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

With Rudolph Kane

Video Credits

 

Watch the video without English captions

Larry Evers, Producer
Dennis Carr, Director 
Michael Orr, Post Production Supervisor 
Erwin Miller, Studio Engineer 
Catherine Davenport, Translator 
John Crouch & Andy Peterman, Field Engineers 
Thanks to The White Mountain Apache Cultural Center, Jim Crouch & Billy Kane 
In Cooperation with the University of Arizona Radio-TV-Film Bureau 
© Arizona Board of Regents 1978 
This program was made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities

 

Introduction

Setting

 

Apache elder Rudolph Kane told the stories recorded on this videotape in his home at Cedar Creek, Arizona, the evening of November 30, 1977. Mr. Kane's audience included four generations of his immediate family (the baby pictured is his great-granddaughter) as well as other children from the village of Cedar Creek. The setting is typical of a Western Apache storytelling session in several respects: the season, stories are told only during the winter months; the time of day, stories should be told only when the sun goes down; and the teller, usually stories are told to children by their maternal grandmother.

Cedar Creek is one of nine small communities on the one and one-half million acre Fort Apache Indian Reservation in south central Arizona. The Apache people who live there are primarily descendants of the White Mountain Band of a larger group anthropologists call the Western Apaches. Western Apaches include such other groups as the Kiowas, the Mescalero and Jicarillo Apaches.

The opening sequence of shots on this videotape offers glimpses of the landscape around Cedar Creek: a shallow, relatively narrow river valley lined with homes and small farm plots and rimmed on the east and west by long timbered ridges and an occasional prominent butte. Western Apaches have probably lived in this valley since before the coming of Europeans to this continent, and many of their narratives betray their long association with this place. The gaan narrative Mr. Kane tells in Part One of this videotape is one such narrative. It is important for us to note that it is set in the real space around the Cedar Creek valley. All the locations mentioned in the narrative are in an area immediate to Rudolph Kane's house. The most important, łetso gohéyo, is located some four miles north of Rudolph Kane's house on a bluff beside Cedar Creek. These places and the names by which they are called serve as ever-present reminders of the narrative to Apache people.
 

Place Names

 

The place names in the narrative are sometimes descriptive:

łetso gohéyo - "yellow placed called" 
tse' ditsos - "rock there yellow" 
tse' chinaah - "big rock sticking out"

Others refer to mythic activities associated with them:

tu'taghe'gohe' - "counting the water place"
shash bich'gi'dahtsooz - "bear hands up his blanket"

It is probably hard to over-estimate the wealth of associations -- cultural, familial, and personal—that these places hold for Cedar Creek Apaches. Mr. Kane's commentary on łetso gohéyo at the end of his gaan narrative gives us a powerful glimpse at how a place is made important, even sacred, by an event and the repeated tellings of that event. 
 

Religion

 

Apache religion is cure oriented. It is based on the notion that a series of powers exist in the universe which may be acquired and used by man. One of the most potent of these powers is the power of the gaans. The gaans are supernaturals who live inside mountains and caves throughout Apache country and who manifest themselves as masked dancers during the gaan ceremony. They are often compared to pueblo kachinas who appear in much the same way.
 

Gaans

 

The five masked dancers who are imaged on videotape after Mr. Kane completes his first narrative are gaan dancers. They are known popularly as "Crown Dancers" because of their dramatic headdresses. They dance to songs sung by Rudolph Kane from the corpus sung at a gaan ceremony. Rudolph Kane sings another gaan song at the opening of the videotape. The opening song translates:

I, the Crown Dancer,
I come down
To the holy place
To the earth

The language of gaan songs is compressed and extremely powerful in that they are seen as belonging to the gaans themselves. A Western Apache man once told an anthropologist Keith Basso: "If you don't sing songs, a power won't know where to find you, and it won't want to work for you."
 

