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The text given in this book is a full, traditional Pima Indian creation narrative composed of thirty-six distinct stories that begin with the creation of the universe and end with the establishment of present-day villages. Versions of most of these stories have been published before, sometimes in isolation and sometimes as parts of larger texts. This text, in addition to having an interesting version of nearly every known Pima story, is the most complete natively articulated set of such stories to be written to date. They were selected, narrated, intermittently commented on, and translated by two Pimas, Juan Smith and William Allison, over several nights in spring 1935 at Snaketown, a village on the Gila River Indian Reservation in Arizona. Smith spoke in Pima, and Allison provided an English translation with comments. The white archaeologist Julian Hayden took down the English with care to preserve Allison's diction and phrasing.

Snaketown was the site of an ongoing archaeological excavation. The text was given because Hayden was interested in what the Pimas knew about the culture that he and his colleagues were investigating, a culture whose archaeological name, the Hohokam, was borrowed from Pima mythology. The word means "Finished-ones" in Pima, but it was not clear to archaeologists or to white students of modern Pima culture exactly how this old culture had ended and what its relation was to the Pimas who had lived on former Hohokam territory since they were discovered and named "Pima" by the Spaniards around 1550. It was hoped that the Smith-Allison text, taken down at a village built on a Hohokam site, would be of assistance.

In fact, the text was of no more help than others that were already known. It states maddeningly that the Pimas were both the same as and different from the Hohokam:


they were the same because they spoke the same language (there are many songs in the text that are considered to retain Hohokam language verbatim), and they were different because the text says that they conquered and "finished" the other people. The conclusion to draw from this, if both ideas are accepted, is that the Hohokam conquest was internal and fraternal, if not fratricidal, something like a civil war.

Oral History

Unable to affirm or deny the text from the evidence of the excavations and uncertain of what to expect of a text spoken five hundred years after the events in question (it was estimated that the last Hohokam period ended in the 1400s), Hayden filed it away, awaiting the guidance of a specialist in distinguishing between history and myth. I would like to pass that cup to another, and I will do so by presenting and then applying another's ideas. The most stimulating thinker known to me on these matters is Jan Vansina, author of Oral Tradition as History (1985). He takes a strict, straightforward position on the history in oral texts: that which is historical is that which has been preserved intact from an original eyewitness account. Thus, the Smith-Allison text is historical if after five hundred years it preserves the content of a "report" (Vansina 1985: 29–32) uttered soon after the event.

His position is empiricist as it appeals to an original sensory observation, and it is literalist in supposing that words refer straightforwardly to things. He argues, and I agree, that tribal narrators use these standards, which amount to a kind of perfectionism. But neither the narrators nor we can be sure if the standards are met, especially relative to a text that is as long and that reaches as far back as this one and most especially when we know that contradictory versions of these events exist. Thus, the standards imply a perfectionism that is unverifiable in reality, and therefore they imply that most or all oral traditions fall short of their goals. I agree.

I think that this is the position of the Pimas. To continue with Vansina, the typical total system of a tribal people's narratives is divided into three temporal zones, or tiers,


from the most recent to the most ancient: personal accounts, group accounts, and accounts of origin (23). The personal accounts differ from those of the group because they trace to known reporters. The materials of the second sort have diffused generally through the group (a group of villages, a geographic section of a tribe); and while they are considered to be historical in the empirical, literal sense, the wide dissemination of these narratives robs them of an indubitable original observational source. Years are not necessarily counted in either zone, but genealogies and natural events may time them objectively. Both zones' stories may run concurrently, and taken together the two zones commonly go back no farther than seventy-five to one hundred fifty years when they are correlated with European calendars and records.

Then, according to Vansina, comes a "floating gap" that, as he describes it, does not float as a space between discernible points of past time but is floated toward, as one travels back through the relatively confidently held zones of personal and group history. Simply, the past dwindles. "One finds either a hiatus or just a few names, given with some hesitation" (23). Beyond the gap, which is crossed instantaneously, one finds a final zone rich in tales about how the world was created and how the tribe's constituent social groups came into existence. These are what Vansina calls "tales of origin" and many others call "myth."[1]

He avoids the word "myth" for such tales because it implies deliberate invention, intentional fiction, and the making up of new pieces of the past. He believes that myths are rarely created in tribal society. All such peoples at all times have a body of ancient origin accounts that they accept as unverifiable, imperfect, but possibly true. The people are loath to stray from them. Improbable as they are and detached from the present, these stories have a kind of inertia. Thus, people are the most reluctant to change their least verifiable stories. For all that we know, their origin stories may stay constant for centuries. Now, from the archaeological perspective, the Hohokam would have had such stories, because archaeologists believe that the Hohokam civilization lasted a thousand years. However, to the Pimas, at least to Smith and Allison, the Hohokam came to an end


as a people with no ancient memories: they were a young tribe at the time of their destruction. I agree with the archaeologists that the Hohokam must have had their own origin accounts, but as is explained in the next chapter, I do not think we can know them.

I neither relish nor object to using the word "myth" in reference to these good faith, fallible, histories. Now, there are four additional points to be made relative to Vansina's ideas and the Smith-Allison account. First, the conquest comes at the end of the long, multitale text, which is appropriate as this event gives the origin of the present Pima and Papago, or Tohono O'odham,[2] territorial groups. Immediately after the conquest the groups fanned out to their present locations. Thus, the conquest falls near Vansina's floating gap. He would place it on the "origins" side, and I agree. Neither Smith-Allison nor any other known narrator is clear on exactly what became of all of the Hohokam. If they were mostly exterminated, how was this done, and where are the signs image If they were mostly absorbed, which of today's groups accepted them image As I understand Vansina's idea of the second zone, matters as important as these would surely be told if people had confident knowledge of them. Therefore, I conclude that the conquest, while vividly told, is not confidently known in the sense of lending itself to probing questioning.

Second, I am content to say without reviewing the evidence here that the two zones of the Pima and Papago recent past reach back only about one hundred years. In other words, that past stops four hundred years short of the time when, according to the archaeologists, the conquest would have occurred. Thus, the gap is an ocean from our perspective, and the ocean includes the entire long period in which Europe worked its early effects on this people. Because of their remoteness from the centers of Spanish and Mexican power, the period of early effects, that is, the period in which Europe failed to reduce the Pima-Papago to its rule, lasted from the late seventeenth to the mid-nineteenth century. (The Pima-Papago had an exceptionally long period of weak European influence.)

