Myths and Legends of the Sioux
Marie L. McLaughlin
Part 3 out of 3
"Come with me to the tent of my son-in-law and take a good look at
him, but don't say what you think until we come away." The two
went to the tent of Unktomi, and when the young man saw him he knew
it was not White Plume, although it was White Plume's bow and
arrows that hung at the head of the bed, and he also recognized the
clothes as belonging to White Plume. When they had returned to the
chief's tent, the young man told what he knew and what he thought.
"I think this is some Unktomi who has played some trick on White
Plume and has taken his bow and arrows and also his clothes, and
hearing of your offer, is here impersonating White Plume. Had
White Plume drawn the bow on the buffalo, eagle and rabbit today,
we would have been rid of them, so I think we had better scare this
Unktomi into telling us where White Plume is," said the young man.
"Wait until he tries to kill the witches again tomorrow," said the
In the meantime the younger daughter had taken an axe and gone into
the woods in search of dry wood. She went quite a little distance
into the wood and was chopping a dry log. Stopping to rest a
little she heard some one saying: "Whoever you are, come over here
and chop this tree down so that I may get loose." Going to where
the big tree stood, she saw a man stuck onto the side of the tree.
"If I chop it down the fall will kill you," said the girl. "No,
chop it on the opposite side from me, and the tree will fall that
way. If the fall kills me, it will be better than hanging up here
and starving to death," said White Plume, for it was he.
The girl chopped the tree down and when she saw that it had not
killed the man, she said: "What shall I do now?" "Loosen the bark
from the tree and then get some stones and heat them. Get some
water and sage and put your blanket over me." She did as told and
when the steam arose from the water being poured upon the heated
rocks, the bark loosened from his body and he arose. When he stood
up, she saw how handsome he was. "You have saved my life," said
he. "Will you be my wife?" "I will," said she. He then told her
how the old man had fooled him into this trap and took his bow and
arrows, also his fine porcupine worked clothes, and had gone off,
leaving him to die. She, in turn, told him all that had happened
in camp since a man, calling himself White Plume, came there and
married her sister before he shot at the witches, and when he came
to shoot at them, missed every shot. "Let us
make haste, as the bad Unktomi may ruin my arrows." They
approached the camp and whilst White Plume waited outside, his
promised wife entered Unktomi's tent and said: "Unktomi, White
Plume is standing outside and he wants his clothes and bow and
arrows." "Oh, yes, I borrowed them and forgot to return them; make
haste and give them to him."
Upon receiving his clothes, he was very much provoked to find his
fine clothes wrinkled and his bow twisted, while the arrows were
twisted out of shape. He laid the clothes down, also the bows and
arrows, and passing his hand over them, they assumed their right
shapes again. The daughter took White Plume to her father's tent
and upon hearing the story he at once sent for his warriors and had
them form a circle around Unktomi's tent, and if he attempted to
escape to catch him and tie him to a tree, as he (the chief) had
determined to settle accounts with him for his treatment of White
Plume, and the deception employed in winning the chief's eldest
daughter. About midnight the guard noticed something crawling
along close to the ground, and seizing him found it was Unktomi
trying to make his escape before daylight, whereupon they tied him
to a tree. "Why do you treat me thus," cried Unktomi, "I was just
going out in search of medicine to rub on my arrows, so I can kill
the witches." "You will need medicine to rub on yourself when the
chief gets through with you," said the young man who had
discovered that Unktomi was impersonating White Plume.
In the morning the herald announced that the real White Plume had
arrived, and the chief desired the whole nation to witness his
marksmanship. Then came the cry: "The White Buffalo comes."
Taking his red arrow, White Plume stood ready. When the buffalo
got about opposite him, he let his arrow fly. The buffalo bounded
high in the air and came down with all four feet drawn together
under its body, the red arrow having passed clear through the
animal, piercing the buffalo's heart. A loud cheer went up from
"You shall use the hide for your bed," said the chief to White
Plume. Next came a cry, "the eagle, the eagle." From the north
came an enormous red eagle. So strong was he, that as he soared
through the air his wings made a humming sound as the rumble of
distant thunder. On he came, and just as he circled the tent of
the chief, White Plume bent his bow, with all his strength drew the
arrow back to the flint point, and sent the blue arrow on its
mission of death. So swiftly had the arrow passed through the
eagle's body that, thinking White Plume had missed, a great wail
went up from the crowd, but when they saw the eagle stop in his
flight, give a few flaps of his wings, and then fall with a heavy
thud into the center of the village, there was a greater cheer than
before. "The red eagle shall be used to decorate the seat of honor
in your tepee," said the chief to White Plume. Last came the white
rabbit. "Aim good, aim good, son-in-law," said the chief. "If you
kill him you will have his skin for a rug." Along came the white
rabbit, and White Plume sent his arrow in search of rabbit's heart,
which it found, and stopped Mr. Rabbit's tricks forever.
The chief then called all of the people together and before them
all took a hundred willows and broke them one at a time over
Unktomi's back. Then he turned him loose. Unktomi, being so
ashamed, ran off into the woods and hid in the deepest and darkest
corner he could find. This is why Unktomis (spiders) are always
found in dark corners, and anyone who is deceitful or untruthful is
called a descendant of the Unktomi tribe.
