Up: Contents Previous: CHAPTER XIV. THE PIMA. Next: CHAPTER XVI. THE PIMA (Continued).

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Legends (Continued) — Creation Legend — Flood Legend — Irrigation — Legend of Feather-Plaited Doctor and Tonto—The Creation Myth — Coyote — Children of Cloud—Skull and His Magic—Origin of the Horse—Abstracts of Nursery Tales —Five Little Orphans and Their Aunt—Coyote and The Quails — Woman and Coyote — Pima Captive and Her Son — Coyote and the Bluebird — Boy and Beast—The Naughty Grandchildren.


“In the beginning all was dark and there was neither earth nor sky. Earth Doctor (Tcuwut Marka) was the only being then living.

“Earth Doctor took a particle of sweat from his body and made from it a small disk, which he held in his hand and started to go to the west. When he stopped, the sweat showed signs of life, for it trembled; he proceeded and still the material moved. He halted four times in his course and as he stopped the fourth time the disk, which was the nucleus of the earth, became stable, and neither trembled nor wavered. He then knew he was at the middle point of the universe. Earth Doctor then made a bush and created small ants to feed on it. He took a louse from his breast, and put it at the root of the bush. This insect found a ring of soil that

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kept growing larger and larger as Earth Doctor danced near it, until it became the earth. In the same way the solid sky was formed. Earth Doctor pounded ‘medicine’ in a bowl and shortly afterward there appeared over the surface a transparent substance resembling ice. Earth Doctor threw this substance toward the north, where it fell but shortly afterward rose again and then sank below the horizon, never to rise again. He threw another fragment into the south; this struck the earth or sky and bounded back, whereupon he picked it up and again threw it to the south. This time it rose and passed over the sky. These fragments became the sun and the moon, both formed in the same way. Earth Doctor spurted a mouthful of medicine-water into the sky and created the stars, first the larger and then the smaller, the last of all being nebulas like the Milky Way. Having formed the celestial bodies, he made seeds of all food used by man, after which he created men and women from a particle of sweat or grease from his body.

“Buzzard Doctor lives in the Underworld, where there are many people similar to those who inhabit the earth. The entrance to this underworld is in the east.

“As soon as men and women had been created. they began to quarrel; this angered Earth Doctor and he put them to death. After he had killed all human beings, Earth Doctor and Buzzard emerged together from the Underworld. and the former begged the latter to help him recreate men and women. The result was men who were gray-haired at birth. Earth Doctor

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again destroyed man because he smoked too much, but on the fourth trial there emerged from the earth four men who later became great medicine-men—Land, Buzzard, Tcuhu, and Tohouse.

“The youth Tcuhu became a great warrior and married many women, whom he deserted before children were born.”


“The Pima believed that the flood was caused by Earth Doctor, who stuck his staff into the ground, making a hole out of which water issued, covering the earth. Tcuwut, Tcuhu, and Tohouse crawled into ollas and floated away. When the earth was covered with water, Hummingbird, led by Buzzard, flew into the sky, crying out that they would return after the water should have subsided. Buzzard soared aloft to an opening in the sky, through which he passed, but his companion could not follow him. Both were caught in the passage, and there they hung. Humming-bird cried because it was cold in the sky region, but Woodpecker made a nest of feathers to keep them warm. The flood rose until the water reached them and there may still be seen on the feathers of the woodpecker where the water touched him.

“The olla in which Tcuhu was concealed floated far away into the southwest, but that containing Earth Doctor went northwest. The third, in which was Tohouse, went east. The tracks of the ollas of Earth Doctor and Tohouse Doctor crossed several times and as they did so. Earth Doctor addressed the other as Elder

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Brother. There were seven persons saved from the flood, and these were called brothers. Their names are Tcuwut, Tcuhu, Tohouse, Buzzard, Woodpecker, Humming-bird, and an unknown. When the water had subsided these seven brothers held a council to determine the position of the middle of the earth. Woodpecker was sent to the east and Humming-bird to the west, to find it. Three times they returned without success, but on their fourth meeting they reported that they had found the middle of the earth.

