1They say it happened
long ago when people were about to be made that there was one man
and one woman living between the earth and the black sky. That "bad
The woman was named Ests'unnadlehi, and the other, the boy, was
called Naiyenezgani. The boy, not knowing who his father was, asked
where he was living. "He lives far away and there are difficulties:
you will not be able to go there," the woman told him. Saying he was
going, nevertheless, he set out and came where Spider was.3
His foot caught in the spider's thread. He turned back and started
again but when he came to the same spot he tripped on the web again.
Feeling about in the grass with his hand he hunted for the thread
and came to the spider's hole. Spider came up to him and addressing
him as grandchild, son's son, inquired of the boy where he was
going. He replied that he was going to visit his father. "It is a
dangerous place where he lives," Spider replied, "but come into my
house." The boy went in and Spider talked to him telling him of the
dangers. "There are four approaches to his house and his daughter
will see you when you are still far away."
When the boy was approaching his sister saw him and said: "Yonder
walks my brother." "What is that, your brother?" her mother asked. "
Well, I said ' my brother,' the girl replied. " Whom do you mean by
your brother? He does not exist," the mother said. The girl again
said her brother was coming to visit them.
Then the boy inquired for his father, saying he came
to visit him. The woman replied that she did not know his father,
but the boy insisted that he had been told that his father lived
there and that he came because of that. The woman admitted that it
might be that the boy's father did live there and asked him to be
seated until his father's return.
When his father was coming back he saw the boy's tracks. "Who came
here?" he demanded. "We have not seen anyone," the woman replied.
The man insisted that some one had come and pointed out the tracks.
"Well, have your own way about it," the woman replied. "You are
always claiming you do nothing improper and here comes a boy who
says he is your son. He is sitting over there."
The man still insisted he had done nothing but said
he would test the truth of the matter. He took up his pipe, filled
it, and having lighted it, passed it to the boy. The boy took it and
smoked, when he had drawn the fourth time on 'the pipe the tobacco
was all gone.4 " Well, I am nearly
convinced," the man said and conducted the boy to black water which
stood in four places.5 Taking the boy to
the last he threw him in but the boy turned to a downy feather and
came back to the place of his shadow. "Well, you nearly convince
me," he said and took the boy to the south where he again pushed the
boy into the water, but the boy saved himself by again turning into
down. The same thing happened at the other two lakes. The father
then asked the boy to name the different crystals, seeds, etc. The
boy named them properly but when he came to owl which was sitting
there he hesitated saying, "I am not going to call it that way
because I am myself."6
" Well, I guess you are my son," he said and taking some of the
black water that stood there he put it on the boy with his hand and
made him look like a man. Then he built a small house for him inside
of which he made for the boy hair, fingers and finger nails, toes
and toe nails, until he was finished.
"Well, my son, what is it you want?" he asked. "I want horses,
father," he said. Saying he would bring a horse he led down a black
one and said, "Here it is." "Not that one," the boy said. "By my
kin,"7 the father replied, "that is the
only horse I have." The boy insisted on another and the man led down
a sorrel one and presented it as his horse. Again the boy rejected
it and the man insisted. Finally he took it back and led down
another, a white horse on a trail of white metal. The boy rejected
that one also and the man declared he had no other but finally went
for one. This time he led down a blue, that is gray, horse on a
trail of blue metal. "That is the one I have been talking about, now
I will start back home," the boy said when he saw it. "That one is
the only horse I have," his father said, " now you may go home if
They two started back. When they came with the horse to the center
of the sky the father put the boy on a black cloud and shot him down
with lightning.8 He is named
Bilnajnoll'ijn,9 "shot down with the
lightning." He came down to the earth and returned to the place
where his grandmother lived. She was glad and sang a good song,
which was a prayer for him.
"Over there, grandson, live the animals which we eat," the woman
told the boy. He started off in the direction indicated and came to
a wood rat which he killed. He brought it back to his grandmother
who said that that was the animal she meant. He went away again and
came to a rabbit which he killed and took back putting it down near
to his grandmother's dwelling. "Grandmother, I killed something
which has wide ears," he told her. "That is one of the animals we
live on," she replied. He went away again and came to a deer which
he killed. He killed it under a Douglas spruce tree. He came back to
his grandmother's dwelling and told her he had killed an animal
which had a dry tree on its head.
