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Tales of Slaying The Monsters By Fire
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In the olden time the world was full of all kinds of wild animals who ate people and tame animals. In those times Coyote called all the people together to a council to see what could be done with the wild animals, because they were getting so bad that the people could not go away from their homes to hunt food or to visit each other. At the council they decided to set fire to all the grass, which was as high as trees, and so burn the wild animals and everything on the earth. They chose White-Headed-Hawk and Crow, because they were the swiftest of all the people, to fly to some bright Star and tell the Star that they were coming to his home to live. The Star told them that there was room for the people in the heavens if they could get up there. The messengers returned and reported to the people. They decided to make a long rope out of soap weed and go to heaven on that. They began to gather the soap weed and twist it into a strong rope. The rope was finished; then White-Headed-Hawk and Crow took it and again flew to the heavens. They gave the end of the rope to the Star, who put one end of it under a big stone and let it hang down. It was so long that it reached the earth, and the people saw it hanging ready for them to crawl up when the time came. They appointed two men, Gray and Black Snakes, to carry the fire over the world. One was to carry the fire to the east, then to the south; the other was to carry it to the west, then to the north. Soon the people noticed a cloud of smoke, and then the sun began to fade and look dim, and a great noise of all the wild animals arose. The people saw the fire coming nearer, and so they began to climb the rope. After all the people were on the rope and had climbed up a little way the wild animals came and began to climb up. The people saw the animals coming up, and so they appointed Bat to cut the rope just above the wild animals, and they gave him sharp teeth to cut the rope with. Bat began to fly around as though looking for a place on the rope to stay. Finally he asked the first wild animal to let him in by him, and he did. After a while the animal noticed that Bat was eating something, and he asked him what it was, and Bat said that he was eating a parched grain of corn that his grandmother had given him. He kept on chewing the rope when the animal was not looking, and finally the rope broke and let all of the wild animals down and many were killed. Bat went down to make sure that all were killed or burned. He saw an immense animal on the ground and all the other animals crawling into it to escape the fire. Bat went into the animal’s nose and pulled out some hairs. This made the animal sneeze and blow all of the other animals out and they burned to death. Bat flew up to tell the people that all the wild bad animals were killed, and so they all came down the rope again.
In the beginning of the world there were animals that lived with human beings and were kind and friendly, but there were other animals that were very strong and dangerous. At that time, when the earth was new, the grass was taller than the highest trees are now, and many wild animals prowled through the high grass, and that was the reason why the world was so very dangerous. One time the people met in council to make plans to kill all the dangerous animals in the world, and Morning Star, who was one of the head men in the council, arose and said: “There is only one way to kill these animals and that is to burn the grass all over the world. I know how large the world is and what a big task we have, but we must do it.”
As every one was willing to try Morning Star’s plan, he told a man who was present at the council that most of the work would fall to him, but that he would appoint two men to help him carry out the work. The man’s name was Fire, and the first man appointed to help Fire was the fastest runner in the world, and his name was Black Snake; the second man was the slowest in the world, and his name was Skunk. Fire took hold of Black Snake’s tail and put fire on the end of it, and then took hold of Skunk’s hind foot and placed fire between his toes. They both started out at the same time, the one going to the north, the other around to the south, so as to meet somewhere in the west, since they started in the east. While these two were on their way the people decided to make a long rope out of soapweeds that would reach up to the sky. Everybody helped make the rope, and as they worked Pigeon would go up into the blue sky to see how near the fire had approached. After a time the people could see that the sky was getting very dark on account of the smoke from the fire, and so they worked hard and fast to get their rope long enough. Finally they had the rope finished, and they appointed Crow to take it up to the sky. Crow took the rope and flew and flew until he was out of sight, and it was a long time before he returned, but when he came he assured the people that he had the rope firmly fastened to the sky. The fire was approaching rapidly, and so the people began climbing up the rope. After the people had climbed up, all kinds of animals came and began to get hold of the rope, and all the bad animals came, and then the rope began to move upward. After the people were high up they sent a man down the rope as far as the first bad animal. This man’s name was Bat, and because he had very sharp teeth he was sent to cut the rope. The animal saw him chewing something and asked him what he was eating. Bat said that his grandmother had parched some corn for him and that he was eating it. He kept on cutting the rope, and finally it broke and let the bad animals fall down. When the animals dropped down to the ground Bat followed them down to see what would become of them. He saw a large animal and heard it call all the other animals to enter his body through his nose, ears, and mouth. These animals went in, and so large was the big animal that it had room inside of it for all the bad animals. After all the others were in, Bat slipped in and began to pull out some hair from the animal’s nose. That made the animal sneeze, and he sneezed so hard that he threw all the other animals out through his nose. The animals were scattered every place and burned, for the fire was upon them.
Bat flew up where the people were, but he was scorched a little before he could get there, and that is the reason bats are yellowish in color. After the bad animals had all been burned the people returned to the world again, and ever since the world has been a good place to live upon.
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