Cahuilla Creation Story as told by the Augustine Cahuilla

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Last Updated: 10 years

In the beginning there was darkness. From this darkness two twin gods came into being, Mukat and Témayawet. Both argued constantly over who was born first. They soon created the earth, the oceans and the sky. Afterwards Témayawet asked what they were to do next. Mukat responded that the question confirmed that it was he, Mukat, who was the eldest of the two, for he knew the answer.

 

Mukat said it was now time to create humans to rule over the earth and its creatures. Being competitive, Témayawet carried out his work very hastily and without much care. Mukat, on the other hand, took his time and worked carefully. When both were done they could not see their creations for darkness still covered the earth, so the sun, stars and moon were created to illuminate the earth.

Seeing his creation in the light, Témayawet became ashamed. His creations were disfigured and unappealing to the eye. Mukat’s, however, were attractive and perfect in every way. In fact, they appeared similar in form to how humans appear to this very day. Témayawet, embarrassed by what he had created, took his people and fled to the underground.

Mukat’s people were from then on referred to as “Cahuilla.” Mukat, needing assistance to care for his people, called upon the Moon Maiden, Man-el,  for assistance. Man-el was very beautiful, and very caring. She soon set off to teach the Cahuilla People the ways of life. She taught them how to sing and dance, how to play games and how to hunt and gather plants for both food and medicine.

One night, however, as Man-el was resting by a stream, Mukat approached her. Man-el could see in his eyes that Mukat was in love with her. She became frightened. She knew then that she must leave. That very night, without saying goodbye to the Cahuilla People whom she loved so much, she left. In the morning when the people awoke, they discovered that she had gone. They were very sad to have lost their loving friend and teacher.

By then, the people had grown very upset with Mukat. It was he who had allowed death to befall the people so the world would not become overcrowded. It was he who had provided Rattlesnake with poison so he could strike and kill the people. It was also he who had provided his people with bows and arrows to use to kill one another. Now, it was Mukat who had driven the beloved Man-el away forever.

The people gathered in secrecy and agreed that Mukat had to die. They asked Bear and Mountain Lion to kill Mukat, but they refused. They then decided that it was Frog, who had the power to bewitch, who must carry out the act. One evening, as Mukat rested, he touched Frog and soon was overcome with a deadly illness.

One by one the creatures Mukat had created and had asked for assistance, betrayed and deserted him. Realizing that he would soon die, Mukat began to sing the sacred song in prayer so that upon his death he would be allowed to enter the spirit world where there is no more sickness or sorrow, and life goes on forever.

This place, according to Cahuilla legend, is known as “Telmekish.”

After Mukat’s death, the people burned Mukat’s body and his ashes were scattered throughout the land. It is from those ashes that all food plants grow today.