Kumeyaay Religions and Legends

As with every culture, the Kumeyaay have their creation stories of their beginning. The importance of creation stories is that it gives an historical beginning for the people.

Due to the devastation of outside contact, Kumeyaay people were almost robbed of many aspects of their culture and identity. Their beginning was almost forgotten.

The retelling of creation stories helps the Kumeyaay people reclaim their place and purpose in the world and the sense that they belong here. It reinforces their culture and tradition and most importantly, their identity.

Kumeyaay Creation Story
Creation, by Ben Squier

Indian legends of the Cuyamaca Mountains
These legends were borrowed from a book published in 1914, by Mary Elizabeth Johnson, as told to her by Maria Alto, a Kumeyaay of the Cuyamaca mountains. While Ms. Johnson's understanding of these legends may be somewhat out of date, it is a part of Kumeyaay history, as understood at the time.

Copyright September, 1914, by Mary Elizabeth Johnson

Dedicated to Kwa - Mi' e (or Maria Alto -- Kwa-mi'e, meaning "Tall people") whose friendship has been a revelation of the poetic instinct, the dramatic impulse and the nobility of character hidden beneath the stoical mask of our primitive people.

…Cuyamaca is evidently a Spanish corruption of the Indian words Ah-ha' Kwe-ah-mac' (Water Beyond), a name used by the Indians first to designate a location high on the middle mountain, but afterward, applied to the entire group.

Kilsh Ki'e (Pine Tree)
Huts-tah' Tah-mil' tah (Hanging head)
Ah-ha' Wi-Ah-ah' (Water Colder Water)
Ah K'wer-rup' (Disease Cure)Hul-ya-oo' Nimoo-lu' kah (Phantom Basket)
Mount Guatay or Na-wa Ti'e (Big House)
In-yar'en Ah-ha' (No Eyes in Water)
Seen-u-how' Kow-wak' (old woman's twins)
Seen-u-how' Hum-poo' (Old woman's whip)
Kwut' ah Lu' e-ah (Song Dance)
Ah Kwir (Red Paint)
The Story of the Eagles

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