There were no people but there were some persons
existing who were without parents. These were Bec diłxił
xastin, Black Metal Old Man, Nał'uletcu
Black Big Spider, Nłtcį
Black Whirlwind, and Godiye, Mirage.2
These were the four who did this. There was neither earth nor sky.
had no house. Spider had no house but his dwelling place was where
his web hung crosswise. Although there was neither earth nor sky
Whirlwind had his home in the space between the earth and sky.
Mirage had nothing on which to dwell but he trembled about where
there was no earth and no sky.
These came together and talked about what there might be on which
they could dwell. They said they would live on the sky, and that
they would also make the earth. They determined that there should be
something. These four persons were discussing with each other how it
should be done. Black Whirlwind did this way; he rubbed his hand
over his breast and removed some of the cuticle. Taking this between
his thumb and forefinger he asked how the earth should be. He
pressed the cuticle between his thumb and finger repeatedly.3
He then walked to that which he had made and the earth nearly moved
into its place. White Whirlwind came up to it and stood there. The
earth moved a little way. Yellow Whirlwind came up to it and took
his station. The earth moved nearly to its place. Blue. Whirlwind
went to it and stood by it. Then the earth that was to be settled to
They now discussed what should support the earth.
They concluded to make four supports for it of bec diłxił.
They added a black whirlwind to these to help hold it up. They all
agreed it was satisfactory.
When they had finished the earth they began making
something to live on it. They made coyotes and the birds which have
wings but are like human beings. There were all kinds of birds
living on the earth. Thus people of this sort existed. Because these
people were not good water covered the whole earth.
went into a vessel of turquoise. She put in some seeds and the two
grinding stones, and stopped the opening in the vessel with clay.
She floated around in this on top of the water. When she struck the
side of the vessel with the muller it rang " bibit." As long as
there was much water it made a sound like "bit" when it was struck.
When the water was gone she hit it again and heard a sound like "dan."
Thinking then that the water was gone down she broke out the stopper
and came out.6 There was nothing but a
level plain of sand where she came out. There was nothing there, not
even bushes. She sat down by herself and began to consider what
would be. She went up on the mountains where the sun's rays struck
as the sun came up and took a position on her knees with her head
turned away. Four times the sun refused to shine. Having tried in
vain she came there the next day and did the same thing with the
same lack of results. This was repeated on the third and fourth
days. When she had done it four times on the fourth day the sun
penetrated her and she was glad.7
Estsánnatlehi became pregnant and gave birth to a girl. When this
girl had grown to some size her mother told her to seek a connection
with someone. She directed her to go to the bluff where water was
dripping. The girl went there and took a position on her knees. The
water fell between her legs, but did not enter her. She went there
and did the same way three times in vain. Then her mother put her in
position and the water entered her.
She became pregnant and gave birth to a boy. She was called
Nalidilxiln, the boy was to be Naiyenezgani, and her mother was
Estsánnatlehi. There were these three.
He who was to be Naiyenezgani had a smooth head. He
had no hair, ears, nose, teeth, or lips. He was also devoid of the
ridge above his eyes as well as of eyebrows and eyelashes. His arms
had no joints and he had no fingers, just a flat hand. His legs were
similarly without joints and his feet were undivided into toes.8
He had no nails on his hands or feet. He was just smooth and
unformed.9 The woman was considering
what should be.
"Where does my father live?" the boy asked his grandmother. She told
him not to speak about it, since he lived in a dangerous place and
one was not allowed to talk about him. He repeated his question
three times and the fourth time, his grandmother still refused to
tell him. "You must mean that one of your organs is dangerous," the
boy finally said.
He started away just by himself having only his own devices. She
couldn't discover by what means he knew the way, but she thought he
must have something to guide him. He came where his father's house
could be seen. He sat down there and began to cry. While he was
sitting there crying and wondering by what means he could get to his
father's house, a head was stuck out of a hole right beneath him.
