Walapai Creation Stories

Walapai Creation Story

Adapted from the telling of Alfred Kroeber

In the old days was Wikame, the only land in the world of water. There was Matavila who decided to create people. He cut cane in the water, one piece for each nation of people. He prayed over them, they came to life and the water dried up. After Matavila created people he died. There were the Hopi, Navajo, Paiute, Walapai and Havasupai. These and others separated and went in different directions. The children played roughly in the mud. One got hurt and cried to his parents. The parents of the children began to fight. The relatives joined in. Some of the tribes were afraid to fight and fled. The Walapai and Yavapai fought it out. The Yavapai became afraid and fled to the south. The Yavapai never forgot and continued to fight the Walapai. Eventually the old people died off and the young people became friendly and the fighting stopped.

Coyote Steals Matavila’s Heart

When Matavila, who lived on Wikame, was dying he asked Coyote if when a person dies does he come back in four days? Coyote said, “No, he is gone forever.” The people, when Matavila was dead decided he should be cremated. They sent Coyote away to get fire and while he was gone they asked Fly to make fire. The piled up wood, put the body on top and lit the pyre. Coyote saw the fire and ran back, jumped over Wildcat and Badger and stole a piece of Matavila’s heart that was left. The people pursued Coyote who jumped into a hole in the rock. When the people got there the saw only Chuckawala. Perhaps Coyote had turned into Chuckawala. Coyote ran off and the people pursued. He jumped behind a stump. Perhaps Coyote turned into a stump. They couldn’t find Coyote anywhere. They returned home without Coyote.

Another Creation Story

Once, all the tribes were one. There were two gods, Hamatavila and Tudjupa. Tudjupa was the younger of the two. After the water dried up and left the mountain Wikame, the two gods emerged from under it. Hamatavila told Tudjupa that he knew nothing and that Tudjupa should rule. Tudjupa cut pieces of cane that became the Mohave, the Walapai, that Havasupai, the Hopi, the Chemehuevi and the Yavapai. These people all lived around Wikame. Hamatavila stepped on a frog despite the warning of Tudjupa. Hamatavila became ill and died because of this. Tudjupa said to the people, “We will cremate the body in four days. After four days the body will come to life.” Coyote said this was wrong, told Tudjupa to cut his hair short and burn all of Hamatavila’s property. Tudjupa said to bury the body and corn, pumpkins, watermelons and beans grew from it.

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