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The Genesis of Men and Creatures - Zuni

From the lying together of these two upon the great world waters, so life-giving, terrestrial life was conceived; whence began all beings of earth, men and the creatures, in the Four-fold womb of the World (Áwiten Téhu'hlnakwi ).

Thereupon the Earth-mother rejected the Sky-father, growing big and sinking deep into the embrace of the waters below, thus separating from the Sky-father in the embrace of the waters above. As a woman forebodes evil for her first-born before it is born, even so did the Earthmother forebode, long withholding from birth her myriad progeny and meantime seeking counsel with the Sky-father. "How," said they to one another, "shall our children, when brought forth, know one place from another, even by the white light of the Sun-father?"

Now like all the surpassing beings (píkwaiyin áhái ) the Earth-mother and the Sky-father were 'hlímna (changeable), even as smoke in the wind; transmutable at thought, manifesting themselves in any form at will, like as dancers may by mask-making.

Thus, as a man and woman they spoke, one to the other. "Behold!" said the Earth-mother as a great terraced bowl appeared at hand and within it water, "this is as upon me the homes of my tiny children shall be. On the rim of each world-country they wander in, terraced mountains shall stand, making in one region many, whereby country shall be known from country, and within each, place from place. Behold, again!" said she as she spat on the water and rapidly smote and stirred it with her fingers. Foam formed, gathering about the terraced rim, mounting higher and higher. "Yes," she said, " and from my bosom they shall draw nourishment, for in such as this shall they find the substance of life from which we were ourselves sustained, for see!" Then with her warm breath she blew across the terraces; white flecks of the foam broke away, and, floating over above the water were shattered by the cold breath of the attending Sky-father, and then shed downward in abundantly fine mist and spray! "Even so, shall white clouds float up from the great waters at the borders of the world, and clustering about the mountain terraces of the horizons be carried aloft and abroad by the breaths of the surpassing of soul-beings, and of the children, and shall hardened and broken be by your cold, shedding downward, in rain-spray, the water of life, even into the hollow places of my lap! For chiefly therein shall nestle our children, mankind and creature-kind, for warmth in your coldness."

Even the trees on high mountains near the clouds and the Sky father crouch low toward the Earth-mother for warmth and protection! Warm is the Earth-mother, cold the Sky-father, even as woman is the warm, man the cold being!

"Even so!" said the Sky-father; "Yet not alone shall you be helpful to our children, for behold!" and he spread his hand abroad with the palm downward and into all the wrinkles and crevices thereof he set the semblance of shining yellow corn-grains; in the dark of the early world-dawn they gleamed like sparks of fire, and moved as his hand was moved over the bowl, shining up from and also moving in the depths of the water therein. "See!" he said, pointing to the seven grains grasped by his thumb aud four fingers, "by such shall our children be guided; for behold, when the Sun-father is not near, and your terraces are as the dark itself (being all hidden therein), then shall our children be guided by lights like these lights of all the six regions turning around the center one—as in and around the midmost place, where these our children shall live, lie all the other regions of space! And even as these grains gleam up from the water, so shall seed-grains like to them, yet numberless, spring up from your bosom when touched by my waters, to nourish our children." Thus and in many other ways they devised for their offspring.

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