"Well, why are you crying?" a voice asked. The boy replied that he
was on the way to his father's house and was crying because he was
trying to find a means of going there. Then the one who put his head
out said that in the morning he would go from right where the boy
was sitting to the house of the Sun. Promising to return and telling
the boy to wait, Spider started away.10
He went to the house of the Black Sun and tied his thread to the
door post. Then he came back and told the boy everything was ready
and that his thread was fastened. He directed the boy to go on, the
string which he had stretched for him.
The boy went on this thread and came in front of his father's house.
When he got there he stood below the house. He could hear someone
sitting inside of the house. He heard him get up and go up to the
top of the house. From there he looked down on the earth. While he
was gone Naiyenezgani went right inside. A woman was sitting in an
inner room. When she saw him she asked why he had come, at the same
time telling him no one was allowed to come there. The boy replied
that he had come to see his father. The woman warned him against
saying that, telling him that his father was a dangerous man who had
killed those who had claimed to be his children. She said this to
him four times in vain. Finally she said, "Well, have it that you
came to see your father;" and going into a corner she took up a
white cloud and spread it down.' Telling him to lie down on this
blanket, she rolled him up in it and hid him. She told him that at
sunset the Sun would come home on the sky and that the boy would
hear a sound like "dil" when he landed on the top of his house. He
would know by that that the Sun had returned.
He heard the Sun coming down and heard him land. The Sun asked his
wife who had come there. She replied that no one had come; that she
had seen no one. She told him this four times as the Sun repeated
the question. Finally she said, "You are always saying you never do
anything amiss where you go." The woman went then where she had
hidden the boy and brought him nearby and put him down. She opened
out each way the blanket in which he was rolled. The boy then got
up. "This boy called you his father; he said he came to see his
father. It may be so," the woman told her husband.
The Sun took his child by the hand and led him to the east where
there was tobacco with which he killed people. The pipe was lying
with the tobacco. He filled the pipe and held it up to the east
where it became ignited without any visible means of lighting it.
The boy drew smoke once and there was nothing but ashes to be seen.
He went to the south where there was white tobacco with a white pipe
lying in it. He filled the pipe and held it up to the south. It
became lighted without visible means. He gave it to the boy who drew
on it once and nothing but ashes appeared. Next he went to the west
where there was another pipe and tobacco. This he lighted by lifting
it up. The boy drew on the pipe and nothing but ashes remained. He
now went to the north, where another pipe lay in tobacco. He filled
the pipe and held it up. It became lighted without apparent means.
He gave it to the boy who drew once on the pipe which was
immediately white with ashes. This made four times that he had tried
in vain with the tobacco that kills people. " It is true that you
are my son," he said.
He then went with him to the east to a place called sek'Q' which was
blazing with "sky fire." The Sun caught the boy by his foot and
swung him around, his head hanging down, and threw him into the "sky
fire." He pushed him down with a poker of bec diłxił.
The black sek'Q' glowing red went through the sky with him. He went
through the sky as a downy feather and turned back to a man, landing
back by his shadow before the Sun moved. The same thing was done at
the south where white sky fire was blazing out. He pushed him down
with a poker of white bec. Again he escaped. Next they went to the
west where there was a yellow fire and he was poked down with yellow
bec. Again he turned into a downy feather and came down on his
shadow. Last they went to the north where the sky fire was blue and
the poker was blue bec. He blazed through the sky with blue flames
and returned to his shadow by becoming a feather. He did this
without killing his son. "You are surely my child," he said. Some of
the first people to come into existence were there.11
They acknowledged the boy as their grandson. "It is Naiyenezgani,
our grandson,"12 they all said.
