The Great Warrior of Apache [2]

After they did this the earth was almost steady, but it was still soft and mixed with water. It moved back and forth. After they had worked on the earth this way Black Wind Old Man [the wind of the east] came to this place. He threw himself against the earth. The earth was strong now and it did not move. Then Black Water Old Man threw himself against the earth. When he threw himself against the earth, thunder started in the four directions. Now the earth was steady, and it was as if born already.

But the earth was shivering. They talked about it: “My friends, what’s the matter with this earth? It is cold and freezing. We better give it some hair.” Then they started to make hair on the earth. They made all these grasses and bushes and trees to grow on the earth. This is its hair. But the earth was still too weak. They started to talk about it: “My friends, let’s make bones for the earth.” This way they made rocky mountains and rocks sticking out of the earth. These are the earth’s bones.

Then they talked about the earth again: “How will it breathe, this earth?” Then came Black Thunder to that place, and he gave the earth veins. He whipped the earth with lightning and made water start to come out. For this reason all the water runs to the west. This way the earth’s head lies to the east, and its water goes to the west.

They made the sun so it traveled close over the earth from east to west. They made the sun too close to the earth and it got too hot. The people living on it were crawling around, because it was too hot. Then they talked about it: “My friends, we might as well set the sun a little further off. It is too close.” So they moved the sun a little higher. But it was still too close to the earth and too hot. They talked about it again. “The sun is too close to the earth, so we better move it back.” Then they moved it a little higher up. Now it was all right. This last place they set the sun is just where it is now.

Then they set the moon so it traveled close over the earth from east to west. The moon was too close to the earth and it was like daytime at night. Then they talked about it: “My friends, we better move the moon back, it is like day.” So they moved it back a way, but it was still like daylight. They talked about it again: “It is no good this way, we better move the moon higher up.” So they moved it higher up, but it was still a little light. They talked about it again and moved it a little further away. Now it was just right, and that is the way the moon is today. It was night time.

This is the way they made the earth for us. This is the way all these wild fruits and foods were raised for us, and this is why we have to use them because they grow here. A creation myth of the Chiricahua Apaches is influenced by contact with the white invaders of their land. Strictly speaking, it is a re-creative flood myth rather than a creation myth.

The first people on earth did not know anything about the Great Spirit. They only knew the Hactcin, the spirits of the earth, who lived in the mountains. The Great Spirit was not pleased, so he sent the Flood and most of the world perished. Some of the people and animals saved themselves by climbing White-ringed Mountain. The turkey was the last one up, and he got his tail feathers wet, which is why they are tipped with white today. When the waters withdrew, the saved people and animals went down the mountain and something strange happened. Two men were made to stand before a gun and a bow and arrow and were told to choose between them. The one who chose first took the gun and became the White Man; the one who got the bow and arrow became the Indian.

Like several other emergence myths the Lipan emergence creation clearly suggests an analogy with birth. Everything begins in the womb of Earth herself. Many of the characters in this Apache myth—Killer of Enemies and Changing Woman, for example—are to be found also in the mythology of another Athabascan tribe, the Navajos.

When the people lived in the lower world in darkness, they wondered if there was a different kind of world anywhere else. It was decided in council that someone should be sent out to explore, and Wind agreed to go. He went up to our world and blew away some of the waters that covered everything, and there was land. He did not go back to the people below the way he had promised, though. The people then sent Crow out and he did not come back either; instead, he stayed and picked the eyes out of the dead fish he found on the new land.

Finally the people sent out Beaver, but he amused himself by building dams in the streams he found trickling through the new land, and he, too, failed to come back. It was only when they sent faithful Badger that the people found out about our world. Badger went up, looked around, and came back to report on everything he had seen.

Finally, the people sent up the Four Grandfathers; they were the first Indians, and they arranged the world for us. They did this by turning one of themselves into a huge ball. Out of this ball they fashioned the trees, mountains, and streams. When everything was as it should be, the people below were called, and they came out into this world.

After the emergence, the people wandered about, and some stopped at various places, forming the tribes. They were led by Killer of Enemies (Sun) and Changing Woman (Moon). The last people to settle were the Lipan Tinde. Sun and Moon vowed to separate from the people and from each other and to keep on moving. They would meet each other once in a while in eclipses.

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