Indian Mythology | San Carlos Apache Mythology

Creation Myth


When he looked up there in the middle of the sky he saw something coming down to attack him. It had its talons sticking out. It came near him and nearly grabbed him. Naiyenezgani was lying with his face down and the bird grabbed at the back of his war shirt only. It said "xa" as it missed him. Naiyenezgani got up and walked on a little ways when he heard the same noise. He saw the bird again and lay down again on his face. The bird grabbed at him again but striking only the war coat missed the second time. When he had gone on a little ways he was attacked a third time. This time he heard the claws as they scraped on the coat. He missed getting him a third time. Naiyenezgani walked on again. When he had gone a short distance he heard the noise again. He looked up and saw the bird coming down. This was the fourth attack and Naiyenezgani this time lay with his face up. He lay that way for he wanted to see what the bird was doing to him. It drove its talons under the scalloped trimming on the front of his coat and carried him off. He flew up on the sky to the east where the bird had its nest. At the east of the nest was a smooth sharp pinnacle of projecting rock on which he killed people. He threw Naiyenezgani down on that. When he struck it the blood, brains, and manure of Delgit burst out of their containers. The bird thought he had killed him and took him up where his children were sitting and threw him down to them. He flew off shaking himself and alighted at the east.

When the young ones came up to him and put their heads down to eat him he said, " sho." "He said sho' to us," they told their father. "It is only the breath oozing out," he replied. Four times this happened but by that time the parent bird had flown away to hunt again. The man, who was supposed to have been killed, got up and came where the four young ones were sitting. He began striking among them using the bone of Delgit as a club. He threw them down the side of the cliff, leaving only 'one of the four. He began to question this one, asking in what sort of a storm its father brought back his prey. It replied that he came back when there was a big male rain.

Next he inquired in what sort of weather its mother brought prey. It replied that she came back when a female rain was falling. He then wanted to know under what conditions the brother and sister came back. It replied that the latter came back with prey when a young rain was falling. When his questions had been answered he killed the young one with the bone of Delgit and threw the body over the cliff. It had told him where at the east the father alighted, where at the south the mother stayed, where at the west the sister would alight, and at the north the brother would perch.

Naiyenezgani hid at the east. When a male rain fell he was ready with his club. The male bird came flying with a man and dropped him on the smooth pinnacle of bec dilxil, at the east. It flew to its perch. When a female rain was falling the mother bird returned bringing a beautiful woman and threw her down. When a small rain fell the young female brought back a pretty girl. There was a storm of small hail to the north and the young male came back. Naiyenezgani killed them one by one as they came back with his war club of obsidian and knocked them over the cliff.

He had killed all those who preyed on people. He sat there alone wondering what he should do. As he sat there he cried. While he was crying he heard a noise up above. Wondering where the noise came from he looked up and saw something coming down to him from the middle of the sky. An eagle lit nearby. Behind the eagle sat Chicken Hawk, behind Hawk, Raven, and behind Raven, Pelican. Eagle Chief spoke to Naiyenezgani asking what he was doing there and why he was crying. Chicken Hawk spoke to him from the south and asked the same questions. Pelican Chief spoke next asking the same. Last, Raven Chief inquired the same things. They told him no one was allowed there. Naiyenezgani replied to each, " Ts'innagole brought me up here, I say, and I was thinking I wish I could get back some way." " Where is the one who brought you up?" they asked. Naiyenezgani said that he had killed him as well as his wife, his daughter, and his son. They then asked what he wished them to do. He replied that they probably had a way. To this they all consented. Eagle Chief who was the spokesman took off his eagle shirt and putting it near him told him to put it on. From the south Chicken Hawk offered his shirt, and next Pelican Chief offered his and finally Raven Chief took off his shirt and offered that. Naiyenezgani put them all on. They then asked him to shake himself. He did so. They next told him to fly with the wings he had. He flew a short distance as they instructed him. Next he flew a little further. They kept on pointing out places to which he should fly. He encircled the points as they pointed them out and came back to alight. Finally they told him to fly around four times and to come back where Eagle was. "Do you like it?" they asked the man. He replied that he liked it. "Very well," they said, " you fly and we will fly under you. We will make four circles as we fly."

They started off, the man flying ahead and the others under him. He made one circuit with the others doing just as he did. They all alighted and the birds told the man a dangerous place lay ahead of them. They said they would go back with him to this earth on which he lived. They directed him to do exactly as they did. They would go first underneath, flying in a circle. They started off one behind the other. He did just as they did as they flew down to the earth.1 When they had come down they directed him to fly where he lived. They asked if he wished them to accompany him.

He went back where his grandmother was living. "Now you see it was dangerous as I told you it was," she said to him. " What you said was true," he replied.

He had killed all the monsters which preyed on the peoples who lived on the earth. As he was traveling about he came where a high rock stood under which Old Man Big Owl lived with his two daughters. The girls were both alike and Naiyenezgani's mind was disturbed with desire. He wished they would speak to him. Old Man Owl saw what was in Naiyenezgani's mind. " What you are wishing will happen," he said. " My daughter is cleaning out the cave behind. She is making a bed. Marry the one in there." He married her.

