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Chapter III

Of the Creation of the World According to Those Residing on the Sea-Coast

In the preceding chapter, we have been amused by the belief of the Indians, Serranos, relative to the creation of the world. Now, let us compare the same with that of the Playanos--that is, those who came to settle in the valley of St. Juan Capistrano. An invisible and all-powerful being called Nocuma made the world, the sea, and all that is therein contained, such as animals, trees, plants and fishes. In its form it was spherical, and rested upon his hands; but, being continually in motion, he resolved to secure the same by placing in its centre a black rock, called Tosaut, and it remained firm, and secure as at the present time. This black rock, the Indians say, is from a small island near the beach, and the fragments which they often collect, serve as trowels, with which they smooth their mud walls.

The sea, at that time, was no more than a small stream of water, running from the south to the north, encircling the world: so filled with fish, that they were literally piled one on top of another, in such a state of inconvenience, that they held a consultation, and some were for landing upon the earth; others were of opinion that it would be impossible, for they would perish when exposed to the air and the heat of the sun, and besides they had no legs and feet as other animals have. While conferring upon this matter, there came a large fish, bringing with him the rock Tosaut, which, having broken, they found in its centre a ball formed like a bladder, filled with gall. This they emptied into the water, and from its fresh state it was converted into a bitter

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condition. The water then immediately swelled, and overflowed upon the earth, covering the space which it does now, and the fishes were rejoiced to find themselves so amply supplied with room, and at the change effected in the taste.

Nocumo having created all the things contained in the world, and secured it with the rock Tosaut, as before remarked, created man, or the first Indian, out of the earth, and called him Ejoni. Afterwards he created woman, and gave her the name of . It is not known of what she was made, but the supposition is that she was created from the earth, like the man. Many years after the creation of Ejoni and , one of their descendants, called Sirout, (which signifies a handful of tobacco) and his wife called Ycaiut, (which signifies above) had a son, and they gave him the name of Ouiot. This name, according to the explanation given by the Indians, signifies something which has taken root, denoting that in like manner, he would, in course of time, extend his power and dominion over the earth, as the largest trees spread their roots in every direction. I have not been enabled to ascertain if the name Ouiot, properly implying dominator, was given to him at the time of his birth, or at the time of his celebrity as the great Captain. Be it as it may, let us examine his history, or life.

Out of the confines of a Rancheria, called Pubuna, distant from St. Juan Capistrano N.E. about eight leagues, came the monster Ouiot, and the Indians, at the present time, preserve the account in their annals. At that time, all the inhabitants were at peace, and quietly following their domestic pursuits; but Ouiot, being of a fierce disposition, a warrior, ambitious, and haughty, soon managed to gain a supremacy over many of the towns adjoining that where he originated. During the commencement of his reign, he was pacific, kind and generous to such a degree, that every one appeared happy, and contented with their chief; but after the lapse of a few years, he gradually exposed his ferocity, and persecuted many of his vassals; cruelly treating them, and some he put to death. In fact, he soon became the detestation of all his subjects.

Having suffered so much from Ouiot, they determined to rid themselves of the tyrant, and release themselves from the oppression in which they had lived for so long a period. A consultation was held by the elders, and it was decided that he should receive his death by means

of poison. The rock Tosaut was procured, and whilst in the act of pulverizing the ingredient, they were perceived by one called Cucumel, who immediately gave information to Ouiot, that they wished to destroy him by poison. Said Cucumel was a small animal inhabiting holes in the ground, from which, in the daytime, he issued to obtain his sustenance. The said Ouiot, believing he was hated and despised, and fearful of the death revealed to him by Cucumel, despatched messengers in every direction to ascertain the truth; threatening, at the same time, those who might have been concerned in the conspiracy; but, obtaining no information, he rather looked upon it as a jest. In the meantime, his enemies had secretly prepared the mixture, and were consulting how to administer the same, saying that it was so active and effective, that the mere application of it to the flesh, would cause almost instantaneous death. One of them was entrusted with its execution, and at night, finding Ouiot asleep, he placed a small quantity upon his breast. On waking, he experienced a sickness and weakness in his limbs, and fearing very much that he should die, he immediately called in, all the intelligent from the different towns. But the more they administered for his relief, the worse he became, until, at length, he died.

After his death they sent off couriers to all the towns, and settlements, which Ouiot had governed, summoning the people to the interment of their Grand Captain; and in a few days, so great a collection had assembled, that the City or Town of Pubuna could not contain them, and they were obliged to encamp in the outskirts. They consulted together as to the propriety of burning or interring the body, and they decided upon the former. The funeral pile was made, the deceased placed upon it, the pile was fired, and during the time of its burning, they danced and sang songs of rejoicing.