Versions

 

Each of the Western Apache communities seems to have its own variation of the story of the origin of the gaans and of the curing ceremony in which they appear. These stories are generally told on two occasions: the night before a gaan ceremony and at night during the winter months for the instruction of children. The stories are usually long, complex, and very sacred. The Crown Dance narrative which Mr. Kane relates on this tape is told only in the village of Cedar Creek. It is sometimes called "The Man Who Became a Gaan." The narrative tells how the people of Cedar Creek came to have a close and personal connection with the supernatural. The narrative reminds listeners of the reality of the supernatural and of the necessity of recognizing and respecting its manifestations. Note the ways in which Mr. Kane makes these points to his audience at the end of the narrative.
 

Tricksters

 

The cycle of stories Mr. Kane tells in Part Two of this tape centers on an Apache trickster character called ba'ts'oosee. "Ba'" means fox, "ts'oosee" indicates something long or narrow and, by extension, sly. Ba'ts'oosee thus is the sly fox. He and his adventures are very like such trickster figures from other native American traditions as coyote, raven, and rabbit. Like them he is alternately benefactor and buffoon, creator and destroyer. It is through Ba'ts'oosee's efforts, these stories tell us, that Apache people have fire, and the deer antlers. Yet the same Ba'ts'oosee later sells his own feces as gold, then creates and hawks a "money tree."
 

Episodes

 

Ba'ts'oosee is a kind of picaresque hero. His adventures, like those of most other tricksters, are told in episodes. Note how Rudolph Kane organizes his Ba'ts'oosee episodes into a cycle which moves in time from the days before men had fire to the days after the coming of white men. The first three episodes occur in mythic time. In the first, Ba'ts'oosee steals fire for the people. In the second, he goes deer hunting and along the way creates deer antlers, falls off the crane-bridge, and loses his venison. In the third, Ba'ts'oosee lowers his cousin Ba'dotłizhe into an eagle's nest to obtain feathers for arrows. His actions in all three are originative. The final four episodes in Mr. Kane's Ba'ts'oosee cycle are set in historic time, after the coming of white men. In them, Ba'ts'oosee eludes the white man's tar baby trap by duping his cousin Ba'dotłizhe, convinces Ba'dotłizhe that the moon's reflection on water is Apache bread, sells his own feces, and then a bare tree to white men for gold. In these episodes Ba'ts'oosee's actions take a sharp turn toward the satiric.

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.
 

Part II Ba' Ts' Oosee: An Apache Trickster Cycle

Long ago,
they told about the squirrel,
the pine squirrel.
There was no fire,
no fire.
The squirrel had fire up there.

Ba'ts'oosee,
it's said,
he was walking and running around there.
Ba'ts'oosee.

Ba'ts'oosee,
this is what he was saying,
"heee,
the big boss is sick here.
Bring down the fire from there,
and we'll have a big dance for the boss.
Long ago, I guess,
even then they got sick.
Ba'ts'oosee said that.

They brought the fire down.
They built a fire on the ground and danced together around it.
There were thirty-two circles of people around the fire.
That spark,
when it came out,
they were going like this to it.

Heee,
they just kept on dancing, enjoying themselves.
Ba'ts'oosee started dancing out by himself.
Ba'ts'oosee,
the people were shouting out together for him and dancing.
He stuck his tail in the fire.

Fire,
fire.
"Heee, my tail won't burn,
I can dance away from the fire,
back and forth,"
that's what he said.

Heee,
the people told him his tail was on fire.
That was how he jumped over the people who were standing.
He jumped once,
then he jumped again.
He ran over away from the people.
The fire keepers ran after him.
Ba'ts'oosee,
that's how he ran off with the fire.

Ba'ts'oosee,
there was a big mountain,
he went around it.
Somebody must have helped him.
He started a fire over there.
Heee,
after he ran around he said,
"I ran around the world in one day."

He went around the world in one day,
but he just went around the mountain.

It burned wherever he went.
They got to him,
the fire keepers.
From there
we got the fire.
That is what they said.
Ba'ts'oosee
took off with the fire.
I don't know if that is the truth or not.

There's lots of funny stories about
Ba'ts'oosee.

Ba'ts'oosee was going along.
Like him,
like him,
like this,
he went hunting.

