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The Sacred Oral Tradition of the Havasupai

As Retold By Elders and Headmen Manakaja and Sinyella 1918-1921

Edited by Frank D. Tikalsky, Catherine A. Euler, and John Nagel

Publication Year: 2010

Early in the twentieth century, Leslie Spier and Erna Gunther, graduate students trained by anthropologist Franz Boas, hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon to learn about Havasupai culture. In the process, they asked two Havasupai leaders and elders for every story they could remember. These were translated by native speakers and transcribed by Spier and, later, Gunther. Yet for unknown reasons Spier never published the whole collection of forty-eight stories, one of the earliest, most complete translations of an entire Native American oral tradition. Passed from Spier to anthropologist and Havasupai scholar Dr. Robert C. Euler, the stories, published here for the first time in book form with the permission of the Havasupai Tribal Council, are a cultural library and a cultural treasure that reflect an ancient Yuman-language mythological tradition. Publication restores them to the People (Pai/Pa/Pah) from whom they arose.

Published by: University of New Mexico Press

Title Page

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Contents

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pp. ix-xi

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Preface

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pp. xiii-xxii

the 1918–1921 fieldwork of anthropologists leslie spier and Erna Gunther preserved one of the earliest, most complete translations known of an entire precontact Native American oral tradition. In the early twentieth century...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xxv-

the 1918–1921 fieldwork of anthropologists leslie spier and Erna Gunther preserved one of the earliest, most complete translations known of an entire precontact Native American oral tradition. In the early twentieth century...

Part I: Contexts

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Chapter 1: The Prehistory of the Grand Canyon

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pp. 3-9

Never underestimate the importance of an artifact, even one made of so humble a parentage as the willow tree. If it were not for split-willow figurines found in the Grand Canyon in 1933, and later companion findings...

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Chapter 2: The Changing Life of the Havasupai

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pp. 10-16

A desert oasis i s green, fertile, and well watered. This perfectly describes the astonishing village of the Havasupai people who live hidden and isolated three thousand feet below the Colorado Plateau, in a side valley of the Grand Canyon. To reach this haven, one must travel...

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Chapter 3: History, Leadership, and Language

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pp. 17-51

Although spani sh e x plor er s i n the hopi country probably heard about Indians living in the Grand Canyon as early as 1540 or perhaps 1665, it was not until 1776 that the first European visited the Havasupai village...

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Chapter 4: An Overture to the Scientific Study of Myth

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pp. 52-64

Until the late nineteenth century the ancient phenomenon of myth was regarded as it had been since the Enlightenment, as a primitive way of knowing, a phenomenon to be supplanted by science. The growth...

Image plates

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Part II: The Sacred Oral Tradition of the Havasupai

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Introduction

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pp. 67-68

These tales of the havasupai of north-central arizona were collected in 1918, 1919, and 1921 by Leslie Spier, and in 1921 by Erna Gunther. The work of the former was subsidized by the American Museum of Natural History...

The Stories

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1. The Culture Heroes

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pp. 69-70

At Matawi ’Di ’Ta [west of walapai canyon] all kinds of Indians lived. This is the first place they had before the water came. When they were living there, the two brothers (called Hukama’ta and Du’djipa) told everybody that...

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2. The Origin of Corn

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pp. 71-72

...Many Indians were there with their head chief. The chief said, “I am very sick; I want to lie down in the shadow.” The Indians made him a flat-roofed shelter. The sick chief said, “No, I do not want that. I want another kind.” They made one...

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3. The Separation of the Tribes

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pp. 73-74

...the Mohave country]. That is where they came out of the ground. They came to Matawidita and camped. Hokumata, the head chief, was sick; after a while he died. They made a fire to burn him. But Coyote seized his heart...

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4. The Separation of the Havasupai and Yavapai

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pp. 75-76

...itckayu’ga) they lived up on the point where the ruin is. Some of them also lived in the caves right above Manakadja’s house. Some enemies lived on the talus slope...

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5. The Sun and the Moon Are Made (first version)

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pp. 77-78

...ground. They came up and emerged here. It was dark so they could not see far. One said, “We ought to have a sun. I wonder how we can make it, so that when it rises, there will be light and we can see far away.” So he made a...

