Zuni Indian Legends


Zuni Indian Creation Legend
In Zuni myth, before humans were fully
formed, they lived underground, in the
dark. When they finally emerged to the
surface through a series of caverns,
they had to shield their eyes, which, like an owl's, were unused to daylight. The world had
been covered with water; it was damp and wracked by earthquakes. The humans lived on
an island surrounded by water, preyed upon by strange monsters that rose up from the

Two mythical brothers, twin children of the Sun, realized that the world needed to be
dried out and solidified lest the humans succumb to the monsters. Wielding a magic shield,
a rainbow, and arrows of cosmic lightning, the two ignited a tremendous conflagration.
The fire raged over the face of the earth, scorching it dry and hardening the ground.
But now, on the newly dry land, powerful predatory animals, with their talons and sharp
teeth, threatened to multiply and devour the human beings, who were so much weaker. So
the two brothers strode across the world, blasting mountain lions and other creatures
with lightning. "We have changed you into rock everlasting," they proclaimed, as they
struck the animals with their lightning--thlu! Yet the petrified creatures retained the
heart and "magic breath of prey" that had made them powerful, and they became
we-ma-we, or fetishes, helpers that would serve people instead of devouring them.

Zuni Indian Cooked People Legend
Those who are to be human beings, Cooked People or Daylight People, exist within the
earth at a dark and crowded place four levels below the present surface. The Sun Father
(Yatokka taccu) commands that his sons (Ahayuta, the warrior twins) lead the emergence
of the people into the daylight.

The people have no mouth openings. Their fingers and toes are webbed, and they have
horns and tails. The warrior twins slit mouth openings in the people's faces, cut their
webs to form fingers and toes, and cut off their horns and tails.

A priest's son and daughter are sent to find a place where the people may live. The sister
and brother commit incest; their children are the koyemshi. The people travel about
looking for a place to live. A water strider, an insect that skates on the surface tension
of water, places its feet at the edges of the world.
    Native American Art Heading
    Zuni Indian performs in a Creation Ceremony
    Creation Ceremony