The Rock of the Cochimi

La Filosofia del Mexico Antiguo, 2 vols.


According to historical traditions, the Cochimi Indians represented a completely forgotten lateral branch of the great Toltec migrations toward the south. They occupied a territory taking the shape of a triangle, the three corners lying westward at what is presently Valle Redondo, BaJa Califorinia, eastward at Tierra del Sol, and northward at Julian.

Our main sources of information about the Cochimis are the letters, reports and writings of the two Franciscan missionaries, Padre Luyedo and Padre Piccolo, alert travelers in the area occupied by the Cochimis and founders of the Mission of San Ignacio, together with the Jesuit Padre Baegert. According to their description, toward the western end of their territory they had a sacred mountain which they called Cuchuma, mountain they used for initiation of their young men who had reached the age of maturity These had to go to the top of the Cuchuma mountain and spend there three days and three nights in solitude, communing with sprits of their ancestors. Afterward, they descended to La Puerta balley where they gave detailed accounts of their spiritual experiences during the three nights of solitude on the mountain.

Another peculiarity mentioned by the traveling missionaries was the Cochimi sunset worshipping. As the sun descended on the western horizon, they sat on the highest points on their mountains in the eastern end of their territory (around the present location of
Tierr del Sol or, as it was called before, Tecate High  Pass) and contemplated the forms and colors of he sunset over Cuchuma, their holy mountain. This was their main religious ritual, for they believed that the Great Spirit and the spirits of their ancestors talked to them through the colors, clouds and forms of the sunset.

In addition to the Sunset, they also worshipped the rocks, particularly those having the shapes of eagles and bears. They considered the eagle to be the messenger of heaven, and they believed that when they died, their souls would be carried by an eagle toward the Great Spirit to unite with the sprits of their ancestors. The bear was thought of as the earthly manifestation of power.

The most important observation of the Franciscan and Jesuit fateres was the peaceful character of the Cochimis. They never attacked neighboring tribes, nor any traveler crossing their country. Probably this was the reason why their territory gradually diminished. The peacekjiful Cochimis, living in harmony with the forces of nature, contemplating he mystic sunsets over Cuchuma, their holy mountain, finally lost their land to the their belligerent neighbors. They were too meek to inherit the earth.