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Dancing Gods, by Erna Fergusson, [1931], at

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IX: Apache Dances


We reached the Apache camp-ground about ten o'clock at night. Driving out from the nearest town, we had passed many cars, most of them loaded with white people. In a few we saw Indians, dressed like whites. Our car lights flashed on feathery mesquite and on the thick leaves of greasewood, which filled the air with its pungency in spite of the dust. Then we saw the rough red boles of pines, and their mountainous odor took the place of the heavy smell of greasewood. Once we ran along a stream which rippled coolly on that hot July night.

Twenty miles from town we reached the camp. Lights streamed up against the tall feathery tops of pines, and even from the road we saw a few tepees: slim, tapering cones built of saplings and covered with tarpaulin or buckskin. Fires inside tinted them like shells. Dark figures moved against a blare of light at the center of the encampment, and hundreds of cars were parked around it.

As we drew up, an Apache came up to us, showing his policeman's badge.

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"That's right," he said; "you park there. You're all right. I'll watch your car. That's all right. And if you need anything, you just ask for Matthew. I'm Matthew."

Matthew somehow broke the illusion, for from his conversation we felt that there was little here that was Indian. The soft flush of fires in the tepees was lost in the flare of gasoline lamps on the frame booths around the arena; and we had to strain our ears to catch even a hint of the Indian chant which was murmurously pounding along under the mechanical stridor of phonographs like a persistent though receding tide.

They were dancing to the chant; men and women, white and red, hand in hand, moving slowly in a large circle and kicking up the dust in a sideways shuffle. It was like the circle dance of the Navajos. Matthew said they call it "Friendship-dance." Among the dancers were men old enough to have ramped and fought with Geronimo; sullen-looking Apache boys in silk shirts; giggling girls, both white and red, in calico or organdie; a few white couples, the men careful to place themselves between their women and the contamination of the Indians; Mexicans looking pale and puny beside the swarthy Apaches. Three white youths, obvious "Easterners" and ostentatiously out to do the right thing by the Indians, danced hand in hand with Apaches, their solemn faces uplifted. One wore beaded headband and moccasins, bright blue against his Boy Scout shirt and shorts; when it began to rain, he added a yellow slicker to his ensemble and gravely went on dancing. We were disappointed to see no Apache skin and bead costumes, no bright color, not even gay shawls, except on an

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occasional Mexican flapper, heavily rouged and uncomfortably high-heeled.

At the western side of the arena towered the ceremonial tepee, no less than forty feet tall, and feathering out at the top in uncut pine. The lower part was banked with scrub-oak, which also made its entrance, a narrow lane jammed with people. We worked our way through until we stood at the lodge door. The floor was covered with broken golden straw, and in the middle a hole had been dug for the fire, which is not allowed to go out during the entire four-day ceremony. It threw a wavering glow on the faces of two medicine-men who sat there chanting. Each man rested his left hand on a long wand stuck into the ground, and in his right he shook a rattle of animal hoofs, beating time to the low steady recitative. It was much like a Navajo chant, but without the same resonant quality.

These men, we knew, were conducting the ancient puberty ceremony, known delicately by neighboring whites as the "Coming-out Party." The tepee is built at dawn on the first day, with elaborate rites. This chanting and the dancing of the little girls are the main ceremony, and on the last morning the tepee is dismantled, also ceremonially. Matthew said that we should see the maidens dance tomorrow. He, as glib and as uncommunicative as the true white man's Indian, told us that we had missed the Crown-dance, which would be done again tomorrow night. This is unrelated to the puberty ceremony, and their incongruous union is due to the fact that government officials permit only this one annual get-together. Consequently these two ancestral tribal observances must be given on the American

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[paragraph continues] Day of Liberty, and so close to the highway that they are attended by more whites than Indians.

Outside the tepee we came upon the orchestra for the dancing: four men chanting to the notes of a tomtom made by stretching an inner tube over a metal drum, boldly labelled: "Firestone." The circle had broken and couples were dancing as they do in the Navajo Squaw-dance, but without touching. They went back and forth, in a sort of impersonal and divorced one-step, with set impassive faces. This is a pay-to-get-away affair, but the women are less insistent than the Navajos. Matthew said that the boy paid whatever the girl asked; it was bad manners not to.

