Apache Nation



Apache Nation



The Apache call themselves
N’de, Dišn, Tišnde, or Inde, `people.’

“The people have prevailed.”

Mescalero Apache Nation

Hon Dah….
Apache for Welcome

Apache Leaders

Black Knife




Goyathlay (“one who yawns”)

Geronimo – His Own Story


Quotes from Geronimo

“I was warmed by the sun, rocked by the winds and sheltered by the trees as other Indian babes. I was living peaceably when people began to speak bad of me. Now I can eat well, sleep well and be glad. I can go everywhere with a good feeling.

The soldiers never explained to the government when an Indian was wronged, but reported the misdeeds of the Indians. We took an oath not to do any wrong to each other or to scheme against each other.

I cannot think that we are useless or God would not have created us. There is one God looking down on us all. We are all the children of one God. The sun, the darkness, the winds are all listening to what we have to say.

When a child, my mother taught me to kneel and pray to Usen for strength, health, wisdom and protection. Sometimes we prayed in silence, sometimes each one prayed aloud; sometimes an aged person prayed for all of us… and to Usen.

I was born on the prairies where the wind blew free and there was nothing to break the light of the sun. I was born where there were no enclosures.”


Geronimo {jur-ahn’-i-moh}, or Goyathlay (“one who yawns”), was born in 1829 in what is today western New Mexico, but was then still Mexican territory. He was a Bedonkohe Apache (grandson of Mahko) by birth and a Net’na during his youth and early manhood. His wife, Juh, Geronimo’s cousin Ishton, and Asa Daklugie were members of the Nednhi band of the Chiricahua Apache.

He was reportedly given the name Geronimo by Mexican soldiers, although few agree as to why. As leader of the Apaches at Arispe in Sonora, he performed such daring feats that the Mexicans singled him out with the sobriquet Geronimo (Spanish for “Jerome”). Some attributed his numerous raiding successes to powers conferred by supernatural beings, including a reputed invulnerability to bullets.

Geronimo’s war career was linked with that of his brother-in-law, Juh, a Chiricahua chief. Although he was not a hereditary leader, Geronimo appeared so to outsiders because he often acted as spokesman for Juh, who had a speech impediment.

Geronimo was the leader of the last American Indian fighting force formally to capitulate to the United States. Because he fought against such daunting odds and held out the longest, he became the most famous Apache of all. To the pioneers and settlers of Arizona and New Mexico, he was a bloody-handed murderer and this image endured until the second half of this century.


To the Apaches, Geronimo embodied the very essence of the Apache values, agressiveness, courage in the face of difficulty. These qualities inspired fear in the settlers of Arizona and New Mexico. The Chiricahuas were mostly migratory following the seasons, hunting and farming. When food was scarce, it was the custom to raid neighboring tribes. Raids and vengeance were an honorable way of life among the tribes of this region.

By the time American settlers began arriving in the area, the Spanish had become entrenched in the area. They were always looking for Indian slaves and Christian converts. One of the most pivotal moments in Geronimo’s life was in 1858 when he returned home from a trading excursion into Mexico. He found his wife, his mother and his three young children murdered by Spanish troops from Mexico. This reportedly caused him to have such a hatred of the whites that he vowed to kill as many as he could. From that day on he took every opportunity he could to terrorize Mexican settlements and soon after this incident he received his power, which came to him in visions. Geronimo was never a chief, but a medicine man, a seer and a spiritual and intellectual leader both in and out of battle. The Apache chiefs depended on his wisdom.

When the Chiricahua were forcibly removed (1876) to arid land at San Carlos, in eastern Arizona, Geronimo fled with a band of followers into Mexico. He was soon arrested and returned to the new reservation. For the remainder of the 1870s, he and Juh led a quiet life on the reservation, but with the slaying of an Apache prophet in 1881, they returned to full-time activities from a secret camp in the Sierra Madre Mountains.

In 1875 all Apaches west of the Rio Grande were ordered to the San Carlos Reservation. Geronimo escaped from the reservation three times and although he surrendered, he always managed to avoid capture. In 1876, the U.S. Army tried to move the Chiricahuas onto a reservation, but Geronimo fled to Mexico eluding the troops for over a decade. Sensationalized press reports exaggerated Geronimo’s activities, making him the most feared and infamous Apache. The last few months of the campaign required over 5,000 soldiers, one-quarter of the entire Army, and 500 scouts, and perhaps up to 3,000 Mexican soldiers to track down Geronimo and his band.

Click on Image for larger picture

In May 1882, Apache scouts working for the U.S. army surprised Geronimo in his mountain sanctuary, and he agreed to return with his people to the reservation. After a year of farming, the sudden arrest and imprisonment of the Apache warrior Ka-ya-ten-nae, together with rumors of impending trials and hangings, prompted Geronimo to flee on May 17, 1885, with 35 warriors and 109 women, children and youths. In January 1886, Apache scouts penetrated Juh’s seemingly impregnable hideout. This action induced Geronimo to surrender (Mar. 25, 1886) to Gen. George CROOK. Geronimo later fled but finally surrendered to Gen. Nelson MILES on Sept. 4, 1886. The government breached its agreement and transported Geronimo and nearly 450 Apache men, women, and children to Florida for confinement in Forts Marion and Pickens. In 1894 they were removed to Fort Sill in Oklahoma. Geronimo became a rancher, appeared (1904) at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, sold Geronimo souvenirs, and rode in President Theodore Roosevelt’s 1905 inaugural parade.

Geronimo’s final surrender in 1886 was the last significant Indian guerrilla action in the United States. At the end, his group consisted of only 16 warriors, 12 women, and 6 children. Upon their surrender, Geronimo and over 300 of his fellow Chiricahuaswere shipped to Fort Marion, Florida. One year later many of them were relocated to the Mt. Vernon barracks in Alabama, where about one quarter died from tuberculosis and other diseases. Geronimo died on Feb. 17, 1909, a prisoner of war, unable to return to his homeland. He was buried in the Apache cemetery at:

Fort Sill, Oklahoma
437 Quanah Road
Fort Sill, OK (73503-5000)


Geronimo’s Song Tribute

Geronimo’s Song

by Geronimo (Goyathlay)


“The song that I will sing is an old song, so old that none knows who made it. It has been handed down through generations and was taught to me when I was but a little lad. It is now my own song. It belongs to me. This is a holy song (medicine-song), and great is its power. The song tells how, as I sing, I go through the air to a holy place where Yusun (The Supreme Being) will give me power to do wonderful things. I am surrounded by little clouds, and as I go through the air I change, becoming spirit only.

Geronimo’s changed form is symbolized by a circle, and this is surrounded by a mystic aureole. The holy place is symbolized by the sun, which is decorated with a horned head-dress emblematic of divine power. This is the insignia of the Holy Man.

Geronimo’s Song Tributes

Geronimo’s Song 1

Geronimo’s Song 2

Geronimo’s Song 3

Geronimo’s Song 4

Geronimo’s Song 5


Sung by Geronimo

O, ha le
O, ha le!
Shichl hadahiyago niniya
O, ha le
O, ha le
Tsago degi naleya
Ah–yu whi ye!
O, ha le
O, ha le!

O, ha le
O, ha le!
Through the air
I fly upon the air
Towards the sky, far, far, far,
O, ha le
O, ha le!
There to find the holy place,
Ah, now the change comes o’re me!
O, ha le
O, ha le!


“Women of the Apache Nation: Voices of Truth (University of Nevada, 1991)
“Survival of the Spirit: Chiricahua Apahces in Captivity” (University of Nevada Press, 1993)


H. Henrietta Stockel

Geronimo’s Wife, Taz-ayz-Slath, and Child

“Geronimo is said to have had magical powers. He could see into the future, walk without creating footprints and even hold off the dawn to protect his own. This Apache Indian warrior and his band of 37 followers defied federal authority for more than 25 years.

