Music: Native Tongue by R. Carlos Nakai
The Cheyennes, like other Indians, do not speak to each other when they are away from camp. If a man leaves the village and sits or stands by
himself on the top of a hill, it is a sign that he wants to be alone, perhaps to meditate, perhaps to pray. No one speaks to him or goes near him.
There was once a Pawnee boy who went off on the warpath to the Cheyenne camp. Somehow he had obtained a Cheyenne blanket. He came close to
the camp, hid himself, and waited.
About the middle of the afternoon he left his hiding place and walked to the top of the hill overlooking the village. He had his Cheyenne blanket
wrapped about him and over his head, with only a little hole for his eyes. He stood quietly watching the camp for an hour or two.
Men began coming in from buffalo hunting, some of them leading packhorses loaded with meat. One hunter was riding a horse packed with meat
while he led another packhorse and a black spotted horse that was his running horse. Running horses are ridden only on the chase or on war parties,
and after being used they are taken down to the river to be carefully washed and groomed.
When the Pawnee boy saw the spotted horse, he knew that this was the one he wanted. The hunter led the animal to his lodge, dismounted and
handed the ropes to his women, and went inside.
Then the Pawnee made up his mind what he would do. He started down the hill into the village and went straight to the lodge where the women were
unloading the meat.
Walking up to them, he reached out and took the ropes of the spotted horse and one of the packhorses. The women fell back, doubtless thinking that
he was one of the owner's relatives come to take the running horse down to the river. The Pawnee could not speak Cheyenne, but as he turned away
he mumbled something, "M-m-m-m-," in a low voice, and then walked toward the river. As soon as he had gone down over the bank and out of sight,
he jumped on the spotted horse, rode into the brush, and soon was away with the two animals, stolen out of the Cheyenne camp in broad daylight.
|A Cheyenne Blanket
A Pawnee Legend
All Rights Reserved
|Pawnee Apocalyptic Myth
A Pawnee Legend
Tirawa Atius is the lord of all things and it is he alone who determines fate. At the beginning to the world, he set a large bull buffalo in the sky to the
far northwest. With the passage of each year, the bull loses one hair; when all these hairs are gone, the world will end. As that hair falls, there will be
widespread meteor showers, and the sun and moon will become dim.
In the beginning, Tirawa Atius appointed the North Star and the South Star to control fate. The North Star once spoke directly to the Pawnee and told
them that the South Star moved just a little bit to the north with each passing year. When the South Star catches up with the North Star, then the
world will end.
]The command for the final destruction of the world is in the hands of the four gods of the directions. The West will issue the command that the world
will be destroyed and the East will obey. Then the stars in heaven will fall to the new earth and become people. The people left in this world at the
time of destruction will fly high into the sky and become stars themselves.
|The Girl Who Was the Ring
A Pawnee Legend
By the bank of a river stood a lodge, in which lived four brothers and their sister. The boys made arrows. To the branch of a tree in front of the lodge
they hung a rawhide strap, such as women use for carrying wood, to make a swing for the girl.
Whenever their meat was all gone and they began to get hungry, the girl used to send her brothers into the timber to cut dogwood shoots to make
arrows. When the arrows were ready, she would get into the swing and the boys would swing her. As the swing moved, they would see dust rising al
around the horizon, and would know that the Buffalo were coming.
Then all four boys would take their bows and arrows, and stand about the swing so as to protect the girl and not let the Buffalo come near her. When
the Buffalo had come close, the boys would kill them in a circle all about the swing. They would quickly carry the girl into the lodge, and would kill so
many Buffalo that the rest would be frightened and run away. So they would have plenty to eat, and the dried meat would be piled high in the lodge.
One day the boys went out to get wood for arrows, and left the girl in the lodge alone. While they were away a Coyote came to the lodge and talked to
the girl. He said to her: "Granddaughter, I am very poor, and I am very hungry. I have no meat in my lodge, and my children also are hungry, I told
my relations that I was coming to ask you for food, and they have been laughing at me. They said, 'Your granddaughter will not give you anything to
The girl answered him: "Grandfather, here is plenty of meat. This house is full of it. Take what you want. Take the fattest pieces. Take it to your
children. Let them eat."
The coyote began to cry. He said: "Yes, my relations laughed at me when I said i was going to visit you and ask you for something to eat. They said
you would not give me anything. I do not want any dried meat --I want some fresh meat to take to my children. Have pity on me, and let me put you
in the swing, so as to bring the Buffalo. I do not have to swing you hard so as to bring the Buffalo in great herds. I want to swing you only a little so
as to bring a few Buffalo. I have a quiver full of arrows to keep the Buffalo off."
The girl said: "No, grandfather, I cannot do this. My brothers are away. Without them we can do nothing."
Then the Coyote slapped his breast and said: "Look at me. Am I not a man and strong? I can run around you fast, after you are in the swing, and I
can keep the Buffalo off. I can shoot clear through a Buffalo. I have plenty of arrows, and I need only use a single one for each Buffalo. Come on, I
want to swing you just a little, so that but a few Buffalo will come." So he coaxed the girl, but still she refused.
After he had begged her for a long time, she agreed to let him swing her a little, and got in the swing. He began to swing her, at first gently, but all at
once he pushed her very hard, and kept doing this until she swung high. She screamed and cried, and tried to get off the swing, but it was now too
late. All around --from all sides --the Buffalo were coming in great crowds. The Coyote had made ready his arrows, and was running around the
girl, trying to kill the Buffalo and keep them off, but they crowded upon him --so many that he could do nothing --and at last he got frightened and
ran into the lodge. The buffalo were now just all over the ground about the lodge, and suddenly one of the young Bulls, the leader of a big band, as he
passed under the swing, threw up his head, and the girl disappeared, but the Coyote, peeping out of the lodge door, saw on the horn of this Bull a ring,
and then he knew that this ring was the girls. Then the Bull ran away fast, and all the Buffalo ran after him.
