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Origin of the Raven
& Macaw (Zuni)
Contributed by Lotus
(Totems of summer and winter)
The priest who was named Yanauluha
carried ever in his hand a staff which now in the daylight was
plumed and covered with feathers - yellow, blue-green, red,
white, black, and varied.
Attached to it were shells, which
made a song-like tinkle. The people when they saw it stretched
out their hands and asked many questions.
Then the priest balanced it in his
hand, and struck with it a hard place, and blew upon it. Amid
the plumes appeared four round things-mere eggs they were. Two
were blue like the sky and two dun-red like the flesh of the
Then the people asked many questions.,
"These," said the priests,
"are the seed of living beings. Choose which ye will follow.
From two eggs shall come beings
of beautiful plumage, colored like the grass and fruits of summer.
Where they fly and ye follow, shall always be summer. Without
toil, fields of food shall flourish. And from the other two
eggs shall come evil beings, piebald, with white, without colors.
And where these two shall fly and ye shall follow, winter strives
with summer. Only by labor shall the fields yield fruit, and
your children and theirs shall strive for the fruits. Which
do ye choose?"
"The blue! The blue!"
cried the people, and those who were strongest carried off the
blue eggs, leaving the red eggs to those who waited. They laid
the blue eggs with much gentleness in soft sand on the sunny
side of a hill, watching day by day. They were precious of color;
surely they would be the precious birds of the Summer-land.
Then the eggs cracked and the birds came out, with open eyes
and pin feathers under their skins.
"We chose wisely," said
the people. "Yellow and blue, red and green, are their
dresses, even seen through their skins." So they fed them
freely of all the foods which men favor. Thus they taught them
to eat all desirable food. But when the feathers appeared, they
were black with white bandings. They were ravens. And they flew
away croaking hoarse laughs and mocking our fathers.
But the other eggs became beautiful
macaws, and were wafted by a toss of the priest's wand to the
So those who had chosen the raven,
became the Raven People. They were the Winter People and they
were many and strong. But those who had chosen the macaw, became
the Macaw People. They were the Summer People, and few in number,
and less strong, but they were wiser because they were more
deliberate. The priest Yanauluha, being wise, became their father,
even as the Sun-father is among the little moons of the sky.
He and his sisters were the ancestors of the priest-keepers
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