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Title: Sketch of the Mythology of the North American Indians - First Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology to the - Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, 1879-80, - Government Printing Office, Washington, 1881, pages 17-56
Author: Powell, John Wesley, 1834-1902
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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by the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF/Gallica) at


                            J. W. POWELL, DIRECTOR.


                                   OF THE



                                 J. W. POWELL.

                           SKETCH OF THE MYTHOLOGY

                                   OF THE

                           NORTH AMERICAN INDIANS.

                               BY J. W. POWELL.

                         _THE GENESIS OF PHILOSOPHY._

The wonders of the course of nature have ever challenged attention. In
savagery, in barbarism, and in civilization alike, the mind of man has
sought the explanation of things. The movements of the heavenly bodies,
the change of seasons, the succession of night and day, the powers of
the air, majestic mountains, ever-flowing rivers, perennial springs, the
flight of birds, the gliding of serpents, the growth of trees, the
blooming of flowers, the forms of storm-carved rocks, the mysteries of
life and death, the institutions of society--many are the things to be
explained. The yearning to know is universal. _How_ and _why_ are
everlasting interrogatories profoundly instinct in humanity. In the
evolution of the human mind, the instinct of cosmic interrogation
follows hard upon the instinct of self-preservation.

In all the operations of nature, man's weal and woe are involved. A cold
wave sweeps from the north--rivers and lakes are frozen, forests are
buried under snows, and the fierce winds almost congeal the life-fluids
of man himself, and indeed man's sources of supply are buried under the
rocks of water. At another time the heavens are as brass, and the clouds
come and go with mockery of unfulfilled promises of rain, the fierce
midsummer sun pours its beams upon the sands, and blasts heated in the
furnace of the desert sear the vegetation; and the fruits, which in more
congenial seasons are subsistence and luxury, shrivel before the eyes of
famishing men. A river rages and destroys the adjacent valley with its
flood. A mountain bursts forth with its rivers of fire, the land is
buried and the people are swept away. Lightning shivers a tree and rends
a skull. The silent, unseen powers of nature, too, are at work bringing
pain or joy, health or sickness, life or death, to mankind. In like
manner man's welfare is involved in all the institutions of society. _How_
and _why_ are the questions asked about all these things--questions
springing from the deepest instinct of self-preservation.

In all stages of savage, barbaric, and civilized inquiry, every question
has found an answer, every _how_ has had its _thus_, every _why_ its
_because_. The sum of the answers to the questions raised by any people
constitute its philosophy; hence all peoples have had philosophies
consisting of their accepted explanation of things. Such a philosophy
must necessarily result from the primary instincts developed in man in
the early progress of his differentiation from the beast. This I
postulate: if demonstration is necessary, demonstration is at hand. Not
only has every people a philosophy, but every stage of culture is
characterized by its stage of philosophy. Philosophy has been unfolded
with the evolution of the human understanding. The history of philosophy
is the history of human opinions from the earlier to the later
days--from the lower to the higher culture.

In the production of a philosophy, phenomena must be _discerned_,
_discriminated_, _classified_. Discernment, discrimination, and
classification are the processes by which a philosophy is developed. In
studying the philosophy of a people at any stage of culture, to
understand what such a people entertain as the sum of their knowledge,
it is necessary that we should understand what phenomena they saw,
heard, felt, discerned; what discriminations they made, and what
resemblances they seized upon as a basis for the classification on which
their explanations rested. A philosophy will be higher in the scale,
nearer the truth, as the discernment is wider, the discrimination nicer,
and the classification better.

The sense of the savage is dull compared with the sense of the civilized
man. There is a myth current in civilization to the effect that the
barbarian has highly developed perceptive faculties. It has no more
foundation than the myth of the wisdom of the owl. A savage sees but few
sights, hears but few sounds, tastes but few flavors, smells but few
odors; his whole sensuous life is narrow and blunt, and his facts that
are made up of the combination of sensuous impressions are few. In
comparison, the civilized man has his vision extended away toward the
infinitesimal and away toward the infinite; his perception of sound is
multiplied to the comprehension of rapturous symphonies; his perception
of taste is increased to the enjoyment of delicious viands; his
perception of smell is developed to the appreciation of most exquisite
perfumes; and his facts that are made up of the combination of sensuous
impressions are multiplied beyond enumeration. The stages of discernment
from the lowest savage to the highest civilized man constitute a series
the end of which is far from the beginning.

If the discernment of the savage is little, his discrimination is less.
All his sensuous perceptions are confused; but the confusion of
confusion is that universal habit of savagery--the confusion of the
objective with the subjective--so that the savage sees, hears, tastes,
smells, feels the imaginings of his own mind. Subjectively determined
sensuous processes are diseases in civilization, but normal, functional
methods in savagery.

The savage philosopher classifies by obvious resemblances--analogic
characters. The civilized philosopher classifies by essential
affinitives--homologic characteristics--and the progress of philosophy
is marked by changes from analogic categories to homologic categories.


There are two grand stages of philosophy--the mythologic and scientific.
In the first, all phenomena are explained by analogies derived from
subjective human experiences; in the latter, phenomena are explained as
orderly successions of events.

In sublime egotism, man first interprets the cosmos as an extension of
himself; he classifies the phenomena of the outer word by their
analogies with subjective phenomena; his measure of distance is his own
pace, his measure of time his own sleep, for he says, "It is a thousand
paces to the great rock," or, "It is a hundred sleeps to the great
feast." Noises are voices, powers are hands, movements are made afoot.
By subjective examination discovering in himself will and design, and by
inductive reason discovering will and design in his fellow men and in
animals, he extends the induction to all the cosmos, and there discovers
in all things will and design. All phenomena are supposed to be the acts
of some one, and that some one having will and purpose. In mythologic
philosophy the phenomena of the outer physical world are supposed to be
the acts of living, willing, designing personages. The simple are
compared with and explained by the complex. In scientific philosophy,
phenomena are supposed to be children of antecedent phenomena, and so
far as science goes with its explanation they are thus interpreted. Man
with the subjective phenomena gathered about him is studied from an
objective point of view, and the phenomena of subjective life are
relegated to the categories established in the classification of the
phenomena of the outer world; thus the complex is studied by resolving
it into its simple constituents.

There is an unknown known, and there is a known unknown. The unknown
known is the philosophy of savagery; the known unknown is the philosophy
of civilization. In those stages of culture that we call savagery and
barbarism, all things are known--supposed to be known; but when at last
something is known, understood, explained, then to those who have that
knowledge in full comprehension all other things become unknown. Then is
ushered in the era of investigation and discovery; then science is born;
then is the beginning of civilization. The philosophy of savagery is
complete; the philosophy of civilization fragmentary. Ye men of science,
ye wise fools, ye have discovered the law of gravity, but ye cannot
tell what gravity is. But savagery has a cause and a method for all
things; nothing is left unexplained.

In the lower stages of savagery the cosmos is bounded by the great plain
of land and sea on which we tread, and the firmament, the azure surface
above, set with brilliants; and beyond is an abyss of--nothing. Within
these bounds all things are known, all things are explained; there are
no mysteries but the whims of the gods. But when the plain on which we
tread becomes a portion of the surface of a great globe, and the domed
firmament becomes the heavens, stretching beyond Alcyone and Sirius,
with this enlargement of the realm of philosophy the verity of
philosophy is questioned. The savage is a positive man; the scientist is
a doubting man.

The opinions of a savage people are childish. Society grows! Some say
society develops; others that society evolves; but, somehow, I like to
say it grows. The history of the discovery of growth is a large part of
the history of human culture. That individuals grow, that the child
grows to be a man, the colt a horse, the scion a tree, is easily
recognized, though with unassisted eye the processes of growth are not
discovered. But that races grow--races of men, races of animals, races
of plants, races or groups of worlds--is a very late discovery, and yet
all of us do not grasp so great a thought. Consider that stage of
culture where the growth of individuals is not fully recognized. That
stage is savagery. To-day the native races of North America are agitated
by discussions over that great philosophic question, "Do the trees grow
or were they created?" That the grass grows they admit, but the orthodox
philosophers stoutly assert that the forest pines and the great
_sequoias_ were created as they are.

Thus in savagery the philosophers dispute over the immediate creation or
development of individuals--in civilization over the immediate creation
or development of races. I know of no single fact that better
illustrates the wide difference between these two stages of culture. But
let us look for other terms of comparison. The scalping scene is no more
the true picture of savagery than the bayonet charge of civilization.
Savagery is sylvan life. Contrast _Ka-ni-ga_ with New York. _Ka-ni-ga_
is an Indian village in the Rocky Mountains. New York is, well--New
York. The home in the forest is a shelter of boughs; the home in New
York is a palace of granite. The dwellers in _Ka-ni-ga_ are clothed in
the skins of animals, rudely tanned, rudely wrought, and colored with
daubs of clay. For the garments of New York, flocks are tended, fields
are cultivated, ships sail on the sea, and men dig in the mountains for
dye-stuffs stored in the rocks. The industries of _Ka-ni-ga_ employ
stone knives, bone awls, and human muscle; the industries of New York
employ the tools of the trades, the machinery of the manufactories, and
the power of the sun--for water-power is but sunshine, and the coal mine
is but a pot of pickeled sunbeams.

Even the nursery rhymes are in contrast; the prattler in New York says:

                            Daffy down dilly
                            Has come up to town,
                            With a green petticoat
                            And a blue gown;

but in savagery the outer and nether garments are not yet
differentiated; and more: blue and green are not differentiated, for the
Indian has but one name for the two; the green grass and the blue
heavens are of the same hue in the Indian tongue. But the nursery tales
of _Ka-ni-ga_ are of the animals, for the savages associate with the
animals on terms of recognized equality; and this is what the prattler
in _Ka-ni-ga_ says:

                            The poor little bee
                            That lives in the tree,
                            The poor little bee
                            That lives in the tree,
                            Has only one arrow
                            In his quiver.

The arts and industries of savagery and civilization are not in greater
contrast than their philosophy. To fully present to you the condition of
savagery, as illustrated in their philosophy, three obstacles appear.
After all the years I have spent among the Indians in their mountain
villages, I am not certain that I have sufficiently divorced myself from
the thoughts and ways of civilization to properly appreciate their
childish beliefs. The second obstacle subsists in your own knowledge of
the methods and powers of nature, and the ways of civilized society; and
when I attempt to tell you what an Indian thinks, I fear you will never
fully forget what you know, and thus you will be led to give too deep a
meaning to a savage explanation; or, on the other hand, contrasting an
Indian concept with your own, the manifest absurdity will sound to you
as an idle tale too simple to deserve mention, or too false to deserve
credence. The third difficulty lies in the attempt to put savage
thoughts into civilized language; our words are so full of meaning,
carry with them so many great thoughts and collateral ideas.

Some examples of the philosophic methods belonging to widely separated
grades of culture may serve to make the previous statements clearer.

_Wind._--The _Ute_ philosopher discerns that men and animals breathe. He
recognizes vaguely the phenomena of the wind, and discovers its
resemblance to breath, and explains the winds by relegating them to the
class of breathings. He declares that there is a monster beast in the
north that breathes the winter winds, and another in the south, and
another in the east, and another in the west. The facts relating to
winds are but partially discerned; the philosopher has not yet
discovered that there is an earth-surrounding atmosphere. He fails in
making the proper discriminations. His relegation of the winds to the
class of breathings is analogic, but not homologic. The basis of his
philosophy is personality, and hence he has four wind-gods.

The philosopher of the ancient Northland discovered that he could cool
his brow with a fan, or kindle a flame, or sweep away the dust with the
wafted air. The winds also cooled his brow, the winds also swept away
the dust and kindled the fire into a great conflagration, and when the
wind blew he said, "Somebody is fanning the waters of the fiord," or
"Somebody is fanning the evergreen forests," and he relegated the winds
to the class of fannings, and he said, "The god Hræsvelger, clothed
with eagle-plumes, is spreading his wings for flight, and the winds rise
from under them."

