CHAPTER XVIII. PAIUTE AND CHEMEHUEVI.


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Location and Derivation of Name—Friendly to Whites, but Warlike—The Chemehuevi— Location—Early History—Dress —Nothing Positive Known of Organization— General Belief of All Indians in Future State—Theories of Mohaves— Pimas—Apaches and Navahos—Conclusion.

PAIUTE. A term involved in great confusion. In common usage it has been applied at one time or another to most of the Shoshonean tribes of western Utah, northern Arizona, southern Idaho, eastern Oregon, Nevada, and eastern and southern California. The generally accepted idea is that the term originated from the word pah, “water,” and Ute, hence “water Ute”; or from pai, “true,” and Ute—“true Ute”; but neither of these interpretations is satisfactory. Powell states that the name properly belongs exclusively to the Corn Creek tribe of southwestern Utah, but has been extended to include many other tribes. In the present case the term is employed as a convenient divisional name for the tribes occupying southwestern Utah from about the locality of Beaver; the southwestern part of Nevada, and the northwestern part of Arizona, excluding the Chemehuevi.

As a rule they have been peaceable and friendly towards the whites, although in the


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early sixties they several times came into collision with miners and emigrants, hostility being frequently provoked by the whites themselves. The northern Paiute were more warlike than those of the south, and a considerable number of them took part with the Bannock in the war of 1878. Owing to the fact that the great majority of the Paiute are not on reservations, many of them being attached to the ranches of white men, it is impossible to determine their population, but they may be safely estimated at from 6,500 to 7,000.

CHEMEHUEVI. A Shoshonean tribe, apparently an offshoot of the Paiute, formerly inhabiting the east bank of the Rio Colorado from Bill Williams fork to the Needles, and extending westward as far as Providence mountains, California, their chief seat being Chemehuevi valley, which stretches five miles along the Colorado and nearly as far on either side. When or how they acquired possession of what appears to have been Yuman territory is not known. They may possibly have been seen by Alarcon, who navigated the Rio Colorado in 1540; but if so they are not mentioned by name. Probably the first reference to the Chemehuevi is that by fray Francisco Garces, who passed through their country in journeying from the Yuma to the Mohave, and again from lower Kern river to the latter tribe on his way to the pueblo of Oraibi in northeastern Arizona in 1775–76. In passing down the Colorado from the Mohave rancherias Garces does not mention any Chemehuevi or other Indians in Chemehuevi valley or elsewhere on the river until the


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Yuman Alchedona (“Jalchedunes”), some distance below, were reached. He found the Chemehuevi in the desert immediately southwest, west and northwest of the Mohave. The same observer remarks that they wore Apache moccasins, antelope skin shirts, and a white headdress like a cap, ornamented with the crest feathers of a bird, probably the roadrunner. They were very swift of foot, were friends of the Ute (Paiute?), Yavapai Tejua, and Mohave, and when the latter “break their weapons,” (keep the peace), so do they also. It is said that they occupied at this time the country between the Beñemé (Panamint and Serrano) and the Colorado “on the north side” as far as the Ute, and extending to another river North of the Colorado, where they had their fields. They made baskets, and those whom Garces saw “all carried a crook besides their weapons,” which was used for pulling gophers, rabbits, etc., from their burrows. Their language was noted as distinct from that of the other Rio Colorado tribes. Physically the Chemehuevi appear to have been inferior to the Yuma and Mohave. Ives properly credited them with being a “wandering people, traveling great distances on hunting and predatory excursions,” and although they lived mainly on the natural products of the desert, they farmed on a small scale where possible. Like the other Colorado river tribes they had no canoes, but used rafts made of bundles of reeds. Of the organization of the Chemehuevi nothing positive is known.


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The Indians of Arizona, it would seem, all believed in a future state. Their theories in this respect, are given by Bancroft in his “Native Races,” Volume 3, p. 526, et seq.:

“The Mohaves have more liberal ideas, and admit all to share the joys of heaven. With the smoke curling upward from the pyre, the soul rises and floats eastward to the regions of the rising sun, whither Matevil has gone before, and where a second earth-life awaits it, free from want and sorrow. But if its purity be sullied by crime, or stained with human blood, the soul is transformed into a rat, and must remain for four days in a rat-hole to be purified before Matevil can receive it. According to some, Matevil dwells in a certain lofty mountain lying in the Mohave territory.

“The Pimas also believe that the soul goes to the east, to the sunhouse, perhaps, thereto live with Sehuiab, the son of the creator, but this Elysium is not perfect, for a devil called Chiawat is admitted there, and he greatly plagues the inmates. The Maricopas are stated in one account to believe in a future state exactly similar to the life on earth, with all its social distinctions and wants, so that in order to enable the soul to assume its proper position among the spirits, all the property of the deceased, as well as a great part of that of his relatives, is offered up at the grave. But according to Bartlett, they think the dead will return to their ancient home on the banks of the Colorado, and live on the sand hills. Here the different parts of the body will be transformed into animals, the head, for instance, becoming an owl, the hands, bats;


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the feet, wolves; and in these forms continue their ancient feuds with the Yumas, who expelled them from that country. The Yumas, however, do not conform to these views, but expect that the good soul will leave wordly strife for a pleasant valley hidden in one of the canyons of the Colorado, and that the wicked will be shut up in a dark cavern to be tantalized by the view of the bliss beyond their reach.

