Wappo Indians of Napa County

A Wappo Legend:

The Creation Of Man


This myth was told by Joe McCloud, age 65, in the year 1918. He grew up in a Wappo village in the Napa Valley.  


The place where they were living was flooded. The coyote locked himself up in

 

the hole of the rock together with his grandson. After twenty days had elapsed the

water disappeared and looked around but there was no one there. "Well, said chicken-hawk, "what are we going to do grandfather?" "Tscia'o, tscia'o," said

, we'll create people." Then he picked up some feathers and built a sweat-house.

 

In the sweat-house he placed these feathers one by one. "Well, may these become

 

people!" and the feathers became alive.

 

The next day they woke up but all were lying down and they did not speak. "Grandfather," said , "what is the matter with them? They don't talk." Tscia'o," said and he went to old man moon. Moon said, "Well?" "I have come after words," said, and placed some words in a sack and tied up the end of the sack. "Here, take it." Then packed it on his back and took it into the sweat-

house. There he untied the sack and the people were able to speak.

They slept there and the next morning said, "grandfather, the people are not moving." "Tscia'o, tscia'o," said . Then he went to old man . when he got there, said, "Well?" "I've come for some fleas," said . Then he put them in a bag and tied the end of it. "Here," said the . Then packed the bag on

his back, opened it in the sweat-house, and poured out the fleas. They bit the people

and they moved.

Then they slept, and the next morning said, "grandfather, they don't laugh." "Tscia'o," said the and he went to old man. said, "Well?" "I have come after some laughter," said . The put some laughter in the sack and tied up the end. Here," said the . Then packed the bag on his back, opened it in

the sweat-house. The people laughed.

Again they slept, and the next morning said, "grandfather, they don't laugh." "Tscia'o," said the and he went to old man . said, "Well?" "I have come after some walking." "All right," said the and he put some walking in a sack and tied up the end. "Here," said the , and took the sack and

packed

 

the bag on his back. Then he untied it in the sweat-house and the the people walked.

 

The next morning the people walked, laughed, spoke and moved around. "Grandfather, said , "they don't eat." "Tscia'o," said the and he went to the . "Well?" said "I have come after bread and mush and pinole," said . "All right," said the and he gave him a piece of bread, and put some pinole and mush in the bag. "Tscia'o," said the . "Now that's all," said . "All right," said the . Then went home and when he got there he divided the bread and

pinole and mush, each one getting just so much. Then they stayed there and were

happy.


Did the Wappos have their own language? Look on the How to Speak Wappo page!

Try this: Create your own rebus. Write a story and use pictures to stand for some of the words. Share it with a friend.

Internet connection: Compare creation stories from around the world. Maybe you know one already! How are they alike? How do they differ?

What do you think? Why were the chicken-hawk, the moon, and the coyote chosen as the main characters in the story?


from Wappo Texts by Paul Radin, published by the UC Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology, U of C Press, 1924. Public domain.


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