The Story Of Vandaih The Man-eagle
Category: STORIES OF THE SECOND NIGHT
Source: Aw-aw-tam Indian Nights
And thus Ahahnheeattoepahk Mahkai became famous for the killing of
game; and there was another young man, named Van-daih, who wanted to
be his friend. So one day Vandaih made him four tube-pipes of cane,
such as the Indians use for ceremonious smoking, and went to see the
young hunter. But when he entered the young man was lying down, and he
just looked at Vandaih and then turned his face away, saying nothing.
And Vandaih sat there and when the young man became tired of lying
one way and turned over he lit up one of his pipes. But the young man
took no notice of him. And this went on all night. Every time there
was a chance Vandaih tried his pipe, but Ahahnheeattoepahk Mahkai
never spoke, and in the morning Vandaih went away without the friend
he desired having responded to him.
The next evening Vandaih came again and sat there all night, but
the friend he courted never said a word, and in the morning he went
And he slept in the daytime, and when evening came he went again,
and sat all night long, but the young man spoke to him not at all.
And the third morning that this happened the wife of Ahahnheeattoepahk
Mahkai said to him: "Why are you so mean to Vandaih as never to
speak to him? Perhaps he has something important to say. He comes
here every night, and sits the whole night thru before you, and you
do not speak to him. And maybe he will come tonight again, and I feel
very sorry for him that you never say a word to him when he comes."
And the young man said: "I know it is true, what you have said, but I
know, too, very well, that Vandaih is not a good man. He gambles with
the gains-skoot, he is a liar, a thief, licentious, and is everything
that is bad. I wish some other boys would come to see me instead of
him, and better than he, for I know very well that he will repeat
things that I say in a way that I did not mean and raise a scandal
And the next night Vandaih came again and sat in the same place;
and when Ahahnheeattoepahk Mahkai saw him he just looked at him and
then turned over and went to sleep. But along in the night he awoke,
and when Vandaih saw he was awake he lit one of his pipes. Then
Ahahnheeattoepahk Mahkai got up. And when he got up Vandaih buried
his pipe, but the other said: "What do you bury your pipe for? I want
Vandaih said: "I have another pipe," and he lit one and gave it
to Ahahnheeattoepahk Mahkai, and then he dug up his own pipe, and
relighted it, and they both began to smoke.
And Ahahnheeattoepahk Mahkai said: "When did you come?" And Vandaih
replied: "O just a little while ago."
And Ahahnheeattoepahk Mahkai said: "I have seen you here for four
nights, now, but I know you too well not to know you have a way
to follow," ["a way to follow" means to have some purpose behind]
"but if you will quit all the bad habits you have I will be glad to
have you come; but there are many others, better than you, whom I
would rather have come to see me.
And now I am going to tell you something, but I am afraid that when
you go away from here you will tell what I have said and make more
of it, and then people will talk, and I shall be sorry.
I will tell you the habits you have--you are a liar, a gambler with
the dice-game and the wah-pah-tee, a beggar, you follow after women
and are a thief.
Now I want you to stop these bad habits. You may not know all that
the people say about you: They say that when any hunter brings in
game you are always the first to be there, and you will be very apt
to swallow charcoal  if you are so greedy.
Wherever you go, when the people see you coming, they say: 'There
comes a man who is a thief,' and they hide their precious things. When
you arrive they are kind to you, of course, but they do not care much
I don't know whether you know that people talk thus about you, but
it is a great shame to me to know, when I have done some bad thing,
that people talk about it.
Now if you quit these things you will be happy, and I want you to
stop them. I am not angry with you, but I want you to know how the
people are talking about you.
Now I want you to go home, but not say anything about what I have
told you. Just take a rest, and tomorrow night come again."
And the next night Vandaih came again, and Ahahnheeattoepahk Mahkai was
in bed when he came, but he got right up and received him, and said:
"Now after this I mean to tell you what is for your good, but I want
you to keep quiet about it. There are many people that gamble with
you. If they ask you again to gamble with them, do not do it. Tell
them you do not gamble any more. And if they do not stop when you
tell them this, but keep on asking you, come to me, and tell me,
first, that you are going to play. And if I tell you, then, that I do
not want you to gamble, I want you not to do it, but if I tell you
you may gamble & you win once, then you may bet again, but I do not
want you to keep on after winning twice. Twice is enough. But if the
other man beats you at first, then I do not want you to play any more,
but to quit gambling forever."
