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The Destruction Of The Vahahkkees


Source: Aw-aw-tam Indian Nights

(The Pima plural of vah-ahk-kee is vahp-ahk-kee, but I have made all
plurals English, as more understandable.)

And after this they were not sick any more, and they came to the Gila
Country, to Ee-ee-toy's land, the Land of the Vahahkkees, and here they
divided themselves into four parties, of which one went south; but the
doctors united them all by "The Light," so that they would know about
each other in case there was a battle in which any needed assistance.

And as they came into this country the people there were stirred up
with alarm, and the great doctor who lived at Casa Blanca, whose name
was Tcheu-tchick-a-dah-tai Seeven, sent his son to Stcheuadack Seeven,
at Casa Grande, to enquire if there were any prophecies that he knew
of about the coming of this great invading army.

So the boy went, but just before he got there he heard a frog, a big
one, which Stcheuadack Seeven kept for a pet and to assist him in his
work as a doctor, and when the boy heard the frog he was frightened,
and ran back, and when his father asked what he had learned, he said:
"Nothing, I heard a noise there that frightened me, so I ran home

And his father said: "That is nothing to be afraid of, that is only
the voice of his pet, his frog," and he sent the boy once more.

So the boy went again, and came to Stcheuadack Seeven who asked him
what his father had sent him for, and the boy replied that his father
wanted to know if there were any prophecies about the coming of this
enemy, and how he felt about it every evening.

When the boy returned his father asked him what Stcheuadack Seeven
knew, and how he felt, and the boy said: "He does not know anything. He
says he sits out every night, and hears the different animals, and
enjoys their pleasant voices, and in the morning he enjoys hearing
the sweet songs of the birds, and he always feels good, and does not
fear anything."

So his father said: "I am well satisfied that I will not be the
first to see this thing happen. It will be Stcheuadack Seeven who
will first see it, and it will not be ten days before it will occur."

And in a few days Ee-ee-toy's army came to the village of Stcheuadack
Seeven and killed all the people there.

And Geeaduck Seeven, who lived at Awawtkum Vahahkkee, told his people
to flee: and many did so and ran to the mountains and other places,
but the others who did not run away came to Geeaduck Seeven's house,
and he told them to come in there.

And the enemy came, and they fought, but it was not easy for
Ee-ee-toy's warriors to fight the men of Geeaduck Seeven, because they
were nearly all inside, but his men managed to set fire to the house,
and so destroyed it, and killed all who were therein.

Then Ee-ee-toy's men marched on, north, to where Cheof-hahvo Seeven,
or Long Dipper Chief, lived, and as they marched along they sang
about the places they were conquering, and they sang of the beads that
they expected to get at this village, the beads called sah-vaht-kih,
and there was an old woman among them who said: "When you get those
beads, I want them." And so when they had conquered that vahahkkee
they gave the beads to her.

And they went from there to the home of Dthas Seeven, who had a
cane-cactus fence about his place, and Ee-ee-toy's men heard of this,
and sang about it as they went along. And they took this place and
killed Dthas Seeven.

And then they went on to where the Casa Blanca vahahkkees now are in
ruins; and the great doctor who lived there, the same who had sent his
boy to inquire of the prophecies, drew a magic line before his place,
so that the enemy could not cross. And when Ee-ee-toy's men came to
the line the earth opened, and they could not go further till one
of their great doctors, by his power, had closed it, and then they
could pass it.

And they had a great battle there, for the place was very strong,
and hard to get into. And there was a doctor among them called Nee-hum
Mah-kai, or Thunder Doctor, and they asked him to use his magic power
to tear the place down, and he tried, but could not succeed. And they
asked another, called Tchu-dun Mahkai, or Earthquake Doctor, and he
tried and failed also. And then they asked another, a little man,
not supposed to have much power, and he took a hair from his head,
and held it up by the two ends, and sang a song, and turned it into a
snake. And he sent the snake, and it struck the house, and shook it
so that it broke and fell down from above. And then Ee-ee-toy's men
took the place, and killed everybody there except Tcheutchickadahtai
Seeven, who escaped and ran on.

And one of Ee-ee-toy's warriors pursued him, and was going to strike
him with a club when he sank down, and the place where he sank was
filled with a fog, so that they could not see him, and he got out on
the other side and ran on. But they had a doctor called Ku-mi-wahk
Mahkai, or Fog Doctor, and they had him clear away the fog and then
they could see him and chased him again.

And again, when about to be struck, he sank down, and a mirage filled
the place so that they could not see him, for things did not look
the same. And he got out beyond, and ran on. And they had a Sas-katch
Mahkai, or Mirage Doctor, who cleared away the false appearance, and
again they chased him, and were about to kill him, when again he sank.

