The Earth Hardening
After the Flood
by Katharine Berry Judson
Myths and Legends of California and the Old
Sia (New Mexico)
After the flood, the Sia returned to Ha-arts, the earth. They came through
an opening in the far north. After they had remained at their first
village a year, they wished to pass on, but the earth was very moist and
Utset was puzzled how to harden it.
Utset called Cougar. She said, "Have you any medicine to harden the road
so that we may pass over it?" Cougar replied, "I will try, mother." But
after going a short distance over the road, he sank to his shoulders in
the wet earth. He returned much afraid and told Utset that he could go no
Then she sent for Bear. She said, "Have you any medicine to harden the
road?" Bear started out, but he sank to his shoulders, and returned
saying, "I can do nothing."
Then Utset called Badger, and he tried. She called Shrew, and he failed.
She called Wolf, and he failed.
Then Utset returned to the lower world and asked Sussistinnako what she
could do to harden the earth so that her people might travel over it. He
asked, "Have you no medicine to make the earth firm? Have you asked Cougar
and Wolf, Bear and Badger and Wolf to use their medicines to harden the
Utset said, "I have tried all these."
Then Sussistinnako said, "Others will understand." He told her to have a
woman of the Kapina (spider) clan try to harden the earth.
When the woman arrived, Utset said, "My mother, Sussistinnako tells me the
Kapina society understand how to harden the earth."
The woman said, "I do not know how to make the earth hard."
Three times Utset asked the woman about hardening the earth, and three
times the woman said, "I do not know." The fourth time the woman said,
"Well, I guess I know. I will try."
So she called together the members of the Spider society, the Kapina, and
"Our mother, Sussistinnako, bids us work for her and harden the earth so
that the people may pass over it." The spider woman first made a road of
fine cotton which she produced from her own body, and suspended it a few
feet above the earth. Then she told the people they could travel on that.
But the people were afraid to trust themselves to such a frail road.
Then Utset said, "I wish a man and not a woman of the Spider society to
work for me."
Then he came. He threw out a charm of wood, latticed so it could be
expanded or contracted. When it was extended it reached to the middle of
the earth. He threw it to the south, to the east, and to the west; then he
threw it toward the people in the north.
So the earth was made firm that the people might travel upon it.
Soon after Utset said, "I will soon leave you. I will, return to the home
from which I came."
Then she selected a man of the Corn clan. She said to him, "You will be
known as Ti-amoni (arch-ruler). You will be to my people as myself. You
will pass with them over the straight road. I give to you all my wisdom,
my thoughts, my heart, and all. I fill your mind with my mind."
He replied: "It is well, mother. I will do as you say."