Native American Legends
A ga-n becomes Raven Old Man's Son-In-Law: The ga-n Disappear from Tse-gots'uk
A White Mountain Apache Legend
Long ago people, all kinds of birds and animals were people then
were living up to the north of here somewhere. Hawk people were
humans then. They did not know that ga-n people were living down
on the earth, below. Then Raven Old Man was there with the Raven
people. He had children and one of these was a beautiful daughter.
The ga-n people below knew about her. The old man and his family
were in their wickiup. Soon they heard something drop outside. Raven
Old Man heard it. "What is that, cibi'lsis (a buck-skin pouch
hung over one shoulder and resting on the hip on opposite side)
maybe ?" the old man said. The girl went out and found two
pack rats. She brought them in and they ate them.
Four days after this the old man heard something drop outside.
"Go and see if cibi-Isis is there," he said, though all
the time he knew his own was in the wickiup. So the daughter went
outside and found two rabbits. She brought them in and they ate
Four days after that they heard something drop again. "Go
out and see if cibi'lsis is there," the old man told his daughter.
She went out and found two jack rabbits. "Here are two jack
rabbits," she said. "Well, bring them in and we will eat
them," the old man told her.
Then four days later something dropped outside. The old man sent
his daughter out to see if it was his pouch. When she got outside
she found a black-tailed deer fawn. "Here is a black tail deer
fawn" she said. "Well, bring it in," the old man
told her. So they did and ate it up.
Four days after that something dropped once more outside. The old
man sent his daughter out to see if it was his pouch. She went out
and this time it was a black-tailed deer with two points on his
horns. They butchered and ate him.
Then four days later something dropped outside again. "What's
that, cibi-lsis ?" the old man said. He sent out his daughter
and she found a big black-tailed deer. They butchered and ate him.
Raven Old Man was very thankful for that.
Four days after that the old man heard something drop outside.
He sent his daughter out. "See if this is cibi-lsis that has
dropped there," he told her. So the girl went out and found
an enormous black-tailed deer, the kind that is all fat and in good
shape, like you get in the fall. They butchered and ate it Raven
Old Man was thankful for this.
Then Raven Old Man said to this daughter. "Well, daughter,
this is what I have raised you for. We have eaten a lot of meat
from someone. Build a new wickiup over to one side here and we will
find out who it is who is doing this," he told the girl. The
new wickiup was built and standing not far off. No one was in it.
The old man stayed with his family in their dwelling. Soon they
saw someone in the new wickiup. The girl went over there. She stayed
there with that man. He was her man now.
After they had stayed together for quite a while, the man and woman
went out for a walk together. Then the man told his wife, "I
belong to the ga-n people." Soon they came to a sulphur wheat
bush. He started to kick it from the east side, then from the south
side, then from the west and last from the north. The plant came
up by its roots. In the hole that it left, the top of a spruce tree
stuck up through. The man told his wife, "Step on this. Don't
be afraid." But the woman shut her eyes and stepped on it.
Then they found themselves way down below, where the ga-n people
After they reached the bottom, they started to walk to the place
the man's people were living. The woman had never seen people like
this before. There were many of those people there. There were houses
also, good ones. All kinds of farm crops were growing. There were
corn drying racks. The crops were in all stages of growth; some
were up just a little, some were half way up, some high and some
harvested already. The woman's husband had many sisters and so she
had a lot of sisters-in-law. The man's mother was there. She tested
her daughter-in-law. She gave her a metate and mano and some corn
to grind. "Let's see you grind some corn," she told her.
But this woman could not grind corn well. She ground it but could
not break the kernels up. For this reason the man's family did not
like her. She was not strong enough and could not grind corn.
One day after they had arrived there, a ga-n came to them. He caught
hold of the woman's hair and held her head back. "I want to
see my relative-in-law's face. If she is pleasing I will go hunting
for her," he said. Several of the ga-n did the same way. The
last one was Gray ga-n (the clown) and he said, "Well, she
is all right. I will go hunting for her like the others." The
men who went hunting just brought in sinew. There was no meat, only
a big pile of sinew there. Then one of the man's sisters was sent
with the woman to bring in a horse, so they could ride back to Raven
Old Man's place.
