MYTHS AND LEGENDS OF THE SIOUX by MRS. MARIE L. MCLAUGHLIN
In loving memory of my mother,
MARY GRAHAM BUISSON,
at whose knee most of the stories
contained in this little volume
were told to me, this book is affec-
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Forgotten Ear of Corn
The Little Mice
The Pet Rabbit
The Pet Donkey
The Rabbit and the Elk
The Rabbit and the Grouse Girls
The Faithful Lovers
The Artichoke and the Muskrat
The Rabbit, and the Bear with the Flint Body
Story of the Lost Wife
The Raccoon and the Crawfish
Legend of Standing Rock
Story of the Peace Pipe
A Bashful Courtship
The Simpleton's Wisdom
Little Brave and the Medicine Woman
The Bound Children
The Signs of Corn
Story of the Rabbits
How the Rabbit Lost His Tail
Unktomi and the Arrowheads
The Bear and the Rabbit Hunt Buffalo
The Brave Who Went on the Warpath Alone and
Won the Name of the Lone Warrior
The Sioux Who Married the Crow Chief's
The Boy and the Turtles
The Hermit, or the Gift of Corn
The Mysterious Butte
The Wonderful Turtle
The Man and the Oak
Story of the Two Young Friends
The Story of the Pet Crow
The "Wasna" (Pemmican Man) and the Unktomi (Spider)
The Resuscitation of the Only Daughter
The Story of the Pet Crane
Story of Pretty Feathered Forehead
The Four Brothers or Inyanhoksila (Stone Boy)
The Unktomi (Spider), Two Widows and the Red Plums
In publishing these "Myths of the Sioux," I deem it proper to state
that I am of one-fourth Sioux blood. My maternal grandfather,
Captain Duncan Graham, a Scotchman by birth, who had seen service
in the British Army, was one of a party of Scotch Highlanders who
in 1811 arrived in the British Northwest by way of York Factory,
Hudson Bay, to found what was known as the Selkirk Colony, near
Lake Winnipeg, now within the province of Manitoba, Canada. Soon
after his arrival at Lake Winnipeg he proceeded up the Red River of
the North and the western fork thereof to its source, and thence
down the Minnesota River to Mendota, the confluence of the
Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers, where he located. My
grandmother, Ha-za-ho-ta-win, was a full-blood of the Medawakanton
Band of the Sioux Tribe of Indians. My father, Joseph Buisson,
born near Montreal, Canada, was connected with the American Fur
Company, with headquarters at Mendota, Minnesota, which point was
for many years the chief distributing depot of the American Fur
Company, from which the Indian trade conducted by that company on
the upper Mississippi was directed.
I was born December 8, 1842, at Wabasha, Minnesota, then Indian
country, and resided thereat until fourteen years of age, when I
was sent to school at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin.
I was married to Major James McLaughlin at Mendota, Minnesota,
January 28, 1864, and resided in Minnesota until July 1, 1871, when
I accompanied my husband to Devils Lake Agency, North Dakota, then
Dakota Territory, where I remained ten years in most friendly
relations with the Indians of that agency. My husband was Indian
agent at Devils Lake Agency, and in 1881 was transferred to
Standing Rock, on the Missouri River, then a very important agency,
to take charge of the Sioux who had then but recently surrendered
to the military authorities, and been brought by steamboat from
various points on the upper Missouri, to be permanently located on
the Standing Rock reservation.
Having been born and reared in an Indian community, I at an early
age acquired a thorough knowledge of the Sioux language, and having
lived on Indian reservations for the past forty years in a position
which brought me very near to the Indians, whose confidence I
possessed, I have, therefore, had exceptional opportunities of
learning the legends and folk-lore of the Sioux.
The stories contained in this little volume were told me by the
older men and women of the Sioux, of which I made careful notes as
related, knowing that, if not recorded, these fairy tales would be
lost to posterity by the passing of the primitive Indian.
The notes of a song or a strain of music coming to us through the
night not only give us pleasure by the melody they bring, but also
give us knowledge of the character of the singer or of the
instrument from which they proceed. There is something in the
music which unerringly tells us of its source. I believe musicians
call it the "timbre" of the sound. It is independent of, and
different from, both pitch and rhythm; it is the texture of the
The "timbre" of a people's stories tells of the qualities of that
people's heart. It is the texture of the thought, independent of
its form or fashioning, which tells the quality of the mind from
which it springs.
In the "timbre" of these stories of the Sioux, told in the lodges
and at the camp fires of the past, and by the firesides of the
Dakotas of today, we recognize the very texture of the thought of
a simple, grave, and sincere people, living in intimate contact and
friendship with the big out-of-doors that we call Nature; a race
not yet understanding all things, not proud and boastful, but
honest and childlike and fair; a simple, sincere, and gravely
thoughtful people, willing to believe that there may be in even the
everyday things of life something not yet fully understood; a race
that can, without any loss of native dignity, gravely consider the
simplest things, seeking to fathom their meaning and to learn their
lesson--equally without vain-glorious boasting and trifling
cynicism; an earnest, thoughtful, dignified, but simple and
To the children of any race these stories can not fail to give
pleasure by their vivid imaging of the simple things and creatures
of the great out-of-doors and the epics of their doings. They will
also give an intimate insight into the mentality of an interesting
race at a most interesting stage of development, which is now fast
receding into the mists of the past.
MARIE L. McLAUGHLIN (Mrs. James McLaughlin).
McLaughlin, S. D., May 1, 1913.
THE FORGOTTEN EAR OF CORN
An Arikara woman was once gathering corn from the field to store
away for winter use. She passed from stalk to stalk, tearing off
the ears and dropping them into her folded robe. When all was
gathered she started to go, when she heard a faint voice, like a
child's, weeping and calling:
"Oh, do not leave me! Do not go away without me."
The woman was astonished. "What child can that be?" she asked
herself. "What babe can be lost in the cornfield?"
She set down her robe in which she had tied up her corn, and went
back to search; but she found nothing.
As she started away she heard the voice again:
"Oh, do not leave me. Do not go away without me."
She searched for a long time. At last in one corner of the field,
hidden under the leaves of the stalks, she found one little ear of
corn. This it was that had been crying, and this is why all Indian
women have since garnered their corn crop very carefully, so that
the succulent food product should not even to the last small nubbin
be neglected or wasted, and thus displease the Great Mystery.
THE LITTLE MICE
Once upon a time a prairie mouse busied herself all fall storing
away a cache of beans. Every morning she was out early with her
empty cast-off snake skin, which she filled with ground beans and
dragged home with her teeth.
The little mouse had a cousin who was fond of dancing and talk, but
who did not like to work. She was not careful to get her cache of
beans and the season was already well gone before she thought to
bestir herself. When she came to realize her need,
she found she had no packing bag. So she went to her hardworking
cousin and said:
"Cousin, I have no beans stored for winter and the season is nearly
gone. But I have no snake skin to gather the beans in. Will you
lend me one?"
"But why have you no packing bag? Where were you in the moon when
the snakes cast off their skins?"
"I was here."
"What were you doing?"
"I was busy talking and dancing."
"And now you are punished," said the other. "It is always so with
lazy, careless people. But I will let you have the snake skin.
And now go, and by hard work and industry, try to recover your
THE PET RABBIT
A little girl owned a pet rabbit which she loved dearly. She
carried it on her back like a babe, made for it a little pair of
moccasins, and at night shared with it her own robe.
Now the little girl had a cousin who loved her very dearly and
wished to do her honor; so her cousin said to herself:
"I love my little cousin well and will ask her to let me carry her
pet rabbit around;" (for thus do Indian women when they wish to
honor a friend; they ask permission to carry about the friend's
She then went to the little girl and said:
"Cousin, let me carry your pet rabbit about on my back. Thus shall
I show you how I love you."
Her mother, too, said to her: "Oh no, do not let our little
grandchild go away from our tepee."
But the cousin answered: "Oh, do let me carry it. I do so want to
show my cousin honor." At last they let her go away with the pet
rabbit on her back.
When the little girl's cousin came home to her tepee, some rough
boys who were playing about began to make sport of her. To tease
the little girl they threw stones and sticks at the pet rabbit. At
last a stick struck the little rabbit upon the head and
When her pet was brought home dead, the little rabbit's adopted
mother wept bitterly. She cut off her hair for mourning and all
her little girl friends wailed with her. Her mother, too, mourned
"Alas!" they cried, "alas, for the little rabbit. He was always
kind and gentle. Now your child is dead and you will be lonesome."
The little girl's mother called in her little friends and made a
great mourning feast for the little rabbit. As he lay in the tepee
his adopted mother's little friends brought many precious things
and covered his body. At the feast were given away robes and
kettles and blankets and knives and great wealth in honor of the
little rabbit. Him they wrapped in a robe with his little
moccasins on and buried him in a high place upon a scaffold.
THE PET DONKEY
There was a chief's daughter once who had a great many relations so
that everybody knew she belonged to a great family.
When she grew up she married and there were born to her twin sons.
This caused great rejoicing in her father's camp, and all the
village women came to see the babes. She was very happy.
As the babes grew older, their grandmother made for them two saddle
bags and brought out a donkey.
"My two grandchildren," said the old lady, "shall ride as is
becoming to children having so many relations. Here is this
donkey. He is patient and surefooted. He shall carry the babes in
the saddle bags, one on either side of his back."
It happened one day that the chief's daughter and her husband were
making ready to go on a camping journey. The father, who was quite
proud of his children, brought out his finest pony, and put the
saddle bags on the pony's back.
"There," he said, "my sons shall ride on the pony, not on a donkey;
let the donkey carry the pots and kettles."
So his wife loaded the donkey with the household things. She tied
the tepee poles into two great bundles, one on either side of the
donkey's back; across them she put the travois net and threw into
it the pots and kettles and laid the skin tent across the donkey's
But no sooner done than the donkey began to rear and bray and kick.
He broke the tent poles and kicked the pots and kettles into bits
and tore the skin tent. The more he was beaten the more he kicked.
At last they told the grandmother. She laughed. "Did I not tell
you the donkey was for the children," she cried. "He knows the
babies are the chief's children. Think you he will be dishonored
with pots and kettles?" and she fetched the children and slung them
over the donkey's back, when he became at once quiet again.
The camping party left the village and went on their journey. But
the next day as they passed by a place overgrown with bushes, a
band of enemies rushed out, lashing their ponies and sounding their
war whoop. All was excitement. The men bent their bows and seized
their lances. After a long battle the enemy fled. But when the
camping party came together again--where were the donkey and the
two babes? No one knew. For a long time they searched, but in
vain. At last they turned to go back to the village, the father
mournful, the mother wailing. When they came to the grandmother's
tepee, there stood the good donkey with the two babes in the saddle
THE RABBIT AND THE ELK
The little rabbit lived with his old grandmother, who needed a new
dress. "I will go out and trap a deer or an elk for you," he said.
"Then you shall have a new dress."
When he went out hunting he laid down his bow in the path while he
looked at his snares. An elk coming by saw the bow.
"I will play a joke on the rabbit," said the elk to himself. "I
will make him think I have been caught in his bow string." He then
put one foot on the string and lay down as if dead.
By and by the rabbit returned. When he saw the elk he was filled
with joy and ran home crying: "Grandmother, I have trapped a fine
elk. You shall have a new dress from his skin. Throw the old one
in the fire!"
This the old grandmother did.
The elk now sprang to his feet laughing. "Ho, friend rabbit," he
called, "You thought to trap me; now I have mocked you." And he
ran away into the thicket.
The rabbit who had come back to skin the elk now ran home again.
"Grandmother, don't throw your dress in the fire," he cried. But
it was too late. The old dress was burned.
THE RABBIT AND THE GROUSE GIRLS
The rabbit once went out on the prairie in winter time. On the
side of a hill away from the wind he found a great company of girls
all with grey and speckled blankets over their backs. They were
the grouse girls and they were coasting down hill on a board. When
the rabbit saw them, he called out:
"Oh, maidens, that is not a good way to coast down hill. Let me
get you a fine skin with bangles on it that tinkle as you slide."
And away he ran to the tepee and brought a skin bag. It had red
stripes on it and bangles that tinkled. "Come and get inside," he
said to the grouse girls. "Oh, no, we are afraid," they answered.
"Don't be afraid, I can't hurt you. Come, one of you," said the
rabbit. Then as each hung back he added coaxingly: "If each is
afraid alone, come all together. I can't hurt you all."
And so he coaxed the whole flock into the bag. This done, the
rabbit closed the mouth of the bag, slung it over his back and came
home. "Grandmother," said he, as he came to the tepee, "here is a
bag full of game. Watch it while I go for willow sticks to make
But as soon as the rabbit had gone out of the tent, the grouse
girls began to cry out:
"Grandmother, let us out."
"Who are you?" asked the old woman.
"Your dear grandchildren," they answered.
"But how came you in the bag?" asked the old woman.
"Oh, our cousin was jesting with us. He coaxed us in the bag for
a joke. Please let us out."
"Certainly, dear grandchildren, I will let you out," said the old
woman as she untied the bag: and lo, the grouse flock with
achuck-a-chuck-achuck flew up, knocking over the old grandmother
and flew out of the square smoke opening of the winter lodge. The
old woman caught only one grouse as it flew up and held it,
grasping a leg with each hand.
When the rabbit came home with the spits she called out to him:
"Grandson, come quick. They got out but I have caught two."
When he saw what had happened he was quite angry, yet could not
keep from laughing.
"Grandmother, you have but one grouse," he cried, and it is a very
skinny one at that."
THE FAITHFUL LOVERS
There once lived a chief's daughter who had many relations. All
the young men in the village wanted to have her for wife, and were
all eager to fill her skin bucket when she went to the brook for
There was a young man in the village who was industrious and a good
hunter; but he was poor and of a mean family. He loved the maiden
and when she went for water, he threw his robe over her head
while he whispered in her ear:
"Be my wife. I have little but I am young and strong. I will
treat you well, for I love you."
For a long time the maiden did not answer, but one day she
"Yes, you may ask my father's leave to marry me. But first you must
do something noble. I belong to a great family and have many
relations. You must go on a war party and bring back the scalp of
The young man answered modestly, "I will try to do as you bid me.
I am only a hunter, not a warrior. Whether I shall be brave or not
I do not know. But I will try to take a scalp for your sake."
So he made a war party of seven, himself and six other young men.
They wandered through the enemy's country, hoping to get a chance
to strike a blow. But none came, for they found no one of the
"Our medicine is unfavorable," said their leader at last. "We
shall have to return home."
Before they started they sat down to smoke and rest beside a
beautiful lake at the foot of a green knoll that rose from its
shore. The knoll was covered with green grass and somehow as they
looked at it they had a feeling that there was something about it
that was mysterious or uncanny.
But there was a young man in the party named the jester, for he was
venturesome and full of fun. Gazing at the knoll he said: "Let's
run and jump on its top."
"No," said the young lover, "it looks mysterious. Sit still and
finish your smoke."
"Oh, come on, who's afraid," said the jester, laughing. "Come on
you--come on!" and springing to his feet he ran up the side of the
Four of the young men followed. Having reached the top of the
knoll all five began to jump and stamp about in sport, calling,
"Come on, come on," to the others. Suddenly they stopped--the
knoll had begun to move toward the water. It was a gigantic
turtle. The five men cried out in alarm and tried to run--too
late! Their feet by some power were held fast to the monster's
"Help us--drag us away," they cried; but the others could do
nothing. In a few moments the waves had closed over them.
The other two men, the lover and his friend, went on, but with
heavy hearts, for they had forebodings of evil. After some days,
they came to a river. Worn with fatigue the lover threw himself
down on the bank.
"I will sleep awhile," he said, "for I am wearied and worn out."
"And I will go down to the water and see if I can chance upon a
dead fish. At this time of the year the high water may have left
one stranded on the seashore," said his friend.
And as he had said, he found a fish which he cleaned, and then
called to the lover.
"Come and eat the fish with me. I have cleaned it and made a fire
and it is now cooking."
"No, you eat it; let me rest," said the lover.
"Oh, come on."
"No, let me rest."
"But you are my friend. I will not eat unless you share it with
"Very well," said the lover, "I will eat the fish with you, but you
must first make me a promise. If I eat the fish, you must promise,
pledge yourself, to fetch me all the water that I can drink."
"I promise," said the other, and the two ate the fish out of their
war-kettle. For there had been but one kettle for the party.
When they had eaten, the kettle was rinsed out and the lover's
friend brought it back full of water. This the lover drank at a
"Bring me more," he said.
Again his friend filled the kettle at the river and again the lover
drank it dry.
"More!" he cried.
"Oh, I am tired. Cannot you go to the river and drink your fill
from the stream?" asked his friend.
"Remember your promise."
"Yes, but I am weary. Go now and drink."
"Ek-hey, I feared it would be so. Now trouble is coming upon us,"
said the lover sadly. He walked to the river, sprang in, and lying
down in the water with his head toward land, drank greedily. By
and by he called to his friend.
"Come hither, you who have been my sworn friend. See what comes of
your broken promise."
The friend came and was amazed to see that the lover was now a fish
from his feet to his middle.
Sick at heart he ran off a little way and threw himself upon the
ground in grief. By and by he returned. The lover was now a fish
to his neck.
"Cannot I cut off the part and restore you by a sweat bath?" the
"No, it is too late. But tell the chief's daughter that I loved
her to the last and that I die for her sake. Take this belt and
give it to her. She gave it to me as a pledge of her love for me,"
and he being then turned to a great fish, swam to the middle of the
river and there remained, only his great fin remaining above
The friend went home and told his story. There was great mourning
over the death of the five young men, and for the lost lover. In
the river the great fish remained, its fin just above the surface,
and was called by the Indians "Fish that Bars," because it bar'd
navigation. Canoes had to be portaged at great
labor around the obstruction.
The chief's daughter mourned for her lover as for a husband, nor
would she be comforted. "He was lost for love of me, and I shall
remain as his widow," she wailed.
In her mother's tepee she sat, with her head covered with her robe,
silent, working, working. "What is my daughter doing," her mother
asked. But the maiden did not reply.
The days lengthened into moons until a year had passed. And then
the maiden arose. In her hands were beautiful articles of
clothing, enough for three men. There were three pairs of
moccasins, three pairs of leggings, three belts, three shirts,
three head dresses with beautiful feathers, and sweet smelling
"Make a new canoe of bark," she said, which was made for her.
Into the canoe she stepped and floated slowly down the river toward
the great fish.
"Come back my daughter," her mother cried in agony. "Come back.
The great fish will eat you."
She answered nothing. Her canoe came to the place where the great
fin arose and stopped, its prow grating on the monster's back. The
maiden stepped out boldly. One by one she laid her presents on the
fish's back, scattering the feathers and tobacco over his broad
"Oh, fish," she cried, "Oh, fish, you who were my lover, I shall
not forget you. Because you were lost for love of me, I shall
never marry. All my life I shall remain a widow. Take these
presents. And now leave the river, and let the waters run free, so
my people may once more descend in their canoes."
She stepped into her canoe and waited. Slowly the great fish sank,
his broad fin disappeared, and the waters of the St. Croix
(Stillwater) were free.
THE ARTICHOKE AND THE MUSKRAT
On the shore of a lake stood an artichoke with its green leaves
waving in the sun. Very proud of itself it was, and well satisfied
with the world. In the lake below lived a muskrat in his tepee,
and in the evening as the sun set he would come out upon the shore
and wander over the bank. One evening he came near the place where
the artichoke stood.
"Ho, friend," he said, "you seem rather proud of yourself. Who are
you?" "I am the artichoke," answered the other, "and I have many
handsome cousins. But who are you?"
"I am the muskrat, and I, too, belong to a large family. I live in
the water. I don't stand all day in one place like a stone."
"If I stand in one place all day," retorted the artichoke, "at
least I don't swim around in stagnant water, and build my lodge in
"You are jealous of my fine fur," sneered the muskrat. "I may
build my lodge in the mud, but I always have a clean coat. But you
are half buried in the ground, and when men dig you up, you are
"And your fine coat always smells of musk," jeered the artichoke.
"That is true," said the muskrat. "But men think well of me,
nevertheless. They trap me for the fine sinew in my tail; and
handsome young women bite off my tail with their white teeth and
make it into thread."
"That's nothing," laughed the artichoke. "Handsome young warriors,
painted and splendid with feathers, dig me up, brush me off with
their shapely hands and eat me without even taking the trouble to
wash me off."
THE RABBIT AND THE BEAR WITH THE
The Rabbit and his grandmother were in dire straits, because the
rabbit was out of arrows. The fall hunt would soon be on and his
quiver was all but empty. Arrow sticks he could cut in plenty, but
he had nothing with which to make arrowheads.
"You must make some flint arrowheads," said his grandmother. "Then
you will be able to kill game."
"Where shall I get the flint?" asked the rabbit.
"From the old bear chief," said his old grandmother. For at that
time all the flint in the world was in the bear's body.
So the rabbit set out for the village of the Bears. It was winter
time and the lodges of the bears were set under the shelter of a
hill where the cold wind would not blow on them and where they had
shelter among the trees and bushes.
He came at one end of the village to a hut where lived an old
woman. He pushed open the door and entered. Everybody who came
for flint always stopped there because it was the first lodge on
the edge of the village. Strangers were therefore not unusual in
the old woman's hut, and she welcomed the rabbit. She gave him a
seat and at night he lay with his feet to the fire.
The next morning the rabbit went to the lodge of the bear chief.
They sat together awhile and smoked. At last the bear chief spoke.
"What do you want, my grandson?"
"I have come for some flint to make arrows," answered the rabbit.
The bear chief grunted, and laid aside his pipe. Leaning back he
pulled off his robe and, sure enough, one half of his body was
flesh and the other half hard flint.
"Bring a stone hammer and give it to our guest," he bade his wife.
Then as the rabbit took the hammer he said: "Do not strike too
"Grandfather, I shall be careful," said the rabbit. With a stroke
he struck off a little flake of flint from the bear's body.
"Ni-sko-ke-cha? So big?" he asked.
"Harder, grandson; strike off bigger pieces," said the bear.
The rabbit struck a little harder.
"Ni-sko-ke-cha? So big?" he asked.
The bear grew impatient. "No, no, strike off bigger pieces. I
can't be here all day. Tanka kaksa wo! Break off a big piece."
The rabbit struck again--hard! "Ni-sko-ke-cha?" he cried, as the
hammer fell. But even as he spoke the bear's body broke in two,
the flesh part fell away and only the flint part remained. Like a
flash the rabbit darted out of the hut.
There was a great outcry in the village. Openmouthed, all the
bears gave chase. But as he ran the rabbit cried: "Wa-hin-han-yo
(snow, snow) Ota-po, Ota-po--lots more, lots more," and a great
storm of snow swept down from the sky.
The rabbit, light of foot, bounded over the top of the snow. The
bears sunk in and floundered about helpless. Seeing this, the
rabbit turned back and killed them one by one with his club. That
is why we now have so few bears.
STORY OF THE LOST WIFE
A Dakota girl married a man who promised to treat her kindly, but
he did not keep his word. He was unreasonable, fault-finding, and
often beat her. Frantic with his cruelty, she ran away. The whole
village turned out to search for her, but no trace of the missing
wife was to be found.
Meanwhile, the fleeing woman had wandered about all that day and
the next night. The next day she met a man, who asked her who she
was. She did not know it, but he was not really a man, but the
chief of the wolves.
