The legends of our Elder Brother I'itoi, Ban the Coyote and the animals, plants and places of our desert home are more than simple stories. Each one contains important information about the O'odham Himdag – the Desert People's Lifeways. These stories teach values and skills that continue to guide our community and TOCA's programming.
Each winter, TOCA continues the tradition of storytelling – in classrooms and auditoriums as well as around camp fires and at our agricultural fields.
The Milky Way Appears
As told in "Legends and Lore of the Papago and Pima Indians" collected by Dean Saxton
Long ago, there was a little old man who hated his daughter's child. He never made anything for his grandson as an old man should, like making a bow and arrow, a racing ball, or telling something good to a child. A child should grow up with that and be like the people were then. This old man was not like that. he scolded his grandson and always beat the child for his faults. So, one day, he again beat his grandson and the boy went out and slipped away and didn't come back. The old man waited for him but he didn't come. He looked for him and couldn't find him. Then he felt very bad and went around grieving. The child had gone away and lay down up above. From there he saw his grandfather going around and looking for him. So he said "I think I'll go and see my grandfather and give him something. That will make him happy so he won't be doing something uselessly." So he came down.
He sat by his grandfather and said, "As you know, I once was a child living with you. You always scolded me, so I was very unhappy and went to live up above. From there I looked down and saw you always looking for me. I knew you were unhappy, so I pitied you and came to tell you not to grieve and be unhappy. I am going to give you something. Take care of it, and when it multiplies, eat it and be filled and think of me. When you want to see me, go out at night and you will see me. I will be all across the sky up above."
When he had said this he gave him some seed and said, "Plant it right by your head where you sleep and keep watching it so nothing will take it out. It will come up and blossom and bear beans. When it gets dry, its seed will be scattered. Gather them all up. When a year goes by and the rain moistens the earth, bury them four together and watch them, as I said, not letting animals eat or trample them, or grass or weeds come up. When they ripen, pull them up and pile them where you've cleared a place. Then get a stick to beat them with. The seed will be removed. When the wind blows, you will take them in your hands and throw them up, and it will blow away the stalks and leave the seed. Then take it and store it away, and next year do the same thing. When you have planted four times it will increase enough. Then you will eat it and be full from me. you will be alive and happy from me, your grandchild, who is the white bean. that gray streak stretched across the sky is my home." After saying this he went out.
So that is why the white bean is the child of the Desert People. It is born here and grows here and endures dryness. When it doesn't rain enough, the white bean still comes up. The Desert People will always eat it and live here.
The Milky Way is said to be the white bean. He lives clear across the sky. Beans grow in abundance and we see them scattered across the sky.