When the Buffalo had gone, the Coyote came out of the lodge and saw that the girl was not there. He did not know what to do. He was frightened.
Pretty soon he heard the girl's brothers coming. They had seen the dust, and knew that some one was swinging their sister, and that the Buffalo had
come. They hurried back, running fast, and when they reached the lodge they found the Coyote just dragging himself out of a mud-hole. He crawled
out crying, and pretended that the Buffalo had run over him and trampled him. His bows and arrows were in the mud. He told the brothers his story
and said that he had tried hard to save the girl, but that he had not known that so many Buffalo would come. He said he had thought that the girl
must be swung high, so that the Buffalo could see her from a long way off.
The brothers felt very sorry that their sister was lost. They counseled together to see what they should do, trying to decide what would be the best plan
to get her back again. While they were talking about this, the Coyote, with all the mud upon him, stood before them and said: "Brothers, do not feel
sorry because your sister is lost. I will get her back again. Live on just as you always do. Do not think about this. Do not let it trouble you. I will get
her back again." After he had spoken thus, he said, "Now I am going to start off on the war-path," and he left them and went away.
He journeyed on alone considering what he should do, and at length, as he was traveling along over the prairie, he met a Badger, who said to him,
"Brother, where are you going?" The Coyote said: "I am going on the war-path against my enemies. Will you join my party?" The Badger said,
"Yes, I will join you." Then they went on. After they had gone a long way, they saw a Swift Hawk sitting on the limb of a tree by a ravine. He asked
them where they were going, and they told him, and asked him if he would go with them. He said he would go. After a time they met a Kit Fox, and
asked him to join them, and he did so. Then they met a Jack Rabbit, who said he would go with them. They went on, and at length they met a
Blackbird, and asked him to join them. He said: "Let it be so. I will go."
Soon after they had all got together they stopped and sat down, and the Coyote told them how the girl had been lost, and said that he intended to try to
get her back. Then they talked, and the Coyote told them the plan that he --the leader --had made. The others listened, and said that they would do
whatever he told them. They were all glad to help recover the girl.
Then they all stood up and made ready to start, and the Coyote said to the Blackbird, "Friend, you stay here until the time comes." So the Blackbird
remained there where they had been talking, and the others went on. After they had gone some distance farther, the Coyote told the Hawk to stop and
wait there. He did so. The others went on a long way, and then the Coyote said to the Rabbit, "You stay here." The others went on, and at the next
stopping-place he left the Kit Fox; and at the next --last of all --he left the Badger. Then the Coyote went on alone and travelled a long way, and at
length he came to the Buffalo camp. He went out to the place where the young Bulls used to play the stick game, and lay down there. It was early in
After a time some of the young Bulls came out, and began to roll the ring and to throw their sticks at it. The Coyote now pretended to be very sick.
His hair was all covered with mud, and his tongue hung out of his mouth, and he staggered about and fell down and then got up again, and seemed to
feel badly. Sometimes he would get over near to where the ring was being rolled, and then the young Bulls would call out: "Here hold on! Don't get
in the way."
After a little while the Coyote pretended that he felt better, and he got up and went over to where the young Bulls were sitting, looking on at the game,
and sat down with them, and watched the play with the others. Every now and then two of the young Bulls would begin to dispute over the game,
each saying that his stick was the nearer to the ring, and sometimes they would wrangle for a long time. Once, while they were doing this, the Coyote
went up to them and said: "Here! You men need not quarrel about this. Let me look. I know all about this game. I can tell which stick is the nearer."
The Bulls stopped talking and looked at him, and then said: "Yes, let him look. Let us hear what he says." Then the Coyote went up to the ring and
looked, and said, pointing: "That stick is nearest. That man has won." The Bulls looked at each other, and nodded their heads and said, "He knows.
He is right." The next time they had a dispute, he decided it again, and all were satisfied.
At length two of the young Bulls had a very fierce dispute, and almost came to fighting over it. The Coyote came up and looked, and said: "This is
very close. I must look carefully, but I cannot see well if you are all crowding around me in this way. I must have room. You would all better go over
to that hill, and sit down there and wait for me to decide." The Bulls all went over to the hill and sat down, and then the Coyote began to look. First he
would go to one stick and look carefully, and then he would go to the other and look. The sticks were about the same distance from the ring, and for a
long time it seemed that he could not make up his mind which was the nearer. He went backward and forward, looking at the sticks, and stooping
down and putting his hands on his knees and squinting, and at last, when once his face was close to the ground, he suddenly snatched up the ring in
his mouth, and started, running as hard as he could for the place where he had left the Badger.
As soon as he had started, all the Bulls on the hill saw what he was doing --that he was taking the ring away from them --and they started after him.
They did not want to lose the ring, for it was very useful to them, and they played with it all the time. When the Buffalo in the camp saw the young
Bulls had started, they all followed, so that soon all the Buffalo were rushing after the Coyote. He ran fast, and for a long time he kept ahead of the
Buffalo, but they followed, a great mass of Buffalo crowding and pushing, running as hard as they could run. At last the Coyote was beginning to get
tired, and was running more slowly, and the Buffalo were beginning to catch up to him, but he was getting near to where the Badger was. After a
time the Buffalo were getting nearer to the Coyote. He was very tired, and it seemed to him as if he could not run any farther. If he did not soon get to
where he had left the Badger, the Buffalo would run over him and trample him to death, and get back the ring. At length, when they were close behind
him, he ran over the top of a little hill, and down in the valley below saw the Badger sitting at the mouth of his hole. The Coyote raced down the hill as
fast as he could, and when he got to the hole he gave the ring to the Badger, and just as the herd of Buffalo got to the place, they both dived down into
The Buffalo crowded about the Badger's hole, and began to paw the ground, to dig it up so as to get the Coyote and the ring, but the Badger had dug a
hole a long way under the ground, and while the Buffalo were digging he ran along through his hole and came out far off, and ran as hard as he could
toward the brothers' lodge. Before he had gone very far, some of the Buffalo on the outside of the herd saw him, and called out to the others: "There
he is! There he goes!" Then all the Buffalo started again and ran after the Badger. When they had come pretty close to him, he would stop running
and dig another hole, and while the Buffalo were crowding around the hole, trying to dig him out, he would dig along under the ground, until he had
got far beyond them, and would then come to the top of the ground, and run as fast as he could toward the lodge. Then the Buffalo would see him and
In this way he went a long distance, but at length he got tired and felt that he could not run or dig mush farther. He was almost spent. At last, when
he dug out of the ground, he saw not far off the Kit Fox lying curled upon a rock, asleep in the sun. He called out: "Oh, my brother, I am almost tired
out! Help me!"