"Come with me," he said, and he led her to a large village. She
was amazed to see here many wolves--gray and black, timber wolves
and coyotes. It seemed as if all the wolves in the world were
The wolf chief led the young woman to a great tepee and invited her
in. He asked her what she ate for food.
"Buffalo meat," she answered.
He called two coyotes and bade them bring what the young woman
wanted. They bounded away and soon returned with the shoulder of
a fresh-killed buffalo calf.
"How do you prepare it for eating?" asked the wolf chief.
"By boiling," answered the young woman.
Again he called the two coyotes. Away they bounded and soon
brought into the tent a small bundle. In it were punk, flint and
steel--stolen, it may be, from some camp of men.
"How do you make the meat ready?" asked the wolf chief.
"I cut it into slices," answered the young woman.
The coyotes were called and in a short time fetched in a knife in
its sheath. The young woman cut up the calf's shoulder into slices
and ate it.
Thus she lived for a year, all the wolves being very kind to her.
At the end of that time the wolf chief said to her:
"Your people are going off on a buffalo hunt. Tomorrow at noon
they will be here. You must then go out and meet them or they will
fall on us and kill us."
The next day at about noon the young woman went to the top of a
neighboring knoll. Coming toward her were some young men riding on
their ponies. She stood up and held her hands so that they could
see her. They wondered who she was, and when they were close by
gazed at her closely.
"A year ago we lost a young woman; if you are she, where have you
been," they asked.
"I have been in the wolves' village. Do not harm them," she
"We will ride back and tell the people," they said. "Tomorrow
again at noon, we shall meet you."
The young woman went back to the wolf village, and the next day
went again to a neighboring knoll, though to a different one. Soon
she saw the camp coming in a long line over the prairie. First
were the warriors, then the women and tents.
The young woman's father and mother were overjoyed to see her. But
when they came near her the young woman fainted, for she could not
now bear the smell of human kind. When she came to herself she
"You must go on a buffalo hunt, my father and all the hunters.
Tomorrow you must come again, bringing with you the tongues and
choice pieces of the kill."
This he promised to do; and all the men of the camp mounted their
ponies and they had a great hunt. The next day they returned with
their ponies laden with the buffalo meat. The young woman bade
them pile the meat in a great heap between two hills which she
pointed out to them. There was so much meat that the tops of the
two hills were bridged level between by the meat pile. In the
center of the pile the young woman planted a pole with a red flag.
She then began to howl like a wolf, loudly.
In a moment the earth seemed covered with wolves. They fell
greedily on the meat pile and in a short time had eaten the last
The young woman then joined her own people.
Her husband wanted her to come and live with him again. For a long
time she refused. However, at last they became reconciled.
THE RACCOON AND THE CRAWFISH
Sharp and cunning is the raccoon, say the Indians, by whom he is
named Spotted Face.
A crawfish one evening wandered along a river bank, looking for
something dead to feast upon. A raccoon was also out looking for
something to eat. He spied the crawfish and formed a plan to catch
He lay down on the bank and feigned to be dead. By and by the
crawfish came near by. "Ho," he thought, "here is a feast indeed;
but is he really dead. I will go near and pinch him with my claws
and find out."
So he went near and pinched the raccoon on the nose and then on his
soft paws. The raccoon never moved. The crawfish then pinched him
on the ribs and tickled him so that the raccoon could hardly keep
from laughing. The crawfish at last left him. "The
raccoon is surely dead," he thought. And he hurried back to the
crawfish village and reported his find to the chief.
All the villagers were called to go down to the feast. The chief
bade the warriors and young men to paint their faces and dress in
their gayest for a dance.
So they marched in a long line--first the warriors, with their
weapons in hand, then the women with their babies and children--to
the place where the raccoon lay. They formed a great circle about
him and danced, singing:
"We shall have a great feast
"On the spotted-faced beast, with soft smooth paws:
"He is dead!
"He is dead!
"We shall dance!
"We shall have a good time;
"We shall feast on his flesh."
But as they danced, the raccoon suddenly sprang to his feet.
"Who is that you say you are going to eat? He has a spotted face,
has he? He has soft, smooth paws, has he? I'll break your ugly
backs. I'll break your rough bones. I'll crunch your ugly, rough
paws." And he rushed among the crawfish, killing them by
scores. The crawfish warriors fought bravely and the women ran
screaming, all to no purpose. They did not feast on the raccoon;
the raccoon feasted on them!
LEGEND OF STANDING ROCK
A Dakota had married an Arikara woman, and by her had one child.
By and by he took another wife. The first wife was jealous and
pouted. When time came for the village to break camp she refused
to move from her place on the tent floor. The tent was taken down
but she sat on the ground with her babe on her back The rest of the
camp with her husband went on.
At noon her husband halted the line. "Go back to your
sister-in-law," he said to his two brothers. "Tell her to come on
and we will await you here. But hasten, for I fear she may grow
desperate and kill herself."
The two rode off and arrived at their former camping place in the
evening. The woman still sat on the ground. The elder spoke:
"Sister-in-law, get up. We have come for you. The camp awaits
She did not answer, and he put out his hand and touched her head.
She had turned to stone!
The two brothers lashed their ponies and came back to camp. They
told their story, but were not believed. "The woman has killed
herself and my brothers will not tell me," said the husband.
However, the whole village broke camp and came back to the place
where they had left the woman. Sure enough, she sat there still,
a block of stone.
The Indians were greatly excited. They chose out a handsome pony,
made a new travois and placed the stone in the carrying net. Pony
and travois were both beautifully painted and decorated with
streamers and colors. The stone was thought "wakan" (holy),
and was given a place of honor in the center of the camp. Whenever
the camp moved the stone and travois were taken along. Thus the
stone woman was carried for years, and finally brought to Standing
Rock Agency, and now rests upon a brick pedestal in front of the
Agency office. From this stone Standing Rock Agency derives its
STORY OF THE PEACE PIPE
Two young men were out strolling one night talking of love affairs.
They passed around a hill and came to a little ravine or coulee.
Suddenly they saw coming up from the ravine a beautiful woman. She
was painted and her dress was of the very finest
"What a beautiful girl!" said one of the young men. "Already I
love her. I will steal her and make her my wife."
"No," said the other. "Don't harm her. She may be holy."
The young woman approached and held out a pipe which she first
offered to the sky, then to the earth and then advanced, holding it
out in her extended hands.
"I know what you young men have been saying; one of you is good;
the other is wicked," she said.
She laid down the pipe on the ground and at once became a buffalo
cow. The cow pawed the ground, stuck her tail straight out behind
her and then lifted the pipe from the ground again in her hoofs;
immediately she became a young woman again.
"I am come to give you this gift," she said. "It is the peace
pipe. Hereafter all treaties and ceremonies shall be performed
after smoking it. It shall bring peaceful thoughts into your
minds. You shall offer it to the Great Mystery and to mother
The two young men ran to the village and told what they had seen
and heard. All the village came out where the young woman was.
She repeated to them what she had already told the young men and
"When you set free the ghost (the spirit of deceased persons) you
must have a white buffalo cow skin."
She gave the pipe to the medicine men of the village, turned again
to a buffalo cow and fled away to the land of buffaloes.
A BASHFUL COURTSHIP
A young man lived with his grandmother. He was a good hunter and
wished to marry. He knew a girl who was a good moccasin maker, but
she belonged to a great family. He wondered how he could win
One day she passed the tent on her way to get water at the river.
His grandmother was at work in the tepee with a pair of old
worn-out sloppy moccasins. The young man sprang to his feet.
"Quick, grandmother--let me have those old sloppy moccasins you
have on your feet!" he cried.
"My old moccasins, what do you want of them?" cried the astonished
"Never mind! Quick! I can't stop to talk," answered the grandson
as he caught up the old moccasins the old lady had doffed, and put
them on. He threw a robe over his shoulders, slipped through the
door, and hastened to the watering place. The girl
had just arrived with her bucket.
"Let me fill your bucket for you," said the young man.
"Oh, no, I can do it."
"Oh, let me, I can go in the mud. You surely don't want to soil
your moccasins," and taking the bucket he slipped in the mud,
taking care to push his sloppy old moccasins out so the girl could
see them. She giggled outright.
"My, what old moccasins you have," she cried.
"Yes, I have nobody to make me a new pair," he answered.
"Why don't you get your grandmother to make you a new pair?"
"She's old and blind and can't make them any longer. That's why I
want you," he answered.
"Oh, you're fooling me. You aren't speaking the truth."
"Yes, I am. If you don't believe--come with me now!"
The girl looked down; so did the youth. At last he said softly:
"Well, which is it? Shall I take up your bucket, or will you go
And she answered, still more softly: "I guess I'll go with you!"
The girl's aunt came down to the river, wondering what kept her
niece so long. In the mud she found two pairs of moccasin tracks
close together; at the edge of the water stood an empty keg.
THE SIMPLETON'S WISDOM
There was a man and his wife who had one daughter. Mother and
daughter were deeply attached to one another, and when the latter
died the mother was disconsolate. She cut off her hair, cut gashes
in her cheeks and sat before the corpse with her robe drawn over
her head, mourning for her dead. Nor would she let them touch the
body to take it to a burying scaffold. She had a knife in her
hand, and if anyone offered to come near the body the mother would
"I am weary of life. I do not care to live. I will stab myself
with this knife and join my daughter in the land of spirits."
Her husband and relatives tried to get the knife from her, but
could not. They feared to use force lest she kill herself. They
came together to see what they could do.
"We must get the knife away from her," they said.
At last they called a boy, a kind of simpleton, yet with a good
deal of natural shrewdness. He was an orphan and very poor. His
moccasins were out at the sole and he was dressed in wei-zi (coarse
buffalo skin, smoked).
"Go to the tepee of the mourning mother," they told the simpleton,
"and in some way contrive to make her laugh and forget her grief.
Then try to get the knife away from her."
The boy went to the tent and sat down at the door as if waiting to
be given something. The corpse lay in the place of honor where the
dead girl had slept in life. The body was wrapped in a rich robe
and wrapped about with ropes. Friends had covered it with rich
offerings out of respect to the dead.
As the mother sat on the ground with her head covered she did not
at first see the boy, who sat silent. But when his reserve had
worn away a little he began at first lightly, then more heavily, to
drum on the floor with his hands. After a while he began to sing
a comic song. Louder and louder he sang until carried away with
his own singing he sprang up and began to dance, at the same time
gesturing and making all manner of contortions with his body, still
singing the comic song. As he approached the corpse he waved his
hands over it in blessing. The mother put her head out of the
blanket and when she saw the poor simpleton with his strange
grimaces trying to do honor to the corpse by his solemn waving, and
at the same time keeping up his comic song, she burst out laughing.
Then she reached over and handed her knife to the simpleton.
"Take this knife," she said. "You have taught me to forget my
grief. If while I mourn for the dead I can still be mirthful,
there is no reason for me to despair. I no longer care to die. I
will live for my husband."
The simpleton left the tepee and brought the knife to the
astonished husband and relatives.
"How did you get it? Did you force it away from her, or did you
steal it?" they said.
"She gave it to me. How could I force it from her or steal it when
she held it in her hand, blade uppermost? I sang and danced for
her and she burst out laughing. Then she gave it to me," he
When the old men of the village heard the orphan's story they were
very silent. It was a strange thing for a lad to dance in a tepee
where there was mourning. It was stranger that a mother should
laugh in a tepee before the corpse of her dead daughter. The old
men gathered at last in a council. They sat a long time without
saying anything, for they did not want to decide hastily. The pipe
was filled and passed many times. At last an old man spoke.
"We have a hard question. A mother has laughed before the corpse
of her daughter, and many think she has done foolishly, but I think
the woman did wisely. The lad was simple and of no training, and
we cannot expect him to know how to do as well as
one with good home and parents to teach him. Besides, he did the
best that he knew. He danced to make the mother forget her grief,
and he tried to honor the corpse by waving over it his hands."
"The mother did right to laugh, for when one does try to do us
good, even if what he does causes us discomfort, we should always
remember rather the motive than the deed. And besides, the
simpleton's dancing saved the woman's life, for she gave up her
knife. In this, too, she did well, for it is always better to live
for the living than to die for the dead."
A LITTLE BRAVE AND THE MEDICINE
A village of Indians moved out of winter camp and pitched their
tents in a circle on high land overlooking a lake. A little way
down the declivity was a grave. Choke cherries had grown up,
hiding the grave from view. But as the ground had sunk somewhat,
the grave was marked by a slight hollow.
One of the villagers going out to hunt took a short cut through the
choke cherry bushes. As he pushed them aside he saw the hollow
grave, but thought it was a washout made by the rains. But as he
essayed to step over it, to his great surprise he stumbled and
fell. Made curious by his mishap, he drew back and tried again;
but again he fell. When he came back to the village he told the
old men what had happened to him. They remembered then that a long
time before there had been buried there a medicine woman or
conjurer. Doubtless it was her medicine that made him stumble.
The story of the villager's adventure spread thru the camp and made
many curious to see the grave. Among others were six little boys
who were, however, rather timid, for they were in great awe of the
dead medicine woman. But they had a little playmate named Brave,
a mischievous little rogue, whose hair was always unkempt and
tossed about and who was never quiet for a moment.
"Let us ask Brave to go with us," they said; and they went in a
body to see him.
"All right," said Brave; "I will go with you. But I have something
to do first. You go on around the hill that way, and I will
hasten around this way, and meet you a little later near the
So the six little boys went on as bidden until they came to a place
near the grave. There they halted.
"Where is Brave?" they asked.
Now Brave, full of mischief, had thought to play a jest on his
little friends. As soon as they were well out of sight he had sped
around the hill to the shore of the lake and sticking his hands in
the mud had rubbed it over his face, plastered it in his hair, and
soiled his hands until he looked like a new risen corpse with the
flesh rotting from his bones. He then went and lay down in the
grave and awaited the boys.
When the six little boys came they were more timid than ever when
they did not find Brave; but they feared to go back to the village
without seeing the grave, for fear the old men would call them
So they slowly approached the grave and one of them timidly called
"Please, grandmother, we won't disturb your grave. We only want to
see where you lie. Don't be angry."
At once a thin quavering voice, like an old woman's, called out:
Just then Brave raised his muddy face and hands up thru the choke
cherry bushes. With the oozy mud dripping from his features he
looked like some very witch just raised from the grave. The boys
screamed outright. One fainted. The rest ran yelling up the hill
to the village, where each broke at once for his mother's tepee.
As all the tents in a Dakota camping circle face the center, the
boys as they came tearing into camp were in plain view from the
tepees. Hearing the screaming, every woman in camp ran to her
tepee door to see what had happened. Just then little Brave, as
badly scared as the rest, came rushing in after them, his hair on
end and covered with mud and crying out, all forgetful of his
"It's me, it's me!"
The women yelped and bolted in terror from the village. Brave
dashed into his mother's tepee, scaring her out of her wits.
Dropping pots and kettles, she tumbled out of the tent to run
screaming with the rest. Nor would a single villager come near
poor little Brave until he had gone down to the lake and washed
THE BOUND CHILDREN
There once lived a widow with two children--the elder a daughter
and the younger a son. The widow went in mourning for her husband
a long time. She cut off her hair, let her dress lie untidy on her
body and kept her face unpainted and unwashed.
There lived in the same village a great chief. He had one son just
come old enough to marry. The chief had it known that he wished
his son to take a wife, and all of the young women in the village
were eager to marry the young man. However, he was pleased with
none of them.
Now the widow thought, "I am tired of mourning for my husband and
caring for my children. Perhaps if I lay aside my mourning and
paint myself red, the chief's son may marry me."
So she slipped away from her two children, stole down to the river
and made a bathing place thru the ice. When she had washed away
all signs of mourning, she painted and decked herself and went to
the chief's tepee. When his son saw her, he loved her, and a feast
was made in honor of her wedding.
When the widow's daughter found herself forsaken, she wept
bitterly. After a day or two she took her little brother in her
arms and went to the tepee of an old woman who lived at one end of
the village. The old woman's tumble down tepee was of bark and her
dress and clothing was of old smoke-dried tent cover. But she was
kind to the two waifs and took them in willingly.
The little girl was eager to find her mother. The old woman said
to her: "I suspect your mother has painted her face red. Do not
try to find her. If the chief's son marries her she will not want
to be burdened with you."
The old woman was right. The girl went down to the river, and sure
enough found a hole cut in the ice and about it lay the filth that
the mother had washed from her body. The girl gathered up the
filth and went on. By and by she came to a second hole in the ice.
Here too was filth, but not so much as at the previous place. At
the third hole the ice was clean.
The girl knew now that her mother had painted her face red. She
went at once to the chief's tepee, raised the door flap and went
in. There sat her mother with the chief's son at their wedding
The girl walked up to her mother and hurled the filth in her
"There," she cried, "you who forsake your helpless children and
forget your husband, take that!"
And at once her mother became a hideous old woman.
The girl then went back to the lodge of the old woman, leaving the
camp in an uproar. The chief soon sent some young warriors to
seize the girl and her brother, and they were brought to his tent.
He was furious with anger.
"Let the children be bound with lariats wrapped about their bodies
and let them be left to starve. Our camp will move on," he said.
The chief's son did not put away his wife, hoping she might be
cured in some way and grow young again.
Everybody in camp now got ready to move; but the old woman came
close to the girl and said:
"In my old tepee I have dug a hole and buried a pot with punk and
steel and flint and packs of dried meat. They will tie you up like
a corpse. But before we go I will come with a knife and pretend to
stab you, but I will really cut the rope that binds you so that you
can unwind it from your body as soon as the camp is out of sight
And so, before the camp started, the old woman came to the place
where the two children were bound. She had in her hand a knife
bound to the end of a stick which she used as a lance. She stood
over the children and cried aloud:
"You wicked girl, who have shamed your own mother, you deserve all
the punishment that is given you. But after all I do not want to
let you lie and starve. Far better kill you at once and have done
with it!" and with her stick she stabbed many times, as if to kill,
but she was really cutting the rope.
The camp moved on; but the children lay on the ground until noon
the next day. Then they began to squirm about. Soon the girl was
free, and she then set loose her little brother. They went at once
to the old woman's hut where they found the flint and steel and the
packs of dried meat.
The girl made her brother a bow and arrows and with these he killed
birds and other small game.
The boy grew up a great hunter. They became rich. They built
three great tepees, in one of which were stored rows upon rows of
parfleche bags of dried meat.
One day as the brother went out to hunt, he met a handsome young
stranger who greeted him and said to him:
"I know you are a good hunter, for I have been watching you; your
sister, too, is industrious. Let me have her for a wife. Then you
and I will be brothers and hunt together."
The girl's brother went home and told her what the young stranger
"Brother, I do not care to marry," she answered. "I am now happy
"But you will be yet happier married," he answered, "and the young
stranger is of no mean family, as one can see by his dress and
"Very well, I will do as you wish," she said. So the stranger came
into the tepee and was the girl's husband.
One day as they were in their tent, a crow flew overhead, calling
They who forsook the children have no meat."
The girl and her husband and brother looked up at one another.
"What can it mean?" they asked. "Let us send for Unktomi (the
spider). He is a good judge and he will know."
"And I will get ready a good dinner for him, for Unktomi is always
hungry," added the young wife.
When Unktomi came, his yellow mouth opened with delight at the fine
feast spread for him. After he had eaten he was told what the crow
"The crow means," said Unktomi, "that the villagers and chief who
bound and deserted you are in sad plight. They have hardly
anything to eat and are starving."
When the girl heard this she made a bundle of choicest meat and
called the crow.
"Take this to the starving villagers," she bade him.
He took the bundle in his beak, flew away to the starving village
and dropped the bundle before the chief's tepee. The chief came
out and the crow called loudly:
The children who were forsaken have much meat; those who forsook
them have none."
"What can he mean," cried the astonished villagers.
"Let us send for Unktomi," said one, "he is a great judge; he will
They divided the bundle of meat among the starving people, saving
the biggest piece for Unktomi.
When Unktomi had come and eaten, the villagers told him of the crow
and asked what the bird's words meant.
"He means," said Unktomi, "that the two children whom you forsook
have tepees full of dried meat enough for all the village."
The villagers were filled with astonishment at this news. To find
whether or not it was true, the chief called seven young men and
sent them out to see. They came to the three tepees and there met
the girl's brother and husband just going out to hunt (which
they did now only for sport).
The girl's brother invited the seven young men into the third or
sacred lodge, and after they had smoked a pipe and knocked out the
ashes on a buffalo bone the brother gave them meat to eat, which
the seven devoured greedily. The next day he loaded all seven with
packs of meat, saying:
"Take this meat to the villagers and lead them hither."
While they awaited the return of the young men with the villagers,
the girl made two bundles of meat, one of the best and choicest
pieces, and the other of liver, very dry and hard to eat. After a
few days the camp arrived. The young woman's mother opened the
door and ran in crying: "Oh, my dear daughter, how glad I am to see
you." But the daughter received her coldly and gave her the bundle
of dried liver to eat. But when the old woman who had saved
the children's lives came in, the young girl received her gladly,
called her grandmother, and gave her the package of choice meat
Then the whole village camped and ate of the stores of meat all the
winter until spring came; and withal they were so many, there was
such abundance of stores that there was still much left.
THE SIGNS OF CORN
When corn is to be planted by the Indians, it is the work of the
women folk to see to the sorting and cleaning of the best seed. It
is also the women's work to see to the planting. (This was in olden
After the best seed has been selected, the planter measures the
corn, lays down a layer of hay, then a layer of corn. Over this
corn they sprinkle warm water and cover it with another layer of
hay, then bind hay about the bundle and hang it up in a spot
where the warm rays of the sun can strike it.
While the corn is hanging in the sun, the ground is being prepared
to receive it. Having finished the task of preparing the ground,
the woman takes down her seed corn which has by this time sprouted.
Then she proceeds to plant the corn.
Before she plants the first hill, she extends her hoe heavenwards
and asks the Great Spirit to bless her work, that she may have a
good yield. After her prayer she takes four kernels and plants one
at the north, one at the south, one at the east and one
at the west sides of the first hill. This is asking the Great
Spirit to give summer rain and sunshine to bring forth a good crop.
For different growths of the corn, the women have an interpretation
as to the character of the one who planted it.
1st. Where the corn grows in straight rows and the cob is full of
kernels to the end, this signifies that the planter of this corn is
of an exemplary character, and is very truthful and thoughtful.
2nd. If the rows on the ears of corn are irregular and broken, the
planter is considered careless and unthoughtful. Also disorderly
and slovenly about her house and person.
3rd. When an ear of corn bears a few scattering kernels with
spaces producing no corn, it is said that is a good sign that the
planter will live to a ripe old age. So old will they be that like
the corn, their teeth will be few and far between.
4th. When a stalk bears a great many nubbins, or small ears
growing around the large one, it is a sign that the planter is
from a large and respectable family.
After the corn is gathered, it is boiled into sweet corn and made
into hominy; parched and mixed with buffalo tallow and rolled into
round balls, and used at feasts, or carried by the warriors on the
warpath as food.
When there has been a good crop of corn, an ear is always tied at
the top of the medicine pole, of the sun dance, in thanks to the
Great Spirit for his goodness to them in sending a bountiful crop.
STORY OF THE RABBITS
The Rabbit nation were very much depressed in spirits on account of
being run over by all other nations. They, being very obedient to
their chief, obeyed all his orders to the letter. One of his
orders was, that upon the approach of any other nation that
they should follow the example of their chief and run up among the
rocks and down into their burrows, and not show themselves until
the strangers had passed.
