Story 1: Creation and Early Migration
The old ones--grandfathers and grandmothers--told how it was in long ago time. In the beginning, they said, there was no sun, no moon, no stars--or earth like we see now. Only darkness. After a while there was a man, the first human being, and soon after that there were thousands of people and animals living together in the darkness. They didn't know who first man was, but it seemed that he was everywhere they looked.
The unknown man disappeared for a while and then he came back, bringing all kinds of seeds. He called to all the people to gather and gave the seeds to them saying, "These seeds are for eating.” He spoke to all of them saying, “Soon Darkness will go and there will be a man called Sah-cooh (Sun) who will be given power by the Great Father Above. When that time comes I will be called away from my mother, from Great Mother Earth Below. I was the first being created.” said the unknown man, “and I have been given power by the same Great Father Above. I must carry out my work. Listen now.”
The unknown man told the people that they must select one man, the wisest and most able among them, to be their head man. He said they should call their headman Caddi, do whatever he commanded and look on him as a great father. “Go back to your homes,” said the unknown man, “hold council among yourselves, and select your Caddi.”
The First Chief
The people all went home and sat in council. The one called Ta-sha (Wolf) stood up and said, “The unknown man is powerful. We should call him Neesh (Moon) because he was the first created. He is surely the wisest, most able among us and he should be our Caddi.” All agreed and so Moon, the first being created, became the first powerful leader of the people.
Sometime after Moon became Caddi, he sent a message to all the people telling them to come together quickly to hear some important news. They hurried to gather and listened well when Moon announced, “It is time to move away from this Old World in Darkness and go to live in a newer, better place. A World of Light. I know the way. I will lead you through.”
Migration from Old World in Darkness
Because there were so many people, Moon said they must divide into groups and each group should select a leader. The people did as they were told and Moon gave drums to the leaders, instructing them to beat their drums and sing as they moved up from the Old World in Darkness into the World of Light. In a stern voice he cautioned everyone, “Do not look back at the way behind you. Those behind might stop and if the people stop,” he warned, “they will have to stay where they are--in Darkness.”
The people started climbing up, moving with the drumbeat, following the sound of their leaders -- singing. First was an old man carrying fire and a pipe in one hand, his drum in the other. Next came his wife bringing corn and pumpkin seeds.
People and animals were still moving westward out of the Old World in Darkness into the New World of Light when Wolf stepped out. He began to look around and called out to the Caddi, “This world is too small for all the people!” Forgetting Moon’s warning, Wolf turned to see how many people were behind him. And, as the Caddi had warned, those still climbing stopped and so lost the way out of the Old World of Darkness.
The people already out in the New World of Light sat down and cried for the ones left in Darkness. We call that place Cha-cah-nee-nah, “The Place of Crying.”
The People kept on traveling west until Moon picked up some dirt and threw it in front of him, making high hills. The peoples first village in this new world was called Tall-Timber-on-Top-of-the-Hill because the place was in black-jack timber near the top of a high hill. This was the beginning of the real People.
Coyote and the Sun
While Moon was talking the Sun came up out of the east, passed over the people, and went down in the west. Sun went too fast to do them any good at all. Coyote announced that he was going to stop the Sun from going so fast. He started eastward early in the morning, and when he came to a good place to stop he waited for the Sun to come up. When the Sun came up he found Coyote waiting for him. Coyote told the Sun that he had come there because he wanted to talk with him for he was in trouble. The Sun said that he had not very much time to stop and talk. Coyote told the Sun that he would go with him and talk as they moved along. They started on, walking very slowly. Coyote kept telling about things that had lately happened. When the Sun was nearing the west Coyote told him that he was going to defecate, and asked him to wait a while. He started out behind the bushes, and just as soon as he was behind them, where the Sun could not see him, he ran away from the Sun who stood there waiting for Coyote to return. After a while the Sun grew tired of waiting and started on very slowly, looking back and watching for Coyote to catch up with him, but Coyote did not appear. The Sun went down very slowly, waiting for Coyote. This is why the Sun lingers and goes down very slowly.
The people's first village in this new world was called Tall-Timber-on-Top-of-the-Hill, for the place was in black-jack timber near the top of a high hill. This was the beginning of the real people. Moon called the people together for the first time in the new world and said: "Soon there will be a child born of a certain woman. He is on the way. He shall have more power than any one else, for Great-Father-Above has sent him down to his mother, the earth, to be among the people and teach them right and wrong. When the child comes he shall name himself Medicine-Screech-Owl, and he shall have with him a bow and arrows."
When the child came he had with him the bow and arrows. When his birthday came, his father and mother talked about what they should name him but before they could give him a name the young child spoke and named himself, saying, "My name shall be Medicine-Screech-Owl." He said to the people: "The bow and arrows are for the men only, to be used in killing game. The time is coming when we shall have to use these things, especially the bow and arrows." The people began to see that this child was going to be a powerful man. He went around among them and taught them how to make bows and arrows. In those times the animals and humans could talk and understand each other. Time passed and some of the humans began to turn into animals. Medicine-Screech-Owl knew that some of these people were not real humans. He knew that if some of the people should turn into animals it would be very bad because some of the animals were ferocious. He visited these animals. Some of the animals were opposed to Medicine-Screech-Owl, and tried to kill him. For this reason he killed some of them.