The one he married brought in some food.2 The monitor which sat by Naiyenezgani's ear told him that what she brought was not good, that ft was human brains. Naiyenezgani told the girl that he did not eat such food, to take it back. She took it back and brought him meat boiled soft. His monitor told him again the food was not good. He told the girl again to take the food away; that he did not eat that kind. She took it away and brought him something that looked like corn. It was white, had been boiled, and was turned wrong side up. Again he was told it was not good. The dish was human eyes. He told her again that he was not accustomed to eat that and that she should carry it back. She was bringing him human flesh all the time.

Then Naiyenezgani spoke. Owl's children were evil smelling. He directed that they wash with soap weeds and that Owl himself should also wash. He told his wife to throw away her property and to wash and sweep her house. They did so; they bathed.

Naiyenezgani had a little cornmeal which never was spent in his belt. He gave this to the girl he had married telling her that that was the sort of food human beings ate, and that her food was very bad. He told her to take it to her house, and boil it as thick mush with water, and eat it. He also told her how to make ta'mil, a thin soup. He added that although there was but little of the meal, that never gave out. They prepared it as he told them and ate the food.

His wife went not far from their house for water, carrying her tos on her back. Although it was only a short distance some time elapsed, and she did not return. He said to himself, "She always comes back quickly I better go and see what is the matter." When he came there he found only the tos by the water and his wife's track and two footprints of a man with a long foot. He wondered what had happened and then the one who sat by his ear told him that Gołilisi had stolen his wife and that they had gone a long way off. Gołilisi had a flute and with that he traveled over the earth. Naiyenezgani, too, had a flute with which he traveled. The one who sat by his ear told Naiyenezgani that the two had landed far toward the east where the mountain ridge was blue with distance. Beyond that as far again where another mountain was blue they had come. In this manner they had gone four times to distant mountains and beyond that they were traveling on the ground.

When his monitor had told him this he thought he would try with his flute. When he blew on it his flute went with him to the distant blue mountain where they had alighted. There he saw his wife's tracks and the long footprints lying over them. He blew his flute again and alighted on the next mountain. There again were the tracks. He blew his flute the third time and landed on another ridge where the tracks were again to be seen. He blew again on the flute and went to the blue mountain where he alighted and saw his wife's tracks. The man's long footprints were there also. This made four times. From there on they had walked along together. He followed their trail for a long way until he came to a difficult canyon from which he could see smoke rising. He found his wife had been taken into the canyon.

He came to the trail which led to the water supply and sat down behind a bunch of grass. Soon a girl came from the camp to the water. As she was filling her vessel he picked up a small stone and threw it into the water. Wondering what had caused it the girl began to look around and discovered him. Leaving the water basket she ran where her father was sitting and told him the one who steals people was sitting by the water. The father said he would not be in such a place and that the girl was not telling the truth. The girl repeated her statement which the father again doubted. Each made the statements four times after which the father decided to investigate. A company of men went to the water place and addressing Naiyenezgani as friend, asked how he was traveling, and why he did not come to the camp as travelers were supposed to do. Naiyenezgani then agreed to return with them. They came to the edge of a large camp where Naiyenezgani sat down. The people came to look at him because they did not know him and he had a strange appearance. They asked the reason for his journey. He replied that someone there had taken away a woman. He said he had followed her track to that place and that was the reason for his coming. They replied that Gołilisi had come early that morning with a good-looking woman. She might be the one for whom he was looking. Naiyenezgani replied that he had come from TałakQwa. The people expressed surprise saying they had never seen people from there and that they did not know of a place of that name anywhere on the earth. They decided to summon Eagle Chief who was accustomed to say he had seen everything. When he had come and was seated they said to him: "You always say you have seen everything, do you know of a place on the earth named TałakQwa? A man who is sitting here says he came from, there since this morning." Eagle Chief replied that there was no such place, that he had been everywhere and had never seen a place so named.

They next sent for Yellow-tailed Hawk Chief who also claimed to have seen every locality. When he was seated they put the same question with the same introduction. Yellow-tailed Hawk Chief made the same denial that such a place could exist.

Raven Chief was next called who, when questioned in the same words, made the same reply. They then sent for Pelican (?) Chief. When told a man claimed to have come from TałakQwa since morning he immediately replied, "He did not travel on the earth then." "When I was going about," he said, ".before my wings had gaps in them I once saw in the distance a place called TałakQwa, then I had to turn back. It is very far from here."

Naiyenezgani then inquired where Gołilisi lived. They told him he lived a short distance away. Then those who came to him asked him four times if he knew some game, some method of gambling. They asked him about dice sticks, hoop and pole, and hiding the ball, but he replied he did not know any of them. When they had asked the fourth time they told him someone had won from them their daughters, their sons, and their wives, and that not one was left to them. Naiyenezgani asked who it was who had done this to them. They replied that it was Gołilisi. He then inquired by what means he won them. They enumerated: hoop and pole, cards, hiding the ball, pushing over the post, three-stick dice, the many-stick dice, a contest in which his hair was stretched across the canyon, a footrace, and a race on horseback, the course being the edge of the world. They said that he had all their daughters, sons, and wives shut up where no one could see them. They asked Naiyenezgani to release them all.

He next inquired at what time of day Gołilisi came to play.3 They replied that he came out on the ridge, yonder, at sunrise carrying his najonc pole and shouted a challenge.

