Indian Why Stories
Frank B. Linderman
Part 2 out of 3
"'Ho!' he said to himself, 'I am far enough
now and I shall sleep. It's easy to steal from
the Sun--just as easy as stealing from the
Bear or the Beaver.'
"He folded the leggings and put them under
his head as the Sun had done, and went to
sleep. He had a dream and it waked him with
a start. Bad deeds bring bad dreams to us
all. OLD-man sat up and there was the Sun
looking right in his face and laughing. He
was frightened and ran away, leaving the
leggings behind him.
"Laughingly the Sun put on the leggings
and went on toward the west, for he is al-
ways busy. He thought he would see OLD-
man no more, but it takes more than one
lesson to teach a fool to be wise, and OLD-
man hid in the timber until the Sun had
travelled out of sight. Then he ran westward
and hid himself near the Sun's lodge again,
intending to wait for the night and steal the
leggings a second time.
"He was much afraid this time, but as soon
as the Sun was asleep he crept to the lodge
and peeked inside. Here he stopped and looked
about, for he was afraid the Sun would hear
his heart beating. Finally he started toward
the Sun's bed and just then a great white
Owl flew from off the lodge poles, and this
scared him more, for that is very bad luck
and he knew it; but he kept on creeping until
he could almost touch the Sun.
"All about the lodge were beautiful linings,
tanned and painted by the Moon, and the
queer signs on them made the old coward
tremble. He heard a night-bird call outside
and he thought it would surely wake the Sun;
so he hastened to the bed and with cunning
fingers stole the leggings, as he had done the
night before, without waking the great sleeper.
Then he crept out of the lodge, talking bravely
to himself as cowards do when they are afraid.
"'Now,' he said to himself, 'I shall run
faster and farther than before. I shall not
stop running while the night lasts, and I
shall stay in the mountains all the time when
the Sun is at work in the daytime!'
"Away he went--running as the Buffalo
runs--straight ahead, looking at nothing,
hearing nothing, stopping at nothing. When
day began to break OLD-man was far from
the Sun's lodge and he hid himself in a deep
gulch among some bushes that grew there.
He listened a long time before he dared to go
to sleep, but finally he did. He was tired
from his great run and slept soundly and for a
long time, but when he opened his eyes--
there was the Sun looking straight at him,
and this time he was scowling. OLD-man
started to run away but the Sun grabbed
him and threw him down upon his back.
My! but the Sun was angry, and he said:
"'OLD-man, you are a clever thief but a
mighty fool as well, for you steal from me and
expect to hide away. Twice you have stolen
the leggings my wife made for me, and twice
I have found you easily. Don't you know
that the whole world is my lodge and that
you can never get outside of it, if you run
your foolish legs off? Don't you know that
I light all of my lodge every day and search
it carefully? Don't you know that nothing
can hide from me and live? I shall not harm
you this time, but I warn you now, that if
you ever steal from me again, I will hurt you
badly. Now go, and don't let me catch you
"Away went OLD-man, and on toward the
west went the busy Sun. That is all.
"Now go to bed; for I would talk of other
things with my friend, who knows of war as
I do. Ho! "
OLD-MAN AND HIS CONSCIENCE
Not so many miles away from the village,
the great mountain range so divides
the streams that are born there, that their
waters are offered as tribute to the Atlantic,
Pacific, and Arctic Oceans. In this wonder-
ful range the Indians believe the winds are
made, and that they battle for supremacy
over Gunsight Pass. I have heard an old
story, too, that is said to have been generally
believed by the Blackfeet, in which a monster
bull-elk that lives in Gunsight Pass lords it
over the winds. This elk creates the North
wind by "flapping" one of his ears, and the
South wind by the same use of his other. I
am inclined to believe that the winds are
made in that Pass, myself, for there they are
seldom at rest, especially at this season of
To-night the wind was blowing from the
north, and filmy white clouds were driven
across the face of the nearly full moon, mo-
mentarily veiling her light. Lodge poles
creaked and strained at every heavy gust,
and sparks from the fires inside the lodges
sped down the wind, to fade and die.
In his lodge War Eagle waited for us, and
when we entered he greeted us warmly, but
failed to mention the gale. "I have been
waiting," he said. "You are late and the
story I shall tell you is longer than many of
the others." Without further delay the story-
"Once OLD-man came upon a lodge in the
forest. It was a fine one, and painted with
strange signs. Smoke was curling from the
top, and thus he knew that the person who
lived there was at home. Without calling
or speaking, he entered the lodge and saw a
man sitting by the fire smoking his pipe. The
man didn't speak, nor did he offer his pipe
to OLD-man, as our people do when they are
glad to see visitors. He didn't even look at
his guest, but OLD-man has no good manners
at all. He couldn't see that he wasn't wanted,
as he looked about the man's lodge and made
himself at home. The linings were beautiful
and were painted with fine skill. The lodge
was clean and the fire was bright, but there
was no woman about.
"Leaning against a fine back-rest, OLD-man
filled his own pipe and lighted it with a coal
from the man's fire. Then he began to smoke
and look around, wondering why the man
acted so queerly. He saw a star that shone
down through the smoke-hole, and the tops
of several trees that were near the lodge. Then
he saw a woman--way up in a tree top and
right over the lodge. She looked young and
beautiful and tall.
"'Whose woman is that up there in the
tree top?' asked OLD-man.
"'She's your woman if you can catch her
and will marry her,' growled the man; 'but
you will have to live here and help me make
"'I'll try to catch her, and if I do I will
marry her and stay here, for I am a great
hunter and can easily kill what meat we want,'
"He went out of the lodge and climbed the
tree after the woman. She screamed, but he
caught her and held her, although she scratched
him badly. He carried her into the lodge
and there renewed his promise to stay there
always. The man married them, and they
were happy for four days, but on the fifth
morning OLD-man was gone--gone with all
the dried meat in the lodge--the thief.
"When they were sure that the rascal had
run away the woman began to cry, but not
so the man. He got his bow and arrows
and left the lodge in anger. There was snow
on the ground and the man took the track
of OLD-man, intending to catch and kill him.
"The track was fresh and the man started
on a run, for he was a good hunter and as
fast as a Deer. Of course he gained on OLD-
man, who was a much slower traveller; and
the Sun was not very high when the old thief
stopped on a hilltop to look back. He saw
the man coming fast.
"'This will never do,' he said to himself.
'That queer person will catch me. I know
what I shall do; I shall turn myself into a
dead Bull-Elk and lie down. Then he will pass
me and I can go where I please.'
"He took off his moccasins and said to
them: 'Moccasins, go on toward the west.
Keep going and making plain tracks in the
snow toward the big-water where the Sun
sleeps. The queer-one will follow you, and
when you pass out of the snowy country,
you can lose him. Go quickly for he is close
"The moccasins ran away as OLD-man wanted
them to, and they made plain tracks in the
snow leading away toward the big-water. OLD-
man turned into a dead Bull-Elk and stretched
himself near the tracks the moccasins had
"Up the hill came the man, his breath short
from running. He saw the dead Elk, and
thought it might be OLD-man playing a trick.
He was about to shoot an arrow into the dead
Elk to make sure; but just as he was about to
let the arrow go, he saw the tracks the moc-
casins had made. Of course he thought the
moccasins were on OLD-man's feet, and that
the carcass was really that of a dead Elk. He
was badly fooled and took the tracks again.
On and on he went, following the moccasins
over hills and rivers. Faster than before went
the man, and still faster travelled the empty
moccasins, the trail growing dimmer and dim-
mer as the daylight faded. All day long,
and all of the night the man followed the
tracks without rest or food, and just at day-
break he came to the shore of the big-water.
There, right by the water's edge, stood the
empty moccasins, side by side.
"The man turned and looked back. His
eyes were red and his legs were trembling.
