A White Mountain Apache Legend
Long ago people, all kinds of birds and animals were people then were living up to the north of here somewhere. Hawk people were humans then. They did not know that ga-n people were living down on the earth, below. Then Raven Old Man was there with the Raven people. He had children and one of these was a beautiful daughter. The ga-n people below knew about her. The old man and his family were in their wickiup. Soon they heard something drop outside. Raven Old Man heard it. "What is that, cibi'lsis (a buck-skin pouch hung over one shoulder and resting on the hip on opposite side) maybe ?" the old man said. The girl went out and found two pack rats. She brought them in and they ate them.
Four days after this the old man heard something drop outside. "Go and see if cibi-Isis is there," he said, though all the time he knew his own was in the wickiup. So the daughter went outside and found two rabbits. She brought them in and they ate them up.
Four days after that they heard something drop again. "Go out and see if cibi'lsis is there," the old man told his daughter. She went out and found two jack rabbits. "Here are two jack rabbits," she said. "Well, bring them in and we will eat them," the old man told her.
Then four days later something dropped outside. The old man sent his daughter out to see if it was his pouch. When she got outside she found a black-tailed deer fawn. "Here is a black tail deer fawn" she said. "Well, bring it in," the old man told her. So they did and ate it up.
Four days after that something dropped once more outside. The old man sent his daughter out to see if it was his pouch. She went out and this time it was a black-tailed deer with two points on his horns. They butchered and ate him.
Then four days later something dropped outside again. "What's that, cibi-lsis ?" the old man said. He sent out his daughter and she found a big black-tailed deer. They butchered and ate him. Raven Old Man was very thankful for that.
Four days after that the old man heard something drop outside. He sent his daughter out. "See if this is cibi-lsis that has dropped there," he told her. So the girl went out and found an enormous black-tailed deer, the kind that is all fat and in good shape, like you get in the fall. They butchered and ate it Raven Old Man was thankful for this.
Then Raven Old Man said to this daughter. "Well, daughter, this is what I have raised you for. We have eaten a lot of meat from someone. Build a new wickiup over to one side here and we will find out who it is who is doing this," he told the girl. The new wickiup was built and standing not far off. No one was in it. The old man stayed with his family in their dwelling. Soon they saw someone in the new wickiup. The girl went over there. She stayed there with that man. He was her man now.
After they had stayed together for quite a while, the man and woman went out for a walk together. Then the man told his wife, "I belong to the ga-n people." Soon they came to a sulphur wheat bush. He started to kick it from the east side, then from the south side, then from the west and last from the north. The plant came up by its roots. In the hole that it left, the top of a spruce tree stuck up through. The man told his wife, "Step on this. Don't be afraid." But the woman shut her eyes and stepped on it. Then they found themselves way down below, where the ga-n people lived.
After they reached the bottom, they started to walk to the place the man's people were living. The woman had never seen people like this before. There were many of those people there. There were houses also, good ones. All kinds of farm crops were growing. There were corn drying racks. The crops were in all stages of growth; some were up just a little, some were half way up, some high and some harvested already. The woman's husband had many sisters and so she had a lot of sisters-in-law. The man's mother was there. She tested her daughter-in-law. She gave her a metate and mano and some corn to grind. "Let's see you grind some corn," she told her. But this woman could not grind corn well. She ground it but could not break the kernels up. For this reason the man's family did not like her. She was not strong enough and could not grind corn.
One day after they had arrived there, a ga-n came to them. He caught hold of the woman's hair and held her head back. "I want to see my relative-in-law's face. If she is pleasing I will go hunting for her," he said. Several of the ga-n did the same way. The last one was Gray ga-n (the clown) and he said, "Well, she is all right. I will go hunting for her like the others." The men who went hunting just brought in sinew. There was no meat, only a big pile of sinew there. Then one of the man's sisters was sent with the woman to bring in a horse, so they could ride back to Raven Old Man's place.
