The Boy Who Became A God

: Myths And Legends Of California And The Old Southwest

Navajo (New Mexico)

The Tolchini, a clan of the Navajos, lived at Wind Mountains. One of

them used to take long visits into the country. His brothers thought he

was crazy. The first time on his return, he brought with him a pine

bough; the second time, corn. Each time he returned he brought something

new and had a strange story to tell. His brothers said: "He is crazy. He

does not know what he is talking

Now the Tolchini left Wind Mountains and went to a rocky foothill east

of the San Mateo Mountain. They had nothing to eat but seed grass. The

eldest brother said, "Let us go hunting," but they told the youngest

brother not to leave camp. But five days and five nights passed, and

there was no word. So he followed them.

After a day's travel he camped near a canon, in a cavelike place. There

was much snow but no water so he made a fire and heated a rock, and made

a hole in the ground. The hot rock heated the snow and gave him water to

drink. just then he heard a tumult over his head, like people passing.

He went out to see what made the noise and saw many crows crossing back

and forth over the canon. This was the home of the crow, but there were

other feathered people there, and the chaparral cock. He saw many fires

made by the crows on each side of the ca–on. Two crows flew down near

him and the youth listened to hear what was the matter.

The two crows cried out, "Somebody says. Somebody says."

The youth did not know what to make of this.

A crow on the opposite side called out, "What is the matter? Tell us!

Tell us! What is wrong?"

The first two cried out, "Two of us got killed. We met two of our men

who told us."

Then they told the crows how two men who were out hunting killed twelve

deer, and a party of the Crow People went to the deer after they were

shot. They said, "Two of us who went after the blood of the deer were


The crows on the other side of the ca–on called, "Which men got killed?"

"The chaparral cock, who sat on the horn of the deer, and the crow who

sat on its backbone."

The others called out, "We are not surprised they were killed. That is

what we tell you all the time. If you go after dead deer you must expect

to be killed."

"We will not think of them longer," so the two crows replied. "They are

dead and gone. We are talking of things of long ago."

But the youth sat quietly below and listened to everything that was


After a while the crows on the other side of the canon made a great

noise and began to dance. They had many songs at that time. The youth

listened all the time. After the dance a great fire was made and he

could see black objects moving, but he could not distinguish any people.

He recognized the voice of Hasjelti. He remembered everything in his

heart. He even remembered the words of the songs that continued all

night. He remembered every word of every song. He said to himself, "I

will listen until daylight."

The Crow People did not remain on the side of the canon where the fires

were first built. They crossed and recrossed the canon in their dance.

They danced back and forth until daylight. Then all the crows and the

other birds flew away to the west. All that was left was the fires and

the smoke.

Then the youth started for his brothers' camp. They saw him coming. They

said, "He will have lots of stories to tell. He will say he saw

something no one ever saw."

But the brother-in-law who was with them said, "Let him alone. When he

comes into camp he will tell us all. I believe these things do happen

for he could not make up these things all the time."

Now the camp was surrounded by pinon brush and a large fire was burning

in the centre. There was much meat roasting over the fire. When the

youth reached the camp, he raked over the coals and said. "I feel cold."

Brother-in-law replied, "It is cold. When people camp together, they

tell stories to one another in the morning. We have told ours, now you

tell yours."

The youth said, "Where I stopped last night was the worst camp I ever

had." The brothers paid no attention but the brother-in-law listened.

The youth said, "I never heard such a noise." Then he told his story.

Brother-in-law asked what kind of people made the noise.

The youth said, "I do not know. They were strange people to me, but they

danced all night back and forth across the canon and I heard them say my

brothers killed twelve deer and afterwards killed two of their people

who went for the blood of the deer. I heard them say, "'That is what

must be expected. If you go to such places, you must expect to be

killed.' "

The elder brother began thinking. He said, "How many deer did you say

were killed?"


Elder brother said, "I never believed you before, but this story I do

believe. How do you find out all these things? What is the matter with

you that you know them?"

The boy said, "I do not know. They come into my mind and to my eyes."

Then they started homeward, carrying the meat. The youth helped them.

As they were descending a mesa, they sat down on the edge to rest. Far

down the mesa were four mountain sheep. The brothers told the youth to

kill one.

The youth hid in the sage brush and when the sheep came directly toward

him, he aimed his arrow at them. But his arm stiffened and became dead.

The sheep passed by.

He headed them off again by hiding in the stalks of a large yucca. The

sheep passed within five steps of him, but again his arm stiffened as he

drew the bow.

He followed the sheep and got ahead of them and hid behind a birch tree

in bloom. He had his bow ready, but as they neared him they became gods.

The first was Hasjelti, the second was Hostjoghon, the third Naaskiddi,

and the fourth Hadatchishi. Then the youth fell senseless to the ground.

The four gods stood one on each side of him, each with a rattle. They

traced with their rattles in the sand the figure of a man, drawing lines

at his head and feet. Then the youth recovered and the gods again became

sheep. They said, "Why did you try to shoot us? You see you are one of

us." For the youth had become a sheep.

The gods said, "There is to be a dance, far off to the north beyond the

Ute Mountain. We want you to go with us. We will dress you like

ourselves and teach you to dance. Then we will wander over the world."

Now the brothers watched from the top of the mesa but they could not see

what the trouble was. They saw the youth lying on the ground, but when

they reached the place, all the sheep were gone. They began crying,

saying, "For a long time we would not believe him, and now he has gone

off with the sheep."

They tried to head off the sheep, but failed. They said, "If we had

believed him, he would not have gone off with the sheep. But perhaps

some day we will see him again."

At the dance, the five sheep found seven others. This made their number

twelve. They journeyed all around the world. All people let them see

their dances and learn their songs. Then the eleven talked together and


"There is no use keeping this youth with us longer. He has learned

everything. He may as well go back to his people and teach them to do as

we do."

So the youth was taught to have twelve in the dance, six gods and six

goddesses, with Hasjelti to lead them. He was told to have his people

make masks to represent the gods.

So the youth returned to his brothers, carrying with him all songs, all

medicines, and clothing.