Religious Beliefs. The elemental Quechan beliefs involve a spiritual power derived from special dreams and a continuing interaction with the souls of the dead. The dream power is bestowed by the first men, created by Kukumat but imbued with spiritual power and culture by Kukumat's son Kumastamxo. Dream power was essential for successful leaders, curers, warriors, and the various ritual specialists. There was as well a collective tribal spiritual power that was renewed and increased through war with enemy tribes. Instead of prayers or sacrifices, there were formulas and purification through smoking and abstinence that produced more or less automatic results. Protestant and Catholic doctrine has become popular, but there is still an active core of men who preserve the traditional beliefs and an even larger group who combine elements of both traditional and Christian belief. Many People had guardian spirits manifest as special voices that spoke to them from time to time. These spirits, and those of the first people, lived either on the sacred mountain Avikwame or on one of the other sacred heights in the region.
Religious Practitioners. Men with unusually potent dream power were given a special title: k w axót t . There were also individual speakers and singers who collectively possessed the knowledge of rituals.
Ceremonies. The major tribal ceremony was the kar'úk, held to honor the memory of deceased tribal members. It was conceived as a reenactment of the original mourning Ceremony following creator Kukumat's death. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries it featured carved wooden images of the deceased along with displays of new clothing laid out as offerings to the spirits of the dead. A major portion of the ritual scenario involved a battle reenactment; its climax was a large fire that consumed the ritual shelter and the offerings. Other "religious" ceremonies were more like large-scale feasts. Even abbreviated kar'úk rituals are now rarely held.
Medicine. Quechans traditionally believed disease could be caused by inadvertently ingesting a poisonous substance or by soul loss. Hostile sorcerers could cause either malady, as could the violation of a mourning, warfare, or menstrual taboo. Dream power was the source of a curer's abilities. Techniques included blowing smoke upon and massaging the patient, and sucking out the intrusive substance.
Death and Afterlife. The souls of the dead pass through four layers, each more distant from the living world. The fourth is the land of the dead, far to the south, a land of plenty and happiness, with the best times enjoyed by those killed in battle. The body is cremated along with personal effects, and others wishing to commemorate deceased relatives at the time may burn offerings of clothing as well. Spirits of some of the dead also return to receive the offerings to them burned during the kar'úk ritual. The traditional funeral ritual still predominates.