Myths and Legends of the Sioux
Marie L. McLaughlin
Part 2 out of 3
youngest. The baby has kept me from starving and the other one is
good and kind to his baby brother."
So the three older brothers who were unkind to their baby brother
met a similar fate to that of their selfish parents.
This (the story goes) is the reason that bears travel only in
THE BRAVE WHO WENT ON THE WARPATH
ALONE AND WON THE NAME OF
THE LONE WARRIOR
There was once a young man whose parents were not overburdened with
the riches of this world, and consequently could not dress their
only son in as rich a costume as the other young men of the tribe,
and on account of not being so richly clad as they, he was
looked down upon and shunned by them. He was never invited to take
part in any of their sports; nor was he ever asked to join any of
the war parties.
In the village lived an old man with an only daughter. Like the
other family, they were poor, but the daughter was the belle of the
tribe. She was the most sought after by the young men of the
village, and warriors from tribes far distant came to press their
suit at winning her for their bride. All to no purpose; she had
the same answer for them as she had for the young men of the
The poor young man was also very handsome despite his poor clothes,
but having never killed an enemy nor brought home any enemies'
horses he was not (according to Indian rules) allowed to make love
to any young or old woman. He tried in vain to join some of the
war parties, that he might get the chance to win his spurs as a
warrior. To all his pleadings, came the same answer: "You are not
fit to join a war party. You have no horses, and if you should get
killed our tribe would be laughed at and be made fun of as you have
such poor clothes, and we don't want the enemy to know that we have
any one of our tribe who dresses so poorly as you do."
Again, and again, he tried different parties, only to be made fun
of and insulted.
One night he sat in the poor tepee of his parents. He was in deep
study and had nothing to say. His father, noticing his melancholy
mood, asked him what had happened to cause him to be so quiet, as
he was always of a jolly disposition. The son answered and said:
"Father, I am going on the warpath alone. In vain I have tried to
be a member of one of the war parties. To all of my pleadings I
have got nothing but insults in return."
"But my son, you have no gun nor ammunition. Where can you get any
and how can you get it? We have nothing to buy one for you with,"
said the father.
"I don't need any weapons. I am going to bring back some of the
enemies' horses, and I don't need a gun for that."
Early the next morning (regardless of the old couple's pleadings
not to go unarmed) the young man left the village and headed
northwest, the direction always taken by the war parties.
For ten days he traveled without seeing any signs of a camp. The
evening of the tenth day, he reached a very high butte, thickly
wooded at the summit. He ascended this butte, and as he sat there
between two large boulders, watching the beautiful rays of the
setting sun, he was suddenly startled to hear the neigh of a horse.
Looking down into the beautiful valley which was threaded by a
beautiful creek fringed with timber, he noticed close to the base
of the butte upon which he sat, a large drove of horses grazing
peacefully and quietly. Looking closer, he noticed at a little
distance from the main drove, a horse with a saddle on his back.
This was the one that had neighed, as the drove drifted further
away from him. He was tied by a long lariat to a large sage bush.
Where could the rider be, he said to himself. As if in answer to
his question, there appeared not more than twenty paces from him a
middle aged man coming up through a deep ravine. The man was
evidently in search of some kind of game, as he held his gun in
readiness for instant use, and kept his eyes directed at every
crevice and clump of bush. So intent was he on locating the game
he was trailing, that he never noticed the young man who sat like
a statue not twenty paces away. Slowly and cautiously the man
approached, and when he had advanced to within a few paces of the
young man he stopped and turning around, stood looking down into
the valley. This was the only chance that our brave young friend
had. Being unarmed, he would stand no show if the enemy ever got
a glimpse of him. Slowly and noiselessly he drew his hunting knife
(which his father had given him on his departure from home) and
holding it securely in his right hand, gathered himself and gave a
leap which landed him upon the unsuspecting enemy's shoulders. The
force with which he landed on the enemy caused him (the enemy) to
lose his hold on his gun, and it went rattling down into the chasm,
forty feet below.
Down they came together, the young man on top. No sooner had they
struck the ground than the enemy had out his knife, and then
commenced a hand to hand duel. The enemy, having more experience,
was getting the best of our young friend. Already our young friend
had two ugly cuts, one across his chest and the other through his
He was becoming weak from the loss of blood, and could not stand
the killing pace much longer. Summoning all his strength for one
more trial to overcome his antagonist, he rushed him toward the
chasm, and in his hurry to get away from this fierce attack, the
enemy stepped back one step too far, and down they both went into
the chasm. Interlocked in each other's arms, the young man drove
his knife into the enemy's side and when they struck the bottom the
enemy relaxed his hold and straightened out stiff and dead.
Securing his scalp and gun, the young man proceeded down to where
the horse was tied to the sage bush, and then gathering the drove
of horses proceeded on his return to his own village. Being
wounded severely he had to ride very slowly. All the long hours of
the night he drove the horses towards his home village.
In the meantime, those at the enemies' camp wondered at the long
absence of the herder who was watching their drove of horses, and
finally seven young men went to search for the missing herder. All
night long they searched the hillsides for the horses and herder,
and when it had grown light enough in the morning they saw by the
ground where there had been a fierce struggle.
Following the tracks in the sand and leaves, they came to the chasm
where the combatants had fallen over, and there, lying on his back
staring up at them in death, was their herder. They hastened to
the camp and told what they had found. Immediately the warriors
mounted their war ponies (these ponies are never turned loose, but
kept tied close to the tepee of the owner), and striking the trail
of the herd driven off by our young friend, they urged forth their
ponies and were soon far from their camp on the trail of our young
friend. All day long they traveled on his trail, and just as the
sun was sinking they caught sight of him driving the drove ahead
over a high hill. Again they urged forth their tired ponies. The
young man, looking back along the trail, saw some dark objects
coming along, and, catching a fresh horse, drove the rest ahead at
a great rate. Again all night he drove them, and when daylight
came he looked back (from a high butte) over his trail and saw
coming over a distant raise, two horsemen. These two undoubtedly
rode the best ponies, as he saw nothing of the others. Driving the
horses into a thick belt of timber, he concealed himself close to
the trail made by the drove of horses, and lay in ambush for the
two daring horsemen who had followed him so far. Finally they
appeared on the butte from where he had looked back and saw them
following him. For a long time they sat there scouring the country
before them in hopes that they might see some signs of their stolen
horses. Nothing could they see. Had they but known, their horses
were but a few hundred yards from them, but the thick timber
securely hid them from view. Finally one of them arose and pointed
to the timber. Then leaving his horse in charge of his friend, he
descended the butte and followed the trail of the drove to where
they had entered the timber. Little did he think that he was
standing on the brink of eternity. The young man hiding not more
than a hundred yards from him could have shot him there where he
stood, but wanting to play fair, he stepped into sight. When he
did, the enemy took quick aim and fired. He was too hasty. Had he
taken more careful aim he might have killed our young friend, but
his bullet whizzed harmlessly over the young man's head and buried
itself in a tree. The young man took good aim and fired. The
enemy threw up both hands and fell forward on his face. The other
one on the hill, seeing his friend killed, hastily mounted his
horse and leading his friend's horse, made rapidly off down the
butte in the direction from whence he had come. Waiting for some
time to be sure the one who was alive did not come up and take a
shot at him, he finally advanced upon the fallen enemy and securing
his gun, ammunition and scalp, went to his horse and drove the herd
on through the woods and crossing a long flat prairie, ascended a
long chain of hills and sat looking back along his trail in search
of any of the enemy who might continue to follow him.
Thus he sat until the long shadows of the hills reminded him that
it would soon be sunset, and as he must get some sleep, he wanted
to find some creek bend where he could drive the bunch of ponies
and feel safe as to their not straying off during the night. He
found a good place for the herd, and catching a fresh horse, he
picketed him close to where he was going to sleep, and wrapping
himself in his blanket, was soon fast asleep. So tired and sleepy
was he that a heavy rain which had come up, during the night,
soaked him through and through, but he never awakened until the sun
was high in the east.
He awoke and going to the place where he had left the herd, he was
glad to find them all there. He mounted his horse and started his
herd homeward again. For two days he drove them, and on the
evening of the second day he came in sight of the village.
The older warriors, hearing of the young man going on this trip
alone and unarmed, told the parents to go in mourning for their
son, as he would never come back alive. When the people of the
village saw this large drove of horses advancing towards them, they
at first thought it was a war party of the enemy, and so the head
men called the young warriors together and fully prepared for a
great battle. They advanced upon the supposed enemy. When they
got close enough to discern a lone horseman driving this large
herd, they surrounded the horses and lone warrior, and brought him
triumphantly into camp. On arriving in the camp (or village) the
horses were counted and the number counted up to one hundred and
The chief and his criers (or heralds) announced through the whole
village that there would be a great war dance given in honor of the
The whole village turned out and had a great war dance that was
kept up three days and three nights. The two scalps which the
young man had taken were tied to a pole which was placed in the
center of the dance circle. At this dance, the Lone Warrior gave
to each poor family five head of horses.
Being considered eligible now to pay his respects to any girl who
took his fancy, he at once went to the camp of the beautiful girl
of the tribe, and as he was always her choice, she at once
consented to marry him.
The news spread through the village that Lone Warrior had won the
belle of the nation for his bride, and this with the great feat
which he had accomplished alone in killing two enemies and bringing
home a great herd of horses, raised him to the rank of chief, which
he faithfully filled to the end of his days. And many times he had
to tell his grandchildren the story of how he got the name of the
THE SIOUX WHO MARRIED THE CROW
A war party of seven young men, seeing a lone tepee standing on the
edge of a heavy belt of timber, stopped and waited for darkness, in
order to send one of their scouts ahead to ascertain whether the
camp which they had seen was the camp of friend or enemy.
When darkness had settled down on them, and they felt secure in not
being detected, they chose one of their scouts to go on alone and
find out what would be the best direction for them to advance upon
the camp, should it prove to be an enemy.
Among the scouts was one who was noted for his bravery, and many
were the brave acts he had performed. His name was Big Eagle.
This man they selected to go to the lone camp and obtain the
information for which they were waiting.
Big Eagle was told to look carefully over the ground and select the
best direction from which they should make the attack. The other
six would await his return. He started on his mission, being
careful not to make any noise. He stealthily approached the
camp. As he drew near to the tent he was surprised to note the
absence of any dogs, as these animals are always kept by the Sioux
to notify the owners by their barking of the approach of anyone.