Coyote and the Buzzards
In those times the people had little to eat. There were two people, a man and a woman known to the other people as the Buzzards, who lived at the north end of the village. The other people noticed that the Buzzards always had plenty of meat and they wondered how they got it. Coyote came among the people and told them that he was going over to visit the Buzzards to find out where and how they got their food. In those times some of the animals who were living with the people had magic powers and Coyote had such powers. He said: "I must scheme in order to find out where and how the Buzzard people get their food." He resolved that he would imitate a dog. He went to the Buzzard home and he turned himself into a very small and fine-looking dog. He stayed away from the Buzzards and waited for them to find him. One day when the Buzzards were returning to their home they found the little dog by the trail. The woman liked the dog, but the man said that it was not real. The woman did not believe him and he allowed her to take the dog home. He told her that they must find out whether this was a real dog. He told her to pinch the dog's ear and see if it would howl like a real dog. The woman pinched the dog's ear and it howled like a dog. Still the man did not believe that it was a dog. He told the woman to get some meat and give it to the dog. He said a dog would take its time eating the food and if it wasn’t a dog, it would eat fast. The woman gave some meat to the dog. Coyote took his time eating it. After this, Buzzard believed his wife and they kept the dog. Coyote stayed with them until they ran out of meat. Finally the Buzzards began to talk about going after more meat and Coyote listened carefully. They went out and left the dog at home. As part of his scheme, Coyote followed at some distance so that they could not see him and he watched them very closely. Coyote found out how and where they got their meat and then ran back to their home and lay down so they would not suspect that he had followed them. Three days later, Coyote went straight to the place where he had seen the Buzzards go. It was a large cave sealed by a rock. Coyote moved the rock aside and thousands and thousands of buffalo came out (Yonavea_5009). They came out so fast that before long they had spread over the western prairies. It was quite a time before Buzzard discovered what had happened. First he heard a strange noise like thunder. Then he went and looked for the little dog but could not find him. He heard Coyote howling in the distance. Buzzard went out and found that nearly all the buffalo had escaped.
Coyote returned to his people and told them to hurry and make some bows and arrows, for the buffalo were coming. He told them how he had schemed and what had happened.
Buzzard was very angry at his wife and scolded her. He told her that she ought to know by this time that they were not the only ones with powers, and that henceforth the only way that they could make a living was to go around and look for dead meat. In order to do this they turned into birds and became real buzzards.
From that time on the people began to make bows and arrows to kill game. Time passed and the people noticed that their chief, Moon, paid no attention to them and seemed to have nothing to say. He did not call them together any more, but stayed at his home all the time. The people began to think there must be something wrong. They were correct because Moon was doing very bad things. Medicine-Screech-Owl knew this because he had more power than Moon. Moon was living with his family near the center of the village. He was the chief, unmarried, and lived with his father, mother and one very young sister. Here was the beginning of his mistakes. Unknown to his father and mother, for a long time he kept going by night to see his own sister, not letting her know that he was her own brother. He abused her and treated her badly. For a long time she did not know who he could be. It finally occurred to her that it might be her brother. One night she made up her mind to find out. She put black paint on her fingers, and that night when the man came she passed her painted fingers across his forehead making black marks. The next morning she saw the marks on her brother’s forehead and she knew that he was the man who had abused her. Moon knew the people would find about him and he was so ashamed he wished to leave. He remembered the Great-Father-Above had promised him that he would be called away from his people. He would be placed where the people could see him at night and he would be with the people all the time. Soon after that, Great-Father-Above took Moon away and placed him far above, where the people could see him and the shame-marks on his forehead.
Medicine-Screech Owl Becomes Chief
Medicine-Screech-Owl grew to be a man and the people selected him to be their chief. His first announcement was that the people must move farther west. The people began moving westward, climbing the mountains. When they got to the top they saw a large lake, and they wondered where the water came from. Medicine-Screech-Owl called them together along the banks of the lake. He said to the people: "These waters before you are the tears of your great chief, Moon, for before he was taken up into the heavens he came up to this mountain and shed tears for the wrongs he had done. So we shall call this mountain Moon's-Tears-on-the-Mountain." The people continued moving westward until they found a place where they wanted to locate their second village. Soon, they started hunting buffalo and other animals. There were several dangerous animals in the country. There was a place that the people dared not go because of a dangerous creature in the water. Medicine-Screech-Owl told the people that he had some power and that he was going to try to kill the animal. One day, he went to the creature’s home. He stopped for a short time at the edge of the timber for he could not see the animal. The name of the animal was Cannibal. The lake was large and all around there were swamps and thickets. By the aid of his power, Medicine-Screech-Owl made a narrow place like a road through the thicket so he could see the animal. He had brought with him his bow, but no arrows, and some corn, which he was to use in killing the animal. After he made the opening in the thicket he took two tall canes out of the ground, still with the roots and the dirt that was on them, to be used as arrows. He threw the corn that he had with him into the air, and it turned into blackbirds flying straight over the head of the animal. When the animal arose to attack the blackbirds Medicine-Screech-Owl shot it with the cane arrows, first from the right side through the heart and out the left, then from the left side through the heart and out to the right. The animal fell near the edge of the water and died. Medicine-Screech-Owl went over to see the place where the animal died. He saw all kinds of bones lying around the place. Not long after this the lake dried up. When the people learned what their chief had done, they were no longer afraid of the place.
With this description of Caddo origins, we are prepared to learn how other aspects of the world came to be introduced. This information is provided in a series of secondary stories. In the next story, Coyote—the great schemer who sometimes, despite himself, makes good things happen—appoints a prophet who recommends actions by which the people bring about day and night. This story illustrates the creative role played by animals as members of the first Caddo community.