“GERONIMO AND THE APACHE RESISTANCE” weaves dramatic scenery, memoirs, letters, photographs and other original documents into a portrayal of the life of the people of the southwest in the 19th century.”

Descendants of Geronimo:

Marcia Olafson
Mr. Montano

Pictures and Home Pages About Geronimo


(K’uu-ch’ish “oak”
in the Apache language)

Cheis or A-da-tli-chi

(b. 1812, d. June 8, 1874)

Dragoon Mountains
where Cochise hid with his warriors

“You must speak straight so that your words
may go as sunlight into our hearts.

Speak Americans:

I will not lie to you; do not lie to me.”

Cochise was a tall man, six feet, with broad shoulders and a commanding appearance. He never met a man his equal with a lance, and, like Crazy Horse, was never photographed. They both were buried in secret locations on their homeland.

Quotes from Cochise

“When I was young I walked all over this country, east and west, and saw no other people than the Apaches. After many summers I walked again and found another race of people had come to take it. How is it?

We were once a large people covering these mountains. We lived well: we were at peace. One day my best friend was seized by an officer of the white men and treacherously killed. At last your soldiers did me a very great wrong, and I and my people went to war with them.

The worst place of all is Apache Pass. There my brother and nephews were murdered. Their bodies were hung up and kept there till they were skeletons. Now Americans and Mexicans kill an Apache on sight. I have retaliated with all my might.

My people have killed Americans and Mexicans and taken their property. Their losses have been greater than mine. I have killed ten white men for every Indian slain, but I know that the whites are many and the Indians are few. Apaches are growing less every day.

Why is it that the Apaches wait to die — That they carry their lives on their fingernails? They roam over the hills and plains and want the heavens to fall on them. The Apaches were once a great nation; they are now but few, and because of this they want to die and so carry their lives on their fingernails.

I am alone in the world. I want to live in these mountains; I do not want to go to Tularosa. That is a long way off. I have drunk of the waters of the Dragoon Mountains and they have cooled me: I do not want to leave here.

Nobody wants peace more than I do. Why shut me up on a reservation? We will make peace; we will keep it faithfully. But let us go around free as Americans do. Let us go wherever we please.”

Naiche, son of Cochise

The Apache Indians are divided into six sub-tribes:



Chihenne….Chi-hen-ne,(Ojo Caliente),
(Hot Springs)Apaches

Chiricahua Apache


White Mountain Apache

Da go Te’….
An Apache Hello

History of the Apache

Apache (probably from Apachu, ‘enemy,’ the Zuni name for the Navaho, who were designated “Apaches de Nabaju” by the early Spaniards in New Mexico). A number of tribes forming the most southerly group of the Athapascan family. The name has been applied also to some unrelated Yuman tribes, as the Apache Mohave (Yavapai) and Apache Yuma.

Being a nomadic people, the Apache practiced agriculture only to a limited extent before their permanent establishment on reservations. They subsisted chiefly on the products of the chase and on roots (especially that of the maguey) and berries. Although fish and bear were found in abundance in their country they were not eaten, being tabued as food. They had few arts, but the women attained high skill in making baskets. Their dwellings were shelters of brush, which were easily erected by the women and were well adapted to their arid environment and constant shifting. In physical appearance the Apache vary greatly, but are rather above the medium height. They are good talkers, are not readily deceived, and are honest in protecting property placed in their care, although they formerly obtained their chief support from plunder seized in their forays.

Apache Games

Apache Medicine Dance

Apache Photo Gallery

How the Apache Began

Information Concerning

Industries and Ceremonies

No group of tribes has caused greater confusion to writers, from the fact that the popular navies of the tribes are derived from some local or temporary habitat, owing to their shifting propensities, or were given by the Spaniards on ac count of some tribal characteristic; hence some of the common names of apparently different Apache tribes or bands are synonymous, or practically so; again, as employed by some writers, a name may include much
more or much less than when employed by others.

The Apache are divided into a number of tribal groups which have been so differently
named and defined that it is sometimes difficult to determine to which branch writers refer.

The most commonly accepted divisions are the Querechos or Vaqueros,
consisting of the Mescaleros, Jicarillas, Faraones, Llaneros, and probably the Lipan; the Chiricahua;
the Pinale�os; the Coyoteros, comprising the White Mountain and Pinal divisions; the Arivaipa;
the Gila Apache, including the Gilenos, Mimbrenos, and Mogollones; and the Tontos.

The word “Apache” comes from the Yuma word for “fighting-men”. It also comes from a Zuni word meaning “enemy”. The Zuni name for Navajo was called “Apachis de Nabaju” by the earliest Spaniards exploring New Mexico. Their name for themselves is N’de, Inde or Tinde (“the people”). The Apaches are well-known for their superior skills in warfare strategy and inexhaustible endurance. Continuous wars among other tribes and invaders from Mexico followed the Apaches’ growing reputation of warlike character. When they confronted Coronado in 1540, they lived in eastern New Mexico, and reached Arizona in the 1600s. The Apache are described as a gentle people; faithful in their friendship.

They belong to the Southern Athapascan linguistic family. The Apache are composed of six regional groups: the Western Apache, Chiricahua, Mescalero, Jicarilla, Lipan, and Kiowa Apache. On marriage, men customarily take up residence with their wives’ kin. Maternal clans exist among the Western Apache, who depend more on cultivation than did other groups. All Apache rely primarily on hunting of wild game and gathering of cactus fruits and other wild plant foods. The Western Apache (Coyotero) traditionally occupy most of eastern Arizona and include the White Mountain, Cibuecue, San Carlos, and Northern and Southern Tonto bands. The Chiricahua occupy southwestern New Mexico, southeastern Arizona, and adjacent Mexican states of Chihuahua and Sonora. The Mescalero (Faraon) live east of the Rio Grande in southern New Mexico, with the Pecos River as their eastern border. The Jicarilla (Tinde) range over southeastern Colorado, northern New Mexico, and northwest Texas, with the Lipan occupying territory directly to the east of the Jicarilla. The Kiowa Apache (Gataka), long associated with the KIOWA, a Plains people, range over the southern plains of Colorado, Oklahoma, and Texas.

Apache Divisions

Arivaipa Apache
Chiricahua Apache
Faraon Apache
Gila Apache
Jicarilla Apache
Lipan Apache
Mescalero Apache
Pinal Coyotero
Tonto Apache
Yavapai Apache

White Mountain Apache Clans


The Apache attained their greatest fame as guerrilla fighters defending their mountainous homelands under the Chiricahua leaders Cochise, Geronimo, Mangas Coloradus, Victorio, and Juh. Today the Apache occupy reservations in New Mexico and Arizona, with some Chiricahua, Lipan, and Kiowa Apache in Oklahoma. In 1680 the Apache population was estimated at 5,000; in 1989 it was estimated at about 30,000, of whom most live on reservations. While accommodating to changed economic conditions, the Apache on reservations have maintained much of their traditional social and ritual activities. Their invincible spirit is still shown today by an energy and fire that makes them a strong and hardy people in modern day society.

The Jicarilla are part of the Apache people. The name Jicarilla means “little basket,” deriving from the expertise of their women in making baskets of all sizes, shapes, and colors. Within recent times, they make their homes in southeastern Colorado and northern New Mexico, though a few groups went to Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. Originally they came from northwestern Canada among the migration of Athapascan language tribes, then along the eastern flank of the Rocky Mountains. When first met by explorers in the 1540s, they were called the Vaqueros by the Spanish. Though the Spanish established a mission for Jicarillas in 1733 near Taos, New Mexico, it did not succeed. Later, in 1880, the government set aside a reservation for the Jicarillas in the Tierra Amarilla region of New Mexico. Today they live on their reservations in Arizona and in Rio Arriba and Sandoval Counties, New Mexico.

Apaches have always been inherently aware of earth and sky spirits. From their early morning prayers to the Sun-God, through their hours, days, and their entire lives–for them every act has sacred significance.


