Long, long ago, the Creator made the world. Then he made the animals and
the birds and gave them their names. When he had finished his work, the
Creator called the animal people to him. "I am going to leave you," he said.
"But I will come back. When I come again, I will make human beings. They
will be in charge of you."
The Great Chief returned to his home in the sky, and the animal people
scattered to all parts of the world.
After twelve moons, the animal people gathered to meet the Creator as he
had directed. Some of them had complaints. Bluejay, Meadowlark, and
Coyote did not like their names. Each of them asked to be some other
creature. "No," said the Creator. "I have given you your names. There is no
change. My word is law.
"Because you have tried to change my law, I will not make the human being
this time. Because you have disobeyed me, you have soiled what I brought
with me. I planned to change it into a human being. Instead, I will put it in
water to be washed for many moons and many snows, until it is clean
Then he took something from his right side and put it in the river. It swam,
and the Creator named it Beaver. "Now I will give you another law," said the
Great Chief Above.
"The one of you who keeps strong and good will take Beaver from the
water some day and make it into a human being. I will tell you now what to
do. Divide Beaver into twelve parts. Take each part to a different place and
breathe into it your own breath. Wake it up. It will be a human being with
your breath. Give it half of your power and tell it what to do. Today I am
giving my power to one of you. He will have it as long as he is good." When
the Creator had finished speaking, all the creatures started for their homes
-- all except Coyote. The Great Chief had a special word for Coyote.
"You are to be head of all the creatures, Coyote. You are a power just like
me now, and I will help you do your work. Soon the creatures and all the
other things I have made will become bad. They will fight and will eat each
other. It is your duty to keep them as peaceful as you can. "When you have
finished your work, we will meet again, in this land toward the east. If you
have been good, if you tell the truth and obey me, you can make the human