Hamburgers and hot-dogs sizzled in the booths, Mexican venders ladled ice-cream into cones, tops snapped off of pop-bottles, the gasoline lamps sputtered and flared. Every now and then the hard cracking of fire-crackers or the long zooming of a sky-rocket. White people talking in the "Yes, ma'am, you-all" dialect. It was such a crowd as might be seen at any Fourth of July celebration from eastern New Mexico to Florida. We decided to go back to town, hoping for something more Indian tomorrow.

The Fourth of July

As we drove out that hot Fourth of July morning, we picked up a youth trudging along the dusty highway. He had lived all his life among the Apaches, and when he learned that we were interested, he agreed to talk.

"I'll tell you what I know," he said, "if you won't use my name. I'd rather keep what little friendship they have

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for me than to have my name in a book. It's no honor for an Apache to be a white man's friend, you know. They hate us so. I don't blame them for hating us," said Apache Friend.

He pointed out a frame house such as the government is trying to substitute for the old tepees. "They use the house for horses and sleep in the tepee," he said, amused. "Those people are of Geronimo's band."

Geronimo's son hangs about a trading-post and permits tourists to photograph him, but most of the Apaches have no more to do with whites than they must. Even the children in the schools look sullen. Apache Friend said that many of them run away, thirty or forty annually, and disappear into the mountains, or are brought back for whippings and solitary confinement. The older people carry the typical Indian reserve to the highest degree. They show none of the amused tolerance which greets a white visitor in a pueblo, nor any of the haughty indifference of the People at a Navajo sing.

I asked an Indian Service man about it. "What is the matter with these people? They look broken, crushed."

He tried to put me off with official figures as to how much fine timber there is on the reservation, how many frame houses, how many peach-trees. But I persisted: I did not mean material things. I wanted to know what had happened to the spirit of this fiercest, hardiest, nearest invincible of all the tribes. At last he told me.

"After all," he said, "these people have been prisoners of war for a long time."

I remembered what another Indian Service man had

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told me: that these people have rich land, and leisure, and whisky. They have had less to struggle against, in nature, than the Navajos, or even the Pueblos.

*   *

When we reached the encampment, dust had been pulverized to a powder which never seemed to settle, but which had whitened the pines many feet above the ground. The American flags on the booths hung limp. Flies buzzed about sticky children. Few people were in sight. We watched an old hag who was working about one of the tepees, her flat bare feet plodding under a dirty calico wrapper belted with a strip of cretonne. She hauled water, chopped wood, butchered a sheep hung under a tree; and between times she lugged two fat babies about, one on her back, the other tagging behind.

We had hoped to see the débutantes, and soon they came by, passing from the ceremonial tepee to the family shelter. The old rule requiring them to spend the entire four days in the ceremonial lodge has broken down. They looked about fourteen, though Apache Friend thought they were older, and they were pretty and shy. They wore buckskin dresses, probably old ceremonial gowns, as most families keep these beautiful garments, which they no longer wear. Both dresses were of soft yellow buckskin with fringed skirts and over-blouses and deep fringed yokes falling over the arms. Their high boots had beaded toes, and a few beads decorated the dresses. The dignity and grace of this costume compared with the dress of the other girls were startling.

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[paragraph continues] Each girl wore two eagle-feathers tied to her crown and falling down behind, an odd effect over bobbed hair. All Apache women were, traditionally, daughters of war, and the eagle brings luck in war. Pitiful survival among a people too crushed even to fight for their own clothes, their own names, their own religious rites.

It was a long, hot day. Most of the white people and the young Apaches had gone down the road to a baseball game between the Apaches and a team from El Paso. We watched an Apache girl in a spotted dress pick up a white beau. They sat at a hot-dog booth eating, her beautiful smooth brown legs showing above very low socks.

Matthew came by to assure us that we were all right. Then he turned to another policeman and spoke low.

"Yeah," he said, "they got a Mexican girl and an Apache boy, over there behind the camp. They took 'em both to the hoosegow."

Six tall Navajos stalked by, a blessed relief to the spirit, for here was real, unashamed, unreconciled Indian. These men felt no compulsion to imitate the white people they saw. They had the drabness of shirts and trousers well subordinated to a barbaric lavishness of silver and turquoise. They all wore large hats, and one had a folded blanket hanging over his shoulder. They walked about like people of the castle watching the doings of the peasantry.

