Pima Stories of the Beginning of the World

The Akimel O’odhamn, or Pima, live along the Gila and Salt Rivers in the desert of central Arizona and are close relations of the Tohono O’odham (formerly known as the Papago), who occupy lands in the mostly riverless desert to the south of them.   (N6AmA 23)

The Story of the Creation

“There was only a Person, Juh-wert-a-Mah-kai (The Doctor of the Earth).”  He created the world from greasy earth out of the perspiration moah-haht-tack on his chest.  This image is interesting: it’s a little repellent, being out of perspiration, but completely plausible that a desert people would not be revolted by sweat.  It’s a natural byproduct of living in the desert and it’s a source of invaluable moisture, repulsive or not.

First up for creation is ants, then white ants to work and enlarge the earth (caps sic), then a Person, “out of the shadow if his eyes, to assist him, to be like him, and to help him in creating trees and human beings and everything that was to be on the earth” (25).  This new being is called Noo-ee, or “the Buzzard.”

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