He was one of the hunters.
He was with them,
and they came to the middle of a steep canyon.

There was a bird with long legs.
The bird with the long legs had his long legs across the canyon.
They used them to walk across,
back and forth.
Ba'ts'oosee was one of them.
They spent the night.
The deer's antlers,
they were all greased up,
all greased up.

Ba'ts'oosee came up and said,
"Heee,
I just crunched into a bone."
When they were eating,
that's how the antler turned into a bone, they said.

They started walking again.
He wanted to be the last one,
"Let me fix my bundle up first.
Go ahead,
I'll follow you later."

The other people,
they all went across.
When they got across,
The other people told the crane,
"Move your legs when he is on them."
That's what they said.

Heee,
Ba'ts'oosee was walking.
When he right in the middle
the crane did what he was told.

He fell off.
"Just let my bundle fall,
just let my bundle fall,"
that's what he was saying.
While the bundle was falling,
the bats ate all the meat
before it hit the ground.
The bat (chabane') is the one that flies at night.
Meat, they ate up all of his meat.

"Heee,
I don't know how I'm going to get up there again."
I don't know how he got up there.
Those people up there were just laughing about him.

That's how they tell about
Ba'ts'oosee.
He's no good.
He did all these things.
When they were still like people,
he was one of them.

Keep going,
keep going.
Ba'ts'oosee,
he is still himself.
Keep on going.

It was a bald eagle
who had a nest up there
in the middle,
in the middle.

He was with another man,
"My cousin (shił na' ash),
let me lower you down to the nest.
My cousin,
let me lower you down.
We are going to get the feathers and make arrows,
and we'll go hunting together."
Ba'ts'oosee said this.

He lowered him down with a yucca rope.
Heee,
he just landed right there where the nest was,
right there.

"Heee,
I'm still holding onto the rope.
Heee,"
he called to his cousin,
"The rope slipped out of my hand,"
Ba'ts'oosee, that's what he said.
What he did was throw it over the side of the canyon.
Ba'ts'oosee,
that's what he did.

Heee,
the man was sitting there in the nest
with the baby eagles.
Baby eagles,
the man asked the baby eagles,
"How does your father,
your mother, how do they come?"

"My mother comes back
when it rains softly."
"Tse' biagha' " is when it rains softly.
"My father comes back
when it rains violently."

"Tse' bikaa" is when it rains hard
in the summer.

As soon as they sat up,
he was killing them.
This man had a stick,
one that won't break.
It was about this long.
He had it on his side.
When he used it,
they were falling all over,
and he was sitting right there.
Ba'ts'oosee just left him there,
he just ran off.

Heee, I don't know how many days
he was still there,
up there.

Heee,
nats' ili sane,
nats' ili sane,
that is what they call this grandmother.
She was with her grandchildren.
Just like you right now,
you are all my grandchildren.
nats' ili sane is a medicine.
It grows around here.

"Heee,
nats' ili sane,"
he called to her.
When he called to her he said,
"Get me down."

The grandmother and her grandchildren
were just going around the corner of the canyon.
She said,
"Listen,
someone is calling my name."
That's what nats' ili sane said.
"Heee,
someone is saying something somewhere,"
nats' ili sane said.

The man was talking,
"Get me down."
He was sitting up there,
at tse' chinaah.
(Big Rock sticking out)

She said,
"Get your head down,
I'm coming up there."
She was going up the side of the canyon like this.

The grandmother got up there.
When she got up there she said,
"Get in here.
I'm going to carry you down with this."
But the man said,
"Heee,
this strap might break."

She got up
She got up.

A big rock was right there.
She just put it in the burden basket.
She got up with it.
nats' ili sane,
she was an old lady.
Heee,
she had a big rock.
The old lady was standing in one place
and dancing.
It was going
"do, do, do."
It's said
that's what the strap was doing.

Now the old lady said,
"Get in there,
but keep your head down.
When we get down there,
you can pull your head up."

They were going down like this.
I don't know how far they were going down,
but they must have gone half way.
That's when the man raised his head.
The grandmother told him not to.
They both fell at that moment
with the old lady.

