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The Creators Determined to Make Creatures

Preliminary sketch by Eric Grohe of the Creation Story, which will be used in the rotunda of the new Museum

 (c) Eric Grohe, 2013

By Shannon Mirelez
By Shannon Mirelez

The creators determined to make creatures252 for the earth. Temaīyauit drew coyote253 from his heart for he was the first assistant.254 Mūkat drew the horned owl,255 who could see in the darkness from his heart. Mūkat had black mud and Temaīyauit white mud to make creatures from, and they each commenced to make the body of a man. Mūkat worked slowly and carefully, modeling a fine body such as men have now. Temaīyauit worked rapidly making a rude body with a belly on both sides, eyes on both sides, and hands like the paws of a dog. The creators worked in the darkness, and the horned owl sat watching them. When a body was finished the owl would say, “M-M-M! It is finished,” and coyote would come and put it away, putting those created by Mūkat in one place, and those by Temaīyauit in another. The latter worked three times as fast as the former, and had a great number of crude bodies finished, compared to the few good bodies make by Mūkat. All this took a long, long time.

Finally Mūkat stopped and drew the moon256 from his heart and it became faintly light so they could see their creatures. Mūkat looked at those made by Temaīyauit and said, “No wonder you have finished them so quickly, you are not doing good work!” Temaīyauit wished to know why, and Mūkat said, “They have two faces, eyes all around, bellies on both sides, feet pointing both ways and hands like a dog’s paws!” Temaīyauit answered, “That is right, it is good, but your work is not good. One face and all parts on one side are not right for they cannot see behind. Mine can see coming and going. Open fingers will let food slip through, mine will hold anything.” Mūkat replied, “Yes, but they can draw their hands together and hold anything. Your creatures cannot carry anything for they have no back or shoulders, they cannot hold an arrow to the bow or draw it back, for they are like a dog.” “But,” said Temaiyauit, “there will be no shooting.” “Yes, there will be, later on,”257 said Mūkat.

“But there will be no death,” said Temaiyauit. Mūkat answered, “Yes, there will be death.” “Then,” said Temaiyauit, “if they die, they shall come back.” “If they come back they shall smell like dead things,” answered Mūkat. Temaīyauit said, “then they can wash with white clay,258 and smoke their bodies with burning salt grass259 and willow260 and become clean and good smelling.” “If they do this the world will be too small,” answered Mūkat. Temaīyauit said, “We can then spread it wider.” “Yes, but there will not be enough food for all of them,” answered Mūkat. “They can eat earth,” said Temaiyauit. “But they will then eat up all the earth,” answered Mūkat. Temaīyauit replied, “No, for by our power it will be swelling again.” This was the end of the dispute.

Temaīyauit was angry because he always lost in every dispute. He said, “I will go to the bottom of the earth, whence I came, and take all my creatures with me, the earth,261 sky,262 and all my other creations.” Mūkat answered, “You can take yours, but all mine will stay.” Then Temaīyauit blew, and his breath opened the earth. His creatures went down with him, all save the moon,263 the palm,264 coyote, the wood duck,265 and a few others. He tried to take earth and sky with him; a fierce wind blew and the earth shook all over, while the sky bent and swayed. Mūkat put one knee on the ground, held one hand on all his creatures, and with the other held up the sky. He cried, “hi! hi! hi!” which is the way all people do now when the earthquake comes. In the struggle all the mountains and canyons appeared on the earth’s surface, stream beds were formed, and water came out and filled them. At last Temaīyauit disappeared below, all became quiet, and the earth stopped shaking, but its rough uneven surface remains until today.

Then all Mūkat’s creatures became alive. While it was still dark the white people had stolen away to the north, during the time Mūkat held up the sky. The sun266 suddenly appeared, and all Mūkat’s creatures were so frightened they began to chatter like blackbirds each in a different language. Mūkat could not understand any of these, but hearing one man, kiathwasimut, speak the Cahuilla language267 he pressed him to his side, and let the others run around. This man was the ancestor of the Cahuilla people, and now lives in the abode of the sun,266 moon,263 and evening star.268 Thus only the Cahuillas, speak the original language. Among these creatures was one with red hair269 and a white clean face; he was cranky and crying, always running about. Mūkat saw this, and he took a long270 and a short stick.271 The first he put between the creature’s legs like a horse, the second he put in his hand like a whip. Then the creature ran back and forth, going farther and farther away, until at last he disappeared into the north where all his party had gone before. Then Mūkat put all his creatures into the ceremonial house272 for it was night. Far away to the north they saw a light, and all the creatures asked Mūkat, “What is that light in the north which we see now?” “Yes,” he replied, “those are your older brothers and your younger brothers, your older sisters and your younger sisters. They went away at night. They did not hear me, they did not ask me. They are devils!273 They have four names.”274

When the sun arose in the east the dog275 was talking, but then he became dumb. He knows everything in his heart, but he cannot say one word. The sun came up very hot. Some of Mūkat’s children were burned black, some burned red (well done, well cooked), but in the north where the white people were, it was cold, and they remained raw and white.


252 nūkatem

.
253 īsil.
254 paha, the ceremonial assistant of the clan chief.
255 mūut.
256 menyil.
257 temal hemūwan: earth, coming to the top; temal paākwan: earth, coming generations.
258 ūlīwut, tēviwit.
259 hañawit.
260 sahawut.
261 temal.
262 tūkvac.
263 menyil.
264 mawul.
265 sassēmul.
266 tamit.
267 īvīatim.
268 sūwut pīniwus.
269 ūlika, selnikic: head, red.
270 kelawut, somatikic: stick, long
271 kelawut, voksekaipi: stick, short.
272 kicamnawut: translated “big house.”
273 tēwellevelem.
274 mūwhinut, pahīvawit, kwawinit: archaic; tēwullevelem: devils.
275 awel.


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