Late in the afternoon Matthew came round to say that Kiowa visitors from the Kiowa reservation were going to dance; so we found seats on the wood-pile and sat teetering on a log which upheld a couple of Apache women on the other end. They were part of a group dominated by a large

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dame, conspicuous in a bright pink blanket and gold-rimmed spectacles. She sat in a rocking-chair. The others, in calico, organdie, and black satin, made the best of upturned boxes and the logs. They chatted. I could not hear the words, but the voices were curiously like those of white women. None of the low chuckling of Navajo women, or the lilting murmur of Pueblos or Hopis. These Apaches sounded like the typical small-town American women who were attending their show: the same inflections, maybe the same ideas. It just happened that their skins were velvety brown instead of red and shining.

Apaches gathered in the arena. Navajos condescended to show some interest. White people made wise-cracks. Then the Kiowas appeared; four men for the orchestra and four dancers.

Two of the dancers were in nondescript clothing, one in bright blue underwear; and a small boy had set off his yellow union-suit with beaded vest and moccasins and porcupine head-dress. The blue man, a lithe young fellow, was decorated all over with mirrors, each surrounded with raying eagle-feathers tipped with red puffs of down. He wore a porcupine roach, also fluffy with down, and from his head to his heels flowed long streamers of feathers and bells.

All danced together, but the blue dancer completely outshone the others. He danced with quick sure steps, his feet lightly patting the earth to the jingling obbligato of his bells. Crouching, he whirled and pivoted, and sometimes he bent his limber body so far back that his roach almost swept the ground. The two colorless men patiently made

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a background for him, and the little yellow boy did his best.

Then the six Navajos danced a Yebetchai. They wore no masks or costumes, but a medicine-man led them with scattered meal, and they were grave and dignified. Something hard and strong came across that stifling dusty place with their vigorous caterwauling: something of the uncompromising desert where the spirit of the Navajo still lives, unconquered.

Hot vicious puffs of wind had been raising clouds of dust all afternoon, but about sunset the thunderous heat suddenly precipitated itself into rain. For half an hour hard, spattering drops came down briskly, while the setting sun cast long, golden bars between the clouds and made vivid the red of the pine holes and the green of the needles. It was a most refreshing rain; it cleared the air, washed the trees, and drove most of the white people away. Also it made us feel cold in our dampened clothes, so we went into the cook-shelter, where a large fire was burning. Many Apaches had gathered there, and old crones stooped and mumbled about the embers where they were baking ceremonial bread for the dancers: the bread of mesquite beans, which was the ancient desert fare.

The sun went down. The moon came up. Little cook-fires popped up everywhere; and the place took on a look of enchantment, with red light shining through canvas, and the lofty dignity of the ceremonial tepee rising lordly above the eating-shacks. Shortly after sunset the crown-dancers came. Apaches call them this because of the head-dress; whites usually miscall the dance the Devil-dance. Captain

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[paragraph continues] John G. Bourke of the American Army, who wrote an account of the ceremony in 1887, says that the performers represent gods, so he called it the Spirit-dance. Bourke also says that it was given "only upon the most solemn occasions, such as the setting out of a war party, the appearance of an epidemic, or something else of like portent." I wondered, as I watched, whether the present predicament of the tribe looks to the medicine-men more like a war or an epidemic.

As the figures approached the fire, they appeared thoroughly savage, with their blackened torsos, hidden faces, and towering crowns. Their bodies were covered with stripes, spots, and zigzags of red, yellow, and white, and their legs were hidden under long, fringed buckskin skirts and high boots with upturned toes. The only modern touches were Scotch plaid shawls around their waists and bandannas around their necks. The personality of the man was hidden under an unwrinkled hood of black buckskin, so smooth that it molded to the features; and the personality of the god appeared in the skeleton-like superstructure of yucca withes which topped it. The crowns varied in detail according to the clan of the dancer; but every one was wider than the man's shoulders, not less than two feet tall, and so intricate and beautiful in detail as to suggest snow crystals. They were yellow and painted with symbols in which sun and moon and lightning seemed to predominate. Each dancer carried two swords of yucca, whittled thin and decorated with lightning marks.

They first stopped before the medicine-man, who sprinkled pollen. Then each man approached him, with a

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straddling, hopping step, knees bent, swords held outward from flexed elbows, body and huge delicate head-dress turning with startled suddenness from side to side. He chasséd back and forth several times, and finally brought his swords together behind the medicine-man's neck and gave place to the next man. All the time they gave the weird clarion call of the hoot-owl, a sacred bird to the Apaches, a devil to other tribes.