In a short distance they came to some bears. The woman saw them
and was frightened. She started to run away, but her sister-in-law
called to her, "Come back here. They won't harm you. They are
good 'horses'. They are gentle." But the woman would not listen
and ran back to the camp. Her sister-in-law got the 'horse' and
led it back. They saddled it up for the man and his wife. The woman's
mother-in-law told her, "Don't look back on your way out. Don't
look back till you get on top. Don't think why this is. I don't
want you to look back. Don't do it!"
The woman got on the bear, but her husband did not go along with
her. She rode to the top almost. Then she thought to herself, "I
wonder why she didn't want me to look back. I will try it."
So she looked back; just a glance. As soon as she did that the bear
started to roll down the hill. Clear to the bottom they tumbled.
The old woman saw it and ran to her. "I told you not to do
that. Now why did you do it ?" she said. When she was going
up she had had just a load of sinew, but now after the fall, it
had all turned to meat and meat was scattered along the trail where
they had fallen. The old woman carried the meat up to the top for
They packed the bear up again so that she could take it to her
father. She went on alone from there, without her husband. When
the woman came close to her home, her mother, an old woman, saw
her riding the bear. Raven Old Man and all his children became frightened
and ran off from camp. "Don't ride down this way," they
said. She unpacked the bear all alone, put the meat up and turned
the bear back. But her husband got mad because he heard that his
horse had been struck by someone up there. [Though mounts were sometimes
beaten, this was infrequent and people spoke harshly of those who
did it.] On this account he did not return for two days and nights.
Then in two days someone was seen walking to the wickiup where
this man had lived with his wife. Raven Old Man sent his daughter.
"You better go over and build a fire," he told her. She
went over to her wickiup. The man, she found lying on the bed. He
was very thin and bony, not like her husband. His legs and arms
had white stripes about them, like those on a bob-cat's tail.
The woman went back to her father and told him, "That man
is not my husband. He is too thin for that and besides he has white
stripes about his legs and arms." But her parents told her,
"Maybe it is the same man and he has grown thin." "Why
should he have white stripes about his arms and legs ? I know it's
not he," the woman said. Raven Old Man said, "Well, I
believe he must have gone stalking antelope and has painted his
legs and arms to look like an antelope." "No, I know my
husband better than you two. It is not he," the woman said.
She did not like this man, but her father sent her over to him and
so she went, staying there all that night.
The next morning this man went hunting. When he came back he brought
some dried meat. It had been roasted already. The following morning
he went hunting again. Raven Old Man told his son, "Follow
this man and see where he gets this dried meat. Don't let him see
you." So the son did this.
After the man had gone a way, his follower saw him stop and set
fire to an old pitch-pine stump. On the side that the smoke blew,
the man went. The snot started to run out of his nose and it was
this he was taking and making into dried meat. The son came home
and told his father about it.
After that Raven Old Man would not eat any more of this dried meat.
"That is why it was salty," the old man said This man
was from the Mosquito people. That is why he was so thin. All things
were people in those days. The man went to sleep with the woman
that night. Her real husband from the ga-n, knew who it was that
had his wife. On account of this he shot them with an arrow of red
stone that night. The arrow went right through both of them.
The woman used to get up early, but she had not yet appeared at
her father's camp When the sun had risen high up, Raven Old Man
sent one of his small daughters over to see what was the matter.
She just looked inside the wickiup and thought that they were still
asleep inside so she went back again. She told her father, "Well,
they are still in bed.
About noon, the little girl went over there again. She came back
and told her father, "They are still in bed." "Well
go over there and uncover them," he said. So the little girl
went inside and took the covers off. When she did she saw that both
of them had bled at the nose. When she came back and said that they
were dead. Raven Old Man and his wife started to quarrel. "You
know I told you he was not her husband. You sent her over to him
all the same. Now she is gone," they accused each other.
Then the Raven people were no longer there where they had been
living. But ga-n people were still living down below in the earth
Many ga-n died down there. Though it is just as if they travel together
with lightning, yet they died there. On account of this, ga-n people
began to search for a place where they would not die; where there
was life without end. From here on for a bit the story is dangerous
to recount, but I have to tell it to you just the same.
[It contains power and so is dangerous. Through the misuse of
such power misfortune might befall those involved in the story telling.]
