Grandfather Runs About Like A Horse Story
The bonfire snaps and crackles with orange-yellow, yellow-orange flames jumping up, reaching as to touch the heavens but only to vanish in mid air, as if darkness swallowed them. The fire’s light was so big that it brightened the darkened shadows where one could see the small adobe house, and the large cottonwood tree looming in the curtain of night-ness’. Low in the same light one could also see six children varied in age lying side by side on an old large Mexican Indian blanket rug. Each had a smaller individual blanket thrown over them. These children, two darker than the other three girls, and one blue eyed boy were squirming and fidgeting and bumping one another as they settled in. Their heads were propped up with their hands under their chins while staring off into a corner of the lighted backdrop of the night. Not far from the children were two women sitting cross legged next to each other. One was a small, thin, old woman who spent years in the sun and had gray braided hair that laid down her back touching the blanket. The other was a much younger, heavier, and taller, woman with sky blue eyes and shiny dark braded hair that also draped down the front of her, with skin that showed she was sheltered from the rays of the sun for most of her life. It was creamy pink, like skin that seemed to be almost white and soft compared to that of the old woman who also had wrinkles for every year she lived.
No one was staring into the big fire, but rather they were looking past the fire directly at a little old man of small and short stature, about five foot seven inches with short cropped white hair covering the top of his head. He was talking and making motions to his audience of children and two women.
Off to the side of this little old man, dressed in all black and wearing a black hat, with eyes and hair to match the darkness that he stood in was this figure of a man with his broad heavy chest. He stood about
five foot eight inches and relayed the old man’s story by translating it into English, the children’s tongue.
The little old man, my Grandfather, started speaking and we children gave my Grandfather, our full attention. ‘Ilk’ida’ Shiitsooyee ik aa ‘y iigenka adhii nadndaal. Ei nanlwogo anile shiiyii’ii…. As he spoke, the broader, taller, younger, reddish-brown man translated the story teller’s words. Standing off to the old man’s left side, but in the darkness of the shadows come the spoken words, but in English, which were over lapping the Apache words in the translator’s broken English. Broken in the sense that if the English word could not find its way to the man’s lips then either Spanish or French was placed in that spot for the English version of that word. More times than I can remember, it was Mexican Spanish that filled that vacant spot.
Reminding readers that this is a story from my grandfather from the 1950’s and there is no way to verify the truthfulness of it, take it as a story, as we did as children so many years back. Then again, it could be true, as I believe it is. The story goes as such;
Long ago my grandfathers, Indi-inji-izee, (They say good medicine), said to me; to become a good warrior….you have to run to the mountain (as he pointed off to the northeast) and then back and spit the water out of your mouth at my feet. This is a tradition that all boys and girls learn by choosing this path in life while growing up to become N’de, (The Mountain Warrior People). The N’de children learned this over short period of time growing up, along with other traditions to survive in the land that many claimed to be harsh country.
Grandfather Indi-inji-izee continues; “It will make you strong my son,” he says to his grandson Thii-nalyudi, (Runs about like a horse). Then Grandfather Indi-inji-izee turned his attention north-east again, only this time as if he could see slight signs of dust. He turned back his attention to the young boy, telling his grandson Thii-nalyudi to get his father Delshay-gode, (Shadow spirit of walking bear).
Thii-nalyudi, wanting to have his grandfather Indi-inji-izee teaching him in the ways of ancestors’, took off running as fast as he could towards the back of the adobe house to find his father, Delshay-gode.
While running, the boy Thii-nalyudi, all the time wondered how his grandfather Indi-inji-izee saw the dust so far off, because he still saw no more than what was kicked up by the wind. Thii-nalyudi found his father tending to the animals, spitting out the water in his mouth and removing the flat stone. He told his father Delshay-gode, that his father Indi-inji-izee, wanted him. If you don’t know or if you don’t remember the Apache custom, this Indi-inji-izee, the grandfather of Thii-nalyudi would be the boy’s father Delshay-gode’s father in-law. During this period of time, among the Apaches, when a man married, he moved from his family ties, band, tribe, into his wife’s family and people, and helped to add to their food supply as a hunter supplier and protector for the tribe, and out of respect he called his wife’s father, his father now. Boy’s father Delshay-gode, dropped what he was doing and rushed to see what his father Indi-inji-izee wanted, with his son Thii-nalyudi tagging along close behind him. Thii-nalyudi’s Grandfather pointed off towards the Northeast, the way of Fort Davis.