'Caw--caw, caw,' he heard a Crow say. Right
over his head he saw the black bird and knew
"'Ho! OLD-man, you were in that dead
Bull-Elk. You fooled me, and now you are a
Crow. You think you will escape me, do you?
Well, you will not; for I, too, know magic,
and am wise.'
"With a stick the man drew a cricle in the
sand. Then he stood within the ring and
sang a song. OLD-man was worried and
watched the strange doings from the air over-
head. Inside the circle the man began to
whirl about so rapidly that he faded from
sight, and from the centre of the circle there
came an Eagle. Straight at the Crow flew the
Eagle, and away toward the mountains sped
the Crow, in fright.
"The Crow knew that the Eagle would catch
him, so that as soon as he reached the trees
on the mountains he turned himself into a
Wren and sought the small bushes under the
tall trees. The Eagle saw the change, and
at once began turning over and over in the
air. When he had reached the ground, in-
stead of an Eagle a Sparrow-hawk chased the
Wren. Now the chase was fast indeed, for no
place could the Wren find in which to hide
from the Sparrow-hawk. Through the brush,
into trees, among the weeds and grass, flew
the Wren with the Hawk close behind. Once
the Sparrow-hawk picked a feather from the
Wren's tail--so close was he to his victim.
It was nearly over with the Wren, when he
suddenly came to a park along a river's side.
In this park were a hundred lodges of our
people, and before a fine lodge there sat the
daughter of the chief. It was growing dark
and chilly, but still she sat there looking at
the river. The Sparrow-hawk was striking at
the Wren with his beak and talons, when the
Wren saw the young-woman and flew straight
to her. So swift he flew that the young-woman
didn't see him at all, but she felt something
strike her hand, and when she looked she
saw a bone ring on her finger. This frightened
her, and she ran inside the lodge, where the
fire kept the shadows from coming. OLD-
man had changed into the ring, of course,
and the Sparrow-hawk didn't dare to go into
the lodge; so he stopped outside and listened.
This is what he heard OLD-man say:
"'Don't be frightened, young-woman, I
am neither a Wren nor a ring. I am OLD-man
and that Sparrow-hawk has chased me all the
day and for nothing. I have never done him
harm, and he bothers me without reason.'
"'Liar--forked-tongue,' cried the Sparrow-
hawk. 'Believe him not, young-woman. He
has done wrong. He is wicked and I am not
a Sparrow-hawk, but conscience. Like an ar-
row I travel, straight and fast. When he
lies or steals from his friends I follow him.
I talk all the time and he hears me, but lies to
himself, and says he does not hear. You
know who I am, young-woman, I am what
talks inside a person.'
"OLD-man heard what the Sparrow-hawk
said, and he was ashamed for once in his life.
He crawled out of the lodge. Into the shadows
he ran away--away into the night, and the
darkness--away from himself!
"You see," said War Eagle, as he reached
for his pipe," OLD-man knew that he had done
wrong, and his heart troubled him, just as
yours will bother you if you do not listen to
the voice that speaks within yourselves. When-
ever that voice says a thing is wicked, it is
wicked--no matter who says it is not. Yes
--it is very hard for a man to hide from him-
The next afternoon Muskrat and Fine
Bow went hunting. They hid them-
selves in some brush which grew beside an
old game trail that followed the river, and
there waited for a chance deer.
Chickadees hopped and called, "chick-a-de-
de-de" in the willows and wild-rose bushes that
grew near their hiding-place; and the gentle
little birds with their pretty coats were often
within a few inches of the hands of the young
hunters. In perfect silence they watched and
admired these little friends, while glance or
smile conveyed their appreciation of the bird-
visits to each other.
The wind was coming down the stream, and
therefore the eyes of the boys seldom left the
trail in that direction; for from that quarter
an approaching deer would be unwarned by
the ever-busy breeze. A rabbit came hopping
down the game trail in believed perfect se-
curity, passing so close to Fine Bow that he
could not resist the desire to strike at him with
an arrow. Both boys were obliged to cover
their mouths with their open hands to keep
from laughing aloud at the surprise and speed
shown by the frightened bunny, as he scurried
around a bend in the trail, with his white,
pudgy tail bobbing rapidly.
They had scarcely regained their compo-
sure and silence when, "snap!" went a dry
stick. The sharp sound sent a thrill through
the hearts of the boys, and instantly they
became rigidly watchful. Not a leaf could
move on the ground now--not a bush might
bend or a bird pass and escape being seen by
the four sharp eyes that peered from the brush
in the direction indicated by the sound of
the breaking stick. Two hearts beat loudly
as Fine Bow fitted his arrow to the bowstring.
Tense and expectant they waited--yes, it
was a deer--a buck, too, and he was coming
down the trail, alert and watchful--down
the trail that he had often travelled and knew
so well. Yes, he had followed his mother
along that trail when he was but a spotted
fawn--now he wore antlers, and was master
of his own ways. On he came--nearly to the
brush that hid the hunters, when, throwing
his beautiful head high in the air, he stopped,
turning his side a trifle.
Zipp--went the arrow and, kicking out
behind, away went the buck, crashing through
willows and alders that grew in his way, until
he was out of sight. Then all was still, save
the chick-a-de-de-de, chick-a-de-de-de, that
came constantly from the bushes about them.
Out from the cover came the hunters, and
with ready bow they followed along the trail.
Yes--there was blood on a log, and more
on the dead leaves. The arrow had found its
mark and they must go slowly in their trailing,
lest they lose the meat. For two hours they
followed the wounded animal, and at last
came upon him in a willow thicket--sick
unto death, for the arrow was deep in his
paunch. His sufferings were ended by another
arrow, and the chase was done.
With their knives the boys dressed the buck,
and then went back to the camp to tell the
women where the meat could be found--just
as the men do. It was their first deer; and
pride shone in their faces as they told their
grandfather that night in the lodge.
"That is good," War Eagle replied, as the
boys finished telling of their success. "That
is good, if your mother needed the meat, but
it is wrong to kill when you have plenty, lest
Manitou be angry. There is always enough,
but none to waste, and the hunter who kills
more than he needs is wicked. To-night I shall
tell you what happened to OLD-man when he did
that. Yes, and he got into trouble over it.
"One day in the fall when the leaves were
yellow, and the Deer-people were dressed in
their blue robes--when the Geese and Duck-
people were travelling to the country where
water does not freeze, and where flowers never
die, OLD-man was travelling on the plains.
"Near sundown he saw two Buffalo-Bulls
feeding on a steep hillside; but he had no
bow and arrow with him. He was hungry,
and began to think of some way to kill one
of the Bulls for meat. Very soon he thought
out a plan, for he is cunning always.
"He ran around the hill out of sight of the
Bulls, and there made two men out of grass
and sage-brush. They were dummies, of
course, but he made them to look just like real
men, and then armed each with a wooden
knife of great length. Then he set them in
the position of fighting; made them look as
though they were about to fight each other
with the knives. When he had them both
fixed to suit, he ran back to the place where
the Buffalo were calling:
"'Ho! brothers, wait for me--do not run
away. There are two fine men on the other
side of this hill, and they are quarrelling.
They will surely fight unless we stop them.
It all started over you two Bulls, too. One
of the men says you are fat and fine, and the
other claims you are poor and skinny. Don't
let our brothers fight over such a foolish thing
as that. It would be wicked. Now I can
decide it, if you will let me feel all over you
to see if you are fat or poor. Then I will go
back to the men and settle the trouble by tell-
ing them the truth. Stand still and let me feel
your sides--quick, lest the fight begin while
I am away.'
"'All right,' said the Bulls, 'but don't you
tickle us.' Then OLD-man walked up close
and commenced to feel about the Bulls' sides;
but his heart was bad. From his robe he
slipped his great knife, and slyly felt about
till he found the spot where the heart beats,
and then stabbed the knife into the place,
clear up to the hilt.
