Natalie Curtis (1875–1921)
This is how it all began. There was only water — there was no sky, there was no land, only nothingness. Then out of the waters rose a mist, and it became the sky. Still there were no sun, no moon, no stars — just darkness. But deep down in the waters lived Kokomaht, the Creator. He was bodiless, nameless, breathless, motionless, and he was two beings — twins. Then the waters stirred and rushed and thundered, and out of the spray and foam rose the first twin, the good twin. With closed eyes he cleaved the waves and came to the surface. He stood upon the waters, opened his eyes, and saw. There he named himself Kokomaht — All-Father. And from beneath the waters a second voice called out to Kokomaht: “Brother, how did you rise? With eyes open or with eyes closed?” Bakotahl was the evil twin, and Kokomaht wanted to make it more difficult for him to do harm. So Kokomaht lied to him, saying: “I opened my eyes while I was under water.” The second twin opened his eyes as he rose, and when he reached the surface he was blind.
— from “The Good Twin and the Evil Twin” in American Indian Myths and Legends (Pantheon 1984), Richard Erdoes and Alfonso Ortiz
The Good Twin and the Evil Twin are the creator gods in the Yuma account of creation. This version, which explains how the good prevents evil from overwhelming creation, was retold from several sources, including a 1909 report by (pictured) Natalie Curtis (1875–1921), an American ethnologist who transcribed and published traditional music of Native-American tribes and early African-American music.