Arikara Corn:
The First To Know Maize

An Arikara Legend
A young Arikara man was the first to discover maize.  While out hunting atop a high hill he scouted a large bull buffalo standing at the confluence of
two rivers.  While deciding how to best approach the buffalo the young man was forced to look around closely, and was taken by the beauty of his

Though the banks of the river were nice and timbered, the buffalo was facing north, so the young man could not take a shot from either side.  He
decided he would wait until the buffalo moved nearer the timbered banks or wandered into the hills or ravines where the young man could hide in the

By sundown, the buffalo had not moved at all, so the young man returned to camp disappointed.  His night was not easy.  He spent it thinking about
how scarce food was among the people, and how much good he could have done if he had taken the buffalo.

Just before dawn the young man got up and went back to the place he left the buffalo to see if it was still nearby, had it moved at all.  As the sun rose,
from his spot on the high hill, the young man saw the buffalo was still in the same spot but now it faced the east.  And so it stood again, all day.

Disappointed again, the young man spent another sleepless night wondering why the buffalo would stand so steadfastly in one spot without eating,
drinking or lying down to rest.

The next day was the same, except the buffalo faced south and the next day west.  Now the young man was determined to know why the buffalo acted
in this way.  He settled in to watch, and told himself the buffalo was behaving this way for some mysterious purpose, and that he, too now, was under
the same mystery.  He went home to sleep and yet again spent the entire night wondering.

The next day he rose before dawn and ran to his mysterious scene.  The buffalo was gone!  Where it had stood there was a small bush.  The young man
approached with disappointment, but also curiosity and awe.  The plant was nothing familiar to him, surrounded by buffalo tracks, north to east and
south to west.  In the center was a single buffalo track from which this strange plant grew.  No buffalo tracks led away from the plant.

He ran back to camp and told the chiefs and elders of his strange experience.  They all traveled to the spot and found what he told them to be true.  
They saw the tracks of the buffalo at the spot, but no tracks coming or going from the site of the strange plant.

Now while all these men believed this plant had been given to the people by Wakanda for their use, they were not sure what that use might be.

Thinking it might need time to ripen like other plants they knew, they posted a guard to wait and see if more information would come.  Soon a spike of
flowers appeared, but they knew from other plants this was a flower and not the fruit.    Soon a new growth appeared.  First it appeared as if it had
hair at its top, soon turning from green to brown.

They determined this growth was the fruit of the plant, and approached with caution and although they wanted to know what it would provide no one
dared touch it.  The young man finally spoke:

"Everyone knows how my life since childhood has been useless, that my deeds among you more evil than good.  So, since no one would regret should
any evil befall me, I will be first to touch the plant and taste its fruit."

The young man gave thanks and prayer and grasped the plant.  He told the people it was firm and ripe and inside the husk it was red.  He took a few
kernels, showed them to the people and then carefully replaced the husks.  When the youth suffered no ill effects, the people were then convinced the
plant was given to them as food so they would never be hungry.

The kernels were dispersed among the people and a great, fruitful harvest was gathered in the fall.  The Arikaras decided to hold a feast and they
invited many tribes and six came.  The Arikaras shared the kernels with their guests, and so the knowledge of maize was spread among all.
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Music:  Ceremony by AH-NEE-MAH
The Legend of the Peace Pipes

An Arikara Legend
The people came across a great water on logs tied together.  They pitched their tents on the shore.  Then they thought to make for themselves certain
bounds within which they were to live and rules which should govern them.  They cleared a space of grass and weeds so they could see each other's
faces.  They sat down and there was no obstruction between them.

While they were holding council, an owl hooted in the trees nearby.  The leader said, "That bird is to take part in our council.  He calls to us.  He offers
us his aid."

Immediately afterward they heard a woodpecker.  He knocked against the trees.  The leader said, "That bird calls to us.  He offers us his aid.  He will
take part in our council."

then the chief appointed a man as servant.  He said, "Go into the woods and get an ash sapling."  The servant came back with a sapling having a
rough bark.

"We do not want that," said the leader.  "Go again and get a sapling with a smooth bark, bluish in color at the joint where a branch comes."  So the
servant went out, and came back with a sapling of the kind described.

When the leader took up the sapling, an eagle came and soared about the council which was sitting in the grass.  He dropped a downy feather; it fell.  
It fell in the center of the cleared space.  Now this was the white eagle.  The chief said, "This is not what we want," so the white eagle passed on.

Then the bald eagle came swooping down, as though attacking its prey.  It balanced itself on its wings directly over the cleared space.  It uttered fierce
cries, and dropped one of its downy feathers, which stood on the ground as the other eagle's feather had done.  The chief said, "This is not what we
want."  So the bald eagle passed on.

Then came the spotted eagle, and soared over the council, and dropped its feather as the others had done.  The chief said, "This is not what we want,"
and the spotted eagle passed on.

Then the imperial eagle, the eagle with the fantail, came, and soared over the people.  It dropped a downy feather which stood upright in the center of
the cleared space.  The chief said, "This is what we want."

So the feathers of this eagle were used in making the peace pipes, together with the feathers of the owl and woodpecker, and with other things.  These
peace pipes were to be used in forming friendly relations with other tribes.