Naiyenezgani went to the ground where najonc was played and hid away a pole which he made. He also made the hoop and hid it away. The people who were to help him came with him. With Gołilisi came the girls and boys he was going to stake on the game.

Naiyenezgani hid himself near the edge of the camp. Gołilisi put down his pole and came to the camp. He had let out all the pretty girls, boys, and women. He came where Naiyenezgani was sitting and going among the people challenged them to play najonc. They replied that they could not beat him. He said that did not matter that they should hurry and play. He finally came to the house at the edge of the camp where Naiyenezgani was hidden. He asked him too to play. Naiyenezgani replied that he did not know how to play. He was invited to play four times and four times refused. Then Naiyenezgani reconsidered, saying, "Whatever it is you mean I will try it. You go ahead and I will follow." They went then to the playing ground. Then he told the people who came with him. "Your daughters, your sons, your wives, your people all go down with him." They consented. He came where they were to play and the girls, boys, and women went with him. The man stood here and the company he was going to bet stood over there. All the girls, boys, and women were on the one side. All the men who were helping Naiyenezgani came with him. The people on Gołilisi's side were crowded. " I will bet all in this group," he said. In the same way Naiyenezgani bet the people on his side. He said that he would play although he was no match for him. Gołilisi threw down his poles and hoop and told Naiyenezgani to choose one. Thinking they were the kind that people usually played with he took one up. Gołilisi took the other. He was then told to take up the hoop. When the request had been made four times he himself (Gołilisi) took the hoop and rolled it. This hoop of his had eyes, a tongue that it ran out, and a nose. It was alive and breathing. He rolled the hoop and threw the pole. Naiyenezgani threw his pole right after him. The hoop broke apart. The pole fell over there making a sound like "nxak'." The other pole fell a little way beyond:. The pole came all apart where it was joined. " What did you do to my pole?" Gołilisi asked. "What kind was your pole?" Naiyenezgani asked. "Your hoop is alive, it sticks out its tongue, it winks its eyes. That is not the way for najonc to be played. That is not a good way. These are the proper ones," he said, and brought out the ones he had made and hidden. He threw the poles down on the 'playing ground saying those were the sort with which people played.

One of the poles he had made was straight and red; the other was bent in every direction. Naiyenezgani told Gołilisi to choose a pole. He went to them and said he would take this one, picking out the straight red one. Naiyenezgani took the poor looking one. " What did you do with the hoop? " Naiyenezgani asked. The other replied he did not know where it was. When Gołilisi started to get the hoop. Naiyenezgani reached for the one which lay hidden in his clothes.' While he was reaching for it Gołilisi's hoop moved away. He kept reaching for it and the other hoop kept moving away. When he had reached for it four times in vain and the other had moved away so that Gołilisi had failed to find it he reached for the hoop again and pulled it out of the fold of his clothes. He threw it down saying, " This is the proper kind of hoop which people use. Your hoop is not good." To this Gołilisi consented. He rolled the hoop and threw his pole first. The end of the pole struck the hoop and it fell beyond the end of his pole. Naiyenezgani threw his pole telling it to go beyond. His pole jumped on his hoop and he won. "Well, that man beat me," Gołilisi said. Just once it did not land on the pole as they played against each other. He won those Gołilisi had bet and they all moved to Naiyenezgani's side.

Gołilisi then proposed that Naiyenezgani bet those he had wagered before and in addition all those he had won. Naiyenezgani consented and they played again. He rolled the hoop and threw his pole first. The hoop fell on his pole and was carried along by it. Naiyenezgani threw his pole after him and it went beyond the other. "Beyond," he told his hoop and it fell on the pole. He won again. Gołilisi exclaimed again as he lost.4

Again he proposed that Naiyenezgani should bet all his winnings, saying he would bet the same number. The bet being arranged on this basis they played again. Naiyenezgani rolled the hoop for him and threw his pole. The other man threw his pole later. Naiyenezgani won again. Gołilisi exclaimed again, "He beats me every time." Those he had won went across to Naiyenezgani.

They had played three times. Again the winnings were wagered and they played as before. The hoop went beyond as Naiyenezgani told it to and fell on his pole. He won again, the fourth time, and those he won came to his side. They put the hoop and pole game down.

Gołilisi then suggested they try pushing the posts over. The sticks had already been set up. The one for Gołilisi was set deep and Naiyenezgani's shallow. Four times they bantered each other to see who should try first. Gołilisi ran first, struck- the post with his shoulder and fell back. The post still stood. Naiyenezgani ran second and hit the post which fell forward.

He won and those he had won came over to him. Again the bets were doubled. There was a line of water baskets filled with all the different kinds of seeds which grow upon the earth. The names of those seeds were to be called. If Naiyenezgani missed naming them he would lose the people. The one that sat by Naiyenezgani's ear told him the names, saying that those over there were called so and so 'and these were called this way. Naiyenezgani gave all the names and won again. Again the bet was doubled and Gołilisi equaled the number. Naiyenezgani's wife was not among those won so far. They bet again for a game of hiding the ball at night. Gołilisi came that night to play. That which sat by Naiyenezgani's ear told him that Gołilisi won by the aid of a gopher which took the ball in his cheek pouches and went with it to the hole which would win the game. Naiyenezgani gave the gopher something for a bribe so he helped him instead of Gołilisi. He won those which were bet. Again they bet. He made three dice sticks with which he came to play. Gołilisi offered to bet as many as Naiyenezgani had won. The one which sat by Naiyenezgani's ear told him that the kingbird helped win the game. Naiyenezgani gave the kingbird something he had to help him win. In that way he won all those which were wagered.

