A Great Flood had occurred upon Earth long, long ago. While Earth
was still covered with water, there were no living creatures upon
Then out of the sky one day glided an enormous Eagle with a black
Crow riding upon its back, searching for a place to light.
Around and around Eagle flew until he discovered a projecting
tree stump, or what appeared to be a stump, upon which he landed
to rest. There was a home at last upon the flat surface, which
was amply large enough for Eagle and Crow to roost upon.
From here, they surveyed the greenish gray water as far as they
could see. The sky was a gorgeous bright blue with a few white
drifting clouds, occasionally swirled by a passing breeze. All
seemed serene to Eagle and Crow.
Small fish were visible below the water, sometimes leaping out of
the sea playfully. Hunger caused Eagle and Crow to swoop down,
catching a meal for themselves from time to time. Soon a game
developed between the two birds to see which one would be the
winner in the fish-catching contest. Upon their return to the
stump, however, they always shared the reward.
Because of Eagle's great size and wingspan, he soared to great
heights and surveyed widely, as the two birds often flew in
opposite directions exploring for land. But no land did they
find. No other flying creatures did they see. But they always
returned to their home base on the tree stump.
Between them, they wondered "How can we possibly think of a way
to make land?"
"We know we cannot dive deep enough to find dirt, and the fish
are of no help except to provide food."
Day after day these scenes were repeated, exploring in search of
land or wondering how to create land, only to return to their
stump and catch more fish.
One morning soon thereafter and much to their surprise, a Duck
was swimming around and around their stump. Occasionally, it
dived deep in the water, rose to the surface chewing small fish,
twisting its head from side to side trying to swallow its meal.
One time, Duck emerged with more mud than fish in its mouth.
Eagle and Crow bird talked excitedly about this! "Can Duck
possibly bring up enough mud for us to build land?" they
How could they let Duck know that mud was what they needed most?
An idea occurred to Eagle, which he bird talked to Crow, "If we
supply fish for Duck, maybe he will bring up more mud than fish."
By trial and error, the two birds caught fish for Duck, placing
them at the edge of the stump, until Duck learned that the fish
were for him in exchange for mud!
When Duck appeared on the surface after a deep dive, Eagle and
Crow brushed off the mud from Duck's bill and his body with their
wings. Progress was slow but steady.
Gradually, Eagle had a pile of mud on his side of the stump and
Crow had a similar pile on his side. Each placed fish on his own
side for Duck, who now responded by carrying more and more mud to
Eagle and Crow. This became a great game of fish-and-mud
Duck worked very hard, consequently he was always hungry. The
birds were surprised at how large each one's mud pile grew every
day. In bird talk they said, "Duck is helping us to make a new
world. This we will share equally."
Occasionally, Eagle and Crow flew toward the horizon, exploring
for any new signs of land. But they returned with nothing new to
report; however, they noticed a slight lowering of water around
the tree stump.
"Surely, the flood must be coming to an end," Crow and Eagle bird
Each day they watched for a change in the waterline. Each day
their piles of mud seemed higher and higher. Faithful Duck kept
up his good work as Eagle and Crow caught fish for him and
scraped off mud from him for each side of the new world.
Another time, Eagle flew high and far in search of dry land, not
returning until late. The sun set and darkness enveloped his
world on the stump. Next morning, to Eagle's surprise, he saw how
much more mud he had acquired, and he was pleased. But after
looking across at Crow's mud pile, Eagle was astounded to see
that Crow had given himself twice as much mud while Eagle was
"Was this Crow's idea of sharing the new world equally?" accused
Of course, they quarrelled all that day and the next over Crow's
unfairness. But the following day, they went back to work making
their new land. Eagle decided that he must catch up. He caught
two fish for Duck and put them in his usual place. Duck responded
by bringing up mud twice to Eagle in exchange for his two fish.
All three worked very hard for many, many moons.
Gradually, Eagle's half of the new world became taller and taller
than Crow's half, even though Crow seemed to work just as hard as
Eagle. Duck was faithful to his task, never tiring in his effort
to supply mud. Of course, Duck continued to give Eagle twice as
much mud for his two fish. Crow never seemed to notice why
Eagle's half became higher and higher than his half.
One morning, as the sun rose brightly, the two birds looked down
through the water and saw what appeared to be land!
"So that is where Duck finds the mud," they bird talked. They
were pleased to see that the water was subsiding. How they hoped
that soon they would be high and dry on their new world.
But all was not so easy, for that very night lightning flashed
across the waters and thunder rolled and rolled from one horizon
to the other followed by a heavy, drenching rain. Eagle and Crow
sought shelter in holes they dug into the sides of their mud
piles. All night long the rain continued to fall, washing away
much of the new world into the sea.
As the rain stopped and the sun rose, Eagle and Duck looked out
upon the waters and saw an arc of many colours reaching from one
edge of the horizon across the sky to the other horizon. This
brilliant display held their eyes in wonderment. What did it
mean? They marvelled at how long the colours lingered in the sky.
Eagle flew toward the scene for a closer look, returning when the
In bird talk, Eagle and Crow decided that the storm of the night
before must have been a clearing shower. They began their land-
building project again, hoping that Duck would resume his work as
mud-carrier. Soon the sun's rays burned strong and hot, packing
the mud until it was hard. Duck appeared and the team of three
continued to build the two halves of the new world.
Day by day, the waters subsided and new land began to show above
the waterline but far, far below the new creation by Eagle and
Crow. Eagle's half became taller and taller and hard packed by
the hot sun. Crow's share of the new world was still great, but
never could become as large as Eagle's half of the new world.
In retelling this creation story, Yokut tribal historians always
claim that Eagle's half became the mighty Sierra Nevada
Mountains. They also tell how Crow's half became known as the
Coast Mountain Range.
Yokut historians end their tale by saying that people everywhere
honour the brave and strong Eagle, while Crow is accorded a
lesser place because of his unfair disposition displayed during
he creation of the new world by Eagle and Crow.
Return to Indigenous Peoples' Literature
Compiled by: Glenn Welker
Copyright @ 1993-2016
This site has been accessed 10,000,000 times since February 8, 1996.