Native American Tales

People Brought in a Basket

People Brought in a Basket People Brought in a Basket


Kumosh once went to the underworld. At night, the spirits would gather in a great plain and dance and sing, but during the day they would become dry bones. Kumosh decided that these bones would be good for different tribes of people up in the other world. He gathered a basket full of bones and headed up.

He tripped on the way up and spilled the bones, which became spirits that sang and talked all the way back to their resting places. He tried again, but once again, he tripped.

The third time he tried, he told the bones that they would like living on the surface. There was sunshine. When he got to the top he threw the bones out and called them Indian bones. He threw some bones one way and said they would be one tribe. Other bones he threw different places. Each set of bones would have their own characteristics. Kumush saves the Modoc until the last saying they would be bravest.

He told the tribes to send me to him to become wise. He created fish and berries. He made rules about how things should go. Men would hunt. Women would cook. He then left with his daughter and went to live in the place where the sun rises in the sky.


I think it’s interesting how so many origin stories have our souls coming from another world, even Christian theology does this. Our souls came from heaven. If you get a little deeper into some Christian theology, there was a premortal existence, in which we learned and grew until the time we were ready to come to Earth.

Hey, we didn’t go to Hell in a hand basket, we came from Hell in a hand basket, how’s that for you? Maybe we have to go back in a hand basket, leave the same way we got here.


Kumosh is a divine figure, as in, he’s a god of sorts. He planned out the way things should go. In that plan he created gender roles for men and women. Depending on who you talk to, gender roles are divinely assigned. God made you a woman because you were supposed to do XYZ. It wasn’t chance that you were made a woman. God made you a man to do XYZ; it wasn’t left to chance. Apparently the Modoc did believe that gender roles were handed out by gods, but that’s not necessarily a universal belief.

We cannot separate our idea of being from male and female. Oh we try very hard to do so, but we cannot envision any living creature in any other way than male or female. This point was made in a movie I watched in the past few months, Ex Machina, and it’s absolutely true. You don’t get a dog and say it’s a dog. You say he or she. Your fish is a he or she. Your parrot is a he or a she. You are a he or a she, although there are some exceptions.

Our gender roles are so firmly ingrained into us that we attribute them to divine origins. Does it have to be this way? I couldn’t tell you. We’re still in the very early stages of transitive sex acceptance. Maybe in a hundred years we won’t see people as male or female, but I doubt the ideas that went on for so long in our lives will go away that easily.


You came here in a hand basket, fun times.

Weigh In

Do you think your soul came from another world?

What do you think about your soul being brought to Earth in a basket?


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