Northwest Indians


 Stories relating to the creation of the world varied from nation to nation: The Klamath believed that Kemush, Old Man of the Ancients, had sprung from the ashes of the northern lights and made the world at the call of the Morning Star. At first, Kaila, the earth, had been flat and bare. Then Kemush planted the grass and roots and trees. He added the ducks, geese, deer, fox, sheep and bear. But Maidu, the Indian, was not yet created. Kemush, with his daughter, Evening Sky, went to the Place of the Dark. For five nights he danced in a great circle with the spirits of the dark. The spirits were without number, like the leaves on the trees. But when Shel, the sun, called to the world, the spirits became dry bones.

On the fifth day, when the sun was new, Kemush rose and put the dry bones into a sack. Then as he followed the trail of Shel, the sun, to the edge of the world, he threw away the bones. He threw them away two by two. To Kta-iti, place of steepness, he threw two. To Kuyani Shaiks, the crawfish trail, to Molaiksi, steepness of snow, and to Kakasam Yama, mountain of the great blue heron, to each he threw two bones. Thus people were created. The dry bones became Maidu, the Indian; Aikspala, the people of the chipmunks; and last of all, Maklaks, the Klamath Indian.

Then Kemush followed the trail of Shel, the sun, climbing higher and higher. At the top of the trail he built his lodge. Here still lives Kemush, Old Man of the Ancients, with his daughter, Evening Sky, and Wanaka, the sun halo.

The Hat Creek indians tell of how Silver-Fox climbed down from the sky to the water below and made a small island on which to stay. After a night of ceremony and rituals, Silver-Fox sat on the island and pushed with his foot, stretching out the earth in all directions, first to the east, then to the north, then to the west, and last to the south. For five nights he repeated this until the world became as large as it is today. Then Silver-Fox made trees and springs and animals.

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