“Before they got thick” – A tale of the Lipan Apache – told by Percy Bigmouth (1935)

MY GRANDMOTHER used to tell this story. She told it to my mother. It is about the time they lived near the gulf. She says that they lived at a place called “Beside the Smooth Water. ”  They used to camp there on the sand. Sometimes a big wave wuld come up and then they would pick up many seashells. Sometimes they used to find water turtles. They used to find fish too and gather them and eat them.

One time they had a big wave. It was very bad. They thought the ocean was going to come right up. It came up a long way. Living things from the water covered the bank, were washed up. Then, when the sun came out and it was hot all these things began to swell and smelled bad.

One day they looked over the big water. Then someone saw a little black dot over on the water. He came back and told that he had seen that strange thing. Others came out. They sat there and looked. It was getting larger. They waited. Pretty soon it came up. It was a boat. The boat came to the shore.  The Indians went back to the big camp. All the Indians came over and watched. People were coming out.  They looked at those people coming out. They saw that the people had blue eyes and were white. They thought these people might live in the water all the time.

They held a council that night. They were undecided whether they should let them live or kill them. One leader said, ” Well, they a shape like ours. The difference is they have light skin and hair.” Another said, “Let’s not kill them. They may be a help to us some day. Let’s let them go and see what they’ll do.” So the next day they watched them. “What shall we call them? ” they asked. Some still wanted to kill them. Others said no. So they decided to let them alone. The Lipan went away. After a year they said, “Let’s go back and see them.”  They did so. Only a few were left. Many had starved to death. Some said, “Let’s kill them now; they are only a few.” But others said, “No, let us be like brothers to them”

Ït was spring. The Lipan gave them some pumpkin seed and seed corn and told them how to use it. The people took it and after that they got along all right. They raised a little corn and some pumpkins. They started a new life. Later on the Lipan left for a while. When they returned, the white people were getting alone very well. The Lipan gave them venison. They were getting along very well. After that, they began to get thick.


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