Apache - Lost With Turkey
Taken from Myths and Tales of the White Mountain Apache by Grenville Goodwin 1994, Told by Bane Tithla
Long ago they say. There was a young man living, about eighteen years old. He was living with his father and mother and sisters and brothers. This young man was a real gambler. He played all the time. This way he started in to play at hoop and poles with another fellow. First he bet his moccasins, then his leggings, then the rest of his clothes, and finally his hair. He lost everything and had to come home without anything. When he came home his father and mother got after him, also his brothers, and made trouble with him about losing everything that way. They said to him, "You have not done right. You lost your shirt, moccasins, leggings and all, and besides you lost your hair and had it cut off close to your head. So we don't want you to live here any more. You better go somewhere else." This man had a pet turkey, and that was all he had. So now he left his people and started off, taking his turkey with him.
After the two had gone for a way, they came to a great river and stopped on its bank. Then this man thought, "What shall I do ? All my relatives are mad at me. Where shall I go ?" After a while he thought, "I will look for a log, a big dry one, and make a hole inside it and go in and plug the ends up with pitch and then roll into the water and let it carry me as far as it goes." So he looked around and found a good big log. After he got this, he went out in the mountains and brought in a lot of pitch. When he had fixed the log all up, he rolled it to the edge of the river. Now he got inside and sealed the ends. Then Turkey pushed the log, with him inside, into the water and the river started to carry him off. The river carried him on and on, but after a long way he found he was at the end of the river. The water had taken him there. His log was washed up on the shore. Then he moved around and tried to roll the log, but it was not in water any longer and it would not move. So he broke a hole in the pitch and after a while he came out. Turkey was with him there also, and now the two walked around together.
They started traveling over the country. When Turkey shook his body, corn seeds fell from him, and that was the way they got their food. After they had gone some distance, they came to a good place to farm. Then the man said, "I might make a farm here, but I don't know where to get seeds to plant." Turkey knew what he was thinking about and he said to him, "Where you see good land you had better plant." Then the man said, "But where will we get the seeds to plant ? We can't get any here." So Turkey said, "All that you want we have right here," and so the man started in to clear and level the land, also Turkey scratched up the ground and made it level. After they had it all cleared, Turkey shook his body and out from his feathers fell white corn, blue corn, yellow corn, brown corn, red corn, all kinds of corn fell to the ground. Also he shook out beans and squash seeds. They planted these seeds in that ground, and Turkey helped fill in the seed holes with dirt. Turkey had given all these seeds and helped clear the ground and level it, and he had worked very hard. Because of this the man felt happy about Turkey and liked him. Later on when the corn was getting big, Turkey cultivated it and pulled out the weeds. Then the corn was getting good and big.
While the two were living like this, one night the man saw a fire a long way off to the west. He thought, "There must be people living over where that fire is. I think I will go and see them. I will go tomorrow," and then he said to Turkey, "I want you to stay here and take care of the corn and watch it. I'm going to where that fire is I think there are people living over there. If there are, I might not come back for quite a while." That night he marked where he had seen the fire and he looked at the lay of the hills. The next day he started off and headed right for where he had seen the fire He looked allover but could find no sign of any people or fire there, so that evening he came back to his farm. That night he looked to the west again and saw the fire in the same place. Rethought "I must have gone to the wrong place and missed it." Now he watched closely so he could be sure and locate the fire before he started again. He figured out just where the fire was and when he was sure he went to bed. Next morning he sat in the same place he was last night and looked towards where he had seen the fire. He thought he knew just where it was. Then he told Turkey again, "Stay here and look after the corn for me and cultivate it. Imay be gone a long tune if I find any people," and he started off to where he had seen the fire. He looked all over but could not find sign of anything All day he searched, and that evening went back to Turkey That night he sat in the same place and again saw the fire in the same spot to the west. "I can't see how I missed it every time I must have passed near it. Now I will find it for sure." Next morning he told Turkey, Stay and look out for the corn. I'm going to look for that fire today and if I find people I may not be back for some time, and he started off. He looked all over but could not find any tire or any people. AU day he looked and at sundown went home. that night he looked to the west again and saw the fire in the same place as before He thought to himself, "I must have gone right by that camp." Then he set a crotched stick in the ground, so that when he sighted through it he looked right at the fire. "This is the only way I will find it, I think," he said. In the morning he went to the stick and looked through it, right to where he had seen the fire. Now he knew for sure where the fire was- He turned to Turkey and said. My bird, take care of the corn for me. I'm going now and I may find some people over there. If I do, I won't be back for a good while.