They moved to a place halfway between the earth and the sky There
Mirage made an earth for them and they lived on this. But still
they died there. They went through the sky to its other side but
still they died there. From there they came down on earth to ntca'na-sk'id
(a place somewhere about 35 miles east of Macnary Arizona). Wherever
they had lived above, they had always had their agricultural crops
with them. These were their food - corn, beans, and squash.
Then there were a poor people living near that place (ntca'na-sk'id)
the Hawk people. They were of the 'iya''aiye clan. They were called
Hawk people because the relatives of this clan are hawks. There
were people of the na-dots'usn, bisza-ha, ndi'nde-zn and destcrdn
clans there also. They were all a very poor people.
At dusk one day, they saw a light far off. They asked each other,
Who is up there ? Who has made that fire ?" because everyone
was at home and they could not think of who might be out there.
They tried to mark the fire, so that they might go there in the
morning and see what it was. This is dangerous, this story that
I am telling you, but I tell it to you just as I heard it. It is
very holy this part of the story, and if you or anyone should laugh
at it, there ^danger of you or that person's mouth and eyes going
crooked. There is danger of this happening to me on account of telling
One time there were two men, one blind, the other lame. The blind
one carried the lame one on his back. They came this way to a group
of people. When the people saw them coming, they laughed at them.
The blind man clapped his hands together and part of the people
became blind. The lame man drew up his leg to his body and then
part of them became lame. That is the way with this story. We must
not laugh at it. It is the same way with the songs of the ga-n curing
ceremony which have to do with this part of the story.
The next morning these people sent one man over to where they thought
they had seen the fire, but he could find nothing. Again that evening,
after sunset, they could see the same fire. But the man who had
been sent to investigate insisted that there was nothing over there.
This time they cut a crotched stick and set it up in the ground.
They laid an arrow in the crotch, pointing directly at the fire,
so they would know just where it was in the morning. When morning
came they looked to see where the arrow pointed.
A man went over there to try and find something, but he could not
find even a blade of grass that had been stepped on and bent, or
a broken twig. It was two times that they had made trips to find
this fire without results, but that evening they could see the fire
again in the same place. They had left the arrow there from the
night before, and it still pointed right to the fire. So in the
morning they sent a man over to try and find something. He went
and looked about for a long time, but found no ashes nor any blades
of broken grass. Halfway to ntca'na-sk'id he went. "I have
found nothing," he told the people when he got home.
The next morning they sent someone over to search for the fourth
time. He went to the same place the others had been. Then after
a short distance he stopped and sat down, for he saw many people
there, and many crops of all kinds and in all stages of growth;
some just up, some ready to harvest and so on.
The ga-n people saw this man, where he had dropped down in the
grass. They talked among themselves: "Someone has been sitting
over there for a long time. Let one go over there and see him."
So one went over towards him. He came as close as from here to the
wickiup over there (20 yards). He did not say anything; just stood
and looked at him.
The man from the poor people had two eagle tail feathers sticking
up in his hair. His privates were covered with the shredded inner
bark of juniper. The ga-n went back and told his people, "That
man has some inner bark from juniper to cover his privates."
"You better take back two buckskins with you, one for him to
cover his shoulders with and one to wear about his waist,"
they told him.
So he took two buckskins over to the man and told him to wear them,
one about his waist and one about the shoulders. The inner bark
he had covering his privates he threw away. "Lets go back to
my, people," the ga-n said. They went. They gave this man some
food: corn and squash. He had eaten of ga-n food now.
After he had eaten, they talked to him. "Where did you come
from?" they asked. The man pointed to where he lived. It was
a long way back there. "Well, you are poor people. It's not
right that you stay there. You better come here and live with us.
We have lots of crops just going to waste," they told him.
They gave him some corn and he started home with it. When he arrived,
he had the corn with him and the people there ate it. This man told
his people what he had seen. "I saw lots of people there. They
were good. I have my belly full now. I ate all I wanted there and
the chief of these people told me; 'You better come and live with
us, because you people are poor.' He told me to tell this to you."
The man could not sleep that night for thinking of all the ripe
crops he had seen and the food he had eaten. The people were very
hungry where he lived. They got up in the morning and moved away
from tse-gots'uk (a place) where they had been living. When they
arrived at the new place, the crops were all given to them. "Let
them eat all they want," the ga-n said. They did eat all they
wanted and now they had big bellies.