The Kit Fox jumped up and ran to him and took the ring in his mouth and started running, and the Badger dug a deep hole, and staid there. The little
Fox ran fast, gliding along like a bird; and the Buffalo, when they saw him running, chased him and ran hard. The Kit Fox is a swift animal, and for
a long time he kept ahead of the Buffalo.
When he was almost tired out, he came to where the Rabbit was, and gave him the ring, and ran into a hole, and the Rabbit ran on. The Buffalo
followed the Rabbit, but he ran fast and kept ahead of them for a long time. When they had almost caught him, he came to where the Hawk was
The Hawk took the ring in his claws and flew off with it, and the Rabbit ran off to one side and hid in the long grass. The Buffalo followed the Hawk
and ran after him. They seemed never to get tired. The Hawk after he had been flying for a long time, began to feel very weary. He would sail down
low over the Buffalo's backs, and was only just able to keep above them. At last he got near to where the Blackbird was.
When the Blackbird heard the pounding of many hoofs and knew that the Buffalo were coming, he flew up on a sunflower stalk and waited. When
the buffalo came to the place where he was, he flew up over them to the Hawk, and took the ring on his neck and flew along over the Buffalo. The ring
was heavy for so small a bird, and he would alight on the backs of the Buffalo and fly from one to another. The Buffalo would toss their heads and
try to hit him with their horns, but he kept flying from one to another, and the Buffalo behind were always pushing forward to get near the ring, and
they pushed the other Buffalo ahead of them. Pretty soon the herd passed over a hill and were rushing down to the place on the river where the
brothers' lodge stood.
Ever since their sister had been lost, the brothers had been making arrows, and now they had piles of them stacked up about the lodge. When they
saw the Buffalo coming they got their bows and took their arrows in their hands, and shot and shot until they had killed many, many Buffalo, and the
rest were frightened and ran away.
The Blackbird had flown into the lodge with the ring, and after the brothers had finished killing, they went into the lodge. And there, sitting by the fire
and smiling at them as they came in, they saw their sister.
|The Medicine Grizzly
A Pawnee Legend
A long time ago there lived in a camp of Pawnees a certain poor boy. His father had only one pony. Once he had been a leading man in the tribe, but
now he seemed to be unlucky.
When he went on the war-path he brought back nothing, and when he fought he did nothing, and the people did not now look up to him.
There was a chief's son who loved the poor boy, and these two went together all the time. They were like brothers; they used to hunt together and go
courting together, and when they were traveling, the poor boy often rode one of the ponies of the chief's son, and the latter used to go to the poor boy's
lodge and sleep there with him.
Once the camp went off to hunt buffalo, and the poor boy and the chief's son rode together all the time. After the people made camp at a certain place,
the chiefs decided to stop here for four days, because the buffalo were close by, and they could kill plenty and dry the meat here. North of the camp
was a hill on which grew many cedar trees, and during the day the poor boy had overheard people saying that many Indians had been killed on that
hill, among those trees. They said that no one ought to go there, for it was a dangerous place.
That night the chief's son went over to his friend's lodge to sleep there, but before they went to bed he left the lodge for a time, and while he was gone
the poor boy, as he sat there waiting, began to think about himself and how unhappy he was. He remembered how poor he and his father were, and
how everybody looked down on them and despised them, and it did not seem to him that things would ever be any better for them than they were
now. For a long time he sat there thinking about all these things, and the more he thought of them the worse they seemed, and at last he felt that he
was no longer glad to live, and he made up his mind to go up into those cedars.
He went out of the lodge and started to go up toward the trees. It was bright moonlight, so that he could see well. Just before he reached the edge of
the timber he crossed a ravine, and saw there many skeletons of people who had been killed. The ground was white with these bones. He went on
into the cedars, and came to a ravine leading up the hills, and followed it. As he went on he saw before him a trail and followed it, and when he came
to the head of the ravine there was a big hole in the bank, and the trail led to it. He stopped for a moment when he came to this hole, but then he went
in, and when he had entered he saw there, sitting by the fire, a big she-bear and some little cubs.
As the boy stood there looking at her, the she-bear said to him: "I am sorry that you have come here. My husband is the one who kills persons and
brings them here for the children and me to eat. You had better go back to your people quickly, or he will eat you up. He has gone hunting, but he will
soon be back again. If he finds you here, he will kill you."
The poor boy said: "Well, I came here on purpose to be killed, and I give myself up to you. I shall be glad to be eaten by you. I am here ready to be
killed. I am yours. Take me."
The she-bear said: "Oh, I wish I could do something to save you, but I cannot. He is one of those bad bears --a grizzly --medicine. I can do nothing
for you, but I will try. As soon as you hear any noise outside --any one coming --pick up that cub, the littlest one, and hold it in your arms. When he
comes in he will tell you to put it down, but do not do so. Hold it tight; he loves that one best of all."