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6. The Sun and the Moon Are Made (second version)

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pp. 79-80

...There were two men, brothers. The younger said, “You must make the sun lighter in order to see rabbits and kill them.” But the older man said it was light enough. The younger man said, “You do not know how to make...

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7. The Early Migration

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pp. 81-83

Just above the junction of Hagaθei’la [Little Colorado River] and Hagatai’a [Colorado River] is Hagadjapa’ka, the place where a great many men climbed up from beneath the earth.2 They came out and stayed there. The...

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8. The Culture Heroes Become Animals

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pp. 84-

...at Rain Tank. They went hunting and killed many deer for food. They had no wives. They had no crops there; nothing but meat for food. I do not know how long they stayed there. The [gray, plateau] squirrels told the brothers...

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9. The Flood (first version)

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pp. 85-91

...Coyote came down the canyon, he did not see what was on the road. One brother said, “I am going to fool him.” Coyote said, “Why are you going to fool me?” “I am going to kill you.” But he did not fool him and Coyote...

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10. The Flood (second version)

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pp. 92-93

...a little rock. Coyote could not see him, so he went back. Then Frog ran under the rock. Again Coyote did not see Frog and he looked around. Then Coyote said, “Who is calling me? Come out, I want to see you.” But Frog would...

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11. The Boy Who Killed Blue Hawk (first version)

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pp. 94-102

...north or south, or east or west; just near this country. There was only one woman, who saw no one else. She lived alone a long time. She thought, “What will I do to have a child?” She looked around to find something to father it, but could find nothing. By and by she found a little spring...

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12. The Boy Who Killed Blue Hawk (second version)

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pp. 103-109

...first lived. She lived alone where there was a little spring at which she got water. The spring dripped drop by drop. She thought how, without a man, she could conceive a child. So she thought she would try the spring. She...

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13. The Yavapai Origin Tale

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pp. 110-144

...named Hukama’ta. When he was asleep, he dreamed he was up on earth. “I was out there and looked around over that country. It is a better country up there. There is plenty of game; all kinds of deer, antelope, mountain sheep, cottontails, and jackrabbits. There are also things which...

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14. The People Become Rocks (first version)

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pp. 145-146

...the two people [the pinnacles AA´]2 and the married man [C] to be the Havasupai and to stay here. They gave them crops, and told them to farm, and they made caves for them as places to live in. Cataract Canyon was not...

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15. The People Become Rocks (second version)

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pp. 147-

...menanimals; the second was his wife [D]. (I do not know where that pair lived: perhaps on the point above Austin’s house [B], perhaps down below on the west side of the canyon above Navajo Falls.) The man said, “I am going...

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16. Wolf’s Boy (first version)

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pp. 148-155

...near Kingman]. Wolf lived there, hunting all the time and killing plenty of deer for food. He had no wife, so he went off to other people’s camps to try to get one. But women and girls did not like him. He tried again and again without success. Then he thought, “How will I make a boy for myself? If I make one I will attract the girls with...

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17. Wolf’s Boy (second version)

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pp. 156-166

...morning they went to hunt deer. Wolf wanted to get married, so he went to a place where the Indians camped. He wanted some girl to marry him, but the girls did not like him. So Wolf came back to his own camp...

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18. The Stolen Wife (first version)

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pp. 167-173

...She went out to gather seeds for food, leaving the little boy at home. While she was gone, the boy picked up stones and, throwing them at birds sitting close to the house, killed some. When the woman returned she found...

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19. The Stolen Wife (second version)

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pp. 174-180

...The woman went picking wild seeds which she put in a basket. When she had plenty she came home. Her baby boy killed birds and hung them up where they camped. When the woman came home she threw them away. This...

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20. The Water-Elk (first version)

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pp. 181-183

...ocean. Wolf said to Coyote, “This country contains no game, no deer, no antelope, no big game. All we eat is rats. That is all we kill and we eat their flesh all the time. I think I want you to go down into the water to its bottom.”...

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21. The Water-Elk (second version)

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pp. 184-189

...big water [the ocean] staying with many Indians. Wolf said, “We are tired of staying here with the Indians. We should like to go a long way to get things to make moccasins. We use the back of jackrabbits for strings for moccasins now. We want buckskin and we want plenty to eat. We will move in...

