In the Story of the Flood we are introduced to Indian marriage. Among the Pimas it was a very simple affair. There was no ceremony whatever. The lover usually selected a relative, who went with him to the parents of the girl and asked the father to permit the lover to marry her. Presents were seldom given unless a very old man desired a young bride. The girl was consulted and her consent was essential, her refusal final. If, however, all parties were satisfied, she went at once with her husband as his wife. If either party became dissatisfied, separation at once constituted divorce and either could leave the other. A widow or divorced woman, if courted by another suitor, was approached directly, with no intervention of relatives. Of course, on these terms there were many separations, yet all accounts agree that there was a good deal of fidelity and many life-long unions and cases of strong affection.
Polygamy was not unknown.
Grossman says that the wife was the slave of the husband, but it is difficult to see how a woman, free at any moment to divorce herself without disgrace or coercion, could be properly regarded as a slave. Certainly the men appear always to have done a large part of the hard work, and as far as I could see the women were remarkably equal and independent and respectfully treated, as such a system would naturally bring about. A man would be a fool to ill-treat a woman, whose love or services were valuable to him, if at any moment of discontent she could leave him, perhaps for a rival. The chances are that he would constantly endeavor to hold her allegiance by special kindness and favors.
But today legal marriage is replacing the old system.
So far as I saw the Pimas were very harmonious and kindly in family life.
The birds, gee-ee-sop and quotaveech, were pointed out to me by the Pimas, and as near as I could tell quotaveech was Bendire's thrasher, or perhaps the curve-bill
thrasher. It has a very sweet but timid song. I did not succeed in identifying gee-ee-sop, but find these entries about him in my journal: "Aug. 5--I saw a little bird which I suppose to be a gee-ee-sop in a mezquite today, smaller and more slender than a vireo, but like one in action, but the tail longer and carried more like a brown thrasher, nearly white below, dark, leaden gray above, top of head and tail black." Again on Sept. 1: "What a dear little bird the gee-ee-sop is! Two of them in the oas-juh-wert-pot tree were looking at me a few minutes back. Dark slate-blue above and nearly white below, with beady black eyes and black, lively tails, tipped with white, they are very pretty, tame and confiding."
The faith of the Aw-aw-tam in witchcraft appears first in this story and afterwards is conspicuous in nearly all. Almost all diseases they supposed were caused by bewitching, and it was the chief business of the medicine-men to find out who or what had caused the bewitching. Sometimes people were accused and murders followed. This was the darkest spot in Piman life. Generally, however, some animal or inanimate object was identified. Grossman's account in the Smithsonian Report for 1871 is interesting. In the stories, however, witchcraft appears usually as the ability of the mahkai to work transformations in himself or others, in true old fairy-tale style.
Superstition Mountain derives its name from this story, It is a very beautiful and impressive mountain, with terraces of cliffs, marking perhaps the successive pausing places of the fugitives, and the huddled rocks on the top represent their petrified forms. Some of the older Indians still fear to go up into this mountain, lest a like fate befall them.
What beautiful poetic touches are the wetting of the woodpecker's tail, and the singing of the little birds to subdue the angry waters.
The resemblances to Genesis will of course be noted by all in these two first stories. Yet after all they are few and slight in any matter of detail.
In Ee-ee-toy's serpents, that pushed back the waters, there is a strong reminder of the Norse Midgard Serpent.
The making of the dolls in this story is one of the prettiest and most amusing spots in the traditions.
The waste and perspiration of Juhwerta Mahkai's skin again comes into play, but this time as a malign force instead of a beneficent one. It would also appear from this that the more intelligent Pimas had a glimmering of the fact that there were other causes than witchcraft for disease.
I have generally used the word Aw-aw-tam (Good People, or People of Peace) as synonymous with Pima, but it is sometimes used to embrace all Indians of the Piman stock and may be so understood in this story.
And perhaps this is as good a place as any to say a few descriptive words about these Pimas of Arizona, and their allies, who have from prehistoric times inhabited what the old Spanish historian, Clavigero, called "Pimeria," that is, the valleys of the Gila and Salt Rivers.