The early Greek philosopher discovered that air may be imprisoned in
vessels or move in the ventilation of caves, and he recognized wind as
something more than breath, something more than fanning, something that
can be gathered up and scattered abroad, and so when the winds blew he
said, "The sacks have been untied," or "The caves have been opened."

The philosopher of civilization, has discovered that breath, the
fan-wafted breeze, the air confined in vessels, the air moving in
ventilation, that these are all parts of the great body of air which
surrounds the earth, all in motion, swung by the revolving earth, heated
at the tropics, cooled at the poles, and thus turned into
counter-currents and again deflected by a thousand geographic features,
so that the winds sweep down valleys, eddy among mountain crags, or waft
the spray from the crested billows of the sea, all in obedience to
cosmic laws. The facts discerned are many, the discriminations made are
nice, and the classifications based on true homologies, and we have the
science of meteorology, which exhibits an orderly succession of events
even in the fickle winds.

_Sun and Moon._--The _Ute_ philosopher declares the sun to be a living
personage, and explains his passage across the heavens along an
appointed way by giving an account of a fierce personal conflict between
_Tä-vi_, the sun-god, and _Ta-wăts_, one of the supreme gods of his

In that long ago, the time to which all mythology refers, the sun roamed
the earth at will. When he came too near with his fierce heat the people
were scorched, and when he hid away in his cave for a long time, too
idle to come forth, the night was long and the earth cold. Once upon a
time _Ta-wăts_, the hare-god, was sitting with his family by the
camp-fire in the solemn woods, anxiously waiting for the return of
_Tä-vi_, the wayward sun-god. Wearied with long watching, the hare-god
fell asleep, and the sun-god came so near that he scorched the naked
shoulder of _Ta-wăts_. Foreseeing the vengeance which would be thus
provoked, he fled back to his cave beneath the earth. _Ta-wăts_ awoke
in great anger, and speedily determined to go and fight the sun-god.
After a long journey of many adventures the hare-god came to the brink
of the earth, and there watched long and patiently, till at last the
sun-god coming out he shot an arrow at his face, but the fierce heat
consumed the arrow ere it had finished its intended course; then another
arrow was sped, but that was also consumed; and another, and still
another, till only one remained in his quiver, but this was the magical
arrow that had never failed its mark. _Ta-wăts_, holding it in
his hand, lifted the barb to his eye and baptized it in a divine tear;
then the arrow was sped and struck the sun-god full in the face, and the
sun was shivered into a thousand fragments, which fell to the earth,
causing a general conflagration. Then _Ta-wăts_, the hare-god,
fled before the destruction he had wrought, and as he fled the burning
earth consumed his feet, consumed his legs, consumed his body, consumed
his hands and his arms--all were consumed but the head alone, which
bowled across valleys and over mountains, fleeing destruction from the
burning earth until at last, swollen with heat, the eyes of the god
burst and the tears gushed forth in a flood which spread over the earth
and extinguished the fire. The sun-god was now conquered, and he
appeared before a council of the gods to await sentence. In that long
council were established the days and the nights, the seasons and the
years, with the length thereof, and the sun was condemned to travel
across the firmament by the same trail day after day till the end of

In this same philosophy we learn that in that ancient time a council of
the gods was held to consider the propriety of making a moon, and at
last the task was given to Whippoorwill, a god of the night, and a frog
yielded himself a willing sacrifice for this purpose, and the
Whippoorwill, by incantations, and other magical means, transformed the
frog into the new moon. The truth of this origin of the moon is made
evident to our very senses; for do we not see the frog riding the moon
at night, and the moon is cold, because the frog from which it was made
was cold?

The philosopher of _Oraibi_ tells us that when the people ascended by
means of the magical tree which constituted the ladder from the lower
world to this, they found the firmament, the ceiling of this world, low
down upon the earth--the floor of this world, _Matcito_, one of their
gods, raised the firmament on his shoulders to where it is now seen.
Still the world was dark, as there was no sun, no moon, and no stars. So
the people murmured because of the darkness and the cold. _Matcito_
said, "Bring me seven maidens," and they brought him seven maidens; and
he said, "Bring me seven baskets of cotton-bolls," and they brought him
seven baskets of cotton-bolls; and he taught the seven maidens to weave
a magical fabric from the cotton, and when they had finished it he held
it aloft, and the breeze carried it away toward the firmament, and in
the twinkling of an eye it was transformed into a beautiful full-orbed
moon, and the same breeze caught the remnants of flocculent cotton which
the maidens had scattered during their work, and carried them aloft,
and they were transformed into bright stars. But still it was cold and
the people murmured again, and _Matcito_ said, "Bring me seven buffalo
robes," and they brought him seven buffalo robes, and from the densely
matted hair of the robes he wove another wonderful fabric, which the
storm carried away into the sky, and it was transformed into the
full-orbed sun. Then _Matcito_ appointed times and seasons and ways for
the heavenly bodies, and the gods of the firmament have obeyed the
injunctions of _Matcito_ from the day of their creation to the present.

The Norse philosopher tells us that Night and Day, each, has a horse and
a car, and they drive successively one after the other around the world
in twenty-four hours. Night rides first with her steed named Dew-hair,
and every morning as he ends his course he bedews the earth with foam
from his bit. The steed driven by Day is Shining-hair. All the sky and
earth glisten with the light of his mane. Jarnved, the great iron-wood
forest lying to the east of Midgard, is the abode of a race of witches.
One monster witch is the mother of many sons in the form of wolves, two
of which are Skol and Hate. Skol is the wolf that would devour the
maiden Sun, and she daily flies from the maw of the terrible beast, and
the moon-man flies from the wolf Hate.

The philosopher of Samos tells us that the earth is surrounded by hollow
crystalline spheres set one within another, and all revolving at
different rates from east to west about the earth, and that the sun is
set in one of these spheres and the moon in another.

The philosopher of civilization tells us that the sun is an incandescent
globe, one of the millions afloat in space. About this globe the planets
revolve, and the sun and planets and moons were formed from nebulous
matter by the gradual segregation of their particles controlled by the
laws of gravity, motion, and affinity.

The sun, traveling by an appointed way across the heavens with the
never-ending succession of day and night, and the ever-recurring train
of seasons, is one of the subjects of every philosophy. Among all
peoples, in all times, there is an explanation of these phenomena, but
in the lowest stage, way down in savagery, how few the facts discerned,
how vague the discriminations made, how superficial the resemblances by
which the phenomena are classified! In this stage of culture, all the
daily and monthly and yearly phenomena which come as the direct result
of the movements of the heavenly bodies are interpreted as the doings of
some one--some god acts. In civilization the philosopher presents us the
science of astronomy with all its accumulated facts of magnitude, and
weights, and orbits, and distances, and velocities--with all the nice
discriminations of absolute, relative, and apparent motions; and all
these facts he is endeavoring to classify in homologic categories, and
the evolutions and revolutions of the heavenly bodies are explained as
an orderly succession of events.

_Rain._--The _Shoshoni_ philosopher believes the domed firmament to be
ice, and surely it is the very color of ice, and he believes further
that a monster serpent-god coils his huge back to the firmament and with
his scales abrades its face and causes the ice-dust to fall upon the
earth. In the winter-time it falls as snow, but in the summer-time it
melts and falls as rain, and the Shoshoni philosopher actually sees the
serpent of the storm in the rainbow of many colors.

The _Oraibi_ philosopher who lives in a _pueblo_ is acquainted with
architecture, and so his world is seven-storied. There is a world below
and five worlds above this one. _Muĭñwa_, the rain-god, who lives in
the world immediately above, dips his great brush, made of feathers of
the birds of the heavens, into the lakes of the skies and sprinkles the
earth with refreshing rain for the irrigation of the crops tilled by
these curious Indians who live on the cliffs of Arizona. In winter,
_Muĭñwa_ crushes the ice of the lakes of the heavens and scatters it
over the earth, and we have a snow-fall.

The Hindoo philosopher says that the lightning-bearded Indra breaks the
vessels that hold the waters of the skies with his thunder-bolts, and
the rains descend to irrigate the earth.

The philosopher of civilization expounds to us the methods by which the
waters are evaporated from the land and the surface of the sea, and
carried away by the winds, and gathered into clouds to be discharged
again upon the earth, keeping up forever that wonderful circulation of
water from the heavens to the earth and from the earth to the
heavens--that orderly succession of events in which the waters travel by
river, by sea, and by cloud.

_Rainbow._--In _Shoshoni_, the rainbow is a beautiful serpent that
abrades the firmament of ice to give us snow and rain. In Norse, the
rainbow is the bridge Bifrost spanning the space between heaven and
earth. In the Iliad, the rainbow is the goddess Iris, the messenger of
the King of Olympus. In Hebrew, the rainbow is the witness to a
covenant. In science, the rainbow is an analysis of white light into its
constituent colors by the refraction of raindrops.

_Falling stars._--In _Ute_, falling stars are the excrements of dirty
little star-gods. In science--well, I do not know what falling stars are
in science. I think they are cinders from the furnace where the worlds
are forged. You may call this mythologic or scientific, as you please.

_Migration of birds._--The _Algonkian_ philosopher explains the
migration of birds by relating the myth of the combat between
_Ka-bĭ-bo-no-kĭ_ and _Shiñgapis_, the prototype or progenitor of the
water-hen, one of their animal gods. A fierce battle raged between
_Ka-bĭ-bo-no-kĭ_ and _Shiñgapis_, but the latter could not be
conquered. All the birds were driven from the land but _Shiñgapis_; and
then was it established that whenever in the future Winter-maker should
come with his cold winds, fierce snows, and frozen waters, all the birds
should leave for the south except _Shiñgapis_ and his friends. So the
birds that spend their winters north are called by the _Algonkian_
philosophers "the friends of _Shiñgapis_."

In contrast to this explanation of the flight of birds may be placed the
explanation of the modern evolutionist, who says that the birds migrate
in quest of abundance of food and a genial climate, guided by an
instinct of migration, which is an accumulation of inherited memories.

_Diversity of languages._--The _Kaibäbĭt_ philosopher accounts for
the diversity of languages in this manner: _Sĭ-tcom'-pa
Ma-só-ĭts_, the grandmother goddess of the sea, brought up mankind
from beneath the waves in a sack, which she delivered to the
_Cĭn-aú-äv_ brothers, the great wolf-gods of his mythology, and told
them, to carry it from the shores of the sea to the Kaibab Plateau, and
then to open it; but they were by no means to open the package ere their
arrival, lest some great disaster should befall. The curiosity of the
younger _Cĭn-aú-äv_ overcame him, and he untied the sack, and the
people swarmed out; but the elder _Cĭn-aú-äv_, the wiser god, ran
back and closed the sack while yet not all the people had escaped, and
they carried the sack, with its remaining contents, to the plateau, and
there opened it. Those that remained in the sack found a beautiful
land--a great plateau covered with mighty forests, through which elk,
deer, and antelope roamed in abundance, and many mountain-sheep were
found on the bordering crags; _piv_, the nuts of the edible pine, they
found on the foot-hills, and _us_, the fruit of the yucca, in sunny
glades; and _nänt_, the meschal crowns, for their feasts; and _tcu-ar_,
the cactus-apple, from which to make their wine; reeds grew about the
lakes for their arrow-shafts; the rocks were full of flints for their
barbs and knives, and away down, in the cañon they found a pipe-stone
quarry, and on the hills they found _är-a-ûm-pĭv_, their tobacco.
O, it was a beautiful land that was given to these, the favorites of the
gods! The descendants of these people are the present _Kaibäbĭts_ of
northern Arizona. Those who escaped by the way, through the wicked
curiosity of the younger _Cĭn-aú-äv_, scattered over the country and
became _Navajos_, _Mokis_, _Sioux_, _Comanches_, Spaniards,
Americans--poor, sorry fragments of people without the original language
of the gods, and only able to talk in imperfect jargons.

