Sacred Texts  Native American  Southwest  Index  Previous  Next 

p. 163


In the Story of Ee-ee-toy's Army we come to an amusing superstition of the Pimas. There is a funny little creature in Arizona, related to the tarantula, perhaps, which the Pimas say is very poisonous, and which is certainly very quick in motion and the hardest thing to kill I ever saw. it is covered with a sort of fuzzy hair, which blows in the wind, and is sometimes red and sometimes yellow or white. Now there seems to be a connection in the Indian mind between this way-heem-mahl, as they name him, and this story of Ee-ee-toy's Army. The bands, it is related, were distinguished by certain colors--some took red, and some yellow and white, for their badge-color. And the Pimas of today suppose themselves descended from these bands, and some clans claim that the bands of the red were their forbears, and some trace back to the bands of yellow and white. And not many years back there was a rivalry between these, and the wayheemmahls, having the same colors, were identified with the bands, and the Pimas descended from a band of a certain color would not kill a wayheemmahl of that color, or willingly permit others to do so, but would eagerly kill wayheemmahls of the opposite color. If, then, a Pima of the red faction saw a yellow wayheemmahl, running over the ground, he was quick to jump on it; but if a Pima of the yellow stood near he would resent this attack on his relation, and a hair-pulling fight would result. This custom is probably altogether obsolete now.

It will be noticed that the fantastic explanations of why gyihhaws are now carried by the women, is contradicted by the carrying of gyihhaws by various women in previous stories.

The closing of the earth cuts down the six bands to four and a fraction.

p. 164

Wardances, and extravagant and boastful speeches prophesying success, seem to have preceded all the military movements of the Awawtam.

The creation of deer in this story, by Ee-ee-toy, is contrary to their presence in earlier tales, as in that of Ahahnheeattoepahk Mahkai.

The careful mention of the sickness and death of an apparently unimportant woman is curious, and hard to explain. Perhaps this was the inauguration of the pestilence.

The Story of the Destruction of the Vahahkkees has the most historic interest of any.

The uniting of the bands by the "Light" is very curious. My Indians could not tell me what this was, only something occult and mysterious by which they had clairvoyant ken of each other's needs. Its use appears in the fight at Cheof Seevick.

The resemblance to the Israelites crossing the Red Sea is remarkable in the exploit of the Bow Doctor, and the crossing of the Rio Colorado.

The Choochawf Awawtam appear to have been cave-dwellers, and my Indians were confused in memory as to whether they were encountered on the hither or far side of the Colorado.

The statement that the closing of the waters left the Yumas and Maricopas on the far bank of the Colorado is likely only a mahkai's fanciful attempt to explain their presence there. As the Indians of the Yuman stock speak an entirely different language from the Indians of the Piman stock, it is unlikely they were united in the original invading army. There is no other evidence that there ever was any alliance between them till the Maricopas, fearing extermination from the Yumas, joined the Pimas sometime in the first half of the nineteenth century.

Comalk Hawkkih gave me this account of the coming in of the Maricopas: The Yumas and the Maricopas were once all one people, but there was a jealousy between two

p. 165

sons of a chief, one of whom was a favorite of his father, and one killed the other, and this grew to a civil war. The defeated party, the Maricopas, went first to Hot Springs, where they staid awhile, and then to Gila Bend, but each time the Yumas followed and attacked them and drove them on. Fearing extermination they came to the Pimas for protection. The Pimas adopted them. Now began war between Yumas and Mohaves on one side, and Pimas, Papagoes and Maricopas on the other. There were only two battles after the Maricopas came in, but in the second battle all the Yuma warriors engaged were killed, and the Mohaves had to flee over the mountain, and only a part of these escaped. This battle was fought at what is now called Maricopa Mountain.

So terrible was the defeat, that to this day the Yumas hold an annual "Cry," or lamentation, in memory of it. Their old foes are invited, and if any Pima or Maricopa attends he is given a horse. This war reduced both Yumas and Maricopas to a mere remnant.

Since then the Maricopas have lived with the Pimas, and in customs are almost exactly similar, except that they burn their dead, and still speak their distinctive language.

They are a taller, larger race than the Pimas, more restless, said to be quicker witted, but more inclined to vice, and to be rapidly dying out; while the Pimas yet hold their own in numbers, despite recent inroads of tuberculosis.

Next: The Story of Sohahnee Mahkai and Kawkoinpuh