Their faces seemed to me to be of almost Caucasian regularity and rather of an English or Dutch cast, that is rather heavily moulded. The forehead is vertical and inclined to be square; and the chin, broad, heavy and full, comes out well to its line. The nose is straight, or a little irregular, or rounded, at the end, but not often very aquiline, never flat or wide-nostriled. The mouth is large but well shaped, with short, white, remarkably even teeth, seldom showing any canine projection. The whole face is a little heavy and square, but the cheek bones are not especially prominent. The eyes are level, frank and direct in glance, with long lashes and strong black brows. In the babies a slight uptilt to the eye is sometimes' seen, like a Japanese, which indeed the babies suggest. The head of almost all adults is well-balanced and finely poised on a good neck.
Another type possesses more of what we call the Indian feature. The forehead retreats somewhat, so does the chin, while the upper lip is larger, longer, more convex
and the nose, above is more aquiline, with wider nostrils. Consequently this face in profile is more convex thru out. The cheek-bones are much more prominent, too, and the head not generally so well-balanced and proportional.
While I have seen no striking beauty I believe the average good looks is greater than among white men, taken as they come.
The women as a rule, however, do not carry themselves gracefully, are apt to be too broad, fat and dumpy in figure, with too large waists, and often loose, ungracefully-moving hips. This deformity of the hips, for it almost amounts to that, I observe among Italian peasant women, too, and some negresses, and, I take it, is caused by carrying too heavy loads on the head at too early an age. There seems to be a settling down of the body into the pelvis, with a loose alternate motion of the hips. There are exceptions, of course, and I have seen those of stately figure and fine carriage Sometimes the loose-hip motion appears in a man.
A slight tattooing appears on almost all Pima faces not of the last generation. In the women this consists of two blue lines running down from each corner of the mouth, under the chin, crossing, at the start, the lower lip, and a single blue line running back from the outer angle of each eye to the hair.
In the men it is usually a single zigzag blue line across the forehead.
The pigment used is charcoal.
The men are generally erect and of good figure, with good chests and rather heavy shoulders, the legs often a little bowed. Strange to say I never saw one who walked "Pigeon-toed." All turned the toes out like white men. The hands are often small and almost always well-shaped; and the feet of good shape, too, not over large, with a well-arched instep.
Emory and his comrades found the Pimas wearing a kind of breech-cloth and a cotton serape only for garments;
the women wearing only a serape tied around the waist and falling to the knee, being otherwise nude. Today the average male Pima dresses like a white workman, in hat, shirt, trousers and perhaps shoes, and his wife or daughter wears a single print gown, rather loose at the waist and ruffled at the bottom, which reaches only to the ankles. Both sexes are commonly barefooted, but the old sandals, once universal, are still often seen. These gah-kai-gey-aht-kum-soosk, or string-shoes, as the word means, were made in several different ways, and often projected somewhat around the foot as a protection against the frequent and formidable thorns of the country.
Sometimes a wilder or older Indian will be seen, even now, with only a breech-cloth on, and some apology for a garment on his shoulders.
The skin is often of a very beautiful rich red-bronze tint, or perhaps more like old mahogany.
Except the tattooing both sexes are remarkable for their almost entire absence of any marked adornment or ornament of person. Even a finger-ring, or a ribbon on the hair, is not common, and the profuse bead-work and embroidery of the other tribes is never seen.
The exceedingly thick and intensely black hair was formerly worn very long, even to the waist, being banged off just over the eyes of the women and over the eyes and ears of the men and allowed to hang perfectly loose. But the women seldom wore: as long hair as the men. This long hair is still sometimes seen and is exceedingly picturesque, especially on horseback, and it is a great pity so sightly a fashion should ever die out. I have seen Maricopas roll theirs in ringlets. Sometimes the men braided the hair into a cue, or looped up the ends with a fillet. But the Government discourages long and loose hair, and now most men cut it short, and women part theirs and braid it. Like all Indians, the men have scant beards, and the few whiskers that grow are shaved clean or resolutely pinched off with an old knife or pulled out by tweezers.
