Sacred-Texts Native American Navajo Index Previous Next
There was a man who, while playing the hoop game and the game of seven wooden dice, lost all his property, including a very good house. He also lost the beads that belonged to his niece. Because of this his others resolved to kill him. A necklace of mixed beads was hanging in the center of the house. The niece told her uncle he might wager that also. “All right, niece,” he replied, and took the white shell, the turquoise, the abalone, the coral, the jet; he took five of them off one by one. He also provided himself with specular iron ore, pollen of larkspur and of cat-tails. With these he walked away to the corn pits which were full. From these he took one ear each of the five colors. He patted these together until they were small. “Well, little mother,” he said to his niece, “they speak of killing me. It may be you and I will see each other again. Goodbye.”
Then he put a tree into the water with himself (inside of it). He floated in the tree down where the stream enters the Colorado River. He got out of the tree there and walked along the shore. He felt lonesome there. He planted the corn he had brought with him in the form of a cross, putting the seed in one by one. Each stalk had two ears projecting opposite each other. There were twelve stalks with two ears each.
I hear there were twelve stalks with ears opposite each other. I hear on Black Mountain there were ears projecting on either side. I hear the male deer I kill will like me.
He stayed there four years and then started to return to his home. After many days he got back, arriving early in the morning at his home which was called te’inεisk’it. He went to the corn storage pits, but they were entirely empty. He put four ears in them and blew on them four times. After that he went where his niece was sitting. They were having a famine. “Prepare food for me, my little mother,” he said to her. “There is none,” she replied. “Four days after you left the corn was all gone. I do not know how it happened.” She sat there crying. “I cannot cook food for you, my uncle.” “Go and get something,” he said again. “Do not say that, uncle, there is none, none.” When they had spoken to each other four times she went to the pits.
When she got there the pits were full. “Thanks, uncle,” she called as she ran back with the corn. The girl then ran to the men and told them her uncle had come and that the corn pits were full again.
“Welcome,” they said, when they came in and they they embraced him. “You are the only one, younger brother. In the future we will not p. 162 speak evil of you. Something has happened to the game animals. We hunt in vain.”
Wondering what had happened the returned brother hunted for days in vain. One day when he was hunting he went to the top of te’inεsgit. Below a cliff he saw a deer standing. He ran around and crept up where the deer had been, but it had vanished. He examined the ground, but the soil had not been disturbed. The next day he climbed the mountain again and there the deer stood again. This time he walked directly toward it trying to keep it in sight; but where it had been standing there was nothing but some deer dung. A little distance from where he stood there had been a spruce tree, but when he turned his head away and then looked in that direction again xactc’eyałti stood there. “What is it, grandchild?” he asked. “A deer which was standing right there has vanished,” he replied. “Have you white shell, grandson?” “I have them all, grandfather.” “My grandson has everything. We will do it,” xactc’eyałti said.
He found the door fronts were darkness, daylight, the moon, and the sun. Inside xactc’eyałti and xactc’ejinne were sitting on either side, facing each other “Well, go on, my grandson,” xactc’eyałti said. He took steps on the right side of the house four times, blowing as he did so, and four footprints appeared. He discovered that xactc’eyałti had pets which he kept far in the interior. He heard from inside someone say, “Ho, I smell earth people. The polite master has brought in a human being.” “Do not say that; he has everything,” xactc’eyałti said. Back of the fire a male deer was lying. On him lay a feathered arrow with a red shaft. It had just been pulled out.
The man took a seat in the center. He put down one each of white shell, turquoise, coral, abalone, jet, specular iron ore, blue pollen, cat-tail pollen, and then covered them with a blanket. He stepped over these four times and they became a great heap.
xactc’eyałti was sorrowful and said, “I do not think we can give you a fair equivalent.” He found out afterward that he stayed there in the house of the game animals four days. xactc’eyałti and xactc’ejinne distributed the precious objects. They gave each of those present fifteen pieces, then thirteen, then nine, then seven, then five, then three, and all had been given out.
This is the way deer should be skinned. Break the legs here at the wrist joint, but let them hang by the tendons. Leave the skin on the nose and lips. Draw the skin carefully from under the eyes. Do not cut through the bladder. Turn the hide back to the hips. If you do this p. 163 way you will always kill game. “Put the head toward the center, but do not let the eyes burn or the teeth. You must not cook it by burying it in the ashes. Game animals must not be thrown away. Sickness will result if you do not observe these things. If the teeth are burned the hunter’s teeth will hurt. You earth people will have a cure for it, grandson,” he told him.
He had everything prepared. “What did you come for, grandson?” Small whirlwind told him that on that side were images of the game animals standing side by side. On the east side was the paunch of an animal in which were deer songs. The man pointed to these, xactc’eyałti looked down and said, “All right, grandson. It was for these you came.”
|Being xactc’eyałti I came up,|
To the abode of the deer I came up.
To the door post of darkness I came up.
To the door post of daylight I came up.
To the door post of moon I came up.
To the door post of sun I came up.
To the place where xactc’eyałti with xactc’ejin sat facing each other, I came up.
To where the black bow and the feathered arrows with red shaft lie across each other, I came up.
Over there they lie across each other, red with the mouth blood of a male deer.
Over there the deer I killed likes me.
He sang only one deer song.
They were here when I was hunting them in vain he thought to himself. “Shoot them in the brush,” he told him. This is where they are.
|I being xactc’eyałti.|
On the trail to the top of Black Mountain,
On the trail among the flowers,
Male deer are there,
The pollen of herbs I will put in its mouth,
The male deer steps along in the dew of the vegetation.
I kill him but he likes me.
One was there. He shot into the brush and a deer rolled over with the arrow in him. He shot into another kind of brush and a fawn rolled over with the arrow in him. He shot into another kind of brush and a yearling rolled over with the arrow.
“I have done something important,” he thought to himself as he ran back. They found he had killed them all. That is why when they get away we track them.
There are very many game songs. If one does not know them he does not hunt. We are afraid about these things because they are pets of xactc’eyałti.