The word tats-an means dead in Apache; but they never employ it when speaking of a dead friend, but say of him that he is yah-ik-tee, which means that he is not present—that he is wanting. If one goes to an Apache's camp, and inquires for him during his absence, the visitor is answered that he is yah-ik-tee, or gone somewhere. This usage, while speaking of their deceased friends, is not so much due to delicacy and regret for their loss as to their superstitious fears of the dead, for they entertain an implicit belief in ghosts and spirits, although I could never trace the causes for their credence. In alluding to an animal destroyed in the chase, so soon as the mortal blow is given they exclaim, yah-tats-an, now it is dead; but if it should only be wounded, and rise again, it is said, to-tats-an-see-dah, it is not dead.
Whenever an object is shown them for the first time, they adopt its Spanish name which is made to terminate with their favorite guttural, hay. Formerly they knew no difference between the values or qualities of iron, silver, copper, brass or gold. Their name for iron is pesh, and the several metals were distinguished by their colors. Silver was called pesh-lickoyee, or white iron; gold, pesh-klitso, or yellow iron; but after learning the difference in their values and uses, they adopted the Spanish terms, and silver became plata-hay, gold changed to oro-hay, and brass was suffered to retain the appellation of pesh-klitso, or yellow iron.
As the Apaches build no houses, and rarely remain more than a week in any one locality, the place of their temporary abode receives its name from their word kunh, which means fire; so that to express a camp, or a few twigs tied together for shelter, we must say kunh-gan-hay, meaning fire-place. Many of their words depend entirely upon their accent for individuality of meaning.