This they always did. Even the chirp of a little cricket would
send them all scampering to their dens.
One day they held a great council, and after talking over
everything for some time, finally left it to their medicine man to
decide. The medicine man arose and said:
"My friends, we are of no use on this earth. There isn't a nation
on earth that fears us, and we are so timid that we cannot defend
ourselves, so the best thing for us to do is to rid the earth of
our nation, by all going over to the big lake and drowning
This they decided to do; so going to the lake they were about to
jump in, when they heard a splashing in the water. Looking, they
saw a lot of frogs jumping into the lake.
"We will not drown ourselves," said the medicine man, "we have
found a nation who are afraid of us. It is the frog nation." Had
it not been for the frogs we would have had no rabbits, as the
whole nation would have drowned themselves and the rabbit race
would have been extinct.
HOW THE RABBIT LOST HIS TAIL
Once upon a time there were two brothers, one a great Genie and the
other a rabbit. Like all genie, the older could change himself
into any kind of an animal, bird, fish, cloud, thunder and
lightning, or in fact anything that he desired.
The younger brother (the rabbit) was very mischievous and was
continually getting into all kinds of trouble. His older brother
was kept busy getting Rabbit out of all kinds of scrapes.
When Rabbit had attained his full growth he wanted to travel around
and see something of the world. When he told his brother what he
intended to do, the brother said: "Now, Rabbit, you are Witkotko
(mischievous), so be very careful, and keep out of trouble
as much as possible. In case you get into any serious trouble, and
can't get out by yourself, just call on me for assistance, and no
matter where you are, I will come to you."
Rabbit started out and the first day he came to a very high house,
outside of which stood a very high pine tree. So high was the tree
that Rabbit could hardly see the top. Outside the door, on an
enormous stool, sat a very large giant fast asleep. Rabbit (having
his bow and arrows with him) strung up his bow, and, taking an
arrow from his quiver, said:
"I want to see how big this man is, so I guess I will wake him up."
So saying he moved over to one side and took good aim, and shot the
giant upon the nose. This stung like fire and awoke the giant, who
jumped up, crying: "Who had the audacity to shoot me on the nose?"
"I did," said Rabbit.
The giant, hearing a voice, looked all around, but saw nothing,
until he looked down at the corner of the house, and there sat a
"I had hiccoughs this morning and thought that I was going to have
a good big meal, and here is nothing but a toothful."
"I guess you won't make a toothful of me," said Rabbit, "I am as
strong as you, though I am little." "We will see," said the giant.
He went into the house and came out, bringing a hammer that
weighed many tons.
"Now, Mr. Rabbit, we will see who can throw this hammer over the
top of that tree." "Get something harder to do," said Rabbit.
"Well, we will try this first," said the giant. With that he
grasped the hammer in both hands, swung it three times around his
head and sent it spinning thru the air. Up, up, it went, skimming
the top of the tree, and came down, shaking the ground and burying
itself deep into the earth.
"Now," said the giant, "if you don't accomplish this same feat, I
am going to swallow you at one mouthful." Rabbit said, "I always
sing to my brother before I attempt things like this." So he
commenced singing and calling his brother. "Cinye! Cinye!"
(brother, brother) he sang. The giant grew nervous, and said:
"Boy, why do you call your brother?"
Pointing to a small black cloud that was approaching very swiftly,
Rabbit said: "That is my brother; he can destroy you, your house,
and pine tree in one breath."
"Stop him and you can go free," said the giant. Rabbit waved his
paws and the cloud disappeared.
From this place Rabbit continued on his trip towards the west. The
next day, while passing thru a deep forest, he thought he heard
some one moaning, as though in pain. He stopped and listened; soon
the wind blew and the moaning grew louder. Following the direction
from whence came the sound, he soon discovered a man stripped of
his clothing, and caught between two limbs of a tall elm tree.
When the wind blew the limbs would rub together and squeeze the
man, who would give forth the mournful groans.
"My, you have a fine place up there. Let us change. You can come
down and I will take your place." (Now this man had been placed up
there for punishment, by Rabbit's brother, and he could not get
down unless some one came along and proposed to take his place on
the tree). "Very well," said the man. "Take off your clothes and
come up. I will fasten you in the limbs and you can have all the
fun you want."
Rabbit disrobed and climbed up. The man placed him between the
limbs and slid down the tree. He hurriedly got into Rabbit's
clothes, and just as he had completed his toilet, the wind blew
very hard. Rabbit was nearly crazy with pain, and screamed and
cried. Then he began to cry "Cinye, Cinye" (brother, brother).
"Call your brother as much as you like, he can never find me." So
saying the man disappeared in the forest.
Scarcely had he disappeared, when the brother arrived, and seeing
Rabbit in the tree, said: "Which way did he go?" Rabbit pointed
the direction taken by the man. The brother flew over the top of
the trees, soon found the man and brought him back, making him take
his old place between the limbs, and causing a heavy wind to blow
and continue all afternoon and night, for punishment to the man for
having placed his brother up there.
After Rabbit got his clothes back on, his brother gave him a good
scolding, and wound up by saying: "I want you to be more careful in
the future. I have plenty of work to keep me as busy as I want to
be, and I can't be stopping every little while to be making trips
to get you out of some foolish scrape. It was only yesterday that
I came five hundred miles to help you from the giant, and today I
have had to come a thousand miles, so be more careful from this
Several days after this the Rabbit was traveling along the banks of
a small river, when he came to a small clearing in the woods, and
in the center of the clearing stood a nice little log hut. Rabbit
was wondering who could be living here when the door slowly opened
and an old man appeared in the doorway, bearing a tripe water pail
in his right hand. In his left hand he held a string which was
fastened to the inside of the house. He kept hold of the string
and came slowly down to the river. When he got to
the water he stooped down and dipped the pail into it and returned
to the house, still holding the string for guidance.
Soon he reappeared holding on to another string, and, following
this one, went to a large pile of wood and returned to the house
with it. Rabbit wanted to see if the old man would come out again,
but he came out no more. Seeing smoke ascending from
the mud chimney, he thought he would go over and see what the old
man was doing. He knocked at the door, and a weak voice bade him
enter. He noticed that the old man was cooking dinner.
"Hello Tunkasina (grandfather), you must have a nice time, living
here alone. I see that you have everything handy. You can get
wood and water, and that is all you have to do. How do you get
"The wolves bring my meat, the mice my rice and ground beans, and
the birds bring me the cherry leaves for my tea. Yet it is a hard
life, as I am all alone most of the time and have no one to talk
to, and besides, I am blind."
"Say, grandfather," said Rabbit, "let us change places. I think I
would like to live here."
"If we exchange clothes," said the other, "you will become old and
blind, while I will assume your youth and good looks." (Now, this
old man was placed here for punishment by Rabbit's brother. He had
killed his wife, so the genie made him old and blind, and he would
remain so until some one came who would exchange places with him).
"I don't care for youth and good looks," said Rabbit, "let us make
They changed clothes, and Rabbit became old and blind, whilst the
old man became young and handsome.
"Well, I must go," said the man. He went out and cutting the
strings close to the door, ran off laughing. "You will get enough
of your living alone, you crazy boy," and saying this he ran into
Rabbit thought he would like to get some fresh water and try the
string paths so that he would get accustomed to it. He bumped
around the room and finally found the tripe water bucket. He took
hold of the string and started out. When he had gotten a short
distance from the door he came to the end of the string so
suddenly, that he lost the end which he had in his hand, and he
wandered about, bumping against the trees, and tangling himself up
in plum bushes and thorns, scratching his face and hands so badly
that the blood ran from them. Then it was that he commenced again
to cry, "Cinye! Cinye!" (brother, brother). Soon his brother
arrived, and asked which way the old man had gone.
"I don't know," said Rabbit, "I couldn't see which path he took, as
I was blind."
The genie called the birds, and they came flying from every
direction. As fast as they arrived the brother asked them if they
had seen the man whom he had placed here for punishment, but none
had seen him. The owl came last, and when asked if he had seen the
man, he said "hoo-hoo." "The man who lived here," said the
brother. "Last night I was hunting mice in the woods south of here
and I saw a man sleeping beneath a plum tree. I thought it was
your brother, Rabbit, so I didn't awaken him," said the owl.
"Good for you, owl," said the brother, "for this good news, you
shall hereafter roam around only at night, and I will fix your
eyes, so the darker the night the better you will be able to see.
You will always have the fine cool nights to hunt your food. You
other birds can hunt your food during the hot daylight." (Since
then the owl has been the night bird).
The brother flew to the woods and brought the man back and cut the
strings short, and said to him: "Now you can get a taste of what
you gave my brother."
To Rabbit he said: "I ought not to have helped you this time. Any
one who is so crazy as to change places with a blind man should be
left without help, so be careful, as I am getting tired of your
foolishness, and will not help you again if you do anything as
foolish as you did this time."
Rabbit started to return to his home. When he had nearly completed
his journey he came to a little creek, and being thirsty took a
good long drink. While he was drinking he heard a noise as though
a wolf or cat was scratching the earth. Looking up to a hill which
overhung the creek, he saw four wolves, with their tails
intertwined, pulling with all their might. As Rabbit came up to
them one pulled loose, and Rabbit saw that his tail was broken.
"Let me pull tails with you. My tail is long and strong," said
Rabbit, and the wolves assenting, Rabbit interlocked his long tail
with those of the three wolves and commenced pulling and the wolves
pulled so hard that they pulled Rabbit's tail off at the second
joint. The wolves disappeared.
"Cinye! Cinye! (Brother, brother.) I have lost my tail," cried
Rabbit. The genie came and seeing his brother Rabbit's tail
missing, said: "You look better without a tail anyway."
From that time on rabbits have had no tails.
UNKTOMI AND THE ARROWHEADS
There were once upon a time two young men who were very great
friends, and were constantly together. One was a very thoughtful
young man, the other very impulsive, who never stopped to think
before he committed an act.
One day these two friends were walking along, telling each other of
their experiences in love making. They ascended a high hill, and
on reaching the top, heard a ticking noise as if small stones or
pebbles were being struck together.
Looking around they discovered a large spider sitting in the midst
of a great many flint arrowheads. The spider was busily engaged
making the flint rocks into arrow heads. They looked at the
spider, but he never moved, but continued hammering away on a piece
of flint which he had nearly completed into another arrowhead.
"Let's hit him," said the thoughtless one. "No," said the other,
"he is not harming any one; in fact, he is doing a great good, as
he is making the flint arrowheads which we use to point our
"Oh, you are afraid," said the first young man. "He can't harm
you. just watch me hit him." So saying, he picked up an arrowhead
and throwing it at "Unktomi," hit him on the side. As Unktomi
rolled over on his side, got up and stood looking at them, the
young man laughed and said: "Well, let us be going, as your
grandfather, "Unktomi," doesn't seem to like our company." They
started down the hill, when suddenly the one who had hit Unktomi
took a severe fit of coughing. He coughed and coughed, and finally
small particles of blood came from his mouth. The blood kept
coming thicker and in great gushes. Finally it came so thick and
fast that the man could not get his breath and fell upon the ground
The thoughtful young man, seeing that his friend was no more,
hurried to the village and reported what had happened. The
relatives and friends hurried to the hill, and sure enough, there
lay the thoughtless young man still and cold in death. They held
a council and sent for the chief of the Unktomi tribe. When he
heard what had happened, he told the council that he could do
nothing to his Unktomi, as it had only defended itself.
Said he: "My friends, seeing that your tribe was running short of
arrowheads, I set a great many of my tribe to work making flint
arrowheads for you. When my men are thus engaged they do not wish
to be disturbed, and your young man not only disturbed my man, but
grossly insulted him by striking him with one of the arrowheads
which he had worked so hard to make. My man could not sit and take
this insult, so as the young man walked away the Unktomi shot him
with a very tiny arrowhead. This produced a hemorrhage, which
caused his death. So now, my friends, if you will fill and pass
the peace pipe, we will part good friends and my tribe shall always
furnish you with plenty of flint arrowheads." So saying, Unktomi
Tanka finished his peace smoke and returned to his tribe.
Ever after that, when the Indians heard a ticking in the grass,
they would go out of their way to get around the sound, saying,
Unktomi is making arrowheads; we must not disturb him.
Thus it was that Unktomi Tanka (Big Spider) had the respect of this
tribe, and was never after disturbed in his work of making
THE BEAR AND THE RABBIT HUNT
Once upon a time there lived as neighbors, a bear and a rabbit.
The rabbit was a good shot, and the bear being very clumsy could
not use the arrow to good advantage. The bear was very unkind to
the rabbit. Every morning, the bear would call over to the rabbit
and say: "Take your bow and arrows and come with me to the other
side of the hill. A large herd of buffalo are grazing there, and
I want you to shoot some of them for me, as my children
are crying for meat."
The rabbit, fearing to arouse the bear's anger by refusing,
consented, and went with the bear, and shot enough buffalo to
satisfy the hungry family. Indeed, he shot and killed so many that
there was lots of meat left after the bear and his family had
loaded themselves, and packed all they could carry home. The bear
being very gluttonous, and not wanting the rabbit to get any of the
meat, said: "Rabbit, you come along home with us and we will return
and get the remainder of the meat."
The poor rabbit could not even taste the blood from the butchering,
as the bear would throw earth on the blood and dry it up. Poor
Rabbit would have to go home hungry after his hard day's work.
The bear was the father of five children. The youngest boy was
very kind to the rabbit. The mother bear, knowing that her
youngest was a very hearty eater, always gave him an extra large
piece of meat. What the baby bear did not eat, he would take
outside with him and pretend to play ball with it, kicking it
toward the rabbit's house, and when he got close to the door he
would give the meat such a great kick, that it would fly into the
rabbit's house, and in this way poor Rabbit would get his meal
unknown to the papa bear.
Baby bear never forgot his friend Rabbit. Papa bear often wondered
why his baby would go outside after each meal. He grew suspicious
and asked the baby where he had been. "Oh, I always play ball
outside, around the house, and when I get tired playing I eat up my
meat ball and then come in."
The baby bear was too cunning to let papa bear know that he was
keeping his friend rabbit from starving to death. Nevertheless,
papa bear suspected baby and said: "Baby, I think you go over to
the rabbit's after every meal."
The four older brothers were very handsome, but baby bear was a
little puny fellow, whose coat couldn't keep out much cold, as it
was short and shaggy, and of a dirty brown color. The three older
brothers were very unkind to baby bear, but the fourth one always
took baby's part, and was always kind to his baby brother.
Rabbit was getting tired of being ordered and bullied around by
papa bear. He puzzled his brain to scheme some way of getting even
with Mr. Bear for abusing him so much. He studied all night long,
but no scheme worth trying presented itself. Early one morning Mr.
Bear presented himself at Rabbit's door.
"Say, Rabbit, my meat is all used up, and there is a fine herd of
buffalo grazing on the hillside. Get your bow and arrows and come
with me. I want you to shoot some of them for me."
"Very well," said Rabbit, and he went and killed six buffalo for
Bear. Bear got busy butchering and poor Rabbit, thinking he would
get a chance to lick up one mouthful of blood, stayed very close to
the bear while he was cutting up the meat. The bear was very
watchful lest the rabbit get something to eat. Despite bear's
watchfulness, a small clot of blood rolled past and behind the
bear's feet. At once Rabbit seized the clot and hid it in his
bosom. By the time Rabbit got home, the blood clot was hardened
from the warmth of his body, so, being hungry, it put Mr. Rabbit
out of sorts to think that after all his trouble he could not eat
Very badly disappointed, he lay down on his floor and gazed up into
the chimney hole. Disgusted with the way things had turned out, he
grabbed up the blood clot and threw it up through the hole.
Scarcely had it hit the ground when he heard the voice of a baby
crying, "Ate! Ate!" (father, father). He went outside and there
he found a big baby boy. He took the baby into his house and threw
him out through the hole again. This time the boy was large enough
to say "Ate, Ate, he-cun-sin-lo." (Father, father, don't do that).
But nevertheless, he threw him up and out again. On going out the
third time, there stood a handsome youth smiling at him. Rabbit at
once adopted the youth and took him into his house, seating him in
the seat of honor (which is directly opposite the entrance), and
saying: "My son, I want you to be a good, honest, straightforward
man. Now, I have in my possession a fine outfit, and you, my son,
shall wear it."
Suiting his action to his words, he drew out a bag from a hollow
tree and on opening it, drew out a fine buckskin shirt (tanned
white as snow), worked with porcupine quills. Also a pair of red
leggings worked with beads. Moccasins worked with colored hair.
A fine otter skin robe. White weasel skins to intertwine
with his beautiful long black locks. A magnificent center eagle
feather. A rawhide covered bow, accompanied by a quiver full of
The rabbit, having dressed his son in all the latest finery, sat
back and gazed long and lovingly at his handsome son.
Instinctively Rabbit felt that his son had been sent him for the
purpose of being instrumental in the downfall of Mr. Bear. Events
The morning following the arrival of Rabbit's son, Mr. Bear again
presents himself at the door, crying out: "You lazy, ugly rabbit,
get up and come out here. I want you to shoot some more buffalo
"Who is this, who speaks so insultingly to you, father?" asked the
"It is a bear who lives near here, and makes me kill buffalo for
his family, and he won't let me take even one little drop of blood
from the killing, and consequently, my son, I have nothing in my
house for you to eat."
The young man was anxious to meet Mr. Bear but Rabbit advised him
to wait a little until he and Bear had gone to the hunt. So the
son obeyed, and when he thought it time that the killing was done,
he started out and arrived on the scene just as Mr. Bear was about
to proceed with his butchering.
Seeing a strange shadow on the ground beside him, Mr. Bear looked
up and gazed into the fearless eyes of rabbit's handsome son.
"Who is this?" asked Mr. Bear of poor little Rabbit.
"I don't know," answered Rabbit.
"Who are you?" asked the bear of Rabbit's son. "Where did you come
The rabbit's son not replying, the bear spoke thus to him: "Get out
of here, and get out quick, too."
At this speech the rabbit's son became angered, and fastened an
arrow to his bow and drove the arrow through the bear's heart.
Then he turned on Mrs. Bear and served her likewise. During the
melee, Rabbit shouted: "My son, my son, don't kill the two
youngest. The baby has kept me from starving and the other one is
good and kind to his baby brother."
So the three older brothers who were unkind to their baby brother
met a similar fate to that of their selfish parents.
This (the story goes) is the reason that bears travel only in
THE BRAVE WHO WENT ON THE WARPATH
ALONE AND WON THE NAME OF
THE LONE WARRIOR
There was once a young man whose parents were not overburdened with
the riches of this world, and consequently could not dress their
only son in as rich a costume as the other young men of the tribe,
and on account of not being so richly clad as they, he was
looked down upon and shunned by them. He was never invited to take
part in any of their sports; nor was he ever asked to join any of
the war parties.
In the village lived an old man with an only daughter. Like the
other family, they were poor, but the daughter was the belle of the
tribe. She was the most sought after by the young men of the
village, and warriors from tribes far distant came to press their
suit at winning her for their bride. All to no purpose; she had
the same answer for them as she had for the young men of the
The poor young man was also very handsome despite his poor clothes,
but having never killed an enemy nor brought home any enemies'
horses he was not (according to Indian rules) allowed to make love
to any young or old woman. He tried in vain to join some of the
war parties, that he might get the chance to win his spurs as a
warrior. To all his pleadings, came the same answer: "You are not
fit to join a war party. You have no horses, and if you should get
killed our tribe would be laughed at and be made fun of as you have
such poor clothes, and we don't want the enemy to know that we have
any one of our tribe who dresses so poorly as you do."
Again, and again, he tried different parties, only to be made fun
of and insulted.
One night he sat in the poor tepee of his parents. He was in deep
study and had nothing to say. His father, noticing his melancholy
mood, asked him what had happened to cause him to be so quiet, as
he was always of a jolly disposition. The son answered and said:
"Father, I am going on the warpath alone. In vain I have tried to
be a member of one of the war parties. To all of my pleadings I
have got nothing but insults in return."
"But my son, you have no gun nor ammunition. Where can you get any
and how can you get it? We have nothing to buy one for you with,"
said the father.
"I don't need any weapons. I am going to bring back some of the
enemies' horses, and I don't need a gun for that."
Early the next morning (regardless of the old couple's pleadings
not to go unarmed) the young man left the village and headed
northwest, the direction always taken by the war parties.
For ten days he traveled without seeing any signs of a camp. The
evening of the tenth day, he reached a very high butte, thickly
wooded at the summit. He ascended this butte, and as he sat there
between two large boulders, watching the beautiful rays of the
setting sun, he was suddenly startled to hear the neigh of a horse.
Looking down into the beautiful valley which was threaded by a
beautiful creek fringed with timber, he noticed close to the base
of the butte upon which he sat, a large drove of horses grazing
peacefully and quietly. Looking closer, he noticed at a little
distance from the main drove, a horse with a saddle on his back.
This was the one that had neighed, as the drove drifted further
away from him. He was tied by a long lariat to a large sage bush.
Where could the rider be, he said to himself. As if in answer to
his question, there appeared not more than twenty paces from him a
middle aged man coming up through a deep ravine. The man was
evidently in search of some kind of game, as he held his gun in
readiness for instant use, and kept his eyes directed at every
crevice and clump of bush. So intent was he on locating the game
he was trailing, that he never noticed the young man who sat like
a statue not twenty paces away. Slowly and cautiously the man
approached, and when he had advanced to within a few paces of the
young man he stopped and turning around, stood looking down into
the valley. This was the only chance that our brave young friend
had. Being unarmed, he would stand no show if the enemy ever got
a glimpse of him. Slowly and noiselessly he drew his hunting knife
(which his father had given him on his departure from home) and
holding it securely in his right hand, gathered himself and gave a
leap which landed him upon the unsuspecting enemy's shoulders. The
force with which he landed on the enemy caused him (the enemy) to
lose his hold on his gun, and it went rattling down into the chasm,
forty feet below.
Down they came together, the young man on top. No sooner had they
struck the ground than the enemy had out his knife, and then
commenced a hand to hand duel. The enemy, having more experience,
was getting the best of our young friend. Already our young friend
had two ugly cuts, one across his chest and the other through his
He was becoming weak from the loss of blood, and could not stand
the killing pace much longer. Summoning all his strength for one
more trial to overcome his antagonist, he rushed him toward the
chasm, and in his hurry to get away from this fierce attack, the
enemy stepped back one step too far, and down they both went into
the chasm. Interlocked in each other's arms, the young man drove
his knife into the enemy's side and when they struck the bottom the
enemy relaxed his hold and straightened out stiff and dead.
Securing his scalp and gun, the young man proceeded down to where
the horse was tied to the sage bush, and then gathering the drove
of horses proceeded on his return to his own village. Being
wounded severely he had to ride very slowly. All the long hours of
the night he drove the horses towards his home village.
In the meantime, those at the enemies' camp wondered at the long
absence of the herder who was watching their drove of horses, and
finally seven young men went to search for the missing herder. All
night long they searched the hillsides for the horses and herder,
and when it had grown light enough in the morning they saw by the
ground where there had been a fierce struggle.