Naiyenesgani went around looking in vain for monsters.
When he failed to find any he started off in this direction, toward the Mescalero country.
He climbed to the top of White Mountain and looked about in all the different directions in vain.
There were no monsters. Then he threw away his staff.

“You will get your living by means of this,” he said, and
right where he threw it, it became a yucca.
Then he washed from his hands the pollution from the killing of the monsters
and threw it in different directions. “With this you will live,” he said, referring to the Mexicans.

That is why sheep and cattle have a bad odor.
The dirt he washed from his hands became cattle and sheep.
All the monsters were gone. The Mescalero live upon the staff which he threw away,
the Mexicans live upon the cattle and the sheep.
That is why Mexicans have many sheep and cattle. He spoke to them this way.

Other Stories

An Apache Medicine Dance
Apache Creation Story
Apache Fox Stories

Apache Creation Stories
Apache Creation Story
Apache Creation Story 1
Apache Men

Apache Meets a Texan
Apache Women
Arrows Fail on the Hunt
Captive Woman Attempts to Make Peace
Deer Hunt
Duel Between Scouts
Fight With the Enemy on the Arkansas River
Horses of the Apache Are Stolen by the Navajo
Horses of the Ollero are Stolen
Hunting Elk
Leader of the Birds

Pesita Is Shot
Successful Hunt
Turkey Makes The Corn And Coyote Plants It
Ute is Saved by his War-Medicine
War with the Americans



Beaver and the Old Man
Coyote Secures Fire
Coyote Secures Fire. (Second Version)
Culture Heroes and Owl
Fight With The Enemy On The Arkansas River
First War
How the Buffalo Were Released on Earth
Killer-of-Enemies at Taos and His Departure
Killing of the Bear
Killing of the Monsters.
Naiyenesgani Rescues the Taos Indians
Man Who Helped the Eagles
Man Who Traveled With the Buffalo
Monster Fish
Monster Fish (Second Version)
Naiyenesgani Removes Certain Dangers
Naiyenesgani Takes His Leave
Naiyenesgani Takes His Leave (Second Version)
Releasing the Buffalo
Releasing the Buffalo. (Second Version)
Origin of Corn and Deer
Origin of Corn and Deer (Second Version)
Origin of Sheep and Cattle
Slaying of The Monsters
Supernatural Person in the Lake
Swallowing Monster
Traveling Rock
Winning of Daylight

More Stories

Chiricahua Texts

A Girl Is Lost
A Prayer Addressed to the Mountain Spirits
A Visit to the Mountain Spirits
Coyote and the Money Tree
Coyote and the Rock Rabbit
Coyote and the Rolling Rock
Coyote Holds Up the Sky
Coyote Misses Real Rabbit
Coyote Obtains Fire
Why the Bat has Short Legs

Jicarilla Apache Coyote Stories

The coyote cycle is a series of tales or episodes involving the travels and adventures of the trickster, Coyote.
For any one story-teller, these tales or episodes had a fixed order in respect to one another,
though another story-teller’s account might run somewhat differently.
The manner of organizing these episodes seemed to depend more or less on family lines,
since the young of a given family group drew their inspiration from some venerable
relative and carried on his version of the proper way to relate the antics of Coyote.

Coyote and Beaver
Coyote and Beaver Exchange Wives
Coyote and Beaver Play Tricks On Each Other
Coyote and Bobcat Scratch Each Other
Coyote and Beetle
Coyote and His Mother-in-Law
Coyote and Porcupine Contend For a Buffalo
Coyote and the Pitch Baby
Coyote and the Expanding Meat
Coyote and the Mexicans
Coyote and the Two Running Rocks
Coyote and Yellow Jacket
Coyote Apes His Hosts
Coyote As Eye-Juggler
Coyote Burns His Children
Coyote Chases the Rocks
Coyote Comes to Life Four Times
Coyote Dances with the Prairie Dogs
Coyote Deceives a Woman
Coyote Gets Rich Off The White Men

Coyote Insults The Rock

Coyote in the Underworld;
The Origin of the Monsters;
The First Emergence

Coyote is Disobeyed by Turkey
Coyote is Revenged on Wildcat
Coyote is Shot With a Pine Tree
Coyote Kills Deer with His Ceremony
Coyote Kills His Own Child Instead of the Turkeys
Coyote Kills His Wife and Carries Her Body
Coyote Kills the Prairie Dogs
Coyote Loses His Bow and Arrows to Antelope
Coyote Loses His Eyes
Coyote Loses the Power to Obtain Food
Coyote Marries His Own Daughter
Coyote Marries Under False Pretences
Coyote Obtains Fire
Coyote Plays Tricks on Owl; the Vomit Exchange
Coyote Proves Himself a Cannibal
Coyote Secures Fire
Coyote Secures Fire II
Coyote Steals a Man’s Wife
Coyote Steals Another Man’s Wife
Coyote Takes Arrows From Owl
Coyote Tries to Make His Children Spotted
Coyote Visits Buffalo
Coyote Visits the Red Ants

Race around the World
Rabbit Escapes

Rabbit Fools Coyote
Rabbit Scares Coyote Away

Jicarilla Texts

Chiricahua and Mescalero Apache Texts
An Apache Medicine Dance
An Expedition To The Adobe Walls With Kit Carson
An Unsuccessful Expedition Led By Maxwell
Antelopes Take Arrows from Coyote 1
Antelopes Take Arrows from Coyote 2
Apache Medicine Dance

At present there are no men or women among the Jicarillas who have the power to heal the sick and perform other miracles that entitle them to rank as medicine men or medicine women–at least none who are in active practice and are popular. This being the case, medicine feasts have not been held for several years on the reservation. But in August and September 1898, two such feasts were conducted by the old Apache woman, Sotli, who now lives in Pueblo of San Ildefonso. Sotli made the journey of nearly a hundred miles to the Jicarillas on a burro. She was delayed for some time on the way by the high waters of Chama Creek, so rumours of her arrival were repeatedly spread for some weeks, before she actually appeared.

For festive dances, the U.S. Indian Agent or his representative, the clerk at Dulce, issue extra rations of beef and flour, and the Indians themselves buy all the supplies from the traders that their scanty funds will permit. Edible supplies do not keep well in Indian camps, and successive postponements threatened to terminate a feast without adequate provisions. But fortunately Sotli arrived in time.

The preliminary arrangements were made by Satl, the husband of the invalid Kes-nos’-un-da, in whose behalf the ceremonies were to be performed. Satl presented Sotli with a pipe of ancient pattern, a short cylinder of clay; a few eagle feathers and a new basket as well.

As the Jicarilla Apaches live in scattered tipis and cabins about the reservation, there is no specified place, such as the plaza of a pueblo tribe, where religious ceremonies are performed. Sotli chose a spot in La Jara Canon where Satl and his friends built a medicine lodge with an enclosure surrounded by a pine brush fence. The lodge was begun on the morning of August 22 and the fence was completed by noonday. The builders were served food by the women of Satl’s family.

At noon of the 22nd, the first day, about a dozen of the older men gathered in the medicine lodge. According to Gunsi, these men were selected by Sotli because of their ability in outlining the dry paintings, which they made in the lodge under her direction. No one but Apaches are admitted to the medicine lodge, so that I have depended upon the account of it given by Gunsi in the following description:

“The ground was cleared at the back of the lodge–between the fire and the western wall–over a space about six feet in diameter, and covered with a layer of clean gray sand. The sand painting the first day contained the figures of snakes only, having their heads directed toward the west, with the exception of the sun symbol, which was drawn each day during the ceremony around a shallow hole six or eight inches in diameter at the centre of the painting.

“The sun was represented by a ring of white sand around the margin of the hole; next came a circle of black, and then a ring of red with white rays. After the painting had been completed, the invalid woman, in an ordinary gown not especially prepared for the occasion, entered the enclosure, laid aside her blanket, and passed into the lodge, on the floor of which four “bear tracks” had been made, leading to the dry painting. (Presumably because she had the snake and bear disease.)