Then they played with many dice sticks. The stakes were again doubled, Naiyenezgani bet all the people he had so far won. He won at this game also.

Each man had his hair tied up at the back of his neck. Gołilisi offered to bet as many people as Naiyenezgani had won and that Naiyenezgani's wife should this time be among the number. The contestants were to start on a ridge and see whose hair would reach the greater distance. They bantered each other to see who should first let down his hair. That which sat by Naiyenezgani's ear had told him that he must not let down his hair first, but make Gołilisi be the first. After Naiyenezgani refused the fourth time to be first, Gołilisi let his hair down. His hair reached down the ridge and across the canyon. He claimed to have won. Naiyenezgani let down his hair and it went across the canyon and halfway up the opposite side. Gołilisi had reached only to the foot of the opposite ridge. Naiyenezgani won from him again and Gołilisi exclaimed as on former occasions.

Naiyenezgani had won all that were bet.

Next Gołilisi suggested a horse race. The course was to be around the border of the earth. Gołilisi had a horse but Naiyenezgani had none. The one which sat by Naiyenezgani's ear told him to go to his father, the Sun, and borrow his horse. He started to his father. When he came there he asked his father to loan him a horse. The one which sat by his ear told him his father had four horses but not all of these were his very own horses. The horse the Sun used to go across the sky was a black horse with a small white spot on his forehead. That was the horse the Sun goes everywhere with.

The Sun said that none of his horses looked good. He went into his camp and led out a white horse. "Here is my horse, I guess you mean this one," he said. The one which sat by Naiyenezgani's ear told him that was not the one. Naiyenezgani said, "No. I meant your own horse." The Sun led that one back and brought out a red horse. Again Naiyenezgani was prompted to ask for the Sun's own horse. He led that one back and led out a yellow (sorrel) one. Again Naiyenezgani refused it and asked for the Sun's own horse. He led it back and came out again with a blue (gray) horse. Again being prompted Naiyenezgani refused it saying he wanted the horse his father used when he traveled. That was the one he had been asking for. The Sun led this horse inside and led out the black one that had a small white spot on its forehead.5 The one which sat by Naiyenezgani's ear told him that was the horse the Sun used himself: He told his father that was the one he wanted.

He rode it back where Gołilisi was waiting for him. Each side had a company of followers all of whom were provided with horses. They rode in company to the edge of the world where the race was to be. When they came there each tried to get the other to go first. The one which sat by Naiyenezgani's ear told him not to go first. When each had told the other to go first four times Gołilisi rode off first. When he had ridden a little way and was no longer in sight Naiyenezgani saw the horse he was riding again.. Then Naiyenezgani rode after him. Gołilisi had a flute and with that he was blown with the horse he was riding. Naiyenezgani also had a flute. When he saw him riding there he went in front of him without being seen. He landed way over there with his flute. Naiyenezgani too landed way over there with his flute. He looked in front again but he could not see him. He went with his flute again and landed far over. Naiyenezgani did the same. He could not see him in front. This made three times they had gone forward so. Each went forward again. This made four times and this time when he looked ahead he saw him. He was riding far ahead. He made his horse run to overtake him. With his flute he landed beyond in front of Gołilisi. He rode his horse over there where there was a ridge. Gołilisi was riding behind him. All of Gołilisi's followers were lined up on the nearer side and Naiyenezgani's followers on the other side. They saw one ride, up on the ridge. They said, "There is Gołilisi." There were crowds in each party. As he rode nearer his own followers said it was Naiyenezgani. When he rode up to them they found it was Naiyenezgani. Gołilisi tried in vain to overtake him. He trotted in behind. " Well, you beat me," he said. He won again.

Then he said he would bet just once more with him. They were to run a footrace around the border of the earth. Each came together with his followers. When they had come to the place each tried to get the other to go first. Naiyenezgani was warned not to go first. When Naiyenezgani had refused the last time Gołilisi started ahead. Naiyenezgani waited until his opponent was out of sight and only could be seen occasionally and then he started. Each had a flute with which he traveled. Naiyenezgani saw Gołilisi land far away with his flute and then blew his own flute and landed at the same place. Thus they traveled, each blowing his flute four times. When Naiyenezgani looked ahead he saw Gołilisi running some distance ahead. Naiyenezgani running in the same way was closing upon him. Then he blew on his flute and landed in front of Gołilisi. Naiyenezgani ran along and Gołilisi tried in vain to overtake him. Naiyenezgani ran up on a ridge and could see the people standing in two companies in the distance. When those in Gołilisi's company saw someone run upon the ridge they said, "Gołilisi is running up to the top of the ridge." As he ran down the ridge toward them the men in Naiyenezgani's company said, "No, that is not Gołilisi, it is Naiyenezgani." The other party insisted it was Gołilisi. When he came very close Naiyenezgani's partisans insisted that it was Naiyenezgani. He ran between the two lines of men. It proved to be Naiyenezgani. Gołilisi was way behind, just coming up the ridge. Gołilisi's people felt badly, but Naiyenezgani's company were happy. He won the footrace from Gołilisi.

