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Menyil, the Moon

By Shannon Mirelez

The moon was the only woman among all Mūkat’s creatures. Every morning she would go away from the ceremonial house to a clean sandy place, where with woven grass string276 she showed all the creatures how to make cat’s cradles. Then she would put one group of people on one side and say, “you are coyote people,”277 and the others she would call wildcat people.278 She told the coyote people to sing against the wildcat people as though they were singing enemy songs. Then the wildcat people would begin to dance; then they would do it the other way around. This was a game. She told them to build a little brush house and put one creature in the house to be chief.279 Then she told another group to come from far away singing and dancing to the house. This was the way they should do later through all the generations to come. She also taught them to run, jump, wrestle, throw balls of mud at one another, and to flip pebbles at one another from their finger tips. Certain ones she picked out and said, “You are women. You must grind, and feed these others, who are men, that come dancing to the house.”


276 witcut

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277 istam: one moiety name.
278 tūktum: the other Cahuilla moiety.
279 net: clan ceremonial chief.


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