"Form my child for me," the Sun asked of them.13
They prepared a sweat lodge with four stones and a pile of wood. The
sun directed that the four stones be put on the fire. Those who had
come went in with their grandson. Two of the stones were brought
into the lodge. They went into the bath four times. When the skin
all over his body became soft they pushed the skin of his flat hands
back and formed his fingers. They made the lacking joints and made
hair for him. They also made supra-orbital ridges and ears and a
nose with nostrils. They made also lips and teeth and a chin. They
provided a joint in his neck where before one was lacking and the
boy had not been able to turn his head. They also made joints in his
arms so his arms could be bent. They fashioned his toes in the same
manner as they made his fingers, making them as people's feet are
"Now train him for me so he may fight against those who are
dangerous," the Sun asked. They made for him moccasins and leggings
of obsidian and an obsidian shirt and hat. They provided him with an
obsidian war club. Thus he was equipped to fight the dangerous ones.
They made something which should sit by his ear and tell him what to
do and direct his travels.14 When he
was thoroughly equipped they told his father that he was ready.
The boy was then told he might return where his grandmother was
living.15 He went to his grandmother
who greeted him. He lived there with her.
He had no bow and arrows. He began hunting about for
something and found some reeds. He looked again and found a mulberry
tree. He carried the material secured from their home. He made an
arrow and straightened it. He provided it with a foreshaft and
feathered the arrow with eagle's plumes. He at first put on a single
feather and shot at a cactus which was standing close by. He missed
the cactus and concluded a single feather was not sufficient. He put
on two feathers and tried again. He missed again. "Not good," he
said, "three will be used." When he had put on three, he shot again.
" Dhu," he heard as the arrow went through the center.
"Where is there some flint to put on the end of the foreshaft?" he
asked his grandmother. His grandmother told him not to say that. The
boy replied that it was one of his grandmother's organs that was
dangerous. He went far in his search until he came to some flint. He
picked it up and struck it with a stone. As he gathered up the
pieces something called Bec yilgai ran at him. He stopped and waited
for it. Just as it came up to him he thrust at it with a, dagger.16
It ran on him and was broken to pieces. He gathered up the pieces,
tied them up, and carried them home. When he came home he flaked a
piece of flint and put it on the end of his arrow in that way making
When he had finished the flint he asked his grandmother where on
earth were those who killed people. He asked this because of what
the one which sat by his ear had told him. "Grandmother, where does
the one live who kicks people over the cliff?" he asked.17
His grandmother told him not to speak that way, that the person was
dangerous and one was not allowed to mention him.
He started off under his own leadership. He had a blue fox as his
pet. He put a yellow snake in the fold of his shirt. He hunted about
and found a canyon where there was a wall of rock on either side. He
went in between these walls and came to a trail which was used by
people. He followed along the trail and soon came where a man was
lying against the cliff. He had one leg over the knee of the other
with his foot in the air. Naiyenezgani stopped close by and told the
man to get up and let him pass. The man refused and remained in the
same position. Naiyenezgani sent his pet, the blue fox, along the
trail. As the fox was passing the man kicked with his foot but the
fox jumped and the kick passed behind. Naiyenezgani jumped past and
asked why he did that. He went around and did the same thing four
times. The man kicked each time missing high. Naiyenezgani, reaching
into the bosom of his shirt, pulled out the yellow snake and threw
it on the man as he lay against the rock. When the snake fell near
his head and rattled, the man cried out that he was afraid of that
sort. As he jerked his head about Naiyenezgani pulled out his
obsidian club. "Bau," he heard, as he knocked the man down from the
top of the cliff where he lay. He killed him. The monster was called
Tsidakelisi. Naiyenezgani went back and told his grandmother he had
He asked his grandmother where Nagegani, he who kills people by
looking at them, lived. "He lives in a dangerous place," she
replied. He started away hunting for him. That which sat by his ear
told him where he lived. He came near to the place where the monster
was sitting with his children.18
Naiyenezgani produced a mirage so they could not see him. While they
were watching here where he was not, he went around and came down on
them. The young ones saw him standing close by and told their father
some man had come to them. The father told them to look at the
visitor. Sitting there in a line they looked at him. He began to
feel disturbed in his mind. His eyes in which they were looking did
not move. His mind was affected. When he was about to die he took
out his life medicine and put it in his mouth and recovered. He had
something in the fold of his blanket which would explode. He took
this out and put four pieces in the fire which encircled the place.