Third and related to the first point, the stories of the con-


quest and all the myths that lead up to it are about individual heroes. Although Vansina does not stress this point, I note that such stories are not what most historians and pre-historians seek. Those scholars accept individuals, but they want generalizations. Thus, archaeologists are not satisfied with one Hohokam pot, they want a representative sample. Furthermore, and again something that Vansina does not stress, I suspect that the "group accounts" zone of oral traditions contains more generalizations than the zone of origins. The far side of Vansina's gap has unique individuals and unprecedented events. The near side has regularized, much more typified and quantified life. This is why I have said that the conquest account falls on the far rather than the near side of the gap. If the account were on the near side, those generalizing questions on the fate of the Hohokam would have been addressed. For their part, the individual characters on the far side are brilliantly, if not fully, drawn, sometimes down to the words they spoke. As is explained later, these words are given in song, that being the form that in Pima opinion is the most resistant to errors in reproduction. It is as if the heroes rose into song when they wanted their words to endure. Now, what Vansina desires of history is observations of events, situations, and tendencies. I take it that the last two pertain to generalization, and I conclude that the zone of myth gives primarily the first, in a highly individualizing and exquisitely limited selectivity: libretti.

A final comment on the floating gap. Because we believe that the Hohokam lived very long ago, we are surprised that the Smith-Allison text ends with their conquest. Actually, the text has a brief section on the immediate aftermath of the conquest, and then it hastens to the present. I believe this is a phenomenon of the gap. A Pima could do as Smith-Allison and start with the beginning, then proceed up to the gap, and then make a final dash to the present. Or one could start from the present and work back to the gap. The two accounts would have almost no events in common. Presumably, the second narrator would say on reaching the end of zone two that sometime before that, he or she does not know how long, there was the Hohokam


conquest. Neither narrator would be disturbed, because neither is aware of anything that happened in four hundred unnarrated years.

That remarkable unawareness serves as the background for the remainder of this introduction. Immediately below I consider in somewhat greater detail how well archaeology and the Pimas agree on the Hohokam era. Following that is a discussion of the particulars of the telling and recording of the text in 1935 and a discussion of overt and possible covert Christian influence on the text and the possibility that a text such as this one could stand as the scriptural base of a Bible-acknowledging native Pima church. Finally, there are discussions of the text as literature in the Vansinian sense of remembered narrative and of technical matters of editing.

The Two Hohokams

Archaeology and the Pimas agree that at the end of their era the Hohokam enclosed some parts of their settlements with clay walls and that some of the walled areas contained multistory clay buildings. The first Spanish explorers found these structures in ruins. They called them "great houses" (casas grandes ), a term that archaeologists retain. Since the nineteenth century and perhaps since the conquest, the Pimas have called these buildings wa:paki , an etymologically untransparent word that I translate as "great-house."

The Smith-Allison text on the Hohokam conquest is a story of battles at successive great-houses. Since the narrated battle places correspond to archaeologically known great-houses (I will use the hyphenated spelling for both the archaeologists' and the Pimas' usages), one may think that the narrative is an accurate memory.

There is reason to doubt this, and doubt is all that I recommend. When we come to the conquest portion of the Smith-Allison text, we will review all the known versions of this war. We will see that there are only two accounts of a long, drawn-out march through archaeological places, that of Smith-Allison and that of another Pima, Thin Leather, whose mythology was well recorded shortly after the turn of the twentieth century.[3] There are, however, several accounts that present a specific earthly conflict with


cosmic overtones, rather than a grand territorial sweep. These other versions seem no less plausible as origin stories than the grand territorial ones. The cosmic overtones are present in both sorts of texts. One can equally believe that the grand territorial, archaeologically interesting texts are latter-day enlargements in a spirit of militarism or that the others are forgetful.

The balance tips toward the latter-day enlargement theory when a pair of older Pima texts is considered, one from 1694 and the other from 1775. Here there is a single great-house, as if there were just one, and there is no conquest whatever. These texts are discussed in a prelude to the Smith-Allison text.

Briefly, to understand the differences between the older and both sorts of the more recent mythologies, one must leave aside the archaeologically detectable great-houses and take up the chiefly persons who the Pimas say lived in them; and one must ask why and by whom those chiefs were or were not attacked. The key is the absence in the older texts of the idea, present in all the later texts, that the Hohokam were conquered because they had killed the god who made them. The god returned to life, journeyed to the underworld, and summoned the Pima-Papago, or a portion of them, to avenge his death.

Those matters will be explored as we proceed story by story through the Smith-Allison mythology, annotating it and supplementing it with other stories from the Pima-Papago. The exploration will not preclude the possibility of an actual past place-by-place conquest of Pima-Papago by Pima-Papago. But the exploration will diminish our text's standing as reliable history while letting it shine as theology and as passionate, historically conscious literature, in other words, as myth. As for my own opinion on what could have happened in Hohokam history, I repeat that all the stories or myths on this subject should be taken as good faith histories, that is, as stories that were offered by their tellers as true. Each myth might, could, and should be true as far as its teller was concerned; and thus I assume that no story was ever intentionally falsified, neither in tellings to Indians nor in transmission to a white recorder.[4]

Now, without going into detail, I say that all the stories


on the Hohokam cannot be true. They are a collection of alternative and more or less contradictory good faith histories. Finally, I note that the stories have events that I find difficult to believe, such as the god's resurrection and the ascent of the Pima-Papago from the underworld. Of course, my own Christian white people have stories that are equally difficult to believe. All accounts of mystical or supernatural things are of that nature.[5]

I do not suppose that the mystical parts of the stories will ever be proved. All our efforts at proof will concern nonmystical matters such as whether some or all of the Hohokam could have spoken a fifteenth-century form of Pima-Papago, whether all the Hohokam great-houses were destroyed or abandoned within a short period, and whether the Hohokam were more numerous, politically more centralized, and socially more stratified (with inherited differences in wealth) than the Pima-Papago of 1600 or 1900.