Following the tracks in the sand and leaves, they came to the chasm
where the combatants had fallen over, and there, lying on his back
staring up at them in death, was their herder. They hastened to
the camp and told what they had found. Immediately the warriors
mounted their war ponies (these ponies are never turned loose, but
kept tied close to the tepee of the owner), and striking the trail
of the herd driven off by our young friend, they urged forth their
ponies and were soon far from their camp on the trail of our young
friend. All day long they traveled on his trail, and just as the
sun was sinking they caught sight of him driving the drove ahead
over a high hill. Again they urged forth their tired ponies. The
young man, looking back along the trail, saw some dark objects
coming along, and, catching a fresh horse, drove the rest ahead at
a great rate. Again all night he drove them, and when daylight
came he looked back (from a high butte) over his trail and saw
coming over a distant raise, two horsemen. These two undoubtedly
rode the best ponies, as he saw nothing of the others. Driving the
horses into a thick belt of timber, he concealed himself close to
the trail made by the drove of horses, and lay in ambush for the
two daring horsemen who had followed him so far. Finally they
appeared on the butte from where he had looked back and saw them
following him. For a long time they sat there scouring the country
before them in hopes that they might see some signs of their stolen
horses. Nothing could they see. Had they but known, their horses
were but a few hundred yards from them, but the thick timber
securely hid them from view. Finally one of them arose and pointed
to the timber. Then leaving his horse in charge of his friend, he
descended the butte and followed the trail of the drove to where
they had entered the timber. Little did he think that he was
standing on the brink of eternity. The young man hiding not more
than a hundred yards from him could have shot him there where he
stood, but wanting to play fair, he stepped into sight. When he
did, the enemy took quick aim and fired. He was too hasty. Had he
taken more careful aim he might have killed our young friend, but
his bullet whizzed harmlessly over the young man's head and buried
itself in a tree. The young man took good aim and fired. The
enemy threw up both hands and fell forward on his face. The other
one on the hill, seeing his friend killed, hastily mounted his
horse and leading his friend's horse, made rapidly off down the
butte in the direction from whence he had come. Waiting for some
time to be sure the one who was alive did not come up and take a
shot at him, he finally advanced upon the fallen enemy and securing
his gun, ammunition and scalp, went to his horse and drove the herd
on through the woods and crossing a long flat prairie, ascended a
long chain of hills and sat looking back along his trail in search
of any of the enemy who might continue to follow him.
Thus he sat until the long shadows of the hills reminded him that
it would soon be sunset, and as he must get some sleep, he wanted
to find some creek bend where he could drive the bunch of ponies
and feel safe as to their not straying off during the night. He
found a good place for the herd, and catching a fresh horse, he
picketed him close to where he was going to sleep, and wrapping
himself in his blanket, was soon fast asleep. So tired and sleepy
was he that a heavy rain which had come up, during the night,
soaked him through and through, but he never awakened until the sun
was high in the east.
He awoke and going to the place where he had left the herd, he was
glad to find them all there. He mounted his horse and started his
herd homeward again. For two days he drove them, and on the
evening of the second day he came in sight of the village.
The older warriors, hearing of the young man going on this trip
alone and unarmed, told the parents to go in mourning for their
son, as he would never come back alive. When the people of the
village saw this large drove of horses advancing towards them, they
at first thought it was a war party of the enemy, and so the head
men called the young warriors together and fully prepared for a
great battle. They advanced upon the supposed enemy. When they
got close enough to discern a lone horseman driving this large
herd, they surrounded the horses and lone warrior, and brought him
triumphantly into camp. On arriving in the camp (or village) the
horses were counted and the number counted up to one hundred and
The chief and his criers (or heralds) announced through the whole
village that there would be a great war dance given in honor of the
The whole village turned out and had a great war dance that was
kept up three days and three nights. The two scalps which the
young man had taken were tied to a pole which was placed in the
center of the dance circle. At this dance, the Lone Warrior gave
to each poor family five head of horses.
Being considered eligible now to pay his respects to any girl who
took his fancy, he at once went to the camp of the beautiful girl
of the tribe, and as he was always her choice, she at once
consented to marry him.
The news spread through the village that Lone Warrior had won the
belle of the nation for his bride, and this with the great feat
which he had accomplished alone in killing two enemies and bringing
home a great herd of horses, raised him to the rank of chief, which
he faithfully filled to the end of his days. And many times he had
to tell his grandchildren the story of how he got the name of the
THE SIOUX WHO MARRIED THE CROW
A war party of seven young men, seeing a lone tepee standing on the
edge of a heavy belt of timber, stopped and waited for darkness, in
order to send one of their scouts ahead to ascertain whether the
camp which they had seen was the camp of friend or enemy.
When darkness had settled down on them, and they felt secure in not
being detected, they chose one of their scouts to go on alone and
find out what would be the best direction for them to advance upon
the camp, should it prove to be an enemy.
Among the scouts was one who was noted for his bravery, and many
were the brave acts he had performed. His name was Big Eagle.
This man they selected to go to the lone camp and obtain the
information for which they were waiting.
Big Eagle was told to look carefully over the ground and select the
best direction from which they should make the attack. The other
six would await his return. He started on his mission, being
careful not to make any noise. He stealthily approached the
camp. As he drew near to the tent he was surprised to note the
absence of any dogs, as these animals are always kept by the Sioux
to notify the owners by their barking of the approach of anyone.
He crawled up to the tepee door, and peeping through a small
aperture, he saw three persons sitting inside. An elderly man and
woman were sitting at the right of the fireplace, and a young woman
at the seat of honor, opposite the door.
Big Eagle had been married and his wife had died five winters
previous to the time of this episode. He had never thought of
marrying again, but when he looked upon this young woman he thought
he was looking upon the face of his dead wife. He removed his
cartridge belts and knife, and placing them, along with his rifle,
at the side of the tent, he at once boldly stepped inside the
tepee, and going over to the man, extended his hand and shook first
the man's hand, then the old woman's, and lastly the young woman's.
Then he seated himself by the side of the girl, and thus they sat,
no one speaking.
Finally, Big Eagle made signs to the man, explaining as well as
possible by signs, that his wife had died long ago, and when he saw
the girl she so strongly resembled his dead wife that he wished to
marry her, and he would go back to the enemy's camp and live with
them, if they would consent to the marriage of their daughter.
The old man seemed to understand, and Big Eagle again made signs to
him that a party were lying in wait just a short distance from his
camp. Noiselessly they brought in the horses, and taking down the
tent, they at once moved off in the direction from whence they had
come. The war party waited all night, and when the first rays of
dawn disclosed to them the absence of the tepee, they at once
concluded that Big Eagle had been discovered and killed, so they
hurriedly started on their trail for home.
In the meantime, the hunting party, for this it was that Big Eagle
had joined, made very good time in putting a good distance between
themselves and the war party. All day they traveled, and when
evening came they ascended a high hill, looking down into the
valley on the other side. There stretched for two miles, along the
banks of a small stream, an immense camp. The old man made signs
for Big Eagle to remain with the two women where he was, until he
could go to the camp and prepare them to receive an enemy into
The old man rode through the camp and drew up at the largest tepee
in the village. Soon Big Eagle could see men gathering around the
tepee. The crowd grew larger and larger, until the whole village
had assembled at the large tepee. Finally they dispersed, and
catching their horses, mounted and advanced to the hill on which
Big Eagle and the two women were waiting. They formed a circle
around them and slowly they returned to the village, singing and
riding in a circle around them.
When they arrived at the village they advanced to the large tepee,
and motioned Big Eagle to the seat of honor in the tepee. In the
village was a man who understood and spoke the Sioux language. He
was sent for, and through him the oath of allegiance
to the Crow tribe was taken by Big Eagle. This done he was
presented with the girl to wife, and also with many spotted ponies.
Big Eagle lived with his wife among her people for two years, and
during this time he joined in four different battles between his
own people (the Sioux) and the Crow people, to whom his wife
In no battle with his own people would he carry any weapons, only
a long willow coup-stick, with which he struck the fallen Sioux.
At the expiration of two years he concluded to pay a visit to his
own tribe, and his father-in-law, being a chief of high standing,
at once had it heralded through the village that his son-in-law
would visit his own people, and for them to show their good will
and respect for him by bringing ponies for his son-in-law to take
back to his people.
Hearing this, the herds were all driven in and all day long horses
were brought to the tent of Big Eagle, and when he was ready to
start on his homeward trip, twenty young men were elected to
accompany him to within a safe distance of his village. The twenty
young men drove the gift horses, amounting to two hundred and
twenty head, to within one day's journey of the village of Big
Eagle, and fearing for their safety from his people, Big Eagle sent
them back to their own village.
On his arrival at his home village, they received him as one
returned from the dead, as they were sure he had been killed the
night he had been sent to reconnoiter the lone camp. There was
great feasting and dancing in honor of his return, and the horses
were distributed among the needy ones of the village.
Remaining at his home village for a year, he one day made up his
mind to return to his wife's people. A great many fancy robes,
dresses, war bonnets, moccasins, and a great drove of horses were
given him, and his wife, and he bade farewell to his people for
good, saying, "I will never return to you again, as I have decided
to live the remainder of my days with my wife's people."
On his arrival at the village of the Crows, he found his
father-in-law at the point of death. A few days later the old man
died, and Big Eagle was appointed to fill the vacancy of chief made
by the death of his father-in-law.
Subsequently he took part in battles against his own people, and in
the third battle was killed on the field. Tenderly the Crow
warriors bore him back to their camp, and great was the mourning in
the Crow village for the brave man who always went into battle
unarmed, save only the willow wand which he carried.
Thus ended the career of one of the bravest of Sioux warriors who
ever took the scalp of an enemy, and who for the love of his dead
wife, gave up home, parents, and friends, to be killed on the field
of battle by his own tribe.
THE BOY AND THE TURTLES
A boy went on a turtle hunt, and after following the different
streams for hours, finally came to the conclusion that the only
place he would find any turtles would be at the little lake, where
the tribe always hunted them.
So, leaving the stream he had been following, he cut across country
to the lake. On drawing near the lake he crawled on his hands and
knees in order not to be seen by the turtles, who were very
watchful, as they had been hunted so much. Peeping over the rock
he saw a great many out on the shore sunning themselves, so he very
cautiously undressed, so he could leap into the water and catch
them before they secreted themselves. But on pulling off his
shirt one of his hands was held up so high that the turtles saw it
and jumped into the lake with a great splash.
The boy ran to the shore, but saw only bubbles coming up from the
bottom. Directly the boy saw something coming to the surface, and
soon it came up into sight. It was a little man, and soon others,
by the hundreds, came up and swam about, splashing the water up
into the air to a great height. So scared was the boy that he
never stopped to gather up his clothes but ran home naked and fell
into his grandmother's tent door.
"What is the trouble, grandchild," cried the old woman. But the
boy could not answer. "Did you see anything unnatural?" He shook
his head, "no." He made signs to the grandmother that his lungs
were pressing so hard against his sides that he could not
talk. He kept beating his side with his clenched hands. The
grandmother got out her medicine bag, made a prayer to the Great
Spirit to drive out the evil spirit that had entered her grandson's
body, and after she had applied the medicine, the prayer must have
been heard and answered, as the boy commenced telling her what he
had heard and seen.
The grandmother went to the chief's tent and told what her grandson
had seen. The chief sent two brave warriors to the lake to
ascertain whether it was true or not. The two warriors crept to
the little hill close to the lake, and there, sure enough, the lake
was swarming with little men swimming about, splashing the water
high up into the air. The warriors, too, were scared and hurried
home, and in the council called on their return told what they had
seen. The boy was brought to the council and given the seat of
honor (opposite the door), and was named "Wankan Wanyanka" (sees
The lake had formerly borne the name of Truth Lake, but from this
time on was called "Wicasa-bde"--Man Lake.
THE HERMIT, OR THE GIFT OF CORN
In a deep forest, far from the villages of his people, lived a
hermit. His tent was made of buffalo skins, and his dress was made
of deer skin. Far from the haunts of any human being this old
hermit was content to spend his days.
All day long he would wander through the forest studying the
different plants of nature and collecting precious roots, which he
used as medicine. At long intervals some warrior would arrive at
the tent of the old hermit and get medicine roots from him for the
tribe, the old hermit's medicine being considered far superior to
After a long day's ramble in the woods, the hermit came home late,
and being very tired, at once lay down on his bed and was just
dozing off to sleep, when he felt something rub against his foot.
Awakening with a start, he noticed a dark object and an arm was
extended to him, holding in its hand a flint pointed arrow.
The hermit thought, "This must be a spirit, as there is no human
being around here but myself!" A voice then said: "Hermit, I have
come to invite you to my home." "How (yes), I will come," said the
old hermit. Wherewith he arose, wrapped his robe about him and
Outside the door he stopped and looked around, but could see no
signs of the dark object.
"Whoever you are, or whatever you be, wait for me, as I don't know
where to go to find your house," said the hermit. Not an answer
did he receive, nor could he hear any noises as though anyone was
walking through the brush. Re-entering his tent he retired and was
soon fast asleep. The next night the same thing occurred again,
and the hermit followed the object out, only to be left as before.
He was very angry to think that anyone should be trying to make
sport of him, and he determined to find out who this could be who
was disturbing his night's rest.
The next evening he cut a hole in the tent large enough to stick an
arrow through, and stood by the door watching. Soon the dark
object came and stopped outside of the door, and said:
"Grandfather, I came to--," but he never finished the sentence,
for the old man let go his arrow, and he heard the arrow strike
something which produced a sound as though he had shot into a sack
of pebbles. He did not go out that night to see what his arrow had
struck, but early next morning he went out and looked at the spot
about where he thought the object had stood. There on the ground
lay a little heap of corn, and from this little heap a small line
of corn lay scattered along a path. This he followed far into the
woods. When he came to a very small knoll the trail ended. At the
end of the trail was a large circle, from which the grass had been
scraped off clean.
"The corn trail stops at the edge of this circle," said the old
man, "so this must be the home of whoever it was that invited me."
He took his bone knife and hatchet and proceeded to dig down into
the center of the circle. When he had got down to the length
of his arm, he came to a sack of dried meat. Next he found a sack
of Indian turnips, then a sack of dried cherries; then a sack of
corn, and last of all another sack, empty except that there was
about a cupful of corn in one corner of it, and that the sack had
a hole in the other corner where his arrow had pierced it. From
this hole in the sack the corn was scattered along the trail, which
guided the old man to the cache.*
From this the hermit taught the tribes how to keep their provisions
when traveling and were overloaded. He explained to them how they
should dig a pit and put their provisions into it and cover them
with earth. By this method the Indians used to keep provisions all
summer, and when fall came they would return to their cache, and on
opening it would find everything as fresh as the day they were
The old hermit was also thanked as the discoverer of corn, which
had never been known to the Indians until discovered by the old
THE MYSTERIOUS BUTTE
A young man was once hunting and came to a steep hill. The east
side of the hill suddenly dropped off to a very steep bank. He
stood on this bank, and at the base he noticed a small opening. On
going down to examine it more closely, he found it was large enough
to admit a horse or buffalo. On either side of the door were
figures of different animals engraved into the wall.
He entered the opening and there, scattered about on the floor, lay
many bracelets, pipes and many other things of ornament, as though
they had been offerings to some great spirit. He passed through
this first room and on entering the second it was so dark
that he could not see his hands before his face, so becoming
scared, he hurriedly left the place, and returning home told what
he had seen.
Upon hearing this the chief selected four of his most daring
warriors to go with this young man and investigate and ascertain
whether the young man was telling the truth or not. The five
proceeded to the butte, and at the entrance the young man refused
to go inside, as the figures on either side of the entrance had
The four entered and seeing that all in the first chamber was as
the young man had told, they went on to the next chamber and found
it so dark that they could not see anything. They continued on,
however, feeling their way along the walls. They finally
found an entrance that was so narrow that they had to squeeze into
it sideways. They felt their way around the walls and found
another entrance, so low down that they had to crawl on their hands
and knees to go through into the next chamber.
On entering the last chamber they found a very sweet odor coming
from the opposite direction. Feeling around and crawling on their
hands and knees, they discovered a hole in the floor leading
downward. From this hole came up the sweet odor. They hurriedly
held a council, and decided to go no further, but return to the
camp and report what they had found. On getting to the first
chamber one of the young men said: "I am going to take these
bracelets to show that we are telling the truth." "No," said the
other three, "this being the abode of some Great Spirit, you may
have some accident befall you for taking what is not yours." "Ah!
You fellows are like old women," said he, taking a fine bracelet
and encircling his left wrist with it.
When they reached the village they reported what they had seen.
The young man exhibited the bracelet to prove that it was the truth
they had told.
Shortly after this, these four young men were out fixing up traps
for wolves. They would raise one end of a heavy log and place a
stick under, bracing up the log. A large piece of meat was placed
about five feet away from the log and this space covered with poles
and willows. At the place where the upright stick was put, a hole
was left open, large enough to admit the body of a wolf. The wolf,
scenting the meat and unable to get at it through the poles and
willows, would crowd into the hole and working his
body forward, in order to get the meat, would push down the brace
and the log thus released would hold the wolf fast under its
The young man with the bracelet was placing his bait under the log
when he released the log by knocking down the brace, and the log
caught his wrist on which he wore the bracelet. He could not
release himself and called loud and long for assistance. His
friends, hearing his call, came to his assistance, and on lifting
the log found the young man's wrist broken. "Now," said they, "you
have been punished for taking the wristlet out of the chamber of
the mysterious butte."
Some time after this a young man went to the butte and saw engraved
on the wall a woman holding in her hand a pole, with which she was
holding up a large amount of beef which had been laid across
another pole, which had broken in two from the weight of so much
He returned to the camp and reported what he had seen. All around
the figure he saw marks of buffalo hoofs, also marked upon the
The next day an enormous herd of buffalo came near to the village,
and a great many were killed. The women were busy cutting up and
drying the meat. At one camp was more meat than at any other. The
woman was hanging meat upon a long tent pole, when the pole broke
in two and she was obliged to hold the meat up with another pole,
just as the young man saw on the mysterious butte.
Ever after that the Indians paid weekly visits to this butte, and
thereon would read the signs that were to govern their plans.
This butte was always considered the prophet of the tribe.
THE WONDERFUL TURTLE
Near to a Chippewa village lay a large lake, and in this lake there
lived an enormous turtle. This was no ordinary turtle, as he would
often come out of his home in the lake and visit with his Indian
neighbors. He paid the most of his visits to the head
chief, and on these occasions would stay for hours, smoking and
talking with him.
The chief, seeing that the turtle was very smart and showed great
wisdom in his talk, took a great fancy to him, and whenever any
puzzling subject came up before the chief, he generally sent for
Mr. Turtle to help him decide.
One day there came a great misunderstanding between different
parties of the tribe, and so excited became both sides that it
threatened to cause bloodshed. The chief was unable to decide for
either faction, so he said, "I will call Mr. Turtle. He will
judge for you."
Sending for the turtle, the chief vacated his seat for the time
being, until the turtle should hear both sides, and decide which
was in the right. The turtle came, and taking the chief's seat,
listened very attentively to both sides, and thought long before he
gave his decision. After thinking long and studying each
side carefully, he came to the conclusion to decide in favor of
both. This would not cause any hard feelings. So he gave them a
lengthy speech and showed them where they were both in the right,
and wound up by saying:
"You are both in the right in some ways and wrong in others.
Therefore, I will say that you both are equally in the right."
When they heard this decision, they saw that the turtle was right,
and gave him a long cheer for the wisdom displayed by him. The
whole tribe saw that had it not been for this wise decision there
would have been a great shedding of blood in the tribe. So
they voted him as their judge, and the chief, being so well pleased
with him, gave to him his only daughter in marriage.
The daughter of the chief was the most beautiful maiden of the
Chippewa nation, and young men from other tribes traveled hundreds
of miles for an opportunity to make love to her, and try to win her
for a wife. It was all to no purpose. She would accept no one,
only him whom her father would select for her. The turtle was very
homely, but as he was prudent and wise, the father chose him, and
she accepted him.
The young men of the tribe were very jealous, but their jealousy
was all to no purpose. She married the turtle. The young men
would make sport of the chief's son-in-law. They would say to him:
"How did you come to have so flat a stomach?" The turtle
answered them, saying:
"My friends, had you been in my place, you too would have flat
stomachs. I came by my flat stomach in this way: The Chippewas and
Sioux had a great battle, and the Sioux, too numerous for the
Chippewas, were killing them off so fast that they had to run for
their lives. I was on the Chippewa side and some of the Sioux were
pressing five of us, and were gaining on us very fast. Coming to
some high grass, I threw myself down flat on my face, and pressed
my stomach close to the ground, so the pursuers could not see me.
They passed me and killed the four I was with. After they had gone
back, I arose and lo! my stomach was as you see it now. So hard
had I pressed to the ground that it would not assume its original
After he had explained the cause of his deformity to them, they
said: "The Turtle is brave. We will bother him no more." Shortly
after this the Sioux made an attack upon the Chippewas, and every
one deserted the village. The Turtle could not travel as fast as
the rest and was left behind. It being an unusually hot day in the
fall, the Turtle grew very thirsty and sleepy. Finally scenting
water, he crawled towards the point from whence the scent
came, and coming to a large lake jumped in and had a bath, after
which he swam towards the center and dived down, and finding some
fine large rocks at the bottom, he crawled in among them and fell
asleep. He had his sleep out and arose to the top.
Swimming to shore he found it was summer. He had slept all winter.
The birds were singing, and the green grass and leaves gave forth
a sweet odor.
He crawled out and started out looking for the Chippewa camp. He
came upon the camp several days after he had left his winter
quarters, and going around in search of his wife, found her at the
extreme edge of the village. She was nursing her baby, and as he
asked to see it, she showed it to him. When he saw that it was a
lovely baby and did not resemble him in any respect, he got angry
and went off to a large lake, where he contented himself with
catching flies and insects and living on seaweed the remainder of
THE MAN AND THE OAK
There once lived a Sioux couple who had two children, a boy and a
girl. Every fall this family would move away from the main camp
and take up their winter quarters in a grove of timber some
distance from the principal village. The reason they did this was
that he was a great hunter and where a village was located for the
winter the game was usually very scarce. Therefore, he always
camped by himself in order to have an abundance of game adjacent
to his camp.
All summer he had roamed around following the tribe to wherever
their fancy might take them. During their travels this particular
year there came to the village a strange girl who had no relatives
there. No one seemed very anxious to take her into their
family, so the great hunter's daughter, taking a fancy to the poor
girl, took her to their home and kept her. She addressed her as
sister, and the parents, on account of their daughter, addressed
her as daughter.
This strange girl became desperately in love with the young man of
the family, but being addressed as daughter by the parents, she
could not openly show her feelings as the young man was considered
In the fall when the main village moved into a large belt of timber
for their winter quarters, the hunter moved on to another place two
days' travel from the main winter camp, where he would not be
disturbed by any other hunters.
The young man had a tent by himself, and it was always kept nice
and clean by his sister, who was very much attached to him. After
a long day's hunt in the woods, he would go into his tent and lie
down to rest, and when his supper was ready his sister would
say, "My brother is so tired. I will carry his supper to him."
Her friend, whom she addressed as sister, would never go into the
young man's tent. Along towards spring there came one night into
the young man's tent a woman. She sat down by the door and kept
her face covered so that it was hidden from view. She sat there a
long time and finally arose and went away. The young man could not
imagine who this could be. He knew that it was a long distance
from the village and could not make out where the woman
could have come from. The next night the woman came again and this
time she came a little nearer to where the young man lay. She sat
down and kept her face covered as before. Neither spoke a word.