He crawled up to the tepee door, and peeping through a small
aperture, he saw three persons sitting inside. An elderly man and
woman were sitting at the right of the fireplace, and a young woman
at the seat of honor, opposite the door.
Big Eagle had been married and his wife had died five winters
previous to the time of this episode. He had never thought of
marrying again, but when he looked upon this young woman he thought
he was looking upon the face of his dead wife. He removed his
cartridge belts and knife, and placing them, along with his rifle,
at the side of the tent, he at once boldly stepped inside the
tepee, and going over to the man, extended his hand and shook first
the man's hand, then the old woman's, and lastly the young woman's.
Then he seated himself by the side of the girl, and thus they sat,
no one speaking.
Finally, Big Eagle made signs to the man, explaining as well as
possible by signs, that his wife had died long ago, and when he saw
the girl she so strongly resembled his dead wife that he wished to
marry her, and he would go back to the enemy's camp and live with
them, if they would consent to the marriage of their daughter.
The old man seemed to understand, and Big Eagle again made signs to
him that a party were lying in wait just a short distance from his
camp. Noiselessly they brought in the horses, and taking down the
tent, they at once moved off in the direction from whence they had
come. The war party waited all night, and when the first rays of
dawn disclosed to them the absence of the tepee, they at once
concluded that Big Eagle had been discovered and killed, so they
hurriedly started on their trail for home.
In the meantime, the hunting party, for this it was that Big Eagle
had joined, made very good time in putting a good distance between
themselves and the war party. All day they traveled, and when
evening came they ascended a high hill, looking down into the
valley on the other side. There stretched for two miles, along the
banks of a small stream, an immense camp. The old man made signs
for Big Eagle to remain with the two women where he was, until he
could go to the camp and prepare them to receive an enemy into
The old man rode through the camp and drew up at the largest tepee
in the village. Soon Big Eagle could see men gathering around the
tepee. The crowd grew larger and larger, until the whole village
had assembled at the large tepee. Finally they dispersed, and
catching their horses, mounted and advanced to the hill on which
Big Eagle and the two women were waiting. They formed a circle
around them and slowly they returned to the village, singing and
riding in a circle around them.
When they arrived at the village they advanced to the large tepee,
and motioned Big Eagle to the seat of honor in the tepee. In the
village was a man who understood and spoke the Sioux language. He
was sent for, and through him the oath of allegiance
to the Crow tribe was taken by Big Eagle. This done he was
presented with the girl to wife, and also with many spotted ponies.
Big Eagle lived with his wife among her people for two years, and
during this time he joined in four different battles between his
own people (the Sioux) and the Crow people, to whom his wife
In no battle with his own people would he carry any weapons, only
a long willow coup-stick, with which he struck the fallen Sioux.
At the expiration of two years he concluded to pay a visit to his
own tribe, and his father-in-law, being a chief of high standing,
at once had it heralded through the village that his son-in-law
would visit his own people, and for them to show their good will
and respect for him by bringing ponies for his son-in-law to take
back to his people.
Hearing this, the herds were all driven in and all day long horses
were brought to the tent of Big Eagle, and when he was ready to
start on his homeward trip, twenty young men were elected to
accompany him to within a safe distance of his village. The twenty
young men drove the gift horses, amounting to two hundred and
twenty head, to within one day's journey of the village of Big
Eagle, and fearing for their safety from his people, Big Eagle sent
them back to their own village.
On his arrival at his home village, they received him as one
returned from the dead, as they were sure he had been killed the
night he had been sent to reconnoiter the lone camp. There was
great feasting and dancing in honor of his return, and the horses
were distributed among the needy ones of the village.
Remaining at his home village for a year, he one day made up his
mind to return to his wife's people. A great many fancy robes,
dresses, war bonnets, moccasins, and a great drove of horses were
given him, and his wife, and he bade farewell to his people for
good, saying, "I will never return to you again, as I have decided
to live the remainder of my days with my wife's people."
On his arrival at the village of the Crows, he found his
father-in-law at the point of death. A few days later the old man
died, and Big Eagle was appointed to fill the vacancy of chief made
by the death of his father-in-law.
Subsequently he took part in battles against his own people, and in
the third battle was killed on the field. Tenderly the Crow
warriors bore him back to their camp, and great was the mourning in
the Crow village for the brave man who always went into battle
unarmed, save only the willow wand which he carried.
Thus ended the career of one of the bravest of Sioux warriors who
ever took the scalp of an enemy, and who for the love of his dead
wife, gave up home, parents, and friends, to be killed on the field
of battle by his own tribe.
THE BOY AND THE TURTLES
A boy went on a turtle hunt, and after following the different
streams for hours, finally came to the conclusion that the only
place he would find any turtles would be at the little lake, where
the tribe always hunted them.
So, leaving the stream he had been following, he cut across country
to the lake. On drawing near the lake he crawled on his hands and
knees in order not to be seen by the turtles, who were very
watchful, as they had been hunted so much. Peeping over the rock
he saw a great many out on the shore sunning themselves, so he very
cautiously undressed, so he could leap into the water and catch
them before they secreted themselves. But on pulling off his
shirt one of his hands was held up so high that the turtles saw it
and jumped into the lake with a great splash.
The boy ran to the shore, but saw only bubbles coming up from the
bottom. Directly the boy saw something coming to the surface, and
soon it came up into sight. It was a little man, and soon others,
by the hundreds, came up and swam about, splashing the water up
into the air to a great height. So scared was the boy that he
never stopped to gather up his clothes but ran home naked and fell
into his grandmother's tent door.
"What is the trouble, grandchild," cried the old woman. But the
boy could not answer. "Did you see anything unnatural?" He shook
his head, "no." He made signs to the grandmother that his lungs
were pressing so hard against his sides that he could not
talk. He kept beating his side with his clenched hands. The
grandmother got out her medicine bag, made a prayer to the Great
Spirit to drive out the evil spirit that had entered her grandson's
body, and after she had applied the medicine, the prayer must have
been heard and answered, as the boy commenced telling her what he
had heard and seen.
The grandmother went to the chief's tent and told what her grandson
had seen. The chief sent two brave warriors to the lake to
ascertain whether it was true or not. The two warriors crept to
the little hill close to the lake, and there, sure enough, the lake
was swarming with little men swimming about, splashing the water
high up into the air. The warriors, too, were scared and hurried
home, and in the council called on their return told what they had
seen. The boy was brought to the council and given the seat of
honor (opposite the door), and was named "Wankan Wanyanka" (sees
The lake had formerly borne the name of Truth Lake, but from this
time on was called "Wicasa-bde"--Man Lake.
THE HERMIT, OR THE GIFT OF CORN
In a deep forest, far from the villages of his people, lived a
hermit. His tent was made of buffalo skins, and his dress was made
of deer skin. Far from the haunts of any human being this old
hermit was content to spend his days.
All day long he would wander through the forest studying the
different plants of nature and collecting precious roots, which he
used as medicine. At long intervals some warrior would arrive at
the tent of the old hermit and get medicine roots from him for the
tribe, the old hermit's medicine being considered far superior to
After a long day's ramble in the woods, the hermit came home late,
and being very tired, at once lay down on his bed and was just
dozing off to sleep, when he felt something rub against his foot.
Awakening with a start, he noticed a dark object and an arm was
extended to him, holding in its hand a flint pointed arrow.
The hermit thought, "This must be a spirit, as there is no human
being around here but myself!" A voice then said: "Hermit, I have
come to invite you to my home." "How (yes), I will come," said the
old hermit. Wherewith he arose, wrapped his robe about him and
Outside the door he stopped and looked around, but could see no
signs of the dark object.
"Whoever you are, or whatever you be, wait for me, as I don't know
where to go to find your house," said the hermit. Not an answer
did he receive, nor could he hear any noises as though anyone was
walking through the brush. Re-entering his tent he retired and was
soon fast asleep. The next night the same thing occurred again,
and the hermit followed the object out, only to be left as before.
He was very angry to think that anyone should be trying to make
sport of him, and he determined to find out who this could be who
was disturbing his night's rest.
The next evening he cut a hole in the tent large enough to stick an
arrow through, and stood by the door watching. Soon the dark
object came and stopped outside of the door, and said:
"Grandfather, I came to--," but he never finished the sentence,
for the old man let go his arrow, and he heard the arrow strike
something which produced a sound as though he had shot into a sack
of pebbles. He did not go out that night to see what his arrow had
struck, but early next morning he went out and looked at the spot
about where he thought the object had stood. There on the ground
lay a little heap of corn, and from this little heap a small line
of corn lay scattered along a path. This he followed far into the
woods. When he came to a very small knoll the trail ended. At the
end of the trail was a large circle, from which the grass had been
scraped off clean.
"The corn trail stops at the edge of this circle," said the old
man, "so this must be the home of whoever it was that invited me."
He took his bone knife and hatchet and proceeded to dig down into
the center of the circle. When he had got down to the length
of his arm, he came to a sack of dried meat. Next he found a sack
of Indian turnips, then a sack of dried cherries; then a sack of
corn, and last of all another sack, empty except that there was
about a cupful of corn in one corner of it, and that the sack had
a hole in the other corner where his arrow had pierced it. From
this hole in the sack the corn was scattered along the trail, which
guided the old man to the cache.*
From this the hermit taught the tribes how to keep their provisions
when traveling and were overloaded. He explained to them how they
should dig a pit and put their provisions into it and cover them
with earth. By this method the Indians used to keep provisions all
summer, and when fall came they would return to their cache, and on
opening it would find everything as fresh as the day they were
The old hermit was also thanked as the discoverer of corn, which
had never been known to the Indians until discovered by the old
THE MYSTERIOUS BUTTE
A young man was once hunting and came to a steep hill. The east
side of the hill suddenly dropped off to a very steep bank. He
stood on this bank, and at the base he noticed a small opening. On
going down to examine it more closely, he found it was large enough
to admit a horse or buffalo. On either side of the door were
figures of different animals engraved into the wall.
He entered the opening and there, scattered about on the floor, lay
many bracelets, pipes and many other things of ornament, as though
they had been offerings to some great spirit. He passed through
this first room and on entering the second it was so dark
that he could not see his hands before his face, so becoming
scared, he hurriedly left the place, and returning home told what
he had seen.
