CHAPTER XVIII. PAIUTE AND CHEMEHUEVI.
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.
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
“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;
“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 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
“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.
“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.
“‘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
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.