The Serrano (Spanish for mountain people) ranged over the San Bernardino Mountains in Southern California–Their relatives the Vanyume are little known because they were devastated by the European conquest–They ranged out over the Mojave Desert–Here is part of the Serrano creation story–It has elements found in most Southern California Creation stories–The dying god–twin gods–the cremation with Coyote eating Creator’s heart
Serrano Creation Story – – Adapted from the Telling of Ruth Benedict
In the beginning, in the darkness, the two creator god’s, Pakrokitatc and Kukitatc made the nonhuman persons, the animals. Kukitatc stayed with his people and he said that when they died they would come back.
The people decided to kill Kukitatc because the world would become overpopulated. They got a shaman to do the job. The shaman saw that Kukitatc went out every night and defecated in the ocean. He sent Frog to eat his excrement.
When Kukitatc went to the ocean he did not hear his excrement splash in the water. He knew that Frog was below and that he was going to die. He told the people to cremate him but to send Coyote to the north to gather wood. Coyote set out and the people lit the pyre. The people stood around the fire so Coyote could not get through before the body was burned.
Coyote circled the ring and until he found his opportunity: he slipped between Badger’s bowed legs and snatched Kukitatc’s heart. He ran off and ate it.