Delshay-gode’s father was taken back in time, remembering when he rode with Jolsanny, when he was a younger man. He was just married and his young wife traveled first with her family and later with him as they made their way towards Mexico to raid and trade with some of the Mexican’s at a way-stop called Eucillo Palo Aqui est. It was too small to call a village, but still a small group of houses that were close to one another and it looked like one day it could become a village. At the same time the Apaches also had to keep their eyes focused for other Mexicans and Americans, scalp hunters, who wanted Indian scalps for Mexican gold or sliver pesos. Most waned the Mexican gold. Mexico was offering $100.00 in gold for an Apache male scalp, and $50.00 for women and $25.00 for children, and it mattered not who brought them in, be they Mexican or Americans. (I’ll cover this scalp hunting at another time.)
His mind jumped back into the present as Thii-nalyudi’s Grandfather cried out; “It is the American troops.” At which point everyone went to their appointed place to make sure all was as if it wasn’t. By this I mean everyone ran with their domesticated animal over tracts left by the band that left a short time ago. With many goats, some sheep and two sets of donkeys tracts to hid horse tracts. This was followed by throwing seeds over the ground so that the chickens would come and peck and scratch to further cover over the tracks by with their scratching and walking as they pecked at the spread out food so that the present track left behind, of the former visitors would vanish. Time was on their side because of Grandfathers sight and fathers conformation of the sighting. Now all were busy at there chosen task, including the woman and young girl who came out from the field of nadaa, (corn).
Earlier that morning Chee-indi-zele Apache band made their way back up through Mexico, with some bounty of sheep and goats draped over their horses. They slid most of them off, and the animals hit the ground with a thud, dust feathering the air around about the animals and the men that dropped them to the ground. Two by two they all took turns at the man-made waterhole. And after they gathered water from the well and dumped it into the watering hole for their horses also, and some provisions of cured sundried goat meat and pan, (outdoor ash and oven baked bread), for their return trip home, other Apaches were still unloading some of the weapons from the raid off of pack animals for the family to hide for later use. These were weapons that they wrapped in cloth smeared in pig fat then rolled up in sheep skins, fleece side in toward the peg fat covered cloth, Then they placed the weapons in an already dugout trench on the south-side of the adobe house. It was boy, Thii-nalyudi’s job to cover the wrapped bundles over with dirt and make it as if the ground had never been opened. After a few regards of a safe trip in their farewells, the band moved on ever north-westerly towards El Brazio heading for their home in Apacheria in Arizona
via New Mexico after crossing through a small part of Texas.
The house and land that Thii-nalyudi’s father had, was once a small Ranchero, the home of a Mexican family by the name of Ramirez. They had been killed off by Thii-nalyudi Grandfathers band, under Jolsanny leadership, years back. The Mexican man by the name of Juan had cheated the Apache band by mixing nadaa husks with the husked corn or grinding into maze flour and a ball of it in the center of the four bags and then filling the rest of it with corn. When the Apache band arrived at their home base, they discovered that they were cheated by the Mexican family that they had always treated with respect.
On another planned raid down into Mexico, a small group of young Apaches warriors looking to raise their position in the band went on its own raiding party. While they cut through the same area where the Mexican family that cheated them and their people lived, they approached the small Rancho in their normal custom as not to frighten whom ever might be there by pretended they were still friendly and needing supplies for their trip further down into Mexico.