And after this a man did want to gamble with Vandaih, but Vandaih said:
"I have nothing to wager, and so cannot play with you."
And still another man wanted to gamble with him, and he made him the
same answer, but this man kept on asking, and at last Vandaih said:
"Perhaps I will play with you, I will see about it. But I must have a
little time first." And he came to Ahahnheeattoepahk Mahkai and said:
"There is a man who keeps on asking me to gamble with him, and I have
come to tell you about it as you told me to do."
And Ahahnheeattoepahk Mahkai told him to gamble, and gave him things
to wager on the game, but said: "If he beats you I do not want you
to gamble any more."
And Vandaih took the things which had been given him, and went & played
a game with this man who was so persistent, and won a game. And he
played another game and won that, and then he said, "That is enough,
I do not want to play any more;" but the other man kept on asking
him to play.
But Vandaih refused & took the things which he had won to
Ahahnheeattoepahk Mahkai and gave them all to him.
And the next morning he gambled again, and won twice, and he stopped
after the second winning, as before.
And thus the young man kept on winning and Ahahnheeattoepahk Mahkai
made gainskoot (dice-sticks) for him, and this was one reason why he
won, for Ahahnheeattoepahk Mahkai was a powerful doctor & the dice
And he beat every one who played against him till he had beat all
the gamblers of his neighborhood, and then distant gamblers came &
he beat them also. And so he won all the precious things that were in
the country and gave all to Ahahnheeattoepahk Mahkai & kept nothing
back. But one man went to Ee-ee-toy, who was living at the Salt River
Mountain (Mo-hah-dheck) and asked him to let him have some things
to wager against Vandaih. And Ee-ee-toy said: "You can have whatever
you want, and I will go along to see the game."
But when Ee-ee-toy got there he found the dice were not like common
dice, and it would be difficult for any one to win against them,
they were made by so powerful a man.
And Ee-eetoy went westward and found a powerful doctor who had a
daughter, and said to the father: "I want your daughter to go around
to all the big trees and find me all the feathers she can of large
birds, not of small birds, and bring them here. And I will come again &
see what she may have found."
And her father told her, and the very next morning she began to
hunt the feathers, and when Ee-eetoy came again she had a bundle,
and Ee-eetoy took them and took the pith out of their shafts and
cleansed every feather which she had brought him.
And Ee-ee-toy threw away the pith and cut the shafts into small
pieces and told the girl to roast them in a broken pot over a fire;
and she got the broken pot & roasted them, and they curled up as they
roasted till they looked like grains of corn. And then he told her
to roast some real corn & mix both together and grind them all up
very fine, and Ee-ee-toy told her to take some ollas of this pinole
in her syih-haw to the reservoirs.
And she did so, and passed by where Vandaih was going to play, and
Vandaih said: "Before I can play I must drink." But the man who was
playing with him said: "Get some water of some one near," but Vandaih
said, "I would rather go to the reservoir."
And Ee-ee-toy had prepared the girl before this, telling her that when
she passed the players Vandaih would follow her to the reservoir and
want to marry her. "Be polite to him," he said "and ask him to drink
some of the pinole, and to see your parents first."
And the man who was going to gamble with Vandaih asked him not to
go so far, for he wanted to gamble right away, but Vandaih replied:
"I would rather go there. I will come right back. You be making holes
till I get back."
So the girl went to the reservoir, and Vandaih followed her and asked
her to be his wife, and she said: "I want you to drink some of this
pinole, and in the evening you may go and see my folks and ask them
So Vandaih mixed some pinole and drank it, and it made him feel
feverish, like one with a cold; and the second time he drank the
goose-flesh came out on his skin; and the third time he drank feathers
came out all over him; and the fourth time long feathers grew out on
his arms; and the fifth time he became an eagle and went and perched
on the high place, or bank of the reservoir.
