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Religious Practices of the Diegueño Indians, by T.T. Waterman, [1910], at


In the beginning there was no earth or land. There was nothing except salt water. This covered everything like a big sea. Two brothers lived under this water. The oldest one was Tcaipakomat. 148

Both of them kept their eyes closed, for the salt would blind them. The oldest brother after awhile went up on top of the salt water and looked around. He could see nothing but water. Soon the younger brother too came up. He opened his eyes on the way and the salt water blinded him. When he got to the top he could see nothing at all, so he went back. When the elder brother saw

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that there was nothing, he made first of all little red ants, miskiluwi (or ciracir). They filled the water up thick with their bodies and so made land. Then Tcaipakomat caused certain black birds with flat bills, xanyil, to come into being. There was no sun or light when he made these birds. So they were lost and could not find their roost. So Tcaipakomat took three kinds of clay, red, yellow, and black, and made a round, flat object. This he took in his hand and threw up against the sky. It stuck there. It began to give a dim light. We call it the moon now, halya. The light was so poor that they could not see very far. So Tcaipakomat was not satisfied, for he had it in mind to make people. He took some more clay and made another round, flat object and tossed that up against the other side of the sky. It also stuck there. It made everything light. It is the sun, inyau. Then he took a light-colored piece of clay, mutakwic, and split it up part way. He made a man of it. That is the way he made man. Then he took a rib 149 from the man and made a woman. This woman was Sinyaxau, First Woman. 150 The children of this man and this woman were people, ipai. They lived in the east at a great mountain called Wikami. 151 If you go there now you will hear all kinds of singing in all languages. If you put your ear to the ground you will hear the sound of dancing. This is caused by the spirits of all the dead people. They go back there when they die and dance just as they do here. That is the place where everything was created first.

A big snake lived out in the ocean over in the west. He was called Maihaiowit. 152 He was the same as Tcaipakomat but had taken another form. This big snake had swallowed all learning. All the arts were inside his body—singing, dancing, basket-making, and all the others. The place where the snake lived was

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called Wicuwul (Coronado Islands?) The people at this time at Wikami wished to have an Image Ceremony. They had made a wokeruk, ceremonial house, but did not know what else to do. They could neither dance nor make speeches. One man knew more than the others. He told them they ought to do more than just build the house, so that the people who came after them would have something to do. So they made up their minds to send to Maihaiowit and ask him to give them the dances. Another sea monster, Xamilkotat, was going to swallow everyone who tried to go out to Maihaiowit. So the people said the man who went had better change himself into a bubble.

So the man who had first spoken about the matter changed himself into a bubble. The monster swallowed him anyway. When he found himself down inside he first went north, but he could find no way out. Then he went south, east, and west but could find no way out. Then he reached his hand toward the north—he was a wonderful medicine-man—and got a blue flint, awi-haxwa. He broke this so as to get a sharp edge. Then he cut a hole through the monster and got out. Then he went on and on till he got to the place where Maihaiowit lived. The snake had a big circular house, with the door in the top. The man went in there. When the snake saw him he called out:

Mamapitc inyawa maxap meyo (Who-are-you my-house hole comes-in?)

The man answered:

Inyatc eyon enuwi (I it-is, Uncle) .

"Tell me what you want," said the snake.

"I came over from Wikami," said the man. "They are trying to make a wukeruk ceremony there, but they don't know how to sing or dance."

"All right," said the snake, "I will come and teach them. You go ahead and I will come slowly."

So the man went back. The monster came after him reaching from mountain to mountain. He left a great white streak over the country where he went along. You can still see it. The people at Wikami were expecting him, so they cleared a space. He came travelling fast as a snake travels. He went to the wukeruk. First he put his head in. Then he began slowly pulling

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his length in after him. He coiled and coiled, but there was no end to his length. After he had been coiling a long time the people became afraid at his size. So they threw fire on top of the house and burned him. When they put the fire on him he burst. All the learning inside of him came flying out. It was scattered all around. Each tribe got some one thing. That is the reason one tribe knows the wildcat dance and another the wukeruk and a third are good at peon. Some people got to be witches or medicine-men (kwusiyai), and orators, but not many.

The head of Maihaiowit was burned to a cinder. The rest of his body went back west. It did not go very far. In the Colorado river there is a great, white ridge of rock. That is his body. A black mountain near by is his head. The people go to the white rock and make spearheads.