When all had made this salutation, they began to dance round the fire, silhouetted like great goblins against the blaze. The dance is as angular as though the men were animated wooden figures on strings. Broad, heavily muscled backs turned, swinging the head-dresses jerkily from side to side; wooden swords moved as though attached to wooden arms, long skirts swished softly, and the raucous calling persisted until the air was filled with it. What it meant did not appear, but it had an element of obscenity not usual in Indian ceremonies: they were like ribald demons from a savage hell, devils rather than spirits, as they danced under the crowns of the gods.

*   *

This dance was repeated all night, with occasional intervals for the Friendship-dance or the Squaw-dance. Whatever went on outside, there was a never-ceasing murmur from the tepee where the medicine-men carried on their unrelated ceremony for the virgins. It was so dark in there that I could scarcely see until my eyes grew accustomed to the blackness, which was relieved only by the dull

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reflection from the fire-hole. Opposite the entrance two deerskins had been laid on the ground, and there the little girls knelt: quiet in their heavy dresses, pale brown faces bent, hands upheld with the palms outward in a gesture suggestively Japanese. At certain points in the chanting a crooked old witch of a woman bent over to pound a prayer-stick into the ground around the hole. Apache Friend said there was one for each song, and that by morning the circle would be complete. Now and then a passing car threw a beam of white light through the leaves, and I saw clearly the tired faces of the men, the wizened old women, the demurely drooping maidens.

The girls danced one at a time: a gentle shimmying step from one end to the other of the buckskin on which she stood. Hands up, eyes down, the buckskin dress softly whispering as they danced, they moved like hypnotized victims, impersonal, without volition. At intervals one of the old women wailed: a long-drawn, shuddering plaint, as though for all the sorrows of all the women of the world. Were they lamenting, I wondered, for these young things facing the sufferings of womanhood, or for the departed savage glories of their tribe? Whatever it was, their animal-like lamentations filled the very air with woe.

This continued all night. Men chanting. Old women marking the end of each song with a prayer-stick. Enchanted maidens kneeling helpless, or rising to dance within the narrow radius allowed them; still under a spell, quietly acquiescent before a world to which they were introduced by that mournful old-woman wail.

Apache Friend said that at dawn the girls would run a

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race, pursued by the youths--a race which used to be the last dash of virginity, resulting in marriage. Now, said Apache Friend, it is merely a friendly game for boys and girls to get acquainted.



Mid-September in New Mexico. Electric sunshine: A vivifying warmth that stimulates and relaxes. The rainy season is over, and the sky is so clear that one can see right through it to infinity. Large white clouds turn silver flanks to the sun and drag lazy shadows across the mesas. Along the streams and ditches where Mexicans and Indians have planted little orchards, ripe fruit drops over broken adobe walls. Gathered corn waits in multi-colored piles to be braided and hung away in store-rooms. Every flat adobe house flames with long strings of aromatic chili. Women have peeled melons and stuck them up like bare skulls on sticks to dry, and laid trays of peaches and apples in the sun. On the mountain sides aspens have turned yellow, and frost is beginning to touch the tree-tops in the valleys.

Pueblo people are ready to trade their crops for Navajo blankets and silver and for Apache baskets. And a good place to trade is where the Jicarilla Apaches hold their fiesta at Horse Lake on September fifteenth. White visitors find it a long journey from Santa Fe, more than a hundred and fifty miles of mountain and desert road; but Indians come even farther than that, arriving in time for several

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days' barter before the feast. The feast itself seems unimportant; it is probably an affair arranged by the government and of no tribal significance to the Apaches. There are foot- and horse-races, baseball games, tugs of war--all sorts of contests between the Jicarillas of the mountains and those of the plain. But the people! The real show is the people.

One year I watched them all day long.

I sat on the running-board of a weary car, caked with hard mud, dusty and scratched from the bumping journey up the Chama River, past dreaming Mexican towns which have not changed their ways in a hundred years, and across rolling uplands covered with piñon and cedar trees. Here we were in an amphitheater of the mountains. Pines and smaller evergreens came tentatively down from the hills and hesitated, leaving miles of tawny grass, speckled with gray sage. In the middle lay the lake, a low marshy pond, unbeautiful in itself, but reflecting great beauty of shining clouds and pointed, wavering pines against incredible blue. Everywhere were tepees: white, ivory, and dull soft tan; hundreds of tepees, and around them hundreds of Apaches gathered from all parts of the reservation. Here and there Navajos and Pueblos had made brush shelters beside their wagons.

