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The Earth Dragon

Why there is a ridge near the coast

E.W. Gifford (1887–1959)
E.W. Gifford (1887–1959)

Then the earth dragon, with its great, long horns, got up and walked down from the north. It traveled underground and the god Nagaicho rode on its head. As it walked along through the ocean depths, the water outside rose to the level of its shoulders. When it came to shallower places it turned its head upward, and because of this there is a ridge near the coast in the north upon which the waves break. When it came to the middle of the world, in the east under the rising sun, it looked up again, which created a large island near the coast. Far away to the south it continued looking up and made a great mountain range. In the south the dragon lay down, and Nagaicho placed its head as it should be and spread gray-colored clay between its eyes and on each horn. He covered the clay with a layer of reeds, then spread another layer of clay. On it he put some small stones, and then set blue grass, brush, and trees in the clay. “I have finished,” he said. “Let there be mountain peaks on the earth’s head. Let the waves of the sea break against it.”

— from “Earth Dragon” in American Indian Myths and Legends (Pantheon 1984), Richard Erdoes and Alfonso Ortiz

Nagaicho, or “Great Traveler,” is a companion god to Chenesh, the creator god in the mythology of California indigenous peoples such as the Kato. Often seen as a comedy team in which Chenesh plays the straight man while Nagaicho teases him into acts of creation, the duo is credited with the creation of the world and its inhabitants. In this version, based on a 1930 account by E.W. Gifford (1887–1959), who specialized in the study of California Indian ethnography.

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Ocean warms up, Mexican coral trees bloom along the 94

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E.W. Gifford (1887–1959)
E.W. Gifford (1887–1959)

Then the earth dragon, with its great, long horns, got up and walked down from the north. It traveled underground and the god Nagaicho rode on its head. As it walked along through the ocean depths, the water outside rose to the level of its shoulders. When it came to shallower places it turned its head upward, and because of this there is a ridge near the coast in the north upon which the waves break. When it came to the middle of the world, in the east under the rising sun, it looked up again, which created a large island near the coast. Far away to the south it continued looking up and made a great mountain range. In the south the dragon lay down, and Nagaicho placed its head as it should be and spread gray-colored clay between its eyes and on each horn. He covered the clay with a layer of reeds, then spread another layer of clay. On it he put some small stones, and then set blue grass, brush, and trees in the clay. “I have finished,” he said. “Let there be mountain peaks on the earth’s head. Let the waves of the sea break against it.”

— from “Earth Dragon” in American Indian Myths and Legends (Pantheon 1984), Richard Erdoes and Alfonso Ortiz

Nagaicho, or “Great Traveler,” is a companion god to Chenesh, the creator god in the mythology of California indigenous peoples such as the Kato. Often seen as a comedy team in which Chenesh plays the straight man while Nagaicho teases him into acts of creation, the duo is credited with the creation of the world and its inhabitants. In this version, based on a 1930 account by E.W. Gifford (1887–1959), who specialized in the study of California Indian ethnography.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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