Words And Places native literature from the american southwest
 

The Origin of the Crown Dance: An Apache Narrative
and
Ba'ts'oosee: An Apache Trickster Cycle

With Rudolph Kane

Part I The Origin of the Crown Dance: An Apache Narrative

I will tell you a story that was told to me many, many years ago.
I will tell you about a boy who went hunting.

He went to a place called łetso gohéyo.
He was going hunting.
He went from the place named tu tughégohé (Counting the Water Place)
It’s over there, over there, over there.
Keep on going)
Another place he passed through was shash bich' gídahtsooz
          (Bear Hangs Up His Blanket).
He was still hunting.
He used a bow and arrows, not a rifle.
He was hunting a deer,
and he kept going
up to tse' di tsos (Rock There Yellow).
He was walking along a ridge.
Keep on going,
up,
up.
He was walking along a ridge near tse'di'st gai (Rock in Middle White).
He was on top.
There
he spent several nights.

He had a dog,
dog.
In the evening the dog cried:
"whoo, whoo, whoo."
And that's how they discovered that he was missing.
He was gone for days and days.
He went hunting.
They went to look for him.
He was still hunting.
They were tracking him.
They kept looking and looking.
He kept going,
up,
up,
up.
All the places I have named, they looked for him there.

His trail led to łetso gohéyo.
They finally caught up with him there.
Into a cave there.
They said, "He must have gone into the cave."
The rock with the hole in it,
At łetso gohéyo, there,
they found out that he went into the cave.
At that time they suspected that he had joined the gaans.
From there
they came back.

The message went out to the elders.
They must have lived poorly; I don't know what they used for their transportation.
The message went out to them.

The pipe,
the pipe,
it was carried from camp to camp,
the pipe.
There were four.
Just like the one I have on the wall behind me,
but crossed.
There were four holes in it, but in three places it was closed off with the tip of
a deer's tail.
In there, they put their special tobacco.
Whoever gets the pipe first smokes it.
There must be something wrong.
They carry it to another camp.
One person smokes it again.
Then they take it to another camp and now they're all smoking it.
One person smokes it again.
They're all smoking it.
This is what happened after they smoked,
that's what they said.

Our ancestors always helped each other.
The people were helpful when they all got together over there,
łetso gohéyo.
They began to grind corn.
Grinding,
grinding,
dusk came.
They ground corn and different things: corn, manzanita berries, squaw bush berries,
walnuts, juniper berries, that's what they ate.
They probably had meat, too.
They thought that he would come back that's why they tried to follow him.
But I'm going to get to that later.

Nighttime,
they ground corn all day.
The big rock, they wore a hole in it.
They were taking turns,
taking turns,
taking turns,
taking turns,
They said that one with a hole in it is still there today.

Long time ago,
at nighttime,
they all started dancing.
They were all singing.
They said the gaans were coming to them.
And they came to them.
There were four of them:
black,
blue/green,
yellow,
white.
They all,
all the gaans came down.
The people were gathered there in a circle.
They were dancing.
Right there, the dog went this way.
It went this way,
and right in the middle,
the dog jumped on him.
The dog was happy,
(dog sounds) jumping up to him.
He was standing there,
medicine man,
he stepped out,
stepped out again.
"It's no use, it's no use.
This mask, I can't get it off."
It was like this, he couldn't get it off.

It happened to him, because he was with them for a few days.
They were all dancing.
They were all feeling sad,
the people,
because they came to them.
The boy said, "wherever you go pray. I will pray for you too."
That's what he said.
He said it again.
That's what people used to say.
My father's father told me this a long time ago.
That is how he told it to me.
I have never told it to anybody before.

Another day,
the dance was over.
All the people went on their way,
and they were sad for what happened.

That is how that man turned into a gaan.
I don't know how a white man would say it.
That is what they call a gaan.
That is what they call a gaan.
That is how it was a long time ago.

That is what you call a story (na' go di' ee).
That is how it was told.

They say you should pray at that place they call łetso gohéyo.
It is up there to the north.
łetso gohéyo,
you should never be there by yourself.
You shouldn't go there by yourself.
That's what they used to say long ago.
Still, today they go over there, but they don't just go by themselves.
łetso gohéyo,
long time ago,
I have never heard of anybody going over there anymore.
It's a sacred place.
You should never go there by yourself,
because it happened to him at that place.
I still don't know how many nights they danced.
It was for him, but still he turned into one of them.
He never returned.
That is how I told them.
It happened that way a long time ago.
I'm not making it up.
Those people that lived before us had a great belief in the gaans.
That belief is in the gaans.
They had a name for him but I can't remember it.
That's what my father's father told me.
He was the only one who told.
No one told me except my father's father long ago.
That is what I just told you
.
My father's father used to tell me.
My father's father said, "You should always pray to that gaan.
He is with them now.
He is still alive.
He didn't die.
He still lives there where the gaans live.
You should always respect the gaans.
You should do it this way,
that's how they like it."
Now, the way they do it is somewhat different.

The dances,
they're different.
It's good
when you take part.

That's what he told us people when he was going,
the one that turned into a gaan.
When you take part in it you should believe.
That's how it was told.
That's how it is.
That's how I told you.
It will be good from now on.

Return to the contents page for
The Origin of the Crown Dance: An Apache Narrative and Ba'ts'oosee:
An Apache Trickster Cycle

By This Song I Walk: Navajo Songs | Seyewailo: The Flower World Yaqui Deer Songs | The Origin of the Crown Dance: An Apache Narrative and Ba'ts'oosee: An Apache Trickster Cycle | Iisaw: Hopi Coyote Stories & Hopi Songs | Natwaniwa: A Hopi Philosophical Statement | Running on the Edge of the Rainbow: Laguna Stories and Poems | Songs of My Hunter Heart: Laguna Songs and Poems | A Conversation with Vine Deloria, Jr. | Home