“The patient stepped upon the footprints in going to the sand painting, on which she spread pollen (kat-u-tin) from the cattail flag, and sacred meal. She then sat down upon the painting, facing the east. Songs were sung and prayers were offered to the sun, after which the women brought food from the camps into the enclosure. Those within the lodge seated themselves around the wall and were served by the doorkeeper, who began at the left and carried food to each in turn. After all were served, the doorkeeper gathered a morsel of food from each and threw it outside the enclosure, as a sacrifice to the sun, followed by prayers to the sun. Then the doorkeeper joined the others in the lodge and ate his food, as did the invalid. All others dined within the enclosure. The remaining food was gathered for the next meal. The men carried the food vessels from the lodge into the enclosure, later removed by the women.

“When darkness fell in the evening, the men again painted snakes in the medicine lodge, where a fire had been built. A young pine tree was placed at the right and another at the left of the sand painting. The children were then expelled from the enclosure.

“The patient entered as in the morning, offering pollen and meal, then seated herself upon the painting. A terrifying figure rushed into the semidarkness of the lodge, lunged toward the invalid, but seemed unable to reach her, gave forth two or three cries similar to those uttered by the bear, and then made his exit.

“Gunsi admitted ‘I was frightened, although I knew it was only one of the men in disguise, who had been painted black with charcoal and covered with pine branches. He wore no mask. Since the invalid suffered from snake and bear disease, the painting with prayer meal and pollen offerings represented snakes and the bear was called upon to drive away the disease.’

“While the bear was in the lodge the singing men yelled at the tops of their voices to scare the bear. The invalid fell shaking to the ground. An eagle feather was waved rapidly to and fro above her head as she continued to rise, fall, shake, and cry out. I thought she was dying.

“Sotli then placed a live coal in a dish of blue corn meal and allowed the invalid to inhale the smoke. This quieted her somewhat as she sat upright but staring just like a drunk. Sotli then handed her the medicine pipe filled with ‘Mexican’ tobacco. After smoking this, the patient seemed to recover her senses. Two or three songs concluded the day’s serious part of the ceremony. The ex-patient then moved to the north side of the lodge and remained there for the rest of the evening. An old buffalo hide was spread over the sand painting, and the sacred basket given to Sotli was inverted with the hide over the hole in the centre of the painted area. The hide was then doubled over the basket, and the margin of the hide was held down by the feet of the men sitting around it.

“The white basket was ornamented with conventional red butterflies. The ex-patient removed her moccasins from a tight bundle and used them as drumsticks, striking four times upon the basket drum as a signal for the whole encampment to gather inside for the dance.

“Two notched sticks were placed upon the basket drum, a black one on the east, a white one on the west side. The sticks were laid with one end resting upon the drum and the other end upon the ground. A tarsal bone of a deer was rubbed across the notches, at the sound of which the young women began to dance.

“The women occupied the southern portion of the enclosure and the men arranged themselves along the wall opposite them. The lodge was brilliantly lighted by a circle of fires around the inside wall. The women’s dance was ended by repetition of the same drum signal by which it had begun–four strokes upon the basket drum.

“When again the drum sounded, those afflicted with ailments of any kind placed their hands upon the affected part of their bodies and made a hand gesture of casting off the disease. When the sticks were scraped again, the women chose partners from the men and boys and all danced together. This became the lighter aspect of the ceremonies: serious thoughts, the desire to propitiate the gods, and the awe inspired by the priestess and the deity symbolized by the bear, all gave way to lighthearted, merrymaking spirit, which by no means exhausted itself before the sound of the drum ceased, about midnight, and the voice of one of the old men within the lodge was heard, directing the assembly to disperse.

“Second day ceremonies resembled those of the first, except the figures outlined upon the sand were of bears, foxes, and other animals, with here and there a snake. The same patient was not induced into a trance, nor was the general ceremony of casting off diseases performed.

“The third day differed only in the character of the sand painting. Animals differed from those of the previous days. Sotli forbade representation of the horse or elk at any time.

“On the fourth day, the figures of two deities were drawn in the dry painting, along with all kinds of animals. A black circle outside the painting symbolized the ocean. The program of the evening consisted of two groups of men, painted and dressed in the manner prescribed by the rites in the tradition of Jicarillas.

“One party of six men were the clowns with bodies and limbs painted with white and black horizontal rings. Ragged remnants of old blankets served as loincloths. On necks and shoulders appeared necklaces and festoons of bread, which had been baked in small fantastic shapes. Four wore old buffalo-skin caps, with the skin sewed to look like buffalo horns, projecting laterally and downward; to one horn was attached an eagle feather, to the other a turkey feather. Two men dressed their hair in the shape of horns.

“The other group of twelve men, painted white with oblique black stripes extending downward from the inner corners of their eyes, wore necklaces and an eagle feather in their hair. Bands of pine brush were wrapped around their waists, arms, and ankles.

“As on the other evenings, the women began the dance; then the general dance followed in which the women selected their partners from among the men. Then the two deities entered the enclosure and marched directly to the medicine lodge, around which four circuits were made in a sunwise direction. The twelve then took positions on the south side of the pathway from the gate to the lodge. Clowns ran about among the crowd. Two men led the singing and also took the lead during the exit back through the medicine lodge. Clowns created much amusement for everyone. The dance continued until sunrise.”

As the disc of the sun rose above the mountaintops, every man, woman, and child present joined in the dance. The ceremony again took on a serious nature, as the sun’s rays clear and bright in that rare and arid atmosphere lit up the valley and the whole band of Jicarilla-Apaches marched in line out of the enclosure toward the sun.

Sotli led the way, carrying the two young pines from the ends of the dry sand painting, along with the sacred basket containing the meal. Each person marched past the old medicine woman, took a pinch of the meal from the basket, and cast it upon the pine trees. The line was re-formed, facing the lodge, then one of the older men stepped forward and shook his blanket four times. At this signal, all shook their blankets to frighten away diseases and then ran into the enclosure.

The ceremonies ended. Every tipi in that vicinity must be moved at once. The invalid was cured, but Sotli warned her not to sleep on a rope or string or the disease would return. No one should sing the medicine songs for some time or a bear would kill the offender. Severe illness would overtake the twelve should they forget and sleep with their heads toward any clay vessel.

Sotli accepted food only as remuneration for her services. Her terms were known in advance, so a considerable quantity of provisions were laid aside for her. The only article of food that was taboo during the four-day celebration was bread baked in ashes.

I did not see the invalid after the feast, but when I left the reservation three weeks later, the Indian of whom I inquired all insisted that she was then in perfect health.

Ceremony For Buffalo
Death of the Great Elk
Destruction of the Bear
Fox and Deer

As Fox was going along he met a Deer with two spotted fawns beside her. ” What have you done,” said he, “to make your children spotted like that?”

“I made a big fire of cedar wood and placed them before it. The sparks thrown off burned the spots which you see,” answered the Deer.

Fox was pleased with the color of the fawns, so he went home and told his children to gather cedar wood for a large fire. When the fire was burning well, he put the young foxes in a row before the fire, as he supposed the Deer had done.

When he found that they did not change color, he pushed them into the fire and covered them with ashes, thinking he had not applied sufficient heat at first. As the fire went out, he saw their white teeth gleaming where the skin had shriveled away and exposed them. “Ah, you will be very pretty now,” said he. Fox pulled his offspring from the ashes, expecting to find them much changed in color, and so they were, — black, shriveled, and dead.

Fox next thought of revenge upon the Deer, which he found in a grove of cottonwoods. He built a fire around them, but they ran through it and escaped. Fox was so disappointed that he set up a cry of woe, a means of expression which he has retained from that day to this.

Fox and Kingfisher

As Fox went on his way he met Kingfisher, Kêt-la’-i-le-ti, whom he accompanied to his home. Kingfisher said that he had no food to offer his visitor, so he would go and catch some fish for Fox.