Heee,
there were some children there.
The grandmother asked for the nats' ili sane'izee.
The old lady said it.
The old lady said it.

Down there was the man,
just laying there.

The eagle feathers,
he gave to the old lady
to get him down.

Heee,
he put the eagle feathers
in the burden basket for her,
"this will be yours."
Then nats' ili sane went her way
with her grandchildren.

Sunflower,
the man told the grandmother,
"Grandmother,
don't go in the sunflower patch."
Nats' ili sane forgot
because she was tending her grandchildren.
They were coming close to the sunflower patch.
Heee,
she forgot
and followed her grandchildren in.
From the feathers,
all kinds of birds came out of the burden basket.
The feathers all turned into birds.

Heee,
they all flew off.
She turned the basket over and saved a few.
All the rest turned into birds.

Nats' ili sane is an old lady
long time ago.
That's how they tell about her.
There was a man who used to tell this,
but he is gone.
All those old people,
they are dead now.
I've never told anybody,
but tonight I'm telling
because these white men came along.

There are lots of funny stories,
but I don't want to make you laugh.

That is the truth.

I'm telling it to you straight.

Ba'ts'oosee
Heee, it's like that.
There's another one

That's how my yucca bananas hang.
(shi goshk' an dash jaa)
That's what you say if it is the end.

I don't know what I'll talk about.
Everyone's going to fall asleep.

This is how it was told
a long time ago.
Ba'ts'oosee,
he was stealing from that white man's garden.
He steals at night.
Here he comes again at night.
There was tar in the shape of a man
at the gate,
where he comes in.
They put it there for him,
Ba'ts'oosee.
He came in again at night.
He said,
"Get out of my way."

He just went like this . . .
and he never got his hand back.

And this side too . . .

"I can kick to ..."

He got stuck like a ball in it.
Ba'ts'oosee,
he got stuck.

He said, "I can bite too."
He just bit into it.

That's how he got caught.

They put a chain on him.
The white men did this to him.

This is a łe' go cho.

He was still chained up,
still.
That's when they started boiling a lot of water.
The water got very hot.

The idea was to put him in there.
That's why he was chained up.
That's when the other fox came along,
Ba'dotłizhe,
grey fox.
"Ba'dotłizhe" is what they call the one with the long white tail.
That's what they call
"Ba'dotłizhe."

My cousin,
let me tie you up right here.
I'm going to be eating with them soon.
They're going to do it pretty soon.

They're boiling water."

They were going to scald him in the water.

He tied the other one up,
and he ran off.
Now,
Ba'ts'oosee ran off.

He tied the other one up,
and he ran off.

Now,
Ba'ts'oosee ran off.

Now,
a group of people came up.
They said,
"that's not him."
Some of them said,
"that's the same one."
Others said,
"he looks different."
They knew him.

So they shoved him in the boiling water.
Ba'dotłizhe,
they put him in.
Heee,
it all came off,
his fur.

The one who took off returned.
"why did they do that to you, my cousin?"
that's what he said.

Ba'ts'oosee.
Keep on going.
They came to where there was water,
where water runs.
Ba'ts'oosee
and the other one,
the other one.

"My cousin,
there's ba'dos in there.
It's mine.

It's bread.
It's bread that goes in the ashes.
It's Apache bread.
The Ba' calls it "tsibe'dz."
Ba'ts'oosee.

This down here is the reflection of the moon,
way down under.
That's why he tells his friend to drink all the water
Ba'ts'oosee,
that's what he said.

They started drinking it.
Ba'ts'oosee
just had his mouth on the water.
The other one was really drinking it.
Heee,
his stomach was big.
The other one had his mouth on the water.
He pretended he was drinking it.
That's how he lies.

The other one was just like a ball.
He was full
from water.
It was like that.
That's how they told it,
true or not.
That's how it was a long time ago.

These old men up here,
(Gestures to pictures on wall.)
Some of those up there must have told this story too.
Long time ago,
that's the way Ba'ts'oosee was.
He steals.

