The Great Flood
by Katharine Berry Judson
Myths and Legends of California and the Old
Sia (New Mexico)
For a long time after the fight, the people were very happy, but the ninth
year was very bad. The whole earth was filled with water. The water did
not fall in rain, but came in as rivers between the mesas. It continued to
flow in from all sides until the people and the animals fled to the mesa
tops. The water continued to rise until nearly level with the tops of the
mesas. Then Sussistinnako cried, "Where shall my people go? Where is the
road to the north?" He looked to the north. "Where is the road to the
west? Where is the road to the east? Where is the road to the south?" He
looked in each direction. He said, "I see the waters are everywhere."
All of the medicine men sang four days and four nights, but still the
waters continued to rise.
Then Spider placed a huge reed upon the top of the mesa. He said, "My
people will pass up through this to the world above."
Utset led the way, carrying a sack in which were many of the Star people.
The medicine men followed, carrying sacred things in sacred blankets on
their backs. Then came the people, and the animals, and the snakes, and
birds. The turkey was far behind and the foam of the water rose and
reached the tip ends of his feathers. You may know that is true because
even to this day they bear the mark of the waters.
When they reached the top of the great reed, the earth which formed the
floor of the world above, barred their way. Utset called to Locust, "Man,
come here." Locust went to her. She said, "You know best how to pass
through the earth. Go and make a door for us."
"Very well, mother," said Locust. "I think I can make a way."
He began working with his feet and after a while he passed through the
earthy floor, entering the upper world. As soon as he saw it, he said to
Utset, "It is good above."
Utset called Badger, and said, "Make a door for us. Sika, the Locust has
made one, but it is very small."
"Very well, mother, I will," said Badger.
After much work he passed into the world above, and said,
"Mother, I have opened the way." Badger also said, "Father-mother, the
world above is good."
Utset then called Deer. She said, "You go through first. If you can get
your head through, others may pass."
The deer returned saying, "Father, it is all right. I passed without
Utset called Elk. She said, "You pass through. If you can get your head
and horns through the door, all may pass."
Elk returned saying, "Father, it is good. I passed without trouble."
Then Utset told the buffalo to try, and he returned saying,
"Father-mother, the door is good. I passed without trouble."
Utset called the scarab beetle and gave him the sack of stars, telling him
to pass out first with them. Scarab did not know what the sack contained,
but he was very small and grew tired carrying it. He wondered what could
be in the sack. After entering the new world he was so tired he laid down
the sack and peeped into it. He cut only a tiny hole, but at once the Star
People flew out and filled the heavens everywhere.
Then Utset and all the people came, and after Turkey passed, the door was
closed with a great rock so that the waters from below could not follow
Then Utset looked for the sack with the Star People. She found it nearly
empty and could not tell where the stars had gone. The little beetle sat
by, very much frightened and very sad. But Utset was angry and said, "You
are bad and disobedient. From this time forth, you shall be blind." That
is the reason the scarabaeus has no eyes, so the old ones say.
But the little fellow had saved a few of the stars by grasping the sack
and holding it fast. Utset placed these in the heavens. In one group she
placed seven—the great bear. In another, three. In another group she
placed the Pleiades, and threw the others far off into the sky.