Myths Of Onatah

Gifts of the Gods

The Onatah believe that for every ill upon the world, there is a cure. For every sickness, an herb. Thus did the gods create the world in perfect harmony. But to deny the gifts of the gods is to lose them.

The Water Monster

In the first world there were 4 mountains, one in each direction, and the gods who lived in the mountains began to teach First Man and First Woman how to plant corn and how to build homes. They also warned everyone not to bother the water monster. But the coyote did not heed the warnings. He went to the home of the water monster and kidnapped his 2 children.

Suddenly the oceans rose and the land began to flood. All of the people and animals gathered on top of the highest mountain and begged the gods for help. The gods told them that they should climb up to a new world away from the water. So the people planted a giant reed on top of the mountain and climbed up inside it. Finally after 4 days of climbing the giant reed, the reached the 2nd world.

This 2nd world was even more beautiful than the one before, and here were other people and other kinds of animals. But the coyote still had the children of the water monster, and First People were horrified to find the waters of their new world suddenly rising. Again they planted a reed and began to climb, but this time they could not reach all the way. Nor could they find a hole. Despair settled on the people and all the creatures.

But then First Man and First Woman decided that someone must have offended the water monster. They searched everyone, and of course, found his children with the coyote. So the yellow hawk tried to scratch a hole in the reed. The heron and the buzzard also helped, but the locust was the one who finally succeeded in getting through. They fashioned a small boat out of strips of reed and set the water monster’s children afloat on the flood. The waters went down immediately and the land soon became beautiful and fruitful again. Floods have never again threatened man's world.

Bluebird and Coyote

A long time ago the Bluebird's feathers were a very dull ugly color. It lived near a lake with waters of the most delicate blue which never changed because no stream flowed in or out. Because the bird admired the blue water, it bathed in the lake four times every morning for four days, and every morning it sang:

There's a blue water.
It lies there.
I went in.
I am all blue.

On the fourth morning it shed all its feathers and came out in its bare skin, but on the fifth morning it came out with blue feathers.

All the while, Coyote had been watching the bird. He wanted to jump in and catch it for his dinner, but he was afraid of the blue water. But on the fifth morning he said to the Bluebird: "How is it that all your ugly colour has come out of your feathers, and now you are all blue and sprightly and beautiful? You are more beautiful than anything that flies in the air. I want to be blue, too."

"I went in only four times," replied the Bluebird. It then taught Coyote the song it had sung.

And so Coyote steeled his courage and jumped into the lake. For four mornings he did this, singing the song the Bluebird had taught him, and on the fifth day he turned as blue as the bird.

That made Coyote feel very proud. He was so proud to be a blue coyote that when he walked along he looked about on every side to see if anyone was noticing how fine and blue he was.

Then he started running along very fast, looking at his shadow to see if it also was blue. He was not watching the road, and presently he ran into a stump so hard that it threw him down upon the ground and he became dust-colored all over. And to this day all coyotes are the color of dusty earth.

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