STORY OF PRETTY FEATHERED FOREHEAD
There was once a baby boy who came into the world with a small
cluster of different colored feathers grown fast to his forehead.
From this he derived his name, "Pretty Feathered Forehead." He was
a very pleasant boy as well as handsome, and he had the respect of
the whole tribe. When he had grown up to be a young man, he never,
like other young men, made love to any of the tribe's beauties.
Although they were madly in love with him, he never noticed any of
them. There were many handsome girls in the different camps, but
he passed them by.
One day he said: "Father, I am going on a visit to the Buffalo
nation." The father gave his consent, and away went the son. The
father and mother suspected the object of their son's visit to the
Buffalo nation, and forthwith commenced preparing a fine reception
for their intended daughter-in-law. The mother sewed together ten
buffalo hides and painted the brave deeds of her husband on them.
This she made into a commodious tent, and had work bags and fine
robes and blankets put inside. This was to be the tent of their
son and daughter-in-law. In a few weeks the son returned, bringing
with him a beautiful Buffalo girl. The parents of the boy gave a
big feast in honor of the occasion, and the son and his wife lived
very happily together.
In the course of time a son came to the young couple, and the
father was very proud of his boy. When the boy became a year old,
the father said to his wife: "I am going for a visit to the Elk
nation." The mother was very sad, as she knew her husband was
going after another wife. He returned, bringing with him a very
beautiful elk girl. When the Buffalo woman saw the elk girl she
was very downcast and sad, but the husband said: "Don't be sad; she
will do all the heavy work for you."
They lived quite happily together for a long time. The Elk girl
also became the mother of a fine boy. The two boys had grown up
large enough to play around. One day the Elk woman was tanning
hides outside and the two boys were playing around near their
mothers, when all at once the buffalo boy ran across the robe,
leaving his tracks on the white robe which his step-mother had
nearly completed. This provoked the elk woman and she gave vent to
her feelings by scolding the boy: "You clumsy flat mouth, why
couldn't you run around my work, instead of across it?" The
buffalo cow standing in the door, heard every word that the elk
woman had said, and when she heard her son called flat mouth it
made her very angry, although she did not say a word to any one.
She hurriedly gathered some of her belongings and, calling her son,
she started off in a westerly direction.
The husband being absent on a hunting expedition did not return
until late in the afternoon. Upon his return his oldest boy always
ran out to meet him, but this time as the boy did not put in an
appearance, the father feared that something had happened to the
boy. So hurriedly going to his tent he looked around, but failing
to see the boy or his mother, he asked his elk wife, where the boy
and his mother were. The elk wife answered: "She took her boy on
her back and started off in that direction," (pointing towards the
west). "How long has she been gone?" "Since early morning." The
husband hurriedly caught a fresh horse and, without eating
anything, rode off in the direction taken by his buffalo wife and
boy. Near dark he ascended a high hill and noticed a small tent
down in the valley. It was a long distance down to the tent, so it
was very late when he arrived there. He tethered his horse and
went into the tent and found the boy and his mother fast asleep.
Upon lying down beside them the boy awoke, and upon seeing his
father, motioned to him to go outside with him.
On going outside the boy told his father that it would be useless
for him to try and coax his mother to return, as she was too highly
insulted by the elk wife to ever return. Then the boy told about
what the elk wife had said and that she had called him flat mouth.
"My mother is determined to return to her people, but if you want
to follow us you may, and perhaps, after she has visited with her
relatives a little while, you may induce her to return with you.
In the morning we are going to start very early, and as the country
we will travel through is very hard soil, I will stamp my feet hard
so as to leave my tracks imprinted in the softest places, then you
will be able to follow the direction we will take."
The two went into the tent and were soon fast asleep. The father,
being very much fatigued, slept very soundly, and when he awoke the
sun was beating down upon him. The mother and boy were nowhere to
be seen. The tent had been taken down from over him so carefully
that he had not been awakened. Getting his horse, he mounted and
rode after the two who had left him sleeping. He had no trouble in
following the trail, as the boy had stamped his feet hard and left
his little tracks in the soft places.
That evening he spied the little tent again and on getting to it
found them both asleep. The boy awoke and motioned for his father
to go outside. He again told his father that the next day's travel
would be the hardest of all. "We will cross a great plain,
but before we get there we will cross a sandy hollow. When you get
to the hollow, look at my tracks; they will be deep into the sand,
and in each track you will see little pools of water. Drink as
much as you can, as this is the only chance you will get to have a
drink, there being no water from there to the big ridge, and it
will be dark by the time you get to the ridge. The relations of my
mother live at that ridge and I will come and talk to you once
more, before I leave you to join my mother's people."
Next morning, as before, he awoke to find himself alone. They had
left him and proceeded on their journey. He mounted again and when
he arrived at the sandy hollow, sure enough, there, deep in the
sand, were the tracks of his son filled to the top with water. He
drank and drank until he had drained the last one. Then he arose
and continued on the trail, and near sundown he came in sight of
their little tent away up on the side of the ridge. His horse
suddenly staggered and fell forward dead, having died of thirst.