Then the girl went to the place where the other man was waiting to
play the game and told all the people to come and see the terrible
thing which had happened to Vandaih.
And the people, when they saw him, got their bows and arrows and
surrounded him and were going to shoot him.
And they fired arrows at him, and some of them struck him, but could
not pierce him, and then all were afraid of him. And first he began
to hop around, and then to fly a little higher, until he perched on
a tree, but he broke the tree down; and he tried another tree and
broke that down; and then he flew to a mountain and tumbled its rocks
down its side, and finally he settled on a strong cliff. And even the
cliff swayed at first as if it would fall,--but finally it settled
and stood still.
And this was foretold when the earth was being made, that one of the
race of men should be turned into an eagle. Vandaih was a handsome
man, but he had a bad character, and ever since the beginning parents
had warned their children to practice virtue lest they be turned into
eagles; because it had been foretold that some good-looking bad person
should be thus transformed, and it was to be seen that good-looking
people were often bad and homely ones good characters.
And Vandaih took that cliff for his residence and hunted over all the
country round about, killing jack-rabbits, deer and all kinds of game
for his food. And when the game became scarce he turned to men and
one day he killed a man and took the body to his cliff to eat. And
after this manner he went on. Early in the morning he would bring
home a human being, and sometimes he would bring home two.
Then the people sent a messenger to Ee-eetoy, to his home on
Mohahdheck, asking him to kill for them this man-eagle. And Ee-ee-toy
said to the man: "You can go back, and in about four days I will
be there." But when the fourth day came Ee-eetoy had not arrived,
as he had promised, but Vandaih was among the people, killing them,
carrying them away to the cliff.
And the people again sent the messenger, saying to him: "You must tell
Ee-ee-toy he must come and help his people or we shall all be lost."
And the man delivered his message and Ee-ee-toy said, as before,
that he would be there in four days.
And this went on, the people sending to Ee-ee-toy, and Ee-ee-toy
promising to come in four days, until a whole year had passed. And not
only for one year, but for four years, for the people had misunderstood
him, and when he said four days he meant four years, and so for four
years it went on as we have said.
(Now Ee-ee-toy and Vandaih were relatives, and that was one reason
why Ee-ee-toy kept the people waiting so long for his help and worked
to gain time. He did not want to hurt Vandaih.)
But when the fourth year came Ee-ee-toy did go, and told the people
to get him the "seed-roaster."
And the people ran around, guessing what he meant, and they brought
him the charcoal, but Ee-ee-toy said: "I did not mean this, I meant
So they ran around again, and they brought him the long open earthen
vessel with handles at each end, used for roasting, and with it
they brought the charcoal which is made from ironwood. But he said:
"I did not mean these. I mean the 'seed-roaster.'"
And they kept on guessing, and nobody could guess it right. They
brought him the black stones of the nahdahcote, or fire place, and
he said: "I do not want these. I want the 'seed-roaster.'"
And the people kept on guessing, and could not guess it right, and so,
at last, he told them that what he wanted was obsidian, that black
volcanic stone, like glass, from which arrow heads are made. And this
was what he called the "seed-roaster."
So the people got it for him.
Then he told them to bring him four springy sticks. And they ran and
brought all the kinds of springy sticks they could find, but he told
them he did not mean any of these.
And for many days they kept on trying to get him the sticks which
he wanted. And after they had completely failed Ee-ee-toy told them
what he wanted. It was a kind of stick called vahs-iff, which did not
grow there, therefore they had not been able to find it. And beside
vahsiff sticks were not springy sticks at all, but the strongest kind
of sticks, very stiff.
So they sent a person to get these, who brought them, and Ee-ee-toy
whittled them so that they had sharp points. And there were four
And Ee-ee-toy said: "Now I am going, and I want you to watch the top
of the highest mountain, and if you see a big cloud over it, you will
know I have done something wonderful. But if there is a fog over the
world for four days you will know I am killed."
When he started he allowed one of the dust storms of the desert to
arise, and went in that, so that the man-eagle should not see him.
For many days he journeyed toward the cliff, and when sunset of the
last day came he was still a good way off; but he went on and arrived
at the foot of the cliff after it was dark, and hid himself there
under a rock.