"Both of the Bulls died right away, and
OLD-man laughed at the trick he had played
upon them. Then he gave a knife to both of
his hands, and said:
"'Get to work, both of you! Skin these
Bulls while I sit here and boss you.'
"Both hands commenced to skin the Buf-
falo, but the right hand was much the swifter
worker. It gained upon the left hand rapidly,
and this made the left hand angry. Finally the
left hand called the right hand 'dog-face.'
That is the very worst thing you can call a
person in our language, you know, and of
course it made the right hand angry. So
crazy and angry was the right hand that it
stabbed the left hand, and then they began to
fight in earnest.
"Both cut and slashed till blood covered
the animals they were skinning. All this fight-
ing hurt OLD-man badly, of course, and he
commenced to cry, as women do sometimes.
This stopped the fight; but still OLD-man cried,
till, drying his tears, he saw a Red Fox sitting
near the Bulls, watching him. 'Hi, there, you
--go away from there ! If you want meat
you go and kill it, as I did.'
"Red Fox laughed--'Ha!--Ha!--Ha!--
foolish OLD-man--Ha!--ha!' Then he ran
away and told the other Foxes and the Wolves
and the Coyotes about OLD-man's meat. Told
them that his own hands couldn't get along
with themselves and that it would be easy
to steal it from him.
"They all followed the Red Fox back to
the place where OLD-man was, and there they
ate all of the meat--every bit, and polished
"OLD-man couldn't stop them, because he
was hurt, you see; but it all came about through
lying and killing more meat than he needed.
Yes--he lied and that is bad, but his hands
got to quarrelling between themselves, and
family quarrels are always bad. Do not lie;
do not quarrel. It is bad. Ho!"
WHY THE NIGHT-HAWK'S WINGS ARE BEAUTIFUL
I was awakened by the voice of the camp-
crier, and although it was yet dark I listened
to his message.
The camp was to move. All were to go to
the mouth of the Maria's--"The River That
Scolds at the Other"--the Indians call this
stream, that disturbs the waters of the Mis-
souri with its swifter flood.
On through the camp the crier rode, and
behind him the lodge-fires glowed in answer
to his call. The village was awake, and soon
the thunder of hundreds of hoofs told me that
the pony-bands were being driven into camp,
where the faithful were being roped for the
journey. Fires flickered in the now fading
darkness, and down came the lodges as though
wizard hands had touched them. Before the
sun had come to light the world, we were
on our way to "The River That Scolds at the
Not a cloud was in the sky, and the wind
was still. The sun came and touched the
plains and hilltops with the light that makes
all wild things glad. Here and there a jack-
rabbit scurried away, often followed by a
pack of dogs, and sometimes, though not often,
they were overtaken and devoured on the
spot. Bands of graceful antelope bounded out
of our way, stopping on a knoll to watch the
strange procession with wondering eyes, and
once we saw a dust-cloud raised by a moving
herd of buffalo, in the distance.
So the day wore on, the scene constantly
changing as we travelled. Wolves and coyotes
looked at us from almost every knoll and hill-
top; and sage-hens sneaked to cover among
the patches of sage-brush, scarcely ten feet
away from our ponies. Toward sundown we
reached a grove of cottonwoods near the mouth
of the Maria's, and in an incredibly short
space of time the lodges took form. Soon,
from out the tops of a hundred camps, smoke
was curling just as though the lodges had
been there always, and would forever remain.
As soon as supper was over I found the
children, and together we sought War Eagle's
lodge. He was in a happy mood and insisted
upon smoking two pipes before commencing
his story-telling. At last he said:
"To-night I shall tell you why the Night-
hawk wears fine clothes. My grandfather told
me about it when I was young. I am sure
you have seen the Night-hawk sailing over
you, dipping and making that strange noise.
Of course there is a reason for it.
"OLD-man was travelling one day in the
springtime; but the weather was fine for that
time of year. He stopped often and spoke to
the bird-people and to the animal-people, for
he was in good humor that day. He talked
pleasantly with the trees, and his heart grew
tender. That is, he had good thoughts; and
of course they made him happy. Finally he
felt tired and sat down to rest on a big, round
stone--the kind of stone our white friend
there calls a bowlder. Here he rested for a
while, but the stone was cold, and he felt it
through his robe; so he said:
"'Stone, you seem cold to-day. You may
have my robe. I have hundreds of robes in
my camp, and I don't need this one at all.'
That was a lie he told about having so many
robes. All he had was the one he wore.
"He spread his robe over the stone, and
then started down the hill, naked, for it was
really a fine day. But storms hide in the
mountains, and are never far away when it is
springtime. Soon it began to snow--then
the wind blew from the north with a good
strength behind it. OLD-man said:
"'Well, I guess I do need that robe myself,
after all. That stone never did anything for
me anyhow. Nobody is ever good to a stone.
I'll just go back and get my robe.'
"Back he went and found the stone. Then
he pulled the robe away, and wrapped it about
himself. Ho! but that made the stone angry
--Ho! OLD-man started to run down the
hill, and the stone ran after him. Ho! it
was a funny race they made, over the grass,
over smaller stones, and over logs that lay
in the way, but OLD-man managed to keep
ahead until he stubbed his toe on a big
sage-brush, and fell--swow!
"'Now I have you!' cried the stone--'now
I'll kill you, too! Now I will teach you to
give presents and then take them away,'
and the stone rolled right on top of OLD-man,
and sat on his back.
"It was a big stone, you see, and OLD-man
couldn't move it at all. He tried to throw
off the stone but failed. He squirmed and
twisted--no use--the stone held him fast.
He called the stone some names that are not
good; but that never helps any. At last he
began to call:
"'Help!--Help!--Help!' but nobody
heard him except the Night-hawk, and he
told the OLD-man that he would help him all
he could; so he flew away up in the air--so
far that he looked like a black speck. Then
he came down straight and struck that rock
an awful blow--'swow!'--and broke it in
two pieces. Indeed he did. The blow was
so great that it spoiled the Night-hawk's bill,
forever--made it queer in shape, and jammed
his head, so that it is queer, too. But he
broke the rock, and OLD-man stood upon his
"'Thank you, Brother Night-hawk, ' said OLD-
man, 'now I will do something for you. I
am going to make you different from other
birds--make you so people will always notice
"You know that when you break a rock
the powdered stone is white, like snow; and
there is always some of the white powder
whenever you break a rock, by pounding it.
Well, Old-man took some of the fine powdered
stone and shook it on the Night-hawk's wings
in spots and stripes--made the great white
stripes you have seen on his wings, and told
him that no other bird could have such marks
on his clothes.
"All the Night-hawk's children dress the
same way now; and they always will as long
as there are Night-hawks. Of course their
clothes make them proud; and that is why they
keep at flying over people's heads--soaring
and dipping and turning all the time, to show
off their pretty wings.
"That is all for to-night. Muskrat, tell
your father I would run Buffalo with him to-
WHY THE MOUNTAIN-LION IS LONG AND LEAN
Have you ever seen the plains in the
morning--a June morning, when the
spurred lark soars and sings--when the plover
calls, and the curlew pipes his shriller notes
to the rising sun? Then is there music, in-
deed, for no bird outsings the spurred lark;
and thanks to OLD-man he is not wanting in
numbers, either. The plains are wonderful
then--more wonderful than they are at this
season of the year; but at all times they beckon
and hold one as in a spell, especially when
they are backed or bordered by a snow-capped
mountain range. Looking toward the east
they are boundless, but on their western edge
superb mountains rear themselves.
