August 28, 2016

The Yavapai People's Ancient Flood Story


Most cultures have ancient stories of their beginnings. The Yavapai people are no exception. Their story is recorded in "Oral History of the Yavapai", chapter 19.

Those who are familiar with the flood of Noah in the Book of Genesis will be intrigued by the commonalities with the Yavapai's flood story.

However, the Yavapai's "Genesis" story includes two floods: one that brought them up out of Ahagaskiaywa, and a second, Great Flood...

Originally, all the Yavapai people lived in a place they called Ahagaskiaywa, or what we know today as "Montezuma's Well:"

"Long time ago, there was no water in that lake. People were living down there," the story states.

"Ahagaskiaywa" or Montezuma's Well
They had plenty of food and a river ran through to supply water.

They were living in a near paradise until a chief looked upon his own daughter lasciviously. The daughter became very angry and made a pack with a "real big frog down the river" to kill the chief. Eventually he became sick, bloated and died.

However, the daughter's scorn was not satisfied. She wanted to "kill all the people." So before he died, in order to save his people, the chief told them to burn his body.

From his ashes grew "real big corn," that grew thick; all the way to the top of the well. "Finally one man go up that corn and check it. He see this is a good world up there."

Because of the scorn of the daughter and her pact with the frog, one medicine man warned that the well would soon be flooded. He told the people to climb up the big corn so they could escape.

This must have taken some time as it was recorded that the people had to "sleep between the (giant) ears of corn" on their journey to the top.

Other animals used the same escape. "And at that time when they came up, they all speak Yavapai."

This included the animals. While some might find the idea of animals talking to humans fantastical, the Yavapai story is hardly unique.

In the Bible, the first woman infamously had a conversation with a serpent. (Additionally, Eve gave absolutely no sign of surprise that she was speaking with a snake...)

When they all got to the top of the well, "they look back and the water is coming. The frog and the lady make the water come up..."

From then on, the people would be living on the upper surface of the earth.



The intriguing biography of Viola Jimulla, the first woman chief in America. She lead the Prescott Yavapai Tribe through one of their lowest times by relying on her Christian faith.



The Great Flood:
"After some time there come another flood. The second time when the world gets flooded, it is just rain water. People do something wrong, and the rain comes."

When the rain started, the people found a large, hollow cottonwood log. They glued it together with pitch (called ahpihl,) and a woodpecker made a hole in it. A maiden was chosen and put inside the log.

"They made room enough to put lots of food stuff in there--some kinds of seeds; jerky meat. But she can't make fire in there. She has to eat the food raw."

She was instructed to save the food as best she could.

"They told her: 'The flood will raise you. You will hit the sky. But just lay still. If you lay still, you will get out in the end.' 
"So she lay still in there all the time. The girl lay in there 40 days and 40 nights. 
"The water went down. The girl had a dove with her, and she sent the dove out...and the dove came down with a little weed. So the water was gone."

The log had landed on "the highest place...in Sedona."

"There the girl came out from the log. We call her Kamalapukwia. That means 'Old Lady White Stone,'" because she had a white stone which the Yavapai believe protects all the women of the tribe.

"(Kamalapukwia) is the first woman on earth...and we come from her. She came out at Sedona and that's where all the Indians come from."

The Yavapai's origin account goes on to explain the repopulation of the earth and the quest for the sacred bow and arrow.

"Oral History of the Yavapai" contains a great deal of Yavapai history and is highly recommended for further reading.


Watch next Sunday, September 4th, for: 
"1895: Prescott's First Football Game Hosted Phoenix"


Tourist Tip:


To learn more about the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe, CLICK HERE.

The Sharlot Hall Museum currently offers (in conjunction with the tribe,) a display of the basket work of the Yavapai. All of the baskets are beautiful; several are stunning. It is well worth the visit!


#PrescottAZHistory