These ceremonies concluded, and before the return of the people to their different places of abode, a council was called to regulate the collecting of grain or seeds of the fields, and flesh, to eat; for up to this time they had fed upon a kind of clay. While conferring upon this subject, there appeared to them one, called "Attajen," which name implies man, or rational being; but they knew not from whence he came. To his enquiry, "Why they were thus congregated?" they answered "that their Grand Captain was dead, and that they had met together to assist at the

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funeral ceremonies; and now, previous to their retirement, the elders were consulting as to the manner they should subsist for the future, without the necessity of living upon clay as they had heretofore." "Attajen" was much pleased with the relation that he had heard, and said unto them, "Ye are not capable, nor can ye do what ye think, or wish to do. I am the only one that has power, and I will give it to ye, that ye may have an abundance to eat, in your habitations." And, accordingly, he selected from the multitude a few of the elders, and endowed them with the power to cause the rain to fall, to make grain, and others to make animals, such as rabbits, hares, deer, &c., &c. And it was understood that such power was to descend to their successors.

Many years, and perhaps ages, having expired since the death of Ouiot, there appeared in the same town of Pubuna, one called Ouiamot," son of Tacu and Auzar. I imagine that this new character was not, or, at least, his parents were not inhabitants of the place, but had originated in some distant land. The said Ouiamot did not appear like Ouiot, as a warrior, but as a God. To him they were to offer presents. And this was the God Chinigchinich, so feared, venerated, and respected by the Indians, who taught first in the town of Pubuna, and afterwards in all the neighboring parts, explaining the laws, and establishing the rites and ceremonies necessary to the preservation of life.

The manner in which he commenced to dogmatise, manifesting his extravagances, was as follows. One day, at a very large congregation of the people, he danced before them, adorned in the robes which have been already described; his flesh painted black and red, and calling himself Tobet. He said that he had come from the stars to teach them those things of which they were ignorant. After dancing a considerable time, he separated the chiefs and elders from among them, and directed that they alone should wear the kind of dress which had adorned his person, and then taught them how to dance. To these Indians was given the name of puplem, who would know all things, and relieve the infirm and diseased. In other words, they would become the sorcerers or soothsayers, to whom the Indians might invariably apply for advice, and relief from their necessities. In the event of a scarcity of food, or any infirmity, they were told to appear, dressed like unto Tobet; that is, after the manner in which he appeared to them, dancing; to supplicate him, not in

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the name of Ouiamot, but of Chinigchinich, and their wants would be relieved. The sick would be cured, and the hungry receive food. In all cases they were to return thanks, and even now, to this day, whenever they chance to secure an animal of any kind, they say, "guic Chinigchinich," that is, "thanks to Chinigchinich, who has given me this."

This Chinigchinich, as we shall style him hereafter, taught them how to build the Vanquech, which means temple, or church, and how they were to conduct themselves therein--forbidding any others than the chief and puplem entering its sanctuary. Here they were to teach only the laws and ceremonies, and those who entered, would be called Tobet, and the remainder of the people Saorem, which signifies, persons who do not know how to dance; that is, more properly, those who could not make use of the vestments of Chinigchinich. The name of Quaguar, was given to him when he died and ascended above, among the stars. This is the explanation of the three terms which is given in the preceding relation relative to Chinigchinich.

Chinigchinich having become seriously indisposed, and while instructing the elders how to rear the young, as well as in the rules they were to observe for the future, they enquired of him where, or to which one of his rancherias he wished to go when he died? He answered, "to neither, for they were inhabited by people, and he should go where be would be alone, and could see the inhabitants of all the pueblos and rancherias." They offered to bury him, placing him under the earth, but he said "no," that they would walk upon him, and he would have to chastise them. "No!" said Chinigchinich, "when I die, I shall ascend above, to the stars, and from thence, I shall always see you; and to those who have kept my commandments, I shall give all they ask of me; but those who obey not my teachings, nor believe them, I shall punish severely. I will send unto them bears to bite, and serpents to sting them; they shall be without food, and have diseases that they may die." Chinigchinich, at length, died. His memory was so revered among the Indians, that they ever besought him in all their undertakings, and regarded him with fear and respect.

We have thus seen the belief of these Indians, respecting the creation of the world, and their God, and from its narration, we comprehend their religion, usages and customs. I do not understand why it is, that in

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neither of the two narrations, is there any mention made of the heavens, and that all their ideas of things appear to be confined to the earth, with the exception of the stars. What I should like to know, is, from whence they received such accounts? for, notwithstanding their imperfect, as well as fabulous description, they have some allusion to the truth. We have the six productions of the mother of Ouiot, corresponding to the six days of the creation of the world--The Indian formed of the earth or clay, like our first parent--and Ouiot, analogous to Nimrod of the Holy Scripture. I do not know to whom we may compare Ouiamot, unless it be to Simon Magus, as his teachings were idolatrous.

Next: Chapter IV. Description of the Vanquech or Temple