Simply, I cannot answer most of these questions, but I think that progress can be made toward that goal. Let me now propose a bit of an answer. As will be seen below, archaeologists believe that the great-houses only existed during the final period of a long, thousand-year, Hohokam history. Pima-Papago mythologies differ from accepted archaeological thought in that they do not grant a long temporal existence to the Hohokam. But mythology and archaeology might come together on one point, that the great-house time was troubled by warfare, specifically, that the walls around residential compounds and the large mud buildings such as Casa Grande (see below) were built for defense. I believe that archaeologists would agree that these structures would serve for defense, but it would be a further step for them to argue that the structures would not have been built except for defense. Relevant considerations would be whether the pre-great-house Hohokam had the ability to make such constructions but did not do so because the defense motive was lacking and whether some nondefense motive (storage, residential, religious) would justify the late architecture. I am not sure that these questions can be answered decisively, and I admit that they


leave out the question of defense against whom (other great-house communities image mountain-based raiders image), but I offer them as thoughts on the nonmystical conciliation of Pima-Papago mythology and archaeology. Needless to say, they are offered because I believe the mythologies could have a base, if not their sole basis, in nonmystical local fifteenth-century fact.

Such are my proposals relative to the Hohokam problem. Let us now briefly review the history of Hohokam archaeology, up to, including, and after the Snaketown excavations. This review is in no sense a methodological or technical summary of that archaeology, which has now been augmented by thousands of dedicated workers. I simply wish to give the uninitiated reader a sketch of the field.

Snaketown was the third systematic excavation into the Hohokam. The first was in 1886–1888 under the leadership of Frank H. Cushing, famed for his study of Zuni religion. The second, in 1906–07 and 1907–08, was led by J. W. Fewkes, a veteran of Hopi studies. The first excavation produced extensive materials but no clear ideas on the origin, duration, and fate of the Hohokam. Archaeology's great dating technique, the stratigraphic removal of materials, was not employed. The second expedition did not use that technique either, and after twenty years of progress since Cushing in Southwest archaeological survey, in studying Spanish documents, and in collecting Pima mythologies, Fewkes found himself in agreement with the Pimas in their maddening, not necessarily true, picture of the end of the Hohokam. He believed that the Hohokam stopped making large, mud-walled great-houses and mud house compounds, that they abandoned the dozen-odd[6] great-house settlements in which they had lived, and that they emigrated north and south, to Mexico and northern Arizona. Some also stayed where they were. Those who stayed became the Pima-Papago (Fewkes 1912: 152, 153–54).

Both the Cushing and Fewkes excavations concentrated on great-houses, Cushing at a location called Los Muertos (The Dead) in today's Tempe, Arizona, and Fewkes at Casa Grande (Great House) near today's town of Coolidge. These were indeed impressive ruins, with walls as thick as


seven feet surrounding their constituent subunits or compounds and with some individual buildings as large as forty by sixty feet at the base and as tall as three stories (25 ft.).

By the time of the Snaketown excavations and evermore after those diggings, the great-houses were understood as the final flourishes of a long-standing and much more modest mode of Hohokam village life. This mode started around A.D. 1 and went through four periods ("Pioneer," "Colonial," "Sedentary," and "Classic"), each with from one to four distinct subphases.[7] The modest life was housed in freestanding, single-room, brush-walled, dirt-roofed buildings, which were much like (not identical with) those of the historic Pimas. Lacking were the football field-sized, house-aggregating compounds, and lacking too were the multistory prominences with which the terminal Hohokam graced some but not all of their compounds. Present, however, almost from the start, were open, oval-shaped, mound-surrounded, flat-floored "ball courts" and long irrigation canals. Those public features were also present in the great-house period. Thus, Snaketown, which generally lacked Classic period remains, had ball courts and canals but lacked great-houses (Haury 1976: 351–357).

The Snaketown excavators concluded that the final period great-house constructors left suddenly, which was also Fewkes's opinion. But the Snaketown archaeologists also believed that the great-house people, or practice, had entered and commenced suddenly. They traced the practice to a core area to the north and east of the Hohokam, called the Salado. Possibly, then, the great-houses were Salado colonies. (No Pima-Papago mythology has said this.) Finally, the Snaketown excavators, like Fewkes, felt the Pimas were probably descended from the Hohokam, specifically, from the majority of the Hohokam who had lived in free-standing houses.

The principal archaeological interpreters of Snaketown were Harold Gladwin and Emil Haury. There has been considerable work on the Hohokam since 1935, including an important return excavation of Snaketown by Haury in 1964–65 (published 1976); and many other archaeologists, including Hayden, who wrote the Smith-Allison mythol-


ogy, have contributed findings and interpretations on the origin, duration, and end, or historic persistence, of the Hohokam. My impression is that the sequence of periods and phases established by Gladwin and Haury is still considered valid and that their idea of a long in situ development and a short great-house intrusion is still taken as most probable.[8]

The Text

We turn now to the text—let us call it mythology—that was recorded from Smith and Allison at Snaketown. Fully three-fourths of it deals with the Hohokam, either as stories of what happened to them before the conquest or stories of their extensive and merciless defeat. This is why I call the work as a whole "The Hohokam Chronicles." The narrative is in the third person, of course, but the common thread of character between these portions is the figure of Siuuhu (better but less attractively spelled S-e'ehe and meaning 'Elder-brother'), the above-mentioned murdered and revived god. Before these chronicles begin, there is a section on the creation of the earth and the first humans, who were not the Hohokam but perhaps were the ancestors of the Pima-Papago.[9] This era was ended by a flood that the ancestral Pima-Papago escaped by entering the underworld. The Hohokam were created after the floodwater subsided. Appended to the last section of the Hohokam chronicles is a very brief section on Apache wars. Europeans are barely mentioned. Their origin is given along with that of the Africans in a story set in Hohokam times; but characteristic of most Native American mythologies, I think, there is no narrative of white-Indian relations. It is as if the story stopped on the eve of the European coming, a moment that was very long ago, about 450 years in the case of the Pimas. Years are not counted in the mythology, and so we have no idea how long its events would take in years. My impression is that the time would be amazingly short, perhaps just a few generations or even only a few years, since a youthful or middle-aged Siuuhu is present throughout the chronicles and in much of the section leading up to them. When Siuuhu drops out, the post-


Hohokam, Apache-dominated, and, in effect, post-European past begins. Only then does the text give the impression of a fleeting but long passage of years.