He heard a noise like " tcil" and the pieces flew in their faces.
The fragments went into the eyes of all of them. They rubbed their
eyes but not one of them could see anything. Naiyenezgani went up to
them with his club and hit them, killing them. He went back where
his grandmother lived.
"Where does black-tailed deer live? How does one do when he has
killed one?" he asked his grandmother. "Do not butcher it under a
piñon tree," she told him. He went away again and hunted for a deer.
He came to a mountain far away where he hunted about. He came up to
a deer at which he shot with an arrow, killing it. He killed it in
an open place. Wondering why his grandmother had warned him not to
do so, he seized the deer by a hind foot and dragged it to a piñon
which stood a little way down the hill. Then he dragged it up the
slope to the shade of the piñon. He drew out his knife, turned the
deer on its back and held it by one foreleg while he cut it down the
breast and belly. When he had cut it open in that manner he removed
the skin. He spread out the skin at one side and cut off both the
front legs. He laid those down over there. He then cut off the hind
legs and put them down. When he was cutting out the stomach and
intestines some cold water was dripping on him. Wondering what was
doing it to him he looked up above the piñon. He thought there might
be a cloud but there was only blue sky. He thought something up
there in the sky might be rotting and falling on him. He bent down
and was pulling the intestines out when water fell on him again.
When he looked up again he saw a beautiful girl sitting on the top
of the piñon. When she saw him she called "my husband" and lifted
her skirt. She began to descend the tree. When she was nearly down
he discovered her privates were provided with teeth. He grabbed up
the second stomach and ran away dragging it along. The girl ran
after him calling him husband. She nearly overtook him at the foot
of the mountain. She kept trying to grab him. As she was about to'
overtake him he threw down between them the tripe which formed rows
of radiating ridges like one's spread out fingers. He was running
ahead of these ridges but she was behind and had to cross them. He
ran back where his grandmother was sitting. "You certainly told me
the truth for Vagina-that-kills is running after me.19
She will soon be here." Considering what she could do with him she
moved over the vessel in which food was boiling, put the fire to one
side, and dug a hole underneath where the fire had been. She told
Naiyenezgani to go into the hole she had dug and covered him with a
thin stone and replaced the fire and the boiling pot. She made a big
fire and sat down by one side of it.
Just then the girl came running up, asking which way her husband had
run. The grandmother denied that any man had been there. The girl
insisted that her husband had run there. She said she could
determine by her urine for it would run and stop where her husband
She went up on the slope and drew radiating lines.
Her urine flowed down and came right to the fire. Saying her husband
should be there, she threw the pot to one side, pushed the fire
over, pulled up the stone, and grabbed him by the arm. She pulled
him out and calling him husband asked him to hurry, at the same time
raising her skirt. He looked and was afraid of her teeth which were
grinding against each other. The girl urged him to hurry, but he
excused himself by saying that he did not do that in an exposed
place but required that a 'good bed be spread with grass. This bed
he said must be in a house made of four poles of Douglas spruce
which grows upon large mountains standing at the four cardinal
She ran off toward the east. While she was gone Naiyenezgani
fashioned an implement so large (six inches in diameter) of white,
stone. He sewed a cover of buckskin on this. The girl soon came
running back with a Douglas spruce pole. She ran off again to the
south. While she was gone he made another implement of sand. The
girl soon returned again bringing back another Douglas spruce pole.
She went again toward the west. While she was gone he made an
implement of pitch. She returned and went again to the north. While
she was gone he made a fourth implement of the wax from the sumac.
The girl soon came back with a fourth pole of Douglas spruce. She
prepared a bed of grass and built a house over it with the four
poles. She placed herself on her back and asked her husband to
hurry. He replied that it was not his custom to do such things in
the daytime. The girl then besought the sun to hasten its descent
and expressed a wish that night might come speedily. When it was
night she placed herself again and called too her husband to hurry.