All at once the boy heard outside the cave the noise of a bear snorting and grunting. The she-bear said: "Pick up the cub, quick; he is coming." The
boy caught up the little bear, and held it tight to his breast. All at once the noise came to the mouth of the den and stopped. It was the Bear. The boy
could hear him talking. He said: "Here! Somebody has been about my house. I smell human beings. Yes, he even came in. Where is he? Let me see
him, so that I may jump upon him and kill him." When he came in he saw the boy, and seemed very angry. He stood up on his hind feet and threw up
his hands, and then came down again and struck his paws on the ground, and then rose up and snorted "whoof," and blew out red dust from his
nostrils, and then came down and jumped about, and sometimes sprang toward the boy, as though he were going to seize him. He was very terrible,
and the boy was very much afraid.
The Bear called out to the boy in a loud voice: "How dare you take up my child and hold it? Let it go, or I will tear you to pieces and eat you." But the
boy still held the cub. No matter what the Bear said or what he did, the boy held fast to the cub.
When the Bear saw that the boy would not let the cub go, he became quiet, and no longer seemed angry. He said: "Boy, you are my son. Put down
your brother, for now he is your brother. He shall go with you, he shall be your companion, and shall be with you always as your guide and helper.
He has told me your story, and how you are poor, unhappy, and now he has kept you from being eaten up. I have taken pity on you, and we will send
you back to your people, where you may do some good among them. My son, I am at the head of all these animal lodges, down at Pahuk and at
Pahur and everywhere else. I am at the head; there is no animal living that is stronger than I; none that I cannot kill. If a man shoots at me, I make
the arrow to fall from my skin without hurting me. Look up around my lodge. See these arrows, these guns, these leggings, these beads, and the
medicine that men have brought, thinking to kill me; but I have killed them, and have taken these things, and keep them here.
"I knew that your people were coming to this place to hunt. I drove the buffalo over, so that the people should stop here and hunt and kill meat, in
order that you might come to my lodge. I know all your feelings. I know that you are sorry for your poor father, my brother, and I wished you to
come here, so that I might make you my son and give my power to you, so that you may become a great man among your people. I know that they
are now killing buffalo, and that they will be camped here for four days.
"Now, my son, set your brother free. All the power that I have I give to you. I shall kill my son, your little brother there, and give you his skin to keep
and carry away with you, so that he may be your companion and may be with you always. Your brother, your friend at the camp, is looking for you,
mourning for you, for he thinks you dead, but tomorrow night you shall see him, and shall tell him to rejoice for you and not to mourn. You shall tell
him where you have been."
The little bear that he was holding said to the boy: "It is all right now, brother; put me down. My father means what he says. I am glad that I am
going to be with you, my brother." The boy put him down.
Then the Bear said to his wife: "Get up. Take that gun." The she-bear took the gun, and they walked around the fire-place in a circle, and sang, and
the boy looked on. The Bear took the gun and told the boy to look at them, and to watch carefully everything that they did. After a little he stopped,
and shot his wife, and she fell down dead. Then he put down the gun, and went to the she-bear and put his mouth on the wound, and breathed on it
and snorted "woof," and sucked in his breath and took the bullet out, and went around the lodge, singing and making motions, and then he took hold
of the she-bear and lifted her to her feet, and supported her, and pushed her around, and helped her, and at last she walked and was well. Then he
called the boy to him and said: "Now I will do the same thing to you." And he did the same thing to the boy, and brought him to life in the same way.
Then he said: "That is one power I give you tonight."
Then he gave the gun to the boy and went to the other side of the lodge, and sat up, and said: "Now I will open my mouth, and you shoot me right in
the mouth." He opened his mouth, and the boy shot him, and he fell over. After a moment he got up on his feet and slapped his paws on his chest
several times, and the bullet came out of his mouth, and he walked around the fireplace two or three times, and made motions and grunted, and then
he was well. Then he took the boy in his arms, and hugged him and kissed him and breathed on him, and said: "Now I give you my power. Go over
there and I will shoot you as you shot me. Do just as I did." The boy went over there, and the Bear shot him, and the boy did just as the Bear had done,
and made himself well.
The Bear then put an arrow in the gun and shot it at the boy, and when the smoke cleared away the boy found the arrow fast in his throat, the feather
end sticking out. The Bear took it out and made him well, and gave him also this power. Then the Bear told him to load the gun with a ball and to
shoot it at him, and he did so, and shot the Bear, but the lead was made flat and dropped to the ground. The bullet did not go into the Bear.
The Bear now told the boy to take the bow and arrow and to shoot at him with all his strength. The boy did this, but the arrow did not go through the
Bear, but the spike rolled up and the shaft was split. The Bear said: "Now you see, my son, that the gun and the bow, the bullet and the arrow, cannot
harm me. You shall have the same power. When you go into battle you shall not carry a gun nor arrows, for they are not mine, but you shall take
this paint and put it all over your body, then put this feather on your head, and take this club, which is part of my jawbone. All these things have my
power and medicine. When you are carrying these things your enemy cannot hurt you, even if you run right on to him; but with one stroke of this
club you shall kill your enemy."
The next morning the Bear took the boy out on the prairie and showed him the different roots and leaves of medicines, and told him how to use them;
how he should eat some medicine and then he could cure the wounded by just breathing on the wound.
That night the Bear said to him: "Hereafter you shall have the same feelings as the bear. When you get angry, you will have a grunt like a bear; and if
you get too fierce, teeth like a bear's will stick out of your mouth, so that the people will know that you are very angry. You shall have my power, and
you can go into any of the lodges of the animals, of which I am the chief." And he told him how to get into these lodges.
That day they staid in the Bear's lodge, and the Bear took the claw off from his little finger and gave it and a little bundle of medicine to the boy. He
said: "Take this claw and this bundle of medicine and put them on a string and wear them on your neck always, the claw hanging in front." He
taught him how to make plums grow on trees, and how to make ground-cherries come out of his mouth.