Upon hearing this the chief selected four of his most daring
warriors to go with this young man and investigate and ascertain
whether the young man was telling the truth or not. The five
proceeded to the butte, and at the entrance the young man refused
to go inside, as the figures on either side of the entrance had
The four entered and seeing that all in the first chamber was as
the young man had told, they went on to the next chamber and found
it so dark that they could not see anything. They continued on,
however, feeling their way along the walls. They finally
found an entrance that was so narrow that they had to squeeze into
it sideways. They felt their way around the walls and found
another entrance, so low down that they had to crawl on their hands
and knees to go through into the next chamber.
On entering the last chamber they found a very sweet odor coming
from the opposite direction. Feeling around and crawling on their
hands and knees, they discovered a hole in the floor leading
downward. From this hole came up the sweet odor. They hurriedly
held a council, and decided to go no further, but return to the
camp and report what they had found. On getting to the first
chamber one of the young men said: "I am going to take these
bracelets to show that we are telling the truth." "No," said the
other three, "this being the abode of some Great Spirit, you may
have some accident befall you for taking what is not yours." "Ah!
You fellows are like old women," said he, taking a fine bracelet
and encircling his left wrist with it.
When they reached the village they reported what they had seen.
The young man exhibited the bracelet to prove that it was the truth
they had told.
Shortly after this, these four young men were out fixing up traps
for wolves. They would raise one end of a heavy log and place a
stick under, bracing up the log. A large piece of meat was placed
about five feet away from the log and this space covered with poles
and willows. At the place where the upright stick was put, a hole
was left open, large enough to admit the body of a wolf. The wolf,
scenting the meat and unable to get at it through the poles and
willows, would crowd into the hole and working his
body forward, in order to get the meat, would push down the brace
and the log thus released would hold the wolf fast under its
The young man with the bracelet was placing his bait under the log
when he released the log by knocking down the brace, and the log
caught his wrist on which he wore the bracelet. He could not
release himself and called loud and long for assistance. His
friends, hearing his call, came to his assistance, and on lifting
the log found the young man's wrist broken. "Now," said they, "you
have been punished for taking the wristlet out of the chamber of
the mysterious butte."
Some time after this a young man went to the butte and saw engraved
on the wall a woman holding in her hand a pole, with which she was
holding up a large amount of beef which had been laid across
another pole, which had broken in two from the weight of so much
He returned to the camp and reported what he had seen. All around
the figure he saw marks of buffalo hoofs, also marked upon the
The next day an enormous herd of buffalo came near to the village,
and a great many were killed. The women were busy cutting up and
drying the meat. At one camp was more meat than at any other. The
woman was hanging meat upon a long tent pole, when the pole broke
in two and she was obliged to hold the meat up with another pole,
just as the young man saw on the mysterious butte.
Ever after that the Indians paid weekly visits to this butte, and
thereon would read the signs that were to govern their plans.
This butte was always considered the prophet of the tribe.
THE WONDERFUL TURTLE
Near to a Chippewa village lay a large lake, and in this lake there
lived an enormous turtle. This was no ordinary turtle, as he would
often come out of his home in the lake and visit with his Indian
neighbors. He paid the most of his visits to the head
chief, and on these occasions would stay for hours, smoking and
talking with him.
The chief, seeing that the turtle was very smart and showed great
wisdom in his talk, took a great fancy to him, and whenever any
puzzling subject came up before the chief, he generally sent for
Mr. Turtle to help him decide.
One day there came a great misunderstanding between different
parties of the tribe, and so excited became both sides that it
threatened to cause bloodshed. The chief was unable to decide for
either faction, so he said, "I will call Mr. Turtle. He will
judge for you."
Sending for the turtle, the chief vacated his seat for the time
being, until the turtle should hear both sides, and decide which
was in the right. The turtle came, and taking the chief's seat,
listened very attentively to both sides, and thought long before he
gave his decision. After thinking long and studying each
side carefully, he came to the conclusion to decide in favor of
both. This would not cause any hard feelings. So he gave them a
lengthy speech and showed them where they were both in the right,
and wound up by saying:
"You are both in the right in some ways and wrong in others.
Therefore, I will say that you both are equally in the right."
When they heard this decision, they saw that the turtle was right,
and gave him a long cheer for the wisdom displayed by him. The
whole tribe saw that had it not been for this wise decision there
would have been a great shedding of blood in the tribe. So
they voted him as their judge, and the chief, being so well pleased
with him, gave to him his only daughter in marriage.
The daughter of the chief was the most beautiful maiden of the
Chippewa nation, and young men from other tribes traveled hundreds
of miles for an opportunity to make love to her, and try to win her
for a wife. It was all to no purpose. She would accept no one,
only him whom her father would select for her. The turtle was very
homely, but as he was prudent and wise, the father chose him, and
she accepted him.
The young men of the tribe were very jealous, but their jealousy
was all to no purpose. She married the turtle. The young men
would make sport of the chief's son-in-law. They would say to him:
"How did you come to have so flat a stomach?" The turtle
answered them, saying:
"My friends, had you been in my place, you too would have flat
stomachs. I came by my flat stomach in this way: The Chippewas and
Sioux had a great battle, and the Sioux, too numerous for the
Chippewas, were killing them off so fast that they had to run for
their lives. I was on the Chippewa side and some of the Sioux were
pressing five of us, and were gaining on us very fast. Coming to
some high grass, I threw myself down flat on my face, and pressed
my stomach close to the ground, so the pursuers could not see me.
They passed me and killed the four I was with. After they had gone
back, I arose and lo! my stomach was as you see it now. So hard
had I pressed to the ground that it would not assume its original
After he had explained the cause of his deformity to them, they
said: "The Turtle is brave. We will bother him no more." Shortly
after this the Sioux made an attack upon the Chippewas, and every
one deserted the village. The Turtle could not travel as fast as
the rest and was left behind. It being an unusually hot day in the
fall, the Turtle grew very thirsty and sleepy. Finally scenting
water, he crawled towards the point from whence the scent
came, and coming to a large lake jumped in and had a bath, after
which he swam towards the center and dived down, and finding some
fine large rocks at the bottom, he crawled in among them and fell
asleep. He had his sleep out and arose to the top.
Swimming to shore he found it was summer. He had slept all winter.
The birds were singing, and the green grass and leaves gave forth
a sweet odor.
He crawled out and started out looking for the Chippewa camp. He
came upon the camp several days after he had left his winter
quarters, and going around in search of his wife, found her at the
extreme edge of the village. She was nursing her baby, and as he
asked to see it, she showed it to him. When he saw that it was a
lovely baby and did not resemble him in any respect, he got angry
and went off to a large lake, where he contented himself with
catching flies and insects and living on seaweed the remainder of
THE MAN AND THE OAK
There once lived a Sioux couple who had two children, a boy and a
girl. Every fall this family would move away from the main camp
and take up their winter quarters in a grove of timber some
distance from the principal village. The reason they did this was
that he was a great hunter and where a village was located for the
winter the game was usually very scarce. Therefore, he always
camped by himself in order to have an abundance of game adjacent
to his camp.
All summer he had roamed around following the tribe to wherever
their fancy might take them. During their travels this particular
year there came to the village a strange girl who had no relatives
there. No one seemed very anxious to take her into their
family, so the great hunter's daughter, taking a fancy to the poor
girl, took her to their home and kept her. She addressed her as
sister, and the parents, on account of their daughter, addressed
her as daughter.
This strange girl became desperately in love with the young man of
the family, but being addressed as daughter by the parents, she
could not openly show her feelings as the young man was considered
In the fall when the main village moved into a large belt of timber
for their winter quarters, the hunter moved on to another place two
days' travel from the main winter camp, where he would not be
disturbed by any other hunters.
The young man had a tent by himself, and it was always kept nice
and clean by his sister, who was very much attached to him. After
a long day's hunt in the woods, he would go into his tent and lie
down to rest, and when his supper was ready his sister would
say, "My brother is so tired. I will carry his supper to him."
Her friend, whom she addressed as sister, would never go into the
young man's tent. Along towards spring there came one night into
the young man's tent a woman. She sat down by the door and kept
her face covered so that it was hidden from view. She sat there a
long time and finally arose and went away. The young man could not
imagine who this could be. He knew that it was a long distance
from the village and could not make out where the woman
could have come from. The next night the woman came again and this
time she came a little nearer to where the young man lay. She sat
down and kept her face covered as before. Neither spoke a word.
She sat there for a long time and then arose and departed. He was
very much puzzled over the actions of this woman and decided to
ascertain on her next visit who she was.
He kindled a small fire in his tent and had some ash wood laid on
it so as to keep fire a long time, as ash burns very slowly and
holds fire a long time.
The third night the woman came again and sat down still nearer his
bed. She held her blanket open just a trifle, and he, catching up
one of the embers, flashed it in her face; jumping up she ran
hurriedly out of the tent. The next morning he noticed that his
adopted sister kept her face hidden with her blanket. She chanced
to drop her blanket while in the act of pouring out some soup, and
when she did so he noticed a large burned spot on her cheek.
He felt so sorry for what he had done that he could eat no
breakfast, but went outside and lay down under an oak tree. All
day long he lay there gazing up into the tree, and when he was
called for supper he refused, saying that he was not hungry, and
for them not to bother him, as he would soon get up and go to bed.
Far into the night he lay thus, and when he tried to arise he could
not, as a small oak tree grew through the center of his body and
held him fast to the ground.
In the morning when the family awoke they found the girl had
disappeared, and on going outside the sister discovered her brother
held fast to the earth by an oak tree which grew very rapidly. In
vain were the best medicine men of the tribe sent for. Their
medicine was of no avail. They said: "If the tree is cut down the
young man will die."
The sister was wild with grief, and extending her hands to the sun,
she cried: "Great Spirit, relieve my suffering brother. Any one
who releases him I will marry, be he young, old, homely or
Several days after the young man had met with the mishap, there
came to the tent a very tall man, who had a bright light encircling
his body. "Where is the girl who promised to marry any one who
would release her brother?" "I am the one," said the young
man's sister. "I am the all-powerful lightning and thunder. I see
all things and can kill at one stroke a whole tribe. When I make
my voice heard the rocks shake loose and go rattling down the
hillsides. The brave warriors cower shivering under some shelter
at the sound of my voice. The girl whom you had adopted as your
sister was a sorceress. She bewitched your brother because he
would not let her make love to him. On my way here I met her
traveling towards the west, and knowing what she had done, I struck
her with one of my blazing swords, and she lies there now a heap of
ashes. I will now release your brother."
