Apache: Naiyenesgani Takes His Leave

As you will see, this story contains the thoughts of the storyteller about what he saw happening to the Apache people after the American people took over the Apache land and made them relocate; he connects this disaster to the words spoken by Naiyenesgani long ago. You can read about the forced relocation of the Jicarilla Apache onto reservations in the 1880s at Wikipedia.

Here is Goddard's note on the story: "This addition to the myths, of material pertinent to modern conditions, is evidence of the vitality and freedom of religion among the Jicarilla. The same views in nearly the same form were given by two other old men. They hold that there is a definite cause for the evils which have come upon the tribe. They have been removed from that portion of the earth where the sacred rivers and mountains, filled with supernatural power for their help, were situated. There is no remedy, for it is a fate foretold long ago. YoLgaiistdzan and her grandson, while powerless are not unsympathetic; they will return to share the fate of extinction."

[Notes by LKG]

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

Naiyenesgani Takes His Leave

Naiyenesgani, when he was about to go away, came here to the center where the heart of the world lies. When he had brought the people together, he asked them concerning that by which people should live. Standing there at the center of the world, with his black flint armor blowing out from him in the four directions, he said, "Now try your supernatural power on me." Then the men who knew magic tried their powers but the bad missiles fell all about him. When he blew his breath towards them they fell. "You see you can do nothing with them. People will not live by means of such things as these," he said.

Then he put the bear in charge of all the insects and of all kinds of fruit. He gave marten the care of the yuccas, chokecherries, and corn. He placed one of the small squirrels in control of blackberries, strawberries, and small fruits. Grasshopper was given grain. He assigned the amole to black tail deer. "These are the things by means of which people will live," he said.

"The heart of the world lies here. Wherever you may wander you will come back to this place," he told them. "I am going away now to my grandmother. I have already rid the world of monsters for you. In the future, when the people have become few, I will come back to you that we may all die together. I made this world as it lies here quite strong for you. For that reason you shall live here on this world."

He made this river, the Rio Grande, its backbone. He made a mountain ridge for its neck and Pikes Peak for its head.

He made the Sangro de Christo Range one of its legs and the mountains on the west side of the river the other leg. White Flint Mountain is one of its nipples, and Rock Bell Mountain the other. He made the world very strong.

"You shall live right here," he told them. "If they take you away from this place, to another, where the surroundings are not your own, you will perish."

We are dying off because the Americans have taken us to a place not our own and have forced us to live by means not ours. They have taken us away from the world which our father made for us to live in and we are dying in consequence. Some of the Indians who are intelligent do not like it. We are dying every summer. When we were living in our own country the people did not die as they do now.

Having talked to them in this manner he went away to his grandmother.

(500 words)

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