About daybreak the man-eagle got up and flew around the cliff four
times and then flew off. And after he was gone Ee-ee-toy took one of
his sticks and stuck it into a crack in the cliff, and climbed on it,
and stuck another above it and so he went on to the top, pulling out
the sticks behind him and putting them in above.
And when he got to the home of the man-eagle, Vandaih, on the top of
the cliff, he found a woman there. And she was the same woman who had
given Vandaih the pinole with eagles' feathers in it. He had found her,
and carried her up there, and made her his wife.
When Ee-ee-toy came to the woman he found she had a little boy, and he
asked her if the child could speak yet, and she replied that he was
just beginning to talk; and he enquired further when the man-eagle
would return, and she said that formerly when game was plenty he had
not stayed away long, but now that game was scarce it usually took
him about half a day, so he likely would not be there till noon.
And Ee-ee-toy enquired: "What does he do when he comes back? Does he
sleep or not? Does he lie right down, or does he go looking around
And the wife said: "He looks all around first, everywhere. And even
the little flies he will kill, he is so afraid that some one will come
to kill him. And after he has looked around, and finished eating,
he comes to lay his head in my lap and have me look for the lice in
his head. And it is then that he goes to sleep."
So Ee-ee-toy turned into a big fly and hid in a crack in the rock,
and asked the woman if she could see him, and she said: "Yes, I can
see you very plainly."
And he hid himself three times, and each time she could see him, but
the fourth time he got into one of the dead bodies, into its lungs,
and had her pile the other dead bodies over him, and then when he
asked her she said: "No, I cannot see you now."
And Ee-ee-toy told her: "As soon as he goes to sleep, whistle, so
that I may know that he is surely asleep."
At noon Ee-ee-toy heard the man-eagle coming. He was bringing two
bodies, still living & moaning, and dropped them over the place
where Ee-ee-toy lay. And the first thing the man-eagle did was to
look all around, and he said to his wife: "What smell is this that I
smell?" And she said: "What kind of a smell?" And he replied: "Why,
it smells like an uncooked person!" "These you have just brought in
are uncooked persons, perhaps it is these you smell."
Then Vandaih went to the pile of dead bodies and turned them over &
over, but the oldest body at the bottom he did not examine, for he
did not think there could be anyone there.
So his wife cooked his dinner, and he ate it and then asked her to
look for the lice in his head. And as he lay down he saw a fly pass
before his face, and he jumped up to catch it, but the fly got into
a crack in the rock where he could not get it.
And when he lay down again the child said: "Father! come!" And Vandaih
said: "Why does he say that? He never said that before. He must be
trying to tell me that some one is coming to injure me!" But the wife
said: "You know he is only learning to talk, and what he means is
that he is glad that his father has come. That is very plain." But
Vandaih said: "No, I think he is trying to tell me some one has come."
But at last Vandaih lay down and the woman searched his head and sang
to put him to sleep. And when he seemed sound asleep she whistled. And
her whistle waked him up and he said: "Why did you whistle! you never
did that before?" And she said: "I whistled because I am so glad about
the game you have brought. I used to feel bad about the people you
killed, but now I know I must be contented & rejoice when you have
a good hunt. And after this I will whistle every time when you bring
And she sang him to sleep again, and whistled when he slept; and waked
him up again, and said the same thing again in reply to his question.
And the third time, while she was singing, she turned Vandaih's head
from side to side. And when he seemed fast asleep she whistled. And
after she had whistled she turned the head again, but Vandaih did
not get up, and so she knew that this time he was fast asleep.
So Ee-ee-toy came out of the dead body he had hidden in, and came to
where Vandaih was, and the woman laid his head down & left him. And
Ee-ee-toy took the knife which he had made from the volcanic glass,
obsidian, and cut Vandaih's throat, and beheaded him, and threw his
head eastward & his body westward. And he beheaded the child, too,
and threw its head westward and its body eastward.
And because of the killing of so powerful a personage the cliff
swayed as if it would fall down, but Ee-ee-toy took one of his
sharpened stakes and drove it into the cliff and told the woman to
hold onto that; and he took another and drove that in and took hold
of that himself.
