The Story Of Corn And Tobacco

: Aw-aw-tam Indian Nights

There was a powerful mahkai who had a daughter, who, tho old enuf, was

unmarried, and who grew tired of her single life and asked her father

to bury her, saying, we will see then if the men will care for me.

And from her grave grew the plant tobacco, and her father took it and

smoked it and when the people who were gathered together smelled it

they wondered what it was, and sent Toehahvs to find out.

But, altho the tobacco still grew, the woman came to life again and

came out of her grave back to her home.

And one day she played gainskoot with Corn, and Corn beat her, and

won all she had. But she gave some little things she did not care for

to Corn, and the rest of her debt she did not pay, and they quarreled.

She told Corn to go away, saying; "Nobody cares for you, now, but they

care a great deal for me, and the doctors use me to make rain, and

when they have moistened the ground is the only time you can come out."

And the Corn said: "You don't know how much the people like me; the

old as well as the young eat me, and I don't think there is a person

that does not like me." And Corn told Tobacco to go away herself.

There were people there who heard them quarreling, and tho Tobacco

staid on, whenever she would be in a house and hear people laughing she

would think they were laughing at her. And she became very sad, and one

day sank down in her house and went westward and came to a house there.

And the person who lived there told her where to sleep, saying,

"Many people stop here, and that is where they sleep."

But she said: "I am travelling, and no one knows where I am, and if

any one follows me, and comes here, you tell them that you saw me,

that I left very early in the morning and you do not know which way I

went." And she told him that she did not know herself which way she

would go, and at night, when she went to bed, she brought a strong

wind, and when she wanted to leave she sank down and went westward,

and the wind blew away all her tracks.

And she came to the Mohaves and lived there in a high mountain, Cheof

Toe-ahk, or tall mountain, which has a cliff very hard to climb,

but Tobacco stood up there.

And after Tobacco had gone, Corn remained, but when corn-planting

time came none was planted, because there was no rain. And so it went

on--all summer, and people began to say: "It is so, when Tobacco was

here, we had plenty of rain, and now we have not any, and she must

have had wonderful power."

And the people scolded Corn for sending Tobacco away, and told him

to go away himself, and then they sent for Tobacco to come back,

that they might have rain again.

And Corn left, going toward the east, singing all the way, taking

Pumpkin with him, who was singing too, saying they were going where

there was plenty of moisture.

And the next year there was no water, and a powerful doctor,

Gee-hee-sop, took the Doctor's Stone of Light, and the Doctor's

Square Stone, and some soft feathers, and eagle's-tail feathers, and

went to where Tobacco lived, asking her to come back, saying "We are

all suffering for water, and we know you have power to make it rain,

And every seed buried in the ground is begging for water, and likely

to be burned up, and every tree is suffering, and I want you to come."

Then Tobacco said: "What has become of Corn? He is still with you,

and corn is what you ought to eat, and everybody likes it, but nobody

cares for me, except perhaps some old man who likes to smoke me,

and I do not want to go back, and I am not going!"

But Geeheesop said: "Corn is not there now, he has gone away, and we

do not know where he is." And again he asked Tobacco to come back but

she refused, but gave him four balls of tobacco seed and said to him:

"Take these home with you, and take the dirt of the tobacco-worm,

and roll it up, and put it in a cane-tube and smoke it all around,

and you will have rain, and then plant the seed, and in four days it

will come up; and when you get the leaves, smoke them, and call on

the winds, and you will have clouds and plenty of rain."

So Geeheesop went home with the seed balls, and tobacco-worm dirt, and

did as Tobacco had told him; and the smoking of the dirt brought rain,

and the seeds were planted in a secret place, and in four days came up,

and grew for a while, but finally were about to die for want of rain.

Then Geeheesop got some of the leaves and smoked them, and the

wind blew, and rain came, and the plants revived and grew till they

were ripe.

When the tobacco was ripe Geeheesop gathered a lot of the leaves and

filled with them one of the gourd-like nests which the woodpecker,

koh-daht, makes in the har-san, or giant-cactus, and then took a few

of these and put them in a cane-tube pipe, or watch-kee, and went to

where the people gathered in the evening.

And the doctor who was the father of Tobacco said: "What is this I

smell? There is something new here!"

And one said, "Perhaps it is some greens that I ate today that you

smell," and he breathed toward him.

But the mahkai said, "That is not it."

And others breathed toward him, but he could not smell it.

Then Geeheesop rolled a coal toward himself, and lit up his pipe,

and the doctor said: "This is what I smelled!"

And Geeheesop, after smoking a few whiffs, passed the pipe around to

the others, and all smoked it, and when it came back to him he stuck

it in the ground.

And the next night he came with a new pipe to the place of meeting,

but the father of Tobacco said: "Last night I had a smoke, but I did

not feel good after it."

And all the others said: "Why we smoked and enjoyed it."

