Sacred Texts  Native American  California  Index  Previous  Next 

The Religion of the Luiseño Indians of Southern California, by Constance Goddard DuBois, [1908], at


The Sea-fog, Awawit, was the one who started the Notish ceremony. He was one of those who arranged all the ceremonies after the death of Ouiot. He was the one who had to provide the food and to call all the people together.

Sea-fog set up the kutumit pole with baskets at the top, and arranged for a contest of skill between his people of the West and those of the mountains. The Western people were sure that they could do better in everything than the people of the mountains. 251

So everyone tried to climb the pole to get the baskets, but no one could reach the top except the squirrel from the mountains, and he climbed the pole, cut the string, and the baskets fell down.

When the mountain people went to this gathering, they took deer meat and much food, all they could carry; but Mechish from the ocean, a sea animal that crawls along, and has little hollows or cups in his shell, got a bag and got all the food in that and carried it off. So the West won in that contest and got all the mountain people's food. In the first game the squirrel beat. In the second the West beat.

Then the Western people gathered fish and other things to eat. There was a bird there from the mountains with a very big mouth (the whip-poor-will?), and the mountain people said to

p. 149

him: "It is your turn now to eat." He said: "That is nothing for me to do." So he opened his mouth and they poured everything into it, and he ate it all up. So the mountain people beat.

Then they arranged a game between the fish and the owl. They were to look straight at each other and whoever closed his eyes first was to lose. The owl and the fish sat and looked at each other, and finally the owl had to close his eyes, so he lost, and the Western people won on that.

They were getting angry over all this contest and it seemed that there would be a fight. When levalwish, the crow's skin, 252 is hung on the pole, there is to be fighting.

Then Sea-fog made a house and told the mountain people to try to destroy it. So they got the summer-cloud, Thunder-cloud, a very powerful man, to come and see if he could blow or break it down. He came, he roared and blew, but could do nothing to break the house down. So the West won. Then Thunder-cloud invited Sea-fog to come up to his house and see if he could destroy it. So Sea-fog came. A strong wind broke the trees and knocked down all the houses. So the West won again. Then they tried their skill in a long race. They went past Pala up through the mountains as far as La Jolla. 253 Some of those that raced on the side of the mountain people were the hawk, frog, eagle, raven, and chicken-hawk; and for the West, Emamul (little birds on the seashore, very fast runners), 254 the butterfly, grasshopper, and others. As they came by Pala to the foot of the mountain, at Rincon, Wasimul, 255 a kind of hawk, gave out in the race, and there he is now as a rock beside the road, right below the store. (See Ancestral Songs.) At the same time Chehuka, 256 a person, coming along in the race, gave out, and his footprint can still be seen in the rock. When many of the racers had given out and died, or stayed behind, the eagle and the raven and the chicken-hawk, Mountain people, were ahead; and the grasshopper and

p. 150

the butterfly, Western people, were close behind, so the Mountain people won in this race.

The last race was between the deer, Sukut, and the antelope, Tonla. This race was from Temecula to San Bernardino mountain, and the antelope beat in this, for it was all on a level, where the antelope can go fastest. So they arranged to have another race between them, and this time it was over a mountain route, and here the deer won the race.

Summer-cloud (Thunder-cloud) was glad because the deer beat, and the mountain people had won in most of the contests. 257 All these contests were made in the first Notish ceremony and ended it.


148:250 Told by Lucario Cuevish.

148:251 The place where the ceremony was held can still be seen. It is where the trees stand around in a circle, and ashes and stones used for cooking are there. It is on the mountain ridge from Pala going towards Temecula. Compare the description of the place near Temecula where the sun was raised, given by the same informant (p. 144, note 244).

149:252 Levalvush, wide; a rare word.

149:253 Lucario, probably on account of his blindness, is inclined to give a very limited account of distance. All the others say that this race was to be made out to the desert and back again.

149:254 Emamal, a small bird.—S.

149:255 Wasimal, a hawk that nests on the ground.—S.

149:256 Chahuka, a person that lived in the distant past.—S.

150:257 It is evident that certain trials of skill have been forgotten by the narrator, as in his list the mountain people are not ahead.

Next: A Chungichnish Story