In a short distance they came to some bears. The woman saw them and was frightened. She started to run away, but her sister-in-law called to her, "Come back here. They won't harm you. They are good 'horses'. They are gentle." But the woman would not listen and ran back to the camp. Her sister-in-law got the 'horse' and led it back. They saddled it up for the man and his wife. The woman's mother-in-law told her, "Don't look back on your way out. Don't look back till you get on top. Don't think why this is. I don't want you to look back. Don't do it!"
The woman got on the bear, but her husband did not go along with her. She rode to the top almost. Then she thought to herself, "I wonder why she didn't want me to look back. I will try it." So she looked back; just a glance. As soon as she did that the bear started to roll down the hill. Clear to the bottom they tumbled. The old woman saw it and ran to her. "I told you not to do that. Now why did you do it ?" she said. When she was going up she had had just a load of sinew, but now after the fall, it had all turned to meat and meat was scattered along the trail where they had fallen. The old woman carried the meat up to the top for her daughter-in-law.
They packed the bear up again so that she could take it to her father. She went on alone from there, without her husband. When the woman came close to her home, her mother, an old woman, saw her riding the bear. Raven Old Man and all his children became frightened and ran off from camp. "Don't ride down this way," they said. She unpacked the bear all alone, put the meat up and turned the bear back. But her husband got mad because he heard that his horse had been struck by someone up there. [Though mounts were sometimes beaten, this was infrequent and people spoke harshly of those who did it.] On this account he did not return for two days and nights.
Then in two days someone was seen walking to the wickiup where this man had lived with his wife. Raven Old Man sent his daughter. "You better go over and build a fire," he told her. She went over to her wickiup. The man, she found lying on the bed. He was very thin and bony, not like her husband. His legs and arms had white stripes about them, like those on a bob-cat's tail.
The woman went back to her father and told him, "That man is not my husband. He is too thin for that and besides he has white stripes about his legs and arms." But her parents told her, "Maybe it is the same man and he has grown thin." "Why should he have white stripes about his arms and legs ? I know it's not he," the woman said. Raven Old Man said, "Well, I believe he must have gone stalking antelope and has painted his legs and arms to look like an antelope." "No, I know my husband better than you two. It is not he," the woman said. She did not like this man, but her father sent her over to him and so she went, staying there all that night.
The next morning this man went hunting. When he came back he brought some dried meat. It had been roasted already. The following morning he went hunting again. Raven Old Man told his son, "Follow this man and see where he gets this dried meat. Don't let him see you." So the son did this.
After the man had gone a way, his follower saw him stop and set fire to an old pitch-pine stump. On the side that the smoke blew, the man went. The snot started to run out of his nose and it was this he was taking and making into dried meat. The son came home and told his father about it.
After that Raven Old Man would not eat any more of this dried meat. "That is why it was salty," the old man said This man was from the Mosquito people. That is why he was so thin. All things were people in those days. The man went to sleep with the woman that night. Her real husband from the ga-n, knew who it was that had his wife. On account of this he shot them with an arrow of red stone that night. The arrow went right through both of them.
The woman used to get up early, but she had not yet appeared at her father's camp When the sun had risen high up, Raven Old Man sent one of his small daughters over to see what was the matter. She just looked inside the wickiup and thought that they were still asleep inside so she went back again. She told her father, "Well, they are still in bed.
About noon, the little girl went over there again. She came back and told her father, "They are still in bed." "Well go over there and uncover them," he said. So the little girl went inside and took the covers off. When she did she saw that both of them had bled at the nose. When she came back and said that they were dead. Raven Old Man and his wife started to quarrel. "You know I told you he was not her husband. You sent her over to him all the same. Now she is gone," they accused each other.
Then the Raven people were no longer there where they had been living. But ga-n people were still living down below in the earth Many ga-n died down there. Though it is just as if they travel together with lightning, yet they died there. On account of this, ga-n people began to search for a place where they would not die; where there was life without end. From here on for a bit the story is dangerous to recount, but I have to tell it to you just the same.
[It contains power and so is dangerous. Through the misuse of such power misfortune might befall those involved in the story telling.]
They moved to a place halfway between the earth and the sky There Mirage made an earth for them and they lived on this. But still they died there. They went through the sky to its other side but still they died there. From there they came down on earth to ntca'na-sk'id (a place somewhere about 35 miles east of Macnary Arizona). Wherever they had lived above, they had always had their agricultural crops with them. These were their food - corn, beans, and squash.
