Apache: The Culture Heroes and Owl

In this story, the hero Naiyenesgani appears with a companion (according to some, his brother or cousin). You will read some more stories about the hero Naiyenesgani following this one.

Here is Goddard's note to the story: "There are many varying versions as to the origin of these gods or culture among the several Apache tribes and the Navajo. Some insist that there is but one person with two names. Those who hold that there are two persons say that water is the father of Kubatc'istcine and that the sun is the father of Naiyenesgani. It is sometimes said that Isdzanadlehe is the mother of both. Others say that their mothers are sisters, or mother and daughter. In nearly all cases, regardless of the relationship assumed, they both address the woman as grandmother."

[Notes by LKG]

This story is part of the Apache unit. Story source: Jicarilla Apache Texts edited by Pliny Earle Goddard (1911).




The Culture Heroes and Owl

Kubatc'istcine and Naiyenesgani were companions. When they came to visit their grandmother, YoLgaiistdzan, they said to her, "Make us something to play with."

"Go and see your father," she replied. When they came near the house of the sun, children put their heads out of the door and looked at them.

When their mother was told who was coming, she said to her husband, "You always claim that you do nothing wrong and here are your children, coming to see you."

"Come in and sit back of the fire," they were told when they arrived.

"Why did you come to see me?" asked the sun.

"We want something to play with," they replied. He made the hoop and pole game and some arrows for them. "You must not roll the hoop toward the north," he told them.

They went about playing with the hoop and poles. After some time, they rolled it to the north. Although they threw the poles after the hoop, it rolled straight on, without falling, into the house of Owl and fell back of the fire.

When Owl saw the two boys standing there, he said, "What sort of people have come to see me? Hurry up and put them in the pot to cook."

Kubatc'istcine said, "I am stronger than he." Owl's wife chopped them up, put them in a pot, poured water over them, and put them by the fire to boil. Although the water was boiling, they stood in the bottom of the pot, telling stories to each other. "

Well, take them up for me," said Owl, "I want something to eat." His wife poked a stick into the pot and one of the boys jumped out to one side. She put the stick in again and the other one jumped out.

Owl looked at them and said, "You are something bad; you are using supernatural power so that you may not die."

The boys were still standing there. "Hurry, put them in the ashes to roast for me," Owl said. Naiyenesgani said, "I am stronger than he." Then she separated the ashes, put them in the middle of the fire, and arranged the fire on top of them, They sat there in the middle of the fire telling stories.

"Hurry now, I want to eat," he said, "take them out for me." When she poked in the ashes for them, one of them jumped out. Then she poked again and the other jumped out.

"Why did you come here practising magic?" Owl said. "Give them the hoop and pole," he told someone. They were given to them. "Go right around the hill here," Owl said.

The two boys started off and came again to their father. "I told you not to roll it in that direction," he said to them.

They went back to their grandmother. "See here, our father made us something nice to play with," they said. They went around playing with it until sunset.




(500 words)






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