"I'm working for the big boss,"
he said,
the same one again,
Ba'ts'oosee was.
He steals.

"I'm working for the big boss,"
he said,
the same one again,
Ba'ts'oosee.

Heee,
where the ant lives,
he is there.
He was going around saying,
"hoo, hoo, hoo."
He went around where the ant lives.
"I'm going to drive (inisoog) the ants.
I'm still working for the big boss."

Heee,
it's still going.
We're looking for him again.

That's how his hat was.
(Puts his hat on the floor.)

Right here,
he poops,
he poops.
He had it under his hat,
He had it covered with his hat.

Ba'ts'oosee,
he was sitting down.
Somebody said, "they are looking for you."
"It couldn't be me they're looking for.
They all look like me,"
that's what he said.
"I'm sitting here watching over the gold.
In here,
gold."

He was just barely tipping his hat.

"I'm watching over the gold,"
that's what he said.

(To unruly boy: "Don't do that! Ta. . . .")

I guess the people were kind of crazy then,
even the white men,
I guess they bought it from him.

"Just wait until I get over there,
and then you can pick it up,"
that's what he said.

He just followed a ridge and
kept on walking.

Then they picked it up.

That's how he took off.
He was tricky that way.
Heee,
long time ago,
that's how it's told.
The story was told a long time ago.
It's still going tonight,
but nobody talks about it anymore.

Ba'ts'oosee,
he is tricky.

Again,
Ba'ts'oosee

A tree.

They were all going out like this.

Money,
he put there:
25¢, 50¢, $1, all different coins.

"heee,
this money can grow,"
he said.
I don't know what he was doing.

He threw something out.
When it hit the tree,
money dropped.
It all fell down from there.
When he was doing that,
all the money fell off to him.

"Buy this from me."

He sold it.
I don't know how much he sold it for.
He sold the tree with nothing on it.

He was telling the people
money grows on the tree.
He was crazy.

This story, that's how they made it.
Even the white men,
they call it a funny book.
When you look at a funny book,
you like it.
That's how this story is about Ba'ts'oosee.
It's like that.
Ba'ts'oosee,
He was going again.
wherever he goes they know him.

That's how my yucca bananas hang,
(shi goshk' an dash jaa.)

Ba'ts'oosee's poop might be under
here. (As he picks up his hat.)

For Comment and Discussion

Genre

 

Rudolph Kane tells two kinds of Apache narratives on this videotape. The Gaan narrative in Part I is a na'godi'ee -- a true story about the distant past, what might be called a "myth" in European tradition. The series of stories about Ba'ts'oosee which Rudolph Kane tells in Part II are called łe'gocho, fictional stories analagous to what we call "folktales." Rudolph Kane's performances of these two genres contrast not only in terms of their content but also in terms of his style of narrating each. Note the more animated and playful style which characterizes the telling of łe'gocho. 
 

Style

 

Other aspects of Rudolph Kane's storytelling style deserve mention. Note that the Ba'ts'oosee stories are enclosed by a formulaic opening and closing. The closing, which we have translated "That's how my yucca bananas hang," compares the way the Ba'ts'oosee stories come together to the way the fruit of the yucca grows in a cluster on a single stern, like bananas contemporary Apache people say. Note, too, that the favorite numbers of Apache people—four, twelve, and thirty-two -- are used throughout all the narratives, as are the colors Apaches traditionally associate with the four directions -- black, blue, yellow, and white. Note how Rudolph Kane makes effective use 
of quotation throughout his narratives, and how the very distinctive exclamation "heee," which has no literal translation in Apache, is used to introduce many of Ba'ts'oosee's comments. Finally note how Rudolph Kane uses things in his home -- a pipe on the wall, a picture, his own hat—to enhance his telling.
 