So saying he placed his hand on the tree and instantly it crumbled
to ashes. The young man arose, and thanked his deliverer.
Then they saw a great black cloud approaching, and the man said:
"Make ready, we shall go home on that cloud." As the cloud
approached near to the man who stood with his bride, it suddenly
lowered and enveloped them and with a great roar and amidst flashes
of lightning and loud peals of thunder the girl ascended and
disappeared into the west with her Thunder and Lightning husband.
STORY OF THE TWO YOUNG FRIENDS
There were once in a very large Indian camp two little boys who
were fast friends. One of the boys, "Chaske" (meaning first born),
was the son of a very rich family, and was always dressed in the
finest of clothes of Indian costume. The other boy, "Hake"
(meaning last born), was an orphan and lived with his old
grandmother, who was very destitute, and consequently could not
dress the boy in fine raiment. So poorly was the boy dressed that
the boys who had good clothes always tormented him and would not
play in his company.
Chaske did not look at the clothes of any boy whom he chose as a
friend, but mingled with all boys regardless of how they were clad,
and would study their dispositions. The well dressed he found were
vain and conceited. The fairly well dressed he found
selfish and spiteful. The poorly clad he found to be generous and
truthful, and from all of them he chose "Hake" for his "Koda"
(friend). As Chaske was the son of the leading war chief he was
very much sought after by the rest of the boys, each one trying to
gain the honor of being chosen for the friend and companion of the
great chief's son; but, as I have before said, Chaske carefully
studied them all and finally chose the orphan Hake.
It was a lucky day for Hake when he was chosen for the friend and
companion of Chaske. The orphan boy was taken to the lodge of his
friend's parents and dressed up in fine clothes and moccasins.
(When the Indians' sons claim any one as their friend, the friend
thus chosen is adopted into the family as their own son).
Chaske and Hake were inseparable. Where one was seen the other was
not far distant. They played, hunted, trapped, ate and slept
together. They would spend most of the long summer days hunting in
Time went on and these two fast friends grew up to be fine
specimens of their tribe. When they became the age to select a
sweetheart they would go together and make love to a girl. Each
helping the other to win the affection of the one of his choice.
Chaske loved a girl who was the daughter of an old medicine man.
She was very much courted by the other young men of the tribe, and
many a horse loaded with robes and fine porcupine work was tied at
the medicine man's tepee in offering for the hand of his daughter,
but the horses, laden as when tied there, were turned loose,
signifying that the offer was not accepted.
The girl's choice was Chaske's friend Hake. Although he had never
made love to her for himself, he had always used honeyed words to
her and was always loud in his praises for his friend Chaske. One
night the two friends had been to see the girl, and
on their return Chaske was very quiet, having nothing to say and
seemingly in deep study. Always of a bright, jolly and amiable
disposition, his silence and moody spell grieved his friend very
much, and he finally spoke to Chaske, saying: "Koda, what has come
over you? You who were always so jolly and full of fun? Your
silence makes me grieve for you and I do not know what you are
feeling so downhearted about. Has the girl said anything to you
to make you feel thus?"
"Wait, friend," said Chaske, "until morning, and then I will know
how to answer your inquiry. Don't ask me anything more tonight, as
my heart is having a great battle with my brain."
Hake bothered his friend no more that night, but he could not
sleep. He kept wondering what "Pretty Feather" (the girl whom his
friend loved) could have said to Chaske to bring such a change over
him. Hake never suspected that he himself was the cause of his
friend's sorrow, for never did he have a thought that it was
himself that Pretty Feather loved.
The next morning after they had eaten breakfast, Chaske proposed
that they should go out on the prairies, and see if they would have
the good luck to kill an antelope. Hake went out and got the band
of horses, of which there were over a hundred. They
selected the fleetest two in the herd, and taking their bows and
arrows, mounted and rode away towards the south.
Hake was overjoyed to note the change in his friend. His oldtime
jollity had returned. They rode out about five miles, and scaring
up a drove of antelope they started in hot pursuit, and as their
horses were very fleet of foot soon caught up to the drove,
and each singling out his choice quickly dispatched him with an
arrow. They could easily have killed more of the antelope, but did
not want to kill them just for sport, but for food, and knowing
that they had now all that their horses could pack home, they
dismounted and proceeded to dress their kill.
After each had finished packing the kill on his horse, Chaske said:
"Let us sit down and have a smoke before we start back. Besides,
I have something to tell you which I can tell better sitting still
than I can riding along." Hake came and sat down opposite his
friend, and while they smoked Chaske said:
"My friend, we have been together for the last twenty years and I
have yet the first time to deceive you in any way, and I know I can
truthfully say the same of you. Never have I known you to deceive
me nor tell me an untruth. I have no brothers or sisters. The
only brother's love I know is yours. The only sister's love I will
know will be Pretty Feather's, for brother, last night she told me
she loved none but you and would marry you and you only. So,
brother, I am going to take my antelope to my sister-in-law's tent
and deposit it at her door. Then she will know that her wish will
be fulfilled. I thought at first that you had been playing traitor
to me and had been making love to her for yourself, but when she
explained it all to me and begged me to intercede for her to you,
I then knew that I had judged you wrongfully, and that, together
with my lost love, made me so quiet and sorrowful last night. So
now, brother, take the flower of the nation for your wife, and I
will be content to continue through life a lonely
bachelor, as never again can I give any woman the place which
Pretty Feather had in my heart."
Their pipes being smoked out they mounted their ponies and Chaske
started up in a clear, deep voice the beautiful love song of Pretty
Feather and his friend Hake.
Such is the love between two friends, who claim to be as brothers
among the Indians. Chaske gave up his love of a beautiful woman
for a man who was in fact no relation to him.
Hake said, "I will do as you say, my friend, but before I can marry
the medicine man's daughter, I will have to go on the warpath and
do some brave deed, and will start in ten days." They rode towards
home, planning which direction they would travel, and as it was to
be their first experience on the warpath, they would seek advice
from the old warriors of the tribe.
On their arrival at the village Hake took his kill to their own
tent, while Chaske took his to the tent of the Medicine Man, and
deposited it at the door and rode off towards home.
The mother of Pretty Feather did not know whether to take the
offering or not, but Pretty Feather, seeing by this offering that
her most cherished wish was to be granted, told her mother to take
the meat and cook it and invite the old women of the camp to a
feast in honor of the son-in-law who was soon to keep them
furnished with plenty of meat. Hake and his friend sought out all
of the old warriors and gained all the information they desired.
Every evening Hake visited his intended wife and many happy
evenings they spent together.
The morning of the tenth day the two friends left the village and
turned their faces toward the west where the camps of the enemy are
more numerous than in any other direction. They were not mounted
and therefore traveled slowly, so it took about ten days of walking
before they saw any signs of the enemy. The old warriors had told
them of a thickly wooded creek within the enemies' bounds. The old
men said, "That creek looks the ideal place to camp, but don't camp
there by any means, because there is a ghost who haunts that creek,
and any one who camps there is disturbed all through the night, and
besides they never return, because the ghost is Wakan (holy), and
the enemies conquer the travelers every time."
The friends had extra moccasins with them and one extra blanket, as
it was late in the fall and the nights were very cold.
They broke camp early one morning and walked all day. Along
towards evening, the clouds which had been threatening all day,
hurriedly opened their doors and down came the snowflakes thick and
fast. Just before it started snowing the friends had noticed a
dark line about two miles in advance of them. Chaske spoke to his
friend and said: "If this storm continues we will be obliged to
stay overnight at Ghost Creek, as I noticed it not far ahead of us,
just before the storm set in." "I noticed it also," said Hake.
"We might as well entertain a ghost all night as to lie out on
these open prairies and freeze to death." So they decided to run
the risk and stay in the sheltering woods of Ghost Creek. When
they got to the creek it seemed as if they had stepped inside a big
tepee, so thick was the brush and timber that the wind could not be
felt at all. They hunted and found a place where the brush was
very thick and the grass very tall. They quickly pulled the tops
of the nearest willows together and by intertwining the ends made
them fast, and throwing their tent robe over this, soon had a cosy
tepee in which to sleep. They started their fire and cooked some
dried buffalo meat and buffalo tallow, and were just about to eat
their supper when a figure of a man came slowly in through the door
and sat down near where he had entered. Hake, being the one who
was doing the cooking, poured out some tea into his own cup, and
putting a piece of pounded meat and marrow into a small plate,
placed it before the stranger, saying: "Eat, my friend, we are on
the warpath and do not carry much of a variety of food with us, but
I give you the best we have."
The stranger drew the plate towards him, and commenced eating
ravenously. He soon finished his meal and handed the dish and cup
back. He had not uttered a word so far. Chaske filled the pipe
and handed it to him. He smoked for a few minutes, took one last
draw from the pipe and handed it back to Chaske, and then he said:
"Now, my friends, I am not a living man, but the wandering spirit
of a once great warrior, who was killed in these woods by the enemy
whom you two brave young men are now seeking to make war upon. For
years I have been roaming these woods in hopes that I might find
some one brave enough to stop and listen to me, but all who have
camped here in the past have run away at my approach or fired guns
or shot arrows at me. For such cowards as these I have always
found a grave. They never returned to their homes. Now I have
found two brave men whom I can tell what I want done, and if you
accomplish what I tell you to do, you will return home with many
horses and some scalps dangling from your belts. Just over this
range of hills north of us, a large village is encamped for the
winter. In that camp is the man who laid in ambush and shot me,
killing me before I could get a chance to defend myself. I want
that man's scalp, because he has been the cause of my wanderings
for a great many years. Had he killed me on the battlefield my
spirit would have at once joined my brothers in the happy hunting
grounds, but being killed by a coward, my spirit is doomed to roam
until I can find some brave man who will kill this coward and bring
me his scalp. This is why I have tried every party who have camped
here to listen to me, but as I have said before, they were all
cowards. Now, I ask you two brave young men, will you do this for
"We will," said the friends in one voice. "Thank you, my boys.
Now, I know why you came here, and that one of you came to earn his
feathers by killing an enemy, before he would marry; the girl he is
to marry is my granddaughter, as I am the father of the
great Medicine Man. In the morning there will pass by in plain
sight of here a large party. They will chase the buffalo over on
that flat. After they have passed an old man leading a black horse
and riding a white one will come by on the trail left by the
hunting party. He will be driving about a hundred horses, which he
will leave over in the next ravine. He will then proceed to the
hunting grounds and get meat from the different hunters. After the
hunters have all gone home he will come last, singing the praises
of the ones who gave him the meat. This man you must kill and
scalp, as he is the one I want killed. Then take the white and
black horse and each mount and go to the hunting grounds. There
you will see two of the enemy riding about picking up empty shells.