The Hebrew philosopher tells us that on the plains of Shinar the people
of the world were gathered to build a city and erect a tower, the summit
of which should reach above the waves of any flood Jehovah might send.
But their tongues were confused as a punishment for their impiety. The
philosopher of science tells us that mankind was widely scattered over
the earth anterior to the development of articulate speech, that the
languages of which we are cognizant sprang from innumerable centers as
each little tribe developed its own language, and that in the study of
any language an orderly succession of events may be discovered in its
evolution from a few simple holophrastic locutions to a complex language
with a multiplicity of words and an elaborate grammatic structure, by
the differentiation of the parts of speech and the integration of the

_A cough._--A man coughs. In explanation the _Ute_ philosopher would
tell us that an _u-nú-pĭts_--a pygmy spirit of evil--had entered the
poor man's stomach, and he would charge the invalid with having whistled
at night; for in their philosophy it is taught that if a man whistles at
night, when the pygmy spirits are abroad, one is sure to go through the
open door into the stomach, and the evidence of this disaster is found
in the cough which the _u-nú-pĭts_ causes. Then the evil spirit must
be driven out, and the medicine-man stretches his patient on the ground
and scarifies him with the claws of eagles from head to heel, and while
performing the scarification a group of men and women stand about,
forming a chorus, and medicine-man and chorus perform a fugue in gloomy
ululation, for these wicked spirits will depart only by incantations and

In our folk-lore philosophy a cough is caused by a "cold," whatever that
may be--a vague entity--that must be treated first according to the
maxim "Feed a cold and starve a fever," and the "cold" is driven away by
potations of bitter teas.

In our medical philosophy a cough may be the result of a clogging of the
pores of the skin, and is relieved by clearing those flues that carry
away the waste products of vital combustion.

These illustrations are perhaps sufficient to exhibit the principal
characteristics of the two methods of philosophy, and, though they cover
but narrow fields, it should be remembered that every philosophy deals
with the whole cosmos. An explanation of all things is sought--not alone
the great movements of the heavens, or the phenomena that startle even
the unthinking, but every particular which is observed. Abstractly, the
plane of demarkation between the two methods of philosophy can be
sharply drawn, but practically we find them strangely mixed; mythologic
methods prevail in savagery and barbarism, and scientific methods
prevail in civilization. Mythologic philosophies antedate scientific
philosophies. The thaumaturgic phases of mythology are the embryonic
stages of philosophy, science being the fully developed form. Without
mythology there could be no science, as without childhood there could be
no manhood, or without embryonic conditions there could be no ultimate


Mythologic philosophy is the subject with which we deal. Its method, as
stated in general terms, is this: All phenomena of the outer objective
world are interpreted by comparison with those of the inner subjective
world Whatever happens, some one does it; that some one has a will and
works as he wills. The basis of the philosophy is personality. The
persons who do the things which we observe in the phenomena of the
universe are the gods of mythology--_the cosmos is a pantheon_. Under
this system, whatever may be the phenomenon observed, the philosopher
asks, "Who does it?" and "Why?" and the answer comes, "A god with his
design." The winds blow, and the interrogatory is answered, "Æolus frees
them from the cave to speed the ship of a friend, or destroy the vessel
of a foe." The actors in mythologic philosophy are gods.

In the character of these gods four stages of philosophy may be
discovered. In the lowest and earliest stage everything has life;
everything is endowed with personality, will, and design; animals are
endowed with all the wonderful attributes of mankind; all inanimate
objects are believed to be animate; trees think and speak; stones have
loves and hates; hills and mountains, springs and rivers, and all the
bright stars, have life--everything discovered objectively by the senses
is looked upon subjectively by the philosopher and endowed with all the
attributes supposed to be inherent in himself. In this stage of
philosophy everything is a god. Let us call it _hecastotheism_.

In the second stage men no longer attribute life indiscriminately to
inanimate things; but the same powers and attributes recognized by
subjective vision in man are attributed to the animals by which he is
surrounded. No line of demarkation is drawn between man and beast; all
are great beings endowed with wonderful attributes. Let us call this
stage _zoötheism_, when men worship beasts. All the phenomena of nature
are the doings of these animal gods; all the facts of nature, all the
phenomena of the known universe, all the institutions of humanity known
to the philosophers of this stage, are accounted for in the mythologic
history of these zoömorphic gods.

In the third stage a wide gulf is placed between man and the lower
animals. The animal gods are dethroned, and the powers and phenomena of
nature are personified and deified. Let us call this stage
_physitheism_. The gods are strictly anthropomorphic, having the form as
well as the mental, moral, and social attributes of men. Thus we have a
god of the sun, a god of the moon, a god of the air, a god of dawn, and
a deity of the night.

In the fourth stage, mental, moral, and social characteristics are
personified and deified. Thus we have a god of war, a god of love, a god
of revelry, a god of plenty, and like personages who preside over the
institutions and occupations of mankind. Let us call this
_psychotheism_. With the mental, moral, and social characteristics in
these gods are associated the powers of nature; and they differ from
nature-gods chiefly in that they have more distinct psychic

Psychotheism, by the processes of mental integration, developes in one
direction into monotheism, and in the other into pantheism. When the
powers of nature are held predominant in the minds of the philosophers
through whose cogitations this evolution of theism is carried on,
pantheism, as the highest form of psychotheism, is the final result; but
when the moral qualities are held in highest regard in the minds of the
men in whom this process of evolution is carried on, _monotheism_, or a
god whose essential characteristics are moral qualities, is the final
product. The monotheistic god is not nature, but presides over and
operates through, nature. Psychotheism has long been recognized. All of
the earlier literature of mankind treats largely of these gods, for it
is an interesting fact that in the history of any civilized people, the
evolution of psychotheism is approximately synchronous with the
invention of an alphabet. In the earliest writings of the Egyptians, the
Hindoos, and the Greeks, this stage is discovered, and Osiris, Indra,
and Zeus are characteristic representatives. As psychotheism and written
language appear together in the evolution of culture, this stage of
theism is consciously or unconsciously a part of the theme of all
written history.

The paleontologist, in studying the rocks of the hill and the cliffs of
the mountain, discovers, in inanimate stones, the life-forms of the
ancient earth. The geologist, in the study of the structure of valleys
and mountains, discovers groups of facts that lead him to a knowledge of
more ancient mountains and valleys and seas, of geographic features long
ago buried, and followed by a new land with new mountains and valleys,
and new seas. The philologist, in studying the earliest writings of a
people, not only discovers the thoughts purposely recorded in those
writings, but is able to go back in the history of the people many
generations, and discover with even greater certainty the thoughts of
the more ancient people who made the words. Thus the writings of the
Greeks, the Hindoos, and the Egyptians, that give an account of their
psychic gods, also contain a description of an earlier theism
unconsciously recorded by the writers themselves. Psychotheism prevailed
when the sentences were coined, physitheism when the words were coined.
So the philologist discovers physitheism in all ancient literature. But
the verity of that stage of philosophy does not rest alone upon the
evidence derived from the study of fossil philosophies through the
science of philology. In the folk-lore of every civilized people having
a psychotheistic philosophy, an earlier philosophy with nature-gods is

The different stages of philosophy which I have attempted to
characterize have never been found in purity. We always observe
different methods of explanation existing side by side, and the type of
a philosophy is determined by the prevailing characteristics of its
explanation of phenomena. Fragments of the earlier are always found side
by side with, the greater body of the later philosophy. Man has never
clothed himself in new garments of wisdom, but has ever been patching
the old, and the old and the new are blended in the same pattern, and
thus we have atavism in philosophy. So in the study of any philosophy
which has reached the psychotheistic age, patches of the earlier
philosophy are always seen. Ancient nature-gods are found to be living
and associating with the supreme psychic deities. Thus in anthropologic
science there are three ways by which, to go back in the history of any
civilized people and learn of its barbaric physitheism. But of the
verity of this stage we have further evidence. When Christianity was
carried north from Central Europe, the champions of the new philosophy,
and its consequent religion, discovered, among those who dwelt by the
glaciers of the north, a barbaric philosophy which they have preserved
to history in the Eddas and Sagas, and Norse literature is full of a
philosophy in a transition state, from physitheism to psychotheism; and,
mark! the people discovered in this transition state were inventing an
alphabet--they were carving Runes. Then a pure physitheism was
discovered in the Aztec barbarism of Mexico; and elsewhere on the globe
many people were found in that stage of culture to which this philosophy
properly belongs. Thus the existence of physitheism as a stage of
philosophy is abundantly attested. Comparative mythologists are agreed
in recognizing these two stages. They might not agree to throw all of
the higher and later philosophies into one group, as I have done, but
all recognize the plane of demarkation between the higher and the lower
groups as I have drawn it. Scholars, too, have come essentially to an
agreement that physitheism is earlier and older than psychotheism.
Perhaps there may be left a "doubting Thomas" who believes that the
highest stage of psychotheism--that is, monotheism--was the original
basis for the philosophy of the world, and that all other forms are
degeneracies from that primitive and perfect state. If there be such a
man left, to him what I have to say about philosophy is blasphemy.

Again, all students of comparative philosophy, or comparative mythology,
or comparative religion, as you may please to approach this subject from
different points of view, recognize that there is something else; that
there are philosophies, or mythologies, or religions, not included in
the two great groups. All that something else has been vaguely called
fetichism. I have divided it into two parts, _hecastotheism_ and
_zoötheism_. The verity of zoötheism as a stage of philosophy rests on
abundant evidence. In psychotheism it appears as _devilism_ in obedience
to a well-known law of comparative theology, viz, that the gods of a
lower and superseded stage of culture oftentimes become the devils of a
higher stage. So in the very highest stages of psychotheism we find
beast-devils. In Norse mythology, we have Fenris the wolf, and
Jormungandur the serpent. Dragons appear in Greek mythology, the bull is
an Egyptian god, a serpent is found in the Zendavesta; and was there not
a scaly fellow in the garden of Eden? So common are these beast-demons
in the higher mythologies that they are used in every literature as
rhetorical figures. So we find, as a figure of speech, the great red
dragon with seven heads and ten horns, with tail that with one brush
sweeps away a third of the stars of heaven. And where-ever we find
nature-worship we find it accompanied with beast-worship. In the study
of higher philosophies, having learned that lower philosophies often
exist side by side with them, we might legitimately conclude that a
philosophy based upon animal gods had existed previous to the
development of physitheism; and philologic research, leads to the same
conclusion. But we are not left to base this conclusion upon, an
induction only, for in the examination of savage philosophies we
actually discover zoötheism in all its proportions. Many of the Indians
of North America, and many of South America, and many of the tribes of
Africa, are found to be zoötheists. Their supreme gods are
animals--tigers, bears, wolves, serpents, birds. Having discovered this,
with a vast accumulation of evidence, we are enabled to carry philosophy
back one stage beyond physitheism, and we can confidently assert that
all the philosophies of civilization have come up through these three

And yet, there are fragments of philosophy discovered which are not
zoötheistic, physitheistic, nor psychotheistic. What are they? We find
running through all three stages of higher philosophy that phenomena are
sometimes explained by regarding them as the acts of persons who do not
belong to any of the classes of gods found in the higher stages. We find
fragments of philosophy everywhere which seem to assume that all
inanimate nature is animate; that mountains and hills, and rivers and
springs, that trees and grasses, that stones, and all fragments of
things are endowed with life and with will, and act for a purpose. These
fragments of philosophy lead to the discovery of hecastotheism.
Philology also leads us back to that state when the animate and the
inanimate were confounded, for the holophrastic roots into which words
are finally resolved show us that all inanimate things were represented
in language as actors. Such is the evidence on which we predicate the
existence of hecastotheism as a veritable stage of philosophy. Unlike
the three higher stages, it has no people extant on the face of the
globe, known to be in this stage of culture. The philosophies of many of
the lowest tribes of mankind are yet unknown, and hecastotheism may be
discovered; but at the present time we are not warranted in saying that
any tribe entertains this philosophy as its highest wisdom.


