The Mountain




Where the World Began

The world was made by O-ye the Coyote-man.  the earth was covered with water. The only thing that showed above the water was the very top of Oona-pa’is.

In the beginning O-ye came on a raft from the west, from across the ocean. His raft was a mat of tules and split sticks; it was long and narrow. O-ye landed on top of Oona-pa’is and threw his mar out over the water ~ the long way north and south, the narrow way east and west; the middle rested on top of the peak.  That was the beginning of the world and the world is still long and narrow like a mat ~ the long way north and south, the narrow way east and west.

When o-ye was sitting alone on top of Oona-pa’is and all the rest of the world was covered with water, he saw a feather floating toward him, blown by the wind from the west – the direction from which he himself had come. He asked the feather, “Who are you?”

The feather made no reply.

He then told the feather about his family and all his relatives. When he came to mention Wek-wek his grandson, the feather leaped out of the water and said, “I am Wek-wek, your grandson.”

O-ye the Coyote-man was glad, and they talked together.

Every day O-ye noticed Ko-to-lah the Frog-Woman sitting near him. Every time he saw her he reached out his hand and tried to catch her, but she always jumped into the water and escaped.

After four days the water began to go down, leaving more land on top of the mountain, so that Ko-to-lah had to make several leaps to reach the water.  This gave O-ye the advantage and he ran after her and caught her.  When he had caught her he was surprised to find that she was his own wife from over the ocean.  Then he was glad.

When the water went down the land was dry.  O-ye planted the buckeye and elderberry and oak tree, and all the other kinds of trees, and also bushes and grasses, all at the same time.  But there were no people and he and Wek-wek wanted people.  Then O-ye took a quantity of feathers of different kinds and packed them up to the top of Oona-pa’is and threw them up into the air and the wind carried them off and scattered them all over the country and they turned into people, and the next day there were people all over the land.

(In another version, O-ye makes the feathers into four bundles and sets them in the ground at four different places.  The next morning all had turned into people, each bundle becoming a distinct tribe, speaking an entirely different language.)

~From Dawn of the World, as told to C. Hart Merriam by a Coast Miwok elder in 1908