Hayden sensibly let Allison supply the register, diction, and cadence of the translation. These things he did not change, and the translation is both readable and authentic.[10] A Presbyterian deacon, Allison was a language conscious and no doubt also socially conscious man. I imagine that he thought of his English as plain. In any case, I think so, because of his preference for simple expressions and what I will call an oral, singsong cadence. Concerning this latter, note the difference between the well-known cadence that Longfellow used for his Indianist poem, The Song of Hiawatha , and what seems to be the basic cadence of Allison's translation. Longfellow made his lines eight syllables long, with accents on the first, third, fifth, and seventh syllables ("THAT was HOW he MADE his POem"). The basic unit is the paired syllable, with the accent on the first of the pair. Allison did not recite his translation in lines, but he did, I think, opt for a paired syllable beat the opposite of Longfellow's, with the accent on the second syllable of the pair ("and SO he MADE it SOUND like THIS"). These are both singsong Englishes and, both are oral in that sense, but if I am correct, they are technically oppositely so. Neither is the better. I must add that Allison's cadence is not rigorously and exclusively as I have just sketched it. His speech is prose, not verse. Furthermore, not only might Hayden have moved it slightly in that direction in recording it (although he certainly did not do so deliberately) but I moved it so in instances while smoothing or shortening Hayden's rendition. Thus, the version given here is not authentic Allison, that is, not as authentic as a text made from a tape of his own voice. This could not be done in 1935. For an example of fine work of this nature, see Anthony Mattina and M. DeSautel's The Golden Woman (1985), a "red English" translation of a long Colville Indian story.

Here in a letter to me of September 1991 is Hayden's recollection of the making of the creation narrative text.

You ask for the background of my recording of the Pima Creation Myth. I'll do the best I can, based on


my recollections, and am checking with Emil Haury for some further details or correction of mine, as he may recall. Herewith my present remembrance:

As part of a planned extensive study of the Hohokam remains of Southern Arizona, Gila Pueblo, a privately endowed research institution of Globe, Arizona, had commenced study and excavation of a very large prehistoric Hohokam site on the north terrace of the Gila River roughly south of Chandler, Arizona. There were a number of large rubbish mounds at the site, evidences of canals, and ball courts—and many rattle-snakes. In fact, the site, and the Pima village near it, was known as Snaketown. So, in the fall of 1934, a tent camp was set up at the site, and a crew of archaeologists was employed, with a number of Pima Indians from the neighborhood as laborers. My father and I, both experienced Hohokam fieldworkers, were part of the crew, which was directed by Emil Haury.

There was, of course, much interest among us all in the Pima stories about the prehistoric folk, and when a four-night telling of the Creation myth was planned by the villagers, some of us attended briefly the first night's telling. Juan Vavages of Salt River, I believe, was the narrator. He was a longhair (conservative), lived in a round house in the old way. His version was said to be the Maricopa version, since his wife was Maricopa. Bits of the tale were translated for our benefit, and we heard several of the songs, and we left.

Later we heard of Juan Smith who was reputed to be the last Pima with extensive knowledge of the Pima version of the Creation story. By pure chance, perhaps, I'd been interested in folklore since a small boy, brought up on the Journal of American Folklore in my father's library, and I was familiar with the disappearance of oral histories, legends, etc., through time. I also had the rather heretical belief that there might be a grain of truth in many origin tales. So, hoping to preserve the myth from loss upon Juan's death, I initiated an effort to record it. I suggested to my Pima friends, who were as interested as I, that Juan be persuaded to tell the tale through an interpreter while I transcribed it


verbatim through as many nights as it might take to tell. William Allison Smith, foreman of the digging crew, volunteered to serve as interpreter, being also interested. He was literate, spoke good English, and was a deacon in the Presbyterian church of the Snaketown area. This latter has an effect on his translation, of course, since he turned to familiar biblical language, King James version, when faced with problems of interpretation, such as obsolete or forgotten words.

Juan agreed to save time by singing the songs once instead of the traditional four times; he hesitated on this count because diverging from the tradition might bring harm to us or to him, but he relented.

I have noted that on the first night of the telling, my father attended with me, and Barney Jackson, a young Pima of the crew, interested in the old ways, came also and helped Juan in the singing. My father also transcribed the first telling, as did I, and I have his manuscript notes, along with the date, March 8, 1935. I will enclose a Xerox copy of them for you. He did not attend further meetings, nor did anyone else, except for one night when I had to be absent, and a friend came and took notes.

It seems that perhaps after an interval of time, we resumed the tellings, especially after the digging season had ended and the other archaeologists had left, and I remained to backfill the trenches, close and dismantle the camp, etc. After that I lived in Chandler (nearest off-reservation town to Snaketown) with the job [dig] cartographer Fisher Motz, who was staying on to finish some mapping, notes, etc. I commuted then from Chandler to the house where we met for the telling. This was an old storehouse belonging to Louis Quisto, as I recall, adobe, roofed with mesquite logs and adobe, holes in walls patched with old baskets, and a large wagon wheel propped up against the wall beside Juan, where one night I photographed him by Coleman lantern light most successfully (see frontispiece). And, although this has no bearing on your interest, the long hours had their effect. I went to sleep


returning to Chandler very late one night, in my Model T stripped-down pickup, ran off the road, and woke just in time to veer away from a line of heavy fence posts. At any rate, we worked very hard each night, Juan patiently waiting the interpretation, I writing furiously, taking down every word longhand, literally verbatim, since I had no shorthand. My transliteration of Pima words was purely phonetic, since I had no linguistics. The two Smiths worked together to present the correct meanings, as best could be.

I typed the manuscript as time permitted, but it was not complete in final typed form until some months had passed, probably after I had begun work at Pueblo Grande [archaeology site and museum in Phoenix] in January of 1936. I eventually took a carbon copy to Juan Smith, or left it with his representative at Bapchule [a village near Snaketown], and gave one to Wm Smith [Allison] also, keeping the original for myself. I have not seen either man since.

You asked if I edited the manuscript when I typed it. No, I did not. I typed up the script with very little change, as was my custom, being a competent recorder. I did not show it at any time to either Smith, due to circumstances beyond our control. I did not preserve the handwritten pages either, but I can vouch for the accuracy of the taking down and typing.