He broke through six inches of ice on the river and caught two fish, which he cooked and set before his guest.

Fox was pleased with his entertainment, and invited the Kingfisher to return the call. In due time the Kingfisher came to the home of the Fox, who said, ” I have no food to offer you;” then he went down to the river, thinking to secure fish in the same manner as the Kingfisher had done.

Fox leaped from the high bank, but instead of breaking through the ice he broke his head and killed himself. Kingfisher went to him, caught him up by the tail, and swung Fox around to the right four times, thereby restoring him to life. Kingfisher caught some fish, and they ate together.

“I am a medicine-man,” said Kingfisher; “that is why I can do these things. You must never try to catch fish in that way again.”

After the departure of Kingfisher, Fox paid a visit to the home of Prairie-dog, where he was cordially received. Prairie-dog put four sticks, each about a foot in length, in the ashes of the camp-fire; when these were removed, they proved to be four nicely roasted prairie-dogs, which were served for Fox’s dinner.

Fox invited the Prairie-dog to return the visit, which in a short time the latter did. Fox placed four sticks in the fire to roast, but they were consumed by it, and instead of palatable food to set before his guest he had nothing but ashes. Prairie-dog said to Fox, ” You must not attempt to do that. I am a medicine-man; that is why I can transform the wood to flesh.” Prairie-dog then prepared a meal as he done before, and they dined.

Fox went to visit Buffalo, I-gûn-da, who exclaimed, “What shall I do? I have no food to offer you. Buffalo was equal to the emergency, however; he shot an arrow upward, which struck in his own back as it returned. When he pulled this out, a kidney and the fat surrounding it came out also. This he cooked for Fox, and added a choice morsel from his own nose.

As usual, Fox extended an invitation to his host to return the visit. When Buffalo came to call upon Fox, the latter covered his head with weeds in imitation of the head of the Buffalo. Fox thought he could provide food for their dinner as the Buffalo had done, so firedan arrow into the air; but when it came close to him on its return flight, he became frightened and ran away.

Buffalo then furnished meat for their meal as on the previous occasion. “You must not try this,” said he; “I am a medicine-man; that is why I have the power.”

Some time afterward, as Fox was journeying along, he met an Elk, Tsês, lying beside the trail. He was frightened when he saw the antlers of the Elk moving, and jumped to avoid what seemed to be a falling tree.

“Sit down beside me,” said the Elk. “Don’t be afraid.”

“The tree will fall on us,” replied Fox.

“Oh, sit down; it won’t fall. I have no food to offer you, but I will provide some.” The Elk cut steaks from his own quarter, which the Fox ate, and before leaving Fox invited the Elk to return the visit.

When Elk came to see Fox, the latter tried unsuccessfully to cut flesh from his own meager flanks; then he drove sharpened sticks into his nose, and allowed the blood to run out upon the grass. This he tried in vain to transform into meat, and again he was indebted to his guest for a meal.

“I am a medicine-man ; that is why I can do this,” said Elk.

By Frank Russell, Myths of the Jicarilla Apaches, 1898

Fox and Mountain Lion

Fox could find nothing to eat for a long time, so that he grew weak and thin. While on a journey in search of food he met the Mountain Lion, who, taking pity upon his unhappy condition, said, “I will hunt for you, and you shall grow fat again.”

The Fox agreed to this, and they went on together to a much frequented spring. Mountain Lion told Fox to keep watch while he slept; if a cloud of dust was to be seen arising from the approach of animals Fox was to waken him.

Fox presently beheld the dust caused by the approach of a drove of horses.

Fox wakened Mountain Lion, who said, “just observe how I catch horses.” As one of the animals went down to the spring to drink, he sprang upon it, and fastened his fangs in its throat, clawing its legs and shoulders until it fell dying at the water’s edge.

Mountain Lion brought the horse up to the rock, and laid it before the Fox. “Stay here, eat, drink, and grow fat,” said he.

Fox thought he had learned how to kill horses, so when the Coyote came along he volunteered to secure one for him. Fox jumped upon the neck of the horse, as Mountain Lion had done, but became entangled in its mane and was killed.

“I am a medicine-man ; that is why I can do this,” said Elk.

By Frank Russell, Myths of the Jicarilla Apaches, 1898

Fox and Porcupine

As Fox was going along he met a Porcupine, Tson, which he overheard saying, “I shall search for pêc’-ti, a stone knife, with which to cut up this meat.”

“What are you saying?” asked Fox, springing out of the bushes.

“I said that I must hunt for pêc’-ti for arrow-heads,” replied Porcupine.

“That is not what you said.”

“It was,” insisted Porcupine.

” Where is that meat?” asked Fox, and then Porcupine admitted that he had killed a Buffalo.

Porcupine had commanded a Buffalo to carry him across a river. “Don’t shake your head with me, or I shall fall,” said he, as he sat between the animal’s horns.

The Buffalo told him that, if he was afraid there, he had better crawl into his anus. In that safe retreat Porcupine was carried across the river.

He repaid the service by gnawing the vitals of the Buffalo until it fell dead near where the Fox had come upon him. Fox was not disposed to allow Porcupine to retain possession of the Buffalo.

“Come,” said he, ” whoever can jump over the Buffalo can have it. You try first.”

Porcupine jumped, but only landed on the top of the carcass, over which Fox, of course, leaped with ease. “Now the Buffalo is mine. You can sit over there and see me cut it up.”

After cutting up the meat, Fox hastened away to summon all the foxes to a feast. Porcupine carried the meat piece by piece into a treetop, so that the foxes, when they came dancing in joyful anticipation, found nothing.

From a safe position in the tree Porcupine told the foxes that he would throw them down some meat if they would lie down, close their eyes, and cover themselves with their blankets.

They were hungry, so they obeyed the instructions of the Porcupine, who, as soon as their eyes were closed, killed them by throwing down the sharpened ribs of the Buffalo.

One little fox at the end of the line had a ragged old blanket, through which he peeped in time to see and to dodge the rib hurled at him. This fox survived the massacre, and begged Porcupine to give him some meat.

The Porcupine gave him some small pieces at first, and then invited him to come up and eat his fill. The Fox accepted, and, when he could eat no more, asked where he could go to relieve himself.

The Porcupine directed him to the end of a branch, whence he easily shook the Fox, which fell to the ground and was killed, but sprang up alive again at the moment when the first tuft of hair was blown from the putrefying carcass by the wind.

By Frank Russell, Myths of the Jicarilla Apaches, 1898

Fox and Rabbit

Fox one day met a Rabbit who was sewing a sack. “What do you intend to do with that sack?” asked he. “I am making this coat to protect myself from being killed by the hard hail which we are going to have today,” replied Rabbit.

“My friend, you know how to make them; give me this coat and make another for yourself.”

Rabbit agreed to this, and Fox put on the sack over his head. Rabbit then hung him on a limb and pelted him with stones, while Fox, thinking it was hail striking him, endured the punishment as long as he could, but finally fell nearly dead from the tree, and looked out, to see no signs of hail, but discovered the Rabbit running away.

Fox wished to avenge himself by killing Rabbit, and set off in pursuit of him.

When overtaken Rabbit was chewing soft gum with which to make spectacles. Fox’s curiosity was stronger than his passion for revenge. “What are you making those for?” said he.

“It is going to be very hot, and I am making them to protect my eyes,” answered Rabbit.

“Let me have this pair; you know how to make them and can make yourself another pair.”

“Very well,” said Rabbit, and he put the eye-shields on Fox, who could then see nothing, as the gum was soft and filled his eyes.

Rabbit set fire to the brush all around Fox, who was badly singed in running through it. The gum melted in the fire, and yet remains as the dark rings around his eyes. Fox again started on the trail of Rabbit, with the determination of eating him as soon as he saw him.

He found Rabbit sitting beside the opening of a beehive. “I am going to eat you,” said Fox ; “you have tried to kill me.”

