Western Shoshoni Myths:
Hawk and the Gambler
Hawk (Tuhu'ni) and his sister-in-law, Snow Bird (Takandado'a), were the only people left in the world. Everyone had gone to Panamint Valley (Hauta) to gamble, but none of them had come back. All the animals--Coyote, Wildcat, Bear, Crow, and others--had gone and had been killed.
Hawk lived alone. He asked his sister-in-law to come and live with him, but she refused. She would not go near his house.
One day Hawk disappeared. When he did not return Snow Bird went to look for him. She looked in his house and found that he had jumped out through the hole in the roof. She walked around and around looking for his tracks. When she found them, she began to follow him. She followed him a long way and finally caught up with him.
When Snow Bird overtook Hawk, he said, "Why do you follow me? I am going over where I will be killed. You had better go back." She said, "No, I will go with you." Hawk asked her if she were brave. He asked her to sing. She began to cry, singing "Hovía, hovía, pasáqwai yumákan:". Hawk said, "What power have you to protect you from danger?" She said, "You see that mountain with snow on it?" The snow was clear like ice. "That is my power. It will help me." Hawk said, pointing to a mountain, "That is tuhu toyavi" (tuhu, "black," + toyavi, "mountain"). "That mountain is my power and will help me."
She went close to him, and they walked along together. He sang, "Tuhukini nuwu pasai yani pasai yani," and repeated it again and again." 27 Snow Bird also sang her song. They went along toward the home of the Gambler singing their songs.
The Gambler (Pano’'wazi) had killed all of Hawk's and Snow Bird's people. He lived with his many daughters and with two Gophers, who were Hawk's mothers-in-law.
Late in the afternoon, Hawk and Snow Bird came near to the place of the Old Man, the Gambler. Gophers saw them coming when they were far off and started out to meet them. Gophers took them to their house. While traveling to the Gambler's place, someone had warned Hawk and Snow Bird that the Old Man would offer them food, but that they should not take it, because it would be poisoned. All night Hawk stayed awake, because the Old Man waited to kill him. The Gambler would say, "Is he asleep?" Hawk would hear him, and say, "No, I am not asleep."
In the morning the Gambler's daughters began to grind acorns. They ground a great many acorns so that they could have mush. The old man said, "Grind them well, because we are going to have mush with Hawk meat for breakfast."
Hawk and the Gambler began a kick-ball race. 28 They kicked their balls around a long course. Gambler took the lead and remained ahead. The two old women, Gophers, were going to help Hawk. They made holes in the course, so that the Gambler stumbled and fell in them. Meanwhile, Hawk had made one of his eggs into a ball, and used it instead of the one given him by the Gambler. The Gambler did not see him exchange the balls. With the help of Gophers, Hawk beat the Gambler.
Near the goal they had built a big fire in which to burn the loser. When the Gambler was beaten, he said, "You have beaten me. Take, my money and everything I have." Hawk said, "No, I did not agree to that." He wanted to kill the Gambler and all his people. Hawk said to the Gambler, "Sharpen your knife well and kill your people." The Gambler was rubbing the dull edge of his knife on their throats, saying, "Hwi, hwi," in a squeaky voice. Then Hawk took the knife from him and killed the old man and his daughters.
During the race, Snow Bird had been sitting close to the fire. After the Gambler and his people were killed, Gophers went to Snow Bird to carry her away, but she had grown roots so that if the Gambler had won the race and had attempted to throw her into the fire, he would have fallen in, instead. The old women continued to lift, and after a while, pulled up Snow Bird, roots and all.
Hawk saw all his own people piled up. They were dead and Coyote was among them. They had lost their arms, legs, heads, or other parts of their bodies. Coyote said, "Make a leg for me right away, before you fix anybody else." Hawk restored all the people.
27 The tune is nearly identical with that In the Owens Valley Paiute versions. (See footnote 2, Steward, J. H., Myths of the Owens Valley Paiute, p. 438, 1936.)
28 This is the only record of this game. Informants denied that these Shoshoni had ever played it.