And after the cliff had steadied enuf, Ee-ee-toy told the woman to
heat some water, and when she had done so he sprinkled the dead bodies.
The first ones he sprinkled came to life and he asked them where
their home was & when they told him he sent them there by his power.
And he had more water heated and sprinkled more bodies, and when he
learned where their home was he sent them home, also, by his power.
And this was done a third time, with a third set of bodies.
And the fourth time the hot water was sprinkled on the oldest bodies
of all, the mere skeletons, and it took them a long time to come to
life, and when they were revived they could not remember where their
homes were or where they had come from. So Ee-ee-toy cut off eagles'
feathers slanting-wise (pens) and gave them, and gave them dried
blood mixed with water (ink) and told them their home should be in
the East, and by the sign of the slanting-cut feather they should
know each other. And they are the white people of this day. And he
sent them eastward by his power.
And in the evening he & the woman went down the cliff by the aid of
the sharpened stakes, even as he had come up, and when they reached
the foot of the mountain they stayed there over night. They took some
of the long eagle feathers and made a kee from them, & some of the
soft eagle feathers and made a bed with them. And they stayed there
four nights, at the foot of the cliff.
And after a day's journey they made another kee of shorter eagle
feathers, and a bed of tail feathers. And they staid at this second
camp four nights.
And then they journeyed on again another day and build another kee,
like the first one, & stayed there also four nights.
And they journeyed on yet another day and built again a kee, like
the second one, and stayed there four nights.
And on the morning of each fourth day Ee-ee-toy took the bath of
purification, as the Pimas have since done when they have slain
Apaches, and when he arrived home he did not go right among the people
but stayed out in the bushes for a while.
And the people knew he had killed Vandaih, the man-eagle, for they
had watched and had seen the cloud over the high mountain.
And after the killing of Vandaih, for a long time, the people had
nothing to be afraid of, and they were all happy.
NOTES ON THE STORY OF VANDAIH
In the story of Vandaih we are given a curious glimpse into Indian
friendship. The reference to smoking, too, is interesting. The Pimas
had no true pipes. They used only cigarettes of tobacco and corn-husk,
or else short tubes of cane stuffed with tobacco. These I have called
tube-pipes. They smoked on all ceremonial occasions, but appear to
have had no distinctive pipe of peace. The ceremonial pipes of cane
had bunches of little birds' feathers tied to them, and in my photo
of the old seeneeyawkum he holds such a ceremonial pipe in his hand.
"He gambles with the gain-skoot:" The gain-skoot were the Pima
dice--two sticks so marked and painted as to represent the numerals
kee-ick (four) and choat-puh (six), and two called respectively
see-ick-ko, the value of which was fourteen, and gains, the value of
which was fifteen. These were to be held in the hand and knocked in
the air with a flat round stone. At the same time there was to be on
the ground a parallelogram of holes with a sort of goal, or "home,"
at two corners. If the sticks all fell with face sides up they counted
five. If all fell with blank sides up it was ten. If only one face
side turned up it counted its full value, but if two or three turned up
then they counted only as one each. If a gain was scored the count was
kept by placing little sticks or stones (soy-yee-kuh) in the holes as
counters. If the second player overtook the first in a hole the first
man was "killed" and had to begin over. Among all Indians gambling
was a besetting vice, and there was nothing they would not wager.
Sometimes instead of the gain-skoot they used waw-pah-tee, which
was simply a guessing game. They guessed in which hand a certain
painted stick was held, or in which of four decorated cane-tubes,
filled with sand, a certain little ball was hidden and wagered on
their guess. These tubes were differently marked, and one was named
"Old Man," one "Old Woman," one "Black Head," and one "Black in the
Middle." Sticks were given to keep count of winnings.
The moral advice which Ahahnheeattoepahk Mahkai gives Vandaih, is very
quaint, and the shrewd cunning with which he loads the dice, pockets
the proceeds, and yet finally unloads all the blame on poor Vandaih,
is quite of a piece with the confused morals of most folk-lore in
all lands. On these points it is really very hard to understand the
workings of the primitive mind. Here is certain proof that the modern
conscience has evoluted from something very chaotic.