“Tcuhu plucked a hair from the right side of his head and, putting it in his mouth, drew it back and forth, stretching it and miraculously forming a snake, which he laid on the earth at his north side. He took a hair from the left side of his head and, stretching it out as before, created a second snake, which he laid at the west side. He then laid one at the south and another at the east. These snakes prevent the water from flooding the land and cause it to flow in channels or rivers. Tcuhu created ants, which he put on the wet ground; these threw up hills that became dry land. After the water had subsided Earth Doctor, Tcuhu, and Tohouse set themselves to re-create men, having agreed not to inform one another what kind of beings each would make. To prevent one another from seeing their work they faced in different directions—Earth Doctor to the east, Tohouse to the south, and Tcuhu to the west. When their creations were finished it was found that Tcuhu had made men similar in form to those now living, but that Tohouse's men had webbed fingers like ducks, while those created by Earth Doctor

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had but one leg each and subsisted not on food, but on smells, which they inhaled. Tcuhu asked Tohouse why he made his men with webbed fingers. ‘That they may live in water,’ responded Tohouse. Tcuhu was dissatisfied with the beings made by Tohouse, and he threw them into the water, where they became ducks. The creations of Earth Doctor became fishes and snakes; he was much pleased with his children, which descended into the Underworld where he daily visits them.

“When Earth Doctor stuck his staff into the ground to cause the flood, and water covered the earth, most of the people perished, but some escaped and followed White Feather, who fled to the top of Superstition Mountains. The water rose, covering all the valley until it was as high as the line of white sandstone which is a conspicuous landmark. White Feather, surrounded by his followers, tried all his magic in vain to prevent the further rise of the flood. When he saw he was powerless to prevent this, he gathered all his people and consulted them, saying, ‘I have exhausted all magic powers but one, which I will now try.’ Taking in his left hand a medicine stone from his pouch, he held it at arm's length, at the same time extending his right hand toward the sky. After he had sung four songs he raised his hand and seized the lightning and with it struck the stone which he held. This broke into splinters with a peal of thunder and all his people were transformed into the pinnacles of stone which can now be seen projecting from the summit of one of the peaks of the Superstition Mountains.

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“The followers of Tcuhu and Tohouse united and built a house. Four days after this house was begun Tcuhu sent Tohouse to visit a people he had created, in order to learn what language they spoke. When Tohouse found that they spoke Apache and so reported, Tcuhu assigned them to the land of cold wind and rain. Tcuhu again sent Tohouse to discover whether there were other people on the earth; returning after a time the latter reported to Tcuhu that he had heard of men speaking Mohave, Yuma, and Maricopa, but not Pima. After four days Tcuhu again sent Tohouse to search for any men allied to his people, and he reported finding those who continually said, ‘Ston, ston’, ‘it is hot.’ He returned and told Tcuhu he had found lost brothers, because he had detected in their speech a Pima word. Tcuhu said they must be his people; he said also: ‘I will give them dark cool nights in which they can sleep, and I will send them dreams and they shall be able to interpret these dreams.’ All these peoples were gathered into the house Tcuhu had built (Casa Grande?). But after a while there were bickerings and quarrels among men. The Apache left for the mountains where they said they also would have dreams and thus they became the hereditary enemies of the Pima. At this time all the Pima inhabited the Salt River Valley, not far from the site of the present Phoenix.

“White Feather and his people lived in a settlement called Sturavrik Civanaváaki, near Tempe, the site of which is now a large mound.

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According to some legends this chief was the first man who taught the Pima irrigation and he showed them also how to plant corn. Through his guidance his people became prosperous and all the Pima congregated at his settlement to trade.

“The people of a settlement near Mesa could not build a canal because the ground in the vicinity was so hard, so they asked Tcuhu to aid them. He sang magic songs for four days, and at the fourth song the ground softened and the people easily excavated the ditch, but the water would not run in it. Tcuhu found he was powerless to make it do so and advised them to invite Towa Quaatam Ochse, an old woman who lived in the west by the great water, to aid them. She was summoned and sent word to the Mesa people to assemble in their council-house, and await her coming. They gathered and awaited her coming but she did not appear. At night a man passing that way saw her standing at the highest point of the canal blowing ‘medicine’ along the ditch. Later there came a great wind that dug out a wide channel and water ran in the canal. The Casa Grande people, it is said, learned the art of irrigating from those living on the site of Tempe, who were taught by Tcuhu.

“Feather-plaited Doctor was an evil-minded youth who lived at Wukkakotk, north of Casa Grande. Tonto visited Feather-plaited Doctor, but the latter would not notice him, although he made the customary offering of four cigarettes. Three times Tonto repeated his visit to Feather-plaited Doctor, and on the third visit the latter accused him of being a gossip and on that account

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refused to have anything to do with him. On the last visit he told Tonto that although he did not like him he did not object to his visits, but he warned him, if he wished to see him, not to gamble at night and not to have anything to do with women without his permission. At that time there was a man who wished to gamble with Tonto but, forewarned, the latter refused. When Tonto was asked the reason, he revealed his promise to Feather-plaited Doctor and said he must get permission. Tonto was allowed by Feather-plaited Doctor to gamble with this man, but was warned not to play again if he was beaten; but should he win twice he must desist by all means from further playing.

