The Humming Bird and the Legend of the First Woman
There are many legends that have been passed down over the years that include the hummingbird or “Humming Bird“. This story speaks of a great flood, and could be another accounting of the great flood of Noah’s ark.
Mojave-Apache Story of the First Woman
Many years ago we lived not here upon this earth but down under the ground And there came a time when we had no fruit and there was nothing to eat. So we sent the humming bird to see what he could find Where ever he might find fruit or food of any kind there the people would go.
The humming bird flew up into the sky, and there he saw a grape vine. The grape vine had its roots running deep in the underworld, and grew up through a hole in the middle of the sky high into the upper world. The humming bird spotted the hole in the sky, and flew through up through it. There the humming bird found a land where mescal and fruits, and flowers of all kinds. It was a good land. It was this world.
In due time the humming bird flew back and told the people that he had seen a beautiful country above. “Let us all go up there” he said. Soon all the people went up climbing on the grape vine. They climbed without stopping until they had come out through the hole in the sky into the upper world. But they left behind them in the underworld the frog folk who were blind.
When the people of the above-ground had lived here for a while, they heard a noise and they wondered. They sent a man to look down the hole through which they had come to see what made the noise. The man looked and saw that waters were rising from the underworld and were already so high that they nearly reached the mouth of the hole.
The people talked about this discovery, and soon they said “The blind frogs below have made this flood and if it rises out of the hole it will wash us all away!” Unhappy with this possibility they took counsel together. They hollowed out a tree like a trough, and put into it plenty of fruits and blankets. They chose a beautiful maiden (don’t they always!) and laid her in the trough and closed it. Now if the waters come and we are all washed away she will be saved alive.
The Great Flood
Soon enough the flood did come up through the hole, and the people ran to the mountains. Even though the mountains were high the waters still rose over them. The trough floated like a boat, and the flood kept rising, till at last it nearly touched the sky. That was not the end of it. The waters rose till the waves dashed the trough against the sky where it made a loud crashing noise. It struck first to the south, then to the west, then to the north, then nearly to the east. Then the flood began to recede.
The people had said to the woman, “If you hear the waters going down wait till the trough rests on the earth, then make a little opening and look around you”. When the trough rested on the ground the woman opened it and went out into the world. She looked all around her, over all the world, but saw no one.
All the people had been drowned. The woman thought, “How can I bear children and make a new people?” She went up into the mountains early before sunrise, and lay there alone. As the daylight came and the beams from the sun shone to warm upon the woman, and the water dripped from the crag, she conceived and bore a daughter.
When the child was grown to maidenhood the mother said to her, “Do you know, my daughter, how you came to be?” The young maiden said “No”. “I will show you”, said the mother. So she led her daughter up into the mountains and bade her lie down as she herself had lain. And the maid lay on the mountain all day. The next morning, early before sunrise, the mother went to her so that she lay down beside her daughter, and looked at the sun. Then she quickly sprang up, and in this way the maiden conceived of the sun. The child that she bore was the Son of God, Sekala Ka amja, known as “The One Who Never Died”.
Humming Bird Legends
The humming bird continues to delight us, and invite us to shift from our challenges and into the frame of mind where happiness pervades. Thanks to those who have preserved these stories and legends so that they could be shared once again. This story was discovered in The Indians’ Book: An Offering by the American Indians of Indian Lore, edited by Natalie Curtis Burlin, published in 1907.
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