DiegueƱo Creation Myth

(From page 338 of WATERMAN)

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.

Both of them kept their eyes closed, for the salt would blind them. The oldest brother after a while 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 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 his 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 from the man and made a woman. This woman was Sinyaxau, First Woman. [ Note: The rib element seems to 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 missionaries. ]

The children of this man and this woman were people, ipai. They lived in the east at a great mountain called Wikami. 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. 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 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 whole through the monster and got out. Then he went on and on till he got to the place where Maihaiowat lived. The snake had a big circular house, with the door on the top. The man went in there. When the snake saw him he called out:

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

    The man answered: Inyata 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 traveling fast as a snake travels. He went to the wukeruk. First he put his head in. Then he began slowly pulling his length in after him. He coiled, but there was no end to his length. After he had been coiling a long time the people became afraid of 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 adn another the wukeruk and a third are good at peon. Some people got to be witches or medicine-men (kwusaiyai), and orators, but not many.

The head of Maihaiowat 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 nearby 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. Whenever 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.

-- Raymond Lutz - 03 Aug 2007
Topic revision: r2 - 2007-08-04, RaymondLutz
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