Then there were a poor people living near that place (ntca'na-sk'id) the Hawk people. They were of the 'iya''aiye clan. They were called Hawk people because the relatives of this clan are hawks. There were people of the na-dots'usn, bisza-ha, ndi'nde-zn and destcrdn clans there also. They were all a very poor people.
At dusk one day, they saw a light far off. They asked each other, Who is up there ? Who has made that fire ?" because everyone was at home and they could not think of who might be out there. They tried to mark the fire, so that they might go there in the morning and see what it was. This is dangerous, this story that I am telling you, but I tell it to you just as I heard it. It is very holy this part of the story, and if you or anyone should laugh at it, there ^danger of you or that person's mouth and eyes going crooked. There is danger of this happening to me on account of telling this tale.
One time there were two men, one blind, the other lame. The blind one carried the lame one on his back. They came this way to a group of people. When the people saw them coming, they laughed at them. The blind man clapped his hands together and part of the people became blind. The lame man drew up his leg to his body and then part of them became lame. That is the way with this story. We must not laugh at it. It is the same way with the songs of the ga-n curing ceremony which have to do with this part of the story.
The next morning these people sent one man over to where they thought they had seen the fire, but he could find nothing. Again that evening, after sunset, they could see the same fire. But the man who had been sent to investigate insisted that there was nothing over there. This time they cut a crotched stick and set it up in the ground. They laid an arrow in the crotch, pointing directly at the fire, so they would know just where it was in the morning. When morning came they looked to see where the arrow pointed.
A man went over there to try and find something, but he could not find even a blade of grass that had been stepped on and bent, or a broken twig. It was two times that they had made trips to find this fire without results, but that evening they could see the fire again in the same place. They had left the arrow there from the night before, and it still pointed right to the fire. So in the morning they sent a man over to try and find something. He went and looked about for a long time, but found no ashes nor any blades of broken grass. Halfway to ntca'na-sk'id he went. "I have found nothing," he told the people when he got home.
The next morning they sent someone over to search for the fourth time. He went to the same place the others had been. Then after a short distance he stopped and sat down, for he saw many people there, and many crops of all kinds and in all stages of growth; some just up, some ready to harvest and so on.
The ga-n people saw this man, where he had dropped down in the grass. They talked among themselves: "Someone has been sitting over there for a long time. Let one go over there and see him." So one went over towards him. He came as close as from here to the wickiup over there (20 yards). He did not say anything; just stood and looked at him.
The man from the poor people had two eagle tail feathers sticking up in his hair. His privates were covered with the shredded inner bark of juniper. The ga-n went back and told his people, "That man has some inner bark from juniper to cover his privates." "You better take back two buckskins with you, one for him to cover his shoulders with and one to wear about his waist," they told him.
So he took two buckskins over to the man and told him to wear them, one about his waist and one about the shoulders. The inner bark he had covering his privates he threw away. "Lets go back to my, people," the ga-n said. They went. They gave this man some food: corn and squash. He had eaten of ga-n food now.
After he had eaten, they talked to him. "Where did you come from?" they asked. The man pointed to where he lived. It was a long way back there. "Well, you are poor people. It's not right that you stay there. You better come here and live with us. We have lots of crops just going to waste," they told him. They gave him some corn and he started home with it. When he arrived, he had the corn with him and the people there ate it. This man told his people what he had seen. "I saw lots of people there. They were good. I have my belly full now. I ate all I wanted there and the chief of these people told me; 'You better come and live with us, because you people are poor.' He told me to tell this to you." The man could not sleep that night for thinking of all the ripe crops he had seen and the food he had eaten. The people were very hungry where he lived. They got up in the morning and moved away from tse-gots'uk (a place) where they had been living. When they arrived at the new place, the crops were all given to them. "Let them eat all they want," the ga-n said. They did eat all they wanted and now they had big bellies.
