Shoshone - A Rainbow For The Sky
In the time of long ago Father Sun sent forth his mighty rays upon Mother Earth. The corn in the fields turned brown. The trees curled up their leaves. Animals fled to the mountains, and birds flew away. The water in the rivers dried up, and fish burrowed into muddy bottoms. "Help us," the people begged the Medicine Man. "Our children cry out in hunger."
"Dance," cried the Medicine Man. "Let the Rain God hear our prayers."
All day long the people danced. "Boo-oom-oom," pounded the sacred drums. "Hi . . . iya . . . niho . . . ooo," chanted the people. All night long the people danced. "Aha . . . ehe . . . aha . . . ehe," they sang. "Boo-oom-oom," answered the drums.
High above the earth the Rain God joined the dance. "Oo . . . yi . . . yi," he laughed, his feet bouncing about the clouds. "The Rain God does not hear us," cried the people. "Dance faster," said the Medicine Man. The people shook the earth with their dancing feet. "Hi ... iya ... niho . . . ooo," they wailed, sending clouds of dust swirling across the land. "Aha ... ehe ... aha ... ehe," chanted the Medicine Man shaking his rattle."Boom-oom-oom," echoed the drums. Deep within Mother Earth a brightly colored snake heard the thunder drums. He listened to the cries of the children. "I must help them," he said, wiggling to the surface of his tunnel.
"I will bring you rain," he said to the Medicine Man. "How?" laughed the Medicine Man. "Is your magic more powerful than mine?" "Listen to him," cried the people. "Pick me up by the tail," said Snake. "Throw me as high as you can." The Medicine Man seized Snake by the tail. Around and around he twirled. Then up, up, up he threw Snake, high into the sky. When Snake reached the highest clouds, he stretched his body across the sky, from one end of the world to the other. Back and forth he twisted, up and down he wiggled, scratching his huge body against the clouds. Great chunks of ice broke loose and fell to earth. It began to rain! The dry land drank in the cool water. Still the rain came down. The corn in the fields reached up straight and trees drank their fill. Faster and faster came the rain. The rivers swelled with running waters. The birds and animals returned to their homes. Day after day it rained until Mother Earth was washed clean and the thirst of the land was quenched. Then the great snake rested and the sky cleared. "Look," cried the people pointing to the sky, "look at Snake. See how his body glows with all the colors of earth and sky." Great Snake stayed in his heavenly home, never to return to earth again. To this day the people remember him whenever they see a rainbow and they honor him with their dancing feet.
From On the Trail Made of Dawn - Native American Creation
Stories Retold by M. L. Webster