Kill and scalp these two and each take a scalp and come over to the
high knoll and I will show you where the horses are, and as soon as
you hand me the old man's scalp I will disappear and you will see
me no more. As soon as I disappear, it will start in snowing.
Don't be afraid as the snow will cover your trail, but
nevertheless, don't stop traveling for three days and nights, as
these people will suspect that some of your tribe have done this,
and they will follow you until you cross your own boundary lines."
When morning came, the two friends sat in the thick brush and
watched a large party pass by their hiding place. So near were
they that the friends could hear them laughing and talking. After
the hunting party had passed, as the spirit had told them, along
came the old man, driving a large band of horses and leading a fine
looking coal black horse. The horse the old man was riding was as
white as snow. The friends crawled to a little brush covered hill
and watched the chase after the shooting had ceased. The friends
knew it would not be long before the return of the party, so they
crawled back to their camp and hurriedly ate some pounded meat and
drank some cherry tea. Then they took down their robe and rolled
it up and got everything in readiness for a hurried flight with the
horses. Scarcely had they got everything in readiness when the
party came by, singing their song of the chase. When they had all
gone the friends crawled down to the trail and lay waiting for the
old man. Soon they heard him singing. Nearer and nearer came the
sounds of the song until at last at a bend in the road, the old man
came into view. The two friends arose and advanced to meet him.
On he came still singing. No doubt he mistook them for some of his
own people. When he was very close to them they each stepped to
either side of him and before he could make an outcry they pierced
his cowardly old heart with two arrows. He had hardly touched the
ground when they both struck him with their bows, winning first and
second honors by striking an enemy after he has fallen. Chaske
having won first honors, asked his friend to perform the scalping
deed, which he did. And wanting to be sure that the spirit would
get full revenge, took the whole scalp, ears and all, and tied it
to his belt. The buffalo beef which the old man had packed upon
the black horse, they threw on the top of the old man. Quickly
mounting the two horses, they hastened out across the long flat
towards the hunting grounds. When they came in sight of the
grounds there they saw two men riding about from place to place.
Chaske took after the one on the right, Hake the one on the left.
When the two men saw these two strange men riding like the wind
towards them, they turned their horses to retreat towards the
hills, but the white and the black were the swiftest of the tribe's
horses, and quickly overtook the two fleeing men. When they came
close to the enemy they strung their arrows onto the bowstring and
drove them through the two fleeing hunters. As they were falling
they tried to shoot, but being greatly exhausted, their bullets
whistled harmlessly over the heads of the two friends. They
scalped the two enemies and took their guns and ammunition, also
secured the two horses and started for the high knoll. When they
arrived at the place, there stood the spirit. Hake presented him
with the old man's scalp and then the spirit showed them the large
band of horses, and saying, "Ride hard and long," disappeared and
was seen no more by any war parties, as he was thus enabled to join
his forefathers in the happy hunting grounds.
The friends did as the spirit had told them. For three days and
three nights they rode steadily. On the fourth morning they came
into their own boundary. From there on they rode more slowly, and
let the band of horses rest and crop the tops of long grass. They
would stop occasionally, and while one slept the other kept watch.
Thus they got fairly well rested before they came in sight of where
their camp had stood when they had left. All that they could see
of the once large village was the lone tent of the great Medicine
Man. They rode up on to a high hill and farther on towards the
east they saw smoke from a great many tepees. They then knew that
something had happened and that the village had moved away.
"My friend," said Chaske, "I am afraid something has happened to
the Medicine Man's lodge, and rather than have you go there, I will
go alone and you follow the trail of our party and go on ahead
with the horses. I will take the black and the white horses with
me and I will follow on later, after I have seen what the trouble
"Very well, my friend, I will do as you say, but I am afraid
something has happened to Pretty Feather." Hake started on with
the horses, driving them along the broad trail left by the hundreds
of travois. Chaske made slowly towards the tepee, and stopping
outside, stood and listened. Not a sound could he hear. The only
living thing he saw was Pretty Feather's spotted horse tied to the
side of the tent. Then he knew that she must be dead. He rode off
into the thick brush and tied his two horses securely. Then he came
back and entered the tepee. There on a bed of robes lay some one
apparently dead. The body was wrapped in blankets and robes and
bound around and around with parfleche ropes. These he carefully
untied and unwound. Then he unwrapped the robes and blankets and
when he uncovered the face, he saw, as he had expected to, the face
of his lost love, Pretty Feather. As he sat gazing on her
beautiful young face, his heart ached for his poor friend. He
himself had loved and lost this beautiful maiden, and now his
friend who had won her would have to suffer the untold grief which
he had suffered.
What was that? Could it have been a slight quivering of the
nostrils that he had seen, or was it mad fancy playing a trick on
him? Closer he drew to her face, watching intently for another
sign. There it was again, only this time it was a long, deep drawn
breath. He arose, got some water and taking a small stick slowly
forced open her mouth and poured some into it. Then he took some
sage, dipped it into the water and sprinkled a little on her head
and face. There were many parfleche bags piled around the tepee,
and thinking he might find some kind of medicine roots which he
could use to revive her he started opening them one after the
other. He had opened three and was just opening the fourth, when
a voice behind him asked: "What are you looking for?" Turning
quickly, he saw Pretty Feather looking at him. Overjoyed, he
cried, "What can I do so that you can get up and ride to the
village with me? My friend and I just returned with a large band
of horses and two scalps. We saw this tent and recognized it.
My friend wanted to come, but I would not let him, as I feared if
he found anything had happened to you he would do harm to himself,
but now he will be anxious for my return, so if you will tell me
what you need in order to revive you, I will get it, and we can
then go to my friend in the village." "At the foot of my bed you
will find a piece of eagle fat. Build a fire and melt it for me.
I will drink it and then we can go."
Chaske quickly started a fire, got out the piece of fat and melted
it. She drank it at one draught, and was about to arise when she
suddenly said: "Roll me up quick and take the buffalo hair rope and
tie it about my spotted horse's neck; tie his tail in a knot and
tie him to the door. Then run and hide behind the trees. There
are two of the enemy coming this way."
Chaske hurriedly obeyed her orders, and had barely concealed
himself behind the trees, when there came into view two of the
enemy. They saw the horse tied to the door of the deserted tent,
and knew that some dead person occupied the tepee, so through
respect for the dead, they turned out and started to go through the
brush and trees, so as not to pass the door. (The Indians consider
it a bad omen to pass by the door of a tepee occupied by a dead
body, that is, while in the enemy's country). So by making this
detour they traveled directly towards where Chaske was concealed
behind the tree. Knowing that he would be discovered, and there
being two of them, he knew the only chance he had was for him to
kill one of them before they discovered him, then he stood a better
chance at an even combat. On they came, little thinking that one
of them would in a few minutes be with his forefathers.
Chaske noiselessly slipped a cartridge into the chamber of his gun,
threw it into action and took deliberate aim at the smaller one's
breast. A loud report rang out and the one he had aimed at threw
up his arms and fell heavily forward, shot through the heart.
Reloading quickly Chaske stepped out from behind the tree. He
could easily have killed the other from his concealed position,
but, being a brave young man, he wanted to give his opponent a fair
chance. The other had unslung his gun and a duel was then fought
between the two lone combatants. They would spring from side to
side like two great cats. Then advance one or two steps and fire.
Retreat a few steps, spring to one side and fire again. The
bullets whistled past their heads, tore up the earth beneath their
feet, and occasionally one would hit its mark, only to cause a
Suddenly the enemy aimed his gun and threw it upon the ground. His
ammunition was exhausted, and slowly folding his arms he stood
facing his opponent, with a fearless smile upon his face, expecting
the next moment to fall dead from a bullet from the rifle of
Chaske. Not so. Chaske was too honorable and noble to kill an
unarmed man, and especially one who had put up such a brave fight
as had this man. Chaske advanced and picked up the empty gun. The
Toka (enemy) drew from a scabbard at his belt a long bowie knife,
and taking it by the point handed it, handle first, to Chaske.
This signified surrender. Chaske scalped the dead Toka and
motioned for his prisoner to follow him. In the meantime Pretty
Feather had gotten up and stood looking at the duel. When she
heard the first shot she jumped up and cut a small slit in the tent
from which she saw the whole proceedings. Knowing that one or both
of them must be wounded, she hurriedly got water and medicine
roots, and when they came to the tent she was prepared to dress
Chaske had a bullet through his shoulder and one through his hand.
They were very painful but not dangerous. The prisoner had a
bullet through his leg, also one through the muscle of his left
arm. Pretty Feather washed and dressed their wounds, and Chaske
went and brought the black and white horses and mounting Pretty
Feather upon the white horse, and the prisoner on her spotted one,
the three soon rode into the village, and there was a great cry of
joy when it was known that Pretty Feather had come back to them
Hake, who was in his tent grieving, was told that his friend had
returned and with him Pretty Feather. Hearing this good news he at
once went to the Medicine Man's tent and found the Medicine
Man busily dressing the wounds of his friend and a stranger. The
old Medicine Man turned to Hake and said:
"Son-in-law, take your wife home with you. It was from grief at
your absence that she went into a trance, and we, thinking she was
dead, left her for such. Hadn't it been for your friend here, she
would surely have been a corpse now. So take her and keep her with
you always, and take as a present from me fifty of my best horses."
Hake and his beautiful bride went home, where his adopted mother
had a fine large tent put up for them. Presents of cooking
utensils, horses, robes and finely worked shawls and moccasins came
from every direction, and last of all Chaske gave as a present to
his friend the Toka man whom he had taken as prisoner. On
presenting him with this gift, Chaske spoke thus:
"My friend, I present to you, that you may have him as a servant to
look after your large band of horses, this man with whom I fought
a two hours' duel, and had his ammunition lasted he would probably
have conquered me, and who gave me the second hardest fight of my
The hardest fight of my life was when I gave up Pretty Feather.
You have them both. To the Toka (enemy) be kind, and he will do
all your biddings. To Pretty Feather be a good husband."
So saying, Chaske left them, and true to his word, lived the
remainder of his days a confirmed bachelor.