Their hair appears to turn gray as early as ours, tho I saw no baldness except on one individual. In old times (and even now to some extent) the hair was dressed with a mixture of mud and mezquite gum, at times, which was left on long enough for the desired effect and then thoroly washed off. This cleansed it and made it glossy and the gum dyed the gray hair quite a lasting, jet black, tho several applications might be needed.
Women still carry their ollas and other burdens on their heads and are exceedingly strong and expert in the art, balancing great and awkward weights with admirable dexterity.
The convenient and even beautiful gyih-haw (a word very difficult to pronounce correctly), or burden basket, of the old time Pima woman, seems to have entirely disappeared. It was not only picturesque, but an exceedingly useful utensil.
The wawl-kote, or carrying-cradle for the baby, is obsolete, too, now. Strange to say, tho in shape like most pappoose-cradles, it was carried poised on the head, instead of slung on the back in the usual way.
The Pimas are fond of conversation and often come together in the evening and have long talks. Their voices are low, rapid, soft and very pleasant and they laugh, smile and joke a great deal. They are remarkable for calmness and evenness of temper and the expression of the face is nearly always intelligent, frank, and good-natured.
They are noticeably devoid of hurry, worry, irritability or nervousness.
Unlike most Indians these have not been removed from the soil of their fathers and, indeed, such an act would have been cruelly unjust, for, true to their name, the Pimas have maintained an unbroken peace with the whites.
Lieutenant Colonel W. H. Emory, of "The Army of the West," who visited them in 1846, was perhaps the first American to observe and describe these people. He says: "Both nations (Pimas and Maricopas) cherished an aversion to war and a profound attachment to all the peaceful
pursuits of life. This predilection arose from no incapacity for war, for they were at all times able and willing to keep the Apaches, whose hands are raised against all other people, at a respectful distance, and prevent depredations by those mountain robbers who held Chihuahua, Sonora and a part of Durango in a condition approaching almost to tributary provinces."
As observed by Emory and the other officers of the "Army of the West" they were an agricultural people raising at that time "cotton, wheat, maize, beans, pumpkins and water melons." I found them raising all these in 1903, except cotton, and I think he might have added to his list, peppers, gourds, tobacco and the pea called cah-lay-vahs.
Emory says: "We were at once impressed with the beauty, order, and disposition of the arrangements made for irrigating the land . . . the fields are subdivided by ridges of earth into rectangles of about 200x100 feet, for the convenience of irrigating. The fences are of sticks, matted with willow and mezquite." I found this still comparatively correct. The fields are still irrigated by acequias or ditches from the Gila, and still fenced by forks of trees set closely in the ground and reinforced with branches of thorn or barbed wire. Some of these fences with their antler-like effect of tops are very picturesque.
From the description given by Emory, and Captain A. R. Johnson of the same army, of their kees or winter lodges, they were essentially the same as I found some of them still inhabiting. There is the following entry in my journal: "I have been examining the old kee next door, since the old couple left it. It is quite neatly and systematically made. Four large forks are set in the ground, and these support a square of large poles, covered with other poles, arrow-weeds, chaff and earth, for the roof. The walls are a neat arrangement of small saplings, about 10 inches apart curving up from the ground on a bending slant to the roof, so that the whole structure comes to resemble a turtle-shell or rather an inverted
bowl. These side sticks arc connected by three lines of smaller sticks tied across them with withes, all the way around the kee. Against these arrow-weeds are stood, closely and neatly, tops down (perhaps thatched on) and kept in place by three more lines of small sticks, bound on and corresponding to those within. Then the whole structure is plastered over with adobe mud till rain-proof. No window, and only one small door, about 2½ feet square, closed by a slat-work."
This kee of the Pima was not to his credit. The most friendly must admit it dirty, uncomfortable and unpicturesque. It was too low to stand erect in, the little fire was made in the center, the smoke escaping at last from the low doorway after trying everywhere else and festooning the ceiling with soot.