The man started off. He knew for certain where that camp was now, and after a while he got to it. Sure enough there were some people living there. These people were all different kinds of snakes Big Snake was the chief. He had four daughters. The youngest one saw the man coming before he got there. She went and told her lather, A man is approaching." Her father told her, "Tell him to come over here." This man had no clothes on at all, not even a gee string and that was why he was ashamed to go to that place. The girl called to him anyway and told him what her father had said but the man would not go to her. Then she went back and told her father I tried to call him over but he won't come." So her father said You had better go and see what's the matter with him. So the girl went to the man, where he was standing in the middle of a clump of tl’o’tco' (a grass) because he was ashamed. "My father wants you to come over there. Why don't you come ?" the girl said. "My clothes are all gone and I have nothing to cover me. That's why I don't come over there," he answered. The girl went back and told her father what the man said. "His moccasins are gone, also his shirt, gee string, and his hair even," she said. Then her father said, "Take these clothes to him and tell him to dress up in them and come here to me. I want to know why he is traveling here and why he has come." So the girl took the clothes to him and he dressed in them. Then he went over to the camp of Big Snake. There he stopped by the door, but the chief told him to come inside. "I want to feed you first, and then I want you to tell me all about why you have come here," the chief said. The man sat down and ate. When he was through the chief said, "How did you get here and why did you come ? No people ever come here. Why have you come ?" The man said, "I will tell you all about things since I left my home. Where I was living there was a lot of gambling with hoop and poles and other games. There at the hoop and poles game one man said to me, "Let's play!" I said, "all right and told him that I'd bet my moccasins. That's how I lost them. Then he wanted to bet me for my shirt, so I bet it. This I lost also. Then I was just wearing my gee string and belt. He wanted to bet me for this, so I bet. I lost them also. Then he wanted to bet me for my hair, cut close to my head. I bet this and lost it and had to cut my hair all off. This is the way I lost everything I had, my clothes and my hair. Then I went home. (He recites the rest of the story.) Then I came out from the log and that's the way I got on the ground again. I don't know how I came there and don't know which way I came through. I went over the country and started a farm. From that place I saw your fire four times. That's how I came here. After four nights I came here. I didn't know you were living here. That's all there is."
The youngest daughter of Big Snake was the one who looked after him while he was there. So after a while he got married to her. He had been living there quite a while now. It was about one year since he had left his family. Then Big Snake said, "This is the day you left your home so I want you to go back to your home this same day." The man answered him, "I don't know where I was living and which way I came here. I have forgotten all about this." Big Snake said, "We know where you were living, not far from this place." "Which way will I go to get there ?" the man asked. The chief said to him, "We know where you live and as soon as you leave here you will get to your home in the same instant." That man thought to himself, "I am living here well now. Why does he want me to go back t If I do go, I might get lost. Also all my relatives are mad at me. What's the use of going home ?" When he left, all his people had trailed him as far as they could, which was to the edge of the river. Here they thought he had drowned himself, so they all cut their hair short and mourned for him because they thought he was dead. But in a year's time their hair was long again. All his people thought he was no longer alive. Then Big Snake told the man, "You go to your home today. Whoever that man was whom you lost all your belongings to playing hoop and poles, ask him to play again and show him well how to do it." Now they gave him t'a-ji'isis (belt tied or buckled in back) and told him when he got home to bet this against the other man. "If he sees this, he will surely ask you to bet it," the chief said.
Then that man left there. His wife and her relatives cried for him because he left. He only thought once about starting and he was there near his old home, close to where his people were. He started toward them. They had forgotten all about him by this time. As he was coming, only one, his younger sister, saw him. "There is my brother coming here," she said. Her father said to her, "Girl, he is dead almost a year now, so don't think he is alive. Don't talk about him." Then the girl said, "I am telling the truth, my brother is coming close now." "Don't say that. He's been dead a long time. We don't know what happened to him," her father said. The man was getting close now, and his sister said again, "I say true. Step outside and look at him." So the father said, "Let's see," and he sent another child outside to see if this was so. This one said, "She is right. She told the truth. My brother is coming back here." Now the father and mother stepped outside in front of their doorway. When he got there, all his family grabbed him and cried over him because he was home again. That belt he had brought with him he hid, so no one would see it. His father and mother and all his relatives asked where he had been, and he told them the same story as he had told Big Snake. "That's how I got there and lived among those people. I just left them now and right away I got here," he told them.
That man lived there quite a while with his people, and then he thought he would go to where they were playing hoop and poles. When he got to the hoop and poles ground, the man who had won everything from him before, sat there. As soon as he saw him, he said, "ce"ile- (my gaming opponent), I want to play with you now."
But that man said, "I have nothing to bet." So the one who had been far off let the end of his belt show, just the end of it hang- ing down. Then the other said, "I want you to bet that belt against me, so they bet the belt and started to play. This way the one with the belt won what the other had bet. They kept on till he had won all the other man's things. "Everything I have, you have won," he said, "But I want to bet my moccasins against you now." "All right," the one with the belt said. They played and he won the moccasins. "Now play for your shirt," he said. He won that too. "Now bet your hat against me. I want it," he said. They played, and he won it. "Now that gee string and belt." This was bet and he won it also. Now he had won all the other man's clothes and he said, "I want to bet all these against your hair." The other agreed. They played and he won the hair. So the man who lost took off all his clothes and also cut his hair short to his head and gave all this to that man who had come back. The other had to go with no clothes now. "This is the way they did with me some time ago," said the one who came back.