Attack on the Giant Elk, Apache legend
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Attack on the Giant Elk, an Apache legend
The apache oral story of an attack by a giant elk.
AUTHOR: An Apache Oral Story
In the early days, animals and birds of monstrous size preyed upon the people; the giant Elk, the Eagle, and others devoured men, women, and children, until the gods were petitioned for relief.
A deliverer was sent to them in the person of Jonayaíyin, the son of the old woman who lives in the West, and the second wife of the Sun. She divided her time between the Sun and the Waterfall, and by the latter bore a second son, named Kobachíschini, who remained with his mother while his brother went forth to battle with the enemies of mankind.
At length the Gopher came to the surface underneath the Elk, whose giant heart was beating like a mighty hammer. He then proceeded to gnaw the hair from about the heart of the Elk. "What are you doing?" said the Elk. "I am cutting a few hairs for my little ones; they are now lying on the bare ground," replied the Gopher, who continued until the magic coat of the Elk was all cut away from about the heart of the Elk. Then he returned to Jonayaíyin, and told the latter to go through the hole which he had made and shoot the Elk.
The Elk ploughed up the earth with such violence that the present mountains were formed, which extend from east to west. The black spider closed the hole with a strong web, but the Elk broke through it and ran southward, forming the mountain chains which trend north and south. In the south the Elk was checked by the web of the blue spider, in the west by that of the yellow spider, while in the north the web of the many-colored spider resisted his attacks until he fell dying from exhaustion and wounds. Jonayaíyin made a coat from the hide of the Elk, gave the front quarters to the Gopher, the hind quarters to the Lizard, and carried home the antlers.
Jonayaíyin next desired to kill the great Eagle, I-tsa. His mother directed him to seek the Eagle in the West. In four strides he reached the home of the Eagle, an inaccessible rock, on which was the nest, containing two young eaglets. His ear told him to stand facing the east when the next morning the Eagle swooped down upon him and tried to carry him off.
As they were about to do this, Jonayaíyin gave a warning hiss, at which the young ones cried, "He is living yet." "Oh, no," replied the old Eagle; "that is only the rush of air from his body through the holes made by my talons." Without stopping to verify this, the Eagle flew away.
Jonayaíyin threw some of the blood of the Elk which he had brought with him to the young ones, and asked them when their mother returned. "In the afternoon when it rains," they answered. When the mother Eagle came with the shower of rain in the afternoon, he stood in readiness with one of the Elk antlers in his hand.
The male Eagle came at the appointed time, carrying a woman with a crying infant upon her back. Mother and babe were dropped from a height upon the rock and killed. With the second antler of the Elk, Jonayaíyin avenged their death, and ended the career of the eagles by striking the Eagle upon the back and killing him.
Jonayaíyin could discover no way by which he could descend from the rock, until at length he saw an old female Bat on the plain below. At first she pretended not to hear his calls for help; then she flew up with the inquiry, "How did you get here?"
Jonayaíyin told how he had killed the eagles. "I will give you all the feathers you may desire if you will help me to escape," concluded he.
The old Bat carried her basket by a slender spider's thread. He was afraid to trust himself in such a small basket suspended by a thread, but she reassured him, saying: "I have packed mountain sheep in this basket, and the strap has never broken. Do not look while we are descending; keep your eyes shut as tight as you can."
He began to open his eyes once during the descent, but she warned him in time to avoid mishap. They went to the foot of the rock where the old Eagles lay. Jonayaíyin filled her basket with feathers, but told her not to go out on the plains, where there are many small birds. Forgetting this admonition, she was soon among the small birds, who robbed the old Bat of all her feathers.
This accounts for the plumage of the small bird klokin, which somewhat resembles the color of the tail and wing feathers of the bald eagle.
This old skin on your basket is good enough for you."
"Very well," said the Bat, resignedly, "I deserve to lose them, for I never could take care of those feathers."
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