Great Flood


Great Flood: Most tribes have a flood story similar to the one in the Bible. Water, in the legends, is a primary world, a preworld, one that gives birth to the present one. Through the energy of water, man is forced or driven to rise to a higher plane. In many origin stories, The People are (as in the biblical tale) indifferent to their plight, and thus only the worthy, the "listeners," men, animals, birds, and insects, are brought up into the next world. The flood is a purifier which shows that the earth's creatures are somehow out of balance. In the Creek legend, The People fish from their housetops until they are drowned. Later, they are turned into mosquitoes. The Navajo version shows how Coyote stole two Water Monster babies and brought on the flood by stealing from the Water Monster mother. Water, in all of the stories, is a complement to Fire, a mysterious power that must be understood in order to be used properly. Pg. 194

The Gift of the Gila Monster, Navajo Ceremonial Tales; 1993, Gerald Hausman.

The Navajos had found temporary safety on one of the sacred mountains, but water from the lower world was still gushing up through the hole which had served them as a passageway to this earth. They tried to close the hole, but were unable to do so. The water continued to pour through in large volume, and threatened to drown them even in this new world. The chiefs were hurriedly called together, but at first not one of them could suggest an effective means to check the flood of water. Finally the oldest Navajo, also known as "First Man", noticed a bulging under the hide of the coyote. He called the coyote to him and asked him what he had under his coat. The coyote attempted to make First Man believe he had nothing there, but was compelled to open his coat and it was then seen that he was concealing the child of the water god. First Man immediately took the child away from the coyote and dropped the infant through the hole to the former world. The moment this was done the waters stopped coming through, and dropped away with a terrific roar to their former level. However, water had been pouring through the hole for such a long time that the whole country, on all sides of the mountain, was flooded as far as the eye could see. This water had to be removed for the Navajos and their animals could not find subsistence for all on that single mountain. Again a council meeting was held, but this time not one of the chiefs could offer a solution. When it became clear that no human being could solve the problem, the animals were consulted. But alas, it seemed as though not one of them would be able to give the relief needed. The eagle, the hawk, the raven, the blue bird, the prairie dog, the badger, the porcupine, the coyote, and even the fox,-all confessed their helplessness. Finally they came to the mountain goat, but no one thought the goat would be smart enough to deliver them. However, the goat said he could made the waters recede. He called three other goats to his side, and told one to swim to the north, another to the east, and the third to the south. He himself then swam to the west. And behold, as each swam away from the mountain, the water separated by their swimming did not come together again, but receded farther and farther until the whole earth was dry. Never the less, the water still exists, and if you will look off across the fields you will note where the earth ends and the blue horizon begins. That blue is the water which once covered the earth and was drawn off through the cleverness of the mountain goat. Pgs. 25,26,27

From He Who Always Wins, and other Navajo campfire stories; 1934, Dr. Richard H. Pousma.

A flood (tqonahueskhai, or tqonahoskhai), destroying all the animals and inhabitants of the earth, is attributed to the sun. The Slayer of the Monsters and his brother again journey to the sun in quest of riches which their father had promised. He grants them on condition that they slay all the inhabitants of the earth for him, which condition they finally agree to. The sun then causes it to hail and rain for twelve days and nights, so that the waters covered the highest peaks. The Holy People (diy'in dine'), however, had hurriedly carried many of the inhabitants of the earth to a place of safety, and their descendants now people the earth. The waters were removed by the heat of the sun, but the traces of that flood are yet visible throughout the Navajo country. Pgs. 360, 361

An Ethnologic Dictionary of the Navajo Language; 1910, The Franciscan Fathers.

Since Sun Bearer realized that this was the second time the Twins had made such a request (the first time to kill monsters inhabiting the earth), he refused to help unless he could have the "House Dweller's souls." The Twins replied, "Don't say that, my Father. You ought to pity them and not ask their lives of us," to which he answered, "Do this favor now for me and I'll do anything you ask." The Twins reluctantly agreed, and on the appointed day Dine' and Anasazi alike were slain when "winds came up and uprooted trees and stones, and clouds burst, and it rained and hailed for twelve full days. And the mountains were covered by water so that none could be seen. Ice floated everywhere and covered the whole surface," but then started to melt. At the end of twelve days, all had returned to normal and the holy beings repopulated the earth with those people who had been removed from destruction. To speak of this event during the summer is still a dangerous thing to do. Pg. 91

Sacred Land, Sacred View: Navajo Perceptions of the Four Corners Region; 1992, Robert S. McPherson.