All over this vast country the Indians
roamed, following the great buffalo herds as
did the wolves, and making their living with
the bow and lance, since the horse came to
them. In the very old days the "piskun"
was used, and buffalo were enticed to follow
a fantastically dressed man toward a cliff, far
enough to get the herd moving in that direc-
tion, when the "buffalo-man" gained cover,
and hidden Indians raised from their hiding
places behind the animals, and drove them
over the cliff, where they were killed in large
Not until Cortez came with his cavalry from
Spain, were there horses on this continent, and
then generations passed ere the plains tribes
possessed this valuable animal, that so ma-
terially changed their lives. Dogs dragged
the Indian's travois or packed his household
goods in the days before the horse came, and
for hundreds--perhaps thousands of years,
these people had no other means of trans-
porting their goods and chattels. As the Indian
is slow to forget or change the ways of his
father, we should pause before we brand him
as wholly improvident, I think.
He has always been a family-man, has the
Indian, and small children had to be carried, as
well as his camp equipage. Wolf-dogs had
to be fed, too, in some way, thus adding to his
burden; for it took a great many to make it
possible for him to travel at all.
When the night came and we visited War
Eagle, we found he had other company--so
we waited until their visit was ended before
settling ourselves to hear the story that he
might tell us.
"The Crows have stolen some of our best
horses," said War Eagle, as soon as the other
guests had gone. "That is all right--we
shall get them back, and more, too. The
Crows have only borrowed those horses and
will pay for their use with others of their own.
To-night I shall tell you why the Mountain
lion is so long and thin and why he wears
hair that looks singed. I shall also tell you
why that person's nose is black, because it
is part of the story.
"A long time ago the Mountain-lion was
a short, thick-set person. I am sure you
didn't guess that. He was always a great
thief like OLD-man, but once he went too far,
as you shall see.
"One day OLD-man was on a hilltop, and
saw smoke curling up through the trees, away
off on the far side of a gulch. 'Ho!' he said,
'I wonder who builds fires except me. I guess
I will go and find out.'
"He crossed the gulch and crept carefully
toward the smoke. When he got quite near
where the fire was, he stopped and listened.
He heard some loud laughing but could not
see who it was that felt so glad and gay.
Finally he crawled closer and peeked through
the brush toward the fire. Then he saw some
Squirrel-people, and they were playing some
sort of game. They were running and laugh-
ing, and having a big time, too. What do
you think they were doing? They were run-
ning about the fire--all chasing one Squirrel.
As soon as the Squirrel was caught, they would
bury him in the ashes near the fire until he
cried; then they would dig him out in a hurry.
Then another Squirrel would take the lead
and run until he was caught, as the other
had been. In turn the captive would sub-
mit to being buried, and so on--while the
racing and laughing continued. They never
left the buried one in the ashes after he cried,
but always kept their promise and dug him
out, right away.
"'Say, let me play, won't you?' asked
OLD-man. But the Squirrel-people all ran
away, and he had a hard time getting them
to return to the fire.
"'You can't play this game,' replied the
Chief-Squirrel, after they had returned to the
"'Yes, I can,' declared OLD-man, 'and you
may bury me first, but be sure to dig me out
when I cry, and not let me burn, for those
ashes are hot near the fire.'
"'All right,' said the Chief-Squirrel, 'we
will let you play. Lie down,'--and OLD-
Man did lie down near the fire. Then the
Squirrels began to laugh and bury OLD-man
in the ashes, as they did their own kind. In
no time at all OLD-man cried: 'Ouch!--you
are burning me--quick!--dig me out.'
"True to their promise, the Squirrel-people
dug OLD-man out of the ashes, and laughed
at him because he cried so quickly.
"'Now, it is my turn to cover the captive,'
said OLD-man, 'and as there are so many of
you, I have a scheme that will make the game
funnier and shorter. All of you lie down at
once in a row. Then I will cover you all at
one time. When you cry--I will dig you
out right away and the game will be over.'
"They didn't know OLD-man very well; so
they said, 'all right,' and then they all laid
down in a row about the fire.
"OLD-man buried them all in the ashes--
then he threw some more wood on the fire
and went away and left them. Every Squirrel
there was in the world was buried in the ashes
except one woman Squirrel, and she told OLD-
man she couldn't play and had to go home.
If she hadn't gone, there might not be any
Squirrels in this world right now. Yes, it
is lucky that she went home.
"For a minute or so OLD-man watched the
fire as it grew hotter, and then went down to
a creek where willows grew and made him-
self a great plate by weaving them together.
When he had finished making the plate, he
returned to the fire, and it had burned low
again. He laughed at his wicked work, and
a Raven, flying over just then, called him
'forked-tongue,' or liar, but he didn't mind
that at all. OLD-man cut a long stick and
began to dig out the Squirrel-people. One
by one he fished them out of the hot ashes;
and they were roasted fine and were ready to
eat. As he fished them out he counted them,
and laid them on the willow plate he had
made. When he had dug out the last one,
he took the plate to the creek and there sat
down to eat the Squirrels, for he was hungry,
as usual. OLD-man is a big eater, but he
couldn't eat all of the Squirrels at once, and
while eating he fell asleep with the great plate
in his lap.
"Nobody knows how long it was that he
slept, but when he waked his plate of Squirrels
was gone--gone completely. He looked be-
hind him; he looked about him; but the plate
was surely gone. Ho! But he was angry.
He stamped about in the brush and called
aloud to those who might hear him; but no-
body answered, and then he started to look
for the thief. OLD-man has sharp eyes, and he
found the trail in the grass where somebody
had passed while he slept. 'Ho!' he said,
'the Mountain-lion has stolen my Squirrels.
I see his footprints; see where he has mashed
the grass as he walked with those soft feet
of his; but I shall find him, for I made him
and know all his ways.'
"OLD-man got down on his hands and knees
to walk as the Bear-people do, just as he did
that night in the Sun's lodge, and followed
the trail of the Mountain-lion over the hills
and through the swamps. At last he came
to a place where the grass was all bent down,
and there he found his willow plate, but it
was empty. That was the place where the
Mountain-lion had stopped to eat the rest
of the Squirrels, you know; but he didn't stay
there long because he expected that OLD-man
would try to follow him.
"The Mountain-lion had eaten so much
that he was sleepy and, after travelling a while
after he had eaten the Squirrels, he thought
he would rest. He hadn't intended to go
to sleep; but he crawled upon a big stone near
the foot of a hill and sat down where he could
see a long way. Here his eyes began to wink,
and his head began to nod, and finally he
"Without stopping once, OLD-man kept on
the trail. That is what counts--sticking right
to the thing you are doing--and just before
sundown OLD-man saw the sleeping Lion. Care-
fully, lest he wake the sleeper, OLD-man crept
close, being particular not to move a stone or
break a twig; for the Mountain-lion is much
faster than men are, you see; and if OLD-man
had wakened the Lion, he would never have
caught him again, perhaps. Little by little
he crept to the stone where the Mountain-
lion was dreaming, and at last grabbed him
by the tail. It wasn't much of a tail then,
but enough for OLD-man to hold to. Ho!
The Lion was scared and begged hard, saying:
"'Spare me, OLD-man. You were full and
I was hungry. I had to have something to
eat; had to get my living. Please let me go
and do not hurt me.' Ho! OLD-man was
angry--more angry than he was when he
waked and found that he had been robbed,
because he had travelled so far on his hands
"'I'll show you. I'll teach you. I'll fix
you, right now. Steal from me, will you?
Steal from the man that made you, you night-
"OLD-man put his foot behind the Moun-
tain-lion's head, and, still holding the tail,
pulled hard and long, stretching the Lion
out to great length. He squalled and cried,
but OLD-man kept pulling until he nearly
broke the Mountain-lion in two pieces--
until he couldn't stretch him any more. Then
OLD-man put his foot on the Mountain-lion's
back, and, still holding the tail, stretched
that out until the tail was nearly as long as
"'There, you thief--now you are too long
and lean to get fat, and you shall always look
just like that. Your children shall all grow
to look the same way, just to pay you for your
stealing from the man that made you. Come
on with me'; and he dragged the poor Lion
back to the place where the fire was, and
there rolled him in the hot ashes, singeing his
robe till it looked a great deal like burnt
hair. Then OLD-man stuck the Lion's nose
against the burnt logs and blackened it some
--that is why his face looks as it does to-day.
