Cahuilla Legends

Cahuilla legends and oral stories, including the Cahuilla creation story.

Mukat (also spelled Mokat, Mukot or Mo-Cot) is the Cahuilla Creator God. Unlike Native cultures in the rest of North America, the Cahuilla and other Sonoran tribes of southeast California and southwestern Arizona did not consider their Creator to be a benevolent spirit or a friend to humankind– he was capricious and dangerous, made the life of the ancients miserable, drove away their protector Moon, and was eventually slain by his own creations after teaching them warfare.

Common Characters found in Cahuilla Legends:

Isily (Coyote, in the Cahuilla language) – Coyote is the trickster figure of Cahuilla mythology. He is clever but reckless, and is constantly getting himself and the people around him into trouble with his irresponsible and socially inappropriate behavior. Coyote stories are often humorous in nature, but they can also be cautionary tales about the consequences of bad behavior and the dangers of interacting with reckless and immoral people.

Menily (also spelled Menil, Menilly, or Man-el): The Cahuilla Goddess of the Moon, who taught the people the arts of civilization. She is often called the Moon Maiden in English.

Temayawet (also spelled Tamaioit, Temmayawit or Tem-ma-ya-wit) – Mukat’s twin brother, ruler of the land of the dead. Water Babies – Mysterious and dangerous water spirits from the folklore of the Mission Indians and other California Indian tribes. They inhabit springs and ponds, and they and their eerie cries are omens of bad luck and death.

Famous Cahuilla Indians

Cahuilla Legends:


Article Index:

Cahuilla creation story

The Cahuilla Creation Story The world began, we are told through our songs, with the creation of twin brothers, Mukat and Temayawet. In the creation, Mukat and Temayuwat were born from the union of twin balls of lightning, which were … Continue reading

Legend of Tahquitz

According to Cahuilla legends, Tahquitz (Taw’ kwish) is an evil spirit who hunts for people’s souls and is reported to appear in Tahquitz canyon  as a green meteor-like ball of fire. He was the first shaman created by Mukat, the Creator.