The Mexican man and his wife showed some concern as they walked to greet the small band, because they saw that there were no women this time traveling along with these young warriors, they pretended they were not bothered by their presence. The little Mexican man in dirty white clothing yelled to the woman in Spanish, to get some dried goat meat hanging in the house, and she turned and walked back to the house as fast as her Yucca made sandals would carry her without making it seem as if she was not running for her life, she disappeared back into the adobe house as the two little children stood at the doorway looking out at the visitors to their lonely place outside of nowhere. The woman then reappeared with a bundle wrapped in linen, but her tattering full skirt snagged on a piece of wood that was stacked outside the doorway. She turned her attention to that problem and jerked on the once white dress, causing the pile of wood to spill every which way. When she was free from it, she rushed up to her husband, and grabbed it as if he had become frustrated with her delay. But he held back from saying anything fearing that it would encourage the Apaches to take it to another level, as the two of them moved to meet the needs of the Apaches. One of the Apaches standing behind the leader of the band pulled his knife from his waist band, stepped out from behind the leader and stabbed it into the Mexican. Ramirez did not see the knife coming. The Apache stabbed the man repeatedly in the stomach, drawing blood each time the knife came out of the man’s flesh through the clothing. The woman screamed out her husbands’ name in anguish; “Juan, Juan.” While at the same time two other Apache men rushed in on the woman and they too, plunged the knife into her chest and side, before she had time to move. Her off colored white blouse stained with her blood as the knives were withdrawn. She fell to the ground, causing dust to rise and drop back gown on her where she lay. As the two children in the doorway of the adobe house watched, they began to cry as the two of them ran back inside the darkness of the small adobe house.
The leader motioned for all men to leave the dead people’s possessions and the bodies alone, while motioning for the youngest to come to him. The young man left the side of his horse to approach his leader. He listened to the leader, Yahnozha told the young man that he wanted him to stay behind, and prepare supplies for the return trip. Also to care for the two children while the rest of them make their way further south into Mexico to raid for horses, live stock and weapons.
Conversation ensued as to why he should lose out on the raid and what goes with it. What of the trophy’s he would miss and his rank as a warrior. After much talk, kicking the dirt with velocity he agreed to be the one to stay, but what of his new bride back home. That also was remedied, and so we have the band of men leaving the young Apache with a dead man and woman and two children. The young man tied the man and woman to the tail of his horse and walked the horse away from the Ranchero into a dry bed that showed no signs of water for years on end, and pushed in the bank of the dry stream over them. He gathered up some tortilla sizes rocks and hurded them one at a time on top of the caved in dry bank, where the couple lay buried. Breaking off scrub brushes, he then tied them to the tail of his horse, mounted his horse and returned to the small Ranchero.
Not knowing what to do with the two little Mexican children huddle up together into a ball, he instead turned his attention to hiding his horse down a draw, away from the building and enclosure, where it couldn’t be seen by anyone that should ride in. After securing a hiding place for his horse in the draw that was thick with mesquites running along its banks, he then returned carrying water in a wooden bucket and found food for his horse. Then the young man checked everything out. First he viewed the two donkeys, and the few goats and sheep that were in the pen. By this time, the crying had stopped coming from the small building, so he advanced toward the house. Reaching the door without entering it, he peered into the house. The darkness of the inside the house blinded him momentarily. Hesitating to enter through the doorway for the adjustment time for his eyes, there the two children were tucked together in the darkest part of the kitchen next to two burlap gunny sacks. The oldest child had a knife in her hand, as the younger boy clutched on to his older sister for protection, and she to him for assurance.
Speaking in Spanish to the Mexican children the young warrior assured them that they would not be harmed as he made his way from the door toward where they grew tighter to one another. The children looked just like the children back at his settlement. Dirt on there arms, legs and clothing, and their was evidence that there was even finer dust on their faces and he could see where their tears tracked it way down their face and dripped off when the tears left their face. The Apache extended his hand to receive the knife from the girl, and she thrust it at his hand automatically, causing him to reflex, draw his hand while saying; “Da’nzho.” Translated it means, ‘It is good!’ and he continues saying; “You are a brave little one, and you have a warriors heart. It is good! He turned around to go back through the door to the outside to see what else needed to be done to cover the tracts of his group. Meanwhile the little ones tightened their hold on one another while the young warrior left them in the one room house
He first went over to where the donkeys was corralled, threw one end of the rope around one of their neck’s and tied the other end of the rope around the second donkey and led the two donkeys out of their pen past the adobe house and off the Ranchito to hid the parties tracks leading away from the place, then leading them back but from a different direction, north-west heading south to mingle with the Indian tracks caused by their migration earlier as the band rode in on the Ramirez family dwelling place.