Indian Mythology | San Carlos Apache Mythology

Prayers for Hunting Deer


1They say it happened at Ests'unnadlehi's house. She was sitting with her grandchildren when she spoke. " Grandchild, hunt for deer," she said.

"I will make a good house for my old one is getting shabby."2 When she said this the grandson went to hunt.

"Djingona'ai, my father, I spoke to you. I am going after that which you look upon. You must bring it to me quickly. Bring me quickly the largest male deer upon which you look."

Then he came to it. He saw the deer he meant come walking toward him. " Wind, my brother, do not warn him from me," he said. He started toward the deer. He put his head up over the ridge and saw the deer walking along looking about. Because he had prayed the deer did not see him. He came close to him and shot him. The shot killed the deer and he brought him to the camp. "Thanks, my grandchild," his grandmother said.

"Hunt again," she said. "Go for your sister," Ests'unnadlehi said. " Hunt toward the west." " I am going where my sister is walking," he said. "You must hurry, my sister. I said I would come to you before the sun is very high." He prayed to the wind. "My brother, ' hurry' I said to you."

The same thing happened to him again. The deer, a female, came to him, not very far away. He killed it and brought it to the camp. "He means` that it shall be this way," Ests'unnadlehi said. "Let it be that way," they said. " We will keep it up."

He started after it from halfway between the top and the bottom of Ests'unnadlehi's house. "Make a fire that you may eat before you go," she said. She put a pot made of bacine filled with black mouth blood on the fire. She dipped the foam off with a cup made of balgaiye.

"Now I will go for the deer," he said. While he was going after it he says: "Ganowan, my brother, what will you do? You have some deer for pets. Bring me one of them anyway I ask of you." " Djingona'ai, I am your child." "Black Whirlwind, my brother you must hurry to help me, I say." "I am after you, I say. It shall be the largest male deer and its body shall be large. It must not be looking around, because I have prayed to you."

As he walked around he came to it. He considered how he should approach it. He concluded it would be better to go to it behind the ridge. In that way he came near it and shot it, killing it. He carried it home.

"You women who are menstruating must not eat its head. You must not eat its heart. If you do I cannot kill more deer and I shall be in bad luck."

All the men killed deer. They entered into a contest to see who would kill deer first and who would kill the largest number of deer. "This one, Bullsnake, he is the best hunter. He kills only large bucks. Panther Boy here, is the same kind of a hunter. Ganowan too is that sort and so is Ganłjin. Well, let us go hunting quickly," they said to each other. The men started out but Bullsnake still lay on his bed. "The men went long ago," they told him. "Well, I will go," he said but he was still lying down.

When the other three men had gone to hunt, each in his own direction, Panther Boy started. He had gone up only one ridge when he pulled a hair from his beard and stood it up in a little canyon where some brush stood in front of where he was hiding. When he had placed it he went back to his station on top of the ridge and sat down. When he had been sitting there a short time he wondered what might be happening, and he put his head up. He looked at the hair from his beard which he had set up and it was still as it had been at first. The next time when he put his head up it was still as before. There was no change the third time and he again withdrew behind the ridge. When after a little while he put his head up again a deer had come there. He saw it lying there and it had antlers. It was the hair from his beard that did it.3 He stepped toward the deer and when he came near it he shot it, killing it. He put it over his shoulder without opening it and carried it to his house where he put it down.

None of the men who had gone hunting with him had returned. He thought about Bullsnake, wondering if he had gone to hunt and concluded he would go to see. As he came to the door Bullsnake was pulling out a large buck. Panther Boy was still the first to bring in a deer. This one who first brought in a deer had someone to help him. He sent wind after Ganowan and when he came where the deer were and started to stalk them the wind went among them and they smelled Ganowan and ran away from him. He came back from the hunt without killing anything. He sent Buzzard after Ganłjin. When he came to the deer and began to stalk them Buzzard stuck a wing up behind a ridge further over than the one on which the hunter was walking and flapping his wings, frightened the deer, who saw him and ran off. Ganłjin did not kill a deer. Panther Boy won the contest.

This is the way they used to do. They prayed:
" Gandiłxił, you are my brother. Hurry and bring me the one you like." " Ganłjin, you are my brother. Hurry and bring me the one you like." "Panther Boy, there is food in your camp. Hurry and bring me the forked horn deer that you raise."

"Bullsnake, bring me what you raise at your camp."

The people speak thus when they pray that they may kill large deer.