It will be noticed that Vandaih drinks the pinole, which bewitches
him, five times instead of the usual four. Whether this is a mistake
of the seeneeyawkum, or significant I do not know. Perhaps four is
a lucky and five an unlucky number.
Another variation in the numerical order is in the woman whistling
only three times, in putting Vandaih to sleep.
As I have before pointed out the reference to white men, and pens and
ink, is evidently a modern interpolation, not altogether lacking in
flavor of sarcasm.
There are suggestions in this story of Jack the Giant Killer, of
the Roc of the Arabian Nights, of the harpies, and of the frightful
creatures, part human, part animal, so familiar in all ancient
The latter part of this tale is particularly interesting, as perhaps
throwing light on the origin of that mysterious process of purification
for slaying enemies, so peculiar to the Pimas.
It seems to have been held by the Awawtam that to kill an Apache
rendered the slayer unclean, even tho the act itself was most valiant
and praiseworthy, and must be expiated by an elaborate process of
purification. From old Comalk Hawk Kih I got a careful description
of the process.
According to his account, as soon as an Apache had been killed, if
possible, the fact was at once telegraphed to the watchers at home
by the smoke signal from some mountain. This custom is evidently
referred to in Ee-ee-toy's cloud over a high mountain as a signal of
success. The Indians apparently regarded smoke and clouds as closely
related, if not the same, as is shown in their faith in the power of
tobacco to make rain.
As soon as the Apache has been killed the slayer begins to fast
and to look for a "father." His "father" is one who is to perform
all his usual duties for him, for he is now unclean and cannot do
these himself. The "father," too, must know how to perform all the
ceremonial duties necessary to his office, as will be explained. If a
"father" can be found among the war-party the slayer need only fast
two days, but if not he must wait till he gets home again, even if it
takes four or more days. It appears that this friend, who has charge
of the slayer, is humorously called a "father" because his "child"
is usually so restless under his long fast, and keeps asking him to
do things for him and divert him.
If there is no "father" for him in the war-party, as soon as possible a
messenger is sent on ahead to get some one at home to take the office
for him, and to make the fires in the kee, that being a man's special
duty. And the wife of the slayer is also now unclean by his act,
and must purify herself as long as he, tho she must keep apart from
him. And she also must have a substitute to do her usual work. She
must keep close at home, and her husband, the slayer, remain out in
the bushes till the purification is accomplished.
For two days the fast is complete, but on the morning of the third
day the slayer is allowed one drink of pinole, very thin, and no more
than he can drink at one breath. The moment he pauses he can have no
more at that time.
When presenting this pinole, the "father" makes this speech:
"Your fame has come, and I was overjoyed, and have run all the way
to the ocean, and back again, bringing you this water.
On my return I strengthened myself four times, and in the dish in
which I carried the water stood See-vick-a Way-hohm, The Red Thunder
Person, the Lightning, and because of his force I fell down.
And when I got up I smelled the water in the dish, and it smelled as
if something had been burned in it.
And when I got up I strengthened myself four times, and there came
from the sky, and stood in the dish, Tone-dum Bah-ahk, The Eagle of
Light. And he turned the water in the dish in a circle, and because
of his force I fell down, and when I rose up again and smelled the
water in the dish it was stinking.
And when I had started again I strengthened myself four times, and
Vee-sick the Chicken Hawk, came down from the sky and stood in the
dish. And by his force I was thrown down. And when I stood again and
smelled the water in the dish, it smelled like fresh blood.
And I started again, strengthening myself four times, and there came
from the East our gray cousin, Skaw-mack Tee-worm-gall, The Coyote,
who threw me down again, and stood in the dish, and turned the water
around, and left it smelling as the coyote smells.
And when I rose up I started again, and in coming to you I have rested
four times; and now I have brought you the water, and so many powerful
beings have done wonderful things to it that I want you to drink it
all at one time."
After the third day the "father" brings his charge a little to eat
every morning and evening, but a very little.