“The Apaches believe in metempsychosis, and consider the rattlesnake as the form to be assumed by the wicked after death. The owl, the eagle, and perfectly white birds were regarded as possessing souls of divine origin, and the bear was not less sacred in their estimation, for the very daughter of Montezuma, whom it had carried off from her father's home, was the mother of its race. The Moquis went so far as to suppose that they would return to the primeval condition of animals, plants, and inanimate objects. The faith of the other Pueblo tribes in New Mexico was more in accordance with their cultured condition; namely, that the soul would be judged immediately after death according to its deeds. Food was placed with the dead, and stones were thrown upon the body to drive out the evil spirit. On a certain night in August it seems, the soul haunted the hills near its former home to receive the tributes of food and drink which affectionate friends hastened to offer. Scoffers connected the disappearance of the choice viands with the rotund form of the priests.

“The Navajos expected to return to the place whence they originated, below the earth,


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where all kinds of fruits and cereals, germinated from the seeds lost above, grow in unrivalled luxuriance. Released from their earthly bonds, the spirits proceed to an extensive marsh in which many a soul is bemired through relying too much on its own efforts, and failing to ask the aid of the great spirit; or perhaps the outfit of livestock and implements offered at the grave has been inadequate to the journey. After wandering about for four days, the more fortunate souls come to a ladder conducting to the underworld; this they descend, and are gladdened by the sight of two great spirits, male and female, who sit combing their hair. After looking on for a few suns, imbibing lessons of cleanliness, perhaps, they climb up to the swamp again to be purified, and then return to the abode of the spirits to live in peace and plenty forever. Some believe that the bad become coyotes, and that women turn into fishes, and then into other forms.”

The legends of the Arizona Indians, as hereinbefore recorded, are interesting. Almost all the tribes had some belief in a flood which destroyed all animal life, preserving, in one case, a man and a coyote from which to resurrect the human race, and in another, a few good people. The coyote and the eagle figured largely in the creation of man, which may be on account of their natural characteristics. In the eagle, the king of birds, which lives in the clouds and nests in the highest peaks, the Indians probably recognized the high qualities of the superman, and made him the progenitor of the human race; that is, the high-minded, brilliant and


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virile man. The coyote was known as the most cunning of all the desert animals. He would steal the bacon from under the prospector's head; kill lambs and calves, and rob the bee of his honey. The Indians, recognizing some of these traits in their fellow-men, probably thought they were descended from the coyote. We may laugh at these things as superstitions, but how about Darwin's theory that men came from monkeys, or the latest doctrine enunciated by a Harvard professor, as given in the following telegram to the “Los Angeles Times,” that Darwin was wrong and that man came from lizards:

“Boston, March 3, 1918. Dr. Edward Hickley Bradford, Dean of Harvard Medical School and ancestry expert, has discovered that the so-called ‘tango lizard’ of to-day comes naturally by his title, for mankind descended from the saurian, the original big lizard. The monkey, he says, may be man's cousin, but whether the relationship is first or removed to the forty-seventh degree, no scientist to date had been able to discover.

“‘Darwin deceived us,’ he said. ‘We did not descend from monkey forefathers. Neither are we descended lineally from the beastly baboon nor the agile ape, whose arboreal “progeny” may have boasted about their family trees.

“‘The human species were originally lizards, which horses and dogs and monkeys sprang from, but scientists have not yet been able to determine just when the lizard family quarreled and split up in this way, nor whether the splits all happened at once or at different periods.


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This would make the monkey our cousin, but it is not known in just what order we broke away from our lizard lineage.’

“Just when the forefathers of the human race rose to the perpendicular posture, Dr. Bradford is not able to state, but it was at least 500,000 years ago, because the thigh and jawbone of a prehistoric person of that period was dug up in Java recently, and the thighbone, he says, indicated that the long-deceased ancestor was a ‘pithecanthropus erectus,’ meaning that he was accustomed to standing up straight.

“‘Though there may be a striking resemblance between man and monkey,’ he says, ‘the monkey has four hands and though he may walk on his hind hands, they are the same as his fore hands.

“‘There never were any four-handed members in my family,’ exclaimed the dean, referring to the entire human race. ‘I examined the skeleton of a person who lived 30,000 years ago in France,’ he continued, ‘and the bones of the feet were just the same as the bones of your feet to-day. On the other hand, skeletons of monkeys, right down through all the ages, show that their hind extremities, like their fore extremities, are just like our hands. There is a small bone formation on the hind wrists of the monkey, but not of a nature that could be classed as the heel of a foot.’”

Possibly to these Indians the Mosaic account of the creation seems as absurd as do their myths and fables to us, especially the coming of light into being at the command of the Almighty. The manufacture of Adam out of


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soft day, and the making of Eve out of one of Adam's ribs, may appeal to them as the reason why the white men and women were so fickle that they could not be satisfied, even in Eden, their earthly Paradise.

Nowhere does it appear that the Arizona Indians believed in rewards and punishment after death; to all, the future state was an improvement on this life. There is much similarity in some of their flood legends to the biblical account; but the nearest approach to the Mosaic record of the creation of man is found in a Pima legend, which declared that after the destruction of man by the flood, the Drinker ordered the Coyote to bring him some mud, and that from this mud he recreated man.

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