From there he proceeded on foot. When he got to where the tent
stood he entered, only to find it empty. "I guess my son intends
to come here and have his last talk with me," thought the father.
He had eaten nothing for three days, and was nearly famished. He
lay down, but the pangs of hunger kept sleep away. He heard
footsteps outside and lay in readiness, thinking it might be an
enemy. Slowly opening the covering of the door, his son looked in
and seeing his father lying awake, drew back and ran off up the
ridge, but soon returned bringing a small parcel with him. When he
entered he gave the parcel to his father and said: "Eat, father; I
stole this food for you, so I could not get very much." The father
soon ate what his son had brought. When he had finished, the son
said: "Tomorrow morning the relatives of my mother will come over
here and take you down to the village. My mother has three sisters
who have their work bags made identically the same as mother's.
Were they to mix them up they could not each pick out her own
without looking inside so as to identify them by what they have in
them. You will be asked to pick out mother's work bag, and if you
fail they will trample you to death. Next they will tell you to
pick out my mother from among her sisters, and you will be unable
to distinguish her from the other three, and if you fail they will
bury you alive. The last they will try you on, in case you meet
the first and second tests successfully, will be to require you to
pick me out from my three cousins, who are as much like me as my
reflection in the water. The bags you can tell by a little pebble
I will place on my mother's. You can pick my mother out by a small
piece of grass which I will put in her hair,
and you can pick me out from my cousins, for when we commence to
dance, I will shake my head, flop my ears and switch my tail. You
must choose quickly, as they will be very angry at your success,
and if you lose any time they will make the excuse that you did not
know, that they may have an excuse to trample you to death."
The boy then left, after admonishing his father to remember all
that he had told him. Early next morning the father heard a great
rumbling noise, and going outside, he saw the whole hillside
covered with buffalo. When he appeared they set up a loud
bellowing and circled around him. One old bull came up and giving
a loud snort, passed on by, looking back every few steps. The man,
thinking he was to follow this one, did so, and the whole herd,
forming a half circle around him, escorted him down the west side
of the range out on to a large plain, where there stood a lone
tree. To this tree the old bull led him and stopped when he
reached the tree. A large rock at the foot of the tree served as
a seat for the man. As soon as he was seated there came four
female buffaloes, each bearing a large work box. They set the
boxes down in a row in front of the man, and the herd crowded
around closer in order to get a good view. The old bull came to
the front and stood close to the bags, which had been taken out of
the four boxes.
The man stood up, and looking at the bags, noticed a small pebble
resting on the one next to the left end. Stepping over he pulled
the bag towards him and secretly pushed the little pebble off the
bag, so that no one would notice it. When they saw that he had
selected the right one, they set up a terrific bellow.
Then came the four sisters and stood in a line before the man.
Glancing along from the one on the right to the last one on the
left, he stepped forward and placed his hand on the one next to the
right. Thanks to his boy, if he hadn't put that little stem of
grass on his mother's hair, the father could never have picked out
his wife, as the four looked as much alike as four peas. Next came
the four boy calves, and as they advanced they commenced dancing,
and his son was shaking his head and flopping his ears and
switching his tail. The father was going to pick out his boy, when
a fainting spell took him, and as he sank to the ground the old
bull sprang forward on top of him, and instantly they rushed upon
him and he was soon trampled to a jelly. The herd then moved to
The elk wife concluded that something had happened to her husband
and determined upon going in search of him. As she was very fleet
of foot it did not take her long to arrive at the lone tree. She
noticed the blood splashed on the base of the tree, and small
pieces of flesh stamped into the earth. Looking closer, she
noticed something white in the dust. Stooping and picking it out
of the dust, she drew forth the cluster of different colored
feathers which had been fastened to her husband's forehead. She at
once took the cluster of feathers, and going to the east side of
the ridge, heated stones and erected a wickieup, placed the
feathers inside, and getting water, she sprinkled the stones, and
this caused a thick vapor in the wickieup. She continued this for
a long time, when she heard something moving inside the wickieup.
Then a voice spoke up, saying: "Whoever you are, pour some more
water on and I will be all right." So the woman got more water and
poured it on the rocks. "That will do now, I want to dry off."
She plucked a pile of sage and in handing it in to him, he
recognized his elk wife's hand.
They went back home and shortly after the buffalo, hearing about
him coming back to life, decided to make war on him and kill him
and his wife, she being the one who brought him back to life. The
woman, hearing of this, had posts set in the ground and a strong
platform placed on top. When the buffalo came, her husband, her
son and herself, were seated upon the bough platform, and the
buffalo could not reach them. She flouted her red blanket in their
faces, which made the buffalo wild with rage. The hunter's friends
came to his rescue, and so fast were they killing the buffalo that
they took flight and rushed away, never more to bother Pretty
THE FOUR BROTHERS
INYANHOKSILA (STONE BOY)
Alone and apart from their tribe dwelt four orphan brothers. They
had erected a very comfortable hut, although the materials used
were only willows, hay, birch bark, and adobe mud. After the
completion of their hut, the oldest brother laid out the different
kinds of work to be done by the four of them. He and the second
and third brothers were to do all the hunting, and the youngest
brother was to do the house work, cook the meals, and keep plenty
of wood on hand at all times.
