Page:Myth, Ritual, and Religion (Volume 1).djvu/206
myths agree in finding the origin of life in an upper world beyond the sky. The earth was either fished up (as by Brahma when he dived in the shape of a boar) by some beast which descended to the bottom of the waters, or grew out of the tortoise on whose back Ataentsic fell. The first dwellers in the world were either beasts like Manabozho or Michabo, the Great Hare, or the primeval wolves of the Uinkarets, or the creative musk-rat, or were more anthropomorphic heroes, such as Ioskeha and Tawiscara. As for the things in the world, some were made, some evolved, some are transformed parts of an early non-natural man or animal. There is a tendency to identify Ataentsic, the sky-woman, with the moon, and in the Two Great Brethren, hostile as they are, to recognise moon and sun.
Turning from the famous warrior tribes, Iroquois and Algonkins, we find that the Navajoes, a nomadic race of New Mexico, have a less elaborate account of the appearance of man in the world. To their thinking, the Americans at one time all lived in a hole in
- Powell, Bureau of Ethnology, i. 44.
- Dr. Brinton has endeavoured to demonstrate by arguments drawn from etymology that Michabos, Messou, Missibizi, or Manabozho, the Great Hare, is originally a personification of Dawn (Myths of the New World, p. 178). I have examined his arguments in the Nineteenth Century, January 1886, which may be consulted, and in Mélusine, January 1887. The hare appears to be one out of the countless primeval beast-culture heroes. A curious piece of magic in a tradition of the Dènè Hareskins may seem to aid Dr. Brinton's theory: "Pendant la nuit il entra, jeta au feu une tête de lièvre blanc, et aussitôt le jour se fit,"—Petitot, Traditions Indiennes, p. 173. But I take it that the sacrifice of a white hare's head makes light magically, as sacrifice of black beasts and columns of black smoke make rainclouds.