The three stages of mythologic philosophy that are still extant in the
world must be more thoroughly characterized, and the course of their
evolution indicated. But in order to do this clearly, certain outgrowths
from mythologic philosophy must be explained--certain theories and
practices that necessarily result from, this philosophy, and that are
intricately woven into the institutions of mankind.

_Ancientism._--The first I denominate ancientism. Yesterday was better
than to-day. The ancients were wiser that we. This belief in a better
day and a better people in the elder time is almost universal among
mankind. A belief so widely spread, so profoundly entertained, must have
for its origin some important facts in the constitution or history of
mankind. Let us see what they are.

In the history of every individual the sports and joys of childhood are
compared and contrasted with the toils and pains of old age. Greatly
protracted life, in savagery and barbarism, is not a boon to be craved.
In that stage of society where the days and the years go by with little
or no provision for a time other than that which is passing, the old
must go down to the grave through poverty and suffering. In that stage
of culture to-morrow's bread is not certain, and to-day's bread is often
scarce. In civilization plenty and poverty live side by side; the palace
and the hovel are on the same landscape; the rich and poor elbow each
other on the same street; but in savagery plenty and poverty come with
recurring days to the same man, and the tribe is rich to-day and poor
to-morrow, and the days of want come in every man's history; and when
they come the old suffer most, and the burden of old age is oppressive.
In youth activity is joy; in old age activity is pain. So wonder, then,
that old age loves youth, or that to-day loves yesterday, for the
instinct is born of the inherited experiences of mankind.

But there is yet another and more potent reason for ancientism. That
tale is the most wonderful that has been most repeated, for the breath
of speech is the fertilizer of story. Hence, the older the story the
greater its thaumaturgics. Thus, yesterday is greater than to-day by
natural processes of human exaggeration. Again, that is held to be most
certain, and hence most sacred, which has been most often affirmed. A
Brahman was carrying a goat to the altar. Three thieves would steal it.
So they placed themselves at intervals along the way by which the pious
Brahman would travel. When the venerable man came to the first thief he
was accosted: "Brahman, why do you carry a dog?" Now, a dog is an
unclean beast which no Brahman must touch. And the Brahman, after
looking at his goat, said: "You do err; this is a goat." And when the
old man reached the second thief, again he was accosted: "Brahman, why
do you carry a dog?" So the Brahman put his goat on the ground, and
after narrowly scrutinizing it, he said: "Surely this is a goat," and
went on his way. When he came to the third thief he was once more
accosted: "Brahman, why do you carry a dog?" Then the Brahman, having
thrice heard that his goat was a dog, was convinced, and throwing it
down, he fled to the temple for ablution, and the thieves had a feast.

The child learns not for himself, but is taught, and accepts as true
that which is told, and a propensity to believe the affirmed is
implanted in his mind. In every society some are wise and some are
foolish, and the wise are revered, and their affirmations are accepted.
Thus, the few lead the multitude in knowledge, and the propensity to
believe the affirmed started in childhood is increased in manhood in the
great average of persons constituting society, and these propensities
are inherited from generation to generation, until we have a cumulation
of effects.

The propagation of opinions by affirmation, the cultivation of the
propensity to believe that which has been affirmed many times, let us
call _affirmatization_. If the world's opinions were governed only by
the principles of mythologic philosophy, affirmatization would become so
powerful that nothing would be believed but the anciently affirmed. Men
would come to no new knowledge. Society would stand still listening to
the wisdom of the fathers. But the power of affirmatization is steadily
undermined by science.

And, still again, the institutions of society conform to its philosophy.
The explanations of things always includes the origin of human
institutions. So the welfare of society is based on philosophy, and the
venerable sayings which constitute philosophy are thus held as sacred.
So ancientism is developed from accumulated life-experiences; by the
growth of story in repeated narration; by the steadily increasing power
of affirmatization, and by respect for the authority upon which the
institutions of society are based; all accumulating as they come down
the generations. That we do thus inherit effects we know, for has it not
been affirmed in the Book that "the fathers have eaten grapes, and the
children's teeth are set on edge"? As men come to believe that the "long
ago" was better than the "now," and the dead were better than the
living, then philosophy must necessarily include a theory of degeneracy,
which is a part of ancientism.

_Theistic Society._--Again, the actors in mythologic philosophy are
personages, and we always find them organized in societies. The social
organization of mythology is always found to be essentially identical
with the social organization of the people who entertain the philosophy.
The gods are husbands and wives, and parents and children, and the gods
have an organized government. This gives us theistic society, and we
cannot properly characterize a theism without taking its mythic society
into consideration.

_Spiritism._--In the earliest stages of society of which we have
practical knowledge by acquaintance with the people themselves, a belief
in the existence of spirits prevails--a shade, an immaterial existence,
which is the duplicate of the material personage. The genesis of this
belief is complex. The workings of the human mind during periods of
unconsciousness lead to opinions that are enforced by many physical

First, we have the activities of the mind during sleep, when the man
seems to go out from himself, to converse with his friends, to witness
strange scenes, and to have many wonderful experiences. Thus the man
seems to have lived an eventful life, when his body was, in fact,
quiescent and unconscious. Memories of scenes and activities in former
days, and the inherited memories of scenes witnessed and actions
performed by ancestors, are blended in strange confusion by broken and
inverted sequences. Now and then the dream-scenes are enacted in real
life, and the infrequent coincidence or apparent verification makes deep
impression on the mind, while unfulfilled dreams are forgotten. Thus the
dreams of sleepers are attributed to their immaterial duplicates their
spirits. In many diseases, also, the mind seems to wander, to see sights
and to hear sounds, and to have many wonderful experiences, while the
body itself is apparently unconscious. Sometimes, on restored health,
the person may recall these wonderful experiences, and during their
occurrence the subject talks to unseen persons, and seems to have
replies, and to act, to those who witness, in such a manner that a
second self--a spirit independent of the body--is suggested. When
disease amounts to long-continued insanity all of these effects are
greatly exaggerated, and make a deep impression upon all who witness the
phenomena. Thus the hallucinations of fever-racked brains, and mad
minds, are attributed to spirits.

The same conditions of apparent severance of mind and body witnessed in
dreams and hallucinations are often produced artificially in the
practice of _ecstasism_. In the vicissitudes of savage life, while
little or no provision is made for the future, there are times when the
savage resorts to almost anything at hand as a means of subsistence, and
thus all plants and all parts of plants, seed, fruit, flowers, leaves,
bark, roots--anything in times of extreme want--may be used as food. But
experience soon teaches the various effects upon the human system which
are produced by the several vegetable substances with which he meets,
and thus the effect of narcotics is early discovered, and the savage in
the practice of his religion oftentimes resorts to these native drugs
for the purpose of producing an ecstatic state under which divination
may be performed. The practice of ecstasism is universal in the lower
stages of culture. In times of great anxiety, every savage and barbarian
seeks to know of the future. Through all the earlier generations of
mankind, ecstasism has been practiced, and civilized man has thus an
inherited appetite for narcotics, to which the enormous propensity to
drunkenness existing in all nations bears witness. When the great actor
in his personation of Rip Van Winkle holds his goblet aloft and says,
"Here's to your health and to your family's, and may they live long and
prosper," he connects the act of drinking with a prayer, and
unconsciously demonstrates the origin of the use of stimulants. It may
be that when the jolly companion has become a loathsome sot, and his
mind is ablaze with the fire of drink, and he sees uncouth beasts in
horrid presence, that inherited memories haunt him with visions of the
beast-gods worshipped by his ancestors at the very time when the
appetite for stimulants was created.

But ecstasism is produced in other ways, and for this purpose the savage
and barbarian often resorts to fasting and bodily torture. In many ways
he produces the wonderful state, and the visions of ecstasy are
interpreted as the evidence of spirits.

Many physical phenomena serve to confirm this opinion. It is very late
in philosophy when shadows are referred to the interception of the rays
of the sun. In savagery and barbarism, shadows are supposed to be
emanations from or duplicates of the bodies causing the shadows. And
what savage understands the reflection of the rays of the sun by which
images are produced? They also are supposed to be emanations or
duplications of the object reflected. No savage or barbarian could
understand that the waves of the air are turned back, and sound is
duplicated in an echo. He knows not that there is an atmosphere, and to
him the echo is the voice of an unseen, personage--a spirit. There is no
theory more profoundly implanted in early mankind than that of

_Thaumaturgics._--The gods of mythologic philosophies are created to
account for the wonders of nature. Necessarily they are a wonder-working
folk, and, having been endowed with these magical powers in all the
histories given in mythic tales of their doings on the earth, we find
them performing most wonderful feats. They can transform themselves;
they can disappear and reappear; all their senses are magical; some are
endowed with a multiplicity of eyes, others have a multiplicity of ears;
in Norse mythology the watchman on the rainbow bridge could hear the
grass grow, and wool on the backs of sheep; arms can stretch out to
grasp the distance, tails can coil about mountains, and all powers
become magical. But the most wonderful power with which the gods are
endowed is the power of will, for we find that they can think their
arrows to the hearts of their enemies; mountains are overthrown by
thought, and thoughts are projected into other minds. Such are the
thaumaturgics of mythologic philosophy.

_Mythic tales._--Early man having created through the development of his
philosophy a host of personages, these gods must have a history. A part
of that history, and the most important part to us as students of
philosophy, is created in the very act of creating the gods themselves.
I mean that portion of their history which relates to the operations of
nature, for the gods were created to account for those things. But to
this is added much else of adventure. The gods love as men love, and go
in quest of mates. The gods hate as men hate, and fight in single combat
or engage in mythic battles; and the history of these adventures
impelled by love and hate, and all other passions and purposes with
which men are endowed, all woven into a complex tissue with their doings
in carrying out the operations of nature, constitutes the web and woof
of mythology.

_Religion._--Again, as human welfare is deeply involved in the
operations of nature, man's chief interest is in the gods. In this
interest religion originates. Man, impelled by his own volition, guided
by his own purposes, aspires to a greater happiness, and endeavor
follows endeavor, but at every step his progress is impeded; his own
powers fail before the greater powers of nature; his powers are pygmies,
nature's powers are giants, and to him these giants are gods with wills
and purposes of their own, and he sees that man in his weakness can
succeed only by allying himself with the gods. Hence, impelled by this
philosophy, man must have communion with the gods, and in this communion
he must influence them to work for himself. Hence, religion, which has
to do with the relations which exist between the gods and man, is the
legitimate offspring of mythologic philosophy.

Thus we see that out of mythologic philosophy, as branches of the great
tree itself, there grow ancientism, theistic society, spiritism,
thaumaturgics, mythic tales, and religion.


I shall now give a summary characterization of zoötheism, then call
attention to some of the relics of hecastotheism found therein, and
proceed with a brief statement of the higher stages of theism. The
apparent and easily accessible is studied first. In botany, the trees
and the conspicuous flowering plants of garden, field, and plain were
first known, and then all other plants were vaguely grouped as weeds;
but, since the most conspicuous phenogamous plants were first studied,
what vast numbers of new orders, new genera, and new species have been
discovered, in the progress of research, to the lowest cryptogams!

