American Indian Stories - The Age of Gods

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Navaho Native American


In the Age of Gods: "Now," said the Gambler, seeing the two beautiful maidens that the young man had with him, "we shall bet our wives." He bet all his wives and servants against the two maidens. The young man bet the two maidens and the whole crowd that came with him. After the bets were made the young man said: "Very well. I am willing to lose; but you shall have to throw the sticks as high as the roof beams. You can not throw the sticks knee high, or shoulder high, or as high as a man can reach, but to the roof beams. The Gambler looked up and around and said: "All right, I will throw the sticks up to the roof beams." "Then," said the young man, "we must both look down on the ground, to be able to see the sticks as soon as they fall." The Gambler looked around and then said: "All right. That goes."

The Gambler shook his basket and said: "Mine is white, mine is white." And up he threw his sticks to the roof beam. The bat caught the Gambler's sticks and dropped the young man's sticks. The Gambler grabbed the sticks and swore and said: "This time mine is black, mine is black." The young man called out: "Very well. Mine is white, mine is white." The Gambler threw the sticks a second time; and the bat caught the young man's sticks and threw down the Gambler's sticks. The young man grabbed the white sticks as they landed and said: "You are the loser. You are the loser; and it is by your own sticks that you lose." The Gambler said: "I lost! I lost!"



To continue: the young man picked up his stick. The snake was in his ring. The Gambler got his own ring; but the young man said: "No. This time you will use my ring." So the Gambler cast his ring to one side and said: "Very well."

Men the Gambler picked up his stick he went around exercising his arms and legs; and all during this time he chanted in a whisper:

I am walking amid all the beautiful goods.
A white bead gambling stick is in my hand.
It is tied with the white bead string.
I am walking amid all the beautiful goods,
With the white bead stick in my hand.
The white bead ring is on top of the stick.
Today luck is on my side.

Then he reached out and turned just as the sun travels; he motioned to all that he saw and he drew it to his body.

After this the Gambler bet against the young man all that he had won, all that he had. Just the one bet. All was ready for the game. The two men were standing at the race track, eager to roll the ring. The young man threw his ring and away they raced after it. The Gambler was in the lead and he cast his stick. The young man cast his stick ahead of the Gambler's stick. The ring rolled over the Gambler's stick and landed on the young man's stick, on the very center of it. Now after the sticks are cast the racers stop and watch the ring. So when the ring turned over the young man's stick, he ran and grabbed it.

The Gambler was very angry. He made for the ring; but the young man held it behind him with his left hand and pushed the Gambler back with his right elbow. He said: "Wait a minute, Brother, what are you going to do with my ring? All the losers that came up against you did not do this. When they lost, you got them. They were game." So all that the Gambler said was: "All right. We will go inside now."



They started for the house of the Gambler. He had lost twice now. Once inside he bet that he would recover all that he had lost and all that the young man possessed in goods and friends. When the bet was settled they entered a room where the Gambler brought out the bent stick which he used. But the young man said: "Wait a minute, Brother, it is my stick that we will use today, not yours." The Gambler tossed his stick to one side; and the young man took out his stick with the measuring worm inside it. This stick was made so that when it was tossed up it would hit the ground in an upright position, then fall to one side or the other. When all was in readiness the young man tossed his stick into the air; when it struck the ground it stood up. The Gambler saw this and he was angry, furious, in fact. He jumped for the stick, and was about to seize it, when the young man hit his hand aside with his right hand and picked up the stick with his left. He said: "Brother, this is my gambling stick, not yours." The Gambler was wet with sweat; he had lost three times.



The Gambler bet again to recover all that he had lost and all the friends of the young man. When they finished arranging the bets he said: "Now we will go outside." This was the game of the ball that had two tabs like ears; the stick used was curved like a hockey stick. Then the young man brought forth the ball that contained the brown rat. He stood ready with stick in hand, aiming to drive the ball through the hole, which was a house. If the young man made the hole, the Gambler lost; if he missed the hole, the Gambler won. The young man stood exercising his arms as if ready to strike. He said: "My ball, do not miss the hole. Go straight for the hole." The Gambler said: "Miss the hole. Miss the hole." The young man hit the ground just back of the ball; but the ball bounced out and jumped through the hole. The Gambler was very angry. He rushed after the ball; but the young man grabbed him, saying: "Wait a minute, Brother, this is your loss, but my ball." The Gambler cursed the ball and said: "The ball can go to the home of the dead!" The Gambler had lost four times.