As his older brothers would leave for their hunting very early
every morning, and would not return till late at night, the little
fellow always found plenty of spare time to gather into little
piles fine dry wood for their winter use.
Thus the four brothers lived happily for a long time. One day
while out gathering and piling up wood, the boy heard a rustling in
the leaves and looking around he saw a young woman standing in the
cherry bushes, smiling at him.
"Who are you, and where did you come from?" asked the boy, in
surprise. "I am an orphan girl and have no relatives living. I
came from the village west of here. I learned from rabbit that
there were four orphan brothers living here all alone, and that the
youngest was keeping house for his older brothers, so I thought I
would come over and see if I couldn't have them adopt me as their
sister, so that I might keep house for them, as I am very poor and
have no relations, neither have I a home."
She looked so pitiful and sad that the boy thought to himself, "I
will take her home with me, poor girl, no matter what my brothers
think or say." Then he said to her: "Come on, tanke (sister). You
may go home with me; I am sure my older brothers will be glad to
have you for our sister."
When they arrived at the hut, the girl hustled about and cooked up
a fine hot supper, and when the brothers returned they were
surprised to see a girl sitting by the fire in their hut. After
they had entered the youngest brother got up and walked outside,
and a short time after the oldest brother followed him
out. "Who is that girl, and where did she come from?" he asked his
brother. Whereupon the brother told him the whole story. Upon
hearing this the oldest brother felt very sorry for the poor orphan
girl and going back into the hut he spoke to the girl, saying:
"Sister, you are an orphan, the same as we; you have no relatives,
no home. We will be your brothers, and our poor hut shall be your
home. Henceforth call us brothers, and you will be our sister."
"Oh, how happy I am now that you take me as your sister. I will be
to you all as though we were of the same father and mother," said
the girl. And true to her word, she looked after everything of her
brothers and kept the house in such fine shape that the brothers
blessed the day that she came to their poor little hut. She always
had an extra buckskin suit and two pairs of moccasins hanging at
the head of each one's bed. Buffalo, deer, antelope, bear, wolf,
wildcat, mountain lion and beaver skins she tanned by the dozen,
and piled nicely in one corner of the hut.
When the Indians have walked a great distance and are very tired,
they have great faith in painting their feet, claiming that paint
eases the pain and rests their feet.
After their return from a long day's journey, when they would be
lying down resting, the sister would get her paint and mix it with
the deer tallow and rub the paint on her brother's feet, painting
them up to their ankles. The gentle touch of her hands, and the
soothing qualities of the tallow and paint soon put them into a
deep, dreamless steep.
Many such kind actions on her part won the hearts of the brothers,
and never was a full blood sister loved more than was this poor
orphan girl, who had been taken as their adopted sister. In the
morning when they arose, the sister always combed their long black
silken scalp locks and painted the circle around the scalp lock a
When the hunters would return with a goodly supply of beef, the
sister would hurry and relieve them of their packs, hanging each
one high enough from the ground so the prowling dogs and coyotes
could not reach them. The hunters each had a post on which to hang
his bow and flint head arrows. (Good hunters never laid their
arrows on the ground, as it was considered unlucky to the hunter
who let his arrows touch the earth after they had been out
of the quiver). They were all perfectly happy, until one day the
older brother surprised them all by saying: "We have a plentiful
supply of meat on hand at present to last us for a week or so. I
am going for a visit to the village west of us, so you boys all
stay at home and help sister. Also gather as much wood as you can
and I will be back again in four days. On my return we will resume
our hunting and commence getting our year's supply of meat."
He left the next morning, and the last they saw of him was while he
stood at the top of the long range of hills west of their home.
Four days had come and gone and no sign of the oldest brother.
"I am afraid that our brother has met with some accident," said the
sister. "I am afraid so, too," said the next oldest. "I must go
and search for him; he may be in some trouble where a little help
would get him out." The second brother followed the direction his
brother had taken, and when he came to the top of the long range of
hills he sat down and gazed long and steadily down into the long
valley with a beautiful creek winding through it. Across the
valley was a long plain stretching for miles beyond and
finally ending at the foot of another range of hills, the
counterpart of the one upon which he sat.
After noting the different landmarks carefully, he arose and slowly
started down the slope and soon came to the creek he had seen from
the top of the range. Great was his surprise on arriving at the
creek to find what a difference there was in the appearance
of it from the range and where he stood. From the range it
appeared to be a quiet, harmless, laughing stream. Now he saw it
to be a muddy, boiling, bubbling torrent, with high perpendicular
banks. For a long time he stood, thinking which way to go, up or
down stream. He had just decided to go down stream, when, on
chancing to look up, he noticed a thin column of smoke slowly
ascending from a little knoll. He approached the place cautiously
and noticed a door placed into the creek bank on the opposite side
of the stream. As he stood looking at the door, wondering who
could be living in a place like that, it suddenly opened and a very
old appearing woman came out and stood looking around her. Soon
she spied the young man, and said to him: "My grandchild, where did
you come from and whither are you bound?" The young man answered:
"I came from east of this ridge and am in search of my oldest
brother, who came over in this direction five days ago and who has
not yet returned."
