by Mineke Schipper, Humanity’s End as a New Beginning: World Disasters in Myths

12. Various ends

(Pomo, California)

Madumda decided to make the world, and wanted to consult his older brother, Kuksu. Where to find him? He plucked some hairs from his head and asked them to lead him where Kuksu was. The hairs flew to the south, and Madumda followed them sitting on his cloud while smoking his pipe until he arrived at Kuksu’s house. As usual, the brothers smoked the pipe four times in silence.

Madumda scraped a bit of skin from his armpit, rolled it up into a little ball, and gave it to his brother Kuksu who placed it between his toes. Kuksu scraped a bit of skin from his armpit, rolled it up into a little ball, and gave it to his brother Madumba who placed it between his toes. The two gods blew four times, each on his little ball of skin, before they mixed the little balls with some of their hair. Then they stood up and, having faced all directions, they proclaimed the creation to come. 

For the first time Kuksu sang the ancient song of creation while his brother Madumda left. During his flight back home, sitting on his cloud, he sang too, with the ball fixed on a small string through his earlobe. At home he went to sleep for eight days, while the ball grew and turned into the earth. When Madumda woke up, he threw the ball up into the air. He smoked and then threw his burning pipe up into the sky where it changed into the sun. 

Walking around in the brand-new sunlight he creating mountains and valleys, lakes and seas, trees, plants and animals. And by rolling the earth one way and the other he created night and day. And he created people. Out of rocks he fashioned some stubby little ones, then out of his own hair, some beautiful long-haired ones. From feathers he shaped bird people, and from his armpit hair, hairy deer people. He modelled all kinds of people out of all kinds of things. Finally, out of sinew, he created naked people like us. He taught them how to work the land he gave them, how to eat, and how to live.

However, when the people began to misbehave, killing each other and neglecting their children, Madumda sent a deluge washing them all away. But once they were all gone, at his wish a new village came into being. And his thoughts filled the village with new people who soon enough went bad as well. He burned this creation down with a devastating fire.

From willow wands he made people once again, teaching them how to hunt with bow and arrow, how to make baskets, and how to eat. He went home to the north, but these willow-wand people went bad too, and from the north Madumda sent ice down to kill them all. He then made some more willow-wand people, and after he had left, he soon learnt in a dream that they too had gone bad. At his brother Kuksu’s advice, he sent a great wind down to blow them all away. Only the ground squirrel was hiding in his burrow and survived.

Finally Madumda made from willow wands various groups of people who spoke different languages and lived in different villages. He taught them agriculture and weaving, and how to eat properly. He gave all the different animals their proper places, and before he left, he warned the people to behave. This then is our last chance.