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Mojave Indians

The Origin of Amboy Crater



Ah Mott Kah Pee Thoyah (which means he can go under the earth), would hunt by fire. He would find a forest or some brush and very carefully build a fire around it to keep the animals from escaping.



He would go to the center of his fiery trap then sing a hunting song, and with each verse he would sink further and further into the ground until completely underground. There he would wait until it was time to come out of the ground to find rabbits, deer and bighorn sheep cooked and ready to eat. When he had eaten all he could he would carry what he wanted away and search for a new place to hunt. This is how Ah Mott Kah Pee Thoyah lived.



Once, while emerging from underground, he saw a fox that had been watching from beyond the fire circle. Ah Mott Kah Pee Thoyah called out to him to share in his kill. Ah Mott Kah Pee Thoyah said, "Do you want some of this? I will give you all you want. I am a fire hunter." Fox was hungry,shook his head and said, "No! That stuff stinks. I don't eat smelly food like that. I hunt and kill my own way." Fox was clever and wanted to trick Ah Mott Kah Pee Thoyah into revealing his secrets so he could use fire hunting for himself. As he was leaving Fox turned and asked, "How do you hunt with fire, anyway? Can you show me?"



Ah Mott Kah Pee Thoyah was proud of his gift and would share it however he could. If Fox were not willing to share food, Ah Mott Kah Pee Thoyah would share by talking of his hunting.



Ah Mott Kah Pee Thoyah explained to Fox of the circling his unwary prey with fire and how he would sing and sink into the ground. The Fox was amazed and asked Ah Mott Kah Pee Thoyah to sing the song ...
    "Ah Mott Kah Pee Thoyah, Kah Pee Thoyah (his name)
    Eehah Vee Ropes (goes down)
    Ah Mott Thee Thon eethon ee ee (goes farther and farther down).
The verse would be sang four times and with each time Ah Mott Kah Pee Thoyah would sink lower; first to his knees, to his waist, four times altogether to be totally under.

Fox memorized the song although he did not understand the language.

The next day Fox became hungry and decided to try hunting with fire.

He was where Amboy Crater is today. He started the fire and moved quickly to the middle and began to sing the song of Ah Mott Kah Pee Thoyah.
    Ah Mott Kah Pee Thoyah, Kah Pee Thoyah
    Eehah Vee Ropes (goes down)
    Ah Mott Thee Thon eethon ee ee
But Fox did not go down.
    Ah Mott Kah Pee Thoyah, Kah Pee Thoyah
    Eehah Vee Ropes (goes down)
    Ah Mott Thee Thon eethon ee ee
Fox quickly repeated the verse. It did not work.

As the flames grew closer together and higher and higher he sang verse after verse to no avail. He did not go below the ground as Ah Mott Kah Pee Thoyah would have.

The increasingly desperate Fox did not sink into the ground. He stayed above in the fire because what he sang was not true, he was not Ah Mott Kah Pee Thoyah and since he was not he could not go underground. He realized what the words to the song meant, and that he was not Ah Mott Kah Pee Thoyah. Only Ah Mott Kah Pee Thoyah could go below ground.



So,... the Fox died in a briefly agonizing and painful cremation as did all the poor, innocent animals and little beasts ensnared in his poorly executed trap. There was much crying and screaming. Nobody went easy.

The fire kept burning. Everything burned. The brush and trees along with all the game burned to ash, the rocks began to burn, then they melted and boiled and poured across the desert from Amboy to Pisgah. The big crater at Amboy is where Fox tried desparately to go below the raging fire.



Ah Mott Kah Pee Thoyah saw what had happened and put out the fire. The fire hunter was embarrassed and turned himself into a worm. He still hunts underground, but not with fire.


THE END


Retold based on;
Lore of the Mohave Nation - Davidson & Barnes - San Bernardino County Museum Association, Spring and Summer 1966


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