And this time a rainbow filled the place and made him invisible,
and again he ran on till their Kee-hawt Mahkai, or Rainbow Doctor,
removed the rainbow.

And once more they were about to strike him when he sank, and the
quivers which heat makes, called coad-jook, filled the hole, and
again he got away. But they had a Coadjook Doctor, and he removed it,
and then they chased him and killed him.

And they went northward again from there.

And there was a rattlesnake who had never killed an enemy, and
he asked a doctor to help him do this, and the doctor told him
he would. And the doctor told his pet gopher to dig a hole to the
village of the doctor who lived beyond Od-chee, where is the place
called Scaw-coy-enk, or Rattlesnake Village. And this doctor was the
speaker of his village, and every morning stood on a big stone and
in a loud voice told the people what they were to do. And the gopher
dug a hole to this stone, through which the rattlesnake crawled and
lay in wait under the stone. And when the doctor came out to speak
to his people in the morning, the rattlesnake bit him and then slid
back into his hole again. And the doctor came down from the stone,
and went into his kee, and fell down there and died.

And after taking this place they marched to the place called
Ko-awt-kee Oy-yee-duck, or Shell Field, where a doctor-chief lived,
named Tcheunassat Seeven, and this place they took, and Ee-ee-toy
himself killed this doctor, this being the first foe he had killed.

And they went on again to the place where Nooee lived, called
Wuh-a-kutch. And Ee-ee-toy said: "When you come there you will know
the man who killed me by his white leggings, and when you find him,
do not kill him, but capture him, and bring him to me, and I will do
what I please with him."

And Ee-ee-toy had the Eagle and the Chicken-Hawk go up in the sky to
look for Noo-ee, for he said he might go up there. And the Eagle and
the Chicken-Hawk found Nooee there, and caught him, and brought him to
Ee-ee-toy, who took him and scalped him alive. And Nooee, after he was
scalped, fell down and died, and the women came around him, rejoicing
and dancing, and singing; "O why is Seeven dead!" And after awhile
be began to come to life again, and lay there rolling and moaning.

And Ee-ee-toy's men went on again to a village beyond Salt River,
where lived a chief who had a brother, and they were both left-handed,
but famous shots with the bow. And these brothers put up the hardest
fight yet encountered. But when the brothers were too hard pressed
they fled to Cheof See-vick, or Tall Red Mountain, and there they
kept shooting and killed a great many of Ee-ee-toy's men, who were
short of arrows, after so long fighting and many of their bows broken.

Because of this, Ee-ee-toy's men had to fall back and surround
the place.

And when this happened the band that had gone to the south knew by
the "Light" that it was so, and came to help them. And these had many
bows and arrows, and beside brought wood to mend the broken bows, and
wood to make new arrows; and when they came into the place they gave
their bows and arrows to Ee-ee-toy's men and made themselves new bows
from the wood they had brought. And these men were the ancestors of
the Toe-hawn-awh Aw-aw-tam, the present Papagoes, and that is why to
this day the Papagoes are most expert in making bows and arrows. And
then the fight began again and the two brave brothers were killed.

And from there they went on to another awawtkumvahahkkee, where is
now Fort McDowell, where lived another seeven whom they fought and

And from there they went on westward thru the mountains. But when
they came to Kah-woet-kee, near where is now Phoenix, one of the
chiefs in Ee-ee-toy's army said: "I have seen enuf of this country,
and I will take this for my part and remain here." And he did so.

And the bands went on and came to the Colorado River, and there one of
the great doctors, called Gaht Mahkai, or Bow Doctor, struck the river
with his bow and laid it down in the water. And the water separated
then so that the people were able to go over to the other side. And
beyond the Colorado they came to a people who lived in holes in the
ground, whom they found it hard to fight, and they asked help of their
Thunder Doctor, and when the people came out of their holes to fight
he struck right in the midst of them, but killed only one. Then they
asked help of the Earthquake Doctor, and he was able to kill only
one. And these two were all they killed. And these people were called
Choo-chawf Aw-aw-tam, or the Foxes, because they lived in holes.

And after the army failed to conquer the Foxes they returned across
the Colorado River, near where is now Yuma. And here again the Bow
Doctor divided the water for them. But before all the bands were
across the waters closed, and some were left behind. And these called
to those who were across to have the Bow Doctor hit the waters again,
that they also might get there. But those who were across would not
do this, but told them that there was plenty of land where they were
that would make them a comfortable home. And those left there were
the ancestors of the present Yumas and Maricopas.


