What Are the Beliefs of the Cahuilla Religion?

Cahuilla religious beliefs include belief in a universal power called "?iva?a", described as a mass of colors that birthed the first two beings. The beings named themselves Mukat and Temayawut, and began to create the world and all the creatures in it.

The Cahuilla believed that the earliest creatures, known as nukatem, were much larger, possessing more "?iva?a" than contemporary animals. When these creatures died, they became the stars, the moon and other objects. Nukatem had different names and personalities, and sometimes appeared as phenomena including meteors and whirlwinds.

Mukat, one of the creators, taught his people how to live properly, but would also give them bad advice from time to time. Other nukatem gave the Cahuilla permission to hunt animals, especially large animals such as deer. As the Cahuilla had no writing system, folklore and other traditions were passed down from elders to young people as spoken stories.

The Cahuilla also believed that "?iva?a" was distributed unevenly between people, which was why some people had special talents or abilities. As they considered "?iva?a" a part of everything in the world, Cahuilla were ecologically conscious.

When a person died, Cahuilla believed that their soul, or "tewlavelem", went to the land of the dead, called "temelkis." If a deceased person's suviving descendants took part in a special ritual, Cahuilla believed that they could communicate with the dead.