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The Rainmaker - As told by Yuma Indian, Joe Homer, age sixt, 1929


The Yuma live along the Colorado River and rely on its seasonal spring flooding and the remaining mud as the rich soil for their summer crops of corn, beans, and squash.

The last Rainmaker we had was an old man named Silutha-up who belonged to the Liots Kwestamuts [clan].

It was a very religious clan and its members had very powerful dreams….

I remember a time when there was no rain for two years and the flood was very low. There was very little overflow. Everybody got very worried and all the men got together. They decided to send for this old man who was living out to the west at the foot of the mesa. He sent a message telling them to place four bamboo tunes filled with tobacco in the middle of the big shelter where the meeting was held; to build a fire close by them and let it die away into embers.

When he came to the place hundreds of people had gathered around. He picked up the tubes one at a time and smoked them very quickly. He made a short speech, saying it was the spirit Turtle (Kupet) that had given him the power on the mountain Amyxape. The spirit had shown him exactly what to do and had told him to think of the turtle and name him when he performed the ritual. He commanded the people to follow him out of the shelter and run in a body towards the north, raising as much dust as possible. This they did and the old man went off home.

Before he had gone very far there were patches of cloud all over the sky and rain had fallen in several places. In less than an hour a heavy downpour had begun which lasted about four days.