He won against all the bad ones there were on the earth. That was all. He won his wife and went home with her. The daughters, sons, and wives which had been lost he won back and the people were happy and said, "Thanks to you, wherever you come from." Naiyenezgani went back with his wife to his grandmother Ests'unnadlehi.

Creation Myth (Second Version)6

They say it happened long ago when there were no people nor anything, and when earth and the black sky did not exist.7 "Let us make the earth and the black sky," he said. He began to study and talk about how both the earth and sky might be made. He also sought helpers and concluded that four persons should do the work and he found them with his mind.8 " It is not well that there should be no people on the earth," he said. Therefore those who were to make the world sat down and discussed how it should be done. " If we make it of something it will be well," he said and all the others gave their assent. They attempted the work but there was no material of which it could be made. After they had tried for a time the earth that they had made was not good.

"This is not a good kind," he said. "Which way shall we do it?" Then the Sun rubbed his hand down over his breast and divided the cuticle he rubbed off into two parts. Of one part he made a humming bird and caused it to fly about, saying it should be the messenger. With the second portion he made the earth and put it in place. " What way shall we make it?" he asked. After they had talked the matter over he suggested it would be well to place it so it would have four directions. They put down the earth they had made, but it was not good, it was not firm but shook. A black whirlwind rested on it four times and it nearly stood still but was not yet satisfactory. Then they agreed to place the supports under it at four points. At the east they placed a black whirlwind standing under it like a post. At another place they put posts of black metal under it at four places. In another position they put posts of big black reeds, and at still another place they put four posts of blue metal. Now it stood still and was nearly perfect.
They made the black sky in the same way and he pronounced it good too.

Now the earth was flat and bare, there were no mountains, and they were not pleased with this condition. The four persons who made earth and sky were named as follows. One was called Naicje'etco` diłxiłn, "large black spider," one was Bec dilxil xastin, "black metal old man," the third was named Naxokosse diłxiłn, "black great dipper"9 and the fourth, Gonaldjictco` xastin (an insect). These four said, "We have made the earth but it is smooth and it is not good that way, besides we have no food." Then the chief called attention to the flying 'thing (the humming bird) he had made which he now sent as his messenger saying: "People must be living somewhere; look everywhere for them." The bird flew away and went all around the border of the wide earth but came back repeating that there was no living thing. " Well, look on top of this sky which we have set up," he said. The four people were starving. The bird went away but at first could not get through the sky. Finally he found a small hole in the center of the sky and going through this he flew where people were living. He told them that the people who were living beneath were starving. They discussed the matter and decided that the starving people should come up on the sky where food was plentiful. They sent back word by the bird who returned 'just before daybreak. He did not report until daylight when the people got up, and asked the result of his journey. "Why should I tell you?" he replied. " I came far from here where were living people who said you might go to them. They are living above and they have food there. They said, ' Let them come up here.'

The people then said "Let us make something to go up on." They planted a pine tree which grew up quite a way and then stopped. Realizing that a pine would not do a "black" reed was suggested. They planted one but after it had grown up a way it stopped. They considered again and since the reed was nearly sufficient decided to plant black metal with it. They did so and it grew up and pierced the sky.10 They moved away leaving one old woman and a crippled man behind. They went up on the reed twisted together with black metal. The joints of the reed are the places where they camped. In this manner they came up on the sky and went where the people were living. The old woman who had been left behind took the crippled man on her back and started to follow but she had not gone far before her foot slipped and she fell. The two sat down and remained there.11

Those who had gone up to the sky decided to smoke together so the people were all called to the house of the chief. When night came the people gathered together and a pipe being filled they all smoked. When they had finished the chief said his mind was disturbed because the earth they had made was devoid of mountains and for that reason he was not pleased with it. After considering what should be done for some time they decided to employ water and that it should rain for thirty-two days. Humming bird was sent as a messenger to the two people who had remained below to tell them that water would cover the entire earth. The woman studied about the situation and then went, to a hollow sycamore tree inside of which she sat.12 She brought in some seeds, sunflower seeds, and a little corn. She put in the grinding stones too, the metate and the muller, with which she could grind the seed. When it started to rain she closed the opening of the tree with black stone set in pitch. She sat inside where she had a fire. When it had rained twelve days the earth was covered with water. The water continued to rise day by day as the rain fell. The tree floated on the water. When it had rained thirty-two days the water rose close to the sky and then the rain stopped.13 The old woman floated in her tree four times around the world. She kept thumping on the inside but she heard "bok" each time and realized that the time had not yet come.

There were two birds still alive, woodpecker and turkey. These two clung to the sky. Turkey's tail was washed white at the tip14 and woodpecker's tail feathers were worn off sharp.

It had now been a long time and the old woman hit her tree again. It said " bok" still. She went around again and then she took up the muller and hit the tree again. This time the tree answered "clan" and she judged -the water was gone. She removed the pitch from the edge of the opening, took away the black stone stopper and came out. There was only sand to be seen. She started walking when she saw where a black bug had gone along. She followed it, tracking it a long time until she came up with it. She addressed it asking what it was going after. "Oh, I am just `black water.' There ,are no people going about, I came up in sorry shape." 'The old 'woman started back until she came where these mountains came to stand and made her camp where there was a small spring of water. She began to consider what she should do and decided she would do something shameful.