In the study of ethnology we first recognized the more civilized races.
The Aryan, Hamites, Shemites, and Chinese, and the rest were the weeds
of humanity--the barbarian and savage, sometimes called Turanians. But,
when we come carefully to study these lower people, what numbers of
races are discovered! In North America alone we have more than
seventy-five--seventy-five stocks of people speaking seventy-five stocks
of language, and some single stocks embracing many distinct languages
and dialects. The languages of the Algonkian family are as diverse as
the Indo-European tongues. So are the languages of the Dakotans, the
Shoshonians, the Tinnéans, and others; so that in North America we have
more than five hundred languages spoken to-day. Each linguistic stock is
found to have a philosophy of its own, and each stock as many branches
of philosophy as it has languages and dialects. North America presents a
magnificent field for the study of savage and barbaric philosophies.

This vast region of thought has been explored only by a few adventurous
travelers in the world of science. No thorough survey of any part has
been made. Yet the general outlines of North American philosophy are
known, but the exact positions, the details, are all yet to be filled
in--as the geography of the general outline of North America is known by
exploration, but the exact positions and details of topography are yet
to be filled in as the result of careful survey. Myths of the Algonkian
stock are found in many a volume of _Americana_, the best of which were
recorded by the early missionaries who came from Europe, though we find
some of them, mixed with turbid speculations, in the writings of
Schoolcraft. Many of the myths of the Indians of the south, in that
region stretching back from the great Gulf, are known; some collected by
travelers, others by educated Indians.

Many of the myths of the Iroquois are known. The best of these are in
the writings of Morgan, America's greatest anthropologist. Missionaries,
travelers, and linguists have given us a great store of the myths of the
Dakotan stock. Many myths of the Tinnéan also have been collected.
Petitot has recorded a number of those found at the north, and we have
in manuscript some of the myths of a southern branch--the Navajos.
Perhaps the myths of the Shoshonians have been collected more thoroughly
than those of any other stock. These are yet unpublished, but the
manuscripts are in the library of the Bureau of Ethnology. Powers has
recorded many of the myths of various stocks in California, and the old
Spanish writings give us a fair collection of the Nahuatlan myths of
Mexico, and Rink has presented an interesting volume on the mythology of
the Innuits; and, finally, fragments of mythology have been collected
from nearly all the tribes of North America, and they are scattered
through thousands of volumes, so that the literature is vast. The brief
description which I shall give of zoötheism is founded on a study of the
materials which I have thus indicated.

All these tribes are found in the higher stages of savagery, or the
lower stages of barbarism, and their mythologies are found to be
zoötheistic among the lowest, physitheistic among the highest, and a
great number of tribes are found in a transition state: for zoötheism is
found to be a characteristic of savagery, and physitheism of barbarism,
using the terms as they have been defined by Morgan. The supreme gods of
this stage are animals. The savage is intimately associated with
animals. From them he obtains the larger part of his clothing, and much
of his food, and he carefully studies their habits and finds many
wonderful things. Their knowledge and skill and power appear to him to
be superior to his own. He sees the mountain-sheep fleet among the
crags, the eagle soaring in the heavens, the humming-bird poised over
its blossom-cup of nectar, the serpents swift without legs, the salmon
scaling the rapids, the spider weaving its gossamer web, the ant
building a play-house mountain--in all animal nature he sees things too
wonderful for him, and from admiration he grows to adoration, and the
animals become his gods.

Ancientism plays an important part in this zoötheism. It is not the
animals of to-day whom the Indians worship, but their progenitors--their
prototypes. The wolf of to-day is a howling pest, but that wolf's
ancestor--the first of the line--was a god. The individuals of every
species are supposed to have descended from an ancient being--a
progenitor of the race; and so they have a grizzly-bear god, an
eagle-god, a rattlesnake-god, a trout-god, a spider-god--a god for every
species and variety of animal.

By these animal gods all things were established. The heavenly bodies
were created and their ways appointed, and when the powers and
phenomena of nature are personified the personages are beasts, and all
human institutions also were established by the ancient animal-gods.

The ancient animals of any philosophy of this stage are found to
constitute a clan or _gens_--a body of relatives, or _consanguinei_ with
grandfathers, fathers, sons, and brothers. In _Ute_ theism, the ancient
_To-gó-äv_, the first rattlesnake is the grandfather, and all the
animal-gods are assigned to their relationships. Grandfather _To-gó-äv_,
the wise, was the chief of the council, but _Cĭn-aú-äv_, the ancient
wolf, was the chief of the clan.

There were many other clans and tribes of ancient gods with whom these
supreme gods had dealings, of which hereafter; and, finally, each of
these ancient gods became the progenitor of a new tribe, so that we have
a tribe of bears, a tribe of eagles, a tribe of rattlesnakes, a tribe of
spiders, and many other tribes, as we have tribes of Utes, tribes of
Sioux, tribes of Navajos; and in that philosophy tribes of animals are
considered to be coördinate with tribes of men. All of these gods have
invisible duplicates--spirits--and they have often visited the earth.
All of the wonderful things seen in nature are done by the animal-gods.
That elder life was a magic life; but the descendants of the gods are
degenerate. Now and then as a medicine-man by practicing sorcery can
perform great feats, so now and then there is a medicine-bear, a
medicine-wolf, or a medicine-snake that can work magic.

On winter nights the Indians gather about the camp-fire, and then the
doings of the gods are recounted in many a mythic tale. I have heard the
venerable and impassioned orator on the camp-meeting stand rehearse the
story of the crucifixion, and have seen the thousands gathered there
weep in contemplation of the story of divine suffering, and heard their
shouts roll down the forest aisles as they gave vent to their joy at the
contemplation of redemption. But the scene was not a whit more dramatic
than another I have witnessed in an evergreen forest of the Rocky
Mountain region, where a tribe was gathered under the great pines, and
the temple of light from the blazing fire was walled by the darkness of
midnight, and in the midst of the temple stood the wise old man,
telling, in simple savage language, the story of _Ta-wăts_, when he
conquered the sun and established the seasons and the days. In that
pre-Columbian time, before the advent of white men, all the Indian
tribes of North America gathered on winter nights by the shores of the
seas where the tides beat in solemn rhythm, by the shores of the great
lakes where the waves dashed against frozen beaches, and by the banks of
the rivers flowing ever in solemn mystery--each in its own temple of
illumined space--and listened to the story of its own supreme gods, the
ancients of time.

Religion, in this stage of theism, is sorcery. Incantation, dancing,
fasting, bodily torture, and ecstasism are practiced. Every tribe has
its potion or vegetable drug, by which the ecstatic state is produced,
and their venerable medicine-men see visions and dream dreams. No
enterprise is undertaken without consulting the gods, and no evil
impends but they seek to propitiate the gods. All daily life, to the
minutest particular, is religious. This stage of religion is
characterized by fetichism. Every Indian is provided with his charm or
fetich, revealed to him in some awful hour of ecstasy produced by
fasting, or feasting, or drunkenness, and that fetich he carries with
him to bring good luck, in love or in combat, in the hunt or on the
journey. He carries a fetich suspended to his neck, he ties a fetich to
his bow, he buries a fetich under his tent, he places a fetich under his
pillow of wild-cat skins, he prays to his fetich, he praises it, or
chides it; if successful, his fetich receives glory; if he fail, his
fetich is disgraced. These fetiches may be fragments of bone or shell,
the tips of the tails of animals, the claws of birds or beasts, perhaps
dried hearts of little warblers, shards of beetles, leaves powdered and
held in bags, or crystals from the rocks--anything curious may become a
fetich. Fetichism, then, is a religious means, not a philosophic or
mythologic state. Such are the supreme gods of the savage, and such the
institutions which belong to their theism. But they have many other
inferior gods. Mountains, hills, valleys, and great rocks have their own
special deities--invisible spirits--and lakes, rivers, and springs are
the homes of spirits. But all these have animal forms when in proper
_personæ_. Yet some of the medicine-spirits can transform themselves,
and work magic as do medicine-men. The heavenly bodies are either
created personages or ancient men or animals translated to the sky. And,
last, we find that ancestors are worshipped as gods.

Among all the tribes of North America with which we are acquainted
tutelarism prevails. Every tribe and every clan has its own protecting
god, and every individual has his _my god_. It is a curious fact that
every Indian seeks to conceal the knowledge of his _my god_ from all
other persons, for he fears that, if his enemy should know of his
tutelar deity, he might by extraordinary magic succeed in estranging
him, and be able to compass his destruction through his own god.

In this summary characterization of zoötheism, I have necessarily
systematized my statements. This, of course, could not be done by the
savage himself. He could give you its particulars, but could not group
those particulars in any logical way. He does not recognize any system,
but talks indiscriminately, now of one, now of another god, and with him
the whole theory as a system is vague and shadowy, but its particulars
are vividly before his mind, and the certainty with which he entertains
his opinions leaves no room to doubt his sincerity.

But there is yet another phase of theism discovered. Sometimes a
particular mountain, or hill, or some great rock, some waterfall, some
lake, or some spring receives special worship, and is itself believed to
be a deity. This seems to be a relic of hecastotheism. Fetichism, also,
seems to have come from that lower grade, and all the minor deities, the
spirits of mountains and hills and forest, seem to have been derived
from that same stage, but with this development, that the things
themselves are not worshipped, but their essential spirits.

From zoötheism, as described, to physitheism the way is long. Gradually,
in the progress of philosophy, animal gods are dethroned and become
inferior gods or are forgotten; and gradually the gods of the
firmament--the sun, the moon, the stars--are advanced to supremacy; the
clouds, the storms, the winds, day and night, dawn and gloaming, the
sky, the earth, the sea, and all the various phases of nature perceived
by the barbaric mind, are personified and deified and exalted to a
supremacy coordinate with the firmament gods; and all the gods of the
lower stage that remain--animals, demons, and all men--belong to
inferior tribes. The gods of the sky--the shining ones, those that soar
on bright wings, those that are clothed in gorgeous colors, those that
came from we know not where, those that vanish to the unknown--are the
supreme gods. We always find these gods organized in great tribes, with
mighty chieftains who fight in great combats or lead their hosts in
battle, and return with much booty. Such is the theism of ancient
Mexico, such the theism of the Northland, and such the theism discovered
among the ancient Aryans.

From this stage to psychotheism the way is long, for evolution is slow.
Gradually men come to differentiate more carefully between good and
evil, and the ethic character of their gods becomes the subject of
consideration, and the good gods grow in virtue, and the bad gods grow
in vice. Their identity with physical objects and phenomena is gradually
lost. The different phases or conditions of the same object or
phenomenon are severed, and each is personified. The bad gods are
banished to underground homes, or live in concealment, from which they
issue on their expeditions of evil. Still, all powers exist in these
gods, and all things were established by them. With the growth of their
moral qualities no physical powers are lost, and the sports of the
physical bodies and phenomena become demons, subordinate to the great
gods who preside over nature and human institutions.

We find, also, that these superior gods are organized in societies. I
have said the Norse mythology was in a transition state from physitheism
to psychotheism. The Asas, or gods, lived in Asgard, a mythic communal
village, with its Thing or Council, the very counterpart of the communal
village of Iceland. Olympus was a Greek city.

Still further in the study of mythologic philosophy we see that more and
more supremacy falls into the hands of the few, until monotheism is
established on the plan of the empire. Then all of the inferior deities
whose characters are pure become ministering angels, and the inferior
deities whose characters are evil become devils, and the differentiation
of good and evil is perfected in the gulf between heaven and hell. In
all this time from zoötheism to monotheism, ancientism becomes more
ancient, and the times and dynasties are multiplied. Spiritism is more
clearly defined, and spirits become eternal; mythologic tales are
codified, and sacred books are written; divination for the result of
amorous intrigue has become the prophecy of immortality, and
thaumaturgics is formulated as the omnipresent, the omnipotent, the
omniscient--the infinite.

