Turtle & Frog

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This episode appears in four versions of the attack on the Pueblo. It precedes the story of the main attack or constitutes this attack. The scalps which they obtain are, however, not the object of the suitor test. Frog and turtle kill the enemy or their young women. They have hidden in the "walled up water supply" which is drawn off to reveal them. When discovered by the enemy they are subjected to trials: Heated pit, chopping, fire in pit, boiling pot and tossing from cliff. They escape unharmed; in each case one or the other is able magically to avert destruction and protect them both. When put into heated pit or fire pit, turtle is mortally afraid but frog urinates, forming a pool of water or steam into they they can retreat. When put into a pot in the fire or attacked with an ax, frog is afraid, but turtle breaks the pot with his shell or blows glance off of his shell, under which frog has taken cover, and injure only the attackers. When the attempt is made to toss them off the cliff, the person holding them falls instead and they slip out of his hand. The Taos people realize that these are " not the ordinary kind" of people. They are finally thrown into the river and swim away, displaying the scalps they have taken, to the anguish and weeping of their attackers. Pgs. 214, 215: Enemy Way.


Navajo Chantway Myths, 1957; Katherine Spencer.

There also was a man made of stone who lay stretched out on a hill beside the river just west of the Aztec Ruins. When anyone walked past he would kick them into the San Juan River, and when they were drowned, he would feed them to his two children. He was called Tseh-ed-ah-eh-delkithly, which means Kicking Rock. His children lived in the river and ate the drowned people. Pgs. 70,71

Next day after breakfast, having found out from his mother where he should go, he started off to Tseh-ed-ah-eh-delkithly (the Rock-that-Kicks-People-into-the-River). He saw a man lying on his back with his head on a bluff and his feet near the river, and he was pulling the whiskers out of his chin. When Nayenezgani tried to pass, he kicked at him, and Nayenezgani said: "What is the matter, Sechai (Grandfather) ?" The Rock Man said : "My leg was cramped, and I had to kick to straighten it out." Four times he was questioned and he answered four times. After that Nayenezgani took his stone knife and hit the Rock Man on the head, and cut through his breast, hips and legs, chopping him into four pieces and then scalping him.
The Rock Man's children lived in the river and Nayenezgani threw the pieces of the Rock Man down to them, and heard them quarreling for the pieces of meat, saying: "That is my piece," not knowing that they were eating their own father. Then Nayenezgani went down into the river and killed all the children except two. One was called Kahtsen (Alligator) and Nayenezgani said to him: "You must never hurt anyone again, will you promise this?" And the alligator answered "I am not sure." Nayenezgani asked this four times but the Alligator would not promise. The other child who was spared was called Siss-'Tyel (Turtle), and was told to be good in the future, as he would be used for medicine by men, and his shell would be used to drink out of and also to make medicine in, and the turtle agreed to this and said that he would always be good. So Nayenezgani went home on the rainbow and they danced and celebrated his return as before. Pgs. 92,93


From Navajo Creation Myth; The Story of the Emergence: By Hosteen Klah, recorded by Mary C. Wheelwright (Navajo Religion Series, Volume 1).

A turtle valued for beads made from its shell. The shells of turtles are used as medicine cups. Pg. 157

An Ethnologic Dictionary of the Navajo Language, 1929; The Franciscan Fathers.

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