When the peace pipes were made, seven other pipes were made for keeping peace within the tribe.  One pipe was to prevent revenge.  If one man
should kill another, the chief took this pipe to the relatives and offered it to them.  If the relatives of the dead man refused to accept it, it was offered
again.  It was offered four times.  If it was refused four times, the chief said, "Well, you must take the consequences.  We will do nothing, and you
cannot now ask to see the pipes."  He meant if they took revenge and any trouble came to them, they could not ask for help or for mercy.

Each band had its own pipe.  
A long time ago there lived a beautiful Indian girl.  Her lodge was on the edge of a forest, and she dwelt alone.  And though she never hunted or fished,
she always had plenty to eat, and no one knew where it came from.  In her lodge hung a magic bundle, and near it were seven tiny bows and a lot of
grass arrows.

One day as she was eating her dinner, Coyote came through the forest and stopped at her door.  He saw that she had roast Buffalo meat, and he licked
his chops.

"You have no man around," said he to the girl; "may I stay and do your errands?"

"Yes," said she, "you may stay."

So Coyote lived with her, and made her fires and brought water from the spring.

By and by all the Buffalo meat was gone, and Coyote wondered how she was going to get more.  Then the girl said, "Uncle Coyote, our food is gone.  I
want some fresh meat.  My brothers will be here today.  Do you go to the north side of the entrance and cover your head with a Buffalo robe, and don't
watch what I do."

So Coyote did as he was told, and when his head was covered, he peeped out and saw the girl sweep the lodge clean.  Then she placed hot coals in the
center of the room, and put some sweet-grass on the coals.  As the smoke arose, she lifted the magic bundle from the wall, and opening it, took out the
windpipe of a Buffalo.  It was round, and small at one end, and big at the other.

She waved the windpipe over the smoke, and turned the small end down, and some dust fell out on the floor.  Then the dust changed into seven
handsome braves, her brothers.

The young men took down the tiny bows and arrows from the wall, and they changed into big bows and arrows.

The girl wrapped herself in a Buffalo robe, then went and stood in the door.  She gave a yell to the north, and a yell to the west, and immediately herds
of Buffalo came rushing over the plain.  Then she went back into the lodge, and her brothers began to kill the Buffalo.  When they had killed as many
as they wanted, the rest of the animals ran away, and the brothers came back into the lodge.

The girl put more sweet-grass on the coals, and when the smoke rose up the brothers stepped behind it, and disappeared.  The girl took the magic
windpipe, held it over the coals, gathered up a handful of dust from the floor, and put it into the windpipe.  After that she put the windpipe into the
magic bundle and hung it again on the wall.  

She next passed the big bows and arrows through the smoke and they became tiny bows and grass arrows, and she hung them up, too.

Now, Coyote was very much astonished to see all this, but he kept quiet.  By and by the girl called him, and showed him the dead Buffalo.  He helped
her skin the animals, and to dry the flesh.  After that she let Coyote roast all the bones he wished.

When Coyote had eaten the roast meat, he began to think of his hungry children at home, and said to himself, "If I only had that magic windpipe, I
could call the Buffalo whenever I wished, and the seven young braves would kill them for me."

Then he asked the girl if the windpipe held more than seven young men.  "Oh, yes," said she; "whenever I turn the big end upside down, a war party
comes out, headed by my seven brothers, and they fight for me."

When Coyote heard this, he decided to steal the windpipe that night, for he thought, "When my enemies see all those braves, they will think me
powerful, and will run away."

Now the girl knew that Coyote was planning to steal the windpipe and she let him take it.  That night, when she was asleep, he lifted down the magic
bundle from the wall, and, opening it, took out the windpipe and ran away fast toward the north.

He traveled far until he was tired, and then lay down by a log to sleep.  The girl knew this, and she told her brothers to bring him back.  They did so,
and placed him on the floor of the lodge.

And when he woke in the morning, there he lay, with the magic windpipe in his paw, and the girl looking at him.

"Oh, my niece," said he, "I thought a war-party was coming in the night, so I took this down.  Put it back."  So the girl tied the windpipe up in the magic
bundle, and hung it on the wall.

The next night Coyote ran away again with the magic windpipe, and when he came to a place where he thought he was safe, he lay down to sleep.  The
girl told her brothers to bring him back.  They did so, and placed him on the floor of the lodge.

And when he woke in the morning, there he lay, with the magic windpipe in his paw, and the girl looking at him.

"Oh, my niece," said he, "I took this down because the enemy came in the night, and I frightened him away.  Put it back."  So the girl tied the windpipe
up again, and hung it on the wall.  And the same thing happened the third night.

The fourth time Coyote stole the magic windpipe, the girl let him take it and did not tell her brothers to bring him back.  No, indeed!  She let him go on
until he came to a village.  He was very hungry, so he said to himself, "I will call out the people and order them to feed me, and if they do not obey, I
will turn the big end of the windpipe upside down, and the war-party will come out."

So he called out the people, and the braves came running and shouting from the lodges, and the boys and dogs came too.  And when they saw Coyote,
the men and boys began to kick him, and throw stones at him, and the dogs bit him.  He turned the windpipe upside down, when, instead of a
war-party, out burst a whole swarm of Bumblebees, millions of them, buzzing with rage.

They settled all over Coyote, and stung him so hard that he ran howling into the forest.  And they kept on stinging him until he was well punished for
his lying and stealing.

After that, the Bumblebees swarmed up into a hollow tree, and they have lived there ever since.  As for the magic windpipe, the brothers took it back to
the girl.
The Magic Windpipe

An Arikara Legend
Arikara Legends