Time has failed me to tell of the evolution of idolatry from fetichism,
priestcraft from sorcery, and of their overthrow by the doctrines that
were uttered by that voice on the Mount. Religion, that was fetichism
and ecstasism and sorcery, is now the yearning for something better,
something purer, and the means by which this highest state for humanity
may be reached, the ideal worship of the highest monotheism, is "in
spirit and in truth." The steps are long from _Cĭn-aú-äv_, the
ancient of wolves, by Zeus, the ancient of skies, to Jehovah, the
"Ancient of Days."

                         _MYTHIC TALES._

In every Indian tribe there is a great body of story lore--tales
purporting to be the sayings and doings, the history, of the gods. Every
tribe has one or more persons skilled in the relation of these
stories--preachers. The long winter evenings are set apart for this
purpose. Then the men and women, the boys and girls, gather about the
camp-fire to listen to the history of the ancients, to a chapter in the
unwritten bible of savagery. Such a scene is of the deepest interest. A
camp-fire of blazing pine or sage boughs illumines a group of dusky
faces intent with expectation, and the old man begins his story, talking
and acting; the elders receiving his words with reverence, while the
younger persons are played upon by the actor until they shiver with fear
or dance with delight. An Indian is a great actor. The conditions of
Indian life train them in natural sign language. Among the two hundred
and fifty or three hundred thousand Indians in the United States, there
are scores of languages, so that often a language is spoken by only a
few hundred or a few score of people; and as a means of communication
between tribes speaking different languages, a sign language has grown
up, so that an Indian is able to talk all over--with the features of his
face, his hands and feet, the muscles of his body; and thus a skillful
preacher talks and acts; and, inspired by a theme which treats of the
gods, he sways his savage audience at will. And ever as he tells his
story he points a moral--the mythology, theology, religion, history, and
all human duties are taught. This preaching is one of the most important
institutions of savagery. The whole body of myths current in a tribe is
the sum total of their lore--their philosophy, their miraculous history,
their authority for their governmental institutions, their social
institutions, their habits and customs. It is their unwritten bible.


Once upon a time the _Cĭn-aú-äv_ brothers met to consult about the
destiny of the _U-ĭn-ká-rĕts_. At this meeting the younger said:
"Brother, how shall these people obtain their food? Let us devise some
good plan for them. I was thinking about it all night, but could not see
what would be best, and when the dawn came into the sky I went to a
mountain and sat on its summit, and thought a long time; and now I can
tell you a good plan by which they can live. Listen to your younger
brother. Look at these pine trees; their nuts are sweet; and there is
the _us_, very rich; and there is the apple of the cactus, full of juice;
on the plain you see the sunflower, bearing many seeds--they will be
good for the nation. Let them have all these things for their food, and
when they have gathered a store they shall put them in the ground, or
hide them in the rocks, and when they return they shall find abundance,
and having taken of them as they may need, shall go on, and yet when
they return a second time there shall still be plenty; and though they
return many times, as long as they live the store shall never fail; and
thus they will be supplied with abundance of food without toil." "Not
so," said the elder brother, "for then will the people, idle and
worthless, and having no labor to perform, engage in quarrels, and
fighting will ensue, and they will destroy each other, and the people
will be lost to the earth; they must work for all they receive." Then
the younger brother answered not, but went away sorrowing.

The next day he met the elder brother and accosted him thus: "Brother,
your words were wise; let the _U-ĭn-ká-rĕts_ work for their food.
But how shall they be furnished with honey-dew? I have thought all night
about this, and when the dawn came into the sky I sat on the summit of
the mountain and did think, and now I will tell you how to give them
honey-dew: Let it fall like a great snow upon the rocks, and the women
shall go early in the morning and gather all they may desire, and they
shall be glad." "No," replied the elder brother, "it will not be good,
my little brother, for them to have much and find it without toil; for
they will deem it of no more value than dung, and what we give them for
their pleasure will only be wasted. In the night it shall fall in small
drops on the reeds, which they shall gather and beat with clubs, and
then will it taste very sweet, and having but little they will prize it
the more." And the younger brother went away sorrowing, but returned the
next day and said: "My brother, your words are wise; let the women
gather the honey-dew with much toil, by beating the reeds with flails.
Brother, when a man or a woman, or a boy or a girl, or a little one
dies, where shall he go? I have thought all night about this, and when
the dawn came into the sky I sat on the top of the mountain and did
think. Let me tell you what to do: When a man dies, send him back when
the morning returns, and then will all his friends rejoice." "Not so,"
said the elder; "the dead shall return no more." The little brother
answered him not, but, bending his head in sorrow, went away.

One day the younger _Cĭn-aú-äv_ was walking in the forest, and saw
his brother's son at play, and taking an arrow from his quiver slew the
boy, and when he returned he did not mention what he had done. The
father supposed that his boy was lost, and wandered around in the woods
for many days, and at last found the dead child, and mourned his loss
for a long time.

One day the younger _Cĭn-aú-äv_ said to the elder, "You made the law
that the dead should never return. I am glad that you were the first to
suffer." Then the elder knew that the younger had killed his child, and
he was very angry and sought to destroy him, and as his wrath increased
the earth rocked, subterraneous groanings were heard, darkness came on,
fierce storms raged, lightning flashed, thunder reverberated through the
heavens, and the younger brother fled in great terror to his father,
_Ta-vwots'_, for protection.

                          _ORIGIN OF THE ECHO._

_I'-o-wi_ (the turtle dove) was gathering seeds in the valley, and her
little babe slept. Wearied with carrying it on her back, she laid it
under the _tĭ-hó-pĭ_ (sage bush) in care of its sister, _O-hó-tcu_
(the summer yellow bird). Engaged in her labors, the mother wandered
away to a distance, when a _tsó-a-vwĭts_ (a witch) came and said to
the little girl, "Is that your brother?" and _O-hó-tcu_ answered, "This
is my sister," for she had heard that witches preferred to steal boys,
and did not care for girls. Then the _tsó-a-vwĭts_ was angry and
chided her, saying that it was very naughty for girls to lie; and she
put on a strange and horrid appearance, so that _O-hó-tcu_ was stupefied
with fright; then the _tsó-a-vwĭts_ ran away with the boy, carrying
him, to her home on a distant mountain. Then she laid him down on the
ground, and, taking hold of his right foot, stretched the baby's leg
until it was as long as that of a man, and she did the same to the other
leg; then his body was elongated; she stretched his arms, and, behold,
the baby was as large as a man. And the _tsó-a-vwĭts_ married him and
had a husband, which she had long desired; but, though he had the body
of a man, he had the heart of a babe, and knew no better than to marry a

Now, when _I'-o-wi_ returned and found not her babe under the
_tĭ-hó-pĭ_, but learned from _O-hó-tcu_ that it had been stolen by
a _tsó-a-vwĭts_, she was very angry, and punished her daughter very
severely. Then she went in search of the babe for a long time, mourning
as she went, and crying and still crying, refusing to be comforted,
though all her friends joined her in the search, and promised to revenge
her wrongs.

Chief among her friends was her brother, _Kwi'-na_, (the eagle), who
traveled far and wide over all the land, until one day he heard a
strange noise, and coming near he saw the _tsó-a-vwĭts_ and _U'-ja_
(the sage cock), her husband, but he did not know that this large man
was indeed the little boy who had been stolen. Yet he returned and
related to _I'-o-wi_ what he had seen, who said: "If that is indeed my
boy, he will know my voice." So the mother came near to where the
_tsó-a-vwĭts_ and _U'-ja_ were living, and climbed into a cedar tree,
and mourned and cried continually. _Kwi'-na_ placed himself near by on
another tree to observe what effect the voice of the mother would have
on _U'-ja_, the _tsó-a-vwĭts'_ husband. When he heard the cry of his
mother, _U'-ja_ knew the voice, and said to the _tsó-a-vwĭts_, "I
hear my mother, I hear my mother, I hear my mother," but she laughed at
him, and persuaded him to hide.

Now, the _tsó-a-vwĭts_ had taught _U'-ja_ to hunt, and a short time
before he had killed a mountain sheep, which was lying in camp. The
witch emptied the contents of the stomach, and with her husband took
refuge within; for she said to herself, "Surely, _I'-o-wi_ will never
look in the paunch of a mountain sheep for my husband." In this retreat
they were safe for a long time, so that they who were searching were
sorely puzzled at the strange disappearance. At last _Kwi'-na_ said,
"They are hid somewhere in the ground, maybe, or under the rocks; after
a long time they will be very hungry and will search for food; I will
put some in a tree so as to tempt them." So he killed a rabbit and put
it on the top of a tall pine, from which he trimmed the branches and
peeled the bark, so that it would be very difficult to climb; and he
said, "When these hungry people come out they will try to climb that
tree for food, and it will take much time, and while the
_tsó-a-vwĭts_ is thus engaged we will carry _U'-ja_ away." So they
watched some days, until the _tsó-a-vwĭts_ was very hungry, and her
baby-hearted husband cried for food; and she came out from their hiding
place and sought for something to eat. The odor of the meat placed on
the tree came to her nostrils, and she saw where it was and tried to
climb up, but fell back many times; and while so doing _Kwi'-na_, who
had been sitting on a rock near by and had seen from where she came, ran
to the paunch which had been their house, and taking the man carried him
away and laid him down under the very same _tĭ-hó-pĭ_ from which
he had been stolen; and behold! he was the same beautiful little babe
that _I'-o-wi_ had lost.

And _Kwi'-na_ went off into the sky and brought back a storm, and caused
the wind to blow, and the rain to beat upon the ground, so that his
tracks were covered, and the _tsó-a-vwĭts_ could not follow him; but
she saw lying upon the ground near by some eagle feathers, and knew well
who it was that had deprived her of her husband, and she said to
herself, "Well, I know _Kwi'-na_ is the brother of _I'-o-wi_; he is a
great warrior and a terrible man; I will go to _To-go'-a_ (the
rattlesnake), my grandfather, who will protect me and kill my enemies."

_To-go'-a_ was enjoying his midday sleep on a rock, and as the
_tsó-a-vwĭts_ came near her grandfather awoke and called out to her,
"Go back, go back; you are not wanted here; go back!" But she came on
begging his protection; and while they were still parleying they heard
_Kwi'-na_ coming, and _To-go'-a_ said, "Hide, hide!" But she knew not
where to hide, and he opened his mouth and the _tsó-a-vwĭts_ crawled
into his stomach. This made _To-go'-a_ very sick and he entreated her to
crawl out, but she refused, for she was in great fear. Then he tried to
throw her up, but could not, and he was sick nigh unto death. At last,
in his terrible retchings, he crawled out of his own skin, and left the
_tsó-a-vwĭts_ in it, and she, imprisoned there, rolled about and hid
in the rocks. When _Kwi'-na_ came near he shouted, "Where are you, old
_tsó-a-vwĭts_? where are you, old _tsó-a-vwĭts_?" She repeated his
words in mockery.

Ever since that day witches have lived in snake skins, and hide among
the rocks, and take great delight in repeating the words of passers by.

The white man, who has lost the history of these ancient people, calls
these mocking cries of witches domiciliated in snake skins "echoes," but
the Indians know the voices of the old hags.

This is the origin of the echo.

                          _THE SO'-KÛS WAI'-ÛN-ÄTS._

_Tûm-pwĭ-nai'-ro-gwĭ-nûmp_, he who had a stone shirt, killed
_Sĭ-kor'_, (the crane,) and stole his wife, and seeing that she had
a child, and thinking it would be an incumbrance to them on their
travels, he ordered her to kill it. But the mother, loving the babe, hid
it under her dress, and carried it away to its grandmother. And Stone
Shirt carried his captured bride to his own land.

In a few years the child grew to be a fine lad, under the care of his
grandmother, and was her companion wherever she went.

