named that Devil's Corral [Pit-chee-lip-pim]. He named it after the little mud swallows. And they covered that up.

He came on down, and was tired. He wanted a drink again. "Well," He says,"Now my people aren't going to be bothered by you no more."

He says, "Well, I know, I'm going to let some nice water out of this mountain come down the canyon." That's the spring water we get our water in Susanville from. He pointed his cane there and the water just came out of the mountain - right out of the mountain. He named that place Pahm-see-wim-goh-dome (map location 32). The Maidus have a name for every little hill and every little valley coming into Honey Lake Valley.

[Then the Maker followed the river down and came to a place where the water was warm. He said, "I've got to have a nice cold drink." He put his cane into the hill there, right beneath the mountain, and says, "That's where the water will come out." That spring is where we get our water for Susanville. From that spring came cold water.]

[He pointed up toward Eagle Lake and said: "That's going to be a good place for my people, but, something is going to happen there. My people are going to quit going there. They don't want no part of it. They are going to call that Hinges sim min-mom dahnim (map Location 39). That's big lake. Up on the south side of the lake toward Pine Valley and Pine Creek, they are going to call that Tykittokunkoyo."]

[He came down to where Fruit Growers Mill is now. There used to be a warm spring there, not a hot spring, just a warm spring. There was a kind of willow that grew there-something like bamboo. When it dried it was very strong. He said, "My people are going to make their arrows out of this - straight, it'll shoot straight, and it's light. This is where they will get their arrow sticks.]

He came on down, and He says, "My people are going to make their arrows with switches from the warm spring. It's not a hot spring, it's just a warm spring." I just can't think of the name - it's something like willow. It has the only place where the switches grow. I know the name but can't think about it. He says, "They will make their arrows. When they're making an arrow, they'll make a stick. When it dries it's so hard you can't break it. You can't bend it. That's the only place that my people are going to get their sticks for their arrows. If they are lucky, maybe they can find one big enough for a bow." That's [the same place] where Fruit Growers built their plants, right there [in Susanville].

Then he came on down to right where Diamond View cemetery is, on that old hill that goes way down to Standish. It stuck way up in the air. He says, "At one time this was a tall hill. Any of my people who went up there would come back young. They could go up there an old man and they could make it to the top of the hill and come down a young man. My people, when they come, that will be their hill." The Maker said that the three cousins ruined the hill. They pushed it over. Coyote, a wolf, and a fox fought the Maker all the way. They followed him and told him, "We pushed it over because whenever a man got older he went on top of this hill and came down a young man. And what would we do? We would never get hold of the man's widow. So we pushed it over before your people came." The Maker says, "Well, for doing that, you will never be a beautiful animal. Coyote and wolf fur will never be pretty. Fox will always have beautiful fur because he had to do what you two told him to. He had to go along with you because he's small." That's what happened to that hill.

[He named different parts of Honey Lake Valley. Up there toward the Elysian Valley, that is Billong-kinney. He had a name for Milford, Thompson Peak, and Bass Hill. When He came to Bass Hill He saw the three cousins there. "I knew", He said to the cousins, "that you would be here." "Oh yeah" said coyote, "we fixed things right now. I'll tell you. When this hill here was sticking up in the air, animals, anything went up there when they got old. When they come down, they'd be young. But we didn't like that. We wanted to get their widow, because widows know how to cook, to hunt, to tan hide, they knew everything. But you take a young woman. They don't know anything. We wanted a widow but we couldn't get one because they always went up that hill and got young again. So - we pushed the hill over." And that is Bass Hill. The Maker pointed at the coyote and says, "You are the main guy, so you are always going to be a mangy-looking, half-starved animal. You are going to have a hard time because you're always going to be looking for something to eat. You are never going to have pretty fur. Your hide will never be nice. And you, big man-big wolf, I'll put you out in the mountains, out in the big trees. You're going to live out there by yourself. You will stay out there. No one is going to be your friend, not even your cousin here is going to see you. And you, fox, you are the smallest one. You had to do whatever the older ones told you to do. These two, your cousins, tell you to do this and you do it because you knew what was coming if you didn't, because you are little. I am going to put you out in the dark mountains, at the bottom of the mountains, on the north side of any mountain. That is going to be your home. You are going to have beautiful fur. That is what my people will get from you, that beautiful fur. You, you pushed over this hill. We are going to call this hill Yoshkopim-yomant" (map location 42). The hill was named for the fox because he was a small one and had to do what his cousins told him to do.]