Thus these two peoples had lived for a long time together. Their children had become acquainted. The men went hunting together. The children played. They let them eat all they could from the farms, for the crops on them grew the year around, in all four stages, from just sprouting to ripeness. These people were the ga-n and Hawk peoples. I know the place they lived. I passed through there when I was a soldier in the U. S. army, on the way to Ft. Wingate. The children played together and some ga-n children became sick from the hawk illness. Their eyes became swollen and closed, they scratched like hawks and their faces were white like that of hawks.
Then the Hawk children became sick from the ga-n. They became unable to walk, as if paralyzed. [These are the symptoms of hawk and ga-n sickness.] The two kinds of children were able to cure each other by one touching the other where it hurt. When they did this they became well immediately. But the ga-n chief heard about it and did not like it. The ga-n had found the place where there was life without end.
That is why they had spread these sicknesses among the people, because they had found a good place. Then Talking ga-n was chief. He went up on top of ntca'na-sk'id every morning and talked to the people from there. "We have done nothing here for a long time. It is better that we go to tse-nodo-z surrounded by fire and tse-na-sbas surrounded by fire (places). Here it is as if we were herded together in a pasture. We would like to have some meat. We want to move to a place where people never die." That night they all collected together to talk it over. They gathered this way every night from there on.
All the ga-n people were divided into different kinds, just as we are divided into various clans. There were Black ga-n, ga-no-wan (meaning unknown), He Carries Pitch, Yellow ga-n. Weak ga-n, Hairy On One Side Of His Face, Big ga-n. Red ga-n, Hump Backed ga-n, and Gray ga-n. All these had daughters. They wanted to know who would leave his daughter behind. They asked each one if he would let his daughter stay behind with the Hawk People, but all liked their daughters too well for this. So it came back to Black ga-n, who was like the chief of these people, "Well, I guess I will have to leave my daughter." But he never told his daughter or anyone else that he was going to leave her. He made a doll of turquoise and one of white shell. He hid these before they were going to move.
The ga-n people spoke to the Hawk people. "We are going to leave you now. Look after our crops for us. We will be gone for sixty days. Then we will be back." Now they left. When they had gone about half a mile, the mother of the daughter of Black ga-n said to the girl: "Did you put your doll in the burden basket ? Is it there?" "No, no doll here," said the daughter. "Well, you better go back for it. We will go slow for you," the mother said. So the little girl started to run to the camp. She found the doll right away and ran back to join her mother. There was a large lake ahead. She followed the trail of her people. In a little way the tracks came to the edge of the lake and all went into the water. A lot of grass had been trodden down by the people passing over it. The little girl went around to the other side, but could not find where they had come out of the lake. So she went back to the old camp. The Hawk people saw her and said, "What is that little girl doing over there ?" They went with her to the lake, but they could not find where tracks came out of the water. They took her home with them. Every day she went to try and find her mother.
The Hawk people raised this little girl among them. After quite a while all the crops were gone and the people lived as before. They fed the little girl on wild seeds. The ga-n had made the crops grow and ripen by their wish alone. The little girl stayed at a ndi'nde-zn camp (clan). They raised her. She was big now, old enough to marry. So the man who brought her up said, "I didn't raise her for anyone else. It will be well for her to marry my son." That is the way it happened. After they had been married about a year, she bore a baby boy. The day he was born ga-n people came down from above and filled the wickiup. It was overcrowded, but ga-n said, "He never stops eating (even though full)," and this way more kept crowding in and shoving over to make room for others. The baby was the grandson of Black ga-n, who was lying outside, on his back. The ga-n picked the baby up and passed him from one to the other. Last of all they took him out to his grandfather. There he danced the baby up and down on his chest and sang; "cawa cawa ca."
Then he said to his daughter, "Well, daughter, here is deer medicine. Put it inside the hood of the cradle, by the baby." But the baby's mother said, "No, I don't want it. You threw this baby away long ago" (meaning herself). So she gave the deer medicine to her husband's mother. Black ga-n had brought the deer medicine so that when the baby grew up he could kill many deer. But instead of this the deer medicine was given to the ndi'nde-zn (the clan of the woman's mother-in-law). On account of this ndi'nde-zn clan always used to kill big deer, very big ones, whenever they went hunting. This still was true up till about 1880, but there are hardly any of this clan left now. [Deer is also the 'relative' of this clan] Black ga-n gave his grandson a name; naba-dzisnda-he (captive taken in war), because the ga-n had left his mother behind among these other people who had raised her.
