Native American Tales

Pushing Up the Sky

Pushing Up the SkyPushing Up the Sky

Snohomish

The sky used to be really low and tall people would bump their heads on it. Some people would also climb into the sky and stay there. Everyone got tired of the sky being so low and decided to push it up. The problem was that everyone spoke different languages and didn’t know how to communicate with one another. They had to decide on a sign that everyone would understand.

They decided to say, “Ya-hoh,” which meant “lift together” in all the languages. They all got together and said “Ya-hoh.” They pushed, and the sky moved up some. They pushed again, and the sky moved up some more. They kept pushing up until the sky was in the place it currently is. Some hunters and elk got stuck in the sky and became the big dipper. If people are working together they can say “hoh” or “Yahoooo” and everyone will work together.

Observations

So that’s what Yahoo means.

I guess having the sky really low would kind of suck. You’d be walking through rain clouds and thunderstorms would knock you over.

Themes

This is a story about working together. The people, even though they spoke different languages, worked together and were able to push the sky away. There is a similar story in the Bible. It’s the story of the tower of Babel. Before Babel, everyone spoke the same language and if they worked together, there was nothing they couldn’t do. The tower almost touched heaven, and God struck it down and confounded all the languages, so people couldn’t work together as well.

Both stories are about working together and language can definitely be a barrier in doing so. These people found a common word to work upon, but we don’t have common words in our major languages today. Sure, “no” means the same thing in several languages, but in other languages, like Japanese, “no” is something completely different. You say “no” to a Japanese person and they’re going to think of “noh” or the “no” letter, which means something like “apostrophe s.” “No” to them is actually “iie.”

In the Bible, there is a scripture along the lines of if people work together they can do pretty much anything. I think it’s right. Maybe we have magical working together powers, or maybe our combined efforts can do a lot. Imagine if we all worked together on world hunger or world peace instead of vying against one another? Things would be so clean and we would all sing Kum-ba-ya together. Nobody would be hungry. Nobody would have nuclear warheads…in a perfect world, right?

Overall

Cooperate people

Weigh In

If the sky was lower, how would it affect your life?

What problems can you think of that would specifically be resolved if there weren’t language barriers?

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