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Native Expressions
"How Hummingbird Got Fire"
A Rumsien Ohlone Story as told by Linda Yamane

   Once, a very long time ago, something happened to the world. The ocean rose up higher and higher, covering the land little by little, rising up and up until nearly everything was covered over with water.

   Eagle, Hummingbird, Crow, Raven, and Hawk were together on a mountain top, looking out at the world and seeing how it had been destroyed. After many days, Eagle had an idea and used his magic, and help from Hawk, to dry up the waters.

   By this time, the five friends were hungry. There was food to be found, but they needed fire to cook with. Eagle knew the one place where fire could be found, and sent his little nephew Hummingbird to get fire from the Badger People underground. But the Badger people refused to share their fire and sent Hummingbird away.

   When Hummingbird returned, Eagle was very angry and sent him back.

   This time, the Badger People saw Hummingbird coming and said, "Cover the fire!" They hid their fire by covering it over with a deer skin. But the deer skin had a hole in it, where an arrow had gone through, and Hummingbird reached in with his long narrow beak. He took out a hot ember and carried it away. But before he could put it safely into his armpit, it flamed, turning his throat brilliant red.

   That is why Hummingbird has a red throat, and that's how there came to be fire in the world again.