THE STORY OF THE PET CROW
Once upon a time there came to a large village a plague of crows.
So thick were they that the poor women were sorely tried keeping
them out of their tepees and driving them away from their lines of
jerked buffalo meat. Indeed they got so numerous and were such a
great nuisance that the Chief finally gave orders to his camp
criers or heralds to go out among the different camps and announce
the orders of their Chief, that war should be made upon
the crows to extermination; that their nests were to be destroyed
and all eggs broken. The war of extermination was to continue
until not a crow remained, except the youngest found was to be
brought to him alive.
For a week the war on the crows continued. Thousands of dead crows
were brought in daily, and at the end of the week not a bird of
that species could be seen in the neighborhood. Those that escaped
the deadly arrow of the warriors, flew away, never to return to
those parts again.
At the end of the war made upon the crows, there was brought to the
Chief's tepee the youngest found. Indeed, so young was the bird
that it was only the great medicine of the Chief that kept him
alive until he could hop about and find his own food. The Chief
spent most of his time in his lodge teaching the young crow to
understand and talk the language of the tribe. After the crow had
mastered this, the Chief then taught him the languages of the
neighboring tribes. When the crow had mastered these different
languages the chief would send him on long journeys to ascertain
the location of the camps of the different enemies.
When the crow would find a large Indian camp he would alight and
hop about, pretending to be picking up scraps, but really keeping
his ears open for anything he might hear. He would hang around all
day, and at night when they would all gather in the large council
tent (which always stood in the center of the village) to determine
upon their next raid, and plan for a horse stealing trip, Mr. Crow
was always nearby to hear all their plans discussed. He would then
fly away to his master (the Chief) and
tell him all that he had learned.
The Chief would then send a band of his warriors to lie in ambush
for the raiding party, and, as the enemy would not suspect anything
they would go blindly into the pitfall of death thus set for them.
Thus the crow was the scout of this chief, whose
reputation as a Wakan (Holy man) soon reached all of the different
tribes. The Chief's warriors would intercept, ambush and
annihilate every war party headed for his camp.
So, finally learning that they could not make war on this chief's
people unbeknown to them, they gave up making war on this
particular band. When meat was running low in the camp this chief
would send the crow out to look for buffalo. When he discovered
a herd he would return and report to his master; then the chief
would order out the hunters and they would return laden with meat.
Thus the crow kept the camp all the time informed of everything
that would be of benefit to them.
One day the crow disappeared, over which there was great grief
among the tribe. A week had passed away, when Mr. Crow reappeared.
There was great rejoicing upon his return, but the crow was
downcast and would not speak, but sat with a drooping head perched
at the top of the chief's tepee, and refused all food that was
offered to him.
In vain did the chief try to get the crow to tell him the cause of
his silence and seeming grief. The crow would not speak until the
chief said: "Well, I will take a few of my warriors and go out and
try to ascertain what has happened to cause you to act
as you do."
Upon hearing this, the crow said: "Don't go. I dreaded to tell you
what I know to be a fact, as I have heard it from some great
medicine men. I was traveling over the mountains west of here,
when I spied three old men sitting at the top of the highest
peak. I very cautiously dropped down behind a rock and listened to
their talk. I heard your name mentioned by one of them, then your
brother's name was mentioned. Then the third, who was the oldest,
said: 'in three days from today the lightning will kill those two
brothers whom all the nations fear.'"
Upon hearing what the crow stated the tribe became grief stricken.
On the morning of the third day the chief ordered a nice tepee
placed upon the highest point, far enough away from the village, so
that the peals of thunder would not alarm the babies of
A great feast was given, and after the feasting was over there came
in six young maidens leading the war horses of the two brothers.
The horses were painted and decorated as if for a charge on the
enemy. One maiden walked ahead of the chief's horse bearing in her
hands the bow and arrows of the great warrior. Next came two
maidens, one on either side of the prancing war steed, each holding
a rein. Behind the chief's horse came the fourth maiden. Like the
first, she bore in her hands the bow and arrows of the chief's
brother. Then the fifth and sixth maidens each holding a rein,
walked on either side of the prancing horse of the chief's brother.
They advanced and circled the large gathering and finally
stopped directly in front of the two brothers, who immediately
arose and taking their bows and arrows vaulted lightly upon their
war steeds, and singing their death song, galloped off amid a great
cry of grief from the people who loved them most dearly.
Heading straight for the tepee that had been placed upon the
highest point, adjacent to the village, they soon arrived at their
destination and, dismounting from their horses, turned, waved their
hands to their band, and disappeared within the tepee. Scarcely
had they entered the lodge when the rumblings of distant thunder
could be heard. Nearer, and nearer, came the sound, until at last
the storm overspread the locality in all its fury. Flash upon
flash of lightning burst forth from the heavens. Deafening peals
of thunder followed each flash. Finally, one flash brighter than
any of the others, one peal more deafening than those preceding it,
and the storm had passed.
Sadly the warriors gathered together, mounted their horses and
slowly rode to the tepee on the high point. Arriving there they
looked inside the lodge and saw the two brothers lying cold and
still in death, each holding the lariat of his favorite war horse.
The horses also lay dead side by side in front of the tent. (From
this came the custom of killing the favorite horse of a dead
warrior at the burial of the owner).
As the Indians sadly left the hill to return home, they heard a
noise at the top of the tepee, and looking up they saw the crow
sitting on one of the splintered tepee poles. He was crying most
pitifully, and as they rode off he flew up high in the air and his
pitiful "caw" became fainter and fainter till at last they heard it
no more. And from that day, the story goes, no crow ever goes near
the village of that band of Indians.
THE "WASNA" (PEMMICAN) MAN AND THE
Once upon a time there appeared from out of a large belt of timber
a man attired in the fat of the buffalo. On his head he wore the
honeycomb part of the stomach. To this was attached small pieces
of fat. The fat which covered the stomach he wore as a
cloak. The large intestines he wore as leggings, and the kidney
fat as his moccasins.
As he appeared he had the misfortune to meet "Unktomi" (spider)
with his hundreds of starving children. Upon seeing the fat,
Unktomi and his large family at once attacked the man, who, in
order to save his life, started to run away, but so closely did
Unktomi and his family pursue him that in order to make better time
and also get a little better start, he threw off his head covering,
which the Unktomi family hastily devoured, and were again closing
in upon him. He then threw off his cloak and they devoured that,
and were close upon him again, when he threw off his leggings.
These were hastily eaten up, and, as they drew near to a lake, the
man threw off the kidney fat, and, running to the edge of the lake,
dived down into the water and kept beneath the surface, swimming to
the opposite shore. After the Unktomi family had eaten the kidney
fat they came to the water's edge, and the grease was floating on
the surface of the water which they lapped up, until there was not
a grease spot left floating on the surface.
The small morsels had only sharpened their appetites, and as they
saw the man sitting on the opposite shore, Unktomi and his family
proceeded around the lake and came upon two men sitting on
the shore. Unktomi saw that the other man was "Wakapapi" (pounded
beef). The family surrounded the two and Unktomi ordered them to
fight. Fearing Unktomi and his large family, they at once
commenced to fight and Pounded Meat was soon killed. The hungry
family at once fell to eating him. So busy were they that none
noticed the fat man sneak off and disappear.
When they had finished the pounded beef man they looked around to
fall upon the fat man, but nowhere could he be seen. Unktomi said,
"I will track him and when I find him, I will return for you, so
stay here and await my return."
He followed the fat man's tracks until farther east on the shore of
the lake he found the fat man in the act of skinning a deer, which
he had killed. (He had held on to his bow and arrows when he
jumped into the lake). "My," said Unktomi, "this will make a fine
meal for my hungry children. I will go after them, so hurry and
cut the meat up into small pieces so they each can have a piece."
"All right, go ahead and get your family," said Fat Man. During
Unktomi's absence, the fat man hurriedly cut the meat up into small
pieces and carried them up into a tree that stood near to the
shore. When he had carried it all up he threw sand and
dirt upon the blood, and so left no trace of the deer.
On the arrival of Unktomi and his family, no signs of the fat man
or the deer could be found. They wandered about the spot looking
for tracks which might lead them to where the fat man had cached
the meat, as Unktomi said he could not have carried it very far.
Now the fat man was up in the tree and sat watching them. The
reflection of the tree was in the water, and some of the children
going close to the shore, discovered it as they looked at the
reflection. The fat man cut a piece of meat and extending it
towards them, drew back his hand and put the meat into his mouth.
"Come quick, father, here he is eating the meat," said the
children. Unktomi came and seeing the reflection, thought the fat
man was down in the lake. "Wait, I will bring him up for you." So
saying, he dived down, but soon arose without anything. Again and
again he tried, but could not reach the bottom. He told the
children to gather rock for him. These he tied around his neck and
body, and dived down for the last time. The last the children saw
of their father was the bubbles which arose to the surface of the
lake. The rocks being too heavy for him, held him fast to the
bottom, and some hungry fish soon made a feast out of the body of
THE RESUSCITATION OF THE ONLY
There once lived an old couple who had an only daughter. She was
a beautiful girl, and was very much courted by the young men of the
tribe, but she said that she preferred single life, and to all
their heart-touching tales of deep affection for her she always had
one answer. That was "No."
One day this maiden fell ill and day after day grew worse. All the
best medicine men were called in, but their medicines were of no
avail, and in two weeks from the day that she was taken ill she lay
a corpse. Of course there was great mourning in the camp. They
took her body several miles from camp and rolled it in fine robes
and blankets, then they laid her on a scaffold which they had
erected. (This was the custom of burial among the Indians). They
placed four forked posts into the ground and then lashed strong
poles lengthwise and across the ends and made a bed of willows and
stout ash brush. This scaffold was from five to seven feet from
the ground. After the funeral the parents gave away all of their
horses, fine robes and blankets and all of the belongings of the
dead girl. Then they cut their hair off close to their heads, and
attired themselves in the poorest apparel they could secure.
When a year had passed the friends and relatives of the old couple
tried in vain to have them set aside their mourning. "You have
mourned long enough," they would say. "Put aside your mourning and
try and enjoy a few more pleasures of this life while
you live. You are both growing old and can't live very many more
years, so make the best of your time." The old couple would listen
to their advice and then shake their heads and answer: "We have
nothing to live for. Nothing we could join in would be any
amusement to us, since we have lost the light of our lives."
So the old couple continued their mourning for their lost idol.