“You must not kill me,” replied Rabbit. “I am teaching these children,” and he closed the opening of the hive, so that Fox could not see what was inside. Fox desired very much to see what was in the hive making such a noise. “If you wish to see, stay here and teach them while I rest. When it is dinner time, strike them with a club,” said Rabbit, who then ran away.

Fox patiently awaited the dinner hour, and then struck the hive with such force that he broke into it. The bees poured out and stung him until he rolled in agony.

“When I see you again, I will kill you before you can say a word!” declared he, as he started after Rabbit again.

Fox tracked the Rabbit to a small hole in the fence around a field of watermelons belonging to a Mexican. The Rabbit had entered to steal, and was angered at sight of the gum figure of a man which the owner of the field had placed beside the path.

“What do you desire from me?” he cried, as he struck at the figure with his forefoot, which stuck fast in the soft gum. He struck at the gum with every foot, and even his head was soon stuck in the gum.

Thus Fox found him. “What are you doing here?” he asked.

“They put me in here because I would not eat chicken for them,” said Rabbit.

“I will take your place,” said Fox ; “I know how to eat chicken.”

The Mexican found him in the morning and skinned him, and then let him go, — still on the trail of the Rabbit who had so frequently outwitted him.

By Frank Russell, Myths of the Jicarilla Apaches, 1898

Fox and Wildcat

As soon as his life was restored, Fox went to the Buffalo head, and cut off the long pendent hair, i-yûn-e-pi-ta-ga, beneath its under jaw.

Fox took this to a prairie-dog village near at hand, and told the inhabitants that it was the hair of a man, one of that race dreaded by the prairie-dogs because of its attacks upon them, which he had killed.

He easily persuaded the prairie-dogs to celebrate his victory with feasting and dancing. With a stone concealed in his hand, he killed all the prairie-dogs as they circled around in the dance.

Fox then placed them in a pit, and built a huge fire over them, leaving them to roast while he slept.

Nîn-ko-jîn, the Wildcat, came along, and stole all the roasted prairie-dogs while Fox slept, save one at the end of the pit, leaving the tails, which were pulled off.

Fox awoke after some time, and flew into a great rage when he found only the tails left; the solitary dog was thrown over his shoulder in his fit of passion. The gnawing of hunger soon induced him to search for the dog he had thrown away.

In the stream close by he thought he saw the roasted body; taking off his clothes, he swam for it, but could not grasp it. Again and again he tried, and finally dove for it until he bumped his nose on the stony bottom.

Tired out with his efforts, he laid down upon the bank to rest, and, as he glanced upward, saw the body of the prairie-dog lying among the branches which projected over the water. Fox recovered the coveted morsel, ate it, and set off on the trail of the Wildcat.

He found Wildcat asleep under a tree, around which he set a fire. With a few quick strokes he shortened the head, body, and tail of Wildcat, and then pulled out the large intestine and roasted it.

Fox then awakened Wildcat, and invited him to eat his (Wildcat’s) flesh, but to be careful to save a small piece, and put it back in its place, for he would need it. Fox then left him.

Wildcat followed Fox, intent upon revenge. He found Fox asleep, but instead of shortening that animal’s members he lengthened them; the ears were only straightened, but the head, body, and tail were elongated as we see them at the present day.

By Frank Russell, Myths of the Jicarilla Apaches, 1898

Jicarilla Genesis
Legend of the Apache Tear
Old Beggar
Origin Of Corn
Origin Of Curing Ceremonies
Origin of Fire

Long, long ago, animals and trees talked with each other, but there was no fire at that time.

Fox was most clever and he tried to think of a way to create fire for the world. One day, he decided to visit the Geese, te-tl, whose cry he wished to learn how to imitate. They promised to teach him if he would fly with them. So they contrived a way to attach wings to Fox, but cautioned him never to open his eyes while flying.

Whenever the Geese arose in flight, Fox also flew along with them to practice their cry. On one such adventure, darkness descended suddenly as they flew over the village of the fireflies, ko-na- tcic-a. In midflight, the glare from the flickering fireflies caused Fox to forget and he opened his eyes–instantly his wings collapsed! His fall was uncontrollable. He landed within the walled area of the firefly village, where a fire constantly burned in the centre.

Two kind fireflies came to see fallen Fox, who gave each one a necklace of juniper berries, katl-te-i-tse.

Fox hoped to persuade the two fireflies to tell him where he could find a way over the wall to the outside. They led him to a cedar tree, which they explained would bend down upon command and catapult him over the wall if he so desired.

That evening, Fox found the spring where fireflies obtained their water. There also, he discovered coloured earth, which when mixed with water made paint. He decided to give himself a coat of white. Upon returning to the village, Fox suggested to the fireflies, “Let’s have a festival where we can dance and I will produce the music.”

They all agreed that would be fun and helped to gather wood to build up a greater fire. Secretly, Fox tied a piece of cedar bark to his tail. Then he made a drum, probably the first one ever constructed, and beat it vigorously with a stick for the dancing fireflies. Gradually, he moved closer and closer to the fire.

Fox pretended to tire from beating the drum. He gave it to some fireflies who wanted to help make the music. Fox quickly thrust his tail into the fire, lighting the bark, and exclaimed, “It is too warm here for me, I must find a cooler place.”

Straight to the cedar tree Fox ran, calling, “Bend down to me, my cedar tree, bend down!”

Down bent the cedar tree for Fox to catch hold, then up it carried him far over the wall. On and on he ran, with the fireflies in pursuit.

As Fox ran along, brush and wood on either side of his path were ignited from the sparks dropping from the burning bark tied to his tail.

Fox finally tired and gave the burning bark to Hawk, i-tsarl-tsu- i, who carried it to brown Crane, tsi-nes-tso-l. He flew far southward, scattering fire sparks everywhere. This is how fire first spread over the earth.

Fireflies continued chasing Fox all the way to his burrow and declared, “Forever after, Wily Fox, your punishment for stealing our fire will be that you can never make use of it for yourself.”

For the Apache nation, this too was the beginning of fire for them. Soon they learned to use it for cooking their food and to keep themselves warm in cold weather.

Origin of the Animals


When Apaches emerged from the underworld, they travelled southward for four days. They had no other food than two kinds of seeds, which they ground between two stones.

Near where they camped on the fourth night, one tepee stood apart from the others. While the owner and his wife were absent for a short time, a Raven brought a quiver of arrows and a bow, hanging them on the lodge pole. When the children came out of the lodge, they took down the quiver and found some meat inside. They ate it and instantly became very fat.

Upon her return, the mother noticed grease on the hands and faces of her children, who told her what had happened. The woman hurried to tell her husband the tale. All the tribe marvelled at the wonderful food that made the children so fat. How they hoped the Raven might soon return with more of his good food.

When Raven discovered that his meat had been stolen, he flew eastward to his mountain home beyond the normal range of man. A bat followed Raven and later informed the Apaches where Raven lived. That night the Apache Chief called a council meeting. They decided to send a delegation to try and obtain some of Raven’s special kind of meat.

In four days the Apache delegation reached the camp of the ravens, but could not obtain the information they desired. They discovered, however, a great circle of ashes where the ravens ate their meals. The Apaches decided to spy upon the ravens. That night the Medicine Man changed an Apache boy into a puppy to spy from a nearby bush. The main delegation broke camp and started homeward, leaving behind the puppy.

Next morning the ravens examined the abandoned camp of the Apaches. One of the young ravens found the puppy and was so pleased, he asked for permission to keep it under his blanket. Toward sunset, the puppy peaked out and saw an old raven brush aside some ashes from the fireplace. He then removed a large flat stone. Beneath was an opening through which the old raven disappeared. But when he returned he led a buffalo, which was then killed and eaten by all the ravens.

For four days the puppy spied upon the ravens, and each evening a buffalo was brought up from the depths and devoured. Now that he was certain where the ravens obtained their good food, the puppy resumed his normal shape.

