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Kim — University of Nebraska Press / Page 21 / / The Apache Indians / Ingstad [First Page] [21], (1) Lines: 0 to 32 ——— 12.6pt PgVar ——— Normal Page PgEnds: TEX [21], (1) 3 White Mountain Just below the big mountain, the river winds like a glistening ribbon between the woods and green hills. A young Indian girl using a wide tumpline across her forehead to carry a clay jug on her back appears at the edge of the river, just where a deep pool forms and where bits of foam swirl around in an eddy. She stands there a while, absorbed in her own thoughts, gazing toward the rippling river, which pleasantly splashes along over smooth, polished stones. Then she kneels, brushes her long black hair to one side, and begins to fill the jug. As she rises to stand, she catches sight of me. She jumps back, startled, slings the jug over her back, and hurries toward the path so quickly that her broad skirts reel around her. Slowly I follow her and come to a beautiful clearing with a little cornfield and a cluster of Indian tents. As I wade through a mass of man-high sunflowers some of the large, dark flowers slap me in the face. All of a sudden I come upon an Indian family sitting by a fire eating roasted cobs of corn. Everyone looks up. There is more curiosity in their eyes than hostility, so I venture to take a seat on the ground. I eventually offer tobacco and try to talk to them by using some gestures and an occasional Apache expression. But after making a fool of myself long enough, I give up. Everything becomes very quiet and I silently sit there puffing on my pipe and staring into the fire. Suddenly one of the men pleasantly says in fluent English: “Perhaps it would be better if you spoke the white man’s language.” This was how I met Chester Gatewood, who later became my good friend and invaluable interpreter during my stay with the White Mountain Apaches. I couldn’t have found a better helper. Not only was he an excellent interpreter but he also had a good understanding Kim — University of Nebraska Press / Page 22 / / The Apache Indians / Ingstad 22 White Mountain [22], (2) Lines: 32 to 39 ——— 0.0pt PgVar ——— Normal Page PgEnds: TEX [22], (2) of how to approach the difficult older Apache men. He was also a wise fellow with a cunning sense of humor. A short time after this chance meeting, my friend and I were in full swing traveling from one Indian camp to another. About twentyeight hundred Apaches dwell up on the rolling high plateau of White Mountain. They have set up their tents in scattered clusters around the various small gullies where the people have sought shelter since olden times, and because they have been able to continue to live isolated from the white man they have retained more of their native life-ways than Apaches in other places. They are protective of their old ways, and strangers are generally not very well liked in their country: they want to live in peace by themselves. Their land is some of the most beautiful anywhere. Arriving there from the desert is like entering a new world because in the mountains the rain gods are gracious and the grass and forest are made green and lush. Here the juniper grows to be thousands of years old and its bark is like the scales on an alligator. The evergreen oak thrives in the red sand hills and woods grow thick along the rippling river, where small trout scurry about like black shadows. New kinds of cactus shoot up and vibrant-colored flowers grow in every direction. It is so luxuriant here, with warm, shady nooks radiating such a peace and beauty that you could be tempted to set up your tent and stay. The majority of the Apaches have their permanent camps at about forty-five hundred feet high. The large mountain looms above where the forests begin in earnest; first the pine forest, and then the spruce. Up there roam mountain lions, bears, deer, wild turkeys, beaver, mink, bobcats, lynx, fox, and yes even some elk.1 But at the mountain ’s naked summit lie snowdrifts that never melt and dangling flowers that are indigenous to Arctic regions. Several of the old men who were part of the hostile Apache Wars, some as renegades...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780803204812
MARC Record
OCLC
57447358
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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