“The Creation of Man”
This is an excerpt from the Jicarilla Apache origin story. The first part of the story begins: “In the beginning nothing was here where the world now stands; there was no ground, no earth—nothing but Darkness, Water, and Cyclone. There were no people living. Only the Hactcin existed. It was a lonely place. There were no fishes, no living things....” First the Black Hactcin created animals and then the Jicarilla were created.
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In the beginning the dog was just like a Hactcin in appearance. This was because the Hactcin made everything. He was listless, however, and didn’t do anything. “Someone was arising from the ground, bracing himself with his hands and knees.”
And Hactcin noticed this and spoke to him. He said, “Why don’t you do something? Why don’t you work?”
“I don’t care to work. I’m too lazy. I’d better turn to the form of a dog I guess. Let my hands be round.”
At first his hands were like ours, but he didn’t use them and just stayed home so they became round.
When Hactcin made the dog in his present shape, he took some of the yellow from the afterglow of the sunset and put it above each eye. And he took some of the white of the morning glow and put it on each paw. This was a sign that the dog would protect people.
“The Making of Man,” Barton Wright (Artist)
And so today in the girl’s ceremony, the girl has yellow ochre on her face and the boy who dances with her has white paint over his face.
Hactcin spoke to the dog and asked, “Where are you going to stay now?”
“Oh, you can make some people so I will have companions.” Hactcin asked, “What is the idea you have in mind? I never thought you would say a thing like that.”
So the Hactcin lay down at a smooth place. He said to the dog, “Now draw a line around my feet and body. Trace my outline with your paw.” So the Hactcin lay with his face down and his arms outstretched, and the dog drew his outline.
Then both got up. Hactcin said to the dog, “Go a little further on and do not look back yet.”
The dog went on for a short distance.
“Now you can turn and look.”
Dog looked back. “Someone is lying where you were, Grandfather,” he said.
Hactcin said, “Face the other way and walk off again.”
Dog did so.
“Now turn around.”
The dog did so.
Someone was arising from the ground, bracing himself with his hands and knees.
“Grandfather,” said Dog, “someone is on his hands and knees at the place where you were lying.”
Hactcin said, “Turn and walk away again.”
Dog did so. Then he was told to look once more. When he looked he saw a man sitting up.
“Grandfather, someone is sitting up!” he cried. There were surprise and happiness in his voice.
But Hactcin only said, “Turn once more and walk away.”
He did so again.
“Turn around now and look,” he was told.
He did so and cried out in astonishment and delight, “My grandfather, he is sitting up and moving around!”
Then Hactcin said, “Now come. We will go and see him.”
They came to the man. He was sitting facing the east. Hactcin first faced him from the east. Then he went to the south, the west, and the north of him and then faced him again from the east. Then Hactcin went around to this man’s back, and after motioning four times lifted him to his feet. Then he went around his body clockwise and returned in front of him at the east again.
Then Hactcin addressed the man. “You must watch me. I am going to take four steps, moving my right foot first. As I do it you must do it too.” “The dog was very happy. He jumped at the man and ran back and forth just as dogs do now when they are glad to see you.”
Hactcin did walk this way and the man followed.
“Now,” said Hactcin, “let’s run,” and with Hactcin leading, the two ran. They ran to the east and back again in a clockwise manner. That is why they run like that in the girl’s puberty rite. They came back to the starting place.
Then Hactcin shouted into the ear of the man four times, twice from the right side and twice from the left and asked, “Did you hear that?” Because of this the old woman shouts into the ear of the girl in the puberty rite four times from the right side, so that the girl will have good hearing always.
But the man could not yet speak. Hactcin stood before him. Four times he said to the man, “Talk, talk, talk, talk,” and then the man spoke. “Laugh, laugh, laugh, laugh,” he said, and the fourth time the man laughed. “Now shout, shout, shout, shout,” Hactcin told him, and the fourth time it was said the man shouted.
“Now you are ready to live around here.”
The dog was very happy. He jumped at the man and ran back and forth just as dogs do now when they are glad to see you. The dog was very happy, but the man, with no one but the dog to talk to, soon grew lonesome.
He told Hactcin the cause of his sadness and Hactcin thought about it. Finally Hactcin resolved to make a woman for him. So he told the man to lie down on the ground, face downward with arms and legs extended. The man did so. Then Hactcin traced his outline on the ground and bade him rise. Then Hactcin had the man do exactly what he had had the dog do when he had been making the man. He had the man face the other way and walk to the east four times while the figure he had drawn successively rose to its knees, sat up, and moved. Then Hactcin lifted this figure in the same manner and taught it to speak, hear, laugh, shout, and walk and run. Then Hactcin was satisfied and sent Ancestral Man and Ancestral Woman off together.