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22. Bear and Mountain Lion (first version)

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pp. 190-192

...used to leave camp and spend all his time hunting. He hunted deer but could not kill any; all he could catch were badgers. Whenever he killed one, he did not bring it home. He roasted it in the ground, right where he killed it. He ate...

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23. Bear and Mountain Lion (second version)

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pp. 193-197

...the Little Colorado. Many Indians camped there by the water. Bear had a wife and four daughters, with whom he lived two or three miles away. He went hunting every morning and slept out where he hunted. He killed a badger and roasted it. He ate it all, taking home merely the bones to his wife...

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24. The Wronged Daughter

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pp. 198-199

...Wolf said, “It is about time for the mountain sheep to raise their young. They are now in little flocks. I want you, Coyote, to go down in the canyon and chase them; scare them. I know where the sheep trail is narrow. I will wait there until you drive them past me. Then we will shoot and kill them....

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25. Rock Squirrel’s Grandson (first version)

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pp. 200-202

...Squirrel had a daughter. Coyote and Rock Squirrel killed a little mountain sheep and brought it home. There they skinned it, cut the body open along the belly, and broke back the ribs. The young girl was sitting close to where those two were butchering. Coyote dipped a finger in the blood...

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26. Rock Squirrel’s Grandson (second version)

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pp. 203-208

...somewhere near Williams. Rock Squirrel always hunted deer and brought them to camp. Rock Squirrel had a baby girl, but there was no woman there. Perhaps they were dead or had run away. Coyote took care of the child while...

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27. The Man on the Ledge (first version)

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pp. 209-215

...white cliff, but the cliff is smooth and there is no way down. Get yucca leaves, mash them, and tie them together to form a long rope. Tie the rope around me and lower me so I can get an eaglet. We can keep it up here, and when...

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28. The Man on the Ledge (second version)

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pp. 216-221

...every day. The Indians did not like him. “He is no good,” they said. “He gets everything.” The other Indians could catch nothing at all. “What shall we do with Hod’iyu’? He kills every day when we get nothing. We would like to...

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29. The Jealous Indians

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pp. 222-224

...woman camped a short way from them. She had two boys. The little one went hunting, but the older boy lay around. When the Indians were off hunting, he painted himself and walked around where the women were. The women all liked him. His mother called him Patcikadiwe (Lazy Man) because he was not rich and he had no skins. The little boy hunted for jackrabbits...

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30. Turkey’s Revenge (first version)

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pp. 225-227

...She ground a lot and piled it on the edge of the metate. Turkey felt very hungry and took a pinch to eat. He did it again and the woman struck his hand away. “Let it alone,” she said. Turkey said, “When I do this when you are grinding, you always push my hand aside.” Turkey struck the woman...

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31. Turkey’s Revenge (second version)

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pp. 228-229

...somewhere. She found some seeds and ground them. Her husband just lay down near the metate and ate the seeds as she ground them. The girl got angry and knocked the boy’s hand away. She said, “You have no father and no mother to cook for you, but I feed you every day. The enemy killed your...

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32. Snake’s Exploits

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pp. 230-231

...Coyote, “My nephew, I want you to carry me on your back and I will kill a head chief. Then you will be glad and dance.” Coyote said, “You cannot walk. I do not think you can kill anything.” Snake said, “I want you to carry me...

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33. The Roc (first version)

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pp. 232-236

...brother lived alone; they had no women. They thought how to catch game, and then made a trap. First they caught a mouse. It was about daylight when the elder brother woke and sang to his younger brother, “Get up. Run and...

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34. The Roc (second version)

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pp. 237-239

...wide river. Then both moved away. When the sun went down he told his brother to make a trap and get something to eat. The brother went away. When daylight came Wildcat told his brother, “My brother, you run over and look into our traps.” They caught a little mouse and tore it up and ate it. Then they moved elsewhere and slept there then they set the trap again. He...

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35. Sun Sets the World Afire (first version)

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pp. 240-242

...side [northwest] of San Francisco Mountain. His house, a little mountain [inyanuwa’ha, sun’s house] was burned so that now it is a round red hole.>sup>2 The sun was not a good man. He said he would like to have men come from...