One day they were digging flag roots, on the margin of the river, and
putting them in a heap on the bank. When they had been at work a little
while, the boy perceived that the roots came up with greater ease than
was customary, and he asked the old woman the cause of this, but she did
not know; and, as they continued their work, still the reeds came up
with less effort, at which their wonder increased, until the grandmother
said, "Surely, some strange thing is about to transpire." Then the boy
went to the heap where they had been placing the roots, and found that
some one had taken them away, and he ran back, exclaiming, "Grandmother,
did you take the roots away?" And she answered, "No, my child; perhaps
some ghost has taken them off; let us dig no more; come away."

But the boy was not satisfied, as he greatly desired to know what all
this meant; so he searched about for a time, and at length found a man
sitting under a tree, whom he taunted with being a thief, and threw mud
and stones at him, until he broke the stranger's leg, who answered not
the boy, nor resented the injuries he received, but remained silent and
sorrowful and, when his leg was broken, he tied it up in sticks, and
bathed it in the river, and sat down again under the tree, and beckoned
the boy to approach.

When the lad came near, the stranger told him he had something of great
importance to reveal. "My son," said he, "did that old woman ever tell
you about your father and mother?" "No," answered the boy; "I have never
heard of them." "My son, do you see these bones scattered on the ground?
Whose bones are these?" "How should I know?" answered the boy. "It may
be that some elk or deer has been killed here." "No," said the old man.
"Perhaps they are the bones of a bear;" but the old man shook his head.
So the boy mentioned many other animals, but the stranger still shook
his head, and finally said, "These are the bones of your father; Stone
Shirt killed him, and left him to rot here on the ground, like a wolf."
And the boy was filled with indignation against the slayer of his
father. Then the stranger asked, "Is your mother in yonder lodge?" and
the boy replied, "No." "Does your mother live on the banks of this
river?" and the boy answered, "I don't know my mother; I have never seen
her; she is dead." "My son," replied the stranger, "Stone Shirt, who
killed your father, stole your mother, and took her away to the shore of
a distant lake, and there she is his wife to-day." And the boy wept
bitterly, and while the tears filled his eyes so that he could not see,
the stranger disappeared.

Then the boy was filled with wonder at what he had seen and heard, and
malice grew in his heart against his father's enemy. He returned to the
old woman, and said, "Grandmother, why have you lied to me about my
father and mother?" and she answered not, for she knew that a ghost had
told all to the boy. And the boy fell upon the ground weeping and
sobbing, until he fell into a deep sleep, when strange things were told

His slumber continued three days and three nights, and when he awoke he
said to his grandmother, "I am going away to enlist all nations in my
fight," and straightway he departed.

(Here the boy's travels are related with many circumstances concerning
the way he was received by the people, all given in a series of
conversations, very lengthy; so they will be omitted.)

Finally, he returned in advance of the people whom he had enlisted,
bringing with him _Cĭn-au'-äv_, the wolf, and _To-go'-a_, the
rattlesnake. When the three had eaten food, the boy said to the old
woman: "Grandmother, cut me in two." But she demurred, saying she did
not wish to kill one whom she loved so dearly. "Cut me in two," demanded
the boy, and he gave her a stone ax which he had brought from a distant
country, and with a manner of great authority he again commanded her to
cut him in two. So she stood before him, and severed him in twain, and
fled in terror. And lo! each part took the form of an entire man, and
the one beautiful boy appeared as two, and they were so much alike no
one could tell them apart.

When the people or natives whom the boy had enlisted came pouring into
the camp, _Cĭn-au'-äv_ and _To-go'-a_ were engaged in telling them of
the wonderful thing that had happened to the boy, and that now there
were two; and they all held it to be an augury of a successful
expedition to the land of Stone Shirt. And they started on their

Now the boy had been told in the dream of his three days' slumber of a
magical cup, and he had brought it home with him from his journey among
the nations, and the _So'-kûs Wai'-ûn-äts_ carried it between
them, filled with water. _Cĭn-au'-äv_ walked on their right and
_To-go'-a_ on their left, and the nations followed in the order in which
they had been enlisted. There was a vast number of them, so that when
they were stretched out in line it was one day's journey from the front
to the rear of the column.

When they had journeyed two days and were far out on the desert all the
people thirsted, for they found no water, and they fell down upon the
sand groaning, and murmuring that they had been deceived, and they
cursed the One-Two.

But the _So'-kûs Wai'-ûn-äts_ had been told in the wonderful dream
of the suffering which would be endured and that the water which they
carried in the cup was only to be used in dire necessity, and the
brothers said to each other: "Now the time has come for us to drink the
water." And when one had quaffed of the magical bowl, he found it still
full, and he gave it to the other to drink, and still it was full; and
the One-Two gave it to the people, and one after another did they all
drink, and still the cap was full to the brim.

But _Cĭn-au'-äv_ was dead, and all the people mourned, for he was a
great man. The brothers held the cup over him, and sprinkled him with
water, when he arose and said: "Why do you disturb me? I did have a
vision of mountain brooks and meadows, of cane where honey-dew was
plenty." They gave him the cup, and he drank also; but when he had
finished there was none left. Refreshed and rejoicing they proceeded on
their journey.

The next day, being without food, they were hungry, and all were about
to perish; and again they murmured at the brothers, and cursed them. But
the _So'-kûs Wai'-ûn-äts_ saw in the distance an antelope,
standing on an eminence in the plain, in bold relief against the sky;
and _Cĭn-au'-äv_ knew it was the wonderful antelope with many eyes,
which Stone Shirt kept for his watchman; and he proposed to go and kill
it, but _To-go'-a_ demurred, and said: "It were better that I should go,
for he will see you and run away." But the _So'-kûs Wai'-ûn-äts_
told Cĭn'-au'-äv to go; and he started in a direction away to the left
of where the antelope was standing, that he might make a long detour
about some hills, and come upon him from the other side. _To-go'-a_ went
a little way from camp, and called to the brothers: "Do you see me?" and
they answered they did not. "Hunt for me;" and while they were hunting
for him, the rattlesnake said: "I can see you; you are doing"--so and
so, telling them what they were doing; but they could not find him.

Then, the rattlesnake came forth, declaring: "Now you know I can see
others, and that I cannot be seen when I so desire. _Cin-au'-äv_ cannot
kill that antelope, for he has many eyes, and is the wonderful watchman
of Stone Shirt; but I can kill him, for I can go where he is and he
cannot see me." So the brothers were convinced, and permitted him to go;
and he went and killed the antelope. When _Cin-au'-äv_ saw it fall, he
was very angry, for he was extremely proud of his fame as a hunter, and
anxious to have the honor of killing this famous antelope, and he ran up
with the intention of killing _To-go'-a_; but when he drew near, and saw
the antelope was fat, and would make a rich feast for the people, his
anger was appeased. "What matters it," said he, "who kills the game,
when we can all eat it?"

So all the people were fed in abundance, and they proceeded on their

The next day the people again suffered for water, and the magical cup
was empty; but the _So'-kûs Wai'-ûn-äts_, having been told in
their dream what to do, transformed themselves into doves, and flew away
to a lake, on the margin of which was the home of Stone Shirt.

Coming near to the shore, they saw two maidens bathing in the water; and
the birds stood and looked, for the maidens were very beautiful. Then
they flew into some bushes, near by, to have a nearer view, and were
caught in a snare which the girls had placed for intrusive birds. The
beautiful maidens came up, and, taking the birds out of the snare,
admired them very much, for they had never seen such birds before. They
carried them to their father, Stone Shirt, who said: "My daughters, I
very much fear these are spies from my enemies, for such birds do not
live in our land"; and he was about to throw them into the fire, when
the maidens besought him, with tears, that he would not destroy their
beautiful birds; but he yielded to their entreaties with much misgiving.
Then they took the birds to the shore of the lake, and set them free.

When the birds were at liberty once more, they flew around among the
bushes, until they found the magical cup which they had lost, and taking
it up, they carried it out into the middle of the lake and settled down
upon the water, and the maidens supposed they were drowned.

The birds, when they had filled their cup, rose again, and went back to
the people in the desert, where they arrived just at the right time to
save them with the cup of water, from which each drank; and yet it was
full until the last was satisfied, and then not a drop remained.

The brothers reported that they had seen Stone Shirt and his daughters.

The next day they came near to the home of the enemy, and the brothers,
in proper person, went out to reconnoiter. Seeing a woman gleaning
seeds, they drew near, and knew it was their mother, whom Stone Shirt
had stolen from _Sĭ-kor'_, the crane. They told her they were her
sons, but she denied it, and said she had never had but one son; but the
boys related to her their history, with the origin of the two from one,
and she was convinced. She tried to dissuade them from making war upon
Stone Shirt, and told them that no arrow could possibly penetrate his
armor, and that he was a great warrior, and had no other delight than in
killing his enemies, and that his daughters also were furnished with
magical bows and arrows, which they could shoot so fast that the arrows
would fill the air like a cloud, and that it was not necessary for them
to take aim, for their missiles went where they willed; they _thought_ the
arrows to the hearts of their enemies; and thus the maidens could kill
the whole of the people before a common arrow could be shot by a common
person. But the boys told her what the spirit had said in the long
dream, and had promised that Stone Shirt should be killed. They told her
to go down to the lake at dawn, so as not to be endangered by the

During the night, the _So'-kûs Wai'-ûn-äts_ transformed themselves
into mice, and proceeded to the home of Stone Shirt, and found the
magical bows and arrows that belonged to the maidens, and with their
sharp teeth they cut the sinew on the backs of the bows, and nibbled the
bowstrings, so that they were worthless, while _To-go'-a_ hid himself
under a rock near by.

When dawn came into the sky, _Tûm-pwĭ-nai'-ro-gwĭ-nûmp_, the
Stone Shirt man, arose and walked out of his tent, exulting in his
strength and security, and sat down upon the rock under which _To-go'-a_
was hiding; and he, seeing his opportunity, sunk his fangs into the
flesh of the hero. Stone Shirt sprang high into the air, and called to
his daughters that they were betrayed, and that the enemy was near; and
they seized their magical bows, and their quivers filled with magical
arrows, and hurried to his defense. At the same time, all the nations
who were surrounding the camp rushed down to battle. But the beautiful
maidens, finding their weapons were destroyed, waved back their enemies,
as if they would parley; and, standing for a few moments over the body
of their slain father, sang the death-song, and danced the death-dance,
whirling in giddy circles about the dead hero, and wailing with despair,
until they sank down and expired.

The conquerers buried the maidens by the shores of the lake; but
_Tûm-pwĭ-nai'-ro-gwĭ-nûmp_ was left to rot, and his bones to
bleach on the sands, as he had left _Sĭ-kor'_.

                   _TA-VWOTS' HAS A FIGHT WITH THE SUN._

_Ta-vwots'_, the little rabbit, was wont to lie with his back to the sun
when he slept. One day he thus slept in camp while his children played
around him. After a time they saw that his back was smoking, and they
cried out "What is the matter with your back, father?" Startled from his
sleep, he demanded to know the cause of the uproar. "Your back is
covered with sores and full of holes," they replied. Then _Ta-vwots'_
was very angry, for he knew that _Ta'-vĭ_, the sun, had burned him;
and he sat down by the fire for a long time in solemn mood, pondering on
the injury and insult he had received. At last rising to his feet, he
said, "My children I must go and make war upon _Ta'-vĭ_." And
straightway he departed.

Now his camp was in the valley of the Mo-a-pa.[1] On his journey he came
to a hill, and standing on its summit he saw in a valley to the east a
beautiful stretch of verdure, and he greatly marveled at the sight and
desired to know what it was. On going down to the valley he found a
corn-field, something he had never before seen, and the ears were ready
for roasting. When he examined them, he saw that they were covered with
beautiful hair, and he was much astonished. Then he opened the husk and
found within soft white grains of corn, which he tasted. Then he knew
that it was corn and good to eat. Plucking his arms full he carried them
away, roasted them on a fire, and ate until he was filled.

