Apache Fox Stories


The Fox and the Deer
The Fox and the Kingfisher
The Fox & the Mountain Lion
The Fox and the Porcupine
The Fox and the Rabbit
The Fox and the Wildcat

The Fox and the Deer

As Fox was going along he met a Deer with two spotted fawns beside her. " What have you done," said he, "to make your children spotted like that?"

"I made a big fire of cedar wood and placed them before it. The sparks thrown off burned the spots which you see," answered the Deer.

Fox was pleased with the color of the fawns, so he went home and told his children to gather cedar wood for a large fire. When the fire was burning well, he put the young foxes in a row before the fire, as he supposed the Deer had done.

When he found that they did not change color, he pushed them into the fire and covered them with ashes, thinking he had not applied sufficient heat at first. As the fire went out, he saw their white teeth gleaming where the skin had shriveled away and exposed them. "Ah, you will be very pretty now," said he. Fox pulled his offspring from the ashes, expecting to find them much changed in color, and so they were, -- black, shriveled, and dead.

Fox next thought of revenge upon the Deer, which he found in a grove of cottonwoods. He built a fire around them, but they ran through it and escaped. Fox was so disappointed that he set up a cry of woe, a means of expression which he has retained from that day to this.

By Frank Russell, Myths of the Jicarilla Apaches, 1898


The Fox and the Kingfisher

As Fox went on his way he met Kingfisher, Kt-la'-i-le-ti, whom he accompanied to his home. Kingfisher said that he had no food to offer his visitor, so he would go and catch some fish for Fox.

He broke through six inches of ice on the river and caught two fish, which he cooked and set before his guest.

Fox was pleased with his entertainment, and invited the Kingfisher to return the call. In due time the Kingfisher came to the home of the Fox, who said, " I have no food to offer you;" then he went down to the river, thinking to secure fish in the same manner as the Kingfisher had done.

Fox leaped from the high bank, but instead of breaking through the ice he broke his head and killed himself. Kingfisher went to him, caught him up by the tail, and swung Fox around to the right four times, thereby restoring him to life. Kingfisher caught some fish, and they ate together.

"I am a medicine-man," said Kingfisher; "that is why I can do these things. You must never try to catch fish in that way again."

After the departure of Kingfisher, Fox paid a visit to the home of Prairie-dog, where he was cordially received. Prairie-dog put four sticks, each about a foot in length, in the ashes of the camp-fire; when these were removed, they proved to be four nicely roasted prairie-dogs, which were served for Fox's dinner.

Fox invited the Prairie-dog to return the visit, which in a short time the latter did. Fox placed four sticks in the fire to roast, but they were consumed by it, and instead of palatable food to set before his guest he had nothing but ashes. Prairie-dog said to Fox, " You must not attempt to do that. I am a medicine-man; that is why I can transform the wood to flesh." Prairie-dog then prepared a meal as he done before, and they dined.

Fox went to visit Buffalo, I-gn-da, who exclaimed, "What shall I do? I have no food to offer you. Buffalo was equal to the emergency, however; he shot an arrow upward, which struck in his own back as it returned. When he pulled this out, a kidney and the fat surrounding it came out also. This he cooked for Fox, and added a choice morsel from his own nose.

As usual, Fox extended an invitation to his host to return the visit. When Buffalo came to call upon Fox, the latter covered his head with weeds in imitation of the head of the Buffalo. Fox thought he could provide food for their dinner as the Buffalo had done, so fired an arrow into the air; but when it came close to him on its return flight, he became frightened and ran away.

Buffalo then furnished meat for their meal as on the previous occasion. "You must not try this," said he; "I am a medicine-man; that is why I have the power."

Some time afterward, as Fox was journeying along, he met an Elk, Tss, lying beside the trail. He was frightened when he saw the antlers of the Elk moving, and jumped to avoid what seemed to be a falling tree.

"Sit down beside me," said the Elk. "Don't be afraid."

"The tree will fall on us," replied Fox.

"Oh, sit down; it won't fall. I have no food to offer you, but I will provide some." The Elk cut steaks from his own quarter, which the Fox ate, and before leaving Fox invited the Elk to return the visit.