They lived on there. Then in a year more another baby was born to the woman. The ga-n people came there again, just as they had before. Black ga-n came there to see his grandson. He gave this second boy a name also, but I have forgotten it. Then the boys started to grow up. They were so high and about ten years old, big enough to hunt birds. In the morning they went hunting. At sundown they returned home. After spending the night there, they went hunting again. Sometimes they would be gone for two days, sometimes for three or four. Then one man among the Hawk people became sick. They came to the mother of the boys about it. "My female relative-in-law, I wonder if you have anything to say that will cure this sick man. You might have something," they said. "I don't know anything. You people have known me since I was a little girl, left here and raised by you. If I knew something I could go ahead and say it over that sick man now, but I don't," she told them. Finally she said, "Well, ask those two boys. They are gone for a day or sometimes three or four days at a time. I believe they go to the ga-n, because they are relatives to them. You people better go after a deer. Run the deer down, don't shoot him. Bring the hide home and make buckskin of it.
Then get some downy eagle feathers and turquoise. Tie these to the forehead of the buckskin and put it on the boy's foot. See what they will say." So they went hunting and got a big deer by running it down. When the deer was all in, they caught it without shooting, as there must be no arrow holes in the buckskin. They killed it, cut it down the belly and by the next day they had made it into a buckskin. Then they put turquoise and a downy eagle feather on its forehead and placed it on the foot of the eldest of the two brothers. But he threw it to his younger brother, "Here is the one," he said. The younger brother threw it back to the other, saying, "You can do it." They did this several times and finally one said, "All right." When they had agreed to what the people asked of them, the boys told them, "Fix up a place; level it up so that there are no uneven places on the ground. We want a spruce tree put on each of the four sides and a pile of wood on each side also. Don't be afraid of anything you see, or run away." They knew that the people might fear the ga-n. "For the sick man, spread a buck-skin and let him sit on it. Tie him all over with strips of yucca leaves and let him sit there."
Then it was sundown and now it was dark. All the people came to the dance ground. Lots of fires were all about it. Then the boy who had consented, started to sing.
"Holy power, here sounding (making a noise)."
As he sang they saw lightning appear over ntca'na-sk'id on the east side, then on the south side, then west and then on the north side. Then from the four directions the bull roarer sounded. It shook the earth and the earth rumbled back in response. The people saw the flashes of lightning and thought they were far off, but soon the ga-n came down, upside down they were, feet up and head down. They picked up the sick man who sat there, and tossed him from one to the other. [The idea of the sick man being ignominiously tossed about greatly amused the listeners] Before, no man was sick, but this man became sick and from then on there were sicknesses. That night the sick man was cured. The ga-n left at dawn. One of the two brothers went with them. I don't known which of them it was.
Only one of the boys remained among the people.
When the ga-n arrived back at their home, they came together and talked about the youths and maidens. "We have many girls and boys here. Those people whom we left have many boys and girls also. It is not right for us to marry among ourselves. We better go there and get some of their boys and girls," they said. Then Black ga-n's grandson (the brother remaining among the people) was going to make another dance at ntca'na-sk'id. This time it was to be only a social dance. The ga-n people came to this dance. It was just for pleasure and was not dangerous as it had been before. Then as the dawn came, the dancers were raised up off the ground. Many youths and maidens from among the ga-n and Hawk peoples were dancing. The old people ran under them and said to their sons and daughters, "Come down, come back," but they kept moving upwards. Soon they were so high they could not hear the singing any longer, only the sound of the drum. Then they could not hear the drum any more. The people below lay on their backs in order to look upwards. They could see the dancers there like specks in the sky. They saw them a little while, then saw them no more.
This is how the good people were taken up above, to the place where life has no end. Both the brothers were gone now. The woman who was their mother went off for something and never returned. This is the end of the story. This is the way that the ga-n curing ceremony started.
Told by Francis Drake.