Two years had passed since the death of the beautiful girl, when
one evening a hunter and his wife passed by the scaffold which held
the dead girl. They were on their return trip and were heavily
loaded down with game, and therefore could not travel very fast.
About half a mile from the scaffold a clear spring burst forth from
the side of a bank, and from this trickled a small stream of water,
moistening the roots of the vegetation bordering its banks, and
causing a growth of sweet green grass. At this spring the hunter
camped and tethering his horses, at once set about helping his wife
to erect the small tepee which they carried for convenience in
When it became quite dark, the hunter's dogs set up a great barking
and growling. "Look out and see what the dogs are barking at,"
said the hunter to his wife. She looked out through the door and
then drew back saying: "There is the figure of a woman advancing
from the direction of the girl's scaffold." "I expect it is the
dead girl; let her come, and don't act as if you were afraid," said
the hunter. Soon they heard footsteps advancing and the steps
ceased at the door. Looking down at the lower part of the door the
hunter noticed a pair of small moccasins, and knowing that it was
the visitor, said: "Whoever you are, come in and have something to
At this invitation the figure came slowly in and sat down by the
door with head covered and with a fine robe drawn tightly over the
face. The woman dished up a fine supper and placing it before the
visitor, said: "Eat, my friend, you must be hungry." The figure
never moved, nor would it uncover to eat. "Let us turn our back
towards the door and our visitor may eat the food," said the
hunter. So his wife turned her back towards the visitor and made
herself very busy cleaning the small pieces of meat that were
hanging to the back sinews of the deer which had been killed.
(This the Indians use as thread.) The hunter, filling his pipe,
turned away and smoked in silence. Finally the dish was pushed
back to the woman, who took it and after washing it, put it away.
The figure still sat at the door, not a sound coming from it,
neither was it breathing. The hunter at last said: "Are you the
girl that was placed upon that scaffold two years ago?" It bowed
its head two or three times in assent. "Are you going to sleep
here tonight; if you are, my wife will make down a bed for you."
The figure shook its head. "Are you going to come again tomorrow
night to us?" It nodded assent.
For three nights in succession the figure visited the hunter's
camp. The third night the hunter noticed that the figure was
breathing. He saw one of the hands protruding from the robe. The
skin was perfectly black and was stuck fast to the bones of the
hand. On seeing this the hunter arose and going over to his
medicine sack which hung on a pole, took down the sack and, opening
it, took out some roots and mixing them with skunk oil and
vermillion, said to the figure:
"If you will let us rub your face and hands with this medicine it
will put new life into the skin and you will assume your complexion
again and it will put flesh on you." The figure assented and the
hunter rubbed the medicine on her hands and face. Then she arose
and walked back to the scaffold. The next day the hunter moved
camp towards the home village. That night he camped within a few
miles of the village. When night came, the dogs, as usual, set up
a great barking, and looking out, the wife saw the girl
When the girl had entered and sat down, the hunter noticed that the
girl did not keep her robe so closely together over her face. When
the wife gave her something to eat, the girl reached out and took
the dish, thus exposing her hands, which they at once noticed were
again natural. After she had finished her meal, the hunter said:
"Did my medicine help you?" She nodded assent. "Do you want my
medicine rubbed all over your body?" Again she nodded. "I will
mix enough to rub your entire body, and I will go outside and let
my wife rub it on for you." He mixed a good supply and going out
left his wife to rub the girl. When his wife had completed the
task she called to her husband to come in, and when he came in he
sat down and said to the girl: "Tomorrow we will reach the village.
Do you want to go with us?" She shook her head. "Will you come
again to our camp tomorrow night after we have camped in the
village?" She nodded her head in assent. "Then do you want to see
your parents?" She nodded again, and arose and disappeared into
Early the next morning the hunter broke camp and traveled far into
the afternoon, when he arrived at the village. He instructed his
wife to go at once and inform the old couple of what had happened.
The wife did so and at sunset the old couple came to the
hunter's tepee. They were invited to enter and a fine supper was
served them. Soon after they had finished their supper the dogs of
the camp set up a great barking. "Now she is coming, so be brave
and you will soon see your lost daughter," said the hunter. Hardly
had he finished speaking when she entered the tent as natural as
ever she was in life. Her parents clung to her and smothered her
They wanted her to return home with them, but she would stay with
the hunter who had brought her back to life, and she married him,
becoming his second wife. A short time after taking the girl for
his wife, the hunter joined a war party and never returned, as he
was killed on the battlefield.
A year after her husband's death she married again. This husband
was also killed by a band of enemies whom the warriors were
pursuing for stealing some of their horses. The third husband also
met a similar fate to the first. He was killed on the field of
She was still a handsome woman at the time of the third husband's
death, but never again married, as the men feared her, saying she
was holy, and that any one who married her would be sure to be
killed by the enemy.
So she took to doctoring the sick and gained the reputation of
being the most skilled doctor in the nation. She lived to a ripe
old age and when she felt death approaching she had them take her
to where she had rested once before, and crawling to the top of the
newly erected scaffold, wrapped her blankets and robes about her,
covered her face carefully, and fell into that sleep from which
there is no more awakening.
THE STORY OF THE PET CRANE
There was once upon a time a man who did not care to live with his
tribe in a crowded village, but preferred a secluded spot in the
deep forest, there to live with his wife and family of five
children. The oldest of the children (a boy) was twelve years of
age, and being the son of a distinguished hunter, soon took to
roaming through the forest in search of small game.
One day during his ramblings, he discovered a crane's nest, with
only one young crane occupying it. No doubt some fox or traveling
weasel had eaten the rest of the crane's brothers and sisters. The
boy said to himself, "I will take this poor little crane home and
will raise him as a pet for our baby. If I leave him here some
hungry fox will be sure to eat the poor little fellow." He carried
the young crane home and it grew to be nearly as tall as the boy's
Being brought up in a human circle, it soon grew to understand all
the family said. Although it could not speak it took part in all
the games played by the children. The father of the family was, as
I have before mentioned, a great hunter. He always had a
plentiful supply of deer, antelope, buffalo and beaver meats on
hand, but there came a change. The game migrated to some other
locality, where no deadly shot like "Kutesan" (Never Miss) would be
around to annihilate their fast decreasing droves. The hunter
started out early one morning in hopes of discovering some of the
game which had disappeared as suddenly as though the earth had
swallowed them. The hunter traveled the whole day, all to no
purpose. It was late in the evening when he staggered into camp.
He was nearly dead with fatigue. Hastily swallowing a cup of
cherry bark tea (the only article of food they had in store), he at
once retired and was soon in the sweet land of dreams. The
children soon joined their father and the poor woman sat thinking
how they could save their dear children from starvation. Suddenly
out upon the night air rang the cry of a crane. Instantly the pet
crane awoke, stepped outside and answered the call. The crane
which had given the cry was the father of the pet crane, and
learning from Mr. Fox of the starving condition of his son and his
friends, he flew to the hunting grounds of the tribe, and as there
had been a good kill that day, the crane found no trouble in
securing a great quantity of fat. This he carried to the tent of
the hunter and, hovering over the tent he suddenly let the fat drop
to the earth and at once the pet crane picked it up and carried it
to the woman.
Wishing to surprise the family on their awakening in the morning
she got a good stick for a light, heaped up sticks on the dying
embers, and started up a rousing fire and proceeded to melt or try
out the fat, as melted fat is considered a favorite dish.
Although busily occupied she kept her ears open for any strange
noises coming out of the forest, there being usually some enemies
lurking around. She held her pan in such a position that after the
fat started to melt and quite a lot of the hot grease accumulated
in the pan, she could plainly see the tent door reflected in the
hot grease, as though she used a mirror.
When she had nearly completed her task, she heard a noise as though
some footsteps were approaching. Instantly her heart began to beat
a tattoo on her ribs, but she sat perfectly quiet, calling all her
self-control into play to keep from making an outcry. This smart
woman had already studied out a way in which to best this enemy, in
case an enemy it should be. The footsteps, or noise, continued to
advance, until at last the woman saw reflected in the pan of grease
a hand slowly protruding through the tent door, and the finger
pointed, as if counting, to the sleeping father, then to each one
of the sleeping children, then to her who sat at the fire. Little
did Mr. Enemy suppose that the brave woman who sat so composed at
her fire, was watching every motion he was making. The hand slowly
withdrew, and as the footsteps slowly died away, there rang out on
the still night air the deep fierce howl of the prairie wolf.
(This imitation of a prairie wolf is the signal to the war party
that an enemy has been discovered by the scout whom they have sent
out in advance). At once she aroused her husband and children.
Annoyed at being so unceremoniously disturbed from his deep sleep,
the husband crossly asked why she had awakened him so roughly. The
wife explained what she had seen and heard. She at once pinned an
old blanket around the crane's shoulders and an old piece of
buffalo hide on his head for a hat or head covering. Heaping piles
of wood onto the fire she instructed him to run around outside of
the hut until the family returned, as they were going to see if
they could find some roots to mix up with the fat. Hurriedly she
tied her blanket around her middle, put her baby inside of it, and
then grabbed her three year old son and packed him on her back.
The father also hurriedly packed the next two and the older boy
took care of himself.
Immediately upon leaving the tent they took three different
directions, to meet again on the high hill west of their home. The
reflection from the fire in the tent disclosed to them the poor pet
crane running around the tent. It looked exactly like a child with
its blanket and hat on.
Suddenly there rang out a score of shots and war whoops of the
dreaded Crow Indians. Finding the tent deserted they disgustedly
filed off and were swallowed up in the darkness of the deep forest.
The next morning the family returned to see what had become of
their pet crane. There, riddled to pieces, lay the poor bird who
had given up his life to save his dear friends.
There once lived a young couple who were very happy. The young man
was noted throughout the whole nation for his accuracy with the bow
and arrow, and was given the title of "Dead Shot," or "He who never
misses his mark," and the young woman, noted for her beauty, was
named Beautiful Dove.
One day a stork paid this happy couple a visit and left them a fine
big boy. The boy cried "Ina, ina" (mother, mother). "Listen to
our son," said the mother, "he can speak, and hasn't he a sweet
voice?" "Yes," said the father, "it will not be long before he
will be able to walk." He set to work making some arrows, and a
fine hickory bow for his son. One of the arrows he painted red,
one blue, and another yellow. The rest he left the natural color
of the wood. When he had completed them, the mother
placed them in a fine quiver, all worked in porcupine quills, and
hung them up over where the boy slept in his fine hammock of
painted moose hide.