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36. Sun Sets the World Afire (second version)

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pp. 243-253

...everything on his back across the Colorado. He went to Wigahawa’dja. There were many Indians over there. When he got there he saw houses and tracks of the Indians, but he saw no Indians. He looked around but saw nobody. Then he saw...

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37. Porcupine and Coyote (first version)

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pp. 254-256

...He thought he would get materials to make arrows. So he got them, made stone arrowheads and fastened these on the arrows. When he had finished he carried them to hunt, stuck everywhere into his body. He traveled on until he saw a deer browsing. He sat hidden under a bush for a little while, watching...

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38. Porcupine and Coyote (second version)

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pp. 257-259

...with very sharp points. He went to hunt deer. He saw two big deer. He lay down and crept along until he was right by the deer. He shot it in the shoulder. The deer ran a short distance and then fell dead. He started to butcher it with a large arrow because he had lost his knife. He kept looking...

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39. Coyote and Wolf Kill Bear

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pp. 260-265

...to eat. They wanted something to eat very much. Coyote went to where Bear lived with her two children. Bear had not come home; only the two little children were there. Coyote put them on the bed and covered them up. Then Bear came home and put tobacco in her pipe and smoked. Bear...

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40. Wolf and Coyote Catch Fish (first version)

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pp. 266-269

...they planted corn, beans, squash, sunflowers, and other things. That is what they did in order to eat. Wolf thought about it; he did not like that country. He thought he would leave to hunt for another and better country to...

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41. Wolf and Coyote Catch Fish (second version)

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pp. 270-274

...they were men was Wamakovanyawa [Mohaves’ house] at Needles. All they had to eat was corn, beans, and sunflowers. They had only rabbit, jackrabbit, and fish as game to eat. Wolf thought and said to Coyote, “I always...

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42. Turkey

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pp. 275-277

...He went hunting cottontails and jackrabbits which he roasted. The next day he hunted again. Turkey’s wife said, “Our house is too cold; we cannot stay here. When it is cold, I feel sick.” Every morning she went to another camp while Turkey went hunting. She always told Turkey at whose...

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43. The Bungling Host Strikes His Head

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pp. 278-

...Coyote said, “My uncle, I wanted to see you very much, so I came. I am glad to see you.” Wolf said “I am very glad to see you, too. You may stay here, but I have nothing to eat. I have no woman to gather wild seeds to...

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44. The Bungling Host Is Stepped On

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pp. 279-

...about eighteen miles away. Coyote said, “I think I will go to see my uncle.” He went there, where he saw that his uncle had plenty of mountain sheep meat hung to dry. His uncle cooked some for him and said, “I am glad you came to see me.” Coyote slept with him. In the morning he started...

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45. The Bungling Host Fires the Brush

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pp. 280-281

...for races and games. He wanted to build a fire with a bundle of tinder (tcakaya’l). There were many deer about; he thought he would kill them with fire. Fire burns all trees; the deer cannot escape through it, but must run into the...

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46. Deer Tricks Coyote

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pp. 282-

...coyote saw that deer had two fawns colored white and dark all over. They looked very pretty. Coyote asked Deer, “How did you make your fawns like that? They look very pretty.” Deer answered, “Oh,...

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47. Bat1

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pp. 283-

...he went hunting deer and came home at night. When he came home he said, “Put sand on the fire. I do not want you to make a fire.” He went hunting again. When he came home at night, the women wanted the meat. Bat said...

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48. Song Series

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pp. 284-286

...it was about set he said, “I am going to make a song about the sun. Just as the sun sets I am going to sing a lot of songs about it.” So he sang two songs...

Appendix

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pp. 287-294

Bibliography

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pp. 295-305

Biographies of Contributors

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pp. 306-310

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780826349330
E-ISBN-10: 0826349331
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826349316
Print-ISBN-10: 0826349315

Page Count: 336
Illustrations: 6 color photographs, 3 halftones, 4 maps
Publication Year: 2010

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Subject Headings

  • Havasupai mythology.
  • Havasupai Indians -- Folklore.
  • Tales -- Arizona.
  • Oral tradition -- Arizona.
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