When Elk came to see Fox, the latter tried unsuccessfully to cut flesh from his own meager flanks; then he drove sharpened sticks into his nose, and allowed the blood to run out upon the grass. This he tried in vain to transform into meat, and again he was indebted to his guest for a meal.

"I am a medicine-man ; that is why I can do this," said Elk.

By Frank Russell, Myths of the Jicarilla Apaches, 1898


The Fox and the Mountain Lion

Fox could find nothing to eat for a long time, so that he grew weak and thin. While on a journey in search of food he met the Mountain Lion, who, taking pity upon his unhappy condition, said, "I will hunt for you, and you shall grow fat again."

The Fox agreed to this, and they went on together to a much frequented spring. Mountain Lion told Fox to keep watch while he slept; if a cloud of dust was to be seen arising from the approach of animals Fox was to waken him.

Fox presently beheld the dust caused by the approach of a drove of horses.

Fox wakened Mountain Lion, who said, "just observe how I catch horses." As one of the animals went down to the spring to drink, he sprang upon it, and fastened his fangs in its throat, clawing its legs and shoulders until it fell dying at the water's edge.

Mountain Lion brought the horse up to the rock, and laid it before the Fox. "Stay here, eat, drink, and grow fat," said he.

Fox thought he had learned how to kill horses, so when the Coyote came along he volunteered to secure one for him. Fox jumped upon the neck of the horse, as Mountain Lion had done, but became entangled in its mane and was killed.

"I am a medicine-man ; that is why I can do this," said Elk.

By Frank Russell, Myths of the Jicarilla Apaches, 1898


The Fox and the Porcupine

As Fox was going along he met a Porcupine, Tson, which he overheard saying, "I shall search for pc'-ti, a stone knife, with which to cut up this meat."

"What are you saying?" asked Fox, springing out of the bushes.

"I said that I must hunt for pc'-ti for arrow-heads," replied Porcupine.

"That is not what you said."

"It was," insisted Porcupine.

" Where is that meat?" asked Fox, and then Porcupine admitted that he had killed a Buffalo.

Porcupine had commanded a Buffalo to carry him across a river. "Don't shake your head with me, or I shall fall," said he, as he sat between the animal's horns.

The Buffalo told him that, if he was afraid there, he had better crawl into his anus. In that safe retreat Porcupine was carried across the river.

He repaid the service by gnawing the vitals of the Buffalo until it fell dead near where the Fox had come upon him. Fox was not disposed to allow Porcupine to retain possession of the Buffalo.

"Come," said he, " whoever can jump over the Buffalo can have it. You try first."

Porcupine jumped, but only landed on the top of the carcass, over which Fox, of course, leaped with ease. "Now the Buffalo is mine. You can sit over there and see me cut it up."

After cutting up the meat, Fox hastened away to summon all the foxes to a feast. Porcupine carried the meat piece by piece into a treetop, so that the foxes, when they came dancing in joyful anticipation, found nothing.

From a safe position in the tree Porcupine told the foxes that he would throw them down some meat if they would lie down, close their eyes, and cover themselves with their blankets.

They were hungry, so they obeyed the instructions of the Porcupine, who, as soon as their eyes were closed, killed them by throwing down the sharpened ribs of the Buffalo.

One little fox at the end of the line had a ragged old blanket, through which he peeped in time to see and to dodge the rib hurled at him. This fox survived the massacre, and begged Porcupine to give him some meat.

The Porcupine gave him some small pieces at first, and then invited him to come up and eat his fill. The Fox accepted, and, when he could eat no more, asked where he could go to relieve himself.

The Porcupine directed him to the end of a branch, whence he easily shook the Fox, which fell to the ground and was killed, but sprang up alive again at the moment when the first tuft of hair was blown from the putrefying carcass by the wind.

By Frank Russell, Myths of the Jicarilla Apaches, 1898


The Fox and the Rabbit

Fox one day met a Rabbit who was sewing a sack. "What do you intend to do with that sack?" asked he. "I am making this coat to protect myself from being killed by the hard hail which we are going to have today," replied Rabbit.

"My friend, you know how to make them; give me this coat and make another for yourself."

Rabbit agreed to this, and Fox put on the sack over his head. Rabbit then hung him on a limb and pelted him with stones, while Fox, thinking it was hail striking him, endured the punishment as long as he could, but finally fell nearly dead from the tree, and looked out, to see no signs of hail, but discovered the Rabbit running away.

