As soon as a Cahuilla dies, he is washed, dressed, and taken to the ceremonial house, kishumnawat. The members of his clan gather round the body and sing all night. If the deceased was a man, the Creation story is sung, if it was a woman, a song about the Moon is sung, for the
With all their geographical proximity to the Yuma and Mohave, the Desert Cahuilla partake essentially of the native civilization of the Shoshonean coastal tribes of southern California. Birth of Mukat and Tamaioit1 In the beginning, there was no earth or sky or anything or anybody only a dense darkness in space. This darkness seemed alive.
The native belief is that all food was once human and could talk just as we can. Mukat designated certain people in the beginning who were to become plants and be converted into food for our use. The mesquite tree is the main reliance of the Desert Cahuilla for food. It is their staple. The
Until within a few years ago, girls puberty ceremonies were observed among the Cahuilla. These were called Hemelonewin1 or sometimes Hemelushinum. They were held at the time of a girl’s first menses. The father of the girl informed the people of her condition and called them together for the ceremony, which began the first night
Future Life Mukat created a place in the east as a residence for the spirits of the dead. This was called Telmikish (compare telewel, spirit). At the entrance to Telmikish were two constantly moving mountains or large hills. They would come together and separate, come together and separate this movement never ceased. Montakwet was made
Several informants stated that there were only three seasons Taspa budding of trees Talpa hot days Tamitva cold days August Lomas of the Martinez reservation, my most reliable informant, named eight seasons, each one based upon the development of the mesquite bean, which used to be the main food. They were Taspa budding of trees
Dogs can not talk, but they understand everything that is said. They have a soul just as we have. When the people left Mukat s house and came to this valley, there was one dog with them; his name was Hakliswákwish. The people on the Martinez reservation still name their dogs after that first dog.
For a long time, the Cahuilla say, they did not wear any clothes at all. The first they had were breech clouts of deer skins and mountain sheep skins. In cold weather they used skins thrown over their shoulders. Mesquite bark was rubbed and pounded and pulled until it became soft. It was then used
The Cahuilla, like most of the California Indians, have been a very peaceful people. Their main troubles were between villages, and were caused by boundary disputes. Each village had definite boundaries, within which the inhabitants lived, hunted, and gathered mesquite and other food products. Food was very scarce in the old days and any infringement
The Cahuilla are organized in exogamous moieties, the Wildcat moiety (Tuktum), and the Coyote moiety (Istam). Descent is reckoned upon the paternal side. These two moieties are divided into numerous clans, most of which appear to be localized. The majority of the clans are supposed to have received their names from the place in which