Allison[11] died in 1948, and Smith was lost track of by Allison's relatives (his daughter, Lenora Webb, and his brother, Harvey Allison) and others (principally, Simon Lewis, born in Snaketown and a retired Presbyterian minister) with whom I discussed the manuscript beginning in fall 1991. They recalled Smith as a man with no home of his own, who worked for other families in exchange for food and lodging. At the time of this narrative he was staying with Allison's in-laws at Snaketown. No one that I talked with remembered the last time they had seen him, meaning, it seems, that he passed inconspicuously out of the Snaketown orbit. All agree that he was very well versed in old Pima ways, but it could not be said that he was the only


person with such knowledge in 1935. It seems that he knew and liked Allison and must have liked Hayden, and he was willing to apply himself to the narrating job on that basis.

Finally, on the subject of Smith, I must say in contradiction or supplement to Hayden that the biblical qualities of the text are not entirely from Allison but come also from Smith in this respect, that Smith provided the narrative of myth events and those events are sometimes quite biblical, not so much in repeating stories of the Bible but in drawing orientation from such stories and more broadly in drawing on the ideas and attitudes of the rural Protestant American West. Allison was surely inclined to preach along those same lines in his short commentaries about the mythic narrative. (Those commentaries are included in the document and are set off from the ongoing mythic narrative.) But from what Hayden says about how the text was produced, that it was translated segment by segment, I conclude that Allison had little influence over the actual myth content. Any editorial change that Allison might have wanted to make in one segment would have come back to haunt him in the next. Thus, the mythic narrative, as opposed to the commentary, must be attributed to Smith. It follows that Smith was not innocent of America. I greatly wish that we knew more about him. It is said that he had a bicycle for transportation, was nicknamed Skunk, and was more a vagabond than a holy man.


The historical shift between the two types of account, from the earlier versions of 1694 and 1775 with no conquest to the later post-1875 versions with a conquest, amounts to a shift toward Christianity, as if the biblical Jesus were the stimulus for the idea of a murdered and revived man-god. In fact, such figures are known from elsewhere in native North America, especially among the Yuman tribes to the west of the Pima-Papago and in the Midwest. They are not common, however, and the Pima-Papago version is unique in having the god's killers be his own creation who reach a collective decision to execute him. Among the Yumans the killing is done by a daughter in secret using sorcery, and in the Midwest it is by foreign but Indian enemies.


We cannot and should not say that the dying god motif, as this element is called, required European stimulation, nor can we guess what Pima-Papago mythology would be like today without Europe. In general, we can learn considerable about the elements of New World mythologies prior to Europe, for there are elements that are widely shared in the New World and, in some cases, scarce in the Old. John Bierhorst's three books (1985, 1988, 1990) on North American, Mexican and Central American, and South American mythologies and Stith Thompson's The Folktale (1946) are excellent sources on these matters.[12] They positively establish both native, non-European-influenced myth elements and generic myth types. Such compilations show what North Americans worked with, analogous to the palette of a painter, but not what native North American mythologists made, analogous to paintings. They made historical portraits of themselves, which, like their societies, were adjusting, changing, and particular; and in general, we only receive good clear versions of these portrait histories after some centuries of European contact.

Now, if the Pima-Papago made increasingly Bible-like historical portraits, starting at least as far back as 1775 (their instruction in Christianity began in 1694), there are three important things to say about the extent of the similarity. First, of course, the result was not the Bible. Second, the Pima-Papago did not seek personal salvation in the figure of their murdered, or executed, man-god. And third, as already mentioned, they did approximate the Bible in stopping the heart of their story with the departure of the mangod, with the result that one learns as little of European doings from them as one does from the Bible.

I will enlarge on the second point now and take up the first and third points a bit later, relative to another Americanist text. There is a class of actions that I call "sacraments," meaning "ministrations to the soul." Every religious tradition has them. Those of Christianity are largely derived from the biblical narrative of Jesus, and this is especially true of Protestant Christianity, which tended to limit its sacraments to just two (baptism and communion) of the Catholic seven. The limit was imposed partly because those two were the only ones directly attributable to


Jesus. If the Reformation was largely fought over sacraments, then Protestant Christians have a deliberately narrowed sacramental life. They permit few direct human ministrations on human souls, and they put great faith instead on prayer and faith and on righteous but not formally sacramental individual conduct.

The Pima-Papago have always had native sacraments, the most prominent of which are for the cure of sickness by sucking, blowing, and singing. (See D. Bahr et al., Piman Shamanism [1974], on this.) Unlike the Christian sacraments, these native ones are not derived from the narrated life of the murdered man-god. Thus, according to the Smith-Allison mythology (story 3), the man-god Siuuhu directed that such cures be done, but he did not undergo them himself. Furthermore, this god's death and resurrection are not mentioned in any Pima-Papago ritual or ceremony—with one exception. This is the purification of successful warriors, that is, of enemy killers. It is a sacrament. Among other things, the warriors have water poured over them, and the whole is clearly a ministration to their souls. Siuuhu the murdered man-god is just one of several mythic characters whose deaths and revivals, or near -deaths and revivals, are recalled in war ceremonies and speeches. As we will see, Siuuhu receives this treatment twice. His first war sacrament is performed by an old woman after he has killed an eagle that has menaced the otherwise flourishing Hohokam (story 10). The second is done by a man-god in the underworld after he has recovered from the Hohokams' attempt to kill him (story 13). This sacramental legacy differs from that derived from Jesus in two respects: (1) it is narrower, being limited to war and reserved for killers, and (2) these war sacraments are not traced uniquely to Siuuhu.

I close this discussion of Christianity with some thoughts on native and non-Indian American churches. By "church" I mean "organized religion," more concretely, "a body of sacred texts, a body of sacraments, and a body of believers in and users of both." Surely most churches in America are Christian, and America began as a Protestant Christian nation, a "righteous empire" as the historian Martin Marty (1970) called this concept of nation. The Smith-Allison text may harmonize better with that con-


cept of America than any other Native American mythology yet published. Therefore, some readers may doubt the text's value to Indians. I doubted this when I first learned of the text from Hayden. As a white Indianist, I preferred my Indian materials to be non-Christian, or if Christian, at least not Protestant (my family's religion), or if Protestant, then not preacherly.