The establishment of the Pima was most simple. He sat, ate and slept on the earth, consequently a few mats and blankets, baskets, bowls and pots included his furniture. A large earthen olla, called by the Pimas hah-ah, stood in a triple fork under the shade of the vachtoe and being porous enough to permit a slight evaporation kept the drinking water cool.
The arbor-shed or vachtoe pertains to almost every Piman home and consists of a flat roof of poles and arrow-weeds supported by stout forks. Sometimes earth is added to the roof to keep off rain. Sometimes the sides are enclosed with a rude wattle work of weeds and bushes, making a grateful shade, admitting air freely; screening those within from view, while permitting vision from within outward in any direction. Sometimes this screen of weeds and bushes, in a circular form, was made without any roof and was then called an o-num. Sometimes after the vachtoe had been inclosed with wattle work the whole structure was plastered over with adobe mud and then became a caws-seen, or storehouse. All these structures were used at times as habitations, but now the Pima is coming more and more to the white man's adobe cottage as a house and home. But the vachtoe,
attached or detached, is still a feature of almost every homestead.
Under the vachtoe usually stood the matate, or mill (called by the Pimas mah-choot) which was a large flat or concave stone, below, across which was rubbed an oblong, narrow stone (vee-it-kote), above, to grind the corn or wheat. Other important utensils were a vatcheeho, or wooden trough, for mixing, and a chee-o-pah, or mortar, of wood or stone, for crushing things with a pestle. The nah-dah-kote, or fire-place, was an affair of stones and adobe mud to support the earthern pots for cooking or to support the earthern plates on which the thin cakes of corn or wheat meal were baked. These were what the Mexicans call tortillas. Perhaps the staple food of the Pima even more than corn (hohn) or wheat (payl-koon) is frijole beans--these of two kinds, the white (bah-fih) the brown (mohn). A sort of meal made of parched corn or wheat; ground on the mahchoot and eaten, or perhaps one might say drank, with water and brown sugar (panoche) was the famous pinole, the food carried on war trips when nutrition, lightness of weight and smallness of bulk were all desired. It has a remarkable power to cool and quench thirst. Taw-mahls, or corn-cakes of ground green corn, wrapped in husks and roasted in the ashes, or boiled, were also favorites. Peppers (kaw-aw-kull) were a good deal used for seasoning and relishes.
Today the country of the Pima is very destitute of large game but he adds to the above bill of fare all the small game, especially rabbits, quail and doves, that he can kill. In the old days when the Gila always had water it held fine fish and the Indians caught them with their hands or swept them up on the banks by long chains of willow hurdles or faggots, carried around the fish by waders. I could not learn that they ever had any true fish-nets or fish-hooks; nor any rafts, canoes or other boats. But owing to the frequent necessity of crossing the treacherous Gila the men, and many of the women, were good swimmers.
The Toe-hawn-awh Aw-aw-tam, or Papagoes, whose reservation is in Pima County, near Tucson (and called St. Xavier) are counted "blood brothers" of the Pimas, speak essentially the same language, are on the most cordial terms with them, and are under the same agency.
The Maricopas are a refugee tribe, related to the Yumas, who once threatened them with extermination because of an inter-tribal feud. They were adopted by the Pimas and protected by them, and have ever since lived with them as one people, having however a different language, identical with that of the Yumas.
The Quojatas are a small tribe, of the Piman stock, living south of the Casa Grande.
The total number of Pimas, Papagoes and Maricopas in the U. S. is now estimated at about 8000, the Pimas alone as 4000.
I am not a linguist, or a philologist, and my time was short with these people, and I did not go to any extent into their language, or study its grammar. Their voices were soft and pleasant, and I was continually surprised at the low tones in which they generally conversed and the quickness with which they heard. But their words were most awkward to my tongue. There were German sounds, and French sounds, too, I would say, in their language, and there were letters that seemed to disappear as they uttered them, or never to come really forth, and syllables that were swallowed like spoonfuls of hot soup. But I trust that I am substantially correct in the words that I have retained in the stories and that I have written them so that the English reader can pronounce them in a way to be understood.
The accent is generally on the first syllable.