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Creation of the Red and White Races


Among the people of long, long ago, Old Man Coyote was the symbol of good. Mountain Sheep was the symbol of evil.

Old-Man-in-the-Sky created the world. Then he drained all the water off the earth and crowded it into the big salt holes now called the oceans. The land became dry except for the lakes and rivers.

Old Man Coyote often became lonely and went up to the Sky World just to talk. One time he was so unhappy that he was crying. Old- Man-in-the-Sky questioned him.

"Why are you so unhappy that you are crying? Have I not made much land for you to run around on? Are not Chief Beaver, Chief Otter, Chief Bear, and Chief Buffalo on the land to keep you company?

"Why do you not like Mountain Sheep? I placed him up in the hilly parts so that you two need not fight. Why do you come up here so often?"

Old Man Coyote sat down and cried more tears. Old-Man-in-the-Sky became cross and began to scold him.

"Foolish Old Man Coyote, you must not drop so much water down upon the land. Have I not worked many days to dry it? Soon you will have it all covered with water again. What is the trouble with you? What more do you want to make you happy?"

"I am very lonely because I have no one to talk to," he replied. "Chief Beaver, Chief Otter, Chief Bear, and Chief Buffalo are busy with their families. They do not have time to visit with me. I want people of my own, so that I may watch over them."

"Then stop this shedding of water," said Old-Man-in-the-Sky. "If you will stop annoying me with your visits, I will make people for you. Take this parfleche. It is a bag made of rawhide. Take it some place in the mountain where there is red earth. Fill it and bring it back up to me."

Old Man Coyote took the bag made of the skin of an animal and travelled many days and nights. At last he came to a mountain where there was much red soil. He was very weary after such a long journey but he managed to fill the parfleche. Then he was sleepy.

"I will lie down to sleep for a while. When I waken, I will run swiftly back to Old-Man-in-the-Sky."

He slept very soundly.

After a while, Mountain Sheep came along. He saw the bag and looked to see what was in it.

"The poor fool has come a long distance to get such a big load of red soil," he said to himself. "I do not know what he wants it for, but I will have fun with him."

Mountain Sheep dumped all of the red soil out upon the mountain. He filled the lower part of the parfleche with white solid, and the upper part with red soil. Then laughing heartily, he ran to his hiding place.

Soon Old Man Coyote woke up. He tied the top of the bag and hurried with it to Old-Man-in-the-Sky. When he arrived with it, the sun was going to sleep. It was so dark that the two of them could hardly see the soil in the parfleche.

Old-Man-in-the-Sky took the dirt and said, "I will make this soil into the forms of two men and two women."

He did not see that half of the soil was red and the other half white. Then he said to Old Man Coyote, "Take these to the dry land below. They are your people. You can talk with them. So do not come up here to trouble me."

Then he finished shaping the two men and two women--in the darkness.

Old Man Coyote put them in the parfleche and carried them down to dry land. In the morning he took them out and put breath into them. He was surprised to see that one pair was red and the other was white.

"Now I know that Mountain Sheep came while I was asleep. I cannot keep these two colors together."

He thought a while. Then he carried the white ones to the land by the big salt hole. The red ones he kept in his own land so that he could visit with them. That is how Indians and white people came to the earth.


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