He began to dress the deer under the spruce when a
fluid began to drop on him. He looked up and saw a girl in the tree.
Taking only the intestines he ran back to his grandmother followed
by the girl.10 "I told you not to dress
the deer under a Douglas spruce," she chided him.11
He married the Spruce Tree Woman but she did not like him and made
four bears to destroy him. "Over there are walking animals that have
good skins for dressing," she told her husband. "Where are they?" he
asked. "Above here," she replied. They two went over where the bears
were which she pointed out to her husband, saying: "The large black
ones over there." He said he would go behind the hill and that after
a time she should shout at the bears who would run toward him and he
would kill them. After waiting a short time she did so and the bears
ran right in front of him. He was holding his bow and arrows and as
they ran up close to him he- shot them one at a time until he had
killed them all. His wife began to cry and her husband said, "But
you said they were good for making dressed skins, why then do you
Leaving the bears there they two went home. While his wife stayed at
home he went to hunt deer. While he was hunting she went to get
pumpkin blossoms13 and was stolen by Gołilisi.
When the man returned his wife was not there. " I wonder where she
can be," he said to himself and starting out tracked her to the
garden. There he found the tracks of two people. Going on to another
place he found their tracks again. He went back to his grandmother
and told her he was going away but that he did not know where he was
He started away, being transported by his flute. He came down on the
first mountain ridge and saw there the footprints of his wife and of
a man. He went with his flute again and came down on the second
ridge where he again found tracks of his wife and of a man. He was
angry and went on again with his flute, coming down on the third
mountain and saw tracks there also. He went way over to the fourth
mountain where again he found their. tracks. He went on from there
on foot until he came where people were living. He came near to the
settlement and went to the house where that particular man was
living. Night was coming on and not one of the people saw him.
When he came to this man, the daughter of the house was sent through
the village to summon the people to come together for a council.
After they had smoked they said, " Well, what is it?" " A man has
come to me," the man replied. "Where did you come from?" they asked
the man. "From Gotalbakowadi: I started when the beams of the sun
were streaming out from the east," he replied. "My kin! he did not
come on foot. I know that is a long distance," said Old Man Hawk. "
I am. here because my wife is missing," he told them. "That is the
man, sitting there. He wins our wives away in gambling. He has won
all the people away, can't you help us?" they said. "That is not why
I am here. I have an affair of my own," he replied. They still
besought him, saying that they had lost all their bands. He promised
to give assistance the next morning and directed that a sweatlodge
should be made, in which good songs should be sung. He also told
them to get four kinds of wood and make the poles for playing
najonc. They made the najonc poles and he sang twelve songs in the
sweatlodge. The next morning when the sun's beams streamed out he
went to the playing ground. His name was Naiyenezgani and the other
one's name was Golilisi.14 Then he
shouted to the mountains that stood there saying, " You shout." " My
partner has come," he said. " I have come," he replied.
"Well, let us play," one challenged the other. "I have nothing to
wager," the other replied. "We will play for the people," the first
suggested. When they started to play the pole hit the ring on the
nose and tore it apart. The straightened ring ran away into the
bushes. " Hy, why did you hit my ring?" he asked. " Well, your poles
are not good. Men's poles are like this," Naiyenezgani said. Then Gołilisi
took Naiyenezgani's pole and threw it. He was beaten. "Oh, you have
beaten me," he said. "I will bet half of my company again." They
played again and again Gołilisi
"Let us contend another way," one of them suggested. The other
consented to this and they tried to see whose hair would reach the
longer distance across the dry stream bed. Again they bet people on
the outcome. Gołilisi unloosed his hair and it reached to the middle
of the stream bed. When Naiyenezgani let his hair down it reached
across the bed of the stream and part way up the opposite bank. He
won the wager.
Gołilisi suggested another contest and again bet a group of his
people. They were to try knocking over a tree. Naiyenezgani chose
the tree and when Gołilisi hit it, it did not move. Naiyenezgani
struck it and the tree fell over. Acknowledging his defeat, Gołilisi
suggested a footrace, wagering one of his arms and one of his legs
which were to be cut off if he lost the race. A distant mountain was
the goal around which they were to run. Naiyenezgani came back first
and won the race. "You have beaten me, shele: take all that I
have," said Gołilisi. When they had cut off one of his hands and one
leg he crawled into an old house that stood there, sat down and
peered out. When he would make a fire he held the drill against one
cheek and rubbed it with his surviving hand to cause it to rotate.
