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The Culture of the Luiseño Indians, by Philip Stedman Sparkman, [1908], at


The raven was a bird much feared by the Luiseños. When one of these birds was heard croaking, or seen hovering about a village, or some of the old people dreamed of it, steps were immediately taken to propitiate it. This was done by dancing three nights in succession, and by certain offerings. Each family brought food, such as chia and other delicacies, in a flat or winnowing basket, and placed it on the ground. Around these baskets of food the dance was held. The food was afterwards given to the old people.

The ceremonies held with the object of propitiating the raven have given rise to the belief that Changichnish is a deity, whereas it is really the raven, and instead of being worshiped, the ceremonies are performed with the object of propitiating it. 5 Father Geronimo Boscana, of the mission of San Juan Capistrano, appears to be responsible for this error, as he wrote an account of these ceremonies which was afterwards published by Alfred Robinson in 1846, in a book entitled Life in California. Father

p. 219

[paragraph continues] Boscana spelled the word Chin-ig-chin-ich. His error as to the meaning of the ceremonies is a perfectly natural one, as it is by no means easy to get to the root of Indian beliefs and ceremonies.

Changichnish po-hulit, raven his arrow, is the name given to rock-crystals. These were believed to have been shot by ravens, and were regarded with superstitious fear by the Luiseños. Internal pains were often said to be due to a person having been shot by a raven with one of these "arrows."


218:5 Mr. Sparkman's statement on this point conflicts not only with those of Boscana but of Miss DuBois and other independent investigators. It would seem that his expression is stronger than he would have allowed it to remain had he lived to revise the present paper. In his Luiseño dictionary he defines Changichnish as "the generic name of several things held in superstitious fear or reverence, among them kawialwut, the raven, kuihengish, a large black spider, wiyala, rock crystals, also called Changichnish pohu, and the different species of rattlesnakes." These are all mentioned by Miss DuBois as associated with Chungichnish in native belief.

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