Myths and Legends of the Sioux
McLaughlin, Marie L. (1916)
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 affectionately dedicated
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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 music itself.
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 primitive people.
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.
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.
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 wasted time."
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 babe).
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 killed it.
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 with them.
"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.
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 house-hold 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 back.
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 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 bags.
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 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 onit 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 spits."
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."
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 water.
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 whispered back.
"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 an enemy."
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 enemy.
"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 knoll.
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 back.
"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 sea-shore," 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 me."
"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 draught.
"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 friend asked.
"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 water.
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 tobacco
"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 spine.
"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.
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 largefamily. 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 the mud."
"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 never clean."
"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 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 hard."
"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 -- 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. Open-mouthed, 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.
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 there.
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 answered.
"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 said:
"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 scrap.
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.
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 him.
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!
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 you."
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 name.
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 material.
"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 earth."
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 added:
"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 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 her.
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 woman.
"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 with me?"
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.
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 wail:
"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 answered.
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 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 grave."
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 cowards.
So they slowly approached the grave and one of them timidly called out:
"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:
"Han, han, takoja, hechetuya, hechetuya! Yes, yes, that's right, that's right."
The boys were frightened out of their senses, believing the old woman had come to life.
"Oh, grandmother," they gasped, "don't hurt us; please don't, we'll go."
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 appearance:
"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 himself.
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 feast.
The girl walked up to her mother and hurled the filth in her mother's face.
"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 hearing."
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 had said.
"Brother, I do not care to marry," she answered. "I am now happy with you."
"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 manners."
"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 out loudly,
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 had said.
"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 tell us."
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
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.
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 times.)
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.
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 ourselves."
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.
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 rabbit.
"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; be 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 on."
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 your provisions?"
"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 the change."
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 the woods.
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.
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 arrows."
"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 dead.
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 arrowheads.
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 the blood.
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 flint arrowheads.
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 will show.
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 for me."
"Who is this, who speaks so insultingly to you, father?" asked the son.
"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 from?"
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 pairs.
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 village.
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 forearm.
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 ten head.
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 Lone Warrior.
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 Lone Warrior.
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 their village.
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 belonged.
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.
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 holy).
The lake had formerly borne the name of Truth Lake, but from this time on was called "Wicasa-bde" -- Man Lake.
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 all others.
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 followed.
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 placed there.
The old hermit was also thanked as the discoverer of corn, which had never been known to the Indians until discovered by the old hermit.
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 been changed.
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 weight.
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 meat.
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 wall.
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.
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 shape again."
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 his life.