Thus these two peoples had lived for a long time together. Their
children had become acquainted. The men went hunting together. The
children played. They let them eat all they could from the farms,
for the crops on them grew the year around, in all four stages,
from just sprouting to ripeness. These people were the ga-n and
Hawk peoples. I know the place they lived. I passed through there
when I was a soldier in the U. S. army, on the way to Ft. Wingate.
The children played together and some ga-n children became sick
from the hawk illness. Their eyes became swollen and closed, they
scratched like hawks and their faces were white like that of hawks.
Then the Hawk children became sick from the ga-n. They became unable
to walk, as if paralyzed. [These are the symptoms of hawk and ga-n
sickness.] The two kinds of children were able to cure each other
by one touching the other where it hurt. When they did this they
became well immediately. But the ga-n chief heard about it and did
not like it. The ga-n had found the place where there was life without
That is why they had spread these sicknesses among the people,
because they had found a good place. Then Talking ga-n was chief.
He went up on top of ntca'na-sk'id every morning and talked to the
people from there. "We have done nothing here for a long time.
It is better that we go to tse-nodo-z surrounded by fire and tse-na-sbas
surrounded by fire (places). Here it is as if we were herded together
in a pasture. We would like to have some meat. We want to move to
a place where people never die." That night they all collected
together to talk it over. They gathered this way every night from
All the ga-n people were divided into different kinds, just as
we are divided into various clans. There were Black ga-n, ga-no-wan
(meaning unknown), He Carries Pitch, Yellow ga-n. Weak ga-n, Hairy
On One Side Of His Face, Big ga-n. Red ga-n, Hump Backed ga-n, and
Gray ga-n. All these had daughters. They wanted to know who would
leave his daughter behind. They asked each one if he would let his
daughter stay behind with the Hawk People, but all liked their daughters
too well for this. So it came back to Black ga-n, who was like the
chief of these people, "Well, I guess I will have to leave
my daughter." But he never told his daughter or anyone else
that he was going to leave her. He made a doll of turquoise and
one of white shell. He hid these before they were going to move.
The ga-n people spoke to the Hawk people. "We are going to
leave you now. Look after our crops for us. We will be gone for
sixty days. Then we will be back." Now they left. When they
had gone about half a mile, the mother of the daughter of Black
ga-n said to the girl: "Did you put your doll in the burden
basket ? Is it there?" "No, no doll here," said the
daughter. "Well, you better go back for it. We will go slow
for you," the mother said. So the little girl started to run
to the camp. She found the doll right away and ran back to join
her mother. There was a large lake ahead. She followed the trail
of her people. In a little way the tracks came to the edge of the
lake and all went into the water. A lot of grass had been trodden
down by the people passing over it. The little girl went around
to the other side, but could not find where they had come out of
the lake. So she went back to the old camp. The Hawk people saw
her and said, "What is that little girl doing over there ?"
They went with her to the lake, but they could not find where tracks
came out of the water. They took her home with them. Every day she
went to try and find her mother.
The Hawk people raised this little girl among them. After quite
a while all the crops were gone and the people lived as before.
They fed the little girl on wild seeds. The ga-n had made the crops
grow and ripen by their wish alone. The little girl stayed at a
ndi'nde-zn camp (clan). They raised her. She was big now, old enough
to marry. So the man who brought her up said, "I didn't raise
her for anyone else. It will be well for her to marry my son."
That is the way it happened. After they had been married about a
year, she bore a baby boy. The day he was born ga-n people came
down from above and filled the wickiup. It was overcrowded, but
ga-n said, "He never stops eating (even though full),"
and this way more kept crowding in and shoving over to make room
for others. The baby was the grandson of Black ga-n, who was lying
outside, on his back. The ga-n picked the baby up and passed him
from one to the other. Last of all they took him out to his grandfather.
There he danced the baby up and down on his chest and sang; "cawa
Then he said to his daughter, "Well, daughter, here is deer
medicine. Put it inside the hood of the cradle, by the baby."
But the baby's mother said, "No, I don't want it. You threw
this baby away long ago" (meaning herself). So she gave the
deer medicine to her husband's mother. Black ga-n had brought the
deer medicine so that when the baby grew up he could kill many deer.