But the man who had eaten the greens kah-tee-kum, the day before, said:

"He does not mean that he did not enjoy the smoke, but something else

troubled him after it, and I think it was that when we passed the

pipe around we did not say 'My relatives,' 'brother,' or 'cousin,'

or whatever it was, but passed it quietly without using any names."

And Tobacco's father said "Yes, that is what I mean."

(And from that time on all the Pimas smoked that way when they came

together, using a cane-tube pipe, or making a long cigarette of

corn-husk and tobacco, and passing it around among relatives.)

So Geeheesop lit his pipe and passed it around in the way to satisfy

the doctor.

And the people saved the seeds of that tobacco, and to day it is all

over the land.

And the Corn and the Pumpkin had gone east, and for many years they

lived there, and the people they had left had no corn, and no pumpkins;

but after a while they returned of themselves, and came first to the

mountain Tahtkum, and lived there a while, and then crossed the river

and lived near Blackwater, at the place called Toeahk-Comalk, or White

Thin Mountain, and from there went and lived awhile at Gahkotekih or,

as it is now called, Superstition Mountain.

While they lived at Gahkotekih there was a woman living near there

at a place called kawt-kee oy-ee-duck who, with her younger brother,

went to Gahkotekih to gather and roast the white cactus, and while

they were doing this Corn saw them from the mountain and came down.

And the boy saw him and said: "I think that is my uncle coming,"

but his sister said, "It cannot be, for he is far away. If he were

here the people would not be starving as now."

But the boy was right, it was his uncle, and Corn came to them and

staid with them while the cactus was baking. And after awhile, as he

sat aside, he would shoot an arrow up in the air, and it would fall

whirling where the cooking was, and he would go and pick it up.

Finally he said to the woman: "Would you not better uncover the

corn and see if it is cooked yet?" And she said: "It is not corn,

it is cactus."

Again, after a while, he said: "Would you not better uncover the

pumpkin and see if it is done?" And she replied: "It is not pumpkin,

we are baking, it is cactus." But finally he said "Well, uncover it

anyway," and she uncovered it, and there were corn and pumpkin there,

together, all nicely mixed and cooked, and she sat staring at it,

and he told her to uncover it more, and she did so and ate some of it.

And then he asked about the Tobacco woman, if she were married yet, and

she said, "No, she is not married, but she is back with us again, now."

Then he asked her to send the little boy ahead and tell the people

that Corn was coming to live with them again. But first the little

boy was to go to the doctor who was the father of Tobacco, and see if

he and his daughter wanted Corn to return. If they did he would come,

and if they did not he would stay away. And he wanted the boy to come

right back and tell what answer he got.

So the little boy went, and took some corn with him to the doctor,

and said: "Corn sent me, and he wants your daughter, and he wants to

know if you want him. If you do he will return, but if you do not he

will turn back again. And he wants me to bring him word what you say."

And the mahkai said "I have nothing to say against him. I guess he

knows the people want corn. Go and tell him to come."

And Corn said: "Go back to the doctor and tell him to make a little

kee, as quick as he can, and to get the people to help him, and to

cover it with mats instead of bushes, and to let Tobacco go there

and stay there till I come.

And tell all the people to sweep their houses, and around their houses,

and if anything in their houses is broken, such as pots, vahs-hroms,

to turn them right side up. For I am coming back openly; there will

be no secret about it."

So the little boy went back and told the doctor all that Corn had told

him to say, and the doctor and the people built the kee, and Tobacco

went there, and the people swept their houses and around them as they

were told.

And before sunset the woman came home with the corn and pumpkins she

had cooked at the mountain, but Corn staid out till it was evening.

And when evening came there was a black cloud where Corn stood, and

soon it began to rain corn, and every little while a big pumpkin would

come down, bump. And it rained corn and pumpkins all night, while Corn

and his bride were in their kee, and in the morning the people went

out and gathered up the corn from the swept place around their houses.

And so Corn and Pumpkin came back again.

The people gathered up all the corn around their houses, and all their

vessels, even their broken ones, which they had turned up, were full,

and their houses were soon packed full of corn and pumpkins.

So Corn lived there with his wife, and after a while Tobacco had a

baby, and it was a little crooked-necked pumpkin, such as the Pimas

call a dog-pumpkin.

And when the child had grown a little, one day its father and mother

went out to work in the garden, and they put the little pumpkin baby

behind a mat leaning against the wall. And some children, coming in,

found it there, and began to play with it for a doll, carrying it on

their backs as they do their dolls. And finally they dropped it and

broke its neck.

And when Corn came back and found his baby was broken he was angry,

and left his wife, and went east again, and staid there awhile, and

then bethought him of his pets, the blackbirds, which he had left

behind, and came back to his wife again.

But after awhile he again went east, taking his pets with him,

scattering grains of corn so that the blackbirds would follow him.

Corn made this speech while he was in the kee with Tobacco:

In the East there is the Tonedum Vahahkkee, the Vahahkkee of Light,

where lives the great doctor, the king fisher.

