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Indigenous Peoples' Literature

Creation/Migration/Origin Stories

Gabrielinos Origin Tale

I know not if the voice of man
can reach to the sky;
I know not if the mighty one
will hear as I pray;
I know not if the gifts I ask
will all granted be;
I know not if the world of old
we truly can hear;
I know not what will come to pass
in our future days;
I hope that only good will come,
my children, to you.

Creation/Migration Stories

It must be remembered that the animals which appear in Indian stories are not the same as those which exist now. When the world began, animals were much bigger, stronger and cleverer than their present counterparts but, because of man's cruelty and agression, these left the earth and took the rainbow path to Galunlati, the Sky Land, where they still remain. The animals which came after them - those we know today - are weak imitations of those first creatures.

Wampum beads, made from several kinds of shell, were highly prized by the Indians who lived along the Atlantic coast. Where beads were laboriously cut from the conch shell and quallog clam, while the thick hinge of the clam provided Pink and purple beads.

Wampum beads were used in various ways. They were strung together to form necklaces and bracelets, or used simply to decorate clothing, weapons and utensils. They also served as a form of money to ransom captives, to pay compensation for crimes and injuries and to reward shamans for their services. Most important of all, they were made into belts and used instead of signatures to confirm area ties and agreements between tribes.

The color of the wampum was also important. White was the emblem of peace and good faith. Purple symbolized death, sorrow and mourning. White beads coloured red were sent as a declaration of war or as an invitation to join a war-party. Combinations of these colours were used to convey messages or to record ceremonies and agreements.

North American Indians tell many stories about the stars - individual stars and groups of stars. Often in these stories, the stars are referred to as "the People of the Sky World."

When the first white people came to the Northwest, Indians of several nations told them about a great bridge of rocks and earth that once spanned the lower Columbia River. When the bridge fell, they said, the rocks made numerous rapids and little waterfalls in the Columbia, near the present city of Hood River. Now the rocks and rapids are covered by the waters above Bonneville Dam.

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The Indigenous Peoples' Literature pages were researched and organized by Glenn Welker.

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