That night he sent the boy back to the camp. He said: "Tell your father and mother not to mourn for you, for you will return in two days more. I
have driven plenty of buffalo to this place, and they will kill them and dry the meat. Now go to the camp and get a pipe and some tobacco, and bring
The boy went back to the camp. When he went into the lodge his father and mother were glad to see him. He told them not to be anxious about him,
and not to say anything about his having been away. Then he went out and found his brother, the chief's so, asleep. He said to him: "Wake up,
brother. I want you to get some tobacco and a pipe from your father. Tell no one that it is for me. Bring it here. I want to smoke with you. I am
going away again, but you must stay in camp. I will be back in a few days." The chief's son got the things and gave them to the boy. He wanted to go
with him, but the poor boy would not let him.
That same night the boy went back to the Bear's den, carrying with him the pipe and tobacco. After he went into the lodge he filled his pipe and lighted
it, and he and the Bear smoked together. The Bear said to him: "After you have gone home, whenever you smoke, always point your pipe toward my
den and ask me to smoke with you. After lighting your pipe, point it first to Atius Tirawat, and then blow a few whiffs to me. Then I shall know that
you still remember me. All my power comes from Atius. He made me. There will be an end to my days as there is to those of every mortal. So long as
I live I shall protect you; when I die of old age, you shall die too."
After this he said: "Now bring my youngest boy here." The boy brought the little cub, and the Bear said: "Now kill him." The boy hesitated to do this.
He did not want to kill the little bear, but it said to him: "Go on, my brother, kill me. After this I am going to be a spirit, and always to be with you."
Then the boy killed him, and skinned him, and tanned his hide. After it was tanned he put some red medicine paint on the hide. When this was done
the Bear told him to put his paint, his feathers, and his war-club in this hide, and to wrap them up and make a bundle of them. Then he said: "Now,
my son, go to your people, and when you get home hang your bundle up at the back of the lodge, and let the people know nothing of all this. Keep it
secret. Wherever you go, wherever you are, I shall be with you."
The boy went home to the camp, and told his mother to hang up his bundle, as the Bear had said. Next morning he was in camp and all the people
saw him. They were surprised, for they had thought that he had been killed. By this time the Pawnees had all the buffalo they wanted, and the next
day they started back to their village.
After they had reached home, the boy told the chief's son that he wanted him to go off with him on the war-path. His brother said: "It is good. I will
go." The poor boy took his bundle, and they started. After traveling many days they came to a camp of the enemy. They went into the village in the
daytime, and took many horses and started away with them, riding hard. Soon the enemy pursued them, and at length they could see them coming,
and it seemed as if they must soon overtake them. Then the poor boy got off his horse and stopped, telling his brother to go on, driving the horses.
The boy had painted himself red over his whole body. He held his war-club in his hand, and had his feather tied on his head and the little bear-skin on
his back. The enemy soon came up and tried to kill him, but they could not. He would run after one and kill him, and all the others would shoot at
him with their arrows, but they could not hurt him, and at last they left him and went back, and he went on and overtook the chief's son. Then his
brother saw that he had great power. After this they traveled on slowly, and at last reached the village. His brother told all the people that this man
was powerful, that they had taken the horses in broad daylight, and the young man had staid behind on foot and fought the enemy off, while he drove
on the horses.
A few days after they reached home a war-party of he enemy attacked the village. All the Pawnees went out to fight, but the poor boy staid behind in
the lodge. He took down his bundle, filled the pipe, and pointed it first to Atius, and then toward the Bear's lodge, and smoked. Then he took the paint
and mixed it with grease, and rubbed it all over his body except his face: that he painted black. Then he put the feather on his head and the little
bear-robe on his back, and took his war-club in his hand and started out. The Bear had told him that in going into battle he must never start toward
the east, but must attack going toward the west. So he went around, and came on the battle-field from one side.
As he came up he saw that his people were having a hard time, and were being driven back. There was one of the enemy who seemed to be the bravest
of all. The poor boy rushed at this man and killed him with his club, and then ran back to his own line. When his people looked at him, and saw that
ir was really the poor boy who had just done so brave a deed, they knew that what the chief's son had said was true. When he started again to rush
toward the enemy's line, all the Pawnees followed him. He ran among the enemy, and with his club killed one here and one there, and the enemy
became afraid and ran, and the Pawnees followed and killed many of them. That night they returned to the village, rejoicing over the victory.
Everybody was praising the young man. Old men were calling his name, young women were singing about him, and old women dancing before
him. People no longer made fun of his father or mother, or of him. Now they looked upon him as a great and powerful person.
The Bear had told him that when he wanted his name changed he must call himself Ku ruks la war uks ti, Medicine Bear.
That night the Bear came to the boy in his sleep and spoke to him. He said: "My son, tomorrow the chief of the tribe is going to ask you to take his
daughter for your wife, but you must not do this yet. I wish you to wait until you have done certain things. If you take a wife before that time, your
power will go from you.
The next day the chief came to Medicine Bear and asked him to marry his daughter, and told him the people wanted him to be their head chief. He
Some time after this all the different tribes that had been attacked by him joined forces and came down together to fight the Pawnees. All the people
went out to meet them, but he staid in his lodge and painted himself, and put his feather on his head and the bear-claw on his neck and his bear-skin
on his back, and smoked as he always did, and took his club and went out. When he came to the battle, the Pawnees were having a hard time, because
the enemy were so many. Medicine Bear charged, and killed a man, and then came back, and the second time he charged the people charged all
together, following him, and they killed many and drove the enemy off, and those who had the fastest horses were the only ones who got away. The
Pawnees went home to the village. Everybody rejoiced, and there were many scalp-dances. Now the poor boy was more highly thought of than ever.
Even the chiefs bowed their heads when they saw him. They could not equal him. This time he called himself Ku ruks ti carish, Angry Bear.
After the excitement had quieted down, one day the head chief said: "Medicine Bear, in all this tribe there is no chief who is equal to you. Sit down by
my daughter. Take her for your wife, and take my place as chief. I and my wife will go out of this lodge, and it shall be yours. You shall be the chief of
the tribe. Whatever you say we will abide by." The poor boy said: "My father, I will think about this. By morning I will let you know." In the night,
before he slept, he filled the pipe and smoked as the Bear had told him to do, and then he went to bed. In dreams the Bear said to him: "My son, you
have done what I wished you to do. Now the power will remain with you as long as you shall live. Now you can marry, if you will."
