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Part 7— Feather Braided Chief and the Gambler
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Story of the Gambler (Siviriano Garcia)

[After his adventures as a literalist, the boy left home]. He traveled a long time, always going toward the west. The reason for this was as follows: His strange actions had been caused by an evil medicine man named Beater Wind,[10] who lived in the west[11] and compelled the boy to come toward him. Beater Wind had foreseen that the boy would do something like the killing of his grandfather, so he made a


new house for the boy near his own and was living in it when the boy arrived.

All the time that the boy was going toward the west, Beater Wind lay in the new house with his back to the door. Someone came in the door and sat down. Beater Wind could feel it and turned over and said, "I did not build this house for you to enter first. The person for whom I built it is coming." The man who entered was Brown Buzzard.[12] The house was full of "medicine," which was said to be something like the heat vibrations that rise from the desert in the summer.[13] Beater Wind had put his medicine in the house for the boy, but Brown Buzzard was so angry at Beater Wind's words that he spread his wings against the house and took out every bit of medicine of every sort.[14] He sang this song:

Am I an eagle image[15]
My feathers are filled with mysterious power.

When Beater Wind found that Brown Buzzard was doing this, he turned to him and said, "I do not mean any harm. You can enter this house if you want to." Brown Buzzard was already offended, so he walked out the door and flew over the highest and the lowest mountains and dropped onto each mountaintop some of the medicine that he had taken out of the house. Because of this some of the mountains became full of medicine, as the house had been. Brown Buzzard said that because of this


medicine there would be a roaring of wind or noise of thunder and a shaking inside of these mountains before a storm, and this would be a warning to the people.

The boy approached the house after Brown Buzzard had flown away. He went inside and sat down by the door. Beater Wind turned over, saw the boy, and said, "Have you come image" The boy replied, "Yes." Beater Wind took him in front of the house where he had cleared a big circle. He put the boy in the middle of the circle and went over to one side. Then he went back to the boy, took him up, and threw him to the east. He went again to the boy, took him up, and threw him to the north. Then he threw the boy toward the west and toward the south.[16]

He thought that the boy must be dead, and yet he knew that he had not fully killed him. Beater Wind went home and lay down for a while. Then he thought he would go back and see if the boy was getting up yet. The boy was "coming to" but lay there, his long hair tangled and filled with sticks or whatever was on the ground. Beater Wind picked him up and carried him to the place where they sat down together.

While they sat there Beater Wind fixed the boy's hair as it was when he arrived. He cut several sticks four or five inches long and pointed at the end and told the boy to use these instead of his hands in


scratching his head or body. Beater Wind put these sticks in the boy's hair and told him that henceforth it would be the custom that if a man killed an enemy he must use one of these sticks until he had gone through a certain manner of purification.

Beater Wind took the boy quite a distance from the house and fixed a place where he was to stay four days without food or water. At the end of four days, the boy was as though he had been sick for years. On the fifth day Beater Wind came to him with a little food and one swallow of water. From that day on, for four days, he got about the same amount; then for four days he got about double that quantity of food. This was followed by one more period of four days during which the food was double that in the third period. After each period Beater Wind had the boy bathe and come nearer the house. Beater Wind was doing this all the time to "straighten out" the boy. While the boy was fasting, Beater Wind was thinking all the time, keeping watch of the boy, and seeing that his mind was clearing. At the end of sixteen days (four periods of four each), Beater Wind saw that the boy was going to be all right, so on the seventeenth day he allowed him to enter the house and gave him a full meal.


The boy stayed in Beater Wind's house quite a while, and then he decided to go home. Beater Wind said, "All right. I have done what I wanted to do. I have straightened out what I wanted to straighten out in you. It is all right now for you to return and live like other people."

The boy came out of the house and started toward his own home. As he went along he entered every mountain and learned songs. The four kinds of songs he learned are called komatan and koop (used in treating the sick),[18] kohemorle (used in the rain ceremony), and hicuhcolita (songs that come from the ocean).[19] He learned these and knew that all these songs would in the future be used for curing the sick and performing other remarkable acts beneficial to the people. These were very powerful medicine songs.[20]

After entering these great mountains the boy reached the village, went into his own house, and lived as Beater Wind had taught him, staying at home all the time and not mingling with the people. There was much gambling in the village. There was one young man who constantly stole, gambled, and lost, then he would go to another village, steal, gamble, and lose again. This had gone on for a long time. The fellow was very rough in all he did. He gambled all the time and was called "Wanta," meaning "gambler."[l]


[Deleted here are the sections of the story on Wanta's befriending the now grown boy, Wanta's invincibility in gambling thanks to gaming sticks supplied by the grown boy, Elder Brother's success in turning Wanta into an eagle, the eagle's ravages, and Elder Brother's success in killing the eagle. These are all rather like the Smith-Allison text. We resume the story with the account of Elder Brother's purification by the old woman.]

Before Elder Brother had left the old woman's[21] house [to hunt the eagle], he strung a string across her room, saying, "If this breaks, you will know I am dead, but so long as it is not broken, you will know I am alive." The shock of the earthquake [caused by the eagle's death throes] broke the string, and Elder Brother's people began to fear that he had failed.

 . . . Back at the house where his string was broken, the old woman had medicine power, and she knew that Elder Brother was alive and had killed the eagle. So she sang and danced.

Before Elder Brother went away [to hunt the eagle], he told the people to watch a certain chain of mountains. He told them to watch a low place in it and said that if he had been killed by the eagle there would be white clouds over that place. So the people watched the old woman dancing and singing, and they also looked for the clouds in the low place. At last something appeared that looked like clouds, but it was Elder Brother's hat decorated with tufts of eagle down. Then they remembered his words and said to each other, "It must be that the old lady


knows more than we know and Elder Brother has killed the eagle."

After Elder Brother came down from the high place where his hat showed, he did not come home at once but went to a quiet place for several days. The old woman was out walking and came upon him, asleep from exhaustion. After she found him she went home and began to make an olla [pot] to cook gruel for him, a little olla for him to drink from, and a plate, and a little spoon for the gruel. When she finished making the dishes and had made the gruel, she got some water, took it over, and sat it beside him. This is her song.

You have done it right, you little bit of an Elder
Henceforth the villages will be safe and I am on the
     ground, I will get along better.

After giving him the food, she cared for him for sixteen days. She had also made ollas to carry water for his cold bath, and she cared for him in every way, as Beater Wind had cared for the boy at the beginning of the story. . . . At the end of the third period of four days she took him inside the house and continued her care until the end of the fourth period of four days, when he took a bath and was entirely free. Then he lay around the place for a while. He knew everything was settled and that everything would go on the same as before the gambler was made into an eagle. (Densmore 1929: 36–39, 52–54)


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