"Your brother stopped here and ate his dinner with me, and then
left, traveling towards the west," said the old witch, for such she
was. "Now, grandson, come across on that little log bridge up the
stream there and have your dinner with me. I have
it all cooked now and just stepped outside to see if there might
not be some hungry traveler about, whom I could invite in to eat
dinner with me." The young man went up the stream a little
distance and found a couple of small logs which had been placed
across the stream to serve as a bridge. He crossed over and went
down to the old woman's dugout hut. "Come in grandson, and eat.
I know you must be hungry."
The young man sat down and ate a real hearty meal. On finishing he
arose and said: "Grandmother, I thank you for your meal and
kindness to me. I would stay and visit with you awhile, as I know
it must be very lonely here for you, but I am very anxious to find
my brother, so I must be going. On my return I will stop with my
brother and we will pay you a little visit."
"Very well, grandson, but before you go, I wish you would do me a
little favor. Your brother did it for me before he left, and cured
me, but it has come back on me again. I am subject to very severe
pains along the left side of my backbone, all the way from my
shoulder blade down to where my ribs attach to my backbone, and the
only way I get any relief from the pain is to have some one kick me
along the side." (She was a witch, and concealed in her robe a
long sharp steel spike. It was placed so that the last kick they
would give her, their foot would hit the spike and they would
instantly drop off into a swoon, as if dead.)
"If I won't hurt you too much, grandmother, I certainly will be
glad to do it for you," said the young man, little thinking he
would be the one to get hurt.
"No, grandson, don't be afraid of hurting me; the harder you kick
the longer the pain stays away." She laid down on the floor and
rolled over on to her right side, so he could get a good chance to
kick the left side where she said the pain was located.
As he moved back to give the first kick, he glanced along the floor
and he noticed a long object wrapped in a blanket, lying against
the opposite wall. He thought it looked strange and was going to
stop and investigate, but just then the witch cried out as if in
pain. "Hurry up, grandson, I am going to die if you don't hurry
and start in kicking." "I can investigate after I get through with
her," thought he, so he started in kicking and every kick he would
give her she would cry: "Harder, kick harder." He had to kick
seven times before he would get to the end of the pain, so he let
out as hard as he could drive, and when he came to the last kick he
hit the spike, and driving it through his foot, fell down in a dead
swoon, and was rolled up in a blanket by the witch
and placed beside his brother at the opposite side of the room.
When the second brother failed to return, the third went in search
of the two missing ones. He fared no better than the second one,
as he met the old witch who served him in a similar manner as she
had his two brothers.
"Ha! Ha!" she laughed, when she caught the third, "I have only one
more of them to catch, and when I get them I will keep them all
here a year, and then I will turn them into horses and sell them
back to their sister. I hate her, for I was going to
try and keep house for them and marry the oldest one, but she got
ahead of me and became their sister, so now I will get my revenge
on her. Next year she will be riding and driving her brothers and
she won't know it."
When the third brother failed to return, the sister cried and
begged the last one not to venture out in search of them. But go
he must, and go he did, only to do as his three brothers had done.
Now the poor sister was nearly distracted. Day and night she
wandered over hills and through woods in hopes she might find or
hear of some trace of them. Her wanderings were in vain. The
hawks had not seen them after they had crossed the little stream.
The wolves and coyotes told her that they had seen nothing of her
brothers out on the broad plains, and she had given them up for
One day, as she was sitting by the little stream that flowed past
their hut, throwing pebbles into the water and wondering what she
should do, she picked up a pure white pebble, smooth and round, and
after looking at it for a long time, threw it into the water. No
sooner had it hit the water than she saw it grow larger. She took
it out and looked at it and threw it in again. This time it had
assumed the form of a baby. She took it out and threw it in the
third time and the form took life and began to cry: "Ina, ina"
(mother, mother). She took the baby home and fed it soup, and it
being an unnatural baby, quickly grew up to a good sized boy. At
the end of three months he was a good big, stout youth. One day he
said: "Mother, why are you living here alone? To whom do all these
fine clothes and moccasins belong?" She then told him the story of
her lost brothers. "Oh, I know now where they are. You make me
lots of arrows. I am going to find my uncles." She tried to
dissuade him from going, but he was determined and said: "My father
sent me to you so that I could find my uncles for you, and nothing
can harm me, because I am stone and my name is "Stone Boy."
The mother, seeing that he was determined to go, made a whole
quiver full of arrows for him, and off he started. When he came to
the old witch's hut, she was nowhere to be seen, so he pushed the
door in and entered. The witch was busily engaged cooking dinner.
"Why, my dear grandchild, you are just in time for dinner. Sit
down and we will eat before you continue your journey." Stone boy
sat down and ate dinner with the old witch. She watched him very
closely, but when she would be drinking her soup he would glance
hastily around the room. Finally he saw the four bundles on the
opposite side of the room, and he guessed at once that there lay
his four uncles. When he had finished eating he took out his
little pipe and filled it with "kini-kinic," and commenced to
smoke, wondering how the old woman had managed to fool his smart
uncles. He couldn't study it out, so when he had finished his
smoke he arose to pretend to go. When the old woman saw him
preparing to leave, she said: "Grandson, will you kick me on the
left side of my backbone. I am nearly dead with pain and if you
kick me good and hard it will cure me." "All right, grandma," said
the boy. The old witch lay down on the floor and the boy started
in to kick. At the first kick he barely touched her. "Kick as
hard as you can, grandson; don't be afraid you will hurt me,
because you can't." With that Stone Boy let drive and broke two
ribs. She commenced to yell and beg him to stop, but he kept on
kicking until he had kicked both sides of her ribs loose from the
backbone. Then he jumped on her backbone and broke it and killed
the old witch.