She sat there for a long time and then arose and departed. He was
very much puzzled over the actions of this woman and decided to
ascertain on her next visit who she was.
He kindled a small fire in his tent and had some ash wood laid on
it so as to keep fire a long time, as ash burns very slowly and
holds fire a long time.
The third night the woman came again and sat down still nearer his
bed. She held her blanket open just a trifle, and he, catching up
one of the embers, flashed it in her face; jumping up she ran
hurriedly out of the tent. The next morning he noticed that his
adopted sister kept her face hidden with her blanket. She chanced
to drop her blanket while in the act of pouring out some soup, and
when she did so he noticed a large burned spot on her cheek.
He felt so sorry for what he had done that he could eat no
breakfast, but went outside and lay down under an oak tree. All
day long he lay there gazing up into the tree, and when he was
called for supper he refused, saying that he was not hungry, and
for them not to bother him, as he would soon get up and go to bed.
Far into the night he lay thus, and when he tried to arise he could
not, as a small oak tree grew through the center of his body and
held him fast to the ground.
In the morning when the family awoke they found the girl had
disappeared, and on going outside the sister discovered her brother
held fast to the earth by an oak tree which grew very rapidly. In
vain were the best medicine men of the tribe sent for. Their
medicine was of no avail. They said: "If the tree is cut down the
young man will die."
The sister was wild with grief, and extending her hands to the sun,
she cried: "Great Spirit, relieve my suffering brother. Any one
who releases him I will marry, be he young, old, homely or
Several days after the young man had met with the mishap, there
came to the tent a very tall man, who had a bright light encircling
his body. "Where is the girl who promised to marry any one who
would release her brother?" "I am the one," said the young
man's sister. "I am the all-powerful lightning and thunder. I see
all things and can kill at one stroke a whole tribe. When I make
my voice heard the rocks shake loose and go rattling down the
hillsides. The brave warriors cower shivering under some shelter
at the sound of my voice. The girl whom you had adopted as your
sister was a sorceress. She bewitched your brother because he
would not let her make love to him. On my way here I met her
traveling towards the west, and knowing what she had done, I struck
her with one of my blazing swords, and she lies there now a heap of
ashes. I will now release your brother."
So saying he placed his hand on the tree and instantly it crumbled
to ashes. The young man arose, and thanked his deliverer.
Then they saw a great black cloud approaching, and the man said:
"Make ready, we shall go home on that cloud." As the cloud
approached near to the man who stood with his bride, it suddenly
lowered and enveloped them and with a great roar and amidst flashes
of lightning and loud peals of thunder the girl ascended and
disappeared into the west with her Thunder and Lightning husband.
STORY OF THE TWO YOUNG FRIENDS
There were once in a very large Indian camp two little boys who
were fast friends. One of the boys, "Chaske" (meaning first born),
was the son of a very rich family, and was always dressed in the
finest of clothes of Indian costume. The other boy, "Hake"
(meaning last born), was an orphan and lived with his old
grandmother, who was very destitute, and consequently could not
dress the boy in fine raiment. So poorly was the boy dressed that
the boys who had good clothes always tormented him and would not
play in his company.
Chaske did not look at the clothes of any boy whom he chose as a
friend, but mingled with all boys regardless of how they were clad,
and would study their dispositions. The well dressed he found were
vain and conceited. The fairly well dressed he found
selfish and spiteful. The poorly clad he found to be generous and
truthful, and from all of them he chose "Hake" for his "Koda"
(friend). As Chaske was the son of the leading war chief he was
very much sought after by the rest of the boys, each one trying to
gain the honor of being chosen for the friend and companion of the
great chief's son; but, as I have before said, Chaske carefully
studied them all and finally chose the orphan Hake.
It was a lucky day for Hake when he was chosen for the friend and
companion of Chaske. The orphan boy was taken to the lodge of his
friend's parents and dressed up in fine clothes and moccasins.
(When the Indians' sons claim any one as their friend, the friend
thus chosen is adopted into the family as their own son).
Chaske and Hake were inseparable. Where one was seen the other was
not far distant. They played, hunted, trapped, ate and slept
together. They would spend most of the long summer days hunting in
Time went on and these two fast friends grew up to be fine
specimens of their tribe. When they became the age to select a
sweetheart they would go together and make love to a girl. Each
helping the other to win the affection of the one of his choice.
Chaske loved a girl who was the daughter of an old medicine man.
She was very much courted by the other young men of the tribe, and
many a horse loaded with robes and fine porcupine work was tied at
the medicine man's tepee in offering for the hand of his daughter,
but the horses, laden as when tied there, were turned loose,
signifying that the offer was not accepted.
The girl's choice was Chaske's friend Hake. Although he had never
made love to her for himself, he had always used honeyed words to
her and was always loud in his praises for his friend Chaske. One
night the two friends had been to see the girl, and
on their return Chaske was very quiet, having nothing to say and
seemingly in deep study. Always of a bright, jolly and amiable
disposition, his silence and moody spell grieved his friend very
much, and he finally spoke to Chaske, saying: "Koda, what has come
over you? You who were always so jolly and full of fun? Your
silence makes me grieve for you and I do not know what you are
feeling so downhearted about. Has the girl said anything to you
to make you feel thus?"
"Wait, friend," said Chaske, "until morning, and then I will know
how to answer your inquiry. Don't ask me anything more tonight, as
my heart is having a great battle with my brain."
Hake bothered his friend no more that night, but he could not
sleep. He kept wondering what "Pretty Feather" (the girl whom his
friend loved) could have said to Chaske to bring such a change over
him. Hake never suspected that he himself was the cause of his
friend's sorrow, for never did he have a thought that it was
himself that Pretty Feather loved.
The next morning after they had eaten breakfast, Chaske proposed
that they should go out on the prairies, and see if they would have
the good luck to kill an antelope. Hake went out and got the band
of horses, of which there were over a hundred. They
selected the fleetest two in the herd, and taking their bows and
arrows, mounted and rode away towards the south.
Hake was overjoyed to note the change in his friend. His oldtime
jollity had returned. They rode out about five miles, and scaring
up a drove of antelope they started in hot pursuit, and as their
horses were very fleet of foot soon caught up to the drove,
and each singling out his choice quickly dispatched him with an
arrow. They could easily have killed more of the antelope, but did
not want to kill them just for sport, but for food, and knowing
that they had now all that their horses could pack home, they
dismounted and proceeded to dress their kill.
After each had finished packing the kill on his horse, Chaske said:
"Let us sit down and have a smoke before we start back. Besides,
I have something to tell you which I can tell better sitting still
than I can riding along." Hake came and sat down opposite his
friend, and while they smoked Chaske said:
"My friend, we have been together for the last twenty years and I
have yet the first time to deceive you in any way, and I know I can
truthfully say the same of you. Never have I known you to deceive
me nor tell me an untruth. I have no brothers or sisters. The
only brother's love I know is yours. The only sister's love I will
know will be Pretty Feather's, for brother, last night she told me
she loved none but you and would marry you and you only. So,
brother, I am going to take my antelope to my sister-in-law's tent
and deposit it at her door. Then she will know that her wish will
be fulfilled. I thought at first that you had been playing traitor
to me and had been making love to her for yourself, but when she
explained it all to me and begged me to intercede for her to you,
I then knew that I had judged you wrongfully, and that, together
with my lost love, made me so quiet and sorrowful last night. So
now, brother, take the flower of the nation for your wife, and I
will be content to continue through life a lonely
bachelor, as never again can I give any woman the place which
Pretty Feather had in my heart."
Their pipes being smoked out they mounted their ponies and Chaske
started up in a clear, deep voice the beautiful love song of Pretty
Feather and his friend Hake.
Such is the love between two friends, who claim to be as brothers
among the Indians. Chaske gave up his love of a beautiful woman
for a man who was in fact no relation to him.
Hake said, "I will do as you say, my friend, but before I can marry
the medicine man's daughter, I will have to go on the warpath and
do some brave deed, and will start in ten days." They rode towards
home, planning which direction they would travel, and as it was to
be their first experience on the warpath, they would seek advice
from the old warriors of the tribe.
On their arrival at the village Hake took his kill to their own
tent, while Chaske took his to the tent of the Medicine Man, and
deposited it at the door and rode off towards home.
The mother of Pretty Feather did not know whether to take the
offering or not, but Pretty Feather, seeing by this offering that
her most cherished wish was to be granted, told her mother to take
the meat and cook it and invite the old women of the camp to a
feast in honor of the son-in-law who was soon to keep them
furnished with plenty of meat. Hake and his friend sought out all
of the old warriors and gained all the information they desired.
Every evening Hake visited his intended wife and many happy
evenings they spent together.
The morning of the tenth day the two friends left the village and
turned their faces toward the west where the camps of the enemy are
more numerous than in any other direction. They were not mounted
and therefore traveled slowly, so it took about ten days of walking
before they saw any signs of the enemy. The old warriors had told
them of a thickly wooded creek within the enemies' bounds. The old
men said, "That creek looks the ideal place to camp, but don't camp
there by any means, because there is a ghost who haunts that creek,
and any one who camps there is disturbed all through the night, and
besides they never return, because the ghost is Wakan (holy), and
the enemies conquer the travelers every time."
The friends had extra moccasins with them and one extra blanket, as
it was late in the fall and the nights were very cold.
They broke camp early one morning and walked all day. Along
towards evening, the clouds which had been threatening all day,
hurriedly opened their doors and down came the snowflakes thick and
fast. Just before it started snowing the friends had noticed a
dark line about two miles in advance of them. Chaske spoke to his
friend and said: "If this storm continues we will be obliged to
stay overnight at Ghost Creek, as I noticed it not far ahead of us,
just before the storm set in." "I noticed it also," said Hake.
"We might as well entertain a ghost all night as to lie out on
these open prairies and freeze to death." So they decided to run
the risk and stay in the sheltering woods of Ghost Creek. When
they got to the creek it seemed as if they had stepped inside a big
tepee, so thick was the brush and timber that the wind could not be
felt at all. They hunted and found a place where the brush was
very thick and the grass very tall. They quickly pulled the tops
of the nearest willows together and by intertwining the ends made
them fast, and throwing their tent robe over this, soon had a cosy
tepee in which to sleep. They started their fire and cooked some
dried buffalo meat and buffalo tallow, and were just about to eat
their supper when a figure of a man came slowly in through the door
and sat down near where he had entered. Hake, being the one who
was doing the cooking, poured out some tea into his own cup, and
putting a piece of pounded meat and marrow into a small plate,
placed it before the stranger, saying: "Eat, my friend, we are on
the warpath and do not carry much of a variety of food with us, but
I give you the best we have."
The stranger drew the plate towards him, and commenced eating
ravenously. He soon finished his meal and handed the dish and cup
back. He had not uttered a word so far. Chaske filled the pipe
and handed it to him. He smoked for a few minutes, took one last
draw from the pipe and handed it back to Chaske, and then he said:
"Now, my friends, I am not a living man, but the wandering spirit
of a once great warrior, who was killed in these woods by the enemy
whom you two brave young men are now seeking to make war upon. For
years I have been roaming these woods in hopes that I might find
some one brave enough to stop and listen to me, but all who have
camped here in the past have run away at my approach or fired guns
or shot arrows at me. For such cowards as these I have always
found a grave. They never returned to their homes. Now I have
found two brave men whom I can tell what I want done, and if you
accomplish what I tell you to do, you will return home with many
horses and some scalps dangling from your belts. Just over this
range of hills north of us, a large village is encamped for the
winter. In that camp is the man who laid in ambush and shot me,
killing me before I could get a chance to defend myself. I want
that man's scalp, because he has been the cause of my wanderings
for a great many years. Had he killed me on the battlefield my
spirit would have at once joined my brothers in the happy hunting
grounds, but being killed by a coward, my spirit is doomed to roam
until I can find some brave man who will kill this coward and bring
me his scalp. This is why I have tried every party who have camped
here to listen to me, but as I have said before, they were all
cowards. Now, I ask you two brave young men, will you do this for
"We will," said the friends in one voice. "Thank you, my boys.
Now, I know why you came here, and that one of you came to earn his
feathers by killing an enemy, before he would marry; the girl he is
to marry is my granddaughter, as I am the father of the
great Medicine Man. In the morning there will pass by in plain
sight of here a large party. They will chase the buffalo over on
that flat. After they have passed an old man leading a black horse
and riding a white one will come by on the trail left by the
hunting party. He will be driving about a hundred horses, which he
will leave over in the next ravine. He will then proceed to the
hunting grounds and get meat from the different hunters. After the
hunters have all gone home he will come last, singing the praises
of the ones who gave him the meat. This man you must kill and
scalp, as he is the one I want killed. Then take the white and
black horse and each mount and go to the hunting grounds. There
you will see two of the enemy riding about picking up empty shells.
Kill and scalp these two and each take a scalp and come over to the
high knoll and I will show you where the horses are, and as soon as
you hand me the old man's scalp I will disappear and you will see
me no more. As soon as I disappear, it will start in snowing.
Don't be afraid as the snow will cover your trail, but
nevertheless, don't stop traveling for three days and nights, as
these people will suspect that some of your tribe have done this,
and they will follow you until you cross your own boundary lines."
When morning came, the two friends sat in the thick brush and
watched a large party pass by their hiding place. So near were
they that the friends could hear them laughing and talking. After
the hunting party had passed, as the spirit had told them, along
came the old man, driving a large band of horses and leading a fine
looking coal black horse. The horse the old man was riding was as
white as snow. The friends crawled to a little brush covered hill
and watched the chase after the shooting had ceased. The friends
knew it would not be long before the return of the party, so they
crawled back to their camp and hurriedly ate some pounded meat and
drank some cherry tea. Then they took down their robe and rolled
it up and got everything in readiness for a hurried flight with the
horses. Scarcely had they got everything in readiness when the
party came by, singing their song of the chase. When they had all
gone the friends crawled down to the trail and lay waiting for the
old man. Soon they heard him singing. Nearer and nearer came the
sounds of the song until at last at a bend in the road, the old man
came into view. The two friends arose and advanced to meet him.
On he came still singing. No doubt he mistook them for some of his
own people. When he was very close to them they each stepped to
either side of him and before he could make an outcry they pierced
his cowardly old heart with two arrows. He had hardly touched the
ground when they both struck him with their bows, winning first and
second honors by striking an enemy after he has fallen. Chaske
having won first honors, asked his friend to perform the scalping
deed, which he did. And wanting to be sure that the spirit would
get full revenge, took the whole scalp, ears and all, and tied it
to his belt. The buffalo beef which the old man had packed upon
the black horse, they threw on the top of the old man. Quickly
mounting the two horses, they hastened out across the long flat
towards the hunting grounds. When they came in sight of the
grounds there they saw two men riding about from place to place.
Chaske took after the one on the right, Hake the one on the left.
When the two men saw these two strange men riding like the wind
towards them, they turned their horses to retreat towards the
hills, but the white and the black were the swiftest of the tribe's
horses, and quickly overtook the two fleeing men. When they came
close to the enemy they strung their arrows onto the bowstring and
drove them through the two fleeing hunters. As they were falling
they tried to shoot, but being greatly exhausted, their bullets
whistled harmlessly over the heads of the two friends. They
scalped the two enemies and took their guns and ammunition, also
secured the two horses and started for the high knoll. When they
arrived at the place, there stood the spirit. Hake presented him
with the old man's scalp and then the spirit showed them the large
band of horses, and saying, "Ride hard and long," disappeared and
was seen no more by any war parties, as he was thus enabled to join
his forefathers in the happy hunting grounds.
The friends did as the spirit had told them. For three days and
three nights they rode steadily. On the fourth morning they came
into their own boundary. From there on they rode more slowly, and
let the band of horses rest and crop the tops of long grass. They
would stop occasionally, and while one slept the other kept watch.
Thus they got fairly well rested before they came in sight of where
their camp had stood when they had left. All that they could see
of the once large village was the lone tent of the great Medicine
Man. They rode up on to a high hill and farther on towards the
east they saw smoke from a great many tepees. They then knew that
something had happened and that the village had moved away.
"My friend," said Chaske, "I am afraid something has happened to
the Medicine Man's lodge, and rather than have you go there, I will
go alone and you follow the trail of our party and go on ahead
with the horses. I will take the black and the white horses with
me and I will follow on later, after I have seen what the trouble
"Very well, my friend, I will do as you say, but I am afraid
something has happened to Pretty Feather." Hake started on with
the horses, driving them along the broad trail left by the hundreds
of travois. Chaske made slowly towards the tepee, and stopping
outside, stood and listened. Not a sound could he hear. The only
living thing he saw was Pretty Feather's spotted horse tied to the
side of the tent. Then he knew that she must be dead. He rode off
into the thick brush and tied his two horses securely. Then he came
back and entered the tepee. There on a bed of robes lay some one
apparently dead. The body was wrapped in blankets and robes and
bound around and around with parfleche ropes. These he carefully
untied and unwound. Then he unwrapped the robes and blankets and
when he uncovered the face, he saw, as he had expected to, the face
of his lost love, Pretty Feather. As he sat gazing on her
beautiful young face, his heart ached for his poor friend. He
himself had loved and lost this beautiful maiden, and now his
friend who had won her would have to suffer the untold grief which
he had suffered.
What was that? Could it have been a slight quivering of the
nostrils that he had seen, or was it mad fancy playing a trick on
him? Closer he drew to her face, watching intently for another
sign. There it was again, only this time it was a long, deep drawn
breath. He arose, got some water and taking a small stick slowly
forced open her mouth and poured some into it. Then he took some
sage, dipped it into the water and sprinkled a little on her head
and face. There were many parfleche bags piled around the tepee,
and thinking he might find some kind of medicine roots which he
could use to revive her he started opening them one after the
other. He had opened three and was just opening the fourth, when
a voice behind him asked: "What are you looking for?" Turning
quickly, he saw Pretty Feather looking at him. Overjoyed, he
cried, "What can I do so that you can get up and ride to the
village with me? My friend and I just returned with a large band
of horses and two scalps. We saw this tent and recognized it.
My friend wanted to come, but I would not let him, as I feared if
he found anything had happened to you he would do harm to himself,
but now he will be anxious for my return, so if you will tell me
what you need in order to revive you, I will get it, and we can
then go to my friend in the village." "At the foot of my bed you
will find a piece of eagle fat. Build a fire and melt it for me.
I will drink it and then we can go."
Chaske quickly started a fire, got out the piece of fat and melted
it. She drank it at one draught, and was about to arise when she
suddenly said: "Roll me up quick and take the buffalo hair rope and
tie it about my spotted horse's neck; tie his tail in a knot and
tie him to the door. Then run and hide behind the trees. There
are two of the enemy coming this way."
Chaske hurriedly obeyed her orders, and had barely concealed
himself behind the trees, when there came into view two of the
enemy. They saw the horse tied to the door of the deserted tent,
and knew that some dead person occupied the tepee, so through
respect for the dead, they turned out and started to go through the
brush and trees, so as not to pass the door. (The Indians consider
it a bad omen to pass by the door of a tepee occupied by a dead
body, that is, while in the enemy's country). So by making this
detour they traveled directly towards where Chaske was concealed
behind the tree. Knowing that he would be discovered, and there
being two of them, he knew the only chance he had was for him to
kill one of them before they discovered him, then he stood a better
chance at an even combat. On they came, little thinking that one
of them would in a few minutes be with his forefathers.
Chaske noiselessly slipped a cartridge into the chamber of his gun,
threw it into action and took deliberate aim at the smaller one's
breast. A loud report rang out and the one he had aimed at threw
up his arms and fell heavily forward, shot through the heart.
Reloading quickly Chaske stepped out from behind the tree. He
could easily have killed the other from his concealed position,
but, being a brave young man, he wanted to give his opponent a fair
chance. The other had unslung his gun and a duel was then fought
between the two lone combatants. They would spring from side to
side like two great cats. Then advance one or two steps and fire.
Retreat a few steps, spring to one side and fire again. The
bullets whistled past their heads, tore up the earth beneath their
feet, and occasionally one would hit its mark, only to cause a
Suddenly the enemy aimed his gun and threw it upon the ground. His
ammunition was exhausted, and slowly folding his arms he stood
facing his opponent, with a fearless smile upon his face, expecting
the next moment to fall dead from a bullet from the rifle of
Chaske. Not so. Chaske was too honorable and noble to kill an
unarmed man, and especially one who had put up such a brave fight
as had this man. Chaske advanced and picked up the empty gun. The
Toka (enemy) drew from a scabbard at his belt a long bowie knife,
and taking it by the point handed it, handle first, to Chaske.
This signified surrender. Chaske scalped the dead Toka and
motioned for his prisoner to follow him. In the meantime Pretty
Feather had gotten up and stood looking at the duel. When she
heard the first shot she jumped up and cut a small slit in the tent
from which she saw the whole proceedings. Knowing that one or both
of them must be wounded, she hurriedly got water and medicine
roots, and when they came to the tent she was prepared to dress
Chaske had a bullet through his shoulder and one through his hand.
They were very painful but not dangerous. The prisoner had a
bullet through his leg, also one through the muscle of his left
arm. Pretty Feather washed and dressed their wounds, and Chaske
went and brought the black and white horses and mounting Pretty
Feather upon the white horse, and the prisoner on her spotted one,
the three soon rode into the village, and there was a great cry of
joy when it was known that Pretty Feather had come back to them
Hake, who was in his tent grieving, was told that his friend had
returned and with him Pretty Feather. Hearing this good news he at
once went to the Medicine Man's tent and found the Medicine
Man busily dressing the wounds of his friend and a stranger. The
old Medicine Man turned to Hake and said:
"Son-in-law, take your wife home with you. It was from grief at
your absence that she went into a trance, and we, thinking she was
dead, left her for such. Hadn't it been for your friend here, she
would surely have been a corpse now. So take her and keep her with
you always, and take as a present from me fifty of my best horses."
Hake and his beautiful bride went home, where his adopted mother
had a fine large tent put up for them. Presents of cooking
utensils, horses, robes and finely worked shawls and moccasins came
from every direction, and last of all Chaske gave as a present to
his friend the Toka man whom he had taken as prisoner. On
presenting him with this gift, Chaske spoke thus:
"My friend, I present to you, that you may have him as a servant to
look after your large band of horses, this man with whom I fought
a two hours' duel, and had his ammunition lasted he would probably
have conquered me, and who gave me the second hardest fight of my
The hardest fight of my life was when I gave up Pretty Feather.
You have them both. To the Toka (enemy) be kind, and he will do
all your biddings. To Pretty Feather be a good husband."
So saying, Chaske left them, and true to his word, lived the
remainder of his days a confirmed bachelor.
THE STORY OF THE PET CROW
Once upon a time there came to a large village a plague of crows.
So thick were they that the poor women were sorely tried keeping
them out of their tepees and driving them away from their lines of
jerked buffalo meat. Indeed they got so numerous and were such a
great nuisance that the Chief finally gave orders to his camp
criers or heralds to go out among the different camps and announce
the orders of their Chief, that war should be made upon
the crows to extermination; that their nests were to be destroyed
and all eggs broken. The war of extermination was to continue
until not a crow remained, except the youngest found was to be
brought to him alive.
For a week the war on the crows continued. Thousands of dead crows
were brought in daily, and at the end of the week not a bird of
that species could be seen in the neighborhood. Those that escaped
the deadly arrow of the warriors, flew away, never to return to
those parts again.