At times when the mother would be nursing her son, she would look
up at the bow and arrows and talk to her baby, saying: "My son,
hurry up and grow fast so you can use your bow and arrows. You
will grow up to be as fine a marksman as your father." The baby
would coo and stretch his little arms up towards the bright colored
quiver as though he understood every word his mother had uttered.
Time passed and the boy grew up to a good size, when one day his
father said: "Wife, give our son the bow and arrows so that he may
learn how to use them." The father taught his son how to string
and unstring the bow, and also how to attach the arrow to the
string. The red, blue and yellow arrows, he told the boy, were to
be used only whenever there was any extra good shooting to be done,
so the boy never used these three until he became a master of
the art. Then he would practice on eagles and hawks, and never an
eagle or hawk continued his flight when the boy shot one of the
arrows after him.
One day the boy came running into the tent, exclaiming: "Mother,
mother, I have shot and killed the most beautiful bird I ever saw."
"Bring it in, my son, and let me look at it." He brought the bird
and upon examining it she pronounced it a different type of bird
from any she had ever seen. Its feathers were of variegated colors
and on its head was a topknot of pure white feathers. The father,
returning, asked the boy with which arrow he had killed the bird.
"With the red one," answered the
boy. "I was so anxious to secure the pretty bird that, although I
know I could have killed it with one of my common arrows, I wanted
to be certain, so I used the red one." "That is right, my son,"
said the father. "When you have the least doubt of your aim,
always use one of the painted arrows, and you will never miss your
The parents decided to give a big feast in honor of their son
killing the strange, beautiful bird. So a great many elderly women
were called to the tent of Pretty Dove to assist her in making
ready for the big feast. For ten days these women cooked and
pounded beef and cherries, and got ready the choicest dishes known
to the Indians. Of buffalo, beaver, deer, antelope, moose, bear,
quail, grouse, duck of all kinds, geese and plover meats there was
an abundance. Fish of all kinds, and every kind of wild fruit were
cooked, and when all was in readiness, the heralds went through the
different villages, crying out: "Ho-po, ho-po" (now all, now all),
Dead Shot and his wife, Beautiful Dove, invite all of you, young
and old, to their tepee to partake of a great feast, given by them
in honor of a great bird which their son has killed, and also to
select for their son some good name which he will bear through
life. So all bring your cups and wooden dishes along with your
horn spoons, as there will be plenty to eat. Come, all you council
men and chiefs, as they have also a great tent erected for you in
which you hold your council."
Thus crying, the heralds made the circle of the village. The
guests soon arrived. In front of the tent was a pole stuck in the
ground and painted red, and at the top of the pole was fastened the
bird of variegated colors; its wings stretched out to their full
length and the beautiful white waving so beautifully from its
topknot, it was the center of attraction. Half way up the pole was
tied the bow and arrow of the young marksman. Long streamers of
fine bead and porcupine work waved from the pole and presented a
very striking appearance. The bird was faced towards the setting
sun. The great chief and medicine men pronounced the bird "Wakan"
When the people had finished eating they all fell in line and
marched in single file beneath the bird, in order to get a close
view of it. By the time this vast crowd had fully viewed the
wonderful bird, the sun was just setting clear in the west, when
directly over the rays of the sun appeared a cloud in the shape of
a bird of variegated colors. The councilmen were called out to
look at the cloud, and the head medicine man said that it was a
sign that the boy would grow up to be a great chief and hunter, and
would have a great many friends and followers.
This ended the feast, but before dispersing, the chief and
councilmen bestowed upon the boy the title of White Plume.
One day a stranger came to the village, who was very thin and
nearly starved. So weak was he that he could not speak, but made
signs for something to eat. Luckily the stranger came to Dead
Shot's tent, and as there was always a plentiful supply in his
lodge, the stranger soon had a good meal served him. After he had
eaten and rested he told his story.
"I came from a very great distance," said he. "The nations where
I came from are in a starving condition. No place can they find
any buffalo, deer nor antelope. A witch or evil spirit in the
shape of a white buffalo has driven all the large game out of the
country. Every day this white buffalo comes circling the village,
and any one caught outside of their tent is carried away on its
horns. In vain have the best marksmen of the tribe tried to shoot
it. Their arrows fly wide off the mark, and they have given up
trying to kill it as it bears a charmed life. Another evil spirit
in the form of a red eagle has driven all the birds of the air out
of our country. Every day this eagle circles above the village,
and so powerful is it that anyone being caught outside of his tent
is descended upon and his skull split open to the brain by the
sharp breastbone of the Eagle. Many a marksman has tried his skill
on this bird, all to no purpose.
"Another evil spirit in the form of a white rabbit has driven out
all the animals which inhabit the ground, and destroyed the fields
of corn and turnips, so the nation is starving, as the arrows of
the marksmen have also failed to touch the white rabbit. Any one
who can kill these three witches will receive as his reward, the
choice of two of the most beautiful maidens of our nation. The
younger one is the handsomer of the two and has also the sweetest
disposition. Many young, and even old men, hearing of this (our
chief's) offer, have traveled many miles to try their arrows on the
witches, but all to no purpose. Our chief, hearing of your great
marksmanship, sent me to try and secure your services to have you
come and rid us of these three witches."
Thus spoke the stranger to the hunter. The hunter gazed long and
thoughtfully into the dying embers of the camp fire. Then slowly
his eyes raised and looked lovingly on his wife who sat opposite to
him. Gazing on her beautiful features for a full minute he slowly
dropped his gaze back to the dying embers and thus answered his
"My friend, I feel very much honored by your chief having sent such
a great distance for me, and also for the kind offer of his lovely
daughter in marriage, if I should succeed, but I must reject the
great offer, as I can spare none of my affections to any other
woman than to my queen whom you see sitting there."
White Plume had been listening to the conversation and when his
father had finished speaking, said: "Father, I am a child no more.
I have arrived at manhood. I am not so good a marksman as you, but
I will go to this suffering tribe and try to rid them of their
three enemies. If this man will rest for a few days and return to
his village and inform them of my coming, I will travel along
slowly on his trail and arrive at the village a day or two after he
"Very well, my son," said the father, "I am sure you will succeed,
as you fear nothing, and as to your marksmanship, it is far
superior to mine, as your sight is much clearer and aim quicker
The man rested a few days and one morning started off, after having
instructed White Plume as to the trail. White Plume got together
what he would need on the trip and was ready for an early start the
next morning. That night Dead Shot and his wife sat up
away into the night instructing their son how to travel and warning
him as to the different kinds of people he must avoid in order to
keep out of trouble. "Above all," said the father, "keep a good
look out for Unktomi (spider); he is the most tricky of all, and
will get you into trouble if you associate with him."
White Plume left early, his father accompanying him for several
miles. On parting, the father's last words were: "Look out for
Unktomi, my son, he is deceitful and treacherous." "I'll look out
for him, father;" so saying he disappeared over a hill. On
the way he tried his skill on several hawks and eagles and he did
not need to use his painted arrows to kill them, but so skillful
was he with the bow and arrows that he could bring down anything
that flew with his common arrows. He was drawing near to the end
of his destination when he had a large tract of timber to pass
through. When he had nearly gotten through the timber he saw an
old man sitting on a log, looking wistfully up into a big tree,
where sat a number of prairie chickens.
"Hello, grandfather, why are you sitting there looking so
downhearted?" asked White Plume. "I am nearly starved, and was
just wishing some one would shoot one of those chickens for me, so
I could make a good meal on it," said the old man. "I will shoot
one for you," said the young man. He strung his bow, placed an
arrow on the string, simply seemed to raise the arrow in the
direction of the chicken (taking no aim). Twang went out the bow,
zip went the arrow and a chicken fell off the limb, only to get
caught on another in its descent. "There is your chicken,
grandfather." "Oh, my grandson, I am too weak to climb up and get
it. Can't you climb up and get it for me?" The young man, pitying
the old fellow, proceeded to climb the tree, when the old man
stopped him, saying: "Grandson, you have on such fine clothes, it
is a pity to spoil them; you had better take them off so as not to
spoil the fine porcupine work on them." The young man took off his
fine clothes and climbed up into the tree, and securing
the chicken, threw it down to the old man. As the young man was
scaling down the tree, the old man said: "Iyashkapa, iyashkapa,"
(stick fast, stick fast). Hearing him say something, he asked,
"What did you say, old man?" He answered, "I was only talking to
myself." The young man proceeded to descend, but he could not
move. His body was stuck fast to the bark of the tree. In vain
did he beg the old man to release him. The old Unktomi, for he it
was, only laughed and said: "I will go now and kill the evil
spirits, I have your wonderful bow and arrows and I cannot miss
them. I will marry the chief's daughter, and you can stay up in
that tree and die there."
So saying, he put on White Plume's fine clothes, took his bow and
arrows and went to the village. As White Plume was expected at any
minute, the whole village was watching for him, and when Unktomi
came into sight the young men ran to him with a painted robe, sat
him down on it and slowly raising him up they carried him to the
tent of the chief. So certain were they that he would kill the
evil spirits that the chief told him to choose one of the daughters
at once for his wife. (Before the arrival of White Plume, hearing
of him being so handsome, the two girls had quarreled over which
should marry him, but upon seeing him the younger was not anxious
to become his wife.) So Unktomi chose the older one of the
sisters, and was given a large tent in which to live. The younger
sister went to her mother's tent to live, and the older was very
proud, as she was married to the man who would save the nation from
starvation. The next morning there was a great commotion in camp,
and there came the cry that the white buffalo was coming. "Get
ready, son-in-law, and kill the buffalo," said the chief.
Unktomi took the bow and arrows and shot as the buffalo passed, but
the arrow went wide off its mark. Next came the eagle, and again
he shot and missed. Then came the rabbit, and again he missed.
"Wait until tomorrow, I will kill them all. My blanket caught in
my bow and spoiled my aim." The people were very much
disappointed, and the chief, suspecting that all was not right,
sent for the young man who had visited Dead Shot's tepee. When the
young man arrived, the chief asked: "Did you see White Plume when
you went to Dead Shot's camp?" "Yes, I did, and ate with him many
times. I stayed at his father's tepee all the time I was there,"
said the young man. "Would you recognize him if you saw him
again?" asked the chief. "Any one who had but one glimpse of White
Plume would surely recognize him when he saw him again, as he is
the most handsome man I ever saw," said the young man.
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