24. The Foolish People and the Missing Pack
The Foolish People are not clever people1
They were travelling.
They had stopped.
They were carrying packs.
They put them down just anywhere.
When they had stopped, one of them had put his pack down on a slope.
From right here, [the ground] dropped sharply.
There was a cliff.
This was high [and] there was an arroyo.
This one who had put down the pack ran off to where the encampment had been made.
From there, he returned to where his pack lay.
The pack lay on the slope.
It had rolled away from him.
He searched in vain for the pack in the place where it had been.
He trailed it here and there.
From here, [the ground] dropped off sharply.
The pack had rolled down this [slope].
Over there, into the arroyo, it had fallen.
He searched in vain only right here [where it had been].
Then he spoke thus:
"Friends, who has taken my pack from me?" he said.
Then the Foolish People came to him in a body.
"What did you say?" said many of them to him.
"The pack that I put here, who has taken it from me?"he said.
Then many of them trailed this pack from here where it had been.
"It seems to have gone over here." they said.
They trailed it back and forth the edge of the slope.
The pack lay in the arroyo but no one looked in the arroyo.
Then they trailed it back and forth just from here on the edge of the slope to where the pack had been.
Then the one Mescalero man who was said to live among them came there.
"It seems to have gone over here." said the Foolish People.
They trailed it back and forth on the slope.
Then this Mescalero went to the slope.
And he looked into the arroyo.
In the arroyo, in plain sight, he saw the pack lying.
"Down there, in the arroyo, the pack lies."he said to them.
Then they brought it up from there.
These "foolish people" are said by the Chiricahua and Mescalero Apache to have been an actual group, formerly
living near or in Mescalero territory and speaking an Apache language. Two persons now living on the
Mescalero Apache Reservation are pointed out as the last living descendants of members of this group. It is
barely possible that some small Mescalero family or local group whose members were not considered
over-bright and which has since been decimated and scattered, has been made the butt of these stories. The
stories themselves are purely traditional, however, and are now used to rebuke the stupid, to train the young [by
teaching them what not to do], to furnish a socially controlled outlet for pent up sexual interest and repression
[most of the episodes of this type do not appear in these texts], and to serve as good stories for the long winter
evenings. Other Apache tribes tell almost identical stories.