But the boy was not yet ready to do this. The girl was very pretty, and he liked her, but he felt that before he married there were still some things that
he must do. He called his brother and said to him: "Go, kill the fattest of the buffalo; bring it to me, and I will take a long journey with you."
His brother went hunting and killed a buffalo, and brought the meat home, and they dried it and made a bundle of it. Medicine Bear told his brother
to carry this bundle and a rawhide rope and a little hatchet, and they started on a journey toward the Missouri River. One day toward evening they
reached the river, and they found themselves on top of a steep-cut bluff. The river ran at its foot. The poor boy cut a cottonwood pole and drove it
into the ground, and tied the rope to it, and then tied the other end of the rope about his brother's body. Then he sharpened a stick and gave it to his
brother and said: "Now take the bundle of meat, and I will let you down over the bank. You must put the meat on a ledge of the cliff, and when the
birds come you must feed them. Give a piece to the first one that comes, and then take your sharp stick and get another piece, and so feed all the birds.
They are the ones that have power, and they can take pity on you." So he let the chief's son down.
The first bird that came was a buzzard, then an eagle, then hawks and owls, all kinds of birds that kill their prey. He fed them all. While he was doing
this, the poor boy was above lying on top of the bank. Late in the afternoon, just as the sun was going down, he saw, far up the river, what looked
like a flock of geese coming. They came nearer and nearer, and at last passed out of sight under the bank. Afterward, when he looked down on the
river, he could see in the water red light as if it were all on fire, and as he lay on the bank he could hear down below him the sound of drumming and
singing just as plain as could be, and all the time the chief's son was hanging there in front of the bank, and the poor boy would call down to him to
cry and ask the animals to take pity on him. When Medicine Bear had done this, he started back and went home, leaving the chief's son hanging there.
The chief's son staid there all the night and all the next day, and for three days and nights, and on the night of the fourth day he fell asleep. When he
awoke he was in a lodge. It was under the Missouri River. When he looked about him he saw that those in the lodge were all animals. There was the
beaver, there was the otter, two buffalo, the antelope, hawks, owls, ermines, bears, frogs, woodpeckers, catfish-all kinds of animals. On each side of
the lodge there was a little pool, and in each pool sat a goose, and every time they sang, the geese would shake their wings on the water, and it
sounded just like drumming. The chief of the animals spoke to him, saying: "My son, at this time we can do nothing for you. We must first send our
messenger up to the Bear's lodge to ask him what we may do for you." While he was saying this the Bear's servant entered the lodge and said: "My
father, it is all right. Our father the Bear told me to say to you that his son has sent this young man to you, and you must exert all your power for
Now the animals began to make ready to use their power to help the chief's son. First the Beaver talked to the young man, to tell him of his powers
and his ways, so that he might perform wonderful acts. How he should take the branch of a tree and strike a man with its point and it would go
through him, and then how to draw it out and to make the man well again. He gave him the power to do this. He taught him how to take a stick two
feet long and swallow it, and then take it out again from his throat, and gave him this power.
The Otter gave him the power, if his enemies ever attacked him, to break their arrows with his teeth and shoot back the shaft without a spike, and if he
hit an enemy with the shaft, it would kill him. "The poison from your mouth will kill him," he said.
The Ground-dog said: "My son, here is my little one. I give him to you. Take him, and if you have an enemy among the doctors in your tribe, take
this little one down to the water early in the morning and dip his nose in the water, and when you take it out it will have a piece of liver in its mouth.
The man who has tried to kill you will be found dead."
The Owl said: "My son, I give you power to see in the night. When you go on the war-path and want to take horses, the night will be like daytime to
The Hawk said: "My son, I give you power to run swiftly, and I give you my war-club, which is my wing. You shall strike your enemy with it only
once, and the blow shall kill him. Take also this little black rope; you shall use it when you go on the war-path to catch horses. Take also this scalp
which you see hanging down from my claw. You shall be a great man for scalping."
Each of the other animals gave him all his kinds of power.
For two days and two nights, they taught him the different kinds of power, and for two days and two nights they taught him the different kinds of
roots and herbs for healing the sick. They said to him: "You shall be the great doctor of your people. Every now and then you must bring us tobacco,
so that we can smoke." They further told him that at this time they could teach him only a little, but that afterward, one at a time, they would meet him
out on the prairie, and would teach him more. At last they said: "Now it is time for you to go. Your friend has come, and is waiting for you out on the
The Buffalo now stood up and said: "My son, I want to be with you always. I give you my robe. Wear it wherever you go, that the people may know
that you come from this place." All the animals said: "We want to be with you too." Each one of the birds took off a feather and put it on the robe,
and each animal put one of its claws on it, and some put medicine on it. In one of the holes the Beaver tied a little sweet-grass, and others did the
same. By the time they were through, the robe was all covered with feathers and claws and smelt sweet. Then the animals said: "Go, my son, to your
people, and bring us something to smoke, so that we may be satisfied."
Presently the chief's son found himself upon the bluff, facing his brother. His brother grasped him in his arms and said: "Oh, my brother, you smell
nice. What a fine robe you have on! Look at all these feathers." They hugged each other. Then they went home together. The chief's son had a bundle
that the animals had given him.
Soon after this the Pawnees had a big doctors' dance. These boys went into the doctors' lodge and said: "Doctors, you are the head doctors, but we
have come tonight to visit you. We want to do a few things ourselves." The doctors all said "Lau-a." The young men took seats close to the door,
which is the most important place in this dance. All the doctors were surprised, and said "Uh!"