At the end of the war made upon the crows, there was brought to the
Chief's tepee the youngest found. Indeed, so young was the bird
that it was only the great medicine of the Chief that kept him
alive until he could hop about and find his own food. The Chief
spent most of his time in his lodge teaching the young crow to
understand and talk the language of the tribe. After the crow had
mastered this, the Chief then taught him the languages of the
neighboring tribes. When the crow had mastered these different
languages the chief would send him on long journeys to ascertain
the location of the camps of the different enemies.
When the crow would find a large Indian camp he would alight and
hop about, pretending to be picking up scraps, but really keeping
his ears open for anything he might hear. He would hang around all
day, and at night when they would all gather in the large council
tent (which always stood in the center of the village) to determine
upon their next raid, and plan for a horse stealing trip, Mr. Crow
was always nearby to hear all their plans discussed. He would then
fly away to his master (the Chief) and
tell him all that he had learned.
The Chief would then send a band of his warriors to lie in ambush
for the raiding party, and, as the enemy would not suspect anything
they would go blindly into the pitfall of death thus set for them.
Thus the crow was the scout of this chief, whose
reputation as a Wakan (Holy man) soon reached all of the different
tribes. The Chief's warriors would intercept, ambush and
annihilate every war party headed for his camp.
So, finally learning that they could not make war on this chief's
people unbeknown to them, they gave up making war on this
particular band. When meat was running low in the camp this chief
would send the crow out to look for buffalo. When he discovered
a herd he would return and report to his master; then the chief
would order out the hunters and they would return laden with meat.
Thus the crow kept the camp all the time informed of everything
that would be of benefit to them.
One day the crow disappeared, over which there was great grief
among the tribe. A week had passed away, when Mr. Crow reappeared.
There was great rejoicing upon his return, but the crow was
downcast and would not speak, but sat with a drooping head perched
at the top of the chief's tepee, and refused all food that was
offered to him.
In vain did the chief try to get the crow to tell him the cause of
his silence and seeming grief. The crow would not speak until the
chief said: "Well, I will take a few of my warriors and go out and
try to ascertain what has happened to cause you to act
as you do."
Upon hearing this, the crow said: "Don't go. I dreaded to tell you
what I know to be a fact, as I have heard it from some great
medicine men. I was traveling over the mountains west of here,
when I spied three old men sitting at the top of the highest
peak. I very cautiously dropped down behind a rock and listened to
their talk. I heard your name mentioned by one of them, then your
brother's name was mentioned. Then the third, who was the oldest,
said: 'in three days from today the lightning will kill those two
brothers whom all the nations fear.'"
Upon hearing what the crow stated the tribe became grief stricken.
On the morning of the third day the chief ordered a nice tepee
placed upon the highest point, far enough away from the village, so
that the peals of thunder would not alarm the babies of
A great feast was given, and after the feasting was over there came
in six young maidens leading the war horses of the two brothers.
The horses were painted and decorated as if for a charge on the
enemy. One maiden walked ahead of the chief's horse bearing in her
hands the bow and arrows of the great warrior. Next came two
maidens, one on either side of the prancing war steed, each holding
a rein. Behind the chief's horse came the fourth maiden. Like the
first, she bore in her hands the bow and arrows of the chief's
brother. Then the fifth and sixth maidens each holding a rein,
walked on either side of the prancing horse of the chief's brother.
They advanced and circled the large gathering and finally
stopped directly in front of the two brothers, who immediately
arose and taking their bows and arrows vaulted lightly upon their
war steeds, and singing their death song, galloped off amid a great
cry of grief from the people who loved them most dearly.
Heading straight for the tepee that had been placed upon the
highest point, adjacent to the village, they soon arrived at their
destination and, dismounting from their horses, turned, waved their
hands to their band, and disappeared within the tepee. Scarcely
had they entered the lodge when the rumblings of distant thunder
could be heard. Nearer, and nearer, came the sound, until at last
the storm overspread the locality in all its fury. Flash upon
flash of lightning burst forth from the heavens. Deafening peals
of thunder followed each flash. Finally, one flash brighter than
any of the others, one peal more deafening than those preceding it,
and the storm had passed.
Sadly the warriors gathered together, mounted their horses and
slowly rode to the tepee on the high point. Arriving there they
looked inside the lodge and saw the two brothers lying cold and
still in death, each holding the lariat of his favorite war horse.
The horses also lay dead side by side in front of the tent. (From
this came the custom of killing the favorite horse of a dead
warrior at the burial of the owner).
As the Indians sadly left the hill to return home, they heard a
noise at the top of the tepee, and looking up they saw the crow
sitting on one of the splintered tepee poles. He was crying most
pitifully, and as they rode off he flew up high in the air and his
pitiful "caw" became fainter and fainter till at last they heard it
no more. And from that day, the story goes, no crow ever goes near
the village of that band of Indians.
THE "WASNA" (PEMMICAN) MAN AND THE
Once upon a time there appeared from out of a large belt of timber
a man attired in the fat of the buffalo. On his head he wore the
honeycomb part of the stomach. To this was attached small pieces
of fat. The fat which covered the stomach he wore as a
cloak. The large intestines he wore as leggings, and the kidney
fat as his moccasins.
As he appeared he had the misfortune to meet "Unktomi" (spider)
with his hundreds of starving children. Upon seeing the fat,
Unktomi and his large family at once attacked the man, who, in
order to save his life, started to run away, but so closely did
Unktomi and his family pursue him that in order to make better time
and also get a little better start, he threw off his head covering,
which the Unktomi family hastily devoured, and were again closing
in upon him. He then threw off his cloak and they devoured that,
and were close upon him again, when he threw off his leggings.
These were hastily eaten up, and, as they drew near to a lake, the
man threw off the kidney fat, and, running to the edge of the lake,
dived down into the water and kept beneath the surface, swimming to
the opposite shore. After the Unktomi family had eaten the kidney
fat they came to the water's edge, and the grease was floating on
the surface of the water which they lapped up, until there was not
a grease spot left floating on the surface.
The small morsels had only sharpened their appetites, and as they
saw the man sitting on the opposite shore, Unktomi and his family
proceeded around the lake and came upon two men sitting on
the shore. Unktomi saw that the other man was "Wakapapi" (pounded
beef). The family surrounded the two and Unktomi ordered them to
fight. Fearing Unktomi and his large family, they at once
commenced to fight and Pounded Meat was soon killed. The hungry
family at once fell to eating him. So busy were they that none
noticed the fat man sneak off and disappear.
When they had finished the pounded beef man they looked around to
fall upon the fat man, but nowhere could he be seen. Unktomi said,
"I will track him and when I find him, I will return for you, so
stay here and await my return."
He followed the fat man's tracks until farther east on the shore of
the lake he found the fat man in the act of skinning a deer, which
he had killed. (He had held on to his bow and arrows when he
jumped into the lake). "My," said Unktomi, "this will make a fine
meal for my hungry children. I will go after them, so hurry and
cut the meat up into small pieces so they each can have a piece."
"All right, go ahead and get your family," said Fat Man. During
Unktomi's absence, the fat man hurriedly cut the meat up into small
pieces and carried them up into a tree that stood near to the
shore. When he had carried it all up he threw sand and
dirt upon the blood, and so left no trace of the deer.
On the arrival of Unktomi and his family, no signs of the fat man
or the deer could be found. They wandered about the spot looking
for tracks which might lead them to where the fat man had cached
the meat, as Unktomi said he could not have carried it very far.
Now the fat man was up in the tree and sat watching them. The
reflection of the tree was in the water, and some of the children
going close to the shore, discovered it as they looked at the
reflection. The fat man cut a piece of meat and extending it
towards them, drew back his hand and put the meat into his mouth.
"Come quick, father, here he is eating the meat," said the
children. Unktomi came and seeing the reflection, thought the fat
man was down in the lake. "Wait, I will bring him up for you." So
saying, he dived down, but soon arose without anything. Again and
again he tried, but could not reach the bottom. He told the
children to gather rock for him. These he tied around his neck and
body, and dived down for the last time. The last the children saw
of their father was the bubbles which arose to the surface of the
lake. The rocks being too heavy for him, held him fast to the
bottom, and some hungry fish soon made a feast out of the body of
THE RESUSCITATION OF THE ONLY
There once lived an old couple who had an only daughter. She was
a beautiful girl, and was very much courted by the young men of the
tribe, but she said that she preferred single life, and to all
their heart-touching tales of deep affection for her she always had
one answer. That was "No."
One day this maiden fell ill and day after day grew worse. All the
best medicine men were called in, but their medicines were of no
avail, and in two weeks from the day that she was taken ill she lay
a corpse. Of course there was great mourning in the camp. They
took her body several miles from camp and rolled it in fine robes
and blankets, then they laid her on a scaffold which they had
erected. (This was the custom of burial among the Indians). They
placed four forked posts into the ground and then lashed strong
poles lengthwise and across the ends and made a bed of willows and
stout ash brush. This scaffold was from five to seven feet from
the ground. After the funeral the parents gave away all of their
horses, fine robes and blankets and all of the belongings of the
dead girl. Then they cut their hair off close to their heads, and
attired themselves in the poorest apparel they could secure.
When a year had passed the friends and relatives of the old couple
tried in vain to have them set aside their mourning. "You have
mourned long enough," they would say. "Put aside your mourning and
try and enjoy a few more pleasures of this life while
you live. You are both growing old and can't live very many more
years, so make the best of your time." The old couple would listen
to their advice and then shake their heads and answer: "We have
nothing to live for. Nothing we could join in would be any
amusement to us, since we have lost the light of our lives."
So the old couple continued their mourning for their lost idol.
Two years had passed since the death of the beautiful girl, when
one evening a hunter and his wife passed by the scaffold which held
the dead girl. They were on their return trip and were heavily
loaded down with game, and therefore could not travel very fast.
About half a mile from the scaffold a clear spring burst forth from
the side of a bank, and from this trickled a small stream of water,
moistening the roots of the vegetation bordering its banks, and
causing a growth of sweet green grass. At this spring the hunter
camped and tethering his horses, at once set about helping his wife
to erect the small tepee which they carried for convenience in
When it became quite dark, the hunter's dogs set up a great barking
and growling. "Look out and see what the dogs are barking at,"
said the hunter to his wife. She looked out through the door and
then drew back saying: "There is the figure of a woman advancing
from the direction of the girl's scaffold." "I expect it is the
dead girl; let her come, and don't act as if you were afraid," said
the hunter. Soon they heard footsteps advancing and the steps
ceased at the door. Looking down at the lower part of the door the
hunter noticed a pair of small moccasins, and knowing that it was
the visitor, said: "Whoever you are, come in and have something to
At this invitation the figure came slowly in and sat down by the
door with head covered and with a fine robe drawn tightly over the
face. The woman dished up a fine supper and placing it before the
visitor, said: "Eat, my friend, you must be hungry." The figure
never moved, nor would it uncover to eat. "Let us turn our back
towards the door and our visitor may eat the food," said the
hunter. So his wife turned her back towards the visitor and made
herself very busy cleaning the small pieces of meat that were
hanging to the back sinews of the deer which had been killed.
(This the Indians use as thread.) The hunter, filling his pipe,
turned away and smoked in silence. Finally the dish was pushed
back to the woman, who took it and after washing it, put it away.
The figure still sat at the door, not a sound coming from it,
neither was it breathing. The hunter at last said: "Are you the
girl that was placed upon that scaffold two years ago?" It bowed
its head two or three times in assent. "Are you going to sleep
here tonight; if you are, my wife will make down a bed for you."
The figure shook its head. "Are you going to come again tomorrow
night to us?" It nodded assent.
For three nights in succession the figure visited the hunter's
camp. The third night the hunter noticed that the figure was
breathing. He saw one of the hands protruding from the robe. The
skin was perfectly black and was stuck fast to the bones of the
hand. On seeing this the hunter arose and going over to his
medicine sack which hung on a pole, took down the sack and, opening
it, took out some roots and mixing them with skunk oil and
vermillion, said to the figure:
"If you will let us rub your face and hands with this medicine it
will put new life into the skin and you will assume your complexion
again and it will put flesh on you." The figure assented and the
hunter rubbed the medicine on her hands and face. Then she arose
and walked back to the scaffold. The next day the hunter moved
camp towards the home village. That night he camped within a few
miles of the village. When night came, the dogs, as usual, set up
a great barking, and looking out, the wife saw the girl
When the girl had entered and sat down, the hunter noticed that the
girl did not keep her robe so closely together over her face. When
the wife gave her something to eat, the girl reached out and took
the dish, thus exposing her hands, which they at once noticed were
again natural. After she had finished her meal, the hunter said:
"Did my medicine help you?" She nodded assent. "Do you want my
medicine rubbed all over your body?" Again she nodded. "I will
mix enough to rub your entire body, and I will go outside and let
my wife rub it on for you." He mixed a good supply and going out
left his wife to rub the girl. When his wife had completed the
task she called to her husband to come in, and when he came in he
sat down and said to the girl: "Tomorrow we will reach the village.
Do you want to go with us?" She shook her head. "Will you come
again to our camp tomorrow night after we have camped in the
village?" She nodded her head in assent. "Then do you want to see
your parents?" She nodded again, and arose and disappeared into
Early the next morning the hunter broke camp and traveled far into
the afternoon, when he arrived at the village. He instructed his
wife to go at once and inform the old couple of what had happened.
The wife did so and at sunset the old couple came to the
hunter's tepee. They were invited to enter and a fine supper was
served them. Soon after they had finished their supper the dogs of
the camp set up a great barking. "Now she is coming, so be brave
and you will soon see your lost daughter," said the hunter. Hardly
had he finished speaking when she entered the tent as natural as
ever she was in life. Her parents clung to her and smothered her
They wanted her to return home with them, but she would stay with
the hunter who had brought her back to life, and she married him,
becoming his second wife. A short time after taking the girl for
his wife, the hunter joined a war party and never returned, as he
was killed on the battlefield.
A year after her husband's death she married again. This husband
was also killed by a band of enemies whom the warriors were
pursuing for stealing some of their horses. The third husband also
met a similar fate to the first. He was killed on the field of
She was still a handsome woman at the time of the third husband's
death, but never again married, as the men feared her, saying she
was holy, and that any one who married her would be sure to be
killed by the enemy.
So she took to doctoring the sick and gained the reputation of
being the most skilled doctor in the nation. She lived to a ripe
old age and when she felt death approaching she had them take her
to where she had rested once before, and crawling to the top of the
newly erected scaffold, wrapped her blankets and robes about her,
covered her face carefully, and fell into that sleep from which
there is no more awakening.
THE STORY OF THE PET CRANE
There was once upon a time a man who did not care to live with his
tribe in a crowded village, but preferred a secluded spot in the
deep forest, there to live with his wife and family of five
children. The oldest of the children (a boy) was twelve years of
age, and being the son of a distinguished hunter, soon took to
roaming through the forest in search of small game.
One day during his ramblings, he discovered a crane's nest, with
only one young crane occupying it. No doubt some fox or traveling
weasel had eaten the rest of the crane's brothers and sisters. The
boy said to himself, "I will take this poor little crane home and
will raise him as a pet for our baby. If I leave him here some
hungry fox will be sure to eat the poor little fellow." He carried
the young crane home and it grew to be nearly as tall as the boy's
Being brought up in a human circle, it soon grew to understand all
the family said. Although it could not speak it took part in all
the games played by the children. The father of the family was, as
I have before mentioned, a great hunter. He always had a
plentiful supply of deer, antelope, buffalo and beaver meats on
hand, but there came a change. The game migrated to some other
locality, where no deadly shot like "Kutesan" (Never Miss) would be
around to annihilate their fast decreasing droves. The hunter
started out early one morning in hopes of discovering some of the
game which had disappeared as suddenly as though the earth had
swallowed them. The hunter traveled the whole day, all to no
purpose. It was late in the evening when he staggered into camp.
He was nearly dead with fatigue. Hastily swallowing a cup of
cherry bark tea (the only article of food they had in store), he at
once retired and was soon in the sweet land of dreams. The
children soon joined their father and the poor woman sat thinking
how they could save their dear children from starvation. Suddenly
out upon the night air rang the cry of a crane. Instantly the pet
crane awoke, stepped outside and answered the call. The crane
which had given the cry was the father of the pet crane, and
learning from Mr. Fox of the starving condition of his son and his
friends, he flew to the hunting grounds of the tribe, and as there
had been a good kill that day, the crane found no trouble in
securing a great quantity of fat. This he carried to the tent of
the hunter and, hovering over the tent he suddenly let the fat drop
to the earth and at once the pet crane picked it up and carried it
to the woman.
Wishing to surprise the family on their awakening in the morning
she got a good stick for a light, heaped up sticks on the dying
embers, and started up a rousing fire and proceeded to melt or try
out the fat, as melted fat is considered a favorite dish.
Although busily occupied she kept her ears open for any strange
noises coming out of the forest, there being usually some enemies
lurking around. She held her pan in such a position that after the
fat started to melt and quite a lot of the hot grease accumulated
in the pan, she could plainly see the tent door reflected in the
hot grease, as though she used a mirror.
When she had nearly completed her task, she heard a noise as though
some footsteps were approaching. Instantly her heart began to beat
a tattoo on her ribs, but she sat perfectly quiet, calling all her
self-control into play to keep from making an outcry. This smart
woman had already studied out a way in which to best this enemy, in
case an enemy it should be. The footsteps, or noise, continued to
advance, until at last the woman saw reflected in the pan of grease
a hand slowly protruding through the tent door, and the finger
pointed, as if counting, to the sleeping father, then to each one
of the sleeping children, then to her who sat at the fire. Little
did Mr. Enemy suppose that the brave woman who sat so composed at
her fire, was watching every motion he was making. The hand slowly
withdrew, and as the footsteps slowly died away, there rang out on
the still night air the deep fierce howl of the prairie wolf.
(This imitation of a prairie wolf is the signal to the war party
that an enemy has been discovered by the scout whom they have sent
out in advance). At once she aroused her husband and children.
Annoyed at being so unceremoniously disturbed from his deep sleep,
the husband crossly asked why she had awakened him so roughly. The
wife explained what she had seen and heard. She at once pinned an
old blanket around the crane's shoulders and an old piece of
buffalo hide on his head for a hat or head covering. Heaping piles
of wood onto the fire she instructed him to run around outside of
the hut until the family returned, as they were going to see if
they could find some roots to mix up with the fat. Hurriedly she
tied her blanket around her middle, put her baby inside of it, and
then grabbed her three year old son and packed him on her back.
The father also hurriedly packed the next two and the older boy
took care of himself.
Immediately upon leaving the tent they took three different
directions, to meet again on the high hill west of their home. The
reflection from the fire in the tent disclosed to them the poor pet
crane running around the tent. It looked exactly like a child with
its blanket and hat on.
Suddenly there rang out a score of shots and war whoops of the
dreaded Crow Indians. Finding the tent deserted they disgustedly
filed off and were swallowed up in the darkness of the deep forest.
The next morning the family returned to see what had become of
their pet crane. There, riddled to pieces, lay the poor bird who
had given up his life to save his dear friends.
There once lived a young couple who were very happy. The young man
was noted throughout the whole nation for his accuracy with the bow
and arrow, and was given the title of "Dead Shot," or "He who never
misses his mark," and the young woman, noted for her beauty, was
named Beautiful Dove.
One day a stork paid this happy couple a visit and left them a fine
big boy. The boy cried "Ina, ina" (mother, mother). "Listen to
our son," said the mother, "he can speak, and hasn't he a sweet
voice?" "Yes," said the father, "it will not be long before he
will be able to walk." He set to work making some arrows, and a
fine hickory bow for his son. One of the arrows he painted red,
one blue, and another yellow. The rest he left the natural color
of the wood. When he had completed them, the mother
placed them in a fine quiver, all worked in porcupine quills, and
hung them up over where the boy slept in his fine hammock of
painted moose hide.
At times when the mother would be nursing her son, she would look
up at the bow and arrows and talk to her baby, saying: "My son,
hurry up and grow fast so you can use your bow and arrows. You
will grow up to be as fine a marksman as your father." The baby
would coo and stretch his little arms up towards the bright colored
quiver as though he understood every word his mother had uttered.
Time passed and the boy grew up to a good size, when one day his
father said: "Wife, give our son the bow and arrows so that he may
learn how to use them." The father taught his son how to string
and unstring the bow, and also how to attach the arrow to the
string. The red, blue and yellow arrows, he told the boy, were to
be used only whenever there was any extra good shooting to be done,
so the boy never used these three until he became a master of
the art. Then he would practice on eagles and hawks, and never an
eagle or hawk continued his flight when the boy shot one of the
arrows after him.
One day the boy came running into the tent, exclaiming: "Mother,
mother, I have shot and killed the most beautiful bird I ever saw."
"Bring it in, my son, and let me look at it." He brought the bird
and upon examining it she pronounced it a different type of bird
from any she had ever seen. Its feathers were of variegated colors
and on its head was a topknot of pure white feathers. The father,
returning, asked the boy with which arrow he had killed the bird.
"With the red one," answered the
boy. "I was so anxious to secure the pretty bird that, although I
know I could have killed it with one of my common arrows, I wanted
to be certain, so I used the red one." "That is right, my son,"
said the father. "When you have the least doubt of your aim,
always use one of the painted arrows, and you will never miss your
The parents decided to give a big feast in honor of their son
killing the strange, beautiful bird. So a great many elderly women
were called to the tent of Pretty Dove to assist her in making
ready for the big feast. For ten days these women cooked and
pounded beef and cherries, and got ready the choicest dishes known
to the Indians. Of buffalo, beaver, deer, antelope, moose, bear,
quail, grouse, duck of all kinds, geese and plover meats there was
an abundance. Fish of all kinds, and every kind of wild fruit were
cooked, and when all was in readiness, the heralds went through the
different villages, crying out: "Ho-po, ho-po" (now all, now all),
Dead Shot and his wife, Beautiful Dove, invite all of you, young
and old, to their tepee to partake of a great feast, given by them
in honor of a great bird which their son has killed, and also to
select for their son some good name which he will bear through
life. So all bring your cups and wooden dishes along with your
horn spoons, as there will be plenty to eat. Come, all you council
men and chiefs, as they have also a great tent erected for you in
which you hold your council."
Thus crying, the heralds made the circle of the village. The
guests soon arrived. In front of the tent was a pole stuck in the
ground and painted red, and at the top of the pole was fastened the
bird of variegated colors; its wings stretched out to their full
length and the beautiful white waving so beautifully from its
topknot, it was the center of attraction. Half way up the pole was
tied the bow and arrow of the young marksman. Long streamers of
fine bead and porcupine work waved from the pole and presented a
very striking appearance. The bird was faced towards the setting
sun. The great chief and medicine men pronounced the bird "Wakan"
When the people had finished eating they all fell in line and
marched in single file beneath the bird, in order to get a close
view of it. By the time this vast crowd had fully viewed the
wonderful bird, the sun was just setting clear in the west, when
directly over the rays of the sun appeared a cloud in the shape of
a bird of variegated colors. The councilmen were called out to
look at the cloud, and the head medicine man said that it was a
sign that the boy would grow up to be a great chief and hunter, and
would have a great many friends and followers.
This ended the feast, but before dispersing, the chief and
councilmen bestowed upon the boy the title of White Plume.
One day a stranger came to the village, who was very thin and
nearly starved. So weak was he that he could not speak, but made
signs for something to eat. Luckily the stranger came to Dead
Shot's tent, and as there was always a plentiful supply in his
lodge, the stranger soon had a good meal served him. After he had
eaten and rested he told his story.
