by Katharine Berry Judson
Myths and Legends of California and the Old
Sia (New Mexico)
In the beginning, long, long ago, there was but one being in the lower
world. This was the spider, Sussistinnako. At that time there were no
other insects, no birds, animals, or any other living creature.
The spider drew a line of meal from north to south and then crossed it
with another line running east and west. On each side of the first line,
north of the second, he placed two small parcels. They were precious but
no one knows what was in them except Spider. Then he sat down near the
parcels and began to sing. The music was low and sweet and the two parcels
accompanied him, by shaking like rattles. Then two women appeared, one
from each parcel.
In a short time people appeared and began walking around. Then animals,
birds, and insects appeared, and the spider continued to sing until his
creation was complete.
But there was no light, and as there were many people, they did not pass
about much for fear of treading upon each other. The two women first
created were the mothers of all. One was named Utset and she as the mother
of all Indians. The other was Now-utset, and she was the mother of all
other nations. While it was still dark, the spider divided the people into
clans, saying to some, "You are of the Corn clan, and you are the first of
all." To others he said, "You belong to the Coyote clan." So he divided
them into their clans, the clans of the Bear, the Eagle, and other clans.
After Spider had nearly created the earth, Ha-arts, he thought it would be
well to have rain to water it, so he created the Cloud People, the
Lightning People, the Thunder People, and the Rainbow People, to work for
the people of Ha-arts, the earth. He divided this creation into six parts,
and each had its home in a spring in the heart of a great mountain upon
whose summit was a giant tree. One was in the spruce tree on the Mountain
of the North; another in the pine tree on the Mountain of the West;
another in the oak tree on the Mountain of the South; and another in the
aspen tree on the Mountain of the East; the fifth was on the cedar tree on
the Mountain of the Zenith; and the last in an oak on the Mountain of the
The spider divided the world into three parts: Ha-arts, the earth; Tinia,
the middle plain; and Hu-wa-ka, the upper plain. Then the spider gave to
these People of the Clouds and to the rainbow, Tinia, the middle plain.
Now it was still dark, but the people of Ha-arts made houses for
themselves by digging in the rocks and the earth. They could not build
houses as they do now, because they could not see. In a short time Utset
and Now-utset talked much to each other, saying,
"We will make light, that our people may see. We cannot tell the people
now, but to-morrow will be a good day and the day after to-morrow will be
a good day," meaning that their thoughts were good. So they spoke with one
tongue. They said, "Now all is covered with darkness, but after a while we
will have light."
Then these two mothers, being inspired by Sussistinnako, the spider, made
the sun from white shell, turkis, red stone, and abalone shell. After
making the sun, they carried him to the east and camped there, since there
were no houses. The next morning they climbed to the top of a high
mountain and dropped the sun down behind it. After a time he began to
ascend. When the people saw the light they were happy.
When the sun was far off, his face was blue; as he came nearer, the face
grew brighter. Yet they did not see the sun himself, but only a large mask
which covered his whole body.
The people saw that the world was large and the country beautiful. When
the two mothers returned to the village, they said to the people, "We are
the mothers of all."
The sun lighted the world during the day, but there was no light at night.
So the two mothers created the moon from a slightly black stone, many
kinds of yellow stone, turkis, and a red stone, that the world might be
lighted at night. But the moon travelled slowly and did not always give
light. Then the two mothers created the Star People and made their eyes of
sparkling white crystal that they might twinkle and brighten the world at
night. When the Star People lived in the lower world they were gathered
into beautiful groups; they were not scattered about as they are in the