Now having matured and studied the text, I see it as an attempt, albeit limited and without the author's fully intending it, to establish a native Pima church. The church would have a scriptural base in this text. But since at least one of the authors (Allison) cherished the Bible, their native mythological scripture would function for them approximately as the Book of Mormon functions for Mormons, as a supplemental scripture, one that covers the New World in approximately the same spirit as the Bible covers the Old.

This much is true. The Book of Mormon and this text are both largely set in America. Notwithstanding that geographic overlap, however, the Book of Mormon and the Pima text have three important differences. First, the Mormon book is a supplement to and a conscious improvement on the Bible in a way that the Pima text is not. The clearest way to see this is by noting that the main burden of the Book of Mormon is to derive the American (New World) Indians from Israel. Most or all New World peoples are said or implied to descend from two brothers who sailed in a small party from a port near Israel around 400 B.C. Of these descendants, the group of greatest interest is said to have been extinguished around A.D. 600. The Book of Mormon is said to be largely a translation of writings made by these people and revealed to the young Joseph Smith in 1823.

The Smith-Allison text makes an equivalent claim, that the whites originated in today's Pima (then Hohokam) territory (story 10). But the Smith-Allison text does not provide the whites with a history, as it could not, I think, if Smith and Allison accepted the Bible. In short, the Book of Mormon, whose complexity is only touched on above, gives a massive accounting of ancient America, while the Smith-Allison text gives only a few sentences on Europe, or the Old World. Moreover, the massive Mormon accounting is constantly keyed to and relentlessly corrective of the


Old and New testaments of the Bible. The Israelite emigrants are led by a hitherto undocumented prophet. After the resurrection, Christ visited the New World peoples. God revealed and clarified himself more frequently in the New World than in the Old. This is why, according to its adherents, the Book of Mormon demands reading. It improves on the Bible by expanding it.

Not so with the Smith-Allison text. It mentions God but keeps him in heaven, out of the Hohokam consciousness. It omits Jesus. The text has several gods (Siuuhu is one) in the sense of persons who create and destroy things (the latter being monsters) for humanity's benefit. Gods in this sense are lacking in the Bible and the Book of Mormon, while such gods' relations with humanity are at the core of the Smith-Allison text. I assume that Smith and Allison felt that one's belief in these gods would violate the First Commandment, except for two mitigations. First, in general, the gods do not try to direct human history (they willingly create and destroy for people, but they show little long-term interest in human destiny, at least not on my reading),[13] and second, they do not require worship. If one interprets the First Commandment as strictly against the worship of gods other than God, then the Smith-Allison text and all other Pima-Papago mythologies known to me meet that commandment.[14]

It may not be true that a tribal people such as the Pimas could not both accept the Bible and supply the whites with a history. I assume that tribal peoples including the Pimas considered the Bible to be a history of whites (not necessarily of Europeans but of whites, even the whites) and that they were unwilling to Indianize, or New World-ize, that history analogous to how the Mormons Israelized the Indians' history.[15] My reasoning on this is simple: whoever accepts a history should not change it. Indians accepted Europe's history of itself; Mormons did not accept Indians' histories of themselves.

Second is a difference that may be more apparent than real. The Book of Mormon was revealed to Joseph Smith in written form (written in "reformed hieroglyphs" on gold plates), while the Smith-Allison text is oral. Historians would agree that Israel had writing at the time the Mor-


mons believe Israelites populated the New World. The Mormons hold that these literate immigrants were scrupulous keepers of history. Therefore, what was revealed to Joseph Smith was not mere oral history but contemporary documentation. I say that this difference is more apparent than real for two reasons. First, the Pima-Papago claim to have well-preserved eyewitness testimony in their songs. Second, Smith had to translate the hieroglyphs into English. Without taking away from the majesty of his reading (the plates were secluded once the reading was finished), I feel a similarity, or an equivalent spontaneity, between Smith's reading such a story for the first time from the plates and a Pima narrator's remembering a long story. If one disbelieves in the plates, then Smith created a gigantic work of prose myth from memory. If one believes in them, one feels the same awe as on hearing a Pima speak long prose stories from memory.

There is a third and final point to make on the Book of Mormon and the Smith-Allison text. The Book of Mormon is not the only founding document of that religion. There are two more, Doctrine and Covenants and The Pearl of Great Price . The first consists of revelations received by Smith concerning the establishment, governance, and codification of the church he was to found (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), and the second is a selection of Smith's writings, namely, portions of his uncompleted revised English translation of the Bible, a partial autobiography, and a brief early statement on church articles of faith (Jackson 1985: 74–79).[16] Those two works remind us that it takes more than scripture or origin accounts to make a church.

Surely not all churches, still less all religions, must be organized as explicitly as the Doctrine and Covenants organizes the Mormons. Noting that churches are collective and communal, however, let us say that they must have some shared sense of how they came into existence (possibly an account of world origins, possibly something more modest) and that they must have a body of sacraments. What they need not have is centralization and its correlate, officially authorized codification.

I now wish to contrast three contemporary Native


American formations on those aspects of churchness. The three are the Smith-Allison mythology as representative of native North American tribal mythologies in general; the centralized, officially codified constitutional governments now in effect among most tribes; and the Native American ("Peyote") church. In the background will be what I term "established" U.S. churches, such as the Mormons, Methodists, Presbyterians, and Catholics. The established churches share one trait uniquely with the Native American church and not with any tribal mythology or centralized tribal government. This is that the churches are incorporated as nonprofit corporations in one of the several United States.[17]

Now, the Smith-Allison text implies a church insofar as it enjoins sacraments; and this implied church thrives insofar as those sacraments are successfully ministered to present peoples' souls. In fact, the mythologically enjoined sacraments were ministered somewhat successfully to Pima-Papago souls in the 1930s (more to Papagos than Pimas), but this is much less true today. Not only is the war rite partially derived from Siuuhu now obsolete (it was virtually obsolete by the 1930s, being upheld only in mock battles against "straw" enemies; Underhill et al. 1979: 89–139) but the sacraments of the established U.S. churches along with folk versions of the same now have a strong hold on nearly everyone (Bahr 1988a ). The one native sacramental tradition that remains strong is the medicine men's curing, the origin of which is given in story 3; but these cures are themselves shifting from old-fashioned subjects such as wild animals to more modern subjects such as God and the Devil (Bahr 1988b ).