The chief of the people who had gone above spoke, directing that the people should come together for a council that night. When they had smoked he asked them to fix his mind for him. He wished to make fruits and food plants for the world below.15 "You have seeds, now help the people living beneath that they may have something to eat," he said. They agreed to come together the next day to plant. When morning came the people came together bringing their wooden hoes. One man's hoe was a -poor crooked piece of wood but he put it with the others. Someone seeing it in the pile with the others said it wasn't good and threw it out. The man who owned the hoe was displeased and started home. One of the -company asked why the hoe was thrown out saying that not every one would have good property. They planted the seed but it did not all grow. They sent word then to the man who owned the hoe asking him why he did not help them. He replied that he had gone home because they had thrown his hoe away. "You didn't like my hoe and therefore I went home. Now I will help you and I will put my hoe among the others," he said. Then they planted all the seeds and they came up. The old woman was happy and lived on this food.16

This woman thought she would do something shameful.17 There was a bluff some distance from her camp where water was dripping. She went there to look at it and decided she would come back and try it. When she came there again she lay under the dripping water but nothing happened. She went back to camp and came there again and lay under the water. Again she was unsuccessful and went back to her camp. She considered the matter and concluded that some day she might succeed. The next day she again lay down under the bluff. It nearly happened this time but still it was not right and she went back to her camp. She decided she would try just once more and went again the next day. She lay down under the bluff and this time the dripping water entered her and she felt good. She went back to her camp and remained there. After six months she felt of her abdomen with her hand and found it was a little enlarged. At the end of eight months she felt of herself again and when twelve months had elapsed her baby was born.18 She was happy. The baby was a girl. She made a basket cradle for it and provided a pad of grass. She took good care of it. When it was six months old it sat up; at eight months it crept; when it was a year old it was able to stand and walk.

The mother talked to the girl and told her of the many seeds on which they were living.

She also told her that she had done something shameful with the good result of producing her. The daughter asked the mother what she should do, and she told her to do a similar thing.19 She directed her to lie on her back at a certain place where the sun was shining. The girl, saying she would try, went where the sunbeams were striking and sat facing the sun. Nothing happened to her and she returned to camp and reported to her mother her lack of success. Her mother told her to go again nevertheless. She went again the next day and lay down again. It nearly happened this time. She went home again and reported to her again, encouraged by her mother that some time she would be successful. She went the next day and the sunshine nearly did what was expected. This time she reported to her mother her near success to be assured that her purpose would soon be accomplished. The next day she went again and lay as before. This time when the sun came up and its beams streamed out the girl's hips shook. When she was still again she got up and returned to her mother saying, "Mother for some reason my hips shook and took a long time to recover." "That is good. Now I think it has happened," the mother replied. The two women lived there together and the mother was rejoicing because now she had a helper.

When six months had passed the girl felt of herself and told her mother her abdomen was enlarged. The mother assured her that was to be expected. When eight months had passed her abdomen was quite large. She (the mother) made a basket cradle and prepared the bark for a bed. At the end of twelve months her abdomen began to hurt. When the girl told her mother, she was told not to say that. Then the baby moved and was born. It was a boy. The woman took it up, calling it her grandchild, and washed it putting ashes on it. The next morning she took it up and began singing for it. She sang good songs for it, calling it "Grandchild." Addressing her daughter she said, "My child, you did well. This boy was born for us because we did something shameful. I gave you birth for the clouds and water, and you gave birth to a child for the sun. You will be called Tubatc'istcine, " born for water" and the child will be called Tsitsinłgia
"white head." When the baby was six months old it sat up, and when it was eight months old it stood. By the time he was a year old he was large.20 His grandmother sang four songs for him and with them she fixed him properly. Then he stood up.

She made arrows for him and he practiced shooting at a cactus which stood there and got so he could hit. His grandmother made him arrows a little larger and he shot through the cactus with them. She made him arrows still larger and he was able to shoot them through a larger cactus. "Now you are strong enough, my grandchild," she told him. "You shall hunt for all kinds of animals." He went away but didn't see anything. He went in another direction and saw a mouse. Wondering what it was he went back to ask his grandmother, saying he had seen something small with glowing eyes. She told him it was called mouse and that it was one of the animals she meant for him to hunt. She directed him to kill it and bring it to her. He went there again, killed it, and brought it back to the camp. " This is the one I meant, we eat this kind."

He went to another place and came to a rabbit which ran away from him. He went back and reported to his grandmother that he had seen an animal with broad ears which had run away from him. "That is named ga, `rabbit,"' she said, "we eat that kind. Kill it." He went there again and shooting it with an arrow killed it. He brought it back to camp.

"That is what I meant, grandchild," she said, "they are good to eat. You are doing well. Look some distance away where an animal called bį 'deer,' lives. They are good for food. Do not pull it under a Douglas spruce to dress it for to do so will be dangerous."