Fox wished to avenge himself by killing Rabbit, and set off in pursuit of him.

When overtaken Rabbit was chewing soft gum with which to make spectacles. Fox's curiosity was stronger than his passion for revenge. "What are you making those for?" said he.

"It is going to be very hot, and I am making them to protect my eyes," answered Rabbit.

"Let me have this pair; you know how to make them and can make yourself another pair."

"Very well," said Rabbit, and he put the eye-shields on Fox, who could then see nothing, as the gum was soft and filled his eyes.

Rabbit set fire to the brush all around Fox, who was badly singed in running through it. The gum melted in the fire, and yet remains as the dark rings around his eyes. Fox again started on the trail of Rabbit, with the determination of eating him as soon as he saw him.

He found Rabbit sitting beside the opening of a beehive. "I am going to eat you," said Fox ; "you have tried to kill me."

"You must not kill me," replied Rabbit. "I am teaching these children," and he closed the opening of the hive, so that Fox could not see what was inside. Fox desired very much to see what was in the hive making such a noise. "If you wish to see, stay here and teach them while I rest. When it is dinner time, strike them with a club," said Rabbit, who then ran away.

Fox patiently awaited the dinner hour, and then struck the hive with such force that he broke into it. The bees poured out and stung him until he rolled in agony.

"When I see you again, I will kill you before you can say a word!" declared he, as he started after Rabbit again.

Fox tracked the Rabbit to a small hole in the fence around a field of watermelons belonging to a Mexican. The Rabbit had entered to steal, and was angered at sight of the gum figure of a man which the owner of the field had placed beside the path.

"What do you desire from me?" he cried, as he struck at the figure with his forefoot, which stuck fast in the soft gum. He struck at the gum with every foot, and even his head was soon stuck in the gum.

Thus Fox found him. "What are you doing here?" he asked.

"They put me in here because I would not eat chicken for them," said Rabbit.

"I will take your place," said Fox ; "I know how to eat chicken."

The Mexican found him in the morning and skinned him, and then let him go, -- still on the trail of the Rabbit who had so frequently outwitted him.

By Frank Russell, Myths of the Jicarilla Apaches, 1898


The Fox and the Wildcat

As soon as his life was restored, Fox went to the Buffalo head, and cut off the long pendent hair, i-yn-e-pi-ta-ga, beneath its under jaw.

Fox took this to a prairie-dog village near at hand, and told the inhabitants that it was the hair of a man, one of that race dreaded by the prairie-dogs because of its attacks upon them, which he had killed.

He easily persuaded the prairie-dogs to celebrate his victory with feasting and dancing. With a stone concealed in his hand, he killed all the prairie-dogs as they circled around in the dance.

Fox then placed them in a pit, and built a huge fire over them, leaving them to roast while he slept.

Nn-ko-jn, the Wildcat, came along, and stole all the roasted prairie-dogs while Fox slept, save one at the end of the pit, leaving the tails, which were pulled off.

Fox awoke after some time, and flew into a great rage when he found only the tails left; the solitary dog was thrown over his shoulder in his fit of passion. The gnawing of hunger soon induced him to search for the dog he had thrown away.

In the stream close by he thought he saw the roasted body; taking off his clothes, he swam for it, but could not grasp it. Again and again he tried, and finally dove for it until he bumped his nose on the stony bottom.

Tired out with his efforts, he laid down upon the bank to rest, and, as he glanced upward, saw the body of the prairie-dog lying among the branches which projected over the water. Fox recovered the coveted morsel, ate it, and set off on the trail of the Wildcat.

He found Wildcat asleep under a tree, around which he set a fire. With a few quick strokes he shortened the head, body, and tail of Wildcat, and then pulled out the large intestine and roasted it.

Fox then awakened Wildcat, and invited him to eat his (Wildcat's) flesh, but to be careful to save a small piece, and put it back in its place, for he would need it. Fox then left him.

Wildcat followed Fox, intent upon revenge. He found Fox asleep, but instead of shortening that animal's members he lengthened them; the ears were only straightened, but the head, body, and tail were elongated as we see them at the present day.

By Frank Russell, Myths of the Jicarilla Apaches, 1898


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