The Bear boy got up first and began shooting at the chief's son, just as he had done with the Bear, and all the doctors thought he was powerful,
shooting at this young man and curing him. When he got through, it was the other boy's turn. He would take a long sharp stick and thrust it through
his brother, and then heal him again, and then take a knife and stab him, and then cure him. He did some powerful things, more so than his brother
had done. After the doctors had seen all these things they all said: "Let us have these two for our head doctors." But the poor boy said: "Not so. This
one who is sitting by me has more power than I have. He ought to be the head doctor, for I am a warrior, and can never stay in the camp to doctor
people. My brother has gone into the animals' lodge, and they have given him more power than I possess." So the chief's son was chosen to be the
When the doctors' dance was over, the two brothers at once started to go to the animals' lodge, carrying with them tobacco and a pipe. When they got
there, the chief's son told his brother to wait on the bank that he was going down to take the tobacco and the pipe to his fathers. He jumped off the
steep bank into the river, down into the door of the lodge, and went in. When they saw him all the animals slapped their mouths and called out. They
were glad to see him. After smoking with them, he went back to his friend. After that the chief's son would go off by himself and would meet the
animals on the hills. They would tell him about different roots,k and how to doctor this disease and that. He would come back with some roots and
herbs and put them away.
Finally the head chief sent for the Bear man and said to him: "My son, I offered you my lodge, my daughter, and the whole tribe. Now take all this.
Let me go out of this lodge and look for another one, and you stay here with my daughter." The young man said: "What of my brother? Send for the
other chief. Let him give his daughter, his lodge, his people, to him, and this day we will accept your gifts to us. My brother will after this be the head
doctor of this tribe." The other chief when asked to do this agreed, and it was so done.
The Bear man went often on the warpath, but his brother staid at home, and fought against the enemy only when they attacked the village. He took
charge of the doctors' lodge. The Bear man after this had some children, and when they had grown up he told his son the secrets of his power. He was
now beginning to grow old, and his son went on the warpath, while he staid home.
One night he had a dream about his father the Bear. The Bear said to him: "My son, I made you great and powerful among your people. The hairs of
my body are falling and soon I shall die. Then you too will die. Tell your son all the secret powers that I gave you. He shall keep the same power that
you have had."
Soon after this the old Bear must have died, for the man died. Before he died he said to his brother: "Do not mourn for me, for I shall always be near
you. Take care of your people. Cure them when they are sick, and always be their chief."
When the enemy came and attacked these people and wounded any, the chief's son was always there and always cured them. He was a great doctor.
At last he also died, but his son had the same kind of power. But these two sons never had so great a power as their fathers.
|The Mud Pony
A Pawnee Legend
Once there was an Indian camp, and in it lived a boy. His parents were very poor, and had no ponies. The boy was fond of ponies, and often sat on
the bank of the creed, while the other boys were watering theirs. One day the boy made up his mind to have a pony of his own. He crossed the creek,
and got some wood, and built a little corral. He then took a quantity of sticky mud to to the corral, and made two ponies of mud. He got some white
clay, and put it on the head of one; so that it was white-faced.
Then the boy was happy! Every morning he went to the corral, and carried his mud ponies down to the creek, and dipped their noses in the water.
Then he took them back to the corral again. He heaped grass and green cottonwood shoots before them, and took as good care of them as if they were
Well, one day the boy went to see his mud ponies, and he found that one of them had crumbled to dust. He felt so badly that he cried; and after that he
took even better care of the one that was left. It was the one with the white face.
On another morning, while the boy was in his corral, the people broke camp, and went on a Buffalo hunt. The boy's parents looked everywhere for
him, and when they could not find him, they had to go away without him. And when he went back to the place where the camp had been, all the people
He cried and cried, and wandered about picking up pieces of dried meat the people had thrown away. When night came, he lay down and cried
himself to sleep. Then he dreamed that a white-faced pony came to him, and said: "My Son, you are poor, and Mother Earth has taken pity on you,
and has given me to you. I am a part of her."
Well, when the boy woke up, it was broad daylight. He rose and went to his corral to look after his mud pony. And what did he see standing in front
of the corral, but a fine little pony with a white face! It was pawing the ground, and tossing its mane.
The boy rubbed his eyes to see if it was a real pony. He went up to it, and stroked its sides; and it whinnied with joy, and sniffed at his fingers. So he
got a piece of rope, and put it round the pony's neck, and led it down to the water.
But the pony would not drink at all, and said like the one in his dream: "My Son, you are poor, and Mother Earth has taken pity on you, and has
given me to you. I am your Mud Pony."
Then the boy was filled with joy, and rubbed the pony down, and was very proud of it. Just as he was going to lead it back to the corral, the Pony
said: "My Son, you must do all I tell you to do, and some day you will become a great Chief. Now, jump on my back, and we will find your people.
Do not try to guide me, for I know where to go."
The boy, delighted, jumped on the Pony's back, and away they went swiftly over the plain. They traveled all that day, and when evening was come,
they reached a place where the people had camped the night before. But they had all gone on farther.
The boy jumped down, and turned the Pony loose to graze, but it would not eat. It only said: "Do not mind me. Go and find something to eat for
yourself." So the boy wandered about the deserted camp, picking up bits of food the people had dropped. When his hunger was satisfied, he lay down
and went to sleep. In the morning he rose, and jumped on the Pony, and away they went across the plain.
In the evening, the same thing happened as before; they stopped at a deserted camp, the boy ate and slept, and in the morning he and the Pony
journeyed on. The next night, they reached the camp where the people were stopping. Then the Pony said: "Leave me here outside the camp, and go to
your tepee, and wake your mother. I will stay here and take care of myself, for I do not need anything to eat and drink, because I am a part of Mother
Earth. All I need is a blanket to keep the dew and rain off me, or I shall melt. Tomorrow, when the people break camp, stay behind, and I will be
ready for you."
The boy entered the camp, as the Pony told him to do, and went into his parents' tepee. He sat down, and threw some dried grass on the coals in the
fireplace, and the flames blazed up. Then he went to his mother's bed, and woke her, saying, "Mother, here I am!"
