Luiseño Creation Story


In the beginning, there was darkness and earth, brother and sister. Darkness was also called unoccupied, there is no one, and whitish gray (a term that referred to the Milky Way). Earth was also called empty, there is nothing there, and changing in form descending. The brother came unto the sister and they brought forth the sun, sand, flat rocks and stones, trees and shrubs, medicinal herbs and grasses, meat animals, and Wuyóot (also spelled Wiyot and Ouiot).
 
Wuyóot looked upon Red Legged Frog covetously. She could tell what was on his mind. When he saw that her behind was skinny and bony he lost interest. Red Legged Frog became angry and bewitched him.
 
He became sick and before he died said that all people will follow him in death. This is how death came to the world. However, he said he would return as the moon.
 
He died and was cremated; Blowfly rubbed her fire sticks together to light the pyre. They sent Coyote away to get fire from the sun. He ran back and jumped over the shortest ones guarding the body of Wuyóot. In various tellings this is either Big Cone Spruce and Incense Cedar or Badger. Brush Rabbit sang at Wuyóot’s funeral, being the first to ever sing.
 
A spirit, Chinigchinich, appeared and created humans. He said that those who do not obey him will be punished with “bears to bite, snakes to sting, misfortunes, infirmities and death.” Because of the similarity to the biblical God some believe that this was influenced by the missions, forming what anthropologists call syncretism or the fusing of native and external beliefs. Raven is Chinigchinich’s animal as was bear, cougar, various species of rattlesnake, stingrays, tarantula hawk (Pepsis wasp), black widow, tarantula and other spiders, ticks, scorpion and centipede. Rock crystals and tourmaline are also Chinigchinich’s and can be used to kill.
 
Instruction in proper behavior was given during the boys and girls initiation ceremonies. The boys took toloache to have a vision of animals. The girls took an infusion of tobacco. A ground painting showing the world and Chinigchinich’s animals was used.

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