But instead of this the deer medicine was given to the ndi'nde-zn
(the clan of the woman's mother-in-law). On account of this ndi'nde-zn
clan always used to kill big deer, very big ones, whenever they
went hunting. This still was true up till about 1880, but there
are hardly any of this clan left now. [Deer is also the 'relative'
of this clan] Black ga-n gave his grandson a name; naba-dzisnda-he
(captive taken in war), because the ga-n had left his mother behind
among these other people who had raised her.
They lived on there. Then in a year more another baby was born
to the woman. The ga-n people came there again, just as they had
before. Black ga-n came there to see his grandson. He gave this
second boy a name also, but I have forgotten it. Then the boys started
to grow up. They were so high and about ten years old, big enough
to hunt birds. In the morning they went hunting. At sundown they
returned home. After spending the night there, they went hunting
again. Sometimes they would be gone for two days, sometimes for
three or four. Then one man among the Hawk people became sick. They
came to the mother of the boys about it. "My female relative-in-law,
I wonder if you have anything to say that will cure this sick man.
You might have something," they said. "I don't know anything.
You people have known me since I was a little girl, left here and
raised by you. If I knew something I could go ahead and say it over
that sick man now, but I don't," she told them. Finally she
said, "Well, ask those two boys. They are gone for a day or
sometimes three or four days at a time. I believe they go to the
ga-n, because they are relatives to them. You people better go after
a deer. Run the deer down, don't shoot him. Bring the hide home
and make buckskin of it.
Then get some downy eagle feathers and turquoise. Tie these to
the forehead of the buckskin and put it on the boy's foot. See what
they will say." So they went hunting and got a big deer by
running it down. When the deer was all in, they caught it without
shooting, as there must be no arrow holes in the buckskin. They
killed it, cut it down the belly and by the next day they had made
it into a buckskin. Then they put turquoise and a downy eagle feather
on its forehead and placed it on the foot of the eldest of the two
brothers. But he threw it to his younger brother, "Here is
the one," he said. The younger brother threw it back to the
other, saying, "You can do it." They did this several
times and finally one said, "All right." When they had
agreed to what the people asked of them, the boys told them, "Fix
up a place; level it up so that there are no uneven places on the
ground. We want a spruce tree put on each of the four sides and
a pile of wood on each side also. Don't be afraid of anything you
see, or run away." They knew that the people might fear the
ga-n. "For the sick man, spread a buck-skin and let him sit
on it. Tie him all over with strips of yucca leaves and let him
Then it was sundown and now it was dark. All the people came to
the dance ground. Lots of fires were all about it. Then the boy
who had consented, started to sing.
"Holy power, here sounding (making a noise)."
As he sang they saw lightning appear over ntca'na-sk'id on the
east side, then on the south side, then west and then on the north
side. Then from the four directions the bull roarer sounded. It
shook the earth and the earth rumbled back in response. The people
saw the flashes of lightning and thought they were far off, but
soon the ga-n came down, upside down they were, feet up and head
down. They picked up the sick man who sat there, and tossed him
from one to the other. [The idea of the sick man being ignominiously
tossed about greatly amused the listeners] Before, no man was sick,
but this man became sick and from then on there were sicknesses.
That night the sick man was cured. The ga-n left at dawn. One of
the two brothers went with them. I don't known which of them it
Only one of the boys remained among the people.
When the ga-n arrived back at their home, they came together and
talked about the youths and maidens. "We have many girls and
boys here. Those people whom we left have many boys and girls also.
It is not right for us to marry among ourselves. We better go there
and get some of their boys and girls," they said. Then Black
ga-n's grandson (the brother remaining among the people) was going
to make another dance at ntca'na-sk'id. This time it was to be only
a social dance. The ga-n people came to this dance. It was just
for pleasure and was not dangerous as it had been before. Then as
the dawn came, the dancers were raised up off the ground. Many youths
and maidens from among the ga-n and Hawk peoples were dancing. The
old people ran under them and said to their sons and daughters,
"Come down, come back," but they kept moving upwards.
Soon they were so high they could not hear the singing any longer,
only the sound of the drum. Then they could not hear the drum any
more. The people below lay on their backs in order to look upwards.
They could see the dancers there like specks in the sky. They saw
them a little while, then saw them no more.
This is how the good people were taken up above, to the place where
life has no end. Both the brothers were gone now. The woman who
was their mother went off for something and never returned. This
is the end of the story. This is the way that the ga-n curing ceremony
Told by Francis Drake.
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