"The Mountain-lion was lame and sore,
but OLD-man scolded him some more and
told him that it would take lots more food to
keep him after that, and that he would have
to work harder to get his living, to pay for
what he had done. Then he said, 'go now,
and remember all the Mountain-lions that ever
live shall look just as you do.' And they
"That is the story--that is why the Moun-
tain-lion is so long and lean, but he is no
bigger thief than OLD-man, nor does he tell any
more lies. Ho!"
There had been a sudden change in the
weather. A cold rain was falling, and the
night comes early when the clouds hang low.
The children loved a bright fire, and
to-night War Eagle's lodge was light as day.
Away off on the plains a wolf was howling, and
the rain pattered upon the lodge as though
it never intended to quit. It was a splendid
night for story-telling, and War Eagle filled and
lighted the great stone pipe, while the children
made themselves comfortable about the fire.
A spark sprang from the burning sticks, and
fell upon Fine Bow's bare leg. They all laughed
heartily at the boy's antics to rid himself of
the burning coal; and as soon as the laughing
ceased War Eagle laid aside the pipe. An
Indian's pipe is large to look at, but holds
"See your shadows on the lodge wall?"
asked the old warrior. The children said they
saw them, and he continued:
"Some day I will tell you a story about them,
and how they drew the arrows of our enemies,
but to-night I am going to tell you of the great
"It was long before there were men and
women on the world, but my grandfather told
me what I shall now tell you.
"The gray light that hides the night-stars
was creeping through the forests, and the
wind the Sun sends to warn the people of his
coming was among the fir tops. Flowers, on
slender stems, bent their heads out of respect
for the herald-wind's Master, and from the
dead top of a pine-tree the Yellowhammer
beat upon his drum and called 'the Sun is
awake--all hail the Sun!'
"Then the bush-birds began to sing the song
of the morning, and from alders the Robins
joined, until all live things were awakened by
the great music. Where the tall ferns grew,
the Doe waked her Fawns, and taught them
to do homage to the Great Light. In the
creeks, where the water was still and clear,
and where throughout the day, like a delicate
damaskeen, the shadows of leaves that over-
hang would lie, the Speckled Trout broke the
surface of the pool in his gladness of the com-
ing day. Pine-squirrels chattered gayly, and
loudly proclaimed what the wind had told;
and all the shadows were preparing for a great
journey to the Sand Hills, where the ghost-
"Under a great spruce-tree--where the
ground was soft and dry, OLD-man slept. The
joy that thrilled creation disturbed him not,
although the Sun was near. The bird-people
looked at the sleeper in wonder, but the Pine
squirrel climbed the great spruce-tree with a
pine-cone in his mouth. Quickly he ran out
on the limb that spread over OLD-man, and
dropped the cone on the sleeper's face. Then
he scolded OLD-man, saying: 'Get up--get
up--lazy one--lazy one--get up--get up.'
"Rubbing his eyes in anger, OLD-man sat
up and saw the Sun coming--his hunting leg-
gings slipping through the thickets--setting
them afire, till all the Deer and Elk ran out
and sought new places to hide.
"'Ho, Sun!' called OLD-man, 'those are mighty
leggings you wear. No wonder you are a great
hunter. Your leggings set fire to all the thick-
ets, and by the light you can easily see the
Deer and Elk; they cannot hide. Ho! Give
them to me and I shall then be the great hunter
and never be hungry.'
"'Good,' said the Sun, 'take them, and let
me see you wear my leggings.'
"OLD-man was glad in his heart, for he was
lazy, and now he thought he could kill the
game without much work, and that he could
be a great hunter--as great as the Sun. He
put on the leggings and at once began to hunt
the thickets, for he was hungry. Very soon
the leggings began to burn his legs. The faster
he travelled the hotter they grew, until in pain
he cried out to the Sun to come and take back
his leggings; but the Sun would not hear him.
On and on OLD-man ran. Faster and faster he
flew through the country, setting fire to the
brush and grass as he passed. Finally he came
to a great river, and jumped in. Sizzzzzzz--
the water said, when OLD-man's legs touched it.
It cried out, as it does when it is sprinkled upon
hot stones in the sweat-lodge, for the leggings
were very hot. But standing in the cool water
OLD-man took off the leggings and threw them
out upon the shore, where the Sun found them
later in the day.
"The Sun's clothes were too big for OLD-
man, and his work too great.
"We should never ask to do the things which
Manitou did not intend us to do. If we keep
this always in mind we shall never get into
"Be yourselves always. That is what Man-
tou intended. Never blame the Wolf for what
he does. He was made to do such things.
Now I want you to go to your fathers' lodges
and sleep. To-morrow night I will tell you
why there are so many snakes in the world.
THE MOON AND THE GREAT SNAKE
The rain had passed; the moon looked
down from a clear sky, and the bushes
and dead grass smelled wet, after the heavy
storm. A cottontail ran into a clump of
wild-rose bushes near War Eagle's lodge, and
some dogs were close behind the frightened
animal, as he gained cover. Little Buffalo Calf
threw a stone into the bushes, scaring the
rabbit from his hiding-place, and away went
bunny, followed by the yelping pack. We
stood and listened until the noise of the chase
died away, and then went into the lodge, where
we were greeted, as usual, by War Eagle.
To-night he smoked; but with greater cere-
mony, and I suspected that it had something
to do with the forthcoming story. Finally he
"You have seen many Snakes, I suppose?"
"Yes," replied the children, "we have seen
a great many. In the summer we see them
"Well," continued the story-teller, "once
there was only one Snake on the whole world,
and he was a big one, I tell you. He was pretty
to look at, and was painted with all the colors
we know. This snake was proud of his clothes
and had a wicked heart. Most Snakes are
wicked, because they are his relations.
"Now, I have not told you all about it yet,
nor will I tell you to-night, but the Moon is
the Sun's wife, and some day I shall tell you
that story, but to-night I am telling you about
"You know that the Sun goes early to bed,
and that the Moon most always leaves before
he gets to the lodge. Sometimes this is not so,
but that is part of another story.
"This big Snake used to crawl up a high hill
and watch the Moon in the sky. He was in
love with her, and she knew it; but she paid
no attention to him. She liked his looks, for
his clothes were fine, and he was always slick
and smooth. This went on for a long time,
but she never talked to him at all. The Snake
thought maybe the hill wasn't high enough, so
he found a higher one, and watched the Moon
pass, from the top. Every night he climbed
this high hill and motioned to her. She began
to pay more attention to the big Snake, and
one morning early, she loafed at her work a
little, and spoke to him. He was flattered,
and so was she, because he said many nice
things to her, but she went on to the Sun's
lodge, and left the Snake.
"The next morning very early she saw the
Snake again, and this time she stopped a long
time--so long that the Sun had started out
from the lodge before she reached home. He
wondered what kept her so long, and became
suspicious of the Snake. He made up his
mind to watch, and try to catch them together.
So every morning the Sun left the lodge a little
earlier than before; and one morning, just as
he climbed a mountain, he saw the big Snake
talking to the Moon. That made him angry,
and you can't blame him, because his wife
was spending her time loafing with a Snake.
"She ran away; ran to the Sun's lodge and
left the Snake on the hill. In no time the
Sun had grabbed him. My, the Sun was
angry! The big Snake begged, and promised
never to speak to the Moon again, but the Sun
had him; and he smashed him into thousands
of little pieces, all of different colors from the
different parts of his painted body. The little
pieces each turned into a little snake, just as you
see them now, but they were all too small for
the Moon to notice after that. That is how so
many Snakes came into the world; and that is
why they are all small, nowadays.
"Our people do not like the Snake-people
very well, but we know that they were made
to do something on this world, and that they
do it, or they wouldn't live here.