He built a big fire outside and dragged her body to it, and threw
her into the fire. Thus ended the old woman who was going to turn
his uncles into horses.
Next he cut willows and stuck them into the ground in a circle.
The tops he pulled together, making a wickieup. He then took the
old woman's robes and blankets and covered the wickieup so that no
air could get inside. He then gathered sage brush and covered the
floor with a good thick bed of sage; got nice round stones and got
them red hot in the fire, and placed them in the wickieup and
proceeded to carry his uncles out of the hut and lay them down on
the soft bed of sage. Having completed carrying and depositing
them around the pile of rocks, he got a bucket of water and poured
it on the hot rocks, which caused a great vapor in the little
wickieup. He waited a little while and then listened and
heard some breathing inside, so he got another bucket and poured
that on also. After awhile he could hear noises inside as though
some one were moving about. He went again and got the third bucket
and after he had poured that on the rocks, one of the men inside
said: "Whoever you are, good friend, don't bring us to life only to
scald us to death again." Stone boy then said: "Are all of you
alive?" "Yes," said the voice. "Well, come out," said the boy.
And with that he threw off the robes and blankets, and a great
cloud of vapor arose and settled around the top of the highest peak
on the long range, and from that did Smoky Range derive its name.
The uncles, when they heard who the boy was, were very happy, and
they all returned together to the anxiously waiting sister. As
soon as they got home, the brothers worked hard to gather enough
wood to last them all winter. Game they could get at all times of
the year, but the heavy fall of snow covered most of the dry wood
and also made it very difficult to drag wood through the deep snow.
So they took advantage of the nice fall weather and by the time the
snow commenced falling they had enough wood gathered to last them
throughout the winter. After the snow fell a party of boys swiftly
coasted down the big hill west of the brothers' hut. The Stone boy
used to stand and watch them for hours at a time. His youngest
uncle said: "Why don't you go up and coast with them?" The boy
said: "They may be afraid of me, but I guess I will try once,
anyway." So the next morning when the crowd came coasting, Stone
boy started for the hill. When he had nearly reached the bottom of
the coasting hill all of the boys ran off excepting two little
fellows who had a large coaster painted in different colors and had
little bells tied around the edges, so when the coaster was in
motion the bells made a cheerful tinkling sound. As Stone boy
started up the hill the two little fellows started down and went
past him as though shot from a hickory bow.
When they got to the end of their slide, they got off and started
back up the hill. It being pretty steep, Stone boy waited for
them, so as to lend a hand to pull the big coaster up the hill. As
the two little fellows came up with him he knew at once that they
were twins, as they looked so much alike that the only way one
could be distinguished from the other was by the scarfs they wore.
One wore red, the other black. He at once offered to help them
drag their coaster to the top of the hill. When they got to the
top the twins offered their coaster to him to try a ride. At first
he refused, but they insisted on his taking it, as they said they
would sooner rest until he came back. So he got on the coaster and
flew down the hill, only he was such an expert he made a zigzag
course going down and also jumped the coaster off a bank about four
feet high, which none of the other coasters dared to tackle. Being
very heavy, however, he nearly smashed the coaster. Upon seeing
this wonderful jump, and the zigzag course he had taken going down,
the twins went wild with excitement and decided that they would
have him take them down when he got back. So upon his arrival at
the starting point, they both asked him at once to give them the
pleasure of the same kind of a ride he had taken. He refused,
saying: "We will break your coaster. I alone nearly smashed it,
and if we all get on and make the same kind of a jump, I am afraid
you will have to go home without your coaster."
"Well, take us down anyway, and if we break it our father will make
us another one." So he finally consented. When they were all
seated ready to start, he told them that when the coaster made the
jump they must look straight ahead. "By no means look down,
because if you do we will go over the cut bank and land in a heap
at the bottom of the gulch."
They said they would obey what he said, so off they started swifter
than ever, on account of the extra weight, and so swiftly did the
sleigh glide over the packed, frozen snow, that it nearly took the
twins' breath away. Like an arrow they approached the
jump. The twins began to get a little nervous. "Sit steady and
look straight ahead," yelled Stone boy. The twin next to Stone
boy, who was steering behind, sat upright and looked far ahead, but
the one in front crouched down and looked into the coulee. Of
course, Stone boy, being behind, fell on top of the twins, and
being so heavy, killed both of them instantly, crushing them to a
The rest of the boys, seeing what had happened, hastened to the
edge of the bank, and looking down, saw the twins laying dead, and
Stone boy himself knocked senseless, lying quite a little distance
from the twins. The boys, thinking that all three were
killed, and that Stone boy had purposely steered the sleigh over
the bank in such a way that it would tip and kill the twins,
returned to the village with this report. Now, these twins were
the sons of the head chief of the Buffalo Nation. So at once the
chief and his scouts went over to the hill to see if the boys had
told the truth.
