Myths and Tales from the San Carlos Apache
The Development of Apache Culture
The Indians were living without anything. They were poor. They had neither rawhide nor dressed skins. They tied the tops of soapweeds on their feet to protect their soles when they traveled. They had no proper blankets, but used bark braided together for covering. They covered their children with these when they put them to bed. The women made themselves skirts of bark. They did this because they had no dressed skins, no rawhide, and no sinew.
The people were poor. They set fire to the material at the base of the sotol stalks and when the fire was burned down, hunted in the ashes for the singed mice that were left. They picked them up and ate them. They lived on these. They were poor.
The women went for mescal. They broke it off where it stands by pounding. They had no knives but trimmed it with flint. They carried the trimmed stump in burden baskets to a place where there was a hole. They brought wood there also. They put stones, well arranged on the wood, and applied fire and burned all the wood. The stones became very hot. They put the mescal on these hot stones and spread grass over them and covered the whole with earth. After two nights had passed, the women came to the place again. They took off the dirt with their hands. If the mescal was well cooked they took it out and spread it in various places. This was their food. Those who lived first on the world, did this way. This was their food. They lived on seeds and different kinds of grass. The people were very poor.
Then they found out about deer and where they lived. They used them for food. Wood-rats and jack-rabbits were living there and they used them also. They learned to use all these. Their arrows were made of reeds and their bows were of mulberry. They went where deer were living on the mountains and hunted for them. They killed the deer there and then they had sinew. They brought the deer to their camps. They took the skin from the lower legs where it was thick and by sewing made soles for their moccasins. They also took the skin from the sides of the deer’s jaws because it was thick there and made moccasins of it. They worked the skins soft with their hands, and made the tops of the moccasins from the skin taken from the middle portion of the deer’s legs. They sewed their moccasins with sinew.
Then they found out there were white men living somewhere. They also discovered that white people had something to live on. The Indians then began to live by stealing. They stole burros, horses, and cattle and brought them home.
After that they used the thick skin from the hips of burros and horses and made soles for their moccasins. Cowhide is also thick and they used that for the moccasin soles. They made the tops of soft dressed deerskin which they sewed on. In this way they came to have moccasins.
Before this they were poor but now they lived well. They had sinew and rawhide made from cow’s skin. They were happy.
They said that stealing from those who lived on the earth was a grand way to live. They did not go around in this country but went to white people’s houses. The white people would run away and the Indians would pick up their blankets. They lived by going to war. Then they would come back where their homes were.
They stole the blankets and property of the people who lived on the earth. Those who formerly were without shoes now had them. They said this was a good way to live. Their minds were turned in that direction; they thought stealing was the only way to live.
They traveled around stealing. White people had calico. They fought with them and robbed them of the cloth, bringing it home with them.
The women used not to have skirts except those they made of bark. Now they had good skirts. They got to thinking this way and concluded stealing was the only good way to live.