Friends from all the Indian country stopped to greet us. Tall, slender San Ildefonso was there with his gentle wife. Her Oriental beauty was swathed in scarfs of cerise and magenta, flowing from her shining hair to her small buckskin boots. They had a load of black jars to sell, fruit to trade or to eat, a couple of babies to help enjoy the fun.

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Isleta came by. More stolid, these people. The man's heavy shoulders were outlined in crochet lace over red flannel, and his flat-topped hat rested on his hair in a queue. His wife was broad and comfortable. She ducked out from under the flat basket of grapes on her head and laid aside her fringed shawl. It was hot, and she was glad to stretch her heavy buckskin legs in the shade of our car. They reported good trading as we munched winy grapes. They had exchanged a wagon-load of grapes and peaches for baskets, bracelets, and a fine war-bonnet. Feathered war-bonnets used to be worn only by plains Indians, but Indian shows are bringing them into more general use.

As we talked, I watched the shifting crowd: a kaleidoscope changing so rapidly that it was hard to catch detail. Unlike the Mescaleros, these Apaches have plenty of gorgeousness. Almost every man had a beaded band on his hat, and many wore moccasins heavily incrusted with beads. Young blades swaggered in red or green silk shirts and beaded vests, assessed by a trader as worth from eighty to a hundred and fifty dollars. The old custom of plucking the eyebrows and lashes has died out, but nearly all had strong red or yellow lines across the cheeks.

The women also were painted, but they ran to red spots on high cheek-bones. Their costumes reflected their lives, both past and present. I saw many stunning wild creatures in beaded buckskin dresses, high boots, long braids falling over their shoulders, and beaded bands around their heads. Full calico skirts of one color banded with another showed the influence of lady teachers of the nineties. Bright silk handkerchiefs over the shoulders--any woman's love of

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finery. Heavy metal-studded belts such as cowboys wear on bucking horses--she has not lost her tribal art of horsemanship. In every belt a huge, vicious-looking knife. Is she as subdued as we believe? We watched those knives all day. They chopped wood, butchered sheep, dug holes for tepee poles and trenches for drainage, cut bread; and each woman wielded her knife with a careless adroitness fascinating to see.

In the course of the morning a Franciscan monk arrived from the nearest town. He unhitched his horses and, assisted by a Mexican boy, made an altar in the back of his buckboard. They spread a lace-edged altar-cloth, placed the pyx and the chalice and the missal. The priest adjusted the chasuble and alb over his rough Franciscan gown, and the boy donned a white surplice. A few people gathered. Mexican women turned up the French heels of badly fitting shoes and bent flowered hats as they knelt. Mexican men got stiffly down on one knee and fingered rosaries in gnarled hands. Several children followed the doings of their elders. I watched to see the Apache congregation gather. A few stood awkwardly near, but most of the Apaches were engaged in trading, in racing, in multifarious Indian affairs. A dozen people, perhaps, were aware of the mass. The acolyte served, moving the missal from side to side of the altar, and genuflecting as he crossed behind the priest, who stood in the dust reverently raising the Host in his hands as he murmured the sonorous Latin phrases.

After the mass the priest came to call on us and to share our thermos of ice-water. "It's a slow job," he said, "Christianizing these people. They do not understand . . . ."

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A relay race was announced, but we were too lazy to move, too comfortable in the sun, which soaked us through and through. It was more fun, and easier, to watch the crowd from where we sat. The runners passed us, going to the ends of the course: nice-looking boys, slim and brown, with bright silk tied around their heads, and their feet in moccasins, except one modern youth in running-shoes. The crowd gathered along the runway, shouting, and we got occasional glimpses of the race.

As the hours passed, the shouting grew wilder, and more and more Indians came along reeling. Mescal and whisky are powerful in the Jicarilla. Some walked two by two, heads bobbing loosely. Some could not stand up very well in twos, so they went in threes. A couple dashed by, spurring a small horse. The man wavered in the saddle and would have fallen a hundred times if it had not been for his spouse sitting behind him, almost as uncertain, but holding on to her man with all the steadiness she could command.

An Indian Service man asks me to say that I saw these things several years ago; the Jicarillas are much more sober now.