They made their bets for the fifth game; and they covered all that the Gambler had lost and all that the young man had had from the first. When the betting was over they said: "Now we will go inside the dwelling again." This time the Gambler showed the young man the picture of Ash'ke chili on the wall. This was the guessing game. And it was the picture that the Sun had shown the young man.

The Gambler said: "Now, young man, you can guess the meaning of this picture that I have drawn." The young man said: "That is the picture of Ash'ke chili. He has the beautiful flowers in both hands." The Gambler said: "It is correct, my friend." Then he pointed to the picture of the first black jar. "Now, my friend, can you guess what this is?" The youth said: "That is the black water jar. It contains the black cloud which brings the male rain." "That is it, my friend," said the Gambler. Then he pointed to the picture of the next jar and said: "Can you guess what this is?"

The Gambler chuckled after showing the young man each new object. The young man answered: "That is the blue water jar, and it contains the blue cloud that brings the male rain." The Gambler said: "Oh, my friend, you are a good guesser. It is correct." Next came the yellow water jar. The Gambler asked the same question as before, and the young man said: "That is the yellow water jar, and it contains the yellow cloud that brings the male rain." "That is it," said the Gambler.

He pointed to the white water jar and said: "Can you guess this?" The young man said: "That is the white water jar that contains the white cloud that brings the male rain." "Correct, my friend," said the Gambler, and he pointed to another black object: "Can you guess what this is?" The youth said: "That is the black water jar which contains the black vapor which brings the female rain." And the Gambler said: "That is it, my friend." And the same questions were asked for the blue and the yellow water jars.

"Oh, my friend, you are guessing all correctly." Then the Gambler pointed to a white object on the wall and said: "Now guess what this is?" "That is the white water jar, and it contains not only the white vapor that brings the female rain but all the beautiful flowers and their pollens included." The Gambler did not laugh now, he just said: "That is it, my friend."

There was the last picture, that of a great water jar, on the wall. The Gambler said: "Now, my friend, what is this great jar and what is in it?" The young man said: "That is the gray water jar, and it contains . . ." Then, just then, up jumped the bird which guarded the Gambler's medicine, and out it flew. The Gambler sat with his head down. The young man said: "Well, my Brother, you are the loser. I have won from you." And the Gambler said: "I know. I am the loser." His body was very wet with sweat and he was tiring. He got to his feet and walked round and round.



The Gambler covered all that he had lost and all that the young man possessed. This time they went outside for the game of the kicked stick.

Everyone went outside. Four lines were drawn across the track far enough apart so that a good runner could kick the stick from one line to the other. The Gambler placed these marks on his track. The young man was to kick the stick to the first line, from the first to the second line, from the second to the third, and from the third clean over the house. When all was ready the young man kicked his stick and it reached the first line, for the woodpecker was in the stick. He kicked it again and it reached the second line. The third time he kicked it, it reached the third line. And the fourth time he kicked it, over the house it flew. The Gambler said: "I lose, I lose."



The Gambler bet again against the young man. He covered everything that he had lost and all the young man had won. This was the game of the planted sticks.

The sticks were planted at the end of the race track. Both men got ready to run. The young man got there first and pulled his stick out first. The Gambler reached for his stick; he tried to pull it out, but it pulled him back. He tried to force it out. The young man returned to the Gambler and pulled at his clothing. "My friend," he said, "you are the loser. Why stay with this stick?" So the Gambler said: "I know that I am the loser."



This was the last bet. They bet everything, the Rain, the Holy Beings, the Sacred Turquoise which the Gambler had won. The Gambler said: "Now we will run a, foot race. If I lose again, my life is included. Kill me. If I win and you lose, your life is included and I will kill you." The young man said: "Very well. I agree."

They circled around a little hill with a ruin on it first, and then they entered the home stretch. Below shows the start and the finish of the foot race that circled the little hill.