The smoke came up from the drill and with dry grass he set the house
on fire. As it was burning he said, " I am not much good. If a man
breaks his leg or his arm let him say I was in that condition also."
Naiyenezgani had won all the people back. He started home with his
wife and came where they had been living before. His grandmother was
happy because he returned.
Then Ts'innagole took him up. Naiyenezgani had the knees of Delgit
(concealed) across his breast and the blood of Delgit under his
blanket. When Ts'innagole had transported him through the air to her
home she threw him down upon a stone. Deligit's blood flowed out and
Ts'innagole took him up and carried him to her children. She then
flew to the top of a stone and sat there. When the young ones put
their heads down to the man he said, " Sho." "Mother, he said sho'
to us," they called to their mother. "Don't mind it; it is only the
air issuing from the wounds," she replied and flew away.
Naiyenezgani got up and spoke to the young ones. " When does your
mother return?" he asked. "She comes back when a female rain falls,"
they replied. "And your father?" he asked again. "When a male rain
falls," they replied. "And your brother?" "He comes back when there
is hail," they said.
Naiyenezgani struck the young ones on the side of the head and
knocked them off the rock. He pulled up grass and covering himself
with it lay down. The same Ts'innagole flew back with another man
and throwing him down on a stone alighted on the top of the rock.
Naiyenezgani, using one of Delgit's knees as a club, struck her and
knocked her down from the cliff. Then another came and alighted
there and he knocked it down with a knee
of Delgit's. Finally the oldest of the young ones returned and he
knocked it down with one of Delgit's knees. He had now disposed of
As he sat on the top of the rock and saw his fire in the distance he
was disturbed and wondered what he should do. He saw Bat Old Woman
down by the creek and shouted, "Grandmother, take me down," but she
paid no attention. He called again and she began to listen. " Why
did you go up there?" she asked. "No one goes up there." He again
asked her to come up for him and she did so, flying from side to
side and lighting here and there. "Grandmother, take me down," he
said. "I cannot do it, I am not strong enough but nevertheless I
will cover your eyes and you may get in the basket. Do not uncover
your eyes or it will be dangerous for us."
He got in the basket and she started down, but when she was half way
to the bottom he began to wonder where he was being carried, the
time was so long. He lifted the covering and opened his eyes and the
old woman fell to the ground and landed under him. Naiyenezgani blew
with his life medicine and the old woman breathed again and became
well. He gave her the feathers from Ts'innagole and she said,
"Thanks, you have made me well," and went home.15
Naiyenezgani went back to his home. The old woman, his grandmother,
was happy. They lived happily again.
1 Told by Albert Evans, in 1914. This portion seems
to have been arbitrarily separated from the foregoing by the
narrator as suited to the available time for taking it down. Because
of the subject matter, the first told has been introduced after the
more complete account which was given by request on the following
2 A circumlocution for sexual relations.3
3 Matthews, 109.
4 The smoking would have killed those less potent,
5 Fires in the other versions, above p. 10.
6 He nearly failed on owl. This is undoubtedly
connected with the fear Apache have of
owls and their reluctance to talk about them.
7 The most common Apache expletive.
8 Matthews, 114.
9 The narrator explained this was the fourth name of
the Culture Hero.
10 This paragraph was interpolated in English.
11 The point of dragging the entrails is omitted
here, see above p. 32.3
12 It was explained in English that the boy
overheard his wife directing the bears to kill her husband. He
therefore dressed up a black stump with his buckskin shirt which the
bears attacked. As they did so he shot them from the place where he
was concealed in the brush.
13 These blossoms were probably cooked for food.
14 It was explained that the Culture Hero was given
a new name by the people because he built the sweat lodge in this
manner. His old name was discarded.
15 The narrator told in English how Naiyenezgani
tested the strength of the carrying strap by putting stones in the
basket. The story has the incidents in unusual order and is much
abbreviated, perhaps in order to finish the story by evening.
Carlos Apache Mythology
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Myths And Tales From The San Carlos Apache, 1918