Every native tribe is densely served by missions and congregations of the established churches. The number of churches per thousand residents on Indian land is probably greater than the number per thousand anywhere else in America. Each of these reservation churches has some members who shun native sacraments. For this reason if for no other, no tribal government could easily establish its traditional mythology and sacraments as an official church. Another inhibition is the U.S. Bill of Rights, which forbids the establishment of one religion. Perhaps that law applies


also to tribes, or at least to tribespeople. In any case, to my knowledge no tribe had the tradition of privileging one mythology and set of sacraments against all others, and none has recently acted to do so.

Tribes do increasingly officially involve themselves in religion or religiouslike matters. They pass resolutions and send delegations to bless and protect sacred sites within and outside their reservation boundaries, and they may require instruction in their past, uncentralized, churchlike traditions as a condition for employment. In these respects they function as attenuated state churches: attenuated in their ministry to souls but statist. One senses this statism when one considers why tribes do not file for corporate status under the laws of any of the fifty United States. Tribes are too sovereign to do this. Conversely, the established U.S. religions that do this (I believe that they all do) are less sovereign than tribes.

Finally, the Native American church is precisely an established U.S. church (incorporated in various states) and not a tribe. Its members are almost entirely Indian, but most of these members belong to a sovereign tribe with an uncentralized churchlike mythology and body of sacraments. The myths and sacraments of those tribe-churches are other than the myths and sacraments of the Native American church. Although decentralized, the offices and liturgy of this church are exceptionally well codified (see the Appendix in Omer Stewart's The Peyote Religion [1987] for an equivalent of the Mormons' Doctrine and Covenants , the Church Canons of 1948 for the Native American church). The central sacrament is the nightlong Peyote Meeting in which the cactus is eaten, analogous to the Christian communion. Interestingly, the church lacks a mythology equivalent to that of Smith-Allison. There is a generally shared origin story of the peyote sacrament itself. Briefly, a young woman grieved for the loss of her brother in warfare. She went in search of him, found him in resurrected form (such that he could not rejoin the living), and received the sacrament (peyote) from him along with instructions on its use in groups, in other words, instructions on how to form the ritual aspect of the church (Stewart 1987: 36). This is not a long, primordial set of origins as in Smith-Allison, nor is it


a Bible-like history as in the Book of Mormon, except in this sense. Stewart's excellent book is based on his own eyewitness accounts and the personal testimony of hundreds of peyote leaders. It approximates what the Mormons believe they have in their accounts from the ancient Israelite migrants, the travails of a band of seekers.

I have made this brief survey to indicate what the Smith-Allison mythology is and is not. I believe it is very much a part of a religion and a church—traditional Pima-Papago religion—and this makes it more than a recollection of the Hohokam or a free play of the imagination. It is not a full religion because its sacraments have wavered and withered as its people have drifted to or were conscripted by other religions (including the Native American church, but still only slightly among Pimas) and because it honors the First Commandment: it honors and builds its house of myth within.[18]

Pima-Papago Literature

This people's traditional literature is oral. Therefore, if its pieces are to be kept fixed, so they can be contemplated, they must be kept fixed in memory. I think the essence of literature is contemplation; thus, whatever cannot be fixed, cannot be a literature. Another way of saying this is that literature is thoughts formed in language and kept fixed for reflection.

Note that this concept of literature conforms with Vansina's concept of history, but it is more general. I hold that all literature implies contemplation, therefore fixity. But not all literature is history. Histories are fixed (but not unchangeable) texts that presumably stem from firsthand observations. Obviously, a people could elect to fix and preserve "made-up," nonobservational texts. My impression is that Pima-Papagos consider all their literature (their fixed texts) to be history and none of it to be fiction, and I suspect that this is true of tribal peoples generally. My impression of the Pima-Papago unanimity toward history is based on their always saying, "We think this story really happened," and never the opposite.

There are three levels of fixing, with associated text lengths, in Pima-Papago and perhaps all memory-based lit-


erature. First, there are very short texts that are fixed at the level of each individual sound. Then come medium-length texts, fixed at the level of the phrase or short verbal "formula." Finally are long texts that are fixed at the level of the episode. These last are paraphrased each time they are told. The same episodes are told, but the exact wording of the episodes may be—probably is—different on each telling. The middle level of memorizing largely precludes the spontaneity and indeterminacy of paraphrasing, and the extreme level precludes paraphrasing completely.

Among the Pima-Papago, the texts of the three levels, from tightest to loosest, are properly called songs, chants (or orations or prayers), and prose (oral prose). The Pima-Papago names, all nouns, are ñe 'i , 'song'; ñiokculida or hambto ñiok , 'talk-for-it' or 'rumbling [I believe] talk'; and a:ga or a:gida , 'telling'. Interestingly, the full and proper performance of a text such as the Smith-Allison, which I call a "mythology" (ho 'ok a:ga , 'witch telling', in Pima-Papago), includes all three levels of text. The performance is primarily in prose, in which the narrator paraphrases his own or his teacher's last telling. But distributed through the prose are shorter more rigorously memorized texts, ideally both orations (actually absent from the Smith-Allison text) and songs (abundantly present).

It can now be seen why the songs and war orations of the Hohokam chronicles are considered as proof that the Hohokam spoke Pima. Such texts are believed to have been retained basically unchanged since they were first spoken by a Hohokam. No one is sure of this, but it is supposed to be true. It is the prose, which is the great bulk of the text, that is considered to be unreliable, that is, merely conscientiously paraphrased from one telling to the next.

I stress the Pima-Papago concern for accuracy in retelling, but one might think that I merely imagine this. My response is that we who write have great retelling accuracy at our fingertips, if only we can read our own writing. I agree with Vansina that Pima-Papago and the rest of the oral cultures wish for such accuracy. They have worked within these three levels of text to attain it, always trading off length of text against reliability of reproduction. It seems that only people who valued contemplation would


undertake such a task, or rather, would involve themselves in maintaining a tribe's stock of texts. Interestingly, the one personal comment from Smith in the text, which comment seems illogical at first, addresses itself to exactly this point. He says in effect (this is how part 1 starts), "We contemplate faces in order to know things, which reminds me that I don't have these stories perfectly learned, therefore not ready to face you."