Navajos had brought copper bracelets to trade. Two men and a woman stopped to talk with us and share our cigarettes. The woman would not smoke. She sat, tucking her skirts around her feet, and refreshed herself with a bunch of purple grapes. The men wished to sell us a blanket or a ring, very new and white. The fine old piece one of them wore was not for sale. They had no English, and our six Navajo words were soon exhausted, but it was clear that only the car would be a fair trade for that necklace. Much

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laughter. Then they wandered on, taking their copper bracelets among the Apaches, who still prefer it to silver.

A Hopi from Sichomovi, visiting friends in San Juan, had sold many sashes and kirtles. He showed us the turquoise he was taking home.

A Zuñi Priest of the Bow, who had come over the old trail by way of Acoma and Jemez, had turquoise too. He needed feathers, as Zuñis always do.

"You come Shalako?" he asked. "You come my house, I like blue feathers."

Jemez joined us. Three young men had come with a trader. A Ford truck was their hotel and their shop, as well as their conveyance. They rode on the seat and slept in the body, where blankets were piled on top of their stock in trade. A small barrel on the running-board gave tepid water through a rubber hose in response to the most primitive method of siphoning. Jemez was swapping canned goods and fruits for jícaras, the baskets which Apache women make and which all other Indians find so useful.

Jemez did not think much of the Apache dancing which was going on steadily in two long facing rows. Jemez offered to dance for us, privately. So they produced a tomtom, and one drummed and chanted while the others danced. One dance followed another, all calling for the skill of trained dancers; sure foot-work, swift transformations of rhythm and tempo, gay prancing, vivid appreciation of their own masterly performance. Taos strolled up. Taos watched the virtuosity of Jemez with something less than full approval. Taos, wrapped in a heavy robe of red and blue English broadcloth, was beautiful, but dissatisfied.

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"I got some Taos boys here," he said. "We could dance for you, only we don' got a drum."

Jemez was a bit dubious about sharing the applause, but we managed to negotiate a diplomatic loan, and Taos danced too: the Hoop-dance, which is Taos's favorite for white people. A slim bent body slips in and out of a hoop, never losing a step, crossing his feet as he dances, now in and out of the hoop, which is the merest plaything and never in the way.

Then they sang. Laguna, hearing, came up. Laguna was very American, as befitted a young man from the most modern of all the pueblos. He was dressed like a white man, and he had come on business. A sheepman, he had been discussing the price of wool in the Boston market with Jimmy No-Tongue, an Apache wool-grower. Jimmy owns a thousand head of sheep, which represents an income of three thousand dollars a year. But Jimmy and Mrs. No-Tongue are not proud; they dress as the other Jicarillas do, and Mrs. No-Tongue is using her wealthy leisure to make fine baskets. They would not stay, but Laguna liked our canned peaches. When his throat was well refreshed, we persuaded him to sing.

"Sing a Laguna love-song," I asked, "the one I heard at the First American."

That brought the Indian out through the white man.

"That's for white people, not Indians. Indians don't sing about anything as silly as love. When we sing, we sing about things that matter: rain and sun and corn."

So Laguna sang his own songs about the things that are important: rain and sun and corn.

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The long afternoon slipped down into evening. The little lake mirrored bright clouds, and then a whole flaming surface of color. The pines were purple and then black. A wind brought the sharp odor of the sage. Women wielded their knives on firewood; every tepee was illumined by a crackling blaze, and cooking-smells tempted people away from the games. Movement never ceased, and all around we heard the beat of tomtoms, the rise and fall of voices, singing.

As night came on, the pines withdrew to become a part of the mountains, and the fires made spots of light under a skyful of stars. Suddenly I knew how alien I was in that Indian world. It is a separate world. The white man sees it, he touches it, some even have the temerity to try to break into it, to change it. But they cannot. For this is a world apart, a brown world of brown people. They come out of their world sometimes to speak to us, for they understand our language; but when they withdraw into their world, we cannot follow. They live close to the earth. The mass for a pale god who died on a cross did not reach these people. They do not understand. A religion of an idea, of an ideal, is foreign to them. Their religion is of earth and the things of earth. I thought of all these brown people whom I had seen dancing their prayers, pounding them with their feet into the earth, which is their mother. Her ways are close to them, even when they are hurt. They understand the earth, they dance their prayers into the earth; and they pray for real things for sun and rain and corn. For growth. For life.