"I came from a very great distance," said he. "The nations where
I came from are in a starving condition. No place can they find
any buffalo, deer nor antelope. A witch or evil spirit in the
shape of a white buffalo has driven all the large game out of the
country. Every day this white buffalo comes circling the village,
and any one caught outside of their tent is carried away on its
horns. In vain have the best marksmen of the tribe tried to shoot
it. Their arrows fly wide off the mark, and they have given up
trying to kill it as it bears a charmed life. Another evil spirit
in the form of a red eagle has driven all the birds of the air out
of our country. Every day this eagle circles above the village,
and so powerful is it that anyone being caught outside of his tent
is descended upon and his skull split open to the brain by the
sharp breastbone of the Eagle. Many a marksman has tried his skill
on this bird, all to no purpose.
"Another evil spirit in the form of a white rabbit has driven out
all the animals which inhabit the ground, and destroyed the fields
of corn and turnips, so the nation is starving, as the arrows of
the marksmen have also failed to touch the white rabbit. Any one
who can kill these three witches will receive as his reward, the
choice of two of the most beautiful maidens of our nation. The
younger one is the handsomer of the two and has also the sweetest
disposition. Many young, and even old men, hearing of this (our
chief's) offer, have traveled many miles to try their arrows on the
witches, but all to no purpose. Our chief, hearing of your great
marksmanship, sent me to try and secure your services to have you
come and rid us of these three witches."
Thus spoke the stranger to the hunter. The hunter gazed long and
thoughtfully into the dying embers of the camp fire. Then slowly
his eyes raised and looked lovingly on his wife who sat opposite to
him. Gazing on her beautiful features for a full minute he slowly
dropped his gaze back to the dying embers and thus answered his
"My friend, I feel very much honored by your chief having sent such
a great distance for me, and also for the kind offer of his lovely
daughter in marriage, if I should succeed, but I must reject the
great offer, as I can spare none of my affections to any other
woman than to my queen whom you see sitting there."
White Plume had been listening to the conversation and when his
father had finished speaking, said: "Father, I am a child no more.
I have arrived at manhood. I am not so good a marksman as you, but
I will go to this suffering tribe and try to rid them of their
three enemies. If this man will rest for a few days and return to
his village and inform them of my coming, I will travel along
slowly on his trail and arrive at the village a day or two after he
"Very well, my son," said the father, "I am sure you will succeed,
as you fear nothing, and as to your marksmanship, it is far
superior to mine, as your sight is much clearer and aim quicker
The man rested a few days and one morning started off, after having
instructed White Plume as to the trail. White Plume got together
what he would need on the trip and was ready for an early start the
next morning. That night Dead Shot and his wife sat up
away into the night instructing their son how to travel and warning
him as to the different kinds of people he must avoid in order to
keep out of trouble. "Above all," said the father, "keep a good
look out for Unktomi (spider); he is the most tricky of all, and
will get you into trouble if you associate with him."
White Plume left early, his father accompanying him for several
miles. On parting, the father's last words were: "Look out for
Unktomi, my son, he is deceitful and treacherous." "I'll look out
for him, father;" so saying he disappeared over a hill. On
the way he tried his skill on several hawks and eagles and he did
not need to use his painted arrows to kill them, but so skillful
was he with the bow and arrows that he could bring down anything
that flew with his common arrows. He was drawing near to the end
of his destination when he had a large tract of timber to pass
through. When he had nearly gotten through the timber he saw an
old man sitting on a log, looking wistfully up into a big tree,
where sat a number of prairie chickens.
"Hello, grandfather, why are you sitting there looking so
downhearted?" asked White Plume. "I am nearly starved, and was
just wishing some one would shoot one of those chickens for me, so
I could make a good meal on it," said the old man. "I will shoot
one for you," said the young man. He strung his bow, placed an
arrow on the string, simply seemed to raise the arrow in the
direction of the chicken (taking no aim). Twang went out the bow,
zip went the arrow and a chicken fell off the limb, only to get
caught on another in its descent. "There is your chicken,
grandfather." "Oh, my grandson, I am too weak to climb up and get
it. Can't you climb up and get it for me?" The young man, pitying
the old fellow, proceeded to climb the tree, when the old man
stopped him, saying: "Grandson, you have on such fine clothes, it
is a pity to spoil them; you had better take them off so as not to
spoil the fine porcupine work on them." The young man took off his
fine clothes and climbed up into the tree, and securing
the chicken, threw it down to the old man. As the young man was
scaling down the tree, the old man said: "Iyashkapa, iyashkapa,"
(stick fast, stick fast). Hearing him say something, he asked,
"What did you say, old man?" He answered, "I was only talking to
myself." The young man proceeded to descend, but he could not
move. His body was stuck fast to the bark of the tree. In vain
did he beg the old man to release him. The old Unktomi, for he it
was, only laughed and said: "I will go now and kill the evil
spirits, I have your wonderful bow and arrows and I cannot miss
them. I will marry the chief's daughter, and you can stay up in
that tree and die there."
So saying, he put on White Plume's fine clothes, took his bow and
arrows and went to the village. As White Plume was expected at any
minute, the whole village was watching for him, and when Unktomi
came into sight the young men ran to him with a painted robe, sat
him down on it and slowly raising him up they carried him to the
tent of the chief. So certain were they that he would kill the
evil spirits that the chief told him to choose one of the daughters
at once for his wife. (Before the arrival of White Plume, hearing
of him being so handsome, the two girls had quarreled over which
should marry him, but upon seeing him the younger was not anxious
to become his wife.) So Unktomi chose the older one of the
sisters, and was given a large tent in which to live. The younger
sister went to her mother's tent to live, and the older was very
proud, as she was married to the man who would save the nation from
starvation. The next morning there was a great commotion in camp,
and there came the cry that the white buffalo was coming. "Get
ready, son-in-law, and kill the buffalo," said the chief.
Unktomi took the bow and arrows and shot as the buffalo passed, but
the arrow went wide off its mark. Next came the eagle, and again
he shot and missed. Then came the rabbit, and again he missed.
"Wait until tomorrow, I will kill them all. My blanket caught in
my bow and spoiled my aim." The people were very much
disappointed, and the chief, suspecting that all was not right,
sent for the young man who had visited Dead Shot's tepee. When the
young man arrived, the chief asked: "Did you see White Plume when
you went to Dead Shot's camp?" "Yes, I did, and ate with him many
times. I stayed at his father's tepee all the time I was there,"
said the young man. "Would you recognize him if you saw him
again?" asked the chief. "Any one who had but one glimpse of White
Plume would surely recognize him when he saw him again, as he is
the most handsome man I ever saw," said the young man.
"Come with me to the tent of my son-in-law and take a good look at
him, but don't say what you think until we come away." The two
went to the tent of Unktomi, and when the young man saw him he knew
it was not White Plume, although it was White Plume's bow and
arrows that hung at the head of the bed, and he also recognized the
clothes as belonging to White Plume. When they had returned to the
chief's tent, the young man told what he knew and what he thought.
"I think this is some Unktomi who has played some trick on White
Plume and has taken his bow and arrows and also his clothes, and
hearing of your offer, is here impersonating White Plume. Had
White Plume drawn the bow on the buffalo, eagle and rabbit today,
we would have been rid of them, so I think we had better scare this
Unktomi into telling us where White Plume is," said the young man.
"Wait until he tries to kill the witches again tomorrow," said the
In the meantime the younger daughter had taken an axe and gone into
the woods in search of dry wood. She went quite a little distance
into the wood and was chopping a dry log. Stopping to rest a
little she heard some one saying: "Whoever you are, come over here
and chop this tree down so that I may get loose." Going to where
the big tree stood, she saw a man stuck onto the side of the tree.
"If I chop it down the fall will kill you," said the girl. "No,
chop it on the opposite side from me, and the tree will fall that
way. If the fall kills me, it will be better than hanging up here
and starving to death," said White Plume, for it was he.
The girl chopped the tree down and when she saw that it had not
killed the man, she said: "What shall I do now?" "Loosen the bark
from the tree and then get some stones and heat them. Get some
water and sage and put your blanket over me." She did as told and
when the steam arose from the water being poured upon the heated
rocks, the bark loosened from his body and he arose. When he stood
up, she saw how handsome he was. "You have saved my life," said
he. "Will you be my wife?" "I will," said she. He then told her
how the old man had fooled him into this trap and took his bow and
arrows, also his fine porcupine worked clothes, and had gone off,
leaving him to die. She, in turn, told him all that had happened
in camp since a man, calling himself White Plume, came there and
married her sister before he shot at the witches, and when he came
to shoot at them, missed every shot. "Let us
make haste, as the bad Unktomi may ruin my arrows." They
approached the camp and whilst White Plume waited outside, his
promised wife entered Unktomi's tent and said: "Unktomi, White
Plume is standing outside and he wants his clothes and bow and
arrows." "Oh, yes, I borrowed them and forgot to return them; make
haste and give them to him."
Upon receiving his clothes, he was very much provoked to find his
fine clothes wrinkled and his bow twisted, while the arrows were
twisted out of shape. He laid the clothes down, also the bows and
arrows, and passing his hand over them, they assumed their right
shapes again. The daughter took White Plume to her father's tent
and upon hearing the story he at once sent for his warriors and had
them form a circle around Unktomi's tent, and if he attempted to
escape to catch him and tie him to a tree, as he (the chief) had
determined to settle accounts with him for his treatment of White
Plume, and the deception employed in winning the chief's eldest
daughter. About midnight the guard noticed something crawling
along close to the ground, and seizing him found it was Unktomi
trying to make his escape before daylight, whereupon they tied him
to a tree. "Why do you treat me thus," cried Unktomi, "I was just
going out in search of medicine to rub on my arrows, so I can kill
the witches." "You will need medicine to rub on yourself when the
chief gets through with you," said the young man who had
discovered that Unktomi was impersonating White Plume.
In the morning the herald announced that the real White Plume had
arrived, and the chief desired the whole nation to witness his
marksmanship. Then came the cry: "The White Buffalo comes."
Taking his red arrow, White Plume stood ready. When the buffalo
got about opposite him, he let his arrow fly. The buffalo bounded
high in the air and came down with all four feet drawn together
under its body, the red arrow having passed clear through the
animal, piercing the buffalo's heart. A loud cheer went up from
"You shall use the hide for your bed," said the chief to White
Plume. Next came a cry, "the eagle, the eagle." From the north
came an enormous red eagle. So strong was he, that as he soared
through the air his wings made a humming sound as the rumble of
distant thunder. On he came, and just as he circled the tent of
the chief, White Plume bent his bow, with all his strength drew the
arrow back to the flint point, and sent the blue arrow on its
mission of death. So swiftly had the arrow passed through the
eagle's body that, thinking White Plume had missed, a great wail
went up from the crowd, but when they saw the eagle stop in his
flight, give a few flaps of his wings, and then fall with a heavy
thud into the center of the village, there was a greater cheer than
before. "The red eagle shall be used to decorate the seat of honor
in your tepee," said the chief to White Plume. Last came the white
rabbit. "Aim good, aim good, son-in-law," said the chief. "If you
kill him you will have his skin for a rug." Along came the white
rabbit, and White Plume sent his arrow in search of rabbit's heart,
which it found, and stopped Mr. Rabbit's tricks forever.
The chief then called all of the people together and before them
all took a hundred willows and broke them one at a time over
Unktomi's back. Then he turned him loose. Unktomi, being so
ashamed, ran off into the woods and hid in the deepest and darkest
corner he could find. This is why Unktomis (spiders) are always
found in dark corners, and anyone who is deceitful or untruthful is
called a descendant of the Unktomi tribe.
STORY OF PRETTY FEATHERED FOREHEAD
There was once a baby boy who came into the world with a small
cluster of different colored feathers grown fast to his forehead.
From this he derived his name, "Pretty Feathered Forehead." He was
a very pleasant boy as well as handsome, and he had the respect of
the whole tribe. When he had grown up to be a young man, he never,
like other young men, made love to any of the tribe's beauties.
Although they were madly in love with him, he never noticed any of
them. There were many handsome girls in the different camps, but
he passed them by.
One day he said: "Father, I am going on a visit to the Buffalo
nation." The father gave his consent, and away went the son. The
father and mother suspected the object of their son's visit to the
Buffalo nation, and forthwith commenced preparing a fine reception
for their intended daughter-in-law. The mother sewed together ten
buffalo hides and painted the brave deeds of her husband on them.
This she made into a commodious tent, and had work bags and fine
robes and blankets put inside. This was to be the tent of their
son and daughter-in-law. In a few weeks the son returned, bringing
with him a beautiful Buffalo girl. The parents of the boy gave a
big feast in honor of the occasion, and the son and his wife lived
very happily together.
In the course of time a son came to the young couple, and the
father was very proud of his boy. When the boy became a year old,
the father said to his wife: "I am going for a visit to the Elk
nation." The mother was very sad, as she knew her husband was
going after another wife. He returned, bringing with him a very
beautiful elk girl. When the Buffalo woman saw the elk girl she
was very downcast and sad, but the husband said: "Don't be sad; she
will do all the heavy work for you."
They lived quite happily together for a long time. The Elk girl
also became the mother of a fine boy. The two boys had grown up
large enough to play around. One day the Elk woman was tanning
hides outside and the two boys were playing around near their
mothers, when all at once the buffalo boy ran across the robe,
leaving his tracks on the white robe which his step-mother had
nearly completed. This provoked the elk woman and she gave vent to
her feelings by scolding the boy: "You clumsy flat mouth, why
couldn't you run around my work, instead of across it?" The
buffalo cow standing in the door, heard every word that the elk
woman had said, and when she heard her son called flat mouth it
made her very angry, although she did not say a word to any one.
She hurriedly gathered some of her belongings and, calling her son,
she started off in a westerly direction.
The husband being absent on a hunting expedition did not return
until late in the afternoon. Upon his return his oldest boy always
ran out to meet him, but this time as the boy did not put in an
appearance, the father feared that something had happened to the
boy. So hurriedly going to his tent he looked around, but failing
to see the boy or his mother, he asked his elk wife, where the boy
and his mother were. The elk wife answered: "She took her boy on
her back and started off in that direction," (pointing towards the
west). "How long has she been gone?" "Since early morning." The
husband hurriedly caught a fresh horse and, without eating
anything, rode off in the direction taken by his buffalo wife and
boy. Near dark he ascended a high hill and noticed a small tent
down in the valley. It was a long distance down to the tent, so it
was very late when he arrived there. He tethered his horse and
went into the tent and found the boy and his mother fast asleep.
Upon lying down beside them the boy awoke, and upon seeing his
father, motioned to him to go outside with him.
On going outside the boy told his father that it would be useless
for him to try and coax his mother to return, as she was too highly
insulted by the elk wife to ever return. Then the boy told about
what the elk wife had said and that she had called him flat mouth.
"My mother is determined to return to her people, but if you want
to follow us you may, and perhaps, after she has visited with her
relatives a little while, you may induce her to return with you.
In the morning we are going to start very early, and as the country
we will travel through is very hard soil, I will stamp my feet hard
so as to leave my tracks imprinted in the softest places, then you
will be able to follow the direction we will take."
The two went into the tent and were soon fast asleep. The father,
being very much fatigued, slept very soundly, and when he awoke the
sun was beating down upon him. The mother and boy were nowhere to
be seen. The tent had been taken down from over him so carefully
that he had not been awakened. Getting his horse, he mounted and
rode after the two who had left him sleeping. He had no trouble in
following the trail, as the boy had stamped his feet hard and left
his little tracks in the soft places.
That evening he spied the little tent again and on getting to it
found them both asleep. The boy awoke and motioned for his father
to go outside. He again told his father that the next day's travel
would be the hardest of all. "We will cross a great plain,
but before we get there we will cross a sandy hollow. When you get
to the hollow, look at my tracks; they will be deep into the sand,
and in each track you will see little pools of water. Drink as
much as you can, as this is the only chance you will get to have a
drink, there being no water from there to the big ridge, and it
will be dark by the time you get to the ridge. The relations of my
mother live at that ridge and I will come and talk to you once
more, before I leave you to join my mother's people."
Next morning, as before, he awoke to find himself alone. They had
left him and proceeded on their journey. He mounted again and when
he arrived at the sandy hollow, sure enough, there, deep in the
sand, were the tracks of his son filled to the top with water. He
drank and drank until he had drained the last one. Then he arose
and continued on the trail, and near sundown he came in sight of
their little tent away up on the side of the ridge. His horse
suddenly staggered and fell forward dead, having died of thirst.
From there he proceeded on foot. When he got to where the tent
stood he entered, only to find it empty. "I guess my son intends
to come here and have his last talk with me," thought the father.
He had eaten nothing for three days, and was nearly famished. He
lay down, but the pangs of hunger kept sleep away. He heard
footsteps outside and lay in readiness, thinking it might be an
enemy. Slowly opening the covering of the door, his son looked in
and seeing his father lying awake, drew back and ran off up the
ridge, but soon returned bringing a small parcel with him. When he
entered he gave the parcel to his father and said: "Eat, father; I
stole this food for you, so I could not get very much." The father
soon ate what his son had brought. When he had finished, the son
said: "Tomorrow morning the relatives of my mother will come over
here and take you down to the village. My mother has three sisters
who have their work bags made identically the same as mother's.
Were they to mix them up they could not each pick out her own
without looking inside so as to identify them by what they have in
them. You will be asked to pick out mother's work bag, and if you
fail they will trample you to death. Next they will tell you to
pick out my mother from among her sisters, and you will be unable
to distinguish her from the other three, and if you fail they will
bury you alive. The last they will try you on, in case you meet
the first and second tests successfully, will be to require you to
pick me out from my three cousins, who are as much like me as my
reflection in the water. The bags you can tell by a little pebble
I will place on my mother's. You can pick my mother out by a small
piece of grass which I will put in her hair,
and you can pick me out from my cousins, for when we commence to
dance, I will shake my head, flop my ears and switch my tail. You
must choose quickly, as they will be very angry at your success,
and if you lose any time they will make the excuse that you did not
know, that they may have an excuse to trample you to death."
The boy then left, after admonishing his father to remember all
that he had told him. Early next morning the father heard a great
rumbling noise, and going outside, he saw the whole hillside
covered with buffalo. When he appeared they set up a loud
bellowing and circled around him. One old bull came up and giving
a loud snort, passed on by, looking back every few steps. The man,
thinking he was to follow this one, did so, and the whole herd,
forming a half circle around him, escorted him down the west side
of the range out on to a large plain, where there stood a lone
tree. To this tree the old bull led him and stopped when he
reached the tree. A large rock at the foot of the tree served as
a seat for the man. As soon as he was seated there came four
female buffaloes, each bearing a large work box. They set the
boxes down in a row in front of the man, and the herd crowded
around closer in order to get a good view. The old bull came to
the front and stood close to the bags, which had been taken out of
the four boxes.
The man stood up, and looking at the bags, noticed a small pebble
resting on the one next to the left end. Stepping over he pulled
the bag towards him and secretly pushed the little pebble off the
bag, so that no one would notice it. When they saw that he had
selected the right one, they set up a terrific bellow.
Then came the four sisters and stood in a line before the man.
Glancing along from the one on the right to the last one on the
left, he stepped forward and placed his hand on the one next to the
right. Thanks to his boy, if he hadn't put that little stem of
grass on his mother's hair, the father could never have picked out
his wife, as the four looked as much alike as four peas. Next came
the four boy calves, and as they advanced they commenced dancing,
and his son was shaking his head and flopping his ears and
switching his tail. The father was going to pick out his boy, when
a fainting spell took him, and as he sank to the ground the old
bull sprang forward on top of him, and instantly they rushed upon
him and he was soon trampled to a jelly. The herd then moved to
The elk wife concluded that something had happened to her husband
and determined upon going in search of him. As she was very fleet
of foot it did not take her long to arrive at the lone tree. She
noticed the blood splashed on the base of the tree, and small
pieces of flesh stamped into the earth. Looking closer, she
noticed something white in the dust. Stooping and picking it out
of the dust, she drew forth the cluster of different colored
feathers which had been fastened to her husband's forehead. She at
once took the cluster of feathers, and going to the east side of
the ridge, heated stones and erected a wickieup, placed the
feathers inside, and getting water, she sprinkled the stones, and
this caused a thick vapor in the wickieup. She continued this for
a long time, when she heard something moving inside the wickieup.
Then a voice spoke up, saying: "Whoever you are, pour some more
water on and I will be all right." So the woman got more water and
poured it on the rocks. "That will do now, I want to dry off."
She plucked a pile of sage and in handing it in to him, he
recognized his elk wife's hand.
They went back home and shortly after the buffalo, hearing about
him coming back to life, decided to make war on him and kill him
and his wife, she being the one who brought him back to life. The
woman, hearing of this, had posts set in the ground and a strong
platform placed on top. When the buffalo came, her husband, her
son and herself, were seated upon the bough platform, and the
buffalo could not reach them. She flouted her red blanket in their
faces, which made the buffalo wild with rage. The hunter's friends
came to his rescue, and so fast were they killing the buffalo that
they took flight and rushed away, never more to bother Pretty
THE FOUR BROTHERS
INYANHOKSILA (STONE BOY)
Alone and apart from their tribe dwelt four orphan brothers. They
had erected a very comfortable hut, although the materials used
were only willows, hay, birch bark, and adobe mud. After the
completion of their hut, the oldest brother laid out the different
kinds of work to be done by the four of them. He and the second
and third brothers were to do all the hunting, and the youngest
brother was to do the house work, cook the meals, and keep plenty
of wood on hand at all times.
As his older brothers would leave for their hunting very early
every morning, and would not return till late at night, the little
fellow always found plenty of spare time to gather into little
piles fine dry wood for their winter use.
Thus the four brothers lived happily for a long time. One day
while out gathering and piling up wood, the boy heard a rustling in
the leaves and looking around he saw a young woman standing in the
cherry bushes, smiling at him.
"Who are you, and where did you come from?" asked the boy, in
surprise. "I am an orphan girl and have no relatives living. I
came from the village west of here. I learned from rabbit that
there were four orphan brothers living here all alone, and that the
youngest was keeping house for his older brothers, so I thought I
would come over and see if I couldn't have them adopt me as their
sister, so that I might keep house for them, as I am very poor and
have no relations, neither have I a home."
She looked so pitiful and sad that the boy thought to himself, "I
will take her home with me, poor girl, no matter what my brothers
think or say." Then he said to her: "Come on, tanke (sister). You
may go home with me; I am sure my older brothers will be glad to
have you for our sister."
When they arrived at the hut, the girl hustled about and cooked up
a fine hot supper, and when the brothers returned they were
surprised to see a girl sitting by the fire in their hut. After
they had entered the youngest brother got up and walked outside,
and a short time after the oldest brother followed him
out. "Who is that girl, and where did she come from?" he asked his
brother. Whereupon the brother told him the whole story. Upon
hearing this the oldest brother felt very sorry for the poor orphan
girl and going back into the hut he spoke to the girl, saying:
"Sister, you are an orphan, the same as we; you have no relatives,
no home. We will be your brothers, and our poor hut shall be your
home. Henceforth call us brothers, and you will be our sister."