Early on the fifth morning, with a white feather in one hand and a black one in the other, he descended through the opening beneath the fireplace.

In the underworld, he saw four buffaloes and placed the white feather in the mouth of the nearest one. He commanded it to follow him. But the first buffalo told him to take the feather to the last buffalo. This he did, but the fourth buffalo sent him again to the first one, into whose mouth the boy thrust the white feather.

“You are now the King of the Animals,” declared the boy.

Upon returning to the above-world, the boy was followed by all the animals present upon the earth at that time. As the large herd passed through the opening, one of the ravens awoke, hurrying to close the lid. Upon seeing that all the animals willingly followed the Apache boy, the raven exclaimed, “When you kill any of the animals, remember to save the eyes for me.”

For four days the boy followed the tracks of the Apaches and overtook them with his giant herd of animals. Soon they all returned to the camp of the Apaches, where the Chief slew the first buffalo for a feast that followed. The boy remembered and saved the eyes for the ravens.

One old grandmother who lived in a brush lodge was annoyed with one of the deer that ate some of her lodge covering. Snatching a stick from the fire, she struck the deer’s nose and the white ash stuck there leaving a white mark that can still be seen on the descendants of that deer.

“Hereafter, you shall avoid mankind,” she pronounced. “Your nose will tell you when you are too close to them.”

Thus ended the short period of harmony between man and the animals. Each day the animals wandered farther and farther from the tribes. Apaches prayed that the animals would return so they could enjoy the good meat again. It is mostly at night when the deer appear, but not too close, because the old grandmother told them to be guided by their noses!

Apaches developed skill in using the bows and arrows to hunt the good animal meat they liked so much, especially the buffalo.

Two Blind Old Women
Why the Bat Hangs Upside Down

Myths and tales of the Jicarilla Apache

Mescalero Texts

Coyote and Beaver
Coyote and Blue Bunting
Coyote and Owl
Coyote and Quail
Coyote and the Creation
Coyote and Turtle
Dahteste(pronounced ta-DOT-say)
Deer Hunting in the Mescalero Country
Mescalero Beg For Meat

White Mountain Apache

Abandoned Children
Badger Carries Darkness:

Big Owl Chops off His Manhood
Coyote and Bobcat Scratch Each Other
Coyote Gets Rich Off The White Men
Coyote proves himself a Cannibal
Coyote Reads the Letter As He Sits
Coyote Steals Abert Squirrel’s Fire
Coyote Steals Sun’s Tobacco
Coyote Steals Wheat
Coyote Trots Along
Coyote’s Daughter [Becomes] His Wife
Gray Fox Steals Wheat: Coyote’s Feces Under His Hat
Ga-n Becomes Raven Old Man’s Son-In-Law
Grasshopper loses His Leg
He Goes To His Father Slaying Of Monsters

Her Brother Becomes Her Husband

Creation Story


Animals, elements, the solar system, and natural phenomena are revered by the Apaches. That which is beyond their understanding is always ascribed to the supernatural.

In the beginning nothing existed–no earth, no sky, no sun, no moon, only darkness was everywhere.

Suddenly from the darkness emerged a thin disc, one side yellow and the other side white, appearing suspended in midair. Within the disc sat a small bearded man, Creator, the One Who Lives Above. As if waking from a long nap, he rubbed his eyes and face with both hands.

When he looked into the endless darkness, light appeared above. He looked down and it became a sea of light. To the east, he created yellow streaks of dawn. To the west, tints of many colours appeared everywhere. There were also clouds of different colours.

Creator wiped his sweating face and rubbed his hands together, thrusting them downward. Behold! A shining cloud upon which sat a little girl.

“Stand up and tell me where are you going,” said Creator. But she did not reply. He rubbed his eyes again and offered his right hand to the Girl-Without-Parents.

“Where did you come from?” she asked, grasping his hand.

“From the east where it is now light,” he replied, stepping upon her cloud.

“Where is the earth?” she asked.

“Where is the sky?” he asked, and sang, “I am thinking, thinking, thinking what I shall create next.” He sang four times, which was the magic number.

Creator brushed his face with his hands, rubbed them together, then flung them wide open! Before them stood Sun-God. Again Creator rubbed his sweaty brow and from his hands dropped Small- Boy.

All four gods sat in deep thought upon the small cloud.

“What shall we make next?” asked Creator. “This cloud is much too small for us to live upon.”

Then he created Tarantula, Big Dipper, Wind, Lightning-Maker, and some western clouds in which to house Lightning-Rumbler, which he just finished.

Creator sang, “Let us make earth. I am thinking of the earth, earth, earth; I am thinking of the earth,” he sang four times.

All four gods shook hands. In doing so, their sweat mixed together and Creator rubbed his palms, from which fell a small round, brown ball, not much larger than a bean.

Creator kicked it, and it expanded. Girl-Without-Parents kicked the ball, and it enlarged more. Sun-God and Small-Boy took turns giving it hard kicks, and each time the ball expanded. Creator told Wind to go inside the ball and to blow it up.

Tarantula spun a black cord and, attaching it to the ball, crawled away fast to the east, pulling on the cord with all his strength. Tarantula repeated with a blue cord to the south, a yellow cord to the west, and a white cord to the north. With mighty pulls in each direction, the brown ball stretched to immeasurable size–it became the earth! No hills, mountains, or rivers were visible; only smooth, treeless, brown plains appeared.

Creator scratched his chest and rubbed his fingers together and there appeared Hummingbird.

“Fly north, south, east, and west and tell us what you see,” said Creator.

“All is well,” reported Hummingbird upon his return. “The earth is most beautiful, with water on the west side.”

But the earth kept rolling and dancing up and down. So Creator made four giant posts–black, blue, yellow, and white to support the earth. Wind carried the four posts, placing them beneath the four cardinal points of the earth. The earth sat still.

Creator sang, “World is now made and now sits still,” which he repeated four times.

Then he began a song about the sky. None existed, but he thought there should be one. After singing about it four times, twenty- eight people appeared to help make a sky above the earth. Creator chanted about making chiefs for the earth and sky.

He sent Lightning-Maker to encircle the world, and he returned with three uncouth creatures, two girls and a boy found in a turquoise shell. They had no eyes, ears, hair, mouths, noses, or teeth. They had arms and legs, but no fingers or toes.

Sun-God sent for Fly to come and build a sweathouse. Girl- Without-Parents covered it with four heavy clouds. In front of the east doorway she placed a soft, red cloud for a foot-blanket to be used after the sweat.

Four stones were heated by the fire inside the sweathouse. The three uncouth creatures were placed inside. The others sang songs of healing on the outside, until it was time for the sweat to be finished. Out came the three strangers who stood upon the magic red cloud-blanket. Creator then shook his hands toward them, giving each one fingers, toes, mouths, eyes, ears, noses and hair.

Creator named the boy, Sky-Boy, to be chief of the Sky-People. One girl he named Earth-Daughter, to take charge of the earth and its crops. The other girl he named Pollen-Girl, and gave her charge of health care for all Earth-People.

Since the earth was flat and barren, Creator thought it fun to create animals, birds, trees, and a hill. He sent Pigeon to see how the world looked. Four days later, he returned and reported, “All is beautiful around the world. But four days from now, the water on the other side of the earth will rise and cause a mighty flood.”

Creator made a very tall pinon tree. Girl-Without-Parents covered the tree framework with pinon gum, creating a large, tight ball.

In four days, the flood occurred. Creator went up on a cloud, taking his twenty-eight helpers with him. Girl-Without-Parents put the others into the large, hollow ball, closing it tight at the top.

In twelve days, the water receded, leaving the float-ball high on a hilltop. The rushing floodwater changed the plains into mountains, hills, valleys, and rivers. Girl-Without-Parents led the gods out from the float-ball onto the new earth. She took them upon her cloud, drifting upward until they met Creator with his helpers, who had completed their work making the sky during the flood time on earth.