Hayden's typescript, entitled "Pima Creation Myth," has no internal subdivisions. I have divided it into thirty-six stories and have provided the stories with titles. Hayden followed the precedent of Frank Russell (1908: 206–230), who published an equivalent Pima text from the narrator Thin Leather under the title "Pima Creation Myth" and without subdivisions. I made the divisions for three reasons. First, the stories are commonly told separately, and several collections have been published in this subdivided format (e.g., by Fewkes [1912] and Lloyd [1911] from Thin Leather and by Densmore [1929], Wright [1929], and Saxton and Saxton [1973] from various Papago narrators). Second, the undivided format is difficult to read. One senses that stories are starting and finishing, and one wishes for printed guidance and confirmation on this. Third, the actual live Snaketown telling certainly had breaks, in fact, on two levels. There were breaks when Smith stopped speaking Pima so that Allison could translate, and there were breaks between story-telling sessions. These breaks were not marked in the typescript, and, as Hayden wrote in his letter, the notebook that may have shown them is gone.

My story divisions must fall between the small segments-for-translation, which would approximate episodes, and the large session divisions, which would approximate "parts." Of the three levels, that of the story is probably the most useful to the reader, and it is a level that narrators and listeners use ("Tell me the story about X"). Still, my divisions are arbitrary, and it is sometimes difficult to see where one story stops and the next begins. Without going into detail, I will say that it would have been possible to divide the text into somewhat fewer than these thirty-


six stories but more difficult to establish a larger number of story divisions. Thus, the thirty-six represent a maximum segmentation into whole, self-standing stories.

I have also grouped the stories into larger divisions called parts, to which I have given titles. This grouping is entirely my own. It is meant to highlight the main narrative chunks of the mythology, partly as a means for comparing this mythology with others and partly as an editorial device, that is, a means to divide the text for the placement of introductory essays (at the beginnings of parts) and supplementary myth texts (at the ends).

The story and part titles are arbitrary in that other titles might have been given. Those that are used were chosen in the interest of brevity and description. Although they could all be said in Pima, I imagine that some of the titles would seem blunt to some Pimas, for example, "Destruction Through Sex." Still, that title describes an undoubted theme of the story, and I would say it is the main theme. Further, I defend the occasional bluntness on the precedent of Allison's commentaries. As a preacher, he was sensitive to moral matters, and I let that sensitivity guide the titling. Last, the titles are meant to win the reader's interest.

Concerning changes in the wording of Hayden's typescript, I made conservative changes in the prose for the sake of brevity, clarity, and sometimes for cadence; the songs were not changed. The prose was changed in the awareness, first, that oral prose is always only a paraphrase of itself (see above), and second, that Hayden had been unable to edit the English with Allison. Having some familiarity with how Pimas speak and write English and some writing tastes of my own, I tried to arbitrate between what the manuscript actually said and what I imagined Allison might have said had he polished the text for publication as plain-speaking American Indian English. This arbitration gave weight to the actual manuscript, so changes were not made simply because they seemed possible.

I wish the song renditions could have been changed, because I am sure that they are poor summaries of the original Pima-language poems. (Each Pima song is a poem; that is, each syllable is part of a word, each word part of a line, each line part of a compact, studied, and studiable poem). This


is certain because the earlier mentioned mythology published by Russell from Thin Leather contains the Pima-language texts for a few of the songs in Smith-Allison. The Thin Leather versions include good literal translations that, while as short as those in the present manuscript, generally convey the form and substance of the Pima poem better than the translations by Allison. The latter generally tell what the poem is about, but they lose and misplace key words, juxtapositions, connotations, and so on. Still, the translations are surely from Allison, and, being songs, they stand for texts whose wording is not supposed to be altered. I have usually footnoted the songs for which other known versions exist. They are, in fact, a small portion of the total number of songs in the Smith-Allison text, which is to say that Smith knew an exceptional number of songs.[19]

Next, the Hayden typescript does not distinguish between the ongoing mythic narrative, which I attribute almost entirely to Smith, and Allison's commentary on the same. That distinction, between telling a story and telling about it, is common in Pima-Papago narratives, although generally it is the same person, the narrator, who does both. I found it rather easy to separate the two kinds or uses of prose—for they are both prose—and it seems useful and enlightening to set them off from each other. This is done by placing Allison's commentary in the outside margin, next to Smith's mythic narrative. It will be seen that the great bulk of the text is Smith's narrative (as translated by Allison), but the comments are rather frequent, especially in the "Hohokam Chronicles" part of the text. The songs are set apart from both kinds of prose by moderately indenting and italicizing them.

Last, a brief comment on the orthography used to spell Pima words. Hayden's manuscript is salted with words, usually nouns, that he wrote in a rough-and-ready orthography. I have respelled these words and others as well according to the orthography now officially adopted by the Papago or Tohono O'odham tribe. The Pimas have not yet passed on an orthography, but at least a few Pimas use the Papago orthography that is given here, although they normally make one change in it. To be true to Pima pronunciation, they often use the letters "v" or "f" where Papago


would spell the equivalent sound with a "w." Ofelia Zepeda's book, A Grammar of Papago (1983), gives a good discussion of the sounds and letters of Pima-Papago. For the reader who wishes a rough idea of how to pronounce the words in this book, I say to pronounce them as if they were Spanish (with the sound values used for reading Spanish), but always put the stress on the first syllable of a word.


The text is given with minimum interruption. There are footnotes and backnotes to deal with linguistic and other interpretive matters, respectively. There are brief essay introductions to the text's parts, of which there are eleven, and at the end of part chapters there are supplements to the Smith-Allison version from other Pima-Papago narrators. The parts are Prelude, the Font Text (part 0, because it is background for the Smith-Allison mythology); Genesis (part 1); The Flood; New Creation and Corn; The Whore; Wine and Irrigation; Morning Green Chief and the Witch; Feather Braided Chief and the Gambler; Siuuhu's Death and Resurrection; The Conquest until Buzzard; The Conquest until Sivañ Wa'aki; and After the Conquest.


Map 1
Important places mentioned in the mythology.
(Drawn by Shearon D. Vaughn)


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