Online Exhibitions

Some of the Early People

Contribute to the art in this exhibit by submitting a digital photo, painting, or graphic about the Cahuilla Creation Story to adunphy@accmuseum.org

(Mo moh pechem)

These people before us, they are gone. We do not know their color, nor how they may have been, but this we know: that they were people of much power. They did not walk, if they did not want to do so, because they had the power to rise and go through the air. They were men like us, and had families the same as we today—only they had much more power and could fly.

These people lived on the mountains, and called themselves Mo moh pechem, which means “moaning in pain.” But this does not mean that they were sick at all—it was only a tribe name.

Now these people could not fly anywhere at any time. No, but only after long prayer till the time came were they given the power. They did not go to be gone a day or a year, but stayed in one place much time, many, many years, and flew away again when the time had come to do so.

From the pass where they lived they flew to the San Fernando Mountain. This mountain they called To to be. From there they flew to the Cocomonga Mountain. That mountain they called Evo quish, meaning a stick or poker to stir the fire. From there they flew to San Gorgonio Mountain, which they called Queri kitch, meaning “bald” or “smooth.”

From there they flew to San Jacinto Mountain. They called it I a kitch, meaning “smooth cliffs.” There is a place near the top which has no pine trees, a place of about forty or fifty acres; right in the center of this place is a large smooth rock, about ten or fifteen feet square, not very high from the ground, about three feet. There they stayed for a long time.

From here they saw a mountain lion coming, and they said that if you saw it once, you could not see it again. But the head man of the tribe said that he could see him again. But the other said that if you see him once, you can not see him again.

The head man went and stood on the top of the rock, looking, and the people were watching from away.  Then the lion leaped upon the rock before he saw the man, and they began to fight, and both died there.

Now after the head man was killed the people felt very badly, and they left that place. They did not fly, but walked down across the mountain side to Palm Canyon. Then the third head man of the tribe decided that he would not go any farther. He turned himself into a rock, and he is there in the rock yet.

The people prayed, and flew again to the end of the Santa Rosa Range. Here they found many small shells, and they called it the place of the shells. From there they flew again to the San Felipe Valley, to another open place on the plain, and here they stayed. They had lost the head men of two tribes, and so their power to go farther left them forever. They could never get it again. So they lived there and raised large families.

Then an animal, To quastto hut, which means an animal that comes from the sky with much noise of thunder, he came and took two or three of these people every day.

To view the other two creation stories, please click here.

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