He wrapped the four implements and a round stone in a blanket and
carried them to the bed. He sat down by the woman placing the stone
by her head. When she asked him to hurry he said he would, and took
up the white stone implement he had made and holding the girl's
legs, inserted it. He heard a sound "guz, guz, guz" as the teeth
worked upon it. The white stone implement was entirely consumed and
came out in pieces. He immediately inserted the implement of sand.
When that had been consumed in a similar manner, he inserted the
implement of pitch. He heard a sound like "
łuk." Finally he used the
implement made of the wax of the sumac. When he' heard the sound "łuk"
again he took up the stone he had put at the head of the bed, and
pounding at the teeth, broke them all off. " This is the way woman
shall be, she shall not have teeth," he said. When it was daylight
she sat a little way from camp crying.
Naiyenezgani sat with his grandmother. He asked her
where Delgit. lived. She
cautioned him not to ask that, saying the place was a dangerous one.
Naiyenezgani made the usual remark about his grandmother and walked
out on the plain without special preparation for his task. He saw
the animal he sought. It was lying in an open plain where there was
no cover. While Naiyenezgani was sitting despondently wondering how
he was to approach the animal that was lying there, the grass a
little way from him moved. A "man" put up his head and said "sho"
and asked why he was sitting there. Naiyenezgani said he was
wondering how he could approach the animal lying yonder. His
inquisitor said that he was the only one who frequently approached
the animal. Naiyenezgani then asked that he go to the animal and
prepare a way of approach. The other one replied that when he got
there the animal would get up and look down. That would be evidence
of his success. He then withdrew into his hole and started away.
After a time Naiyenezgani who had remained sitting there saw the
animal get up and look down where it had been lying. Then the one
assisting Naiyenezgani said, "Sho, it is I. I did it. I cut off some
of your hair, because my children are cold. Lie down again."
The animal lay down again and the one who was
assisting gnawed off the hair in a round patch behind the shoulder.
He went back into his hole and made four tunnels one below the
other. When he had finished these he returned where Naiyenezgani was
sitting. He told him that he had denuded a place where the animal's
heart was beating and that he had prepared four tunnels one above
the other. Naiyenezgani, in case of attack, was to run into these
tunnels in succession. Naiyenezgani then went to the animal by means
of the uppermost tunnel. When he came there he saw the smooth skin
throbbing from the action of the heart above it. Taking his obsidian
war club in his hand he came to the place. He drove the weapon into
the animal's heart and jabbed it about. The animal jumped up
and stuck his horn into the ground ripping out the top tunnel.
Naiyenezgani ran quickly to the next tunnel. When the animal ripped
that one open he ran to the third and fourth. As he was ripping out
this fourth one in which Naiyenezgani lay he fell over dead.
Naiyenezgani succeeded in killing the animal just as he himself was
likely to be killed. He killed it because it had been killing the
people who lived on the earth. He went to the animal and began to
skin it. The birds, who were then people, came there and asked for
the hair saying their children were freezing. Each grabbed a handful
of hair and went away with it. Naiyenezgani prepared the skin and
then knocked the animal's brain out. He took also the blood and
manure. He sewed up the yellowish dressed skin to contain the blood.
He also put the manure and brains in the container made of dressed
skin. He took out the bones also. He carried all these to the place
where his grandmother sat.20
The hide was spread on the ground and pegged down where it was
scraped with a. rough stone. It was then softened by rubbing with
the hands.21 From this he made a war
coat with scalloped opening in front.
While he was living with his grandmother he asked
her where Ts'innagole lived. She cautioned him not to mention it
saying it was a dangerous place to which Naiyenezgani replied with
the usual reference to his grandmother's organs. Naiyenezgani put on
his war coat and put the brains of Delgit in the, front of the coat.