In the land where there are a great many galley-worms--
I will get the doctor out,
It will lighten his heart.


I made the black snake;
And he went across and wounded the vahahkkee.


In the Story of Ee-ee-toy's Army we come to an amusing superstition of
the Pimas. There is a funny little creature in Arizona, related to the
tarantula, perhaps, which the Pimas say is very poisonous, and which
is certainly very quick in motion and the hardest thing to kill I ever
saw. It is covered with a sort of fuzzy hair, which blows in the wind,
and is sometimes red and sometimes yellow or white. Now there seems
to be a connection in the Indian mind between this way-heem-mahl,
as they name him, and this story of Ee-ee-toy's Army. The bands, it
is related, were distinguished by certain colors--some took red, and
some yellow and white, for their badge-color. And the Pimas of today
suppose themselves descended from these bands, and some clans claim
that the bands of the red were their forbears, and some trace back
to the bands of yellow and white. And not many years back there was a
rivalry between these, and the wayheemmahls, having the same colors,
were identified with the bands, and the Pimas descended from a band
of a certain color would not kill a wayheemmahl of that color, or
willingly permit others to do so, but would eagerly kill wayheemmahls
of the opposite color. If, then, a Pima of the red faction saw a
yellow wayheemmahl, running over the ground, he was quick to jump
on it; but if a Pima of the yellow stood near he would resent this
attack on his relation, and a hair-pulling fight would result. This
custom is probably altogether obsolete now.

It will be noticed that the fantastic explanations of why gyihhaws
are now carried by the women, is contradicted by the carrying of
gyihhaws by various women in previous stories.

The closing of the earth cuts down the six bands to four and a

Wardances, and extravagant and boastful speeches prophesying success,
seem to have preceded all the military movements of the Awawtam.

The creation of deer in this story, by Ee-ee-toy, is contrary to their
presence in earlier tales, as in that of Ahahnheeattoepahk Mahkai.

The careful mention of the sickness and death of an apparently
unimportant woman is curious, and hard to explain. Perhaps this was
the inauguration of the pestilence.

The Story of the Destruction of the Vahahkkees has the most historic
interest of any.

The uniting of the bands by the "Light" is very curious. My Indians
could not tell me what this was, only something occult and mysterious
by which they had clairvoyant ken of each other's needs. Its use
appears in the fight at Cheof Seevick.

The resemblance to the Israelites crossing the Red Sea is remarkable
in the exploit of the Bow Doctor, and the crossing of the Rio Colorado.

The Choochawf Awawtam appear to have been cave-dwellers, and my
Indians were confused in memory as to whether they were encountered
on the hither or far side of the Colorado.

The statement that the closing of the waters left the Yumas and
Maricopas on the far bank of the Colorado is likely only a mahkai's
fanciful attempt to explain their presence there. As the Indians of
the Yuman stock speak an entirely different language from the Indians
of the Piman stock, it is unlikely they were united in the original
invading army. There is no other evidence that there ever was any
alliance between them till the Maricopas, fearing extermination
from the Yumas, joined the Pimas sometime in the first half of the
nineteenth century.

Comalk Hawkkih gave me this account of the coming in of the Maricopas:
The Yumas and the Maricopas were once all one people, but there was
a jealousy between two sons of a chief, one of whom was a favorite
of his father, and one killed the other, and this grew to a civil
war. The defeated party, the Maricopas, went first to Hot Springs,
where they staid awhile, and then to Gila Bend, but each time the Yumas
followed and attacked them and drove them on. Fearing extermination
they came to the Pimas for protection. The Pimas adopted them. Now
began war between Yumas and Mohaves on one side, and Pimas, Papagoes
and Maricopas on the other. There were only two battles after the
Maricopas came in, but in the second battle all the Yuma warriors
engaged were killed, and the Mohaves had to flee over the mountain,
and only a part of these escaped. This battle was fought at what is
now called Maricopa Mountain.

So terrible was the defeat, that to this day the Yumas hold an annual
"Cry," or lamentation, in memory of it. Their old foes are invited,
and if any Pima or Maricopa attends he is given a horse. This war
reduced both Yumas and Maricopas to a mere remnant.

Since then the Maricopas have lived with the Pimas, and in customs
are almost exactly similar, except that they burn their dead, and
still speak their distinctive language.

They are a taller, larger race than the Pimas, more restless, said
to be quicker witted, but more inclined to vice, and to be rapidly
dying out; while the Pimas yet hold their own in numbers, despite
recent inroads of tuberculosis.

Next: The Story Of Sohahnee Mahkai And Kawkoinpuh

Previous: The Story Of Ee-ee-toy's Army

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