As the race track formed a circle the two started from the place where they were to finish. They were to go around the hill and return. Four times the Gambler was in the lead; but the fifth time that the young man caught up and passed the little breeze whispered in his ear: "Jump high, be is going to shoot." The young man jumped high and the arrow went under him. He picked it up. The next time the little breeze whispered: "He is shooting high. Lay flat." The young man lay flat on the ground and the arrow passed over him. He jumped up, ran on and picked it up. Then the little breeze said: "He aims at your heart. Lie down." The young man did this and the arrow passed above him. He recovered the third arrow. The fourth time the little breeze said: "He aims at your head. Press the earth." Again the arrow passed over the young man; and the little breeze said: "He has no more arrows. Now let him get ahead of you; and you must do the same to him that he did to you." When the Gambler passed him the young man took aim and shot him in the leg, just below the knee. The next time he shot him halfway up the body. The third arrow he shot between the shoulders. The fourth arrow he sent behind the head. Then the little breeze said: "Do not run near him. If he catches you he will be whole again, and he will beat you." So the young man circled around the Gambler and ran on ahead.

At the finish line there is a little raised knoll. The young man ran up on the Gambler's or winner's side. The crowd of people cheered and blew their flutes. After the young man had regained his breath up came the Gambler. The young man said: "My friend, you are the loser." The Gambler said: "You are right. I lose. I lose all, even my life. My life is yours." The Gambler entered his house and brought out an ax and laid it on the ground; and he told the young man to kill him while he was still warm. He threw himself on the ground broken-hearted.

Now just as the young man was about to strike the Gambler with the ax the Sun spoke: "Wait a minute, do not kill him, he is your elder brother. Why kill him when he has nothing but his life on the earth." The Sun laid the Black Bow down and told the young man to stand the Gambler on the top of it, and to stretch the cord and let go. It threw the Gambler up into the air. He went up a little way and called out: "Long ago I died in the center of the earth." He went up still farther and called down: "Long ago I died in the center of the earth. My spirit will want to return there. My spirit will want to return to the center of the earth." He went still farther up in the sky and all that they heard was: "Adios."He was gone. He went to the upper worlds.

After the Gambler ascended to the upper worlds the young man said: "My Father, there is the Sacred Turquoise that you wanted. There it is. It is yours." And the Sun said: "Thank you, my son. I thank you." He raised the great turquoise and breathed the breath four times. Then the Sun turned to the Yei Hasjohon and said: "Let us send our two children together to Dzil na'odili. They shall go above the eight rings of the mountain where there is a changeable house. That shall be the home of our children, for that mountain is the earth's heart." So they sent the young man and the maiden, the daughter of Hasjohon, his wife, there. It was to be their home forever. The Sun said: "My son, you know our plan." And the Sun returned to his home.

But before he left the young man went into the Gambler's dwelling and pointed to the jars in the picture on the wall. He commanded them to move back to all parts of the world. "From you the people of the earth will have rain and clouds and vapor." When he left the house he found the people, the Gambler's friends, weeping for they did not know what was to become of them, as they had been the Gambler's slaves. The young man turned to the people and told them to be cheerful; it was because of the Gambler, not himself, that they were gathered there. He told them that he was a different. kind of person; and that he would send them back to their own countries, or to whatever country they wished. Then the people came forward and thanked the young man. "These are the kindest words that we have heard in a long time," they said. Each took his turn and thanked the young man. Some said: "We will return to our old homes." Others said: "We have always wanted to go to a new country. We know of one. We will go there." That day all the people moved away (from Chaco Canyon) to whatever place they had chosen for their home.

"The Great Gambler went to the Moon and said: 'I am very poor!' The Moon gave him domestic animals, sheep, horses, pigs, goats, and chickens. He gave him beautiful goods, more beautiful than those of Bonito. He gave him a new people--the Mexicans--and then he sent him back to the earth. (And that is why he said 'Adios' when he left the earth.) He is now the god of the Mexicans. It may be that he was the Sun's favorite son." "He went to Bekolcice, the god who carries the moon. . . . he descended far to the south of his former abode and reached the earth In Old Mexico. Naqoilpi's people increased greatly in Mexico and after a while they began to move towards the north and build towns along the Rio Grande."


Native American Myths
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