And I came to Bives-chool, the king fisher, and asked him for power,

and he heard me asking, and flew up on his kee, and looked toward

the West, and breathed the light four times, and flew and breathed

again four times, and so on--flying four times and breathing after

each flight four times, and then he sat over a place in the ground

that was cut open.

And in the West there was a Bluebird, and when I asked him for power

he flew up on his kee, and breathed four times, and then flew toward

the East, and he and Biveschool met at the middle of the earth.

And Biveschool asked the Bluebird to do some great thing to show his

power, and the Bluebird took the blue grains of corn from his breast

and then planted them, and they grew up into beautiful tall corn, so

tall its tops touched the sky and its leaves bowed over and scratched

the ground in the wind.

And Biveschool took white seeds from his breast, and planted them,

and they came up, and were beautiful to be seen, and came to bear

fruit that lay one after another on the vine--these were pumpkins.

And the beautiful boys ran around among these plants, and learned

to shout and learned to whistle, and the beautiful girls ran around

among these plants and learned to whistle.

And the relatives heard of these good years, and the plenty to eat,

and there came a relative leading her child by the hand, who said:

"We will go right on, for our relatives must have plenty to eat,

and we shall not always suffer with hunger.

So these came, but did not eat it all, but returned.

So my relatives, think of this, that we shall not suffer with hunger


And Corn made another speech at that time to Tobacco's father:

"Doctor! Doctor! have you seen that this earth that you have made

is burning! The mountains are crumbling, and all kinds of trees are

burning down.

And the people over the land which you have made run around, and

have forgotten how to shout, and have forgotten how to walk, since

the ground is so hot and burning.

And the birds which you have made have forgotten how to fly, and have

forgotten how to sing.

And when you found this out you held up the long pinion feathers,

mah-cheev-a-duck, toward the East, and there came the long clouds

one after the other.

And there in those clouds there were low thunderings, and they spread

over the earth, and watered all the plants, and the roots of all the

trees; and everything was different from what it had been.

Every low place and every valley was crooked, but the force of the

waters straightened them out, and there was driftwood on all the

shores: and after it was over every low place and every valley had

foam in its mouth.

And in the mouth stood the Doctor, and took the grains from his

breast, and planted them, and the corn grew and was beautiful. And

he went on further, to another low valley, and planted other seeds,

and the pumpkin grew and was beautiful.

And its vine to the West was black and zigzag in form, and to the

South was blue and zigzag in form, and to the East was white and

zigzag in form, and to the North was yellow and zigzag in form.

So everything came up, and there was plenty to eat, and the people

gathered it up, and the young boys and girls ate and were happy, and

the old men and the old women ate and lengthened even their few days.

So think of this, my relatives, and know that we are not to suffer

with hunger always."

And the Dog-Pumpkin Baby lay there broken, after Corn went away,

but after awhile sank down and went to Gahkotekih, and grew up there,

and became the Harsan or Giant Cactus.

And the mother and grandfather could not find the Dog-Pumpkin Baby,

and called the people together, and Toehahvs was asked to find it,

and he smelled around where it had been, and went around in circles.

And he came to where the Giant Cactus was and thought it was the baby,

but was not sure, and so came back, and told them he could not find it.

And they wanted Nooee to go, and Toehahvs said to Nooee: "I did see

something, but I was not quite sure, but I want you to examine that

Giant Cactus."

So Nooee flew around and around and examined the Giant Cactus and

came back, and when the people questioned him said: "I have found it

and it is already full-grown, and I tell you I think something good

will happen to us because of it."

And when the Cactus had fruit the people gathered it, and made tis-win,

and took the seeds and spread them out in the sun.

And the Badger stole these seeds, and when the people knew it they

sent Toehahvs after the thief.

And Toehahvs went and saw Badger ahead of him in the road, and saw

him go out and around and come into the road again and come toward him.

And when they met, Toehahvs asked him what he had in his hand. And

Badger said "I have something, but I'm not going to show you!"

Then Toehahvs said: "If you'll only just open your hand, so I can see,

I'll be satisfied."

And Badger opened his hand, and Toehahvs hit it a slap from below,

and knocked the seeds all around, and that is why the giant cactus

is now so scattered.


In the Story of Corn and Tobacco we touch the superstitions about rain,

the most desired thing in the desert. The mahkais used tobacco in

their incantations, both for curing sickness and for making rain. It

would appear that the Piman mind confused clouds of smoke and clouds

of vapor, and because tobacco made clouds it was probably supposed

to be potent in begetting rain. The Pimas told me that the Doctor's

Square Stone was used in the incantations for rain, and there appears

to have been a connection in Piman thought between feathers and clouds,

and therefore between feathers and rain, and it will be noticed that

when Geeheesop went to get Tobacco's help in making rain he took

feathers and both kinds of Doctor-stone.

This story seems to profess to give the origin of tobacco, giant

cactus and of tiswin.