Continuity

 

All the stories Rudolph Kane tells on this videotape have been recorded in other versions from Apache people earlier in this century. Two very compressed versions of the "Origin of the Gaans" have been recorded: one by Pliny E. Goddard, Myths and Tales from the White Mountain Apache (New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1919), pp. 124-26; the other by Grenville Goodwin, Myths and Tales of the White Mountain Apache (New York: American Folklore Society, 1939), pp. 100-06. Another version of "The Man Who Became a Gaan," told by Alsus at Cedar Creek in 1930, may be found in Goodwin, pp. 119-21. Versions of all the Ba'ts'oosee stories which Rudolph Kane tells on this videotape can be found in the same sources. Contrasting these early published versions with those told by Rudolph Kane in 1977 is instructive. It indicates that over nearly a century of intensive pressure from the larger society Apache people continue to maintain their oral traditions in very stable forms. The variation in these versions is also provocative, indicating perhaps the freedom permitted story- tellers in episodes in various ways.

Contrasting these early published versions with those told by Rudolph Kane in 1977 is instructive. It indicates that over nearly a century of intensive pressure from the larger society Apache people continue to maintain their oral traditions in very stable forms. The variation in these versions is also provocative, indicating perhaps the freedom permitted storytellers in episodes in various ways.
 

Distribution

 

Many of the stories which Rudolph Kane tells on this videotape have been recorded far from Cedar Creek, Arizona. Folklorist Stith Thompson reports that "The Theft of Fire" episode alone was told by at least sixty-five different tribes over virtually the whole of what we now know as the United States. The Tarbaby episode, which many of us know from the Uncle Remus of Joel Chandler Harris and Walt Disney, has an extremely wide international distribution. Despite years of intense study, folklorists are unable to agree as to how to account for the wide distribution of stories of this sort. Some argue that the story must have originated in one place and diffused out from there; others speculate that the same story can spring up of its own accord in a number of widely separated cultures.
 

Social Protest

 

While these are interesting questions, it is also important to wonder why these stories are told among Apache people. One reason very obviously is that the stories are entertaining; another that they instruct Apache young people in various ways. Consider Ba'ts'oosee, the trickster figure, as a vehicle for social protest in this regard. Leslie Marmon Silko's poem "Toe'osh: a Laguna Coyote Story" is another good example of how the Trickster figure is used by Indian people in this way. Silko reads the poem on "Running on the Edge of the Rainbow" one of the videotapes in this series. It is printed in her book Storyteller (NY: Grove, 1981), p. 236.
 

The Recording

 

All original material recorded November 29 -- December 1, 1977 is archived in the Southwest Folklore Center, University of Arizona, Tucson. Copies of this program without English subtitles are available to Apache speakers through the Division of Media and Instructional Programs, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona.
 

Related Readings

 

Keith Basso's The Cibeque Apaches (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1970) provides an overview of much of Western Apache life. Professor Basso's Portraits of "The White Man": Linguistic Play and Cultural Symbols Among the Western Apache (Cambridge: Cambridge Universal Press, 1979) is a superb consideration of the Apache verbal art of joking. Two collections of Western Apache stories have been published. Pliny E. Goddard's Myths and Tales from the White Mountain Apache (New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1919), and Grenville Goodwin's Myths and Tales of the White Mountain Apache (New York: J. J. Augustin, 1939).

Dennis Tedlock's discussion of Zuni Indian narrative genres in "Pueblo Literature: Style and Verisimilitude," in Alfonso Ortiz, ed., New Perspectives on the Pueblos(Albuquerque: Univ. of New Mexico Press, 1972), pp. 219-42, is an extremely helpful discussion of the question of genre in American Indian literature. Paul Radin's The Trickster: A Study in American Indian Mythology (New York: Schocken, 1972) provides useful perspectives, as does Barbara Babcock's article "A Tolerated Margin of Mess: Trickster and His Tales Reconsidered," Journal of the Folklore Institute, 6 (1975), pp. 345-80. For other versions of "The Theft of Fire" from American Indian communities see Stith Thompson's Tales of the North American Indians(Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press, 1968), note 63, page 289. For Tarbaby, see Thompson's The Folktale (New York: Dryden Press, 1946), pp. 225-26 and 445; and A. M. Espinosa's "Notes on the Origin and History of the Tarbaby Story," Journal of American Folklore, 43 (1930), pp. 129-209. 

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