1. The Child of Water
At the beginning the Creator1 existed.
Everyone knows about him.
And White Painted Woman2 also existed.
Afterwards Child of the Water was born.
Killer of Enemies also was born.
So there were four existing at the very beginning [of time].
And Child of the Water was the child of White Painted Woman.
And Killer of Enemies was one of the evil people.3
He who is called Giant4 also existed.
He did not permit people to live.
White Painted Woman's children were being born.
While White Painted Woman's children were still small,he who is called Giant ate them.
Then White Painted Woman went about weeping.
"How can people be created on the surface of the earth!" she said.
Then White Painted Woman prayed.
And it rained.
She lay face upward for the water.
And her child was born of the water.5
"This little one will be called Child of the Water." said White Painted Woman.
And White Painted Woman was happy over the birth of her child.
"What shall I do that this baby of mine is [safely] reared?" she said.
Every day he who is called Giant customarily came to her.
He was looking for a baby and after making certain that none was there, he went away from her again.
Then she dug a hole for the little one under the fire that lay there.
There she customarily put him away.
There she reared him.
She only took him out when she washed him.
Then, after washing and feeding him, she put him back in [the hole] just as he who is called Giant customarily came to her.
Soon Child of the Water became able to walk around.
Then [one day] she had taken him out [of the hole].
The little one walked happily about at the fireside.
There [were] his tracks.
Just as she had put him back in [the hole], the Giant came to her again.
And the Giant spoke thus to White Painted Woman:
"What are these? Here [are] tracks of something good to eat!" he said to her.
Then White Painted Woman spoke thus to the Giant:
"These? I long so for a baby that I often make [such] tracks right here." she said.
Then the Giant spoke thus to White Painted Woman:
"Well then! Do it before my eyes! Only then will I believe you!" he said to her.
Then White Painted Woman, before his eyes, made the tracks of a baby for him.6
And the Giant now believed her.
Just then he saw also those blankets of the baby that were [smeared] with excrement.
"What are these? Here [is] the excrement of something good to eat!" he said to her.
Then White Painted Woman spoke thus to the Giant:
"These? I long so for a baby that I often make babys' excrement." she said to him.
Then the Giant spoke thus to her again:
"Well then! Make it!" he said to White Painted Woman.
Then White Painted Woman picked up a baby blanket.
She smeared wild honey7 on it.
And it was just exactly so.
And the Giant now believed her.8
Literally, "he by reason of whom there is life." This is one of the names by which the creator of the world is
designated. The conception of a Creator is not sharply defined for the Chiricahua Apache and seems to have
little relation to other phases of their religious thinking. It is quite possible that the concept is a result of
Western European contact.
White Painted Woman is the mother of the culture hero, as the myth relates, and is the author of important
Apache ceremonies and customs. It was she who gave instructions in the use of beneficial herbs, it is said.
The position of Killer of Enemies in Chiricahua and Mescalero mythology is most interesting. For the Navaho,
Western Apache, Lipan, and Jicarilla, Killer of Enemies is the principal culture hero and performs deeds and
exploits comparable to those attributed to Child of the Water in this story. By the Chiricahua and Mescalero,
however, Killer of Enemies is relegated to a subordinate position, an unenviable position, or is forgotten
altogether. In some versions he figures as an older but more timid brother of Child of the Water, again as a
maternal uncle (brother of White Painted Woman) or as the step-father (husband of White Painted Woman) of
Child of the Water. Very often, as in the present version, Killer of
Enemies is charged with cowardice (see Chiricahua text 2) or is
represented as the protector and benefactor of the white man (see
Chiricahua text 6). Some Chiricahua
informants have said that the term Killer of Enemies is synonymous with "enemy" or "white man" and cases
have been noted where parents and grandparents will not allow children to utter the name of Killer of Enemies,
giving the children the explanation that it is the name of the "devil" or an "evil one" (see also text Mescalero text 8).
A monster of huge size, usually described as having the appearance of a man. He is pictured as carrying a knife
and a large burden-basket in which to put his victims. He is cumbersome and slow of foot and burdened with
enormous testicles which he swings over a bush under which he lies, thus providing shade for himself. There is
an independent body of stories about the monster, who is probably to be identified with the "big owl" of other
Southern Athabascan myths.
Some versions have it that she lay under a waterfall, others that she exposed herself to rain on a mountain top.
According to some informants impregnation occurred when the water entered her vagina, others say this
occurred when water fell upon her navel or upon her head.
The footprints were made with the outer side of the clenched fist, the toes being added with the finger.
The honey referred to is said to be deposited by bees in the stalks of yucca plants.
In complete versions other encounters between Giant and White Painted Woman are described and other means
(usually four in all) which she used to deceive Giant are related.