Sacred Texts  Native American  California 

Diegueño Funeral Jar, Pl. 23 (Public Domain Image)
Diegueño Funeral Jar, Pl. 23 (Public Domain Image)

Religious Practices of the Diegueño Indians

by T. T. Waterman


Contents    Start Reading    Page Index    Text [Zipped]

This is one of the few ethnographic studies of the original religious practices of the Native American residents of San Diego county. Called Diegueño by Europeans after the mission which named the city, they today call themselves Kumeyaay, a term of unknown meaning. Waterman wrote that his consultants called themselves Kawakipai, or 'Southern People.' This monograph includes songs with text in Diegueño and English, descriptions of ceremonies, ceremonial objects, gambling games, sand paintings and origin myths. This text will be of immense value to contemporary Native Californians as well as scholars and students.

Of note is what appears, in hindsight, to be an early description of the UFO activity that continues over southern California to this day (p. 342). Waterman, with nothing to compare it to, decided that the being called Tcaup was actually ball-lightning. However, here is his description of the native accounts: "The being described in the myths is widely thought to be accompanied by thunderings, to have a 'bright' or 'beaming' appearance, and to fly about close to the surface of the ground."

Title Page
Customs Concerning Birth and Adolescence
Girls’ Adolescence Ceremony
Bad Songs
Conclusion of the Girls’ Ceremony
Boys’ Adolescence Ceremony
The Ground-Painting
Conclusion of the Boys’ Ceremony
Mourning Ceremonies
The Clothes-Burning Ceremony
The Feather Ceremony
The Whirling Dance, Tapakwirp
Conclusion of the Feather Ceremony
The Image-Burning
The Eagle Ceremony
The “War” Dance
The Fire Ceremony
Other Ceremonial Matters
Colors and Direction
Ceremonial Numbers
Diegueño Beliefs Concerning Origin
Creation Myth