The Snake Ceremony4

They say it happened long ago. Two men set out from Gotalbakawadi to make a war raid. When they arrived they were unsuccessful and turned back. When they came near Black River on their return there were no people there but close to the stream bed there were a person's footprints.

They followed the tracks and it seemed the person had gone into a large stone which lay there. One of them, saying it was Stone Echo Girl who had made the tracks, urged that they should go on to a camping place as it was near sunset. When they wanted to build a fire one of them went for some sotol stalks which he was breaking off when he saw a porcupine running off toward its hole which it entered. He ran to his brother and told him about it. They went to the hole, pushed a sharpened stick in, twisting it so it was entangled in the quills and then pulled the animal out. They carried the animal back, built a fire, and put in some small stones to heat. When they were hot they put in the porcupine and covered it up with the ashes. While it was cooking they sat there one on either side of the fire until midnight. They then took the porcupine out and one of them ate of it but the other did not. They went to sleep, but after a little one of them woke up. Then the other one woke up, and one began to tell the other that he did not feel well and that if the other should return to their home he should tell what had happened to him. The other brother remained however until daybreak when the older brother said, "Now I am nearly dead. Go back, brother, but do not look back. When you are on Yucca ridge do not look back." Then the younger brother started back, but when he came to Yucca ridge he said to himself "Why did he tell me not to look back?" He looked back where his brother sat and saw something weird going along. He ran and came back to Gotalbakawadi. He told them they had had bad luck at Black River. " Well, we will find out," he (the father) replied and sent messengers east, south, west, and north to call the people together. Before long they assembled and started to go to Black River. They traveled with sheet lightning so they could see well. When they came there many of them said, " I am a medicineman." The man who had been sitting there was not to be found and the medicinemen did not know where he was. They looked for a long time for his track but found no trace of it. They did see the mark where a snake had crawled along. They concluded that must have been made by the man and decided to follow it. This they did until it came to the edge of the water of Black River, where they were forced to stop. Those who claimed supernatural power tried to raise up the water of the river but were not able to do so. Finally distant lightning raised it a little and the company started down the bed of the river beneath the water. They went on downstream until they came to the junction 'of the rivers.5 When they came close they found no signs of the lost man and continued downstream until they came where the water sinks below the surface.6

They went downstream from there until they came way down and there they found him but he was not a human being.

Then a man with supernatural power who had come with them took his four rings and began to throw them at what had been a man. The first restored the man as far as his neck. The second one fell on him and made him a man as far as his waist. The third restored nearly all the remainder of his body, and the fourth made him completely a man as he had been before. They all returned without mishap to Gotalbakawadi. When they were nearly back, they stopped by a place which they said should be called Tsexadecgij, "forked rock." There they say supernatural ones live. They went still further until they came where it is called Tulittsogixalį, "yellow water spring" where also supernatural people are said to live. From there all the company went on back until they came to Gotalbakawadi where all the different kinds of supernatural ones live. They were going to make there the people who talk the different languages and from there they were to be scattered out in different directions. They danced there twelve nights during which time no one slept. When the people were feeling happy they made names for the various types. They made thirty-two different languages and then the people separated from each other.

"The supernatural ones will live here," he said. Then he made for the people those things on which we live. He made thirty-two kinds of fruits and vegetable food on which he said the people should live. He promised them rain which would make these plants grow. He made for them their corn, bił'onagai, and agave telling them to roast the latter with fire. He also made acorns, giant cactus, and two other kinds of cactus which they should use as food. Then he made for them day and night and arranged the months. Some of these he made to be cold and some of them hot. He made twelve months altogether and divided them in the middle, one part hot and one part cold. Now everything on the earth had been made by him.

Then the chief of the supernatural ones said that the people should live on the earth happily and promised to look after them saying that they should all be his children. He told them that they should do whatever he did. He promised to pray for them. He said he would live on top of the sky. If it rained the fruits would grow for them. He made everything for the people and arranged it properly. He charged them to remember what he told them saying that he had made everything good for them and that they were to live on the earth. He told them to pray to him and reminded them that he had made all the various things for them. He warned them it would not be well for them if they did not give heed to the things he was telling them. Whatever they said or thought would-be known to him. He was saying this because he thought they would live happily because of what he had said. He promised that he would go across above the world every day and see them everywhere.

He also said he had made pollen with which the people on the earth everywhere should pray and that they should pray to him only with it.

