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Religious Practices of the Diegueño Indians, by T.T. Waterman, [1910], at


As already suggested in the discussion of the Keruk ceremony, the Diegueño explain the origin of certain of their religious practices in the myths which concern a wonderful being called Chaup, to be identified in all probability with the physical phenomenon of ball-lightning. This myth has been contributed to the Journal of American Folk-Lore in complete form by Miss Constance Goddard DuBois, under the titles of "The Story of Chaup" and the "Story of Cuyahomarr." 132 It must be noted in passing that this Chaup, 133 or Tcaup in the orthography of the present paper, is in many respects the culture hero of the Diegueño. From his activity, according to the myths, date many of the phenomena which taken together compose the world as we latter-day peoples know it. For instance, the plants and animals used to be people until Chaup or his relatives imposed on them their present appearance. Cricket, 134 Jackrabbit, 135 and Coyote 136 are mentioned specifically in one myth.

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[paragraph continues] Animals had no names, so he named them. 137 They had no distinctive markings (for instance the red wattle of Roadrunner, the stripes on Mock-Orange, and the dark shading on Coyote) until Chaup marked them. 138 These mythological "heroes", Chaup and his relatives, first brought storms 139 and disease 140 into the world. They acted generally speaking as models or prototypes for the customs and ceremonies of succeeding generations. Sinyohauch tells her sons, for instance: 141 "Do not quarrel (on this journey). The people who come after will do the same as you (do)". This copying by the people of an action performed by Chaup 142 was the origin of the great Image or Keruk mourning ceremony. Such then, in the Diegueño conception, is the origin of the more striking features of animate nature and the usages obtaining among human beings.

Certain elements in their culture, however, are supposed to have arisen in another manner. The narrative concerning the second source seems by the native informants to be felt as an inherent part of a certain definite myth of "Creation" or Origin of the Mundus. We have two independent ideas, then, among the Diegueño, with reference to this general topic of origins. These are embodied in two types of myth. One type, the "Chaup" story, tells among other things of the modification of an already existing world, by "Chaup." The other type tells of the origin of the mundus itself, and is a real Creation story. 143

The fact of Creation is mentioned and described in several places in the literature now extant 144 concerning the Mission Indian area and cultures. The Diegueño account for numerous

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reasons must be considered as a distinct and independent narrative, not related to the stories told by the neighboring Mission peoples. 145 The present writer obtained a rather complete outline of this Diegueño myth from an old man at Campo 146 calling himself a Kamiyai. 147 For several reasons this story is interesting in the present connection. In the first place, and most important of all, it is a fair sample of the primitive sacred story, as found among the Diegueño. In the second place, it outlines as briefly as could be accomplished by any other method the beliefs of the people in question concerning the organization of the mundus. This among any primitive people must be considered a definitely religious topic. Finally, it helps to throw a certain illumination, from an independent view-point, on the broader subject of Diegueño mythology, a subject which is more or less germane to our present purpose. For these reasons it seems proper to quote it in full, as obtained from the Diegueño informant.


336:132 Journ. Am. Folk-Lore, XVII, 217, 1904, and XIX, 147, 1906.

336:133 Perhaps better "Chaups," in the plural, since his remarkable attributes are in the myths possessed also by his father, his uncle, and his grandmother Sinyaxau or First Woman. Sinyaxau is the "Sinyohauch" of Miss DuBois’ narratives.

336:134 Journ. Am. Folk-Lore, XIX, 147, 1906.

336:135 Ibid., p. 160.

336:136 Ibid.. p. 163.

337:137 Ibid., p. 160.

337:138 Ibid., p. 162.

337:139 Ibid., p. 148.

337:140 Ibid., p. 163.

337:141 Ibid., p. 148.

337:142 Ibid., p. 153.

337:143 It is impossible to say definitely whether the two accounts of Origin are mutually complementary, or whether they spring from vague and rather inconsistent beliefs on the part of the Diegueño. As they stand in translation they are certainly contradictory, but this may be only on the surface.

337:144 For the various Mission Indian myths on the subject, consult: Boscana, 241-257; Constance Goddard DuBois, Journ. Am. Folk-Lore, XVII, 185, 1904; XIX, 52, 1906; XIV, 181, 1901; XXI, 236, 1908; also ibid., 234, a Mesa Grande song of Creation, and ibid., 229, Kachawharr, a song series from Jacumba, about Tuchaipa and Yokomatis; Congr. Intern. des Americanistes, XV Session, Quebec, II, 129, 131, 1906; Univ. Calif. Publ. Amer. Arch. Ethn., VIII, 123, 1908; A. L. Kroeber, Journ. Am. Folk-Lore, XIX, 309, 1906; John P. Harrington, Journ. Am. Folk-Lore, XXI, 324, 1908.

338:145 For a full treatment of this theme see the paper by the present writer in Am. Anthr., n.s. XI, 41-55, 1909.

338:146 This may perhaps be the informant mentioned by Miss DuBois (Journ. Am. Folk-Lore, XIX, 162, 1906), from whom she obtained indirectly her "Yuma" creation story. (See ibid., XXI, 236, 1908.)

338:147 The Mohave designate as Kamia a tribe living on the desert between the Yuma and the Diegueño. That these people were closely related to the Diegueño of the Missions, is shown by the fact that the Mohave name for the latter is Kamia axwe, foreign or hostile Kamia.

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