Mermaid (Hussepi)

Miwok people from different locations have variations of a similar mythical creature, a mermaid. The Miwok near Ione told stories of the hussepi having long black hair. She would walk through the fields and when she got tired she would sit down. As she sits down, her hair spreads out radially around her turning into water. She sits there waiting for people, especially children, to come and enjoy the water. Once somebody enters the water or gets too close to the water, some water turns back into hair and wraps around the person dragging him into the water. The person is unable to escape the hair and drowns. When hussepi stands up, all the water goes into her hair. When she walks around then sits back down again, her hair turns back into water. Therefore, when you walk through fields and find a pond of water, you should watch out for hussepi. The Miwok from West Point tell of a similar mermaid creature that lives in the river.

Rock Giant (Chihilumche)

Arthur Joseph Walloupe would tell a story of a rock giant called chihilumche. Chihilumche lived in the Moaning Caverns and would hunt Miwok. Chihilumche had a giant basket on his back with pine burrs on the bottom. Chihilumche would catch Miwok and throw them in his basket impaling them on the pine burrs. He would then go back to his cave and eat the people, throwing the bones in the bottom of his cave.

Anthropologists collected similar stories of the rock giant from Miwok people at West Point and Tuolumne.

Devil (Yawlu)

The Miwok from Ione tell about a devil called yawlu. Yawlu is said to be a cowboy, riding a horse and coming out at dusk. He attempts to catch people when they are alone. It is said that if you are caught by yawlu, he will play you poker for your life. He is said to be a great poker player, rarely losing. When you whistle at night, you are calling yawlu. Therefore, the old people would not whistle at night and stressed to their children to not whistle at night.

One Legged Spirit (Kuksuyu)

There is a one legged spirit called kuksuyu. Kuksuyu was a bad spirit who had one rotten leg and was made of feathers. Kuksuyu’s leg stunk so bad that your nose would bleed when he was near. The smell of burnt feathers would scare kuksuyu away. Many of the old people believed you were calling him if you said his name. Therefore, it was rare to hear the old people talk about kuksuyu.

Water Babies (Nekneketu)

There are little people about the size of babies called nekneketu. It is believed these creatures live in wells and try to entice children into playing with them or steal the children. The nekneketu trys convincing children to play with them and to follow them into the well. Many people claim they saw the nekneketu trying to convince their children into playing with them.


There was a giant snake called Hiiki.  Hiiki lived in a pile of rocks located near the intersection of Highway 88 and lower Jackson Valley Rd.  Bernice Villa was told by the older Miwok people living in Jackson Valley that the valley just north of Yungputee, locally called the echer bacher, was created by Hiiki.  This valley is adjacent to Hiiki's home being just west and north. of its home.

Excerpt from Nisenan Text as told by Billy Joe

How the Bat Got His Eyes by Billy Villa

Listen to Billy Villa tell the story. Recorded by Mary Alice Tustison in the late 1970's. (play)