"That was a short story, but to-morrow night
I will tell you why the Deer-people have no
gall on their livers; and why the Antelope-
people do not wear dew-claws, for you should
know that there are no other animals with
cloven hoofs that are like them in this.
"I am tired to-night, and I will ask that
you go to your lodges, that I may sleep, for I
am getting old. Ho!"
WHY THE DEER HAS NO GALL
Bright and early the next morning the
children were playing on the bank of "The
River That Scolds the Other," when Fine Bow
"Let us find a Deer's foot, and the foot of
an Antelope and look at them, for to-night
grandfather will tell us why the Deer has the
dew-claws, and why the Antelope has none."
"Yes, and let us ask mother if the Deer has
no gall on its liver. Maybe she can show both
the liver of a Deer and that of an Antelope;
then we can see for ourselves," said Blue-
So they began to look about where the hides
had been grained for tanning; and sure enough,
there were the feet of both the antelope and
the deer. On the deer's feet, or legs, they
found the dew-claws, but on the antelope there
were none. This made them all anxious to
know why these animals, so nearly alike, should
differ in this way.
Bluebird's mother passed the children on her
way to the river for water, and the little girl
asked: "Say, mother, does the Deer have gall
on his liver?"
"No, my child, but the Antelope does; and
your grandfather will tell you why if you ask
That night in the lodge War Eagle placed
before his grandchildren the leg of a deer and
the leg of an antelope, as well as the liver of a
deer and the liver of an antelope.
"See for yourselves that this thing is true,
before I tell you why it is so, and how it hap-
"We see," they replied, "and to-day we found
that these strange things are true, but we don't
know why, grandfather."
"Of course you don't know why. Nobody
knows that until he is told, and now I shall tell
you, so you will always know, and tell your
children, that they, too, may know.
"It was long, long ago, of course. All these
things happened long ago when the world was
young, as you are now. It was on a summer
morning, and the Deer was travelling across
the plains country to reach the mountains on
the far-off side, where he had relatives. He
grew thirsty, for it was very warm, and stopped
to drink from a water-hole on the plains. When
he had finished drinking he looked up, and there
was his own cousin, the Antelope, drinking near
"'Good morning, cousin,' said the Deer.
'It is a warm morning and water tastes good,
"'Yes,' replied the Antelope, 'it is warm
to-day, but I can beat you running, just the
"'Ha-ha!' laughed the Deer--'you beat me
running? Why, you can't run half as fast as
I can, but if you want to run a race let us bet
something. What shall it be?'
"'I will bet you my gall-sack,' replied the
"'Good,' said the Deer, 'but let us run to-
ward that range of mountains, for I am going
that way, anyhow, to see my relations.'
"'All right,' said the Antelope. 'All ready,
and here we go.'
"Away they ran toward the far-off range.
All the way the Antelope was far ahead of the
Deer; and just at the foot of the mountains
he stopped to wait for him to catch up.
"Both were out of breath from running, but
both declared they had done their best, and the
Deer, being beaten, gave the Antelope his sack
"'This ground is too flat for me,' said the
Deer. 'Come up the hillside where the gulches
cut the country, and rocks are in our way,
and I will show you how to run. I can't run
on flat ground. It's too easy for me.'
another race with you on your own ground, and
I think I can beat you there, too.'
"Together they climbed the hill until they
reached a rough country, when the Deer
"'This is my kind of country. Let us run a
race here. Whoever gets ahead and stays
there, must keep on running until the other
calls on him to stop.'
"'That suits me,' replied the Antelope, 'but
what shall we bet this time? I don't want to
waste my breath for nothing. I'll tell you--
let us bet our dew-claws.'
"'Good. I'll bet you my dew-claws against
your own, that I can beat you again. Are you
"Away they went over logs, over stones and
across great gulches that cut the hills in two.
On and on they ran, with the Deer far ahead
of the Antelope. Both were getting tired,
when the Antelope called:
"'Hi, there--you! Stop, you can beat me.
I give up.'
"So the Deer stopped and waited until the
Antelope came up to him, and they both laughed
over the fun, but the Antelope had to give the
Deer his dew-claws, and now he goes without
himself. The Deer wears dew-claws and always
will, because of that race, but on his liver there
is no gall, while the Antelope carries a gall-
sack like the other animals with cloven hoofs.
"That is all of that story, but it is too late
to tell you another to-night. If you will come
to-morrow evening, I will tell you of some trouble
that OLD-man got into once. He deserved it,
for he was wicked, as you shall see. Ho!"
WHY THE INDIANS WHIP THE BUFFALO-BERRIES FROM THE BUSHES
The Indian believes that all things live
again; that all were created by one and
the same power; that nothing was created in
vain; and that in the life beyond the grave he
will know all things that he knew here. In
that other world he expects to make his living
easier, and not suffer from hunger or cold;
therefore, all things that die must go to his
heaven, in order that he may be supplied with
the necessities of life.
The sun is not the Indian's God, but a per-
sonification of the Deity; His greatest mani-
festation; His light.
The Indian believes that to each of His crea-
tions God gave some peculiar power, and that
the possessors of these special favors are His
lieutenants and keepers of the several special
attributes; such as wisdom, cunning, speed,
and the knowledge of healing wounds. These
wonderful gifts, he knew, were bestowed as
favors by a common God, and therefore he re-
vered these powers, and, without jealousy, paid
The bear was great in war, because before
the horse came, he would sometimes charge the
camps and kill or wound many people. Al-
though many arrows were sent into his huge
carcass, he seldom died. Hence the Indian was
sure that the bear could heal his wounds.
That the bear possessed a great knowledge of
roots and berries, the Indian knew, for he often
saw him digging the one and stripping the oth-
ers from the bushes. The buffalo, the beaver,
the wolf, and the eagle--each possessed strange
powers that commanded the Indian's admira-
tion and respect, as did many other things in
If about to go to war, the Indian did not
ask his God for aid--oh, no. He realized that
God made his enemy, too; and that if He de-
sired that enemy's destruction, it would be ac-
complished without man's aid. So the Indian
sang his song to the bear, prayed to the bear,
and thus invoked aid from a brute, and not his
God, when he sought to destroy his fellows.
Whenever the Indian addressed the Great
God, his prayer was for life, and life alone. He
is the most religious man I have ever known,
as well as the most superstitious; and there are
stories dealing with his religious faith that are
"It is the wrong time of year to talk about
berries," said War Eagle, that night in the
lodge, "but I shall tell you why your mothers
whip the buffalo-berries from the bushes. OLD-
man was the one who started it, and our people
have followed his example ever since. Ho!
OLD-man made a fool of himself that day.
"It was the time when buffalo-berries are
red and ripe. All of the bushes along the rivers
were loaded with them, and our people were
about to gather what they needed, when OLD-
man changed things, as far as the gathering
"He was travelling along a river, and hungry,
as he always was. Standing on the bank of
that river, he saw great clusters of red, ripe
buffalo-berries in the water. They were larger
than any berries he had ever seen, and he
"'I guess I will get those berries. They look
fine, and I need them. Besides, some of the
people will see them and get them, if I don't.'
"He jumped into the water; looked for the
berries; but they were not there. For a time
Old-man stood in the river and looked for the
berries, but they were gone.
"After a while he climbed out on the bank
again, and when the water got smooth once
more there were the berries--the same berries,
in the same spot in the water.
"'Ho!--that is a funny thing. I wonder
where they hid that time. I must have those
berries!' he said to himself.
"In he went again--splashing the water like
a Grizzly Bear. He looked about him and the
berries were gone again. The water was rip-
pling about him, but there were no berries at
all. He felt on the bottom of the river but
they were not there.
"'Well,' he said, 'I will climb out and
watch to see where they come from; then I
shall grab them when I hit the water next
"He did that; but he couldn't tell where
the berries came from. As soon as the water
settled and became smooth--there were the
berries--the same as before. Ho!--OLD-man
was wild; he was angry, I tell you. And in he
went flat on his stomach! He made an awful
splash and mussed the water greatly; but there
were no berries.