On the morning of the fourth day, at daybreak the slayer takes a
bath of purification, even if it is winter and he has to break the
ice and dive under to do it. And this is repeated on the morning of
each fourth day, till four baths have been taken in sixteen days.
The slayer finds an owl and without killing him pulls long feathers out
of his wings and takes them home. The slayer had cut a little lock of
hair from the head of the Apache he had killed (for in old times, at
least, the Pimas often took no scalps) and now a little bag of buckskin
is made, and a ball of greasewood gum is stuck on the end of this lock
of hair which is placed in the bag, and on the bag are tied a feather
of the owl and one from a chicken hawk, and some of the soft feathers
of an eagle, and around the neck of the bag a string of blue beads.
(And during this time the women are carrying wood in their giyh-haws
to the dancing place.)
Now the Apaches are contemptuously called children, and this bag
represents a child, being supposed to contain the ghost of the dead
Apache, and the slayer sits on the ground with it, and takes it in
his hands as if it were a baby, and inhales from it four times as
if he were kissing it. And when it is time for the dance the slayers
who are a good ways off from the dancing place start before sunset,
but those who are close wait till the sun is down. And the "father"
goes with the slayer, through woods and bushes, avoiding roads. And
before this the "father" has dug a hole at the dancing place about
ten inches deep and two feet wide, just big enough for a man to squat
in with legs folded, and behind the hole planted a mezquite fork,
about five feet high, on which are hung the weapons of the slayer,
his shield, club, bow, quiver of arrows, perhaps his gun or lance.
(The shield was made of rawhide, very thick, able to turn an arrow
and was painted jet black by a mixture of mezquite gum and charcoal,
with water, which made it glossy and shiny. The design on it was in
white, or red and white. The handle was of wood, curved, placed in
the centre of the inside, bound down at the ends by rawhide, and the
hand fended from the rough shield by a piece of sheepskin.)
In this hole the slayer sits down and behind him and the fork lies down
his dancer, for the slayer himself does not dance but some stranger who
represents him perhaps a Papago or a Maricopa, drawn from a distance
by the fame of the exploit. Nor do the slayers sing, but old men who
in their day have slain Apaches. These singers are each allowed to
sing two songs of their own choice, the rest of the veterans joining
in. And as soon as the first old man begins to sing, the dancers get
up, take the weapons of the men they represent, and dance around the
fire, which the "fathers" keep burning, keeping time with the song.
And the women cook all kinds of good things, and set them before the
singers, but the bystanders jump in and snatch them away. But sometimes
the wife of an old singer will get something and save it for him.
And the relatives of the slayers will bring presents for the dancers,
buckskin, baskets, and anything that an Indian values. And as soon as
presented some relative of the dancer runs in and takes the present
and keeps it for him.
And while this big war-dance is going on the rest of the people are
having dances in little separate groups, all around. And as soon as
the dance is over the weapons are returned to the forks they were
By this time it is nearly morning, and the slayers get up and take
their bath in the river, and return and dry themselves by the expiring
fire. Then returning to the bushes they remain there again four days,
and that is the last of their purification.
As this dance is on the eve of the sixteenth day, there were twenty
days in all.
Grossman's account differs considerably from this, and is worth
During the time of purifying, the slayers wear their hair in a
strange way, like the top-knot of a white woman, somewhat, and in it
stick a stick, called a kuess-kote to scratch themselves with, as
they are not allowed to use the fingers. This is alluded to in the
Story of Paht-ahn-kum's War. A picture of a Maricopa interpreter,
with his hair thus arranged, is in the report of Col. W. H. Emory,
before alluded to. This picture is interesting, because it shows that
the Maricopas, when with the Pimas, adopted the same custom. When I
showed this picture to the old see-nee-yaw-kum he was much interested,
saying he himself had known this man, who was a relative of his,
there being a dash of Maricopa blood in his family, and that he
had been born in Mexico and had there learned Spanish enough to
be an interpreter. His Mexican name, he said, was Francisco Lucas,
but the Pimas called him How-app-ahl Tone-um-kum, or Thirsty Hawk,
a name which has an amusing significance when we recall what Emory
says about his taste for aguardiente, and that Captain Johnston says
of the same man, "the dog had a liquorish tooth."
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