After the house was burned up, the people were not satisfied, so they scattered in all directions. The people who went south were the oldest. They are called Akwal, Kwiliyeu, and Axwat. The rocks were still soft when the people scattered abroad over the earth. Wherever one of them stepped he left a footprint. The hollows around in all the rocks are where they set down their loads when they rested. 152a


Even a hasty reading of this myth makes evident its dissimilarity with the ordinary Luiseño and Mohave accounts of creation. It may be well to add in this place that a systematic comparison of the narratives in detail confirms the impression of dissimilarity conveyed at first blush by the general structure and underlying idea of the story. 153 A certain external relation between the myth outlined above and the Mohave story 154 is of course apparent. The mountain Wikami, for instance in the

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present story, and the monster Maihaiowit, correspond to the Mohave "Avikwame" and the monster "Humasareha." This relationship does not seem to extend down into the story-elements proper.

It is of course impossible to determine at this time, either from the myth just quoted or from other versions, just what elements enter properly into the Diegueño myth. All the evidence extant, however, points quite unmistakably to the conclusion that as far as the mythology of Creation is concerned, the Diegueño are thoroughly independent of the Shoshonean peoples north of them.

It must be noted in passing that the "meteor" or electric fireball, Diegueño Tcaup or Kwiyaxomar (Cuyahomarr), Luiseño Takwish, Mohave Kwayu, is also prominent in all the mythologies of the Mission area. 155 As a corollary to the theme discussed just above, it is to be observed that the Diegueño give this subject, too, a characteristic treatment of their own. The physical phenomenon which is the basis of the stories is apparently the same everywhere, namely, ball-lightning. A certain confusion has arisen in this regard, owing to the use in various papers of the word "meteor" to describe the manifestation. The presence of this word in the literature of the subject is in all likelihood to be charged to a loose employment of the term, in the first place, by uneducated native informants. The being described in the myths is widely thought to be accompanied by thunderings, to have a "bright" or "beaming" appearance, and to fly about close to the surface of the ground. These traits unmistakably characterize ball-lightning rather than meteors. 156 The terrific action of the electric fireball would, at least in the mind of the present writer, account in part for the terror in which the being is held by all the Mission peoples. However this may be, the Luiseño and Mohave "cannibal meteor" stories offer almost no similarity (outside of concerning the same subject) to the corresponding Diegueño tale. This being, who as we have seen is

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the culture hero of the Diegueño, is apparently regarded as a malevolent demon among the Luiseño and Mohave.

It is perhaps too early to say that the Diegueño have no myths other than the Chaup and Creation stories. We may safely conclude however that these two are by far the most important types of myth. It is also safe to say concerning Diegueño mythology that while it seems to be restricted in scope, its affiliations are to be sought, not among the mythology of the Shoshoneans as has at times been suggested, but among that of the peoples, related linguistically to the Diegueño, who live to the south and east.


338:148 Miss DuBois gives Tuchaipa as the elder and Yokomat or Yokomatis as the younger, but says (Journ. Am. Folk-Lore, XXI, 229, 1908; and Congr. Intern. American., XV, Quebec, II, 131, 1906) that the two names are sometimes given in one: Chaipakomat.

339:149 This may be an original element and not a gloss from the Biblical myth. The informant is a "bronco" (unbaptized) Indian, who has never been under the influence of the missionaries.

339:150 From siny, woman, and axau, first; apparently the same as Miss DuBois’ Sinyohauch (Journ. Am. Folk-Lore, XVII, 222, 1904), in which the final ch is guttural.

339:151 Cf. present series, VIII, 123, 1908; Journ. Am. Folk-Lore, XIX, 315, 1906; Am. Anthropologist, n.s. VII, 627, 1905.

339:152 Journ. Am. Folk-Lore, XIX, 315, 1906; XXI, 235, 1908; Am. Anthr., n.s., VII, 627, 1905.

341:152a A full account of the Yuma creation story has been contributed by Mr. John P. Harrington to the Journal of American Folk-Lore, XXI, 324, 1908. The relationship between the above schematic account and Mr. Harrington's full version of the Yuma story is at once evident.

341:153 See Am. Anthr., n.s. XI, 41-55, 1909. Thirteen prominent story elements are there chosen for study. Of these, it develops that the Mohave and Luiseño myths have nine in common. The Diegueño story, on the other hand, has only three elements in common with the Luiseño, and but two in common with the Mohave. This is quite insignificant, since any two totally unrelated mythologies might to this limited extent be similar.

341:154 Journ. Am. Folk-Lore, XIX, 314, 1906.

342:155 Ibid., 316. Ibid., XVII, 217, 1904. Ibid., XIX, 147, 1906.

342:156 The present writer has never met the word "meteor" in this connection among native informants, and has found the being in question identified both in Luiseño and Diegueño territory with the electric fireball.

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