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The Story Of The Turquoises And The Red Bird


Source: Aw-aw-tam Indian Nights

And at the vahahkkee which the white men now call the Casa Grande ruins
was the home of Seeollstchewadack Seeven, or the Morning green Chief.

And one morning the young women at that place were playing and having
a good time with the game of the knotted rope or balls, which is
called toe-coll.

And in this game the young girls are placed at each end, near the
goals, and at this time, at the west end, one of the young girls
gradually sank into the earth; and as she sank the earth around her
became very green with grass.

And Seeollstchewadack Seeven told the people not to disturb the green
spot until the next morning; and the next morning the green spot was a
green rock, and he told the people to dig around it, and as they dug
they chipped off small pieces, and the people came and got what they
wanted of these pieces of green stone. And they made ear-rings and
ornaments from these green stones, which were tchew-dack-na-ha-gay-awh
or turquoises.

And after the turquoises were distributed, and the fame of this had
spread, the chief of another people, who lived to the east, whose name
was Dthas Seeven (Sun-Chief) thought he would do something wonderful,
too, being envious, and he opened one of his veins and from the blood
made a large, beautiful bird, colored red.

And Dthas Seeven told his bird to go to the city of Seeollstchewadack
Seeven and hang around there till that chief saw him and took him
in. And when they offered him corn he was not to eat that nor anything
else they gave him, but when he saw his chance he was to pick up a
bit of the green stone and swallow it, for when it should be seen that
he would swallow the green stones then he would be fed on turquoises.

So the bird was sent, and when it arrived at the city of the
turquoises, the daughter of Seeollstchewadack Seeven, whose name was
Nawitch, saw it and went and told her father. And he asked, "What
is the color of the bird?" and she answered, "Red;" and he said,
"I know that bird. It is a very rare bird, and its being here is a
sign something good is going to happen. I want you to get the bird
and bring it here, but do not take hold of it. Offer it a stick,
and it will take hold of it, with its bill, and you can lead it here."

And Nawitch offered the bird a stick, and it caught hold of the end by
its bill, which was like a parrot's bill, and she led it to her father.

And Seeollstchewadack Seeven said: "Feed him on pumpkin seed, for
that is what this kind of bird eats."

And Nawitch gave the bird pumpkin seed, but it would not eat. And
then she tried melon seed, but it would not eat. And then she tried
devil-claw seed, but it would not eat. And her father said, then: "Make
him broth of corn, for this kind of bird eats only new dishes!" And
she did so, but it would not eat the broth of corn.

And the old man told her to try pumpkin seed again; and she tried the
pumpkin seed again, and the melon seed again, and the devil-claw seed,
and the broth of corn, but the bird would not touch any of these.

But just then the bird saw a little piece of turquoise lying on the
ground and it sprang and swallowed it. And the daughter saw this and
told her father that the bird would eat turquoises. And her father
said: "This kind of bird will not eat turquoises, but you may try
him." And she gave it some turquoises and it ate them greedily. And
then her father said: "Go and get some nice, clean ones, a basket
full." And she did so, and the bird ate them all, and she kept on
feeding it until it had swallowed four basketful.

And then the bird began to run around, and the girl said: "I fear our
pet will leave us and fly away" but the old man said: "He will not
fly away. He likes us too well for that," but after a short time the
bird got to a little distance and took to its wings, and flew back
to the city of Dthas Seeven.

And Dthas Seeven gave it water twice, and each time it vomited,
and thus it threw up all the turquoises.

And so Dthas Seeven also had turquoises.


Turquoises seem to have been regarded by all Arizona Indians as
magical and lucky stones, and the Story of the Turquoises professes
to give their origin.

Of the game, toe-coll, here spoken of, Whittemore gives this account
in Cook's "Among the Pimas:" "One of the amusements of the women was
that of tossing balls. They had two small ones, covered with buckskin,
and tied about six inches apart. Young women and married, from thirty
to seventy-five in a group, assembled as dressed for a ball, their
hair carefully manipulated so as to be black and glossy. Each had
a stick of willow six feet long. With these they dextrously tossed
the balls high in the air, running after them until one party was so
weary that they gave up the game from mere exhaustion.

"In order to make the excitement a success they had certain active
women, keen of wit and quick of action, practice weeks in advance."

Sometimes the balls were formed by two large knots in a short piece
of rope.

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