He went in the direction indicated and saw an animal which appeared to be carrying a dry tree on its head. He went back and described it to his grandmother who told him it was an animal of great value. She directed him to shoot it hard with his strongest arrow. He returned to the place and hiding behind a bush approached near to it and shot it, killing it21 He dragged it under a Douglas spruce and began dressing it, wondering why the old woman had forbidden him to do so. When he had it nearly dressed water dropped on the boy. When he had it properly dressed water fell on him again. He looked up and saw a maiden in the tree who immediately addressed him as husband.22 Catching up only the intestines he ran toward the camp with the girl running after him calling him husband. The boy put down the intestines he was carrying which turned into gulches. Notwithstanding the gulches she was running close to him. The boy ran back to his grandmother's camp and reported that something calling him husband was running behind him. "I told you not to do that and now it will make little difference which way you go," she told him and digging a pit by the fire hid him in it.

' In a short time the girl ran up and asked for her husband. The old woman denied having seen him. When the girl insisted that he was running in that direction the old woman denied again that she had seen him. The girl pointed out the footprints and then seated herself by the fire. She urinated. After sitting there for a time she dug the boy out and he stood up. She again called him husband and asked that from four places be brought Douglas spruce poles with which she would build her house. Consent being given, she ran off and returned with Douglas spruce. She repeated her trips in other directions until she had been to the four world quarters. She set up the poles in a circle and built her house in which they sat. The boy was not pleased and did not touch the girl for she was not as she should be. She was anxious to accomplish her purpose but could not. The boy knew what was the matter; the girl's vagina was provided with teeth. He got pieces of brush and stuck sand on them with pitch making four implements. These he inserted one after the other as he lay with the girl. Three of these were chewed to pieces and the fourth one partly. The boy then took his white stone and broke the teeth off with it and cut around inside with his obsidian knife. "This is the proper condition," he said. " This way it shall be named. Now I will marry you."

The boy sat there happily but the girl, wishing his death, removed four of her pubic hairs and while she was gone for wood made four bears of them. She told her husband that some animals which appeared good were going around over the hill. The boy agreed that they would go to see them. When they came where they were in the brush the girl said she thought they would make good dressed skins. " Well, if you think they will make dressed skins you go around behind them and shout. I will go around in front of them." When the boy had come in front of them the girl was shouting to them to tear up the boy who was sitting on top of the hill. The boy hearing this removed his shirt and hat and put them on a black stump and sat down behind it. As they ran up to attack the stump he shot them one after the other, killing them all. Their bodies lay there.23 The boy took up his shirt and hat again and stood there. He heard the girl still shouting "Tear the boy well to pieces, kill him." The boy called to her to come, saying those she said would be good to make dressed skins of were lying there. She came but was not pleased. Turning away from the man she cried. They went home and now lived happily.

The boy went to his grandmother's camp and asked her where the bad beings were living. She told him that one called Nagegani, "kills with his eyes" was one of the bad beings who kill people. The boy asked where this monster lived. She told him he lived toward the north. The boy saying he would go there; announced that he intended to kill them all. His grandmother told him also of Delgit who was hard to approach, also a killer of men. Still another was NakQ'diłgedi who lived in a dangerous place where great fires were burning. Another monster she said was called Tsidaketisi who lay in a place of danger. These are all beings which kill men. The boy said again that he would kill them. The grandmother said she had enumerated them all and charged him to take with him the good medicine which had been given him by his father.

Saying he would go to all four of the bad beings and kill them, he set out. As he was walking along he came where Nagegani's house stood. As he came near it he caused a cold wind to blow which froze the monster's four pets which guarded him so they did not see the boy approach. As he entered he hit the pets with a stick. Nagegani looked at him and for a while his mind was inactive; then he blew with his medicine and threw four snakes which he had concealed in his clothing into the fire. The snakes exploded and pieces flew into the eyes of the Nagegani so they were blinded. Naiyenezgani took his black knife, and stabbing them all, killed them. (There were about a dozen in the family.) Naiyenezgani returned to his home and told his grandmother that he had killed Nagegani,24 for which she praised him.

He then asked where Delgit was living. His grandmother told him it was far distant on a level stretch of ground so that no one could approach. Saying he was going there he set out. When he came to the plain he saw Delgit standing there. He wondered how he should proceed and while he was pondering this, Gopher came out of his hole and asked why he was sitting there. He said he was wondering how he could kill the animal standing over there. Gopher offered to help saying that since the monster was accustomed to his coming to him he could approach him. He told Naiyenezgani to stay where he was for a short time. A short time after Gopher disappeared into his hole the animal got up, looked, and then lay down again. Gopher came back and reported that he had made four tunnels, one above the other and that he had cut away the hair under the animal's foreleg. He advised Naiyenezgani to build a fire and heat his club red hot. Then with his knife heated he went in and stabbed the animal with his knife. The monster got up, inserted one of his horns in the topmost tunnel and tore it open. He tore out the second and third in succession and was halfway through the fourth when he dropped dead. Naiyenezgani secured the hide, the knees, and the blood. When he came back to the camp he told his grandmother that he had killed Delgit.25 The grandmother, expressing her gratitude, asked for the hide and danced.

Naiyenezgani asked where Tsidaketisi was living. His grandmother replied that he was lying in a dangerous place in the middle of a precipice under which were his children. " He lies above, close to the trail at the only place where one can pass, and kicks the passerby over the bluff."

Saying he would go there, Naiyenezgani came to the middle of the bluff where the old man was lying. He sent a squirrel past the old man who kicked at it. "Why did you kick my pet?" he asked. "Oh, it is just my nature to do that," the monster replied. Next he sent a spotted rat and he was kicked and the same remonstrance made. Next he threw a snake close to his head. "That is the kind I am afraid of," he said and tried to kick it away. Naiyenezgani cut his hair (which was fastened to the rock) and knocked him over the precipice. Naiyenezgani returned and reported that he had killed Tsidaketisi26 for which she praised him.