The blood of Delgit he put in the front of his shirt. He put the
manure also in the same place and the white bones of Delgit. Thus
equipped he started away and came out on a plain. He had not gone
far when he heard a noise "ye." He looked about to see what had made
the noise but found nothing although he looked over the ground on
all sides of himself.
1 Told by Antonio, a man who was
born about 1850 in the region known as Wheat fields, north of Globe,
Arizona. He is considered the chief of his band, a position of some
honor but without formal duties. Possessed of considerable priestly
lore he was a very capable and willing narrator.
2 These four primordial beings seem to be selected
because they are deemed capable of remaining in space unsupported by
earth or sky. This is logical enough for Whirlwind and Mirage. For
Spider, one's eyesight must be too poor to see the supporting
threads, to conceive of the web being self-supporting. Black Metal
Old Man is difficult. Thunderbolts are believed to be flaked stone
points, flint or black obsidian. The word bec originally meant that
and is so translated by Matthews in Navaho Legends and
elsewhere. The Apache only know metal as its significance. I am
inclined to think that lightning flashes are meant but not directly
named through fear. It is possible the Sun's disk is referred to for
the general importance of the Sun in Apache belief would give him
first place. The adjective diłxił
is simply the most sacred color and could be used even of snow. The
use of xastin implies respect as well as age and is often
used much as mister in English.
3 This method is employed to produce people by
Estsánnatlehi in the Navajo story. Matthews, 148.
4 The Apache circuit is sunwise, beginning with the
east. The colors are as here given: black, east; white, south;
yellow, west; blue, north. The Navajo have the sky supported on five
pillars. Franciscan Fathers, 354.
5 The Navajo have an account of her origin.
Matthews, 104. The Jicarilla Apache consider Yolgaiisdzan, the
grandmother of Naiyenesgani, to be the earth. Goddard, (a), 206.
6 The Navajo account of a deluge is connected with
the emergence in this world through a reed of those who were fleeing
from the rising waters. This story may have been influenced by the
Biblical account. Boats were not known to the Apache. The Pima have
an earthen vessel employed during the flood. Russell, (b), 209, 211.
7 See Matthews, 105 for the Navajo account. Cf.
Stevenson, (b), 35, for union of sun and foam. The Zuni also use
four as a ceremonial number in myths. Stevenson, (b), 28, 30.
8 See reference to webbed hands and feet in
Stevenson, (b), 28, 29, 34.
9 This lack of complete human form is in preparation
of initiation later when the boy is to be fashioned. The two
incidents are the origins of the ceremony for boys.
10 Matthews, 109.
11 The major gods, seldom named, may be referred
to. They would strictly speaking be the father of the Sun or his
uncles. Cf. Matthews, 106.
12 Son's son. The term is reciprocal.
13 In the Navajo account done by the daughters of
the Sun. Matthews, 112. The adolescence ceremony in the Navajo
version is the racing on page 106 of Matthews.
14 This monitor frequently mentioned in this and
following myths is usually explained as a fly or insect. In some
degree the concept is that of a guardian spirit. The wind serves
Naiyenezgani in this manner in the Navajo myths.
15 This trip to the sun according to this version
is for the general adolescence ceremony and the special equipment as
a warrior. Among the Hopi and Zuni and to a considerable extent the
Navajo, the two brothers who visit the Sun are war gods and the
entire myth belongs to the warrior cult.
16 Cf. Matthews, 125. Goddard (a), 204.
17 Cf. Matthews, 122-123. Goddard, (a), 202; (b),
18 Cf. Matthews, 123-124
19. This widespread story was not included by
Matthews, and hardly seems in place in the Apache account. The
Jicarilla Apache know it. Goddard, (a) 203
20 The Navajo account is in Matthews, 117-118. Cf.
Goddard, (a), 197-198; Goddard, (b), 236.
21 This skindressing was probably done by the
grandmother. The Apache does not distinguish sex grammatically. Such
division of labor is too obvious to be specially mentioned in the
Carlos Apache Mythology
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Myths And Tales From The San Carlos Apache, 1918