[The Maker named this place and that place. Like over where the hospital is - He named that place. He says, "I'm going to call this river Pom-sewim." Susan River is known as Pom-sewim.]

Then He named all the places around Honey Lake Valley with Indian names. My mother knew all the names of every little place.

He came up Antelope Grade where a rock or meteor fell in many pieces. They call that place Om-pin-om, and that's the name for Antelope Mountain, Om-pin-om (map location 37) "Now," He says, "When my people come, this is where they are going to hunt. I have left my mark [a petroglyph] until I come again, so my people will remember me and will always know that I am coming back." He went on over the hill. They could see the light finally fade away. Indians say the writing on that rock must have been what he left there. They just think about these things and let it go.

[He went up Antelope Grade on Antelope Mountain. You can see all the rocks that look like they all fell together in one place. He went up there and says:

"They're going to call this hill - this place - Om-pin-om. I name this Om-pin-om. This is going to be Om-pin-om. Now I have come through this country. I have left my marks. I have left things. I'm going to still leave markings. And when someday - one day - I am coming back, I want to see all these things. That's why they are all written into stone." He went on over and you could see the light fade as He went over Antelope. That was the last of him.]

When I was about fifteen years old, my oId uncle came to see us one time. I hadn't seen him for a long time. He said: "My name is Charlie Brown. Your mother was my sister - just like my sister, our grandmothers were sisters. I always called her sister." Oh, I said, I remember you. He said, "I'm going to tell you something. In Rice Canyon - two or three families live there and up to Jack's Valley, because no matter how much it snowed, snow always melted away easily. Over there in the canyon where the river comes out, there is some writing on a rock. That, the Indians believe, that's what the Maker put there. Don't ever tell anyone what I tell you because if the white people get to know it they will either scrape it off or knock it down. Or, they'll blast it out, destroy it. Don't ever tell anybody." I had never told anyone, not even my kids, until one day they came home from school - I don't know if it was Ray or who it was. He said: "Mother, the teacher was telling us about some writing in the canyon down there. Do you know about it?" "Yeah, I know about that." He says, "Well, why didn't you tell me?" I said, "Because my old uncle told me not to tell." I was about 70 years old when I mentioned it again. All these years I never told anyone. And I wouldn't.

This Maker story has been told to me by mother and my aunt, Jeannette. She was older than my mother. My father's sister, my uncle Charlie Brown, and uncle Samson told me a lot. My sister Lena was twenty years older than I was and she knew our grandmother. My grandmother died when I was about three years old and I never knew her. My sister knew her and talked to her. I never did because I was too small. That's how I happened to know this story.

 

(Notes)

1. On another cassette, recorded in 1979, Leona Morales provides some background on her childhood: "After my father died, my brothers worked in Susanville and they moved my mother to Susanville [from Hulsman's ranch on the outskirts of Susanville] with us when we were small children, and we've lived here all our lives. They built us a cabin on the north end of Pine Street. And it had a great big old barn there that they used to keep their horses - I guess for the State - that went from here all the way to Greenville, from Susanville to Greenville. Right back there is a nice little leveled off place where they built us a cabin. We stayed there two or three years, and then they found another place back of Inspiration Point, where they could get water out of the big pipe that was bringing water into Susanville. So we moved up there, my mother and my sister - they worked around town. That was the only way they could make a living with help from my brothers. My mother went to domestic work every morning [for several white families] and my sister had different ones she worked for too. We lived a good life there, me and my brothers and sisters. We were all small and we always went out to Greenville to go to an Indian school they had there. They'd come after us in the fall-time and bring us home in the spring-time." While living at Inspiration Point and elsewhere in Susanville, Leona Morales did domestic work for many of the early settler families of Honey Lake Valley, including the Spencers, Cadys, Cramers, and Ramseys (Simmons, Morales, Williams, and Camacho 1997: 17)

2. Leona Morales recorded two accounts of the same creation story. The main text followed here was recorded in 1976. Excerpts from the other, probably recorded around this same time, have been inserted in brackets.