He next inquired where NakQdiłgedi was living. "He lives in a place of danger where a fire flames up," she replied. Naiyenezgani, saying he would go there, set out again. When he arrived near the place, he was sitting leaning against something, when Wildcat came up to him and asked why he was sitting there. Naiyenezgani replied he was considering how he would approach yonder spot. Wildcat advised him to make four fire drills in the form of arrows and that they should be very dry. These arrows were to be shot in four directions.27 When NakQdiłgedi saw the first one alight he ran toward it. When another was shot in another direction he ran there also. So he ran also when the third one was shot. The fourth time, when he had run a considerable distance, he was tired. He then called the boy by name. " Tsits'inlġai, come to me." When the boy approached the monster suggested they should meet. They did so and went toward NakQdits'iyi's house where they seated themselves. NakQdits'iyi asked his guest why he came. " Let us kill each other," the boy proposed. " Well, you try first," the other replied. Then he took out some meat and his knife and began to eat. The other did not eat any of it. "Let us go outside," one proposed. They went outside. Both of them had obsidian knives and each had something sitting on his head which gave him information and instruction. Each urged the other to begin first. Naiyenezgani's informant told him to stab his adversary's shadow. NakQdits'iyi' first stabbed his opponent, but Naiyenezgani stabbed at the shadow of the monster. Both of them lay down. Naiyenezgani got up first, ate some of his "life medicine" and entirely recovered. He took up his knife and went back to his home where he announced to his grandmother that he had killed NakQdiłgedi. "Thank you," she said. "You have killed all those who made trouble on earth. Now it has become a good place on this earth. You used to be called Tsits'inlġai,' from now on you will be called Naiyenezgani."


1 The method of getting down perhaps belongs to another story, that of the man who visited the sky with the large birds. The Navajo (Matthews, 119, 121), have the story with Old Woman Bat which is also the usual form among the Apache. Cf. Goddard, (a), 198-199, below p. 4.
2 Some phases of this incident are similar to that of Deer-raiser, in Matthews, 178-183.
3 Many of the incidents connected with these contests were given in a different connection by Mathews, 83-87
4. The counting of the game is rather complicated. The hoop itself is carved and it has a knotted string stretched across one diameter. The count varies according to the points of contact between the hoop and the pole.
5 The usual color circuit, but being at the south so as to finish with the black horse of the east.
6 Told by Albert Evans, a San Carlos who was born about 1875. He attended a school for some months in Nebraska, and is able to speak fair English. He interpreted the text from which this translation was made.
7 The Apache use "black" or "dark" in the sense of holy, perhaps because it is the color of the east. While the black sky may mean the sky at night it probably does not imply color at all.
8 These persons are named below.
9 Ursus major.
10 The Navajo were driven from four worlds in succession but only on the fourth world were they people. They went up by means of a reed. Matthews, 75. The Jicarilla failed with reeds but succeeded with ladders, (Mooney, 199; Russell, (a), 255; Goddard, (a), 193).
11 The world left behind in the Jicarilla story becomes the world of the dead and the couple left behind are its rulers. Goddard, (a), 194. The world reached in the case of both the Navajo and Jicarilla is this earth, not the sky.
12 The myths of the Navajo (Matthews, 162) and the Jicarilla (Goddard, (a), 214-5) make use of a hollow tree sealed up for the transportation of another person.
13 The sacred numbers of the Southern Athapascan are four, twelve, and thirty-two.
14 Matthews, note 38, 218; Russell, (a), 254; Stevenson, (a), 36.
15 This seems to be the general placing of vegetation on the earth by employing an agricultural pattern.
16 The seeds were planted on the earth by means of rain.
17 This is a fair translation of the Apache word which may mean bad without moral content.
18 The Apache are inclined to insist that regardless of what white people believe about themselves, the term of gestation for the Apache is twelve months.
19 In the Navajo account by Matthews these women are sisters who produce offspring: in this manner (Matthews, 105), but there is another Navajo version where only one woman is concerned, Matthews. 231, note 101.
20 The normal development as contrasted with the usually supernatural one of four day intervals.  Matthews, 105.
21 This description of the child's development is not a usual part of this myth. The incidents of the animals used for food, arranged in the increasing scale of their importance and of the ability of a growing hunter are contained in a Diegueos myth. Du Bois, 223.
22 The insertion of the incident at this point is unconvincing because of the boy's immaturity. Matthews does not include such a monster, but the Franciscan Fathers give her in their list, 358.
23 Matthews has a monster bear (p. 125) but this incident more closely parallels one in a different setting in which the bears are the pets of the man's father-in-law, not of his wife as in this case, Matthews, 187.
24 Matthews, 123 and above p. 13.
25 Matthews, 116-120; Goddard, (b), 234-235, above, p. 15.
26 Matthews, 122; Goddard, (a), 202; Goddard, (b), 235, above, p. 12.
27 The method of causing smoke to arise at distant points is found in other connections (Mooney, 204) but this particular incident is new.

San Carlos Apache Mythology

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Myths And Tales From The San Carlos Apache, 1918



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