“The Juruna Indians lived close to the forest where there was no river. A bird called Juriti owned the drinking water, which she kept in three barrels. One day, the children of chief Cinaā were thirsty. They went to Juriti and asked her for water.
But Juriti wouldn’t give them any. ‘Go back to your father,’ she said, ‘After all, he is the Pagé, the big chief. Why doesn’t he get water for his own children?’
The children went home crying from thirst and told their father what had happened. ‘Don’t ever go to Juriti again,’ said the chief to his children, ‘Her water barrels are full of fish. It’s too dangerous.’
But they were tempted by this story and a while later they went back. When Juriti was not looking, they broke the barrels so that the water flowed out. When Juriti realised what had happened, she got very mad. The children were afraid and jumped back, but for one of the brother, Rubiatá, it was too late. A big fish flowing out of one of the barrels swallowed him.
Although it was a big fish, Rubiatá’s legs stuck out of its mouth. Meanwhile the other brothers started to run away, carrying the open barrels. The water that spilled from the barrels turned into rivers and water falls. The big fish with two legs still sticking out of it’s mouth formed the Xingú river.
The two other brothers kept on running, all the water now spilling from the barrels. That is how the Amazon river started. In that big new river they found the fish and their brother, Rubiatá, already dead. But, when they cut out his legs and blew air into them, Rubiatá became human again. The children went back home after their adventure, and triumphantly told their father: ‘We broke the barrels and from now on we will have water and we will drink for the rest of our lives.'”
-A Juruna Indian, Brazil
From Water Stories, edited by Sascha de Graaf, source: adapted from Rádio TV do Amazonas