“The game at which Tonto gambled was that known as the ‘cane game,’ and on this occasion Feather-plaited Civan marked the canes. Tonto played and won twice from his opponent; he would not play a third time, but carried all he had won to the house of Feather-plaited Civan. Whenever he played with the marked canes, he won, so that one of his opponents consulted Tcuhu to learn the reason. Tcuhu informed him that the sticks were endowed with magic derived from the sun, which gave them supernatural power over all others.

“Tcuhu then told a maid to search under trees and gather in the early morning the feathers of eagles, crows, buzzards, and hawks, bind them together, and bring them to him. After these feathers had been brought Tcuhu instructed her to strip every feather to its mid-rib and cut each into short sections. Having roasted the feathers with meal of popcorn, the

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girl placed them on a basket tray. She was then instructed to fill two small bowls with ‘medicine’ and to carry them to a spring near the place where Tonto was going to play the next game. Before Tonto began this game he declared he was thirsty and started for the spring, kicking before him the stone ball. When he reached the spring he perceived the girl and fell in love with her. She promised to marry him if her parents were willing. The maid handed Tonto a drink of the ‘medicine’ instead of water; at the first draught he began to tremble; a second caused him to shake violently, and at the third feathers began to form all over his body, and shortly afterwards he took the form of a bird resembling the eagle. When the maid had witnessed this metamorphosis, she sought the man with whom Tonto had agreed to gamble and told him Tonto had become a bird, at the same time pointing to an eagle perched on a rock near the spring. The man tried to shoot Eagle, but he flew away and alighted on the top of a peak of the Superstition Mountains, which shook violently as Eagle landed thereon. In his flight Eagle carried off the maid, now called Baat, with whom he lived. He killed many people dwelling near his home and heaped their bodies in a great pile near the cave in which he made his home. He became so dangerous, in fact, that the survivors asked Tcuhu's aid; he promised to come in four days, but did not do so. A new messenger was sent with the same request and he again promised to come in four days, but again failed to fulfill his promise. Tcuhu told the messenger to bring

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him ashes, and the man brought mesquite charcoal, which he did not wish. Tcuhu procured charcoal from cactus fruit and, having ground the seeds into fine meal, he fashioned it into the form of a big knife. He then procured a flexible stick, such as grows in the White Mountains, and other pointed sticks resembling bone awls. Having made four of these sticks, he sharpened them and started forth to overcome Eagle, leaving word that if he was killed a smoke would be seen for four days, but that if he killed Eagle, a cloud would hang over the place of the combat. Tcuhu traveled eastward a long distance and came to the mountain where Eagle lived, in between perpendicular precipices, surrounded by deep fissures. Tcuhu metamorphosed himself into a fly and hid himself in this fissure where he slept that night. On the following day he changed himself back into a man, stuck the sticks into the crevices of the cliff, and by their help climbed up to the crag in which Eagle had his home.

“This story of Eagle seems to be a variant of that previously recorded in which the avian being killed was the monster Hok. Here Tcuhu found only a captive woman, who said the monster had gone to procure victims. Tcuhu having revealed his mission, they agreed on a signal, and he changed into a fly. When Eagle returned, although suspicious, he went to sleep and the woman whistled three times. At the last whistle Tcuhu returned to human form and decapitated Eagle, throwing his head, limbs and body to the four world quarters. Then the woman sprinkled ‘medicine’ on a pile of bones,

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the remains of former victims, and brought them to life. Thereupon all descended from the mountain over which hovered dense clouds, the signal that the monster was dead.”

The 26th Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, of the Smithsonian Institution, for 1904–05, gives the following abstracts of myths of the Pimas:


“Out of primeval darkness spirit of Earth Doctor developed. He first created creosote bush from dust. Next created black ants and termites; these caused the world to develop and Earth Doctor created the sky. Then made gray spider and commanded it to spin web connecting edges of earth and sky. Threw blocks of ice into the sky for sun and moon and spray of water for stars, large stars made from magic crystal, and milky way by walking stick dipped in ashes. All living things then created and human beings from images of clay. Earth becomes overpopulated, as there was no death yet, so Earth Doctor pulled the sky down on the earth and crushed everything to death. But he came through a hole to the other side and made a new creation. After a time Elder Brother, a rival to Earth Doctor, arose and threatened to destroy the people again. This accomplished, through the child of Elder Brother's agent and South Doctor's daughter, who was the last of the youth's many wives. Child was abandoned and its tears caused a flood that overwhelmed the earth. Elder Brother was saved in his olla, Coyote on a log, father and child by turning into

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birds, Earth Doctor by hiding in his staff, and some people by going into a hole in the earth made by Earth Doctor.