"Oh, how happy I am now that you take me as your sister. I will be
to you all as though we were of the same father and mother," said
the girl. And true to her word, she looked after everything of her
brothers and kept the house in such fine shape that the brothers
blessed the day that she came to their poor little hut. She always
had an extra buckskin suit and two pairs of moccasins hanging at
the head of each one's bed. Buffalo, deer, antelope, bear, wolf,
wildcat, mountain lion and beaver skins she tanned by the dozen,
and piled nicely in one corner of the hut.
When the Indians have walked a great distance and are very tired,
they have great faith in painting their feet, claiming that paint
eases the pain and rests their feet.
After their return from a long day's journey, when they would be
lying down resting, the sister would get her paint and mix it with
the deer tallow and rub the paint on her brother's feet, painting
them up to their ankles. The gentle touch of her hands, and the
soothing qualities of the tallow and paint soon put them into a
deep, dreamless steep.
Many such kind actions on her part won the hearts of the brothers,
and never was a full blood sister loved more than was this poor
orphan girl, who had been taken as their adopted sister. In the
morning when they arose, the sister always combed their long black
silken scalp locks and painted the circle around the scalp lock a
When the hunters would return with a goodly supply of beef, the
sister would hurry and relieve them of their packs, hanging each
one high enough from the ground so the prowling dogs and coyotes
could not reach them. The hunters each had a post on which to hang
his bow and flint head arrows. (Good hunters never laid their
arrows on the ground, as it was considered unlucky to the hunter
who let his arrows touch the earth after they had been out
of the quiver). They were all perfectly happy, until one day the
older brother surprised them all by saying: "We have a plentiful
supply of meat on hand at present to last us for a week or so. I
am going for a visit to the village west of us, so you boys all
stay at home and help sister. Also gather as much wood as you can
and I will be back again in four days. On my return we will resume
our hunting and commence getting our year's supply of meat."
He left the next morning, and the last they saw of him was while he
stood at the top of the long range of hills west of their home.
Four days had come and gone and no sign of the oldest brother.
"I am afraid that our brother has met with some accident," said the
sister. "I am afraid so, too," said the next oldest. "I must go
and search for him; he may be in some trouble where a little help
would get him out." The second brother followed the direction his
brother had taken, and when he came to the top of the long range of
hills he sat down and gazed long and steadily down into the long
valley with a beautiful creek winding through it. Across the
valley was a long plain stretching for miles beyond and
finally ending at the foot of another range of hills, the
counterpart of the one upon which he sat.
After noting the different landmarks carefully, he arose and slowly
started down the slope and soon came to the creek he had seen from
the top of the range. Great was his surprise on arriving at the
creek to find what a difference there was in the appearance
of it from the range and where he stood. From the range it
appeared to be a quiet, harmless, laughing stream. Now he saw it
to be a muddy, boiling, bubbling torrent, with high perpendicular
banks. For a long time he stood, thinking which way to go, up or
down stream. He had just decided to go down stream, when, on
chancing to look up, he noticed a thin column of smoke slowly
ascending from a little knoll. He approached the place cautiously
and noticed a door placed into the creek bank on the opposite side
of the stream. As he stood looking at the door, wondering who
could be living in a place like that, it suddenly opened and a very
old appearing woman came out and stood looking around her. Soon
she spied the young man, and said to him: "My grandchild, where did
you come from and whither are you bound?" The young man answered:
"I came from east of this ridge and am in search of my oldest
brother, who came over in this direction five days ago and who has
not yet returned."
"Your brother stopped here and ate his dinner with me, and then
left, traveling towards the west," said the old witch, for such she
was. "Now, grandson, come across on that little log bridge up the
stream there and have your dinner with me. I have
it all cooked now and just stepped outside to see if there might
not be some hungry traveler about, whom I could invite in to eat
dinner with me." The young man went up the stream a little
distance and found a couple of small logs which had been placed
across the stream to serve as a bridge. He crossed over and went
down to the old woman's dugout hut. "Come in grandson, and eat.
I know you must be hungry."
The young man sat down and ate a real hearty meal. On finishing he
arose and said: "Grandmother, I thank you for your meal and
kindness to me. I would stay and visit with you awhile, as I know
it must be very lonely here for you, but I am very anxious to find
my brother, so I must be going. On my return I will stop with my
brother and we will pay you a little visit."
"Very well, grandson, but before you go, I wish you would do me a
little favor. Your brother did it for me before he left, and cured
me, but it has come back on me again. I am subject to very severe
pains along the left side of my backbone, all the way from my
shoulder blade down to where my ribs attach to my backbone, and the
only way I get any relief from the pain is to have some one kick me
along the side." (She was a witch, and concealed in her robe a
long sharp steel spike. It was placed so that the last kick they
would give her, their foot would hit the spike and they would
instantly drop off into a swoon, as if dead.)
"If I won't hurt you too much, grandmother, I certainly will be
glad to do it for you," said the young man, little thinking he
would be the one to get hurt.
"No, grandson, don't be afraid of hurting me; the harder you kick
the longer the pain stays away." She laid down on the floor and
rolled over on to her right side, so he could get a good chance to
kick the left side where she said the pain was located.
As he moved back to give the first kick, he glanced along the floor
and he noticed a long object wrapped in a blanket, lying against
the opposite wall. He thought it looked strange and was going to
stop and investigate, but just then the witch cried out as if in
pain. "Hurry up, grandson, I am going to die if you don't hurry
and start in kicking." "I can investigate after I get through with
her," thought he, so he started in kicking and every kick he would
give her she would cry: "Harder, kick harder." He had to kick
seven times before he would get to the end of the pain, so he let
out as hard as he could drive, and when he came to the last kick he
hit the spike, and driving it through his foot, fell down in a dead
swoon, and was rolled up in a blanket by the witch
and placed beside his brother at the opposite side of the room.
When the second brother failed to return, the third went in search
of the two missing ones. He fared no better than the second one,
as he met the old witch who served him in a similar manner as she
had his two brothers.
"Ha! Ha!" she laughed, when she caught the third, "I have only one
more of them to catch, and when I get them I will keep them all
here a year, and then I will turn them into horses and sell them
back to their sister. I hate her, for I was going to
try and keep house for them and marry the oldest one, but she got
ahead of me and became their sister, so now I will get my revenge
on her. Next year she will be riding and driving her brothers and
she won't know it."
When the third brother failed to return, the sister cried and
begged the last one not to venture out in search of them. But go
he must, and go he did, only to do as his three brothers had done.
Now the poor sister was nearly distracted. Day and night she
wandered over hills and through woods in hopes she might find or
hear of some trace of them. Her wanderings were in vain. The
hawks had not seen them after they had crossed the little stream.
The wolves and coyotes told her that they had seen nothing of her
brothers out on the broad plains, and she had given them up for
One day, as she was sitting by the little stream that flowed past
their hut, throwing pebbles into the water and wondering what she
should do, she picked up a pure white pebble, smooth and round, and
after looking at it for a long time, threw it into the water. No
sooner had it hit the water than she saw it grow larger. She took
it out and looked at it and threw it in again. This time it had
assumed the form of a baby. She took it out and threw it in the
third time and the form took life and began to cry: "Ina, ina"
(mother, mother). She took the baby home and fed it soup, and it
being an unnatural baby, quickly grew up to a good sized boy. At
the end of three months he was a good big, stout youth. One day he
said: "Mother, why are you living here alone? To whom do all these
fine clothes and moccasins belong?" She then told him the story of
her lost brothers. "Oh, I know now where they are. You make me
lots of arrows. I am going to find my uncles." She tried to
dissuade him from going, but he was determined and said: "My father
sent me to you so that I could find my uncles for you, and nothing
can harm me, because I am stone and my name is "Stone Boy."
The mother, seeing that he was determined to go, made a whole
quiver full of arrows for him, and off he started. When he came to
the old witch's hut, she was nowhere to be seen, so he pushed the
door in and entered. The witch was busily engaged cooking dinner.
"Why, my dear grandchild, you are just in time for dinner. Sit
down and we will eat before you continue your journey." Stone boy
sat down and ate dinner with the old witch. She watched him very
closely, but when she would be drinking her soup he would glance
hastily around the room. Finally he saw the four bundles on the
opposite side of the room, and he guessed at once that there lay
his four uncles. When he had finished eating he took out his
little pipe and filled it with "kini-kinic," and commenced to
smoke, wondering how the old woman had managed to fool his smart
uncles. He couldn't study it out, so when he had finished his
smoke he arose to pretend to go. When the old woman saw him
preparing to leave, she said: "Grandson, will you kick me on the
left side of my backbone. I am nearly dead with pain and if you
kick me good and hard it will cure me." "All right, grandma," said
the boy. The old witch lay down on the floor and the boy started
in to kick. At the first kick he barely touched her. "Kick as
hard as you can, grandson; don't be afraid you will hurt me,
because you can't." With that Stone Boy let drive and broke two
ribs. She commenced to yell and beg him to stop, but he kept on
kicking until he had kicked both sides of her ribs loose from the
backbone. Then he jumped on her backbone and broke it and killed
the old witch.
He built a big fire outside and dragged her body to it, and threw
her into the fire. Thus ended the old woman who was going to turn
his uncles into horses.
Next he cut willows and stuck them into the ground in a circle.
The tops he pulled together, making a wickieup. He then took the
old woman's robes and blankets and covered the wickieup so that no
air could get inside. He then gathered sage brush and covered the
floor with a good thick bed of sage; got nice round stones and got
them red hot in the fire, and placed them in the wickieup and
proceeded to carry his uncles out of the hut and lay them down on
the soft bed of sage. Having completed carrying and depositing
them around the pile of rocks, he got a bucket of water and poured
it on the hot rocks, which caused a great vapor in the little
wickieup. He waited a little while and then listened and
heard some breathing inside, so he got another bucket and poured
that on also. After awhile he could hear noises inside as though
some one were moving about. He went again and got the third bucket
and after he had poured that on the rocks, one of the men inside
said: "Whoever you are, good friend, don't bring us to life only to
scald us to death again." Stone boy then said: "Are all of you
alive?" "Yes," said the voice. "Well, come out," said the boy.
And with that he threw off the robes and blankets, and a great
cloud of vapor arose and settled around the top of the highest peak
on the long range, and from that did Smoky Range derive its name.
The uncles, when they heard who the boy was, were very happy, and
they all returned together to the anxiously waiting sister. As
soon as they got home, the brothers worked hard to gather enough
wood to last them all winter. Game they could get at all times of
the year, but the heavy fall of snow covered most of the dry wood
and also made it very difficult to drag wood through the deep snow.
So they took advantage of the nice fall weather and by the time the
snow commenced falling they had enough wood gathered to last them
throughout the winter. After the snow fell a party of boys swiftly
coasted down the big hill west of the brothers' hut. The Stone boy
used to stand and watch them for hours at a time. His youngest
uncle said: "Why don't you go up and coast with them?" The boy
said: "They may be afraid of me, but I guess I will try once,
anyway." So the next morning when the crowd came coasting, Stone
boy started for the hill. When he had nearly reached the bottom of
the coasting hill all of the boys ran off excepting two little
fellows who had a large coaster painted in different colors and had
little bells tied around the edges, so when the coaster was in
motion the bells made a cheerful tinkling sound. As Stone boy
started up the hill the two little fellows started down and went
past him as though shot from a hickory bow.
When they got to the end of their slide, they got off and started
back up the hill. It being pretty steep, Stone boy waited for
them, so as to lend a hand to pull the big coaster up the hill. As
the two little fellows came up with him he knew at once that they
were twins, as they looked so much alike that the only way one
could be distinguished from the other was by the scarfs they wore.
One wore red, the other black. He at once offered to help them
drag their coaster to the top of the hill. When they got to the
top the twins offered their coaster to him to try a ride. At first
he refused, but they insisted on his taking it, as they said they
would sooner rest until he came back. So he got on the coaster and
flew down the hill, only he was such an expert he made a zigzag
course going down and also jumped the coaster off a bank about four
feet high, which none of the other coasters dared to tackle. Being
very heavy, however, he nearly smashed the coaster. Upon seeing
this wonderful jump, and the zigzag course he had taken going down,
the twins went wild with excitement and decided that they would
have him take them down when he got back. So upon his arrival at
the starting point, they both asked him at once to give them the
pleasure of the same kind of a ride he had taken. He refused,
saying: "We will break your coaster. I alone nearly smashed it,
and if we all get on and make the same kind of a jump, I am afraid
you will have to go home without your coaster."
"Well, take us down anyway, and if we break it our father will make
us another one." So he finally consented. When they were all
seated ready to start, he told them that when the coaster made the
jump they must look straight ahead. "By no means look down,
because if you do we will go over the cut bank and land in a heap
at the bottom of the gulch."
They said they would obey what he said, so off they started swifter
than ever, on account of the extra weight, and so swiftly did the
sleigh glide over the packed, frozen snow, that it nearly took the
twins' breath away. Like an arrow they approached the
jump. The twins began to get a little nervous. "Sit steady and
look straight ahead," yelled Stone boy. The twin next to Stone
boy, who was steering behind, sat upright and looked far ahead, but
the one in front crouched down and looked into the coulee. Of
course, Stone boy, being behind, fell on top of the twins, and
being so heavy, killed both of them instantly, crushing them to a
The rest of the boys, seeing what had happened, hastened to the
edge of the bank, and looking down, saw the twins laying dead, and
Stone boy himself knocked senseless, lying quite a little distance
from the twins. The boys, thinking that all three were
killed, and that Stone boy had purposely steered the sleigh over
the bank in such a way that it would tip and kill the twins,
returned to the village with this report. Now, these twins were
the sons of the head chief of the Buffalo Nation. So at once the
chief and his scouts went over to the hill to see if the boys had
told the truth.
When they arrived at the bank they saw the twins lying dead, but
where was Stone boy? They looked high and low through the gulch,
but not a sign of him could they find. Tenderly they picked up the
dead twins and carried them home, then held a big council and put
away the bodies of the dead in Buffalo custom.
A few days after this the uncles were returning from a long
journey. When they drew near their home they noticed large droves
of buffalo gathered on their side of the range. Hardly any buffalo
ever ranged on this east side of the range before, and the brothers
thought it strange that so many should so suddenly appear there
When they arrived at home their sister told them what had happened
to the chief's twins, as her son had told her the whole story upon
his arrival at home after the accident.
"Well, probably all the buffalo we saw were here for the council
and funeral," said the older brother. "But where is my nephew?"
(Stone boy) he asked his sister. "He said he had noticed a great
many buffalo around lately and he was going to learn, if possible,
what their object was," said the sister. "Well, we will
wait until his return."
When Stone boy left on his trip that morning, before the return of
his uncles, he was determined to ascertain what might be the
meaning of so many buffalo so near the home of himself and uncles.
He approached several bunches of young buffalo, but upon
seeing him approaching they would scamper over the hills. Thus he
wandered from bunch to bunch, scattering them all. Finally he grew
tired of their cowardice and started for home. When he had come to
within a half mile or so of home he saw an old shaggy buffalo
standing by a large boulder, rubbing on it first one horn and then
the other. On coming up close to him, the boy saw that the bull
was so old he could hardly see, and his horns so blunt that he
could have rubbed them for a year on that boulder and not sharpened
them so as to hurt anyone.
"What are you doing here, grandfather?" asked the boy.
"I am sharpening my horns for the war," said the bull.
"What war?" asked the boy.
"Haven't you heard," said the old bull, who was so near sighted he
did not recognize Stone boy. "The chief's twins were killed by
Stone boy, who ran them over a cut bank purposely, and the chief
has ordered all of his buffalo to gather here, and when they arrive
we are going to kill Stone boy and his mother and his uncles."
"Is that so? When is the war to commence?"
"In five days from now we will march upon the
uncles and trample and gore them all to death."
"Well, grandfather, I thank you for your information, and in return
will do you a favor that will save you so much hard work on your
blunt horns." So saying he drew a long arrow from his quiver and
strung his bow, attached the arrow to the string and drew the arrow
half way back. The old bull, not seeing what was going on, and
half expecting some kind of assistance in his horn sharpening
process, stood perfectly still. Thus spoke Stone boy:
"Grandfather, you are too old to join in a war now, and besides if
you got mixed up in that big war party you might step in a hole or
stumble and fall and be trampled to death. That would be a
horrible death, so I will save you all that suffering by just
giving you this." At this word he pulled the arrow back to the
flint head and let it fly. True to his aim, the arrow went in
behind the old bull's foreleg, and with such force was it sent that
it went clear through the bull and stuck into a tree two hundred
Walking over to the tree, he pulled out his arrow. Coolly
straightening his arrow between his teeth and sighting it for
accuracy, he shoved it back into the quiver with its brothers,
exclaiming: "I guess, grandpa, you won't need to sharpen your horns
for Stone boy and his uncles."
Upon his arrival home he told his uncles to get to work building
three stockades with ditches between and make the ditches wide and
deep so they will hold plenty of buffalo. "The fourth fence I will
build myself," he said.
The brothers got to work early and worked until very late at night.
They built three corrals and dug three ditches around the hut, and
it took them three days to complete the work. Stone boy hadn't
done a thing towards building his fence yet, and there were
only two days more left before the charge of the buffalo would
commence. Still the boy didn't seem to bother himself about the
fence. Instead he had his mother continually cutting arrow sticks,
and as fast as she could bring them he would shape them, feather
and head them. So by the time his uncles had their fences and
corrals finished he had a thousand arrows finished for each of his
uncles. The last two days they had to wait, the uncles joined him
and they finished several thousand more arrows. The evening before
the fifth day he told his uncles to put up four posts, so they
could use them as seats from which to shoot.
While they were doing this, Stone boy went out to scout and see how
things looked. At daylight he came hurriedly in saying, "You had
better get to the first corral; they are coming." "You haven't
built your fence, nephew." Whereupon Stone boy said: "I will build
it in time; don't worry, uncle." The dust on the hillsides rose as
great clouds of smoke from a forest fire. Soon the leaders of the
charge came in sight, and upon seeing the timber stockade they gave
forth a great snort or roar that fairly shook the earth. Thousands
upon thousands of mad buffalo charged upon the little fort. The
leaders hit the first stockade and it soon gave way. The maddened
buffalo pushed forward by the thousands behind them; plunged
forward, only to fall into the first ditch and be trampled to death
by those behind them. The brothers were not slow in using their
arrows, and many a noble beast went down before their deadly aim
with a little flint pointed arrow buried deep in his heart.
The second stockade stood their charge a little longer than did the
first, but finally this gave way, and the leaders pushed on
through, only to fall into the second ditch and meet a similar fate
to those in the first. The brothers commenced to look anxiously
towards their nephew, as there was only one more stockade left, and
the second ditch was nearly bridged over with dead buffalo, with
the now thrice maddened buffalo attacking the last stockade more
furiously than before, as they could see the little hut through the
openings in the corral.
"Come in, uncles," shouted Stone boy. They obeyed him, and
stepping to the center he said: "Watch me build my fence." Suiting
the words, he took from his belt an arrow with a white stone
fastened to the point and fastening it to his bow, he shot it high
in the air. Straight up into the air it went, for two or three
thousand feet, then seemed to stop suddenly and turned with point
down and descended as swiftly as it had ascended. Upon striking
the ground a high stone wall arose, enclosing the hut and all who
were inside. Just then the buffalo broke the last stockade only to
fill the last ditch up again. In vain did the leaders butt the
stone wall. They hurt themselves, broke their horns and mashed
their snouts, but could not even scar the wall.
The uncles and Stone boy in the meantime rained arrows of death
into their ranks.
When the buffalo chief saw what they had to contend with, he
ordered the fight off. The crier or herald sang out: "Come away,
come away, Stone boy and his uncles will kill all of us."
So the buffalo withdrew, leaving over two thousand of their dead
and wounded on the field, only to be skinned and put away for the
feasts of Stone boy and his uncles, who lived to be great chiefs of
their own tribe, and whose many relations soon joined them on the
banks of Stone Boy Creek.
THE UNKTOMI (SPIDER), TWO WIDOWS,
AND THE RED PLUMS
There once lived, in a remote part of a great forest, two widowed
sisters, with their little babies. One day there came to their
tent a visitor who was called Unktomi (spider). He had found some
nice red plums during his wanderings in the forest, and he said to
himself, "I will keep these plums and fool the two widows with
them." After the widows had bidden him be seated, he presented
them with the plums.
On seeing them they exclaimed "hi nu, hi nu (an exclamation of
surprise), where did you get those fine plums?" Unktomi arose and
pointing to a crimson tipped cloud, said: "You see that red cloud?
Directly underneath it is a patch of plums. So large is the patch
and so red and beautiful are the plums that it is the reflection of
them on the cloud that you see."
"Oh, how we wish some one would take care of our babies, while we
go over there and pick some," said the sisters. "Why, I am not in
any particular hurry, so if you want to go I will take care of my
little nephews until you return." (Unktomi always claimed
relationship with everyone he met). "Well brother," said the older
widow, "take good care of them and we will be back as soon as
The two then took a sack in which to gather the plums, and started
off towards the cloud with the crimson lining. Scarcely had they
gone from Unktomi's sight when he took the babies out of their
swinging hammocks and cut off first one head and then the other.
He then took some old blankets and rolled them in the shape of a
baby body and laid one in each hammock. Then he took the heads and
put them in place in their different hammocks. The bodies he cut
up and threw into a large kettle. This he placed over a rousing
fire. Then he mixed Indian turnips and arikara squash with the
baby meat and soon had a kettle of soup. Just about the time the
soup was ready to serve the widows returned. They were tired and
hungry and not a plum had they. Unktomi, hearing the approach of
the two, hurriedly dished out the baby soup in two wooden dishes
and then seated himself near the door so that he could get out
easily. Upon the entrance of the widows, Unktomi exclaimed:
"Sisters, I had brought some meat with me and I cooked some turnips
and squash with it and made a pot of fine soup. The babies have
just fallen asleep, so don't waken them until you have
finished eating, for I know that you are nearly starved." The two
fell to at once and after they had somewhat appeased their
appetites, one of them arose and went over to see how her baby was
resting. Noting an unnatural color on her baby's face, she raised
him up only to have his head roll off from the bundle of blankets.
"'My son! my son!" she cried out. At once the other hastened to
her baby and grabbed it up, only to have the same thing happen. At
once they surmised who had done this, and caught up sticks from the
fire with which to beat Unktomi to death. He, expecting something
like this to happen, lost very little time in getting outside and
down into a hole at the roots of a large tree. The two widows not
being able to follow Unktomi down into the hole, had to give up
trying to get him out, and passed the rest of the day and night
crying for their beloved babies. In the meantime Unktomi had
gotten out by another opening, and fixing himself up in an entirely
different style, and painting his face in a manner that they would
not recognize him, he cautiously approached the weeping women and
inquired the cause of their tears.
Thus they answered him: "Unktomi came here and fooled us about some
plums, and while we were absent killed our babies and made soup out
of their bodies. Then he gave us the soup to eat, which we did,
and when we found out what he had done we tried to kill him, but he
crawled down into that hole and we could not get him out."
"I will get him out," said the mock stranger, and with that he
crawled down into the hole and scratched his own face all over to
make the widows believe he had been fighting with Unktomi. "I have
killed him, and that you may see him I have enlarged the hole so
you can crawl in and see for yourselves, also to take some revenge
on his dead body." The two foolish widows, believing him, crawled
into the hole, only to be blocked up by Unktomi, who at once
gathered great piles of wood and stuffing it into the hole, set it
on fire, and thus ended the last of the family who were foolish
enough to let Unktomi tempt them with a few red plums.
The Project Gutenberg Etext of Myths and Legends of the Sioux