His mother opened her eyes, and at first she thought she was dreaming, then she put out her hand and touched him. And when she knew it was really
her son, she rose with joy, and waked her husband. He got up, too, and threw logs on the fire, and ran and called the boy's relations. They came
crowding in, and were glad to see him safe and well.
The next morning the people broke camp, and the boy told them to go on without him. And they did. The Pony came in, and the boy mounted on its
back, and away they went swiftly across the plain. At night they caught up with the people, and the Pony stayed outside the camp. In the morning it
happened as before. So it was for four days.
On the fourth night, the Pony said: "My Son, take me into the camp, so that the people may see what a nice Pony you have. The Chief will hear about
me, and wish to buy me. He will offer you several horses. Take them, and let him have me in exchange. But he will not keep me long!"
So the boy rode the Pony straight into the camp, and the people were astonished to see him on its back. When they examined it, they said: "Why, it
looks like a mud pony, such as boys smooth down with their fingers. It is a wonderful pony!"
When the Chief heard about it, he sent for the boy. He welcomed him respectfully and made him sit on a cushion. Then he said: "My Son, I have sent
for you to eat with me. I wish to tell you that I like your pony, and will give you four of my best horses for it."
The boy replied: "I have listened to the great Chief. I will let the Chief have my pony."
The Chief was pleased, and his wife filled a wooden bowl with dried meat and soup; and put two horn spoons into the bowl. She set this before her
husband and the boy, and they ate together.
After that the Chief had the four horses caught, and drove them to the boy's tepee. He took the Pony, and led it to his own corral. He put grass before
it, but it would not eat. He piled young cottonwood boughs before it, but still it would not eat.
A few days after, scouts came riding into the camp, and they said that a great herd of Buffalo was near. So the men got on their horses, and rode to
the hunt, and the Chief went with them, mounted on the Mud Pony. He soon far outstripped the rest, and killed many Buffalo. But as he was riding
over the plain, the Pony staggered and nearly fell. Its feet had become unjointed, and it was ruined.
Then the Chief was terribly angry, and returning to the camp, he ordered the boy to give him back his four horses, and take the Pony. The boy was
delighted, and led his Mud Pony home. In a few days it was as well as ever. Then the Chief wished to have it back, but the boy would not give it to him
for any number of horses.
Well, from that day on, when the boy went hunting, mounted on the Mud Pony, he killed more Buffalo than the men did. And when he went on the
war-path, no one could hurt him, but he always conquered the enemy. After a few years he became a great Chief. He still loved his Mud Pony very
much, and tied Eagle feathers on its mane and tail, and covered it carefully at night with a warm blanket.
But one night, he forgot to cover it, and he had a dream. He thought that the Mud Pony came to him and said: "My Son, you are no longer poor. My
doings are over. I am returning to Mother Earth, for I am a part of her."
And when he woke in the morning, he found that it was raining hard. He got up and ran to the corral to put a blanket on the Pony, but he could not
find the animal anywhere. Then on the side of the hill, he saw qa little pile of mud, still in the shape of a pony. And when he saw this, he went home
sorrowfully to his tepee.
|The Offended Rolling Stone
A Pawnee Legend
Coyote was going along, and as he had not had anything to eat for some time he was very hungry. In the evening he went to a high hill and sat down.
Early the next morning he started again. He came to a big round stone.
He took out his knife and said: "Grandfather, this knife I give to you as a present. I want you to help me to get something to eat."
Coyote went over a hill, and there in the bottom was a village of people. He went into the village and he could see meat hanging on poles everywhere
in the camp. He went into one of the tipi's and the people in the tipi roasted a piece of meat for him, just as he was about to taste of the meat he thought
of his knife and said: "Why did I give my knife to that stone? I should have kept it and then I should have been able to cut the meat without having to
pull it with my hands." He asked to be excused and went out.
He went to where the stone was. He said: "Grandfather, I will have to take back this knife, for I have found a village of people with plenty of meat."
He went over the hills and into the bottom, but there was no village there. Coyote went back and returned the knife to the stone. He went back over
the hills and there saw the village and he entered one of the tipi's.
They placed before him some meat. He began to chew the meat. He thought of his knife. He went back to the stone, and as he took the knife the stone
said: "Why do you take the knife away from me? I am now going to kill you."
Then the stone ran after the Coyote. Coyote ran and came to a den of Bears. He told the Bears that a person was running after him and he asked them
to help him. The Bears said that they were not afraid of anything. They asked what the thing was, and he said it was the stone. The Bears said: "Keep
on running. We can not do anything with the stone."
The stone was close to Coyote when he came up to another den of Mountain-Lions. They also told Coyote to pass on, as they could not do anything
for him. After a while Coyote came to a Buffalo standing all alone, but when the Buffalo found out that it was the stone running after Coyote he told
him to pass on.
At last Coyote came to a place where the Bull-Bats stayed. Coyote said: "Grandchildren, there is a person running after me." The Bull-Bats then said:
"Enter our lodge and remain there." When the stone came rolling up it said: "Where is that person who came here?" The Bull-Bats did not reply and
the stone became angry.
Then the Bull-Bats said: "He is here and we are going to protect him." The Bull-Bats flew up and then down, and they expelled flatus on the stone.
Every time they did this a piece broke off from the stone. The largest Bull-Bat came down and expelled flatus right on the center and broke the stone
into pieces. Then the Coyote was told to come out and go on his way.
Coyote started off, and when he got over the hills he turned around and yelled at the Bull-Bats and said: "All you big-nosed funny things, how you did
behave to that stone." The Bull-Bats heard it and did not pay any attention, but he kept on making fun of them. Then the Bull-Bats flew up in a group,
and came down, and with their wings they got the stones together again and started it to rolling, and said: "Go and kill that fellow."
The stone then ran after Coyote and Coyote tried to get away, but he could not. At last he gave out. He jumped over a steep bank and the stone was
right behind him. As Coyote struck the bottom, the stone fell on him and killed him. This is why we used to find dead coyotes in the hills and valleys.