Now, when he had done all this, he reflected that he had been stealing,
and he was afraid; so he dug a hole in which to hide himself.

_Cĭn-au'-äv_ was the owner of this field, and when he walked
through and saw that his corn had been stolen, he was exceedingly wroth,
and said, "I will slay this thief _Ta-vwots'_; I will kill him, I will
kill him." And straightway he called his warriors to him and made search
for the thief, but could not find him, for he was hid in the ground.
After a long time they discovered the hole and tried to shoot
_Ta-vwots'_ as he was standing in the entrance, but he blew their arrows
back. This made _Cĭn-au'-äv's_ people very angry and they shot
many arrows, but _Ta-vwots'_' breath as a warder, against them all. Then,
with one accord, they ran to snatch him up with their hands, but, all in
confusion, they only caught each others fists, for with agile steps
_Ta-vwots'_ dodged into his retreat. Then they began to dig, and said
they would drag him out. And they labored with great energy, all the
time taunting him with shouts and jeers. But _Ta-vwots'_ had a secret
passage from the main chamber of his retreat which opened by a hole
above the rock overhanging the entrance where they were at work.

    [1] A stream in Southeastern Nevada.

When they had proceeded with this digging until they were quite under
ground, _Ta-vwots'_, standing on the rock above, hurled the magical ball
which he was accustomed to carry with him, and striking the ground above
the diggers, it caved the earth in, and they were all buried. "Aha,"
said he, "why do you wish to hinder me on my way to kill the Sun?
_A'-nier ti-tĭk'-a-nûmp kwaik-ai'-gar_" (fighting is my eating
tool I say; that's so!), and he proceeded on his way musing. "I have
started out to kill; vengeance is my work; every one I meet will be an
enemy. It is well; no one shall escape my wrath."

The next day he saw two men making arrow-heads of hot rocks, and drawing
near he observed their work for a time from a position where he could
not be seen. Then stepping forth, he said: "Let me help you"; and when
the rocks were on the fire again and were hot to redness he said: "Hot
rocks will not burn me." And they laughed at him. "May be you would have
us believe that you are a ghost?" "I am not a ghost," said he, "but I am
a better man than you are. Hold me on these hot rocks, and if I do not
burn you must let me do the same to you." To this they readily agreed,
and when they had tried to burn him on the rocks, with his magic breath
he kept them away at a distance so slight they could not see but that
the rocks did really touch him. When they perceived that he was not
burned they were greatly amazed and trembled with fear. But having made
the promise that he should treat them in like manner, they submitted
themselves to the torture, and the hot rocks burned them until with
great cries they struggled to get free but unrelenting _Ta-vwots'_ held
them until the rocks had burned through their flesh into their entrails,
and so they died. "Aha," said _Ta-vwots'_, "lie there until you can get
up again. I am on my way to kill the Sun. _A'-nier ti-tĭk'-a-nûmp
kwaik-ai'-gar._" And sounding the war-whoop he proceeded on his way.

The next day he came to where two women were gathering berries in
baskets, and when he sat down they brought him some of the fruit and
placed it before him. He saw there were many leaves and thorns among the
berries, and he said, "Blow these leaves and thorns into my eyes," and
they did so, hoping to blind him; but with his magic breath he kept them
away, so that they did not hurt him.

Then the women averred that he was a ghost. "I am no ghost," said he,
"but a common person; do you not know that leaves and thorns cannot hurt
the eye? Let me show you;" and they consented and were made blind. Then
_Ta-vwots'_ slew them with his _pa-rûm'-o-kwi_. "Aha," said he, "you
are caught with your own chaff. I am on my way to kill the Sun. This is
good practice. I must learn how. _A'-nier ti-tĭk'-a-nûmp
kwaik-ai'-gar_." And sounding the war-whoop he proceeded on his way.

The next day he saw some women standing on the Hurricane Cliff, and as
he approached he heard them say to each other that they would roll rocks
down upon his head and kill him as he passed; and drawing near he
pretended to be eating something, and enjoying it with great gusto; so
they asked him what it was, and he said it was something very sweet, and
they begged that they might be allowed to taste of it also. "I will
throw it up to you," said he; "come to the brink and catch it." When
they had done so, he threw it up so that they could not quite reach it,
and he threw it in this way many times, until, in their eagerness to
secure it, they all crowded too near the brink, fell, and were killed.
"Aha," said he, "you were killed by your own eagerness. I am on my way
to kill the Sun. _A'-nier ti-tĭk'-a-nûmp kaiwk-ai'-gar_." And
sounding the war-whoop he passed on.

The following day he saw two women fashioning water-jugs, which are made
of willow-ware like baskets and afterwards lined with pitch. When afar
off he could hear them converse, for he had a wonderful ear. "Here comes
that bad _Ta-vwots'_," said they; "how shall we destroy him?" When he
came near, he said, "What was that you were saying when I came up?" "Oh,
we were only saying, 'here comes our grandson,'"[2] said they. "Is that
all?" replied _Ta-vwots'_, and looking around, he said, "Let me get into
your water-jug"; and they allowed him to do so. "Now braid the neck."
This they did, making the neck very small; then they laughed with great
glee, for they supposed he was entrapped. But with his magic breath he
burst the jug, and stood up before them; and they exclaimed, "You must
be a ghost!" but he answered, "I am no ghost. Do you not know that jugs
were made to hold water, but cannot hold men and women?" At this they
wondered greatly, and said he was wise. Then he proposed to put them in
jugs in the same manner, in order to demonstrate to them the truth of
what he had said; and they consented. When he had made the necks of the
jugs and filled them with pitch, he said, "Now, jump out," but they
could not. It was now his turn to deride; so he rolled them about and
laughed greatly, while their half-stifled screams rent the air. When he
had sported with them in this way until he was tired, he killed them
with his magical ball. "Aha," said he, "you are bottled in your own
jugs. I am on my way to kill the Sun; in good time I shall learn how.
_A'-nier ti-tĭk'-a-nûmp kaiwk-ai'-gar._" And sounding the war-whoop
he passed on.

The next day he came upon _Kwi'-ats_, the bear, who was digging a hole
in which to hide, for he had heard of the fame of _Ta-vwots'_, and was
afraid. When the great slayer came to _Kwi'-ats_ he said, "Don't fear,
my great friend; I am not the man from whom to hide. Could a little
fellow like me kill so many people?" And the bear was assured. "Let me
help you dig," said _Ta-vwots'_, that we may hide together, for I also
am fleeing from the great destroyer. So they made a den deep in the
ground, with its entrance concealed by a great rock. Now, _Ta-vwots'_
secretly made a private passage from the den out to the side of the
mountain, and when the work was completed the two went out together to
the hill-top to watch for the coming of the enemy. Soon _Ta-vwots'_
pretended that he saw him coming, and they ran in great haste to the
den. The little one outran the greater, and going into the den, hastened
out again through his secret passage.

    [2] This is a very common term of endearment used by elder to younger

When _Kwi'-ats_ entered he looked about, and not seeing his little friend
he searched for him for some time, and still not finding him, he
supposed that he must have passed him on the way, and went out again to
see if he had stopped or been killed. By this time _Ta-vwots'_ had
perched himself on the rock at the entrance of the den, and when the
head of the bear protruded through the hole below he hurled his
_pa-rûm'-o-kwi_ and killed him. "Aha," said _Ta-vwots'_, "I greatly
feared this renowned warrior, but now he is dead in his own den. I am
going to kill the Sun. _A'-nier ti'-tĭk'-a'-nûmp kwaik-ai'-gar_." And
sounding the war-whoop he went on his way.

The next day he met _Ku-mi'-a-pöts_, the tarantula. Now this knowing
personage had heard of the fame of _Ta-vwots'_, and determined to
outwit him. He was possessed of a club with such properties that,
although it was a deadly weapon when used against others, it could not
be made to hurt himself, though wielded by a powerful arm.

As _Ta-vwots'_ came near, _Ku-mi'-a-pöts_ complained of having a
headache; moaning and groaning, he said there was an _u-nu'-pĭts_, or
little evil spirit, in his head, and he asked _Ta-vwots'_ to take the
club and beat it out. _Ta-vwots'_ obeyed, and struck with all his
power, and wondered that _Ku-mi'-a-pöts_ was not killed; but he urged
_Ta-vwots'_ to strike harder. At last _Ta-vwots'_ understood the
nature of the club, and guessed the wiles of _Ku-mi'-a-pöts_, and raising
the weapon as if to strike again, he dexterously substituted his magic
ball and slew him. "Aha," said he, "that is a blow of your own seeking,
_Ku-mi'-a-pöts_. I am on my way to kill the Sun; now I know that I can do
it. _A'-nier ti'-tĭk'-a'-nûmp kwaik-ai'-gar._" And sounding the
war-whoop he went on his way.

The next day he came to a cliff which is the edge or boundary of the
world on the east, where careless persons have fallen into unknown
depths below. Now to come to the summit of this cliff it is necessary to
climb a mountain, and _Ta-vwots'_ could see three gaps or notches in
the mountain, and he went up into the one on the left; and he demanded
to know of all the trees which where standing by of what use they were.
Each one in turn praised its own qualities, the chief of which in every
case was its value as fuel.[3] _Ta-vwots'_ shook his head and went
into the center gap and had another conversation with the trees,
receiving the same answer. Finally he went into the third gap--that on
the right. After he had questioned all the trees and bushes, he came at
last to a little one called _yu'-i-nump_, which modestly said it had no
use, that it was not even fit for fuel. "Good," said _Ta-vwots'_, and
under it he lay down to sleep.

    [3] Several times I have heard this story, and invariably the dialogues
    held by _Ta-vwots'_ with the trees are long and tedious, though, the
    trees evince some skill in their own praise.

When the dawn came into the sky _Ta-vwots'_ arose and stood on the brink
overhanging the abyss from which the Sun was about to rise. The instant
it appeared he hurled his _pa-rûm'-o-kwi_, and, striking it full in
the face, shattered it into innumerable fragments, and these fragments
were scattered over all the world and kindled a great conflagration.
_Ta-vwots'_ ran and crept under the _yu'-i-nump_ to obtain protection.
At last the fire waxed very hot over all the world, and soon _Ta-vwots_
began to suffer and tried to ran away, but as he ran his toes were
burned off, and then slowly, inch by inch, his legs, and then his body,
so that he walked on his hands, and these were burned, and he walked on
the stumps of his arms, and these were burned, until there was nothing
left but his head. And now, having no other means of progression, his
head rolled along the ground until his eyes, which were much swollen,
burst by striking against a rock, and the tears gushed out in a great
flood which spread out over all the land and extinguished the

The _Uinta Utes_ add something more to this story, namely, that the
flood from his eyes bore out new seeds, which were scattered over all
the world. The _Ute_ name for seed is the same as for eye.

Those animals which are considered as the descendants of _Ta-vwots'_ are
characterized by a brown patch back of the neck and shoulders, which is
attributed to the singeing received by him in the great fire.

The following apothegms are derived from this story:

"You are buried in the hole which you dug for yourself."

"When you go to war every one you meet is an enemy; kill all."

"You were caught with your own chaff."

"Don't get so anxious that you kill yourself."

"You are bottled in your own jugs."

"He is dead in his own den."

"That is a blow of your own seeking."

                         TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE

Some UTF-8 characters have been downgraded to their Latin-1
equivalents; for the accurate representation please see the HTML
or UTF-8 file.

                        PRINTER'S ERRORS FIXED:

"dext" changed to "next"--The next day, being without food...
"decedents" changed to "descendants"--The descendants of these people...
"philosopic" changed to "philosophic"--...great philosophic question

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Sketch of the Mythology of the North American Indians - First Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology to the - Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, 1879-80, - Government Printing Office, Washington, 1881, pages 17-56" ***

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