"'I know what I shall do. I will stay right
here and wait for those berries; that is what
I shall do'; and he did.
"He thought maybe somebody was looking
at him and would laugh, so he glanced along
the bank. And there, right over the water, he
saw the same bunch of berries on some tall
bushes. Don't you see? OLD-man saw the
shadow of the berry-bunch; not the berries.
He saw the red shadow-berries on the water;
that was all, and he was such a fool he didn't
know they were not real.
"Well, now he was angry in truth. Now he
was ready for war. He climbed out on the
bank again and cut a club. Then he went at
the buffalo-berry bushes and pounded them till
all of the red berries fell upon the ground--
till the branches were bare of berries.
"'There,' he said, 'that's what you get for
making a fool of the man who made you. You
shall be beaten every year as long as you live,
to pay for what you have done; you and your
"That is how it all came about, and that is
why your mothers whip the buffalo-berry bushes
and then pick the berries from the ground.
OLD-MAN AND THE FOX
I am sure that the plains Indian never made
nor used the stone arrow-head. I have
heard white men say that they had seen In-
dians use them; but I have never found an In-
dian that ever used them himself, or knew of
their having been used by his people. Thirty
years ago I knew Indians, intimately, who were
nearly a hundred years old, who told me that
the stone arrow-head had never been in use in
their day, nor had their fathers used them in
their own time. Indians find these arrow-
points just as they find the stone mauls and
hammers, which I have seen them use thou-
sands of times, but they do not make them any
more than they make the stone mauls and
hammers. In the old days, both the head of
the lance and the point of the arrow were of
bone; even knives were of bone, but some other
people surely made the arrow-points that are
scattered throughout the United States and
Europe, I am told.
One night I asked War Eagle if he had ever
known the use, by Indians, of the stone arrow-
head, and he said he had not. He told me that
just across the Canadian line there was a small
lake, surrounded by trees, wherein there was an
island covered with long reeds and grass. All
about the edge of this island were willows that
grew nearly to the water, but intervening there
was a narrow beach of stones. Here, he said,
the stone arrow-heads had been made by little
ghost-people who lived there, and he assured
me that he had often seen these strange little
beings when he was a small boy. Whenever
his people were camped by this lake the old
folks waked the children at daybreak to see the
inhabitants of this strange island; and always
when a noise was made, or the sun came up,
the little people hid away. Often he had seen
their heads above the grass and tiny willows,
and his grandfather had told him that all the
stone arrow-heads had been made on that
island, and in war had been shot all over the
world, by magic bows.
"No," he said, "I shall not lie to you, my
friend. I never saw those little people shoot
an arrow, but there are so many arrows there,
and so many pieces of broken ones, that it
proves that my grandfather was right in what
he told me. Besides, nobody could ever sleep
on that island."
I have heard a legend wherein OLD-man, in
the beginning, killed an animal for the people
to eat, and then instructed them to use the ribs
of the dead brute to make knives and arrow-
points. I have seen lance-heads, made from
shank bones, that were so highly polished that
they resembled pearl, and I have in my posses-
sion bone arrow-points such as were used long
ago. Indians do not readily forget their tribal
history, and I have photographed a war-bonnet,
made of twisted buffalo hair, that was manu-
factured before the present owner's people had,
or ever saw, the horse. The owner of this
bonnet has told me that the stone arrow-head
was never used by Indians, and that he knew
that ghost-people made and used them when
the world was young.
The bow of the plains Indian was from thirty-
six to forty-four inches long, and made from
the wood of the choke-cherry tree. Sometimes
bows were made from the service (or sarvice)
berry bush, and this bush furnished the best
material for arrows. I have seen hickory bows
among the plains Indians, too, and these were
longer and always straight, instead of being
fashioned like Cupid's weapon. These hickory
bows came from the East, of course, and through
trading, reached the plains country. I have
also seen bows covered with the skins of the
bull-snake, or wound with sinew, and bows
have been made from the horns of the elk, in the
early days, after a long course of preparation.
Before Lewis and Clark crossed this vast
country, the Blackfeet had traded with the
Hudson Bay Company, and steel knives and
lance-heads, bearing the names of English
makers, still remain to testify to the relations
existing, in those days, between those famous
traders and men of the Piegan, Blood, and
Blackfoot tribes, although it took many years
for traders on our own side of the line to gain
their friendship. Indeed, trappers and traders
blamed the Hudson Bay Company for the feel-
ing of hatred held by the three tribes of Black-
feet for the "Americans"; and there is no doubt
that they were right to some extent, although
the killing of the Blackfoot warrior by Captain
Lewis in 1805 may have been largely to blame
for the trouble. Certain it is that for many
years after the killing, the Blackfeet kept
traders and trappers on the dodge unless they
were Hudson Bay men, and in 1810 drove the
"American" trappers and traders from their
fort at Three-Forks.
It was early when we gathered in War Eagle's
lodge, the children and I, but the story-telling
began at once.
"Now I shall tell you a story that will show
you how little OLD-man cared for the welfare of
others," said War Eagle.
"It happened in the fall, this thing I shall
tell you, and the day was warm and bright.
OLD-man and his brother the Red Fox were trav-
elling together for company. They were on a
hillside when OLD-Man said: 'I am hungry.
Can you not kill a Rabbit or something for us
to eat? The way is long, and I am getting
old, you know. You are swift of foot and
cunning, and there are Rabbits among these
"'Ever since morning came I have watched
for food, but the moon must be wrong or some-
thing, for I see nothing that is good to eat,'
replied the Fox. 'Besides that, my medicine is
bad and my heart is weak. You are great, and
I have heard you can do most anything. Many
snows have known your footprints, and the
snows make us all wise. I think you are the
one to help, not I.'
"'Listen, brother,' said OLD-man, 'I have
neither bow nor lance--nothing to use in hunt-
ing. Your weapons are ever with you--your
great nose and your sharp teeth. Just as we
came up this hill I saw two great Buffalo-Bulls.
You were not looking, but I saw them, and if
you will do as I want you to we shall have
plenty of meat. This is my scheme; I shall
pull out all of your hair, leaving your body
white and smooth, like that of the fish. I shall
leave only the white hair that grows on the tip
of your tail, and that will make you funny to
look at. Then you are to go before the Bulls
and commence to dance and act foolish. Of
course the Bulls will laugh at you, and as soon
as they get to laughing you must act sillier
than ever. That will make them laugh so hard
that they will fall down and laugh on the
ground. When they fall, I shall come upon
them with my knife and kill them. Will you
do as I suggest, brother, or will you starve?'
"'What! Pull out my hair? I shall freeze
with no hair on my body, OLD-man. No--I
will not suffer you to pull my hair out when the
winter is so near,' cried the Fox.
"'Ho! It is vanity, my brother, not fear
of freezing. If you will do this we shall have
meat for the winter, and a fire to keep us warm.
See, the wind is in the south and warm. There
is no danger of freezing. Come, let me do it,'
"'Well--if you are sure that I won't freeze,
all right,' said the Fox, 'but I'll bet I'll be
"So Old-man pulled out all of the Fox's hair,
leaving only the white tip that grew near the
end of his tail. Poor little Red Fox shivered
in the warm breeze that OLD-man told about,
and kept telling OLD-man that the hair-pulling
hurt badly. Finally OLD-man finished the job
and laughed at the Fox, saying: 'Why, you make
me laugh, too. Now go and dance before the
Bulls, and I shall watch and be ready for my
part of the scheme.'
