The Origin of Maize

Llano Grande

    In those days they say that God had the maize up there.  They say he threw down a single kernel of maize from the sky, two little kernels he threw down. And they say that those little maize kernels matured in three days, already it produced maize. From there they say it spread all over.

    They told it like this.  [Only] barley, barley in the beginning, they say, and God's dog was hungry. They say that he had a little white dog, with long hair he made it. That is why he loved it, because it was white and little like this.  They say that that little dog would get the spines [of the barley] stuck in his tongue, he would look up to heaven and cry. He would show it to him.  They say that then they threw down the two kernels of maize for him, and from that came abundant maize. From two kernels of corn we received this corn. [For that reason] my father would never like to see even one kernel [of maize] left lying [wasted] on the ground.  This is the order of our God. If God had not sent us these two grains we would not have anything to eat.  When they would tell [my father] that the maize had been spilled on the ground, he would say "Pick it up, it is the order of our God. It is because he has sent these two grains that we have plenty. If our God had not sent them two us we would not have any. [We would have had] to eat barley, which would have belonged," he said, "to the dogs.”

Rosa Pulupa, Llano Grande 1989  (67 years old)

Recorded and translated by Tod Swanson

When we put the grains into the ground, I cross myself.  My daughters ask, "Why does mother cross herself." "You have to cross yourself," I say. If God gives we can plan to eat.  If he takes it away, what are we going to do?  If he were a lieutenant or a human being, we would go beg him to give to us, but God, if he punishes, he punishes.  I tell them, that is the way life is.  That is why I tell you, if God gives a little grass for the guinea pigs, then God provides. If he takes away the grass, then he takes away even our own food. He also takes away food from the little animals.  I tell you, the birds too, when God gives, they eat the little grains, when God does not give, one is left without even a cent for oneself, and so it is not possible to buy food for the animals."