Together the two clouds descended to a valley below. There, Girl- Without-Parents gathered everyone together to listen to Creator.

“I am planning to leave you,” he said. “I wish each of you to do your best toward making a perfect, happy world.

“You, Lightning-Rumbler, shall have charge of clouds and water.

“You, Sky-Boy, look after all Sky-People.

“You, Earth-Daughter, take charge of all crops and Earth-People.

“You, Pollen-Girl, care for their health and guide them.

“You, Girl-Without-Parents, I leave you in charge over all.”

Creator then turned toward Girl-Without-Parents and together they rubbed their legs with their hands and quickly cast them forcefully downward. Immediately between them arose a great pile of wood, over which Creator waved a hand, creating fire.

Great billowy clouds of smoke at once drifted skyward. Into this cloud, Creator disappeared. The other gods followed him in other clouds of smoke, leaving the twenty-eight workers to people the earth.

Sun-God went east to live and travel with the Sun. Girl-Without- Parents departed westward to live on the far horizon. Small-Boy and Pollen-Girl made cloud homes in the south. Big Dipper can still be seen in the northern sky at night, a reliable guide to all.

Coyote fights a lump of pitch
Coyote Steals a Man’s Wife
Coyote Takes Arrows From Owl
Antelopes Take Arrows From Coyote
Antelopes Take Arrows From Coyote. (Second Version.)
Coyote Tries to Make His Children Spotted
Coyote Kills His Own Child Instead of the Turkeys
Coyote and Porcupine Contend For a Buffalo
Coyote Loses His Eyes
Coyote Kills the Prairie Dogs
Coyote is Revenged on Wildcat
Coyote and Beaver Play Tricks On Each Other
Coyote Apes His Hosts
Coyote is Disobeyed by Turkey
Coyote is Shot With a Pine Tree
Coyote Insults the Rock
Coyote Marries Under False Pretences
Mosquito Marries Under False Pretences
Coyote Deceives a Woman
Coyote and the Mexicans
How Mole Won the Race
Frog Wins From Antelope in a Footrace
When the Birds Were Chiefs
Woodpecker Describes Himself
Flicker Describes Himself
Lewis Woodpecker Describes Himself
Owl Describes Himself
Panther, the Great Hunter
The Governor, Old Woman White Hands

Apache Mountain Spirit Dance

The Mescalero Apaches, descendants of Geronimo and his warriors,
perform the Crown Dance, (video) also known as  the Mountain Spirit Dance, around the 4th of July. 

They carry painted yucca swords, with lightening bolts  emitting from them and give out loud Hoot Owl cries.  the headdresses give rise to the anglo name for the dance, looking much like a large ornate crown.  They dance to ward off evil and disease causing spirits from the people and the lands they live on, which are the beautifully pine forested Sacramento mountains of South Central New  Mexico.


(An Apache Legend)

Apache mythology describes the adventures of ancient gods, humans and animals to help describe the Creation of the World, and how it operates. Although each Apache tribe has it’s own unique stories, three cultural heroes are common to all Apache mythology: White-painted Woman, Killer of Enemies and Child of the Water. One myth explains how, long ago, Child of the Water made the earth safe by killing four (4) monsters who preyed on human beings. In the beginning, White-painted Woman and Killer of Enemies, who was either her brother or son, lived together on the earth. They were tormented by cruel monsters, especially by Owl-man Giant, who stole the deer meat shot with bow and arrow by Killer of Enemies. One day, when White-painted Woman was praying for the monsters to leave them alone, the spirit known as Life Giver came to her in the form of rain and lightning. Life Giver told her she would have a child, who would be called Child of the Water. Life Giver warned White-painted-Woman that she must protect the child from Owl-man Giant. Through her skill and cunning, White-painted Woman kept the child safe.

One day, while he was still a boy, Child of the Water told his mother that he was ready to leave her to kill the monsters. White-painted Woman fashioned him a wooden bow and grama-grass arrows. She let him venture out to hunt deer with trusted Killer of Enemies. After they had killed their first deer, Owl-man Giant came to steal the meat away. But, Child of the Water refused to give it up! The opponents agreed to a duel. Each would be allowed to shoot four arrows. Owl-man Giant was to shoot first. But before he began, magical lightning flashed all around them. A brilliant blue rock appeared at the feet of Child of the Water. The blue rock spoke, saying that Child of the Water should pick it up, and use it as a protective charm. Child of the Water did and waited for Owl-man Giant to shoot his four dangerous arrows. They were made of sharp, large pointed logs.

The first arrow flew over Child of the Water’s head. The second landed at his feet. The third and fourth arrow missed him on each side. He was still ALIVE! Now, it was Child of the Waters turn! Owl-man Giant wore four coats of flintstone to protect his chest. He also picked up a rock, to try to deflect the arrows, like Child of the Water had done. But, the first three arrows that Child of the Water shot, knocked off the coat of protective flint. The fourth, and fatal, arrow pierced Owl-man Giant’s evil heart. The child warrior was victorious! Killer of Enemies and Child of the Water returned victoriously to White-painted Woman, who danced and sang with happiness. Child of the Water went out again on further hunts. He killed the Buffalo Monster. Then, the Eagle Monster. And, finally, the Antelope Monster. The earth was now SAFE! The human population began to grow and prosper. Thus, the Apache regard Child of the Water, with his blue stone (turquoise), as their divine ancestor.

Other Apache Home Pages

Apache Stories
Apache Tears
Ebarb Choctaw-Apache Tribe
Indians of Texas
Letters on the Texas Missions
The Children of Changing Woman
Apache Photo Album

Homage to Mildred I. Cleghorn

Geronimo’s Song

Lipan Apache
Lipan-Karankawas Park
Lipan Lands Bee County, Texas
Apache Indians – Texas History
Lipan Apache Lands
My Apache Heritage
Lipan Apache Historical & Academic References


Chiricahua and Mescalero

“A Chiricahua Apache account of the Geronimo Campaign of 1886”,
Morris Opler, New Mexico Historical Review October, 1938, Vol. XIII, No. 4. Narrated by Samuel E. Kenoi.

“Myths of the Jicarilla Apaches”, Frank Russell,
The Journal of American Folklore Vol XI, No. XLIII, 1898, pp. 253-271.
Narrated by Laforia, translated by Gunsi.

“The Jicarilla Genesis”, James Mooney, American Anthropologist Vol. XI,
No. 7, 1898, pp. 197-209. Translated by Tsisti,
whose English name is “Ed. Ladd” and narrated by his father.

“An Apache Medicine Dance”, Frank Russell, American Anthropologist Vol. XI,
No. 12, 1898, pp. 357-372. Based on description of the ceremony provided by Gunsi.

Chiricahua and Mescalero

“The Raid and Warpath Language of the Chiricahua Apache”,
Morris Opler and Harry Hoijer, 1940.

Myths and Tales of the Chirichua Apache Indians, Morris Opler, 1942.

“The Creative Role of Shamanism in Mescalero Apache Mythology”,
Morris Edward Opler, 1946. narrated by Charles Smith

Western Apache

Myths and Tales from the White Mountain Apache, Pliny Earle Goddard, 1919.
Myths and Tales of the White Mountain Apache, Grenville Goodwin, 1939.
Myths and Tales from the San Carlos Apache, Pliny Earle Goddard, 1918.
“Notes upon the Gentile Organization of the Apaches of Arizona”, John G. Bourke, 1890.
“Notes on Apache Mythology”, John G. Bourke, 1890.
“Slender-maiden of the Apache”, Pliny Earle Goddard, 1925.


“A Jicarilla Expedition and Scalp Dance”, Morris Edward Opler, 1941.
narrated by Alasco Tisnado

Myths and Tales of the Jicarilla Apache Indians, Morris Opler, 1942.

“Mythology and folk belief in the maintenance of
Jicarilla Apache tribal endogamy”,
Morris Opler, 1947.Lipan

Myths and Tales of the Lipan Apache Indians, Morris Opler, 1940.


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