"Around the hill went the poor Red Fox and
found the Bulls. Then he began to dance be-
fore them as OLD-man had told him. The Bulls
took one look at the hairless Fox and began to
laugh. My! How they did laugh, and then
the Red Fox stood upon his hind legs and
danced some more; acted sillier, as OLD-man
had told him. Louder and louder laughed the
Bulls, until they fell to the ground with their
breath short from the laughing. The Red Fox
kept at his antics lest the Bulls get up before
OLD-man reached them; but soon he saw him
coming, with a knife in his hand.
"Running up to the Bulls, OLD-man plunged
his knife into their hearts, and they died.
Into the ground ran their blood, and then OLD-
man laughed and said: 'Ho, I am the smart
one. I am the real hunter. I depend on my
head for meat--ha!--ha!-ha!'
"Then OLD-man began to dress and skin the
Bulls, and he worked hard and long. In fact
it was nearly night when he got the work all
"Poor little Red Fox had stood there all the
time, and OLD-man never noticed that the wind
had changed and was coming from the north.
Yes, poor Red Fox stood there and spoke no
word; said nothing at all, even when OLD-man
"'Hi, there, you! what's the matter with
you? Are you sorry that we have meat? Say,
"But the Red Fox was frozen stiff--was
dead. Yes, the north wind had killed him
while OLD-man worked at the skinning. The Fox
had been caught by the north wind naked,
and was dead. OLD-man built a fire and warmed
his hands; that was all he cared for the Red
Fox, and that is all he cared for anybody. He
might have known that no person could stand
the north wind without a robe; but as long
as he was warm himself--that was all he
"That is all of that story. To-morrow night
I shall tell you why the birch-tree wears those
slashes in its bark. That was some of OLD-
man's work, too. Ho!"
WHY THE BIRCH-TREE WEARS THE SLASHES IN ITS BARK
The white man has never understood the
Indian, and the example set the Western
tribes of the plains by our white brethren has
not been such as to inspire the red man with
either confidence or respect for our laws or our
religion. The fighting trapper, the border ban-
dit, the horse-thief and rustler, in whose stomach
legitimately acquired beef would cause colic--
were the Indians' first acquaintances who wore
a white skin, and he did not know that they
were not of the best type. Being outlaws in
every sense, these men sought shelter from the
Indian in the wilderness; and he learned of
their ways about his lodge-fire, or in battle,
often provoked by the white ruffian in the hope
of gain. They lied to the Indian--these first
white acquaintances, and in after-years, the
great Government of the United States lied and
lied again, until he has come to believe that
there is no truth in the white man's heart.
And I don't blame him.
The Indian is a charitable man. I don't be-
lieve he ever refused food and shelter or abused
a visitor. He has never been a bigot, and con-
cedes to every other man the right to his own
beliefs. Further than that, the Indian believes
that every man's religion and belief is right
and proper for that man's self.
It was blowing a gale and snow was being
driven in fine flakes across the plains when we
went to the lodge for a story. Every minute
the weather was growing colder, and an early
fall storm of severity was upon us. The wind
seemed to add to the good nature of our host
as he filled and passed me the pipe.
"This is the night I was to tell you about the
Birch-Tree, and the wind will help to make
you understand," said War Eagle after we had
"Of course," he continued, " this all happened
in the summer-time when the weather was
warm, very warm. Sometimes, you know,
there are great winds in the summer, too.
"It was a hot day, and OLD-man was trying
to sleep, but the heat made him sick. He wan-
dered to a hilltop for air; but there was no
air. Then he went down to the river and
found no relief. He travelled to the timber-
lands, and there the heat was great, although
he found plenty of shade. The travelling made
him warmer, of course, but he wouldn't stay
"By and by he called to the winds to blow,
and they commenced. First they didn't blow
very hard, because they were afraid they might
make OLD-man angry, but he kept crying:
"'Blow harder--harder--harder! Blow
worse than ever you blew before, and send this
heat away from the world.'
"So, of course, the winds did blow harder--
harder than they ever had blown before.
"'Bend and break, Fir-Tree!' cried OLD-man,
and the Fir-Tree did bend and break. 'Bend
and break, Pine-Tree!' and the Pine-Tree did
bend and break. 'Bend and break, Spruce-
Tree!' and the Spruce-Tree did bend and break.
'Bend and break, O Birch-Tree!' and the
Birch-Tree did bend, but it wouldn't break--
no, sir!--it wouldn't break!
"'Ho! Birch-Tree, won't you mind me?
Bend and break! I tell you,' but all the Birch-
Tree would do was to bend.
"It bent to the ground; it bent double to
please OLD-man, but it would not break.
"'Blow harder, wind!' cried OLD-man, 'blow
harder and break the Birch-Tree.' The wind
tried to blow harder, but it couldn't, and that
made the thing worse, because OLD-man was so
angry he went crazy. 'Break! I tell you--
break!' screamed OLD-man to the Birch-Tree.
"'I won't break,' replied the Birch; 'I shall
never break for any wind. I will bend, but I
shall never, never break.'
"'You won't, hey?' cried OLD-man, and he
rushed at the Birch-Tree with his hunting-knife.
He grabbed the top of the Birch because it was
touching the ground, and began slashing the
bark of the Birch-Tree with the knife. All up
and down the trunk of the tree OLD-man slashed,
until the Birch was covered with the knife
"'There! that is for not minding me. That
will do you good! As long as time lasts you
shall always look like that, Birch-Tree; always
be marked as one who will not mind its maker.
Yes, and all the Birch-Trees in the world shall
have the same marks forever.' They do, too.
You have seen them and have wondered why
the Birch-Tree is so queerly marked. Now you
"That is all--Ho!"
MISTAKES OF OLD-MAN
All night the storm raged, and in the
morning the plains were white with snow.
The sun came and the light was blinding, but
the hunters were abroad early, as usual.
That day the children came to my camp,
and I told them several stories that appeal to
white children. They were deeply interested,
and asked many questions. Not until the
hunters returned did my visitors leave.
That night War Eagle told us of the mistakes
of OLD-man. He said:
"OLD-man made a great many mistakes in
making things in the world, but he worked un-
til he had everything good. I told you at the
beginning that OLD-man made mistakes, but I
didn't tell you what they were, so now I shall
"One of the things he did that was wrong,
was to make the Big-Horn to live on the plains.
Yes, he made him on the plains and turned him
loose, to make his living there. Of course the
Big-Horn couldn't run on the plains, and OLD-
man wondered what was wrong. Finally, he
said: 'Come here, Big-Horn!' and the Big-
Horn came to him. OLD-man stuck his arm
through the circle his horns made, and dragged
the Big-Horn far up into the mountains. There
he set him free again, and sat down to watch
him. Ho! It made OLD-man dizzy to watch
the Big-Horn run about on the ragged cliffs.
He saw at once that this was the country the
Big-Horn liked, and he left him there. Yes,
he left him there forever, and there he stays,
seldom coming down to the lower country.
"While OLD-man was waiting to see what the
Big-Horn would do in the high mountains, he
made an Antelope and set him free with the
Big-Horn. Ho! But the Antelope stumbled
and fell down among the rocks. He couldn't
man called to the Antelope to come back to
him, and the Antelope did come to him. Then
he called to the Big-Horn, and said:
"'You are all right, I guess, but this one
isn't, and I'll have to take him somewhere else.'
"He dragged the Antelope down to the
prairie country, and set him free there. Then
he watched him a minute; that was as long as
the Antelope was in sight, for he was afraid
OLD-man might take him back to the mountains.
"He said: 'I guess that fellow was made for
the plains, all right, so I'll leave him there';
and he did. That is why the Antelope always
stays on the plains, even to-day. He likes it
"That wasn't a very long story; sometime
when you get older I will tell you some dif-
ferent stories, but that will be all for this time,
I guess. Ho!"
HOW THE MAN FOUND HIS MATE
Each tribe has its own stories. Most of
them deal with the same subjects, differing
only in immaterial particulars.
Instead of squirrels in the timber, the Black-
feet are sure they were prairie-dogs that OLD-
man roasted that time when he made the
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