When they arrived at the bank they saw the twins lying dead, but
where was Stone boy? They looked high and low through the gulch,
but not a sign of him could they find. Tenderly they picked up the
dead twins and carried them home, then held a big council and put
away the bodies of the dead in Buffalo custom.
A few days after this the uncles were returning from a long
journey. When they drew near their home they noticed large droves
of buffalo gathered on their side of the range. Hardly any buffalo
ever ranged on this east side of the range before, and the brothers
thought it strange that so many should so suddenly appear there
When they arrived at home their sister told them what had happened
to the chief's twins, as her son had told her the whole story upon
his arrival at home after the accident.
"Well, probably all the buffalo we saw were here for the council
and funeral," said the older brother. "But where is my nephew?"
(Stone boy) he asked his sister. "He said he had noticed a great
many buffalo around lately and he was going to learn, if possible,
what their object was," said the sister. "Well, we will
wait until his return."
When Stone boy left on his trip that morning, before the return of
his uncles, he was determined to ascertain what might be the
meaning of so many buffalo so near the home of himself and uncles.
He approached several bunches of young buffalo, but upon
seeing him approaching they would scamper over the hills. Thus he
wandered from bunch to bunch, scattering them all. Finally he grew
tired of their cowardice and started for home. When he had come to
within a half mile or so of home he saw an old shaggy buffalo
standing by a large boulder, rubbing on it first one horn and then
the other. On coming up close to him, the boy saw that the bull
was so old he could hardly see, and his horns so blunt that he
could have rubbed them for a year on that boulder and not sharpened
them so as to hurt anyone.
"What are you doing here, grandfather?" asked the boy.
"I am sharpening my horns for the war," said the bull.
"What war?" asked the boy.
"Haven't you heard," said the old bull, who was so near sighted he
did not recognize Stone boy. "The chief's twins were killed by
Stone boy, who ran them over a cut bank purposely, and the chief
has ordered all of his buffalo to gather here, and when they arrive
we are going to kill Stone boy and his mother and his uncles."
"Is that so? When is the war to commence?"
"In five days from now we will march upon the
uncles and trample and gore them all to death."
"Well, grandfather, I thank you for your information, and in return
will do you a favor that will save you so much hard work on your
blunt horns." So saying he drew a long arrow from his quiver and
strung his bow, attached the arrow to the string and drew the arrow
half way back. The old bull, not seeing what was going on, and
half expecting some kind of assistance in his horn sharpening
process, stood perfectly still. Thus spoke Stone boy:
"Grandfather, you are too old to join in a war now, and besides if
you got mixed up in that big war party you might step in a hole or
stumble and fall and be trampled to death. That would be a
horrible death, so I will save you all that suffering by just
giving you this." At this word he pulled the arrow back to the
flint head and let it fly. True to his aim, the arrow went in
behind the old bull's foreleg, and with such force was it sent that
it went clear through the bull and stuck into a tree two hundred
Walking over to the tree, he pulled out his arrow. Coolly
straightening his arrow between his teeth and sighting it for
accuracy, he shoved it back into the quiver with its brothers,
exclaiming: "I guess, grandpa, you won't need to sharpen your horns
for Stone boy and his uncles."
Upon his arrival home he told his uncles to get to work building
three stockades with ditches between and make the ditches wide and
deep so they will hold plenty of buffalo. "The fourth fence I will
build myself," he said.
The brothers got to work early and worked until very late at night.
They built three corrals and dug three ditches around the hut, and
it took them three days to complete the work. Stone boy hadn't
done a thing towards building his fence yet, and there were
only two days more left before the charge of the buffalo would
commence. Still the boy didn't seem to bother himself about the
fence. Instead he had his mother continually cutting arrow sticks,
and as fast as she could bring them he would shape them, feather
and head them. So by the time his uncles had their fences and
corrals finished he had a thousand arrows finished for each of his
uncles. The last two days they had to wait, the uncles joined him
and they finished several thousand more arrows. The evening before
the fifth day he told his uncles to put up four posts, so they
could use them as seats from which to shoot.
While they were doing this, Stone boy went out to scout and see how
things looked. At daylight he came hurriedly in saying, "You had
better get to the first corral; they are coming." "You haven't
built your fence, nephew." Whereupon Stone boy said: "I will build
it in time; don't worry, uncle." The dust on the hillsides rose as
great clouds of smoke from a forest fire. Soon the leaders of the
charge came in sight, and upon seeing the timber stockade they gave
forth a great snort or roar that fairly shook the earth. Thousands
upon thousands of mad buffalo charged upon the little fort. The
leaders hit the first stockade and it soon gave way. The maddened
buffalo pushed forward by the thousands behind them; plunged
forward, only to fall into the first ditch and be trampled to death
by those behind them. The brothers were not slow in using their
arrows, and many a noble beast went down before their deadly aim
with a little flint pointed arrow buried deep in his heart.