Having made many languages for them and said all this to them he directed that they go their several ways and scatter over the earth and that he would go up above where he would live.

"Now, this is all," he said.7

Panther and Coyote8

Coyote was sleeping on the other side of the fire. "Let us go over here," he told Panther with whom he was living. "There is a good nest on the cliff." They two went there. When Panther climbed up, Coyote spoke to the rock, saying, "Grow up with him." The rock began growing up. It was very high when it stopped growing. Panther looked down to the bottom and saw a fire burning there. When he saw it he cried. He sat in the nest with Eagle's children. While he was sitting there a number of eagles flew down from the sky. They put a feather shirt on the man and he flew up with them. As they flew up they sang, "We are going up, Yaoina."

When he got up to the sky he found many fruits there. They gave him a wife. They had such things as pumpkins, melons, and gourds for. enemies. Bees were their enemies also. These hawk people used to go to war and fight their enemies. Panther went and fought with them. He kicked and struck them, killing them all. When he came back he looked down toward the earth. The man who had given him his daughter told him that if he were wishing he could go home, he might do so:

Then they put four kinds of feather shirts on him and went down with him. They flew under him as he went down. They sang, " yakigolnadazza yaxinnahi."

They came down to the ground near where he was taken away. They told him he must not let anyone see the feather shirts they had given him. He went to the place where his house had stood. There was nothing there but the remains of the house. He asked the charred remains of the fire, how many years ago the people had moved away. They told him five. He went on and found where a house had been. He asked the poles of which the house was made how many years it had been since the people left. Four, he was told. He went on and came where a house had been. He asked the old beds how many years since the people had left. They told him three. He went on again and came to another place where they had lived and asked the brush shelter how many years had passed since the people left. It told him two years. He went on until he came to another deserted dwelling. There he questioned the ashes and received the answer that the people had left a year before. He went to still another place where a house had been. He asked the cuds of cactus which had been chewed and rejected how long before the people had left. They told him that they had left that very morning.

Then he went on and overtook them. They were going along ahead of him, the woman carrying a burden basket in which his own boy was sitting. "Mother," he said, "father is behind us." Coyote's children were in the basket too, hanging over its side.

His former wife came to an arroyo and built a house. When Coyote went off hunting, Panther told his wife to bathe, which she did. Then Panther took out Coyote's children and threw them away, leaving only one. He sat down inside, hiding himself.

When Coyote came back from hunting he said to the woman. "Has your husband come home that you have taken a bath?"

The youngest of the Coyote children who had been spared, spoke, saying, "Father, it was with an arrow-flaker."

"What have you done with the children?" Coyote asked. " Where have the others gone?" Panther's boy was named, He Gnaws Tough Meat. Then Panther was angry at that and came out and spoke to Coyote, who was frightened and said he had taken good care of Panther's wife.

Panther put four stones in the fire to heat, saying to Coyote, "These will be your wife." "What is difficult about those?" asked Coyote as he built a fire around the stones as Panther directed. When they were hot Panther told Coyote to swallow one. He swallowed it, saying he did not taste anything. He ran around in a circle. Panther told him to swallow a second one. He swallowed that one saying again that he did not taste it. Again he ran around in a circle. Panther gave him another to swallow. Coyote swallowed it with the same remark and ran around in a circle once more. The last time he gave him another and told him to swallow it. He ran around in a circle. Panther gave him some water to drink. When he had drunk it, steam came out his mouth, his ears, and his nostrils. He lay down and, shaking his tail, died.

1 Told by Antonio in response to a request for the rules to be followed in hunting.
2 It was explained that the house was not necessarily actually rebuilt or repaired. It was said to be customary to represent one's self as coming from an attractive house so the deer would wish to come.
3 The text indicates that the hair became a deer.
4 Told by Albert Evans who is said to know and practice the ceremony. A very similar account was obtained from a White Mountain Apache in 1905.
5 The mouth of Tonto Creek where Roosevelt is now situated.
6 Near Phoenix, Arizona.
7 When the informant was reminded that the name of this individual had not been mentioned he replied, "Sun, though."
8 Told by a San Carlos woman named Dananeldel, in December, 1905. The White Mountain Apache also use this narrative as a basis of a ceremony for the christening of an infant. The Jicarilla know this story. Goddard, (a), 224. This narrative here treated as a folk tale resembles among the Navajo a major myth with ceremonial connections. Matthews, 195-208.

San Carlos Apache Mythology

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Myths And Tales From The San Carlos Apache, 1918



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