“After the flood Elder Brother was the ruler and Earth Doctor and Coyote his subordinates. When they found the middle of the land they all took part in a new creation. First death caused by Rattlesnake biting Rabbit. Burning corpse stolen by Coyote; afterwards he abused the woman and in retaliation the magicians concealed all the useful animals in a cave; these released by Coyote.

“Vantre supplied with magic gambling sticks by Feather-breathing Sií van. Elder Brother interfered and caused Vantre to be turned into an eagle. Eagle lived on mountain and preyed on the people until killed by Elder Brother.

“Tarsnamkam sent his parrot to steal turquoises at Casa Grande; sent football to daughter of Sí van there; child born from this became the monster Hâ-âk, who killed and ate children until destroyed by Elder Brother. Tobacco plant grew from grave of old woman who had stolen Hâ-âk's blood.

“Elder Brother fell into disfavor with the people, who killed him several times, but he always came to life again, until the magic power of Vulture was invoked, who killed him through the agency of the sun. Came to life once more, but sank through a hole to the underworld, where the survivors of the flood lived. Some of these came above under his leadership and conquered the people there.”

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“After closing up by his laughter the hole through which the underworld people were coming up, Coyote wandered to the west, and one day made two other coyotes from his image in the water, Sandy Coyote and Yellow Coyote. They sailed on logs across the water, but Yellow became blind and they turned back and went to live near the Grand Canyon. Gambled with each other and Sandy won; Yellow assisted by Finish, who causes Duck and Black Beetle to run a race, in which latter won for Yellow. Sandy finally won Yellow's body and soul and killed him. Death finally avenged by his son, who won from Sandy by Stratagem.”


“Twin boys immediate result of marriage of Cloud and the beautiful mat maker, who had refused all suitors. Boys grow up, inquire for father, sent to the east to find him. Meet Wind, their uncle, and Cloud, their father. Tested by rain, thunder, and lightning, and accepted. After long visit start for home; encounter Raven, Hawk, Eagle, and Coyote; stand on each side of trail to avoid latter and are transformed into mescal.”


“Man by night and Skull by day, he married maiden who had refused other suitors. Successful hunter because deer fell dead at sight of him. Winner in football race, thus silencing all ridicule.”

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“Two brothers burdened with heavy game. One conceives plan of relief and asks other to help him. Latter cuts body of former into four pieces and throws them into a lake; in four days returns and finds four horses.


“Parents killed by Apaches and unmarried aunt supported children. While hunting one day warned by cottontail rabbit that Apaches had been at their house. On return find aunt dead, but never having seen a corpse did not recognize her. With mescal kept fire against her return; at night frightened and pursued by her ghost until all turned to stone.”


“Quails cut pieces of fat from Coyote as he slept; he awakened and overtook them in camp; asked for refreshment and was given of his own flesh; starting on he was taunted about it by the quails. Turned to pursue them and almost ran them down when they ran into a hole, the foremost carrying a cholla stem. Coyote asked each in turn if she were guilty; on denial let them go; finally asked cholla, and receiving no reply, bit it hard and it killed him.”


“Coyote in cottonwood tree asked woman wading in river to give him some of her tortillas;

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she refused, but on being threatened went up to the tree and told him to jump down, as the water was shallow; but she was standing on a stump; when he jumped he was drowned in the deep water.”


“Boy whose mother captured by Apaches lived with his grandmother. Quarreled with her and started to find his mother. Reaching her he turned into a dove, and she carried him home; Apaches heard her talking her language to it, so the chief crushed it in his hand pieces flew up through the smoke hole and turned into flock of hawks, who beat the Apaches to death. Mother and son started home, but turned into saguaros on the way.”


“Bird became, blue by bathing in lake. Taught Coyote how, and he became blue, too. So proud that he gazed at himself as he went along and ran into a stump, fell into the dust and became gray, as he is to-day.”


“Parents killed by Apache and boy lived with grandmother. Frightened from berry bushes by terrible beast. Boy took some sharp stones and approached the beast, who swallowed him, cut his way out with the stones and thus killed the beast.”

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“Quarreled with grandmother and ran away; when pursued the boy turned into a saguaro and the girl into a palo verde. Old woman grasped the cactus and it killed her.”

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