The second stockade stood their charge a little longer than did the
first, but finally this gave way, and the leaders pushed on
through, only to fall into the second ditch and meet a similar fate
to those in the first. The brothers commenced to look anxiously
towards their nephew, as there was only one more stockade left, and
the second ditch was nearly bridged over with dead buffalo, with
the now thrice maddened buffalo attacking the last stockade more
furiously than before, as they could see the little hut through the
openings in the corral.
"Come in, uncles," shouted Stone boy. They obeyed him, and
stepping to the center he said: "Watch me build my fence." Suiting
the words, he took from his belt an arrow with a white stone
fastened to the point and fastening it to his bow, he shot it high
in the air. Straight up into the air it went, for two or three
thousand feet, then seemed to stop suddenly and turned with point
down and descended as swiftly as it had ascended. Upon striking
the ground a high stone wall arose, enclosing the hut and all who
were inside. Just then the buffalo broke the last stockade only to
fill the last ditch up again. In vain did the leaders butt the
stone wall. They hurt themselves, broke their horns and mashed
their snouts, but could not even scar the wall.
The uncles and Stone boy in the meantime rained arrows of death
into their ranks.
When the buffalo chief saw what they had to contend with, he
ordered the fight off. The crier or herald sang out: "Come away,
come away, Stone boy and his uncles will kill all of us."
So the buffalo withdrew, leaving over two thousand of their dead
and wounded on the field, only to be skinned and put away for the
feasts of Stone boy and his uncles, who lived to be great chiefs of
their own tribe, and whose many relations soon joined them on the
banks of Stone Boy Creek.
THE UNKTOMI (SPIDER), TWO WIDOWS,
AND THE RED PLUMS
There once lived, in a remote part of a great forest, two widowed
sisters, with their little babies. One day there came to their
tent a visitor who was called Unktomi (spider). He had found some
nice red plums during his wanderings in the forest, and he said to
himself, "I will keep these plums and fool the two widows with
them." After the widows had bidden him be seated, he presented
them with the plums.
On seeing them they exclaimed "hi nu, hi nu (an exclamation of
surprise), where did you get those fine plums?" Unktomi arose and
pointing to a crimson tipped cloud, said: "You see that red cloud?
Directly underneath it is a patch of plums. So large is the patch
and so red and beautiful are the plums that it is the reflection of
them on the cloud that you see."
"Oh, how we wish some one would take care of our babies, while we
go over there and pick some," said the sisters. "Why, I am not in
any particular hurry, so if you want to go I will take care of my
little nephews until you return." (Unktomi always claimed
relationship with everyone he met). "Well brother," said the older
widow, "take good care of them and we will be back as soon as
The two then took a sack in which to gather the plums, and started
off towards the cloud with the crimson lining. Scarcely had they
gone from Unktomi's sight when he took the babies out of their
swinging hammocks and cut off first one head and then the other.
He then took some old blankets and rolled them in the shape of a
baby body and laid one in each hammock. Then he took the heads and
put them in place in their different hammocks. The bodies he cut
up and threw into a large kettle. This he placed over a rousing
fire. Then he mixed Indian turnips and arikara squash with the
baby meat and soon had a kettle of soup. Just about the time the
soup was ready to serve the widows returned. They were tired and
hungry and not a plum had they. Unktomi, hearing the approach of
the two, hurriedly dished out the baby soup in two wooden dishes
and then seated himself near the door so that he could get out
easily. Upon the entrance of the widows, Unktomi exclaimed:
"Sisters, I had brought some meat with me and I cooked some turnips
and squash with it and made a pot of fine soup. The babies have
just fallen asleep, so don't waken them until you have
finished eating, for I know that you are nearly starved." The two
fell to at once and after they had somewhat appeased their
appetites, one of them arose and went over to see how her baby was
resting. Noting an unnatural color on her baby's face, she raised
him up only to have his head roll off from the bundle of blankets.
"'My son! my son!" she cried out. At once the other hastened to
her baby and grabbed it up, only to have the same thing happen. At
once they surmised who had done this, and caught up sticks from the
fire with which to beat Unktomi to death. He, expecting something
like this to happen, lost very little time in getting outside and
down into a hole at the roots of a large tree. The two widows not
being able to follow Unktomi down into the hole, had to give up
trying to get him out, and passed the rest of the day and night
crying for their beloved babies. In the meantime Unktomi had
gotten out by another opening, and fixing himself up in an entirely
different style, and painting his face in a manner that they would
not recognize him, he cautiously approached the weeping women and
inquired the cause of their tears.
Thus they answered him: "Unktomi came here and fooled us about some
plums, and while we were absent killed our babies and made soup out
of their bodies. Then he gave us the soup to eat, which we did,
and when we found out what he had done we tried to kill him, but he
crawled down into that hole and we could not get him out."
"I will get him out," said the mock stranger, and with that he
crawled down into the hole and scratched his own face all over to
make the widows believe he had been fighting with Unktomi. "I have
killed him, and that you may see him I have enlarged the hole so
you can crawl in and see for yourselves, also to take some revenge
on his dead body." The two foolish widows, believing him, crawled
into the hole, only to be blocked up by Unktomi, who at once
gathered great piles of wood and stuffing it into the hole, set it
on fire, and thus ended the last of the family who were foolish
enough to let Unktomi tempt them with a few red plums.
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