3. For a comprehensive account of Maidu culture and history with an extensive bibliography, see Francis Riddell's chapter, "Maidu and Konkow," (in Robert F. Heizer, ed. 1978: 370-386). For an additional source on Maidu myth, see Richard Simpson's book, Ooti: A Maidu Legacy based on texts collected from Lizzie Enos. Leigh Ann Hunt's account of the Mountain Maidu Bear Dance is an important study of contemporary Maidu ritual. Two Maidu authors, Marie Potts and Beverly Benner Ogle, have written valuable accounts of Maidu life in the present and remembered past, including aspects of religion.

4. Roland Dixon and Maria Hedricks referred to American Valley as Silang kayo (kayo meaning valley) (Dixon 1905: Plate XXXVIII; Littlejohn 1928: lIS). Francis Riddell recorded it as Silom koiyo (Riddell 1968a: 45).

5. Leona told Ron Morales that the Maker left the soda spring here when he stomped the ants at the bottom of the steep slope on Spanish Creek off the Quincy-Greenville Road. The mound here is where the ants were killed.

6. Francis Riddell referred to the soda rock on Indian Creek below Indian Falls as Ch'ichuyam bam (Riddell 1968b: 90; see also An Ancient Trail of the Mountain Maidu Indians for accounts of this and other locations associated with the Creator.

7. Ron Morales noted when we visited this area, at the confluence of the Feather River and Spanish Creek, about where the Qyincy and Greenville roads join, near an apple orchard, that a bad presence follows you and runs along with you as you pass through. Indians, according to Ron Morales, never camped in this vicinity. He does not like to come here at night, and says that the whites too don't like it. Roxie Peconom told Ron and Leona Morales that Indians wouldn't stay here because something bothers you at night.

8. Otie Davis, a Maidu woman of Genesee told Viola Williams that she refers to this area as Menmenohm.

9. Otie Davis told Viola Williams that the mountain above this location, Hoonanasim yamonee, means a bad mountain. Ron Morales visited maidu elder, Eleanor Wheelock, when she lived nearby, and talked with her about the mountain. She told him that you have to respect this mountain and to live here you must live together with these creatures. One doesn't fool with this mountain. Bear, coyote, wolf, mountain lion, bobcat, and rattle snake all live on this hill. Very few homes can be seen between here and Quincy.

10. Viola Williams notes that the Maidu name for the Crescent Mills area is Daugo goteem. Francis Riddell heard that the Maidu name for Forgay Point in Indian Valley is Ocho or Ochomis (Riddell 1968b: 87) For Genesee, Roland Dixon wrote Yotammoto (Dixon 1905: Plate XXXVIII). Riddell wrote Yetameto for Genesee (Riddell 1968b: 88). The Maidu Cultural and Development Group wrote Yetometon on their map. In a personal communication to Viola Williams, Otie Davis pronounced it as Yau tom maw.

11.. Dixon writes Hopnomkoyo (1905: Plate XXXVIII).

12. 0tie Davis of Genesee wrote it for Viola Williams as Be nu wik dou wem. See also Riddell on Bunuk (1968a: 86).

13. Professor Simmons wishes to acknowledge support from the University of California at Berkeley and Brown University that enabled him to participate in this project. He is grateful to Ron Morales (founder and head of the Lassen Yah-